Tuesday, January 20, 2009

To Tokyo

I'm going up to Tokyo for a few days beginning tomorrow; the project has its final symposium at the Future Japanese Science Hall (日本科学未来館 - lousy translation, sorry). There'll be no live demos of the CBi robot as the hydraulic systems and all the rest is really too cumbersome and fragile to set up in Tokyo, but the robot will be there, we'll demo the Gifu hand and HOAP robot, and there'll be presentations, a movie about the project and so on. Ritsuko will join later on too, so we'll be seeing a little bit of Tokyo together before we return. Unless I get (un)lucky I'll be mostly off the net during the trip, so don't expect any updates or comments during this time.

"up to Tokyo", by the way: it's been suggested to me that this expression - even stronger as 上京, joukyou, in Japanese - would somehow be disparaging to people living in Osaka or other non-Tokyo metropli. To me, at least, it isn't. There's a lot of research on how we map concepts onto each other (research I know too little about). "up" of course maps to the raising of some concrete or abstract level - we "level up" in games, and you can "Beauty Up!" at beauty salons here - and Tokyo is after all by far the largest city in Japan, with the highest concentration of political power, academic activity and commerce. In all those senses, "up" seems perfectly appropriate imagery to me.

In addition, with the typical orientation of maps, "up" maps strongly to "north" as well, and for Osaka and Nagoya the mapping with "up" to Tokyo becomes even more natural. It means, of course, that I'm quite comfortable talking of going up to Aomori or Abashiri as well, even though they are much smaller communities than Osaka. My guess is, if anybody is uncomfortable with the "up" mapping it's people in places like Sapporo and Sendai - sizable cities in their own right and clearly north of Tokyo so the designation rubs against this geographical mapping.

[edit: we don't do a live demo of CBi but we do show the Gifu hand and HOAP in action]

1 comment:

Durf said...

I thought the English name was the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation . . . I've got some friends who work there; it's a nice place to visit. Enjoy!

Re the "up to Tokyo" thing: I imagine if it means that people here have to go to Kansai to truly "get down," the Osaka crowd will be happy with the interpretation.