Last week I was in Japan, speaking at the patterns & practices Symposium in Tokyo. I gave talks on parallel programming patterns and distributed agile development. We had a load of interesting conversations around these topics in addition to presentations on Windows App Fabric, ASP.NET MVC2 and Unity and Azure.
I’ve wanted to visit Japan for many years and Tokyo certainly didn’t disappoint. I got to eat amazing Sushi, visit some fantastic shrines and temples in Kamakura as well as wandering around Tokyo and taking it all in. Akihabara turns out to be geek ground zero complete with tonnes of electronics superstores and the Gundam Café, what’s not to like? We were also lucky enough to shown around by a couple of locals. Thanks, Musashi and Fumie!
Really hoping to get back to Japan sometime soon, hopefully with enough time to visit Kyoto as well as seeing some more of Tokyo.
I’ve also been trying to learn a bit of Japanese which turns out to be very, very different from any other language I’ve tried to learn. Some interesting facts about Japanese…
Japanese is written with three different sets of ideograms (alphabets). Kanji, the original Chinese characters introduced in the 4th or 5th century which represent sounds and meaning. There are several thousand Kanji used in Japanese. The other two sets each contain 46 ideograms and represent the sounds of syllables. Hiragana for native Japanese sounds and Katakana used for writing non-Japanese works. Hiragana and Katakana are referred to as Kana. Kana also have some additional symbols and combinations that can further modify the pronunciation.
Japanese has no equivalent of whitespace, words are run together. This makes splitting words up for the purposes of searching documents difficult. With whitespace splitting a document into individual words is a O(n) operation but “word breaking” a Japanese document is much harder. It also makes it harder to read if you aren’t familiar with all the words.
Japanese sentences are written in subject-object-verb order (verb last).
Japanese can be written both horizontally left to right (like English) or vertically reading columns from right to left.