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Osaka University promoting photonics startup activities

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Tokyo-based “Tex” Pomeroy and Kyoto-based Taijiro Takeda contributed to this story. See the original story in Japanese. Osaka University Photonics Center, which conducts advanced R&D on advanced photonics including laser and nano-optics, held it’s seventh “Photonics Day” on 2nd February at the university’s Suita Campus. This project commenced as a startup/product development project in 2011. Beginning with 4 projects selected in the initial year, followed in 2012 by 3 projects and in 2013 by 2 projects, a total of 9 projects out of 44 applications are being carried out under approval; to date all projects have had some input from the university, whether at faculty or student level. Of the many project results for this year’s Photonics Day, one of the most noteworthy was “the eco-light bulb adopting a thermal radiation spectrum”. This new type of incandescent light bulb, by opening 100nm-order holes on the filament surface, enables control of hear emission. By cutting down the infrared emission level, the temperature is kept down while realizing a light-emission ratio of nearly 90% which is better than that offered by the light-emitting diode (LED converts 50% of the electric power it uses to light, while the conventional incandescent light bulb offers…

Tokyo-based “Tex” Pomeroy and Kyoto-based Taijiro Takeda contributed to this story.


photonics-center-kawata
Osaka University Photonics Center Executive Director Satoshi Kawata speaks at a press briefing.
(Photo by Taijiro Takeda)

See the original story in Japanese.

Osaka University Photonics Center, which conducts advanced R&D on advanced photonics including laser and nano-optics, held it’s seventh “Photonics Day” on 2nd February at the university’s Suita Campus. This project commenced as a startup/product development project in 2011. Beginning with 4 projects selected in the initial year, followed in 2012 by 3 projects and in 2013 by 2 projects, a total of 9 projects out of 44 applications are being carried out under approval; to date all projects have had some input from the university, whether at faculty or student level.

Of the many project results for this year’s Photonics Day, one of the most noteworthy was “the eco-light bulb adopting a thermal radiation spectrum”. This new type of incandescent light bulb, by opening 100nm-order holes on the filament surface, enables control of hear emission. By cutting down the infrared emission level, the temperature is kept down while realizing a light-emission ratio of nearly 90% which is better than that offered by the light-emitting diode (LED converts 50% of the electric power it uses to light, while the conventional incandescent light bulb offers a conversion ratio of only 10%).

eco-light-bulb
The eco-light bulb adopting a thermal radiation spectrum (Photo by Taijiro Takeda)

White LED lighting has limitations as to wavelengths and thus seem “cold” to the human eye, while incandescent bulbs can realize full wavelengths – some restaurants still retain the old lighting system in the foods section due to this. However, large manufacturers like Panasonic and Hitachi are now dropping production of the old light bulbs so the product can gain this niche market when it becomes available widely.

Other topics such as multilateral collaboration and fund procurement were also discussed at the event. Photonics Center Executive Director Satoshi Kawata noted that he hopes to realize as is Schumpeter’s idea that “innovation is not technological revolution but the building of a new paradigm” and urged participants to actually produce results with their own hands.

Regarding other items unveiled by the Photonics Center, the website links are as below:

Music Securities offers one-day-only advisory service at Organic Expo/Biofach Japan

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This is a guest post authored by “Tex” Pomeroy. He is a Tokyo-based writer specializing in ICT and high technology. On 21st November, the “harbinger” crowdfunding service Music Securities offered visitors to Organic Expo/Biofach Japan 2014 an early-bird seminar about utilizing “micro-investment funds” followed by the rest of the day offering free advice at a service corner in the Nippon Mono Ichi section within the show. The answers provided by Director in charge of Securitization, Yoshitaka Inoo, in a businesslike, clear-cut manner were much appreciated by those interested in the status of fund-gathering in Japan. The company, which was launched as a fund specializing to support musicians (though now apparently not much involved in this sector according to the corporate director), targets companies that have started up and is readying for full-scale business activities. It has recently been involved in funding breweries for example. One of the firms supported by Music Securities, covering consumer research, had a booth and so the “crowd-funder” (they said the company actually predates the adoption of this concept in Japan) decided to locate a desk next to it in order to offer “music to the ear” of those cash-poor businesses participating in the fast-growing organics field get-together. Case studies of funds being used by breweries…

This is a guest post authored by “Tex” Pomeroy. He is a Tokyo-based writer specializing in ICT and high technology.


musicsecurities_featuredimage

On 21st November, the “harbinger” crowdfunding service Music Securities offered visitors to Organic Expo/Biofach Japan 2014 an early-bird seminar about utilizing “micro-investment funds” followed by the rest of the day offering free advice at a service corner in the Nippon Mono Ichi section within the show. The answers provided by Director in charge of Securitization, Yoshitaka Inoo, in a businesslike, clear-cut manner were much appreciated by those interested in the status of fund-gathering in Japan.

The company, which was launched as a fund specializing to support musicians (though now apparently not much involved in this sector according to the corporate director), targets companies that have started up and is readying for full-scale business activities. It has recently been involved in funding breweries for example.

One of the firms supported by Music Securities, covering consumer research, had a booth and so the “crowd-funder” (they said the company actually predates the adoption of this concept in Japan) decided to locate a desk next to it in order to offer “music to the ear” of those cash-poor businesses participating in the fast-growing organics field get-together.

Case studies of funds being used by breweries and other food/beverage outfits were presented while looking at both the “merits” as well as “costs entailed” of accessing small-scale funds to drive a business operation. Music Securities notes that it aims to have the operations it supports gather “more fans” the way musicians cultivate fans.

Biofach is a Nuremberg-based show catering to businesses involved in “organic” products; the Japan edition of the German confab has been held since 2001. This year’s venue was – as has been recently – the waterfront Tokyo Big Sight, alongside Organic Expo, for a three-day event starting from 20th November. In adjacent halls the Tokyo International Industry Exhibition and the HiNT show, focused on SMEs in Japan, were being held from 19th of November.

Apparently Music Securities is currently scrutinizing small farmers and other food producers (as highlighted by the company newsletter “Securite Report“) in advance of increasing interest in “Sixth Industry Market” which ties in the farming/fishing/forestry industry with logistics/ICT. Since the next Organic Show/Biofach Japan is being held in February of 2016, there will be plenty of time to see what results will be yielded from its foray into this arena.

securite_screenshot
Securite shows a list of crowdfunding projects now available at Music Securities.

Translations startups targeting non-tech Japanese SMEs

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This is a guest post authored by “Tex” Pomeroy. He is a Tokyo-based writer specializing in ICT and high technology. Translations startups like Shibuya-headquartered Gengo and anydooR, the Conyac crowdsourced translations operator, took part in Tokyo Business Summit 2014 held late last week at the waterfront Big Sight convention facilities. This year’s event had more tech-related firms showcasing their wares than ever before, including those related to use of the space environment. This was the first time for Gengo to set up a booth at the event, which in the past brought together non- and low-tech Japanese small and medium-sized Enterprises for the most part. Gengo’s marketing manager Nozomi Umenai said, Gengo is expanding to mass market, as exemplified by Tokyo Business Summit participants. We wanted to showcase how easy and affordable it is to use Gengo API. Many of the participants are currently looking to expand overseas business dealings, both outbound as well as inbound (especially those related to the free trade agreement with Australia, as exemplified by meat products, and Trans-Pacific Partnership), so the venue provided a ready pool of Japanese SMEs for contact by translations outfits. Conyac — whose operation is based in Kanda, Tokyo known for…

This is a guest post authored by “Tex” Pomeroy. He is a Tokyo-based writer specializing in ICT and high technology.


tokyo-business-summit_featuredimage
Image credit: Tokyo Business Summit

Translations startups like Shibuya-headquartered Gengo and anydooR, the Conyac crowdsourced translations operator, took part in Tokyo Business Summit 2014 held late last week at the waterfront Big Sight convention facilities. This year’s event had more tech-related firms showcasing their wares than ever before, including those related to use of the space environment.

This was the first time for Gengo to set up a booth at the event, which in the past brought together non- and low-tech Japanese small and medium-sized Enterprises for the most part. Gengo’s marketing manager Nozomi Umenai said,

Gengo is expanding to mass market, as exemplified by Tokyo Business Summit participants. We wanted to showcase how easy and affordable it is to use Gengo API.

Many of the participants are currently looking to expand overseas business dealings, both outbound as well as inbound (especially those related to the free trade agreement with Australia, as exemplified by meat products, and Trans-Pacific Partnership), so the venue provided a ready pool of Japanese SMEs for contact by translations outfits.

Conyac — whose operation is based in Kanda, Tokyo known for its many low-tech SMEs — also had a booth out at the event, which was held for the 28th time since 1988.

The Conyac booth staff also noted,

We just released a website translation management tool called ‘Conyac Front‘ last month. At the summit, we’re looking for the testers for the Conyac Front(β).

Other firms of interest this year were those focused on Business Continuity Planning (BCP) and other emergency-related businesses.

Further info on Tokyo Business Summit is available at http://www.business-summit.jp/tbs/

Cognition-as-a-Service will be big in 2014

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Dudu Noy is the CMO at Ginger Software. Ginger’s Grammar Checker and Sentence Rephraser are available as desktop software, browser add-ons and Android mobile keyboard. Readers of our Japanese site may recall that we featured the company’s Japan launch back in April. I predict that 2014 will be remembered as the year that CaaS, or “Cognition-as-a-Service” platforms came of age. Cognition is historically a complex biological trait including skills such as decision making, problem solving, learning, reasoning, working memory and not least language, skills that today the computer sciences are chipping away at from various angles. With each major evolutionary step in computing we have seen over the last 30 years, from mainframes to PCs, the internet, cloud and SaaS, and now ubiquitous smart mobile, the new realm has not so much replaced but augmented what was there before. In the same way the promise of CaaS is to allow apps and services to function more intelligently and intuitively, allowing you to converse with them, ask questions, give commands and complete tasks more efficiently and conveniently. Apple’s Siri is one of the most famous cognition-based services in general use today. And now Google’s recent innovations to its search product for…

Dudu Noy is the CMO at Ginger Software. Ginger’s Grammar Checker and Sentence Rephraser are available as desktop software, browser add-ons and Android mobile keyboard. Readers of our Japanese site may recall that we featured the company’s Japan launch back in April.

Ginger CMO Dudu Noy

I predict that 2014 will be remembered as the year that CaaS, or “Cognition-as-a-Service” platforms came of age. Cognition is historically a complex biological trait including skills such as decision making, problem solving, learning, reasoning, working memory and not least language, skills that today the computer sciences are chipping away at from various angles.

With each major evolutionary step in computing we have seen over the last 30 years, from mainframes to PCs, the internet, cloud and SaaS, and now ubiquitous smart mobile, the new realm has not so much replaced but augmented what was there before.

In the same way the promise of CaaS is to allow apps and services to function more intelligently and intuitively, allowing you to converse with them, ask questions, give commands and complete tasks more efficiently and conveniently.

Apple’s Siri is one of the most famous cognition-based services in general use today. And now Google’s recent innovations to its search product for mobile, incorporating more contextual conversation for queries, pits it against Siri in the cognition-augmented search arena. In both cases, the technology itself is in the cloud, even though the device is in the user’s hand. Their main functions only work when there is an internet connection [1].

The reason is that the two necessary tricks to make sense of a user’s speech input – speech recognition and natural language processing (NLP) – require cloud-based servers performing intensive processing of proprietary algorithms that is beyond the capabilities of handheld technology.

When it comes to NLP it is the sheer diversity of languages that makes it such a challenge. Old school NLP solutions were based on rigid rules that map inputs to a big list of known inputs. But the list can never be long enough, and the hard rules can never cover all the edge cases. So the experience of talking to a supposedly “smart assistant” always left the user frustrated.

You need more powerful, agile technologies that can figure out that in a sentence such as: “Yuko wants to eat an apple.

Yuko is something that can have wants, and can eat things, and that apples are things that can be eaten. The technology needs to be able to do this for the vast majority of sentences the app is likely to encounter. This is incredibly hard, but here at Ginger and a few other places, we are doing it.

It is not just Apple and Google who are eyeing this space. IBM is now also a player with Watson, recently announcing that the same supercomputer-strength software that conquered the quiz show “Jeopardy!”, will be available to app developers through an API and software toolkit. This will allow cognitive apps that leverage cognition to be hosted in the cloud on Watson. This would obviously be a great thing for IBM’s cloud hosting service as well.

This “platform model” in tech business is nothing new of course. In recent years IBM did this with its Websphere application server technology, which went from an internal project to a software community of thousands of developers. Salesforce.com did this with its Force cloud-app development platform, as did Amazon with Amazon Web Services.

But what is different with CaaS platforms is that cognitive powers will be baked in to the operating system, and all the apps that are developed on that platform. That will bring intelligence to a mass public in a wide variety of as yet unimagined contexts.

At Ginger we have not opened up our technology as a platform via an API yet, but we are providing the benefits of its cognitive powers to a mass user base globally. Our technology uses statistical algorithms in conjunction with natural language processing, referencing a vast database of trillions of English sentences that have been scoured from the web. This allows us to work out what the users of our applications are trying to communicate, be it in Microsoft Office apps, Gmail, Facebook or wherever, and correct their mistakes and suggest improvements to their expressions.

One thing is for sure – this is a really interesting space to work, and it will be fun to see where computer based cognition will go in 2014.


  1. As an exception, Siri can be used to control some local apps.  ↩

Japanese manga artist crowdfunds digital exhibition overseas

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This is part of our Crowdfunding in Japan series (RSS). Services like KickStarter have become a global phenomenon with the power to let creative individuals take their ideas to new heights. It’s happening here in Japan too, most notably on Campfire, the country’s answer to Kickstarter. Yuta Kayashima has been working as an illustrator while trying to realize his dream of becoming a manga artist. Ever since he was a student, he has been experimenting with the blending of manga and digital technology. His works Manga 2.0 (made with Adobe Flash) and Hack to the Brain were honored by the judicial committee for the Japanese Agency of Cultural Affairs. He has also distributed a special vertically written comic called Saiyu Shojo (A Young Girl’s Westward Trip) on the booklog site Puboo, a service where anyone can make and sell ebooks. From January through March 2013, Mr. Kayashima will participate in a modern art exhibition in Mexico featuring a Ukiyo-e theme. This Ukiyoe x Digital Comic project is a effort that combines traditional Japanese drawings and the latest media technology. He is planning to make an interactive comic, which will allow the audience to perform operations on the exhibit using a…

This is part of our Crowdfunding in Japan series (RSS). Services like KickStarter have become a global phenomenon with the power to let creative individuals take their ideas to new heights. It’s happening here in Japan too, most notably on Campfire, the country’s answer to Kickstarter.


ukiyo-e-digital-comic

Yuta Kayashima has been working as an illustrator while trying to realize his dream of becoming a manga artist. Ever since he was a student, he has been experimenting with the blending of manga and digital technology. His works Manga 2.0 (made with Adobe Flash) and Hack to the Brain were honored by the judicial committee for the Japanese Agency of Cultural Affairs. He has also distributed a special vertically written comic called Saiyu Shojo (A Young Girl’s Westward Trip) on the booklog site Puboo, a service where anyone can make and sell ebooks.

From January through March 2013, Mr. Kayashima will participate in a modern art exhibition in Mexico featuring a Ukiyo-e theme. This Ukiyoe x Digital Comic project is a effort that combines traditional Japanese drawings and the latest media technology. He is planning to make an interactive comic, which will allow the audience to perform operations on the exhibit using a mouse, and the scene will be displayed using a projector. The exhibit is described as follows:

Three beautiful sisters from the Ukiyo-e world travel through a time warp to the modern era. To their misfortune, in the present-day world their looks are no longer considered to be quite so attractive, but that does not curb their desire to be considered beautiful. They discover that many modern day anime characters are considered beautiful. As such, the jealous three sisters search for modern beauty, stealing various parts from other characters and competing against each other to enhance their own images.

It sounds like a pretty fascinating story, and if Kayashima’s past work is any indication (see video below), the exhibit should be equally impressive. For all our Mexican readers (we know there’s at least a few of you), do check out the exhibition if you get a chance.

The project recently appeared as a crowdfunding project on Campfire, and happily it turned out to be a success story, as the target of ¥250,000 (over $2,700) was successfully reached on Nov 3, 2012.

Japanese designer ditches chopsticks for amazing musical fork

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This is part of our “Crowdfunding in Japan” series (RSS). Services like KickStarter have become a global phenomenon with the power to let creative individuals take their ideas to new heights. It’s happening here in Japan too, and the following is a prime example. At CES 2013 Hapilabs turned a lot of heads with their smart fork. That device promotes healthier eating by making sure you don’t eat too much or too fast. But another unique utensil from Cerevo Dash, the EaTheremin, aspires to enrich your dining experience by turning your meals into a musical performance. How does it work? I’m glad you asked. The handle and tip of the fork contain separate electrodes, which create a weak electric current flowing through the food and the body (mouth → handle) when you eat. It plays different sounds depending on the type of food on the fork and the way in which it is eaten (according to changes in electrical resistance). All you have to do is add the battery and it’s ready for use. There are two varieties of EaTheremin. The digital version selects and plays pre-loaded sound effects from the internal memory based on the food’s electrical resistance. For…

EaTheremin

This is part of our “Crowdfunding in Japan” series (RSS). Services like KickStarter have become a global phenomenon with the power to let creative individuals take their ideas to new heights. It’s happening here in Japan too, and the following is a prime example.


At CES 2013 Hapilabs turned a lot of heads with their smart fork. That device promotes healthier eating by making sure you don’t eat too much or too fast. But another unique utensil from Cerevo Dash, the EaTheremin, aspires to enrich your dining experience by turning your meals into a musical performance.

How does it work? I’m glad you asked. The handle and tip of the fork contain separate electrodes, which create a weak electric current flowing through the food and the body (mouth → handle) when you eat. It plays different sounds depending on the type of food on the fork and the way in which it is eaten (according to changes in electrical resistance). All you have to do is add the battery and it’s ready for use.

There are two varieties of EaTheremin. The digital version selects and plays pre-loaded sound effects from the internal memory based on the food’s electrical resistance. For the analog version, simple sine waves change subtly based on the food’s electrical resistance and how you eat, thus producing a sound like a theremin for your enjoyment [1].

This is a cool idea for a number of reasons. The fork could prove an effective tool in convincing picky children to eat foods they don’t like or helping hospital patients or elderly folks with cognitive impairments to enjoy meals again.

They raised ¥308,500, but regrettably the project concluded before the designers could reach their reaching the funding target. But we hope that this clever fork can find its way to our dinner tables sometime soon.


  1. The theremin is an electronic musical instrument from Russia, played without making physical contact. You simply move your hand in proximity to the instrument. If you’ve ever listed to Good Vibrations from The Beach Boys, that weird whining instrument is a theremin.  ↩

How a Japanese illustrator crowdfunded a book of wonder

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This is part of our Crowdfunding in Japan series (RSS). Services like KickStarter have become a global phenomenon with the power to let creative individuals take their ideas to new heights. It’s happening here in Japan too, most notably on Campfire, the country’s answer to Kickstarter. Here’s a fun new Campfire project that aspires to create a magical short story. It springs from the mind of illustrator and graphic designer, Hidehito Shinno, and hopes to bring many eccentric characters gather together in a single book. Mr. Shinno thinks freedom is particularly important in producing his works, and this story expresses the fun of an “anything goes” mentality, and a strong departure from reality. He plans to make a full-color soft cover book of 20 to 30 pages. And while such a plan is not so remarkable by itself, we do find it interesting how Shinno has decided to pay for his project. For many illustrators looking to make a new book, funding is often the main obstacle. But now, like other creative spirits in the digital age, an illustrator can make money through a crowdfunding service like Campfire or Kickstarter. And that’s what Shinno has done. On Campfire, he can…

MOSTER MEETS

This is part of our Crowdfunding in Japan series (RSS). Services like KickStarter have become a global phenomenon with the power to let creative individuals take their ideas to new heights. It’s happening here in Japan too, most notably on Campfire, the country’s answer to Kickstarter.


Here’s a fun new Campfire project that aspires to create a magical short story. It springs from the mind of illustrator and graphic designer, Hidehito Shinno, and hopes to bring many eccentric characters gather together in a single book. Mr. Shinno thinks freedom is particularly important in producing his works, and this story expresses the fun of an “anything goes” mentality, and a strong departure from reality.

He plans to make a full-color soft cover book of 20 to 30 pages. And while such a plan is not so remarkable by itself, we do find it interesting how Shinno has decided to pay for his project. For many illustrators looking to make a new book, funding is often the main obstacle. But now, like other creative spirits in the digital age, an illustrator can make money through a crowdfunding service like Campfire or Kickstarter. And that’s what Shinno has done. On Campfire, he can promote his work, and eventually publish a book which can then be used as a part of his portfolio — which could then in turn, kickstart more opportunities.

The progress for this particular project is updated continually via ‘the activity report’, so the patrons can observe and enjoy the process of the story’s creation. Mr. Shinno also provides illustrated icons, badges, stickers, and posters to the project’s supporters.

The target amount that was initially set for the Campfire project was 250,000 yen (almost $2,700), and it has far surpassed that goal by reaching 363,500 yen. Clearly a little ingenuity on the business side of things is a big help to the creative process as well!

To help fund full-length historical film, Japanese filmmakers turn to the crowd

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This is part of our Crowdfunding in Japan series (RSS). Services like KickStarter have become a global phenomenon with the power to let creative individuals take their ideas to new heights. It’s happening here in Japan too, most notably on Campfire, the country’s answer to Kickstarter. Japanese period dramas of the kind often found in theaters, films, or TV dramas are often set in the Edo Period or earlier, but almost always prior to the Meiji Restoration. Akira Kurasawa’s classic film Seven Samurai is a perfect example. Now there’s a Campfire project which aims to independently produce just such a historical drama. Its director is Ninkou no Junan, which roughly translates as ‘Ninkou’s ordeals.’ The director is Norihiro Niwatsukino, who had previously won awards at Japanese film festivals awards for his past films. Instead of the typical “reward good and punish evil” sort of samurai or ninja, this story is comprised of other unique Japanese cultural elements such as Buddhism, ghosts, and ukiyo-e, marking a clear departure from existing works of the genre. This particular drama draws from three primary concepts. The first is Ukiyo-e and One Hundred Ghost Tales, the culture closely-linked to Yokai. The second focuses on the…

historical-film

This is part of our Crowdfunding in Japan series (RSS). Services like KickStarter have become a global phenomenon with the power to let creative individuals take their ideas to new heights. It’s happening here in Japan too, most notably on Campfire, the country’s answer to Kickstarter.


Japanese period dramas of the kind often found in theaters, films, or TV dramas are often set in the Edo Period or earlier, but almost always prior to the Meiji Restoration. Akira Kurasawa’s classic film Seven Samurai is a perfect example. Now there’s a Campfire project which aims to independently produce just such a historical drama. Its director is Ninkou no Junan, which roughly translates as ‘Ninkou’s ordeals.’ The director is Norihiro Niwatsukino, who had previously won awards at Japanese film festivals awards for his past films.

Instead of the typical “reward good and punish evil” sort of samurai or ninja, this story is comprised of other unique Japanese cultural elements such as Buddhism, ghosts, and ukiyo-e, marking a clear departure from existing works of the genre.

This particular drama draws from three primary concepts. The first is Ukiyo-e and One Hundred Ghost Tales, the culture closely-linked to Yokai. The second focuses on the worldview of Buddhism, and the third is centered on feminine beauty in East Asia. The latter’s story describes the women who seduce the protagonist Ninkou, presenting a unique world view by mixing live-action with animation.

The maximum donation level was 300,000 yen (about $3,200), and although no individual supporters committed to that level, two supporters did agree to contribute 100,000 yen. Supporters can earn benefits such as a Blu-ray disc, a book of illustrations from the film, as well as a specific mention in the final credits. The initial funding target was 1,000,000 yen (or about $10,600), and the project achieved by raising 1,079,100 yen from 83 patrons.

It’s going to be interesting to watch and see how this one turns out. For a preview, check out the promo clip below.

Could Japan’s next pop supergroup be crowdfunded?

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This is part of our Crowdfunding in Japan series (RSS. Services like KickStarter have become a global phenomenon with the power to let creative individuals take their ideas to new heights. It’s happening here in Japan too, most notably on Campfire, the country’s answer to Kickstarter. The musical act The j-Pad Girls was formed in July of 2012 as part of a media art project. Each artist performs a Japanese classic hit song, and the group’s third release Kimi wo Nosete was ranked number one on the Amazon download chart, and number seventeen on the iTunes music video chart. While the singers are certainly easy on the eyes, they also have the savvy to promote themselves on the web. In their Campfire project supporting their second season, participants and winners from various beauty pageants also joined the group. The biggest factor in the popularity of Japanese supergroup AKB48 is that everyone in Japan could get involved in the building the next big idol. In the same way, by supporting j-Pad Girls through Campfire, people would get invites to the group’s private Facebook page where you can participate in polls to decide the next album cover as well as other activities….

j-Pad Girls

This is part of our Crowdfunding in Japan series (RSS. Services like KickStarter have become a global phenomenon with the power to let creative individuals take their ideas to new heights. It’s happening here in Japan too, most notably on Campfire, the country’s answer to Kickstarter.


The musical act The j-Pad Girls was formed in July of 2012 as part of a media art project. Each artist performs a Japanese classic hit song, and the group’s third release Kimi wo Nosete was ranked number one on the Amazon download chart, and number seventeen on the iTunes music video chart.

While the singers are certainly easy on the eyes, they also have the savvy to promote themselves on the web.

In their Campfire project supporting their second season, participants and winners from various beauty pageants also joined the group. The biggest factor in the popularity of Japanese supergroup AKB48 is that everyone in Japan could get involved in the building the next big idol. In the same way, by supporting j-Pad Girls through Campfire, people would get invites to the group’s private Facebook page where you can participate in polls to decide the next album cover as well as other activities. Since a Facebook account is required to become a supporter, the group can also use platform to get an accurate idea of its fan base.

The project, which set a funding target of JPY 200,000 (nearly $2,200), reached that goal and completed recruiting of the group’s first members on November 28, 2012. It will be fun to see — and listen — to how The j-Pad Girls do in 2013!

How a Japanese team is crowdfunding a lunar rover

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This is part of our Crowdfunding in Japan series (RSS). Services like KickStarter have become a global phenomenon with the power to let creative individuals take their ideas to new heights. It’s happening here in Japan too, most notably on Campfire, the country’s answer to Kickstarter. The X Prize Foundation was founded by Peter H. Diamandis with the aim of developing and supporting space exploration [1]. One of participating companies in this competition is the Japanese company White Label Space. This private company independently develops Moon rovers in Japan. White Label Space is shooting for the Google Lunar X Prize, a prize awarded by the X Prize Foundation and sponsored by Google. It began back in 2007, and in order to collect the prize money a team must land a privately-developed unmanned space probe on the surface of the moon while also meeting some other specified criteria. We’re not sure exactly how they plan to get their rover onto the moon, but the professor leading the technology development team, Kazuya Yoshida, has experience in launching satellites into space. So we’re optimistic about their prospects. To fund the development of the company’s miniaturized rovers, White Label Space (WLSJ) launched a fundraising…

campfire-space

This is part of our Crowdfunding in Japan series (RSS). Services like KickStarter have become a global phenomenon with the power to let creative individuals take their ideas to new heights. It’s happening here in Japan too, most notably on Campfire, the country’s answer to Kickstarter.


The X Prize Foundation was founded by Peter H. Diamandis with the aim of developing and supporting space exploration [1]. One of participating companies in this competition is the Japanese company White Label Space. This private company independently develops Moon rovers in Japan.

White Label Space is shooting for the Google Lunar X Prize, a prize awarded by the X Prize Foundation and sponsored by Google. It began back in 2007, and in order to collect the prize money a team must land a privately-developed unmanned space probe on the surface of the moon while also meeting some other specified criteria. We’re not sure exactly how they plan to get their rover onto the moon, but the professor leading the technology development team, Kazuya Yoshida, has experience in launching satellites into space. So we’re optimistic about their prospects.

To fund the development of the company’s miniaturized rovers, White Label Space (WLSJ) launched a fundraising campaign via Campfire to pay for the production cost and testing of its prototype. Having set an initial goal of raising ¥2,000,000 (or about $22,000), they successfully gathered ¥2,301,520 by December 4, 2012.

campfire-space-2


  1. It is supported by many of the internet’s heavy-hitters including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, as well as the founder of Virgin Group, Richard Branson.  ↩