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Hello from Tokyo

Hello from Tokyo

Hello from Tokyo, internet access is a little tough for me at the moment where I am staying but there’s a daily way for me to get access now! The first day there was a quick trip to Ginza, (“Silver seat”) is considered one of the super-high end shopping areas of Tokyo. The toy store on the very end of the main street Ginza-dori has numerous hobbyist kits and models, but the real treat today was finding these electronic kits as well as hobby kits at a gigantic electronics store (7 floors) called “BIG CAMERA” – some of the kits are in a box with a small magazine-like publication attached. This might be an interesting way for us at MAKE to do kits one day, maybe all the parts in the box with the latest MAKE that has the project and more, fun to consider!

Here are some pictures. The phonograph and electronic blocks will likely be coming home with me.

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If you’re in Tokyo, MAKE will be here this week:

Dorkbot Tokyo (
Date: 2007.11.18 (18:00 open, 18:30 start)
Place: 創造空間9001(Sozokukan 9001,
1-1-75, Sakuragi-cho, Naka-ku, Yokohama-shi

42 thoughts on “Hello from Tokyo

  1. alcurb says:

    I would love to buy and build the Vacuum Engine kit shown above. Looks like fun. Might be very expensive by today’s value of the US dollar.

  2. jerrylentz says:

    Hey, Is that a movie projector? How can we get these? I hope Make does kits like these!

  3. PattiS says:

    Wow – could Make distribute those kits in the US?

  4. morcheeba says:

    Some of the big department stores in Japan have some awesome kits… I accidently stayed past closing time at the one in the Nagoya JR station, but the salespeople were very nice in escorting me out. A nice combination of science and modeling kits.

    Hey, a kit-of-the-quarter would make a great addition to Make magazine!

  5. JohnCabrer says:

    If you are in the Torrance, California area, you can find some of these kits at the Mitzua Marketplace. The bookstore there carries some of them. I bought a Sterling Engine Car, similar to the Vacuum Pump car.

    They also have a mecha archer boy that picks out an arrow from his quiver, draws his bow and fires at a target. The amazing part is that he repeats the task 4 or 5 times over! (yes, he does hit the target)

  6. young_maker says:

    Oh yes, I was at that place, it is wonderful. It was insanely paked when I went. Unfortunetly, I was unable to make it to the kit section because I was much more enthralled in the video game section and the fake apple store. Hope you have fun!

  7. bgraham111 says:

    Looks like you went to a Toyku Hands store. I can spend hours in there. I’ve seen and/or purchased a few of those kits while in Nagoya. By the way, the little 600 yen radio controlled cars work REALLY WELL. It’s amazing. (I’m been over there at least 10 times this year, and I still love going to the nerd engineering toy stores.)

  8. uglywage says:

    I’ve seen some of these kits for sale in Japanese bookstores in both LA and SF. There was a really nice crystal radio kit that I really wanted to get several months ago, but as I recall the price was around $90.

  9. Vince77 says:

    I have the opaque projector shown above and a sterling engin kit that isn’t pictured here… Just to make you guys a little more jelouse, most of the kits are only about $20. That ‘Vacuum Engine’ is like $150 though or I would probably have two…

  10. gadgetlust says:

    I lived in Tokyo for over two years. I miss it unbelievably sometimes. Akihabara especially.

  11. dj_nme says:

    Interesting looking publications.
    Shame that the filenames aren’t more descriptive, “IMG_0358a.jpg” (for example) doesn’t help if you’d like to do an internet search for further information.
    I’m interested in finding more out about the projector on the cover of the red magazine in the 6th image down.

  12. ClockworkPlanet says:

    Superb, Phil, thanks for sharing those. Looks like a great trip!

  13. Kagetsuki says:

    Those are in fact magazines. There’s quite a variety of them actually, and even トランジスター技術 (Transistor Technology Magazine) has a kit that you can buy with each issue. There are a few really nice services for young kids that I’m going to get once my son gets a little older.

  14. Kagetsuki says:

    In response to:
    ” *

    Interesting looking publications.
    Shame that the filenames aren’t more descriptive, “IMG_0358a.jpg” (for example) doesn’t help if you’d like to do an internet search for further information.
    I’m interested in finding more out about the projector on the cover of the red magazine in the 6th image down.

    Posted by: dj_nme on November 13, 2007 at 11:53 PM

    The publication is 「大人の科学マガジン」 (Science for Adults Magazine), and the featured projector is a “paper film projector”.

  15. young_maker says:

    by the way it’s BIC Camera, not Big Camera

  16. svofski says:

    I had a radio set like that when I was a kid, with green “cubes” that you can fit together to make various circuits. It’s the best toy I ever had.

  17. alcurb says:

    These and other Japanese kits can be found at:
    although I haven’t seen the Vacuum Engine car kit there, not exactly. They have a Stirling engine that might be a similar kit.

  18. JFields says:

    You can find most of those at
    There’s another page at the same site that has the Mechamo kits too.

  19. VinnyF says:

    The Gakken EX-150 shown I had when I was a kid back in late 70’s. My mom bought it at Radio Shack, and it was my absolute favorite toy when I was a kid, and I wish I still had it, since it looks the only kits you can get are in Japanese (which is no biggie for me, since my wife is Japanese and could translate….if she had some electronics background :).

    Anyone knows where a possible old radio shack version is? Collector site possible?

  20. HerrDoktor says:

    I want that camera projecter thing fourth from bottom in red….it looks marvelous…can you email info on how to purchase these items?

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