While quaint shopping arcades are certainly nice, the flip-side of life in Japan is that things can be rather backwards technologically, despite the image some may have of Japan as an advanced nation of gleaming glass and steel. My wife discovered this when she volunteered as a parental representative at our daughter’s school, which entailed maintaining contact lists and doing simple document creation. She was shocked to find that none of the other parents had any computer skills, and several didn’t even own computers, forcing her to do all the work herself. There are other examples of Japan’s lower level of technology, including Yahoo Japan’s still-thriving Geocities community and the way whenever we do a major print job in Japan, we know we’ll be asked to save our Illustrator file in a format from 12 years ago so the printer can work with it. Last year Japanese police made several arrests of people making online death threats, including the director of Gundam 00. It turned out that the threats had actually been sent via a computer virus created by a lonely guy who really liked cats, yet the police had not been aware that knowing the IP address associated with a certain crime was not iron-clad proof of guilt.
Japan can be surprisingly low-tech.