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CNET News Video: Take a look at Tokyo, tech capital
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CNET News Video: Take a look at Tokyo, tech capital

3:55 /

Tokyo is arguably the high-tech capital of the world. With cutting-edge technology, efficiency in travel and creative options for living in constrained spaces, the city of 12 million people is also a model for other growing cities. CNET News.com's Michael Kanellos took a camera with him on a recent trip to see why this city has gained the status it has.

^M00:00:01 [ Music ] ^M00:00:03 >> Hi this is Michael Kanellos at news.com and I'm in the Shaboogi [assumed spelling] District of Tokyo which pretty much looks like the 22nd Century. Now a lot of people ask, "Is Tokyo losing its edge in places like Shanghai, Beijing and things like that?" The answer is definitely not. The Japanese still have precision engineering over everyone. Now we're gonna show you a little bit around time. Aah Ocke Havara [assumed spelling] capitol of lonely twisted Geek culture. Now a lot of people thought the neighborhood when this was in--Yodobashi camera; the biggest electronic store in the world, some claim. It's big, it's corporate, it's got tons of stuff, but it doesn't exude that sort of loner mystique that a lot of Ocke Havara friends like. But frankly it's a pretty good place. The store has only 8, 9 floors and each floor has something different. No books on one floor, the printers on another, game stuff on another, phones on another, and then vacuum cleaners. The Yodobashi camera is the corporate side of the Ocke Havara; this is more the genuine article. Small, dinky shop, crowded together, selling anything you can think of pretty much. There is kind of a cultural divide too. A lot of these shops specialize in the cartoon pornography and one of the [inaudible]; so a lot of times I talk to people with kids--they don't come down here. ^M00:01:22 [ Talking in foreign language ] ^M00:01:28 >> Tokyo Station. Millions of people pass through this station again. I can't begin to tell you my undying love for the transportation system in this country. The subways are fantastic, they're quick, they're efficient, they're rarely late and there are a lot of cars. The transfers are easy. The JR line will get you all the way around town extremely cheaply and does it fast. I live in San Francisco and transportation there is much worse. It takes far longer to go shorter distances in San Francisco than it ever was in Tokyo. You've made it to your subway station; you have a lot of stores and things like that but in addition there are sometimes two or three malls. By the way this is taking place at 4 in the afternoon. It's not rush hour yet. Here's one thing you don't do though--don't leave the train station without knowing exactly which exit you want to travel on. This is the basement of the DiHaru [assumed spelling] Department store. I've been in and out of it three times. Beginza [assumed spelling] at night--let the shopping begin. ^M00:02:27 [ Noise in background ] ^M00:02:38 >> As you can see, the traffic is never as bad here as places like Beijing, or even Seoul. The streets are wide and have [inaudible]. Here's another miracle of Japanese precision engineering--namely, my hotel room. This is it. This thing is basically about 11 square meters long. There's a bed tuck there, my suitcase is on the floor because there's nowhere else to put it. I was in one earlier and I actually sat on the bed to use it as a chair to work on the desk; which is, right there. You know interestingly, Tokyo's crowded, it's got tons of skyscrapers and over 12 million people live here. But you also have a lot of these; just neighborhood temples, they might be 200 years old; they might be 50 years old, scattered about and preserved fairly well. >> While Tokyo and nearby Osaka are centers for technology, you realize after about a week of being here that these are also centers for design and efficiency. You have 12 million people all living in small, constrained environments yet it all seems to work. Things seem to flow and it stays clean. Now around the world this could become a model. People are moving away from the countryside into cities. There are now a significant number of cities which have over 10 million people. There has got to be a way to get these cities to work.

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