Category Archives: Tokyo

World’s best cities for business according to Mastercard Worldwide research

Earlier this week, MasterCard Worldwide released its annual survey of “the global economy’s most influential cities”. Read on…

MasterCard Worldwide Research Highlights Growing Role of Asian and Eastern European Cities in the Global Economy

London remains the global economy’s most influential city, according to the 2008 MasterCard Worldwide Centers of Commerce Index™, an annual research initiative designed to evaluate and rank how major cities compare in performing critical functions that connect markets and commerce around the world. The future, however, appears to belong to Asia and Eastern Europe, whose cities represent the fastest rising regions within the Index.

Shanghai had the largest jump in overall rank – moving eight spots from 2007 to 2008 – bringing it into the top 25 of this year’s Index and demonstrating the growing importance of Asian cities to a progressively urbanized global economy. Moscow, a gateway for the fast- growing Eastern European region, showed the greatest improvement in actual Index score and had the most significant gain on London year-over-year. Continue reading

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Filed under Hong Kong, Industry, London, Los Angeles, Media, New York, Osaka, Tokyo, Toronto, Trade

Falling leaves in Chiyoda Eki

Some eye-candy from the Tokyo subway system — courtesy pingmag — which takes readers to “some of the brighter corners, as we focus on… elaborate train station murals and art tapestries that represent nature in more or less abstract ways.” 

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Filed under Culture, Tokyo, Transportation

North Americans want high-speed rail

Make no doubt about it: In North America (and indeed globally), rail is hot. One need look no further than Metro Vancouver, and its three new commuter rail lines slated for the next decade, for proof.

High-speed rail, at least in theory, is hotter.

But since the industry’s glory days in Canada and the US, it’s North America that has become the laggard. Asia and Europe have embraced modern rail. And there’s no hint of a anything approaching the Shinkansen adorning the landscape between Los Angeles and New York, or Vancouver and Montreal.

Part of this is a function of culture: North America is still a car culture. But more importantly, it’s a function of geography. The continent is huge, and bullet trains are monumentally expensive to build and maintain.

They require densities that few regions can approach — except for metropolises like Paris or Shanghai. In the case of Japan, a variety of bullet trains serve the Tokyo-Osaka corridor — since the two megacities weigh in with populations of 32 and 19 million, repectively.

But at least people on -this- side of the Pacific, and Atlantic, are talking about it. Ontario and Quebec are once again talking about a fast train running between Toronto and Montreal — and extending as far as Quebec City in the east, and Windsor in the west.

Perhaps more realistically, there is also renewed talk in the state of California about a San Francisco to Los Angeles high-speed railroad. But a combination of environmental and economic factors could make this one achievable, as pointed out by the East Bay Express.

“It’s the perfect storm right now,” said San Francisco Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, citing concern about global warming coupled with the rising cost of gasoline-dependent auto and air travel. As chairwoman of the legislative High-Speed Rail Caucus and one of the project’s two chief legislative advocates, Ma is actively recruiting support. “As I’m going around the state, people are sick and tired of sitting in gridlock and going to the airport two hours ahead of time,” Ma said. “I think voters will pass this overwhelmingly.”

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Filed under Environment, Los Angeles, Montreal, San Francisco, Tokyo, Toronto, Transportation

Tokyo to Osaka… in one hour.

A colleague of mine has alerted me to the the momentum, quite literally, of the super high-speed magnetically levitated (maglev) train in Japan. In test runs to date, the maglev train has reached speeds of over 500 km/hour.

In fact, we can expect to see a push on this file from the Japanese government in early December. Earlier this year, Central Japan Railway announced plans to set up a service between Tokyo and Osaka before 2025.

To put this all into perspective, in the early 1960s, rail service between Tokyo and Osaka was 8 hours duration. The Shinkansen service then brought that time down to 4 hours, and more recently, just over 2 hours. But the maglev line would shave off another full hour, whisking passengers between the two mega-cities in a mere sixty minutes.

In an article on the subject from this past summer, the Asahi Shimbun puts the cost of the project at 8 to 10 trillion yen — a staggering sum of money that would make this the world’s most expensive infrastructure project.

Interestingly, it would give airlines serving that corridor a run for their money.

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Filed under Osaka, Tokyo, Transportation

Armani’s Ginza Tower

Fashion fiends take note. The design blog Unbeige at mediabistro.com reports on the unveiling of the new flagship store from fashion designer Giorgio Armani in one of Asia’s most prestigious retail addresses.

Armani Ginza

The store is located in Tokyo’s Ginza district, and designed by architects Massimiliano and Doriano Fuksas in collaboration with Armani. From Unbeige:

the 12-story, 65,000-square-foot megastore will sell the designer’s clothing and home lines as well as house an Armani spa, bar, and restaurant. The building’s facade is clad in a bamboo motif and limned with gold details. The gold-and-black theme has also been translated into a limited edition “Armani/Ginza Tower” clothing line.

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Filed under Architecture, Retail, Tokyo