Back in the 80s, it looked like Japan would take over the tech industry. A stock market and real estate bubble took care of that.
But there's no reason the country can't rise again. High definition television is all the rage and many of the big manufacturers are based here. And this week, during Ceatec, the Japanese version of CES, manufacturers will be showing off the latest technology with TV. At the show, NHK will show off Super Hi-Vision TV, which is supposed to be even more realistic than standard high dev while Toshiba will give another exhibition of SED television, which provides the clarity of standard tube TV with the thin form factor of an LCD. The cost of these sets could be a bit high when they hit in 2007, but the technology is interesting.
Hitachi, meanwhile, will show off AirLocation II Tag-w, an RFID technology that lets you track individuals in buildings. Privacy advocates will cringe, but in an emergency it could help. Auto manufacturers will also be on hand to show off the latest in in-car entertainment.
But for Westerners, perhaps the greatest technological achievement is the train system. Express trains leave Narita airport every ten minutes or so to rush passengers to downtown Tokyo. The trip takes about an hour and costs $18. In San Francisco, a much shorter drive will cost you more and take longer.