[11/29/12 EDIT] The below content is definitely still relevant, but for those of you with Twitter magic, I suggest first reading this.
[11/30/12 EDIT] I cannot emphasize enough how hard it is to get wifi in Japan if you don’t live here. I would highly recommend skimming this - where you can learn how to book your wifi prior to your departure so that it will be waiting for you at the airport or your hotel.
AS YOUR TOURGUIDE/DRINKING BUDDY/KARAOKE CONFIDANTE
►MEETING FOR BREAKFAST/LUNCH◄
Weekdays I work at an office close to 麹町駅 (Kojimachi station) on the 有楽町線 (Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Subway Line) and can meet before work (I start at 9:15am) as well as during lunch Tuesday through Friday, from 12pm-1pm.
Between teaching English on the side and doing shows around Tokyo, my schedule in the evening and on weekends has me running around a bit. But I do try to keep track of everything here - any chunk of time marked “空き” is available time to spend with you (^_^)! I suggest viewing the calendar using the “weekly” view option (週), which you can select in the upper right hand corner of the page.
I’m on Google chat (danielmorito) and AIM (koshershamisen) the entire working day and - if things are quiet in the office - I can chat/guide you around. And while I tend to keep my cell phone off during working hours, you can reach me at the office - within Tokyo, the number is (0)3-3512-3711. Please note that although the phone will always be answered in Japanese - you can just say “Hello. May I please speak with Danny Katz?” and whoever answers will connect you to my desk.
►JAPAN RAIL PASS◄
I highly recommend the Japan Rail Pass if you’re going to travel a lot by 新幹線 (shinkansen/bullet train). (But for travel just within Tokyo, it’s probably not worth the money - see information below on discounted daily passes for Tokyo’s subways). If you buy a Japan Rail Pass, read all the information here. You need to get the pass purchased and voucher taken care of BEFORE you arrive in Japan.
►TRAIN SCHEDULING GUIDES◄
For those of you familiar with www.hopstop.com, you’ll appreciate both of the following websites as they allow you to plan your travel routes, departure and destination times, as well as providing you the total cost of the trip:
2. www.hyperdia.com (The advantage to Hyperdia is that it allows you to deselect “Nozomi” 新幹線 from the routes it pulls from - which is important if you’re using the Japan Rail Pass (as the Japan Rail Pass will not allow you to travel on Nozomi).
When you select a station at www.jorudan.co.jp/english or www.hyperdia.com, double check that you’re selecting the right one as there are multiple stations in Japan that share the same name. (Don’t assume that the station that the search engine defaults to is the correct one).
Many stations in Tokyo are rather large with extensive exits, tracks deep underground, lots of escalators, cute shops to distract you, etc. - always give yourself at least 10 extra minutes to get where you’re going - and if you’re wandering through 新宿駅 (Shinjuku Station) maybe even more time than that.
A comprehensive map of the two Tokyo subway systems (the privately owned Tokyo Metro and the government owned Toei) can be found here.
. If you have a Japan Rail Pass, this map of all the Japan Rail routes around the Tokyo area should be useful too. Also note that in addition to the subways and Japan Rail, there are extensive private rail companies, identified here.
►TRANSIT DISCOUNT OPTIONS◄
While the Japan Rail Pass will allow you to get around Tokyo on Japan Rail (“JR”) commuter lines, you should consider subway day passes to cover the entire area. Tokyo Metro and Toei both have separate all day pass options (that I think run around 700 Yen each), but for the money, you’re probably best off with the 1000円 per day all-access day pass (Tokyo Metro and Toei combined). You can, of course, buy tickets as you go, with the cost determined by distance. Regular rail tickets can only be purchased at stations, not in advance. Information on discount passes for subways can be found here).
This package might be worth looking into, if for no other reason than using the SUICA/PASSMO touch system is much easier than trying to figure out transit costs all the time. It’s like a MetroCard and it comes as a package deal if you take the Narita Express train. You can easily refill (add money to your balance) your SUICA/PASSMO card in any station.
It is fairly common for private train lines, commuter rails and subways to run on the same track (where the train is under different management in different sections of its route) so don’t be completely perplexed if you get on a subway and the last stop appears to be somewhere in the hinterlands of suburbia, or if you hop on a commuter rail and it routes you through subway stations. (For NYC folk - it’s like seeing a LIRR train pull into the 23rd St./8th Ave. station, or a 2 train heading out to upstate New York).
►THE LAST TRAIN◄
All subways and trains stop running around midnight to 5am. And Tokyo is huge. Just keep this in mind as you could easily blow hundreds of dollars on taxis if you’re not careful. And you also want to avoid the last train on Friday nights - it can be so crowded your feet won’t touch the ground. An experience, but one I would recommend you best avoid.
►MAKING SENSE OF JAPANESE ADDRESSES◄
Tokyo isn’t so much a city as a sprawling metropolis which is broken into 23 special wards, but those wards are referred to in English as cities. So you may come across something located in “Shinjuku (City).” This is a good explanation of those zany addresses you’re likely to see. Needless to say, always have a map or good GPS handy!
AT NARITA AIRPORT
►RENTAL CELL PHONE◄
If you don’t want to use your American cell phone while here because of costs, rental phones at the airport are pretty cheap. (Green/gray payphones are not nearly as common as they used to be, but you can usually find one near any convenience store or train/subway station, and unlike the ones in the U.S. 99% of
them work perfectly.)
If your luggage is particularly bulky and you don’t want to bring it up and down tons of stairs, you can have the luggage shipped to your first destination. If you anticipate buying lots of heavy souvenirs, you can have your hotel coordinate a pre-flight luggage pickup, although I believe the requirement is that your luggage has to be completely packed at least a day before your trip out of Narita.
Although they may be shy and hesitant to speak, a lot of people in Tokyo can handle basic English, such as giving directions. You may even find that Police Officers and Rail/Transit Employees pride themselves on speaking English, no matter how grammatically wrong it may be. Also - most tour guide books list basic survival phrases in Japanese - if you want free resources, check out About.com (but be warned, you could easily kill a few days just browsing there).
Even if you avoid rush hour, you may find yourself on crowded trains, buses, etc. Aside from making sure your luggage takes up minimal space (hold your backpack in front of you if possible so you’re not smacking into people behind you), the best word you can say is すみません (soo-me-mah-sen), also passable as すいません (soo-ee-mah-sen) - it translates loosely into “sorry/excuse me/please move.” Use this when you’re getting onto a crowded train, off a crowded train and if you bump into someone. If you really want to be assertively polite, you can also say ごめんなさい (gommen-na-sai) which means “sorry” as well as すみません・おります (soo-me-mah-sen, oh-ree-mah-soo) - “excuse me, please move, i’m exiting [the train, bus]”
PLANNING YOUR SCHEDULE
►WEEKLY EVENT CALENDARS◄
2. Also, an excellent suggestion from my friend Graeme: “Tell them to go to department store basements and buy lunch boxes, then eat said lunchboxes on the roof of the department store. Top recommendations are Isetan Shinjuku and Mitsukoshi Ginza. Also, don’t be shy to buy a whole cake and eat it up there.”
There are plenty of great coffeeshops and smaller chains throughout Tokyo, but if you need your Starbucks fix (I don’t judge - jetlag can be a helluva drug :P), you can find locations here:
1. Hotel Sunroute Shinjuku - not super cheap, but super convenient being a 5-10 minute walk from JR Shinjuku station, which gives you access to a ton of train and subway lines.
2. Hotel Maruchu - not as central (think this one is closer to Ueno/Minami-Senju). Might be dumpy in comparison to Sunroute, but safe and cheap.
3. Shinjuku Capsule Hotel - if you want to try something… different.
Time Out Tokyo. That’s just my personal fave, especially for its neighborhood descriptions. But Lonely Planet and the other standard guide books are a-ok too!
When planning out your finances for the trip, ALWAYS check a currency converter to make sure you’re bringing enough with you. MANY BUSINESSES IN JAPAN WILL NOT ACCEPT CREDIT CARDS. ALWAYS HAVE YEN ON YOU!
RECOMMENDED PLACES TO CHECK OUT
►TOURISTY STUFF OR…◄
Everything in the Time Out Tokyo book and Visit Japan website is solid. But if you want to do stuff slightly off the beaten path and waaaay less touristy, I recommend:
1. Shimo-Kitazawa (下北沢) - http://www.japan-i.jp/explorejapan/kanto/tokyo/shibuya/d8jk7l000002rm0t.html and http://www.japan-i.jp/news/d8jk7l000005pqej.html
2. Kichijoji (吉祥寺) - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kichijoji and http://www.japan-i.jp/news/kichijoji_shopping_town_part_1.html
3. Asagaya (阿佐ヶ谷)
4. Koenji (高円寺) - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koenji
5. Ogikubo (荻窪) - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ogikubo
6. Nakano (中野) - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nakano,_Tokyo
7. Yanaka Ginza (谷中銀座) - http://www.japan-i.jp/explorejapan/kanto/tokyo/yanaka-nezu-sendagi-hongo/d8jk7l000002rmdn.htm
8. Toden-Arakawa Streetcar (東電荒川線) - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toden_Arakawa_Line and http://www.kotsu.metro.tokyo.jp/eng/services/streetcar.html
9. Tsukishima (月島) - Exit 7 from Tsukishima Station and walk straight until you hit the restaurant row - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsukishima.
Unfortunately the Wiki entries are a bit dry - definitely Google the neighborhoods a bit or read the respective description blurbs in the Time Out Tokyo book. They’re great neighborhoods :D
Hello neglected Tumble-bees,
Ok, so the posting title is just SEO junk. No magic formula. :P But I’ve been meaning to blog about my experiences with fundraising for “Orbiting” for some time now. This rambling mess is still quite the draft, but it’s something to kick around until I have time to edit more thoroughly…
So you want to raise funds, eh?!
1. What’s your deadline?
2 weeks works great but you might burn out - it’s an intense process. 1 month is standard. Anything longer and folks lose interest. You’ll probably lose interest too!
2. How much do you want to raise?
You need to find that scrubland between realistic and optimistic. And when doing that, keep in mind that even the most generous donors may be experiencing “compassion fatigue,” i.e. they may have already given time and energy towards your cause. How can you get them to give again?
3. If you don’t reach your fundraising goal, can you still complete the project?
If not, why not? Think about having different checkpoints, e.g. if you raise $X, you do Y, but if youraise $10X, you create a unicorn that shits glitter while filing your taxes! Whut?
4. What exactly are donations going to?
You can’t just go in saying “just film costs” or “just a new album” (or in my case “hairplugs” ><) Provide as much detail as possible, ideally in a clean to read, organized manner. And definitely more pithy than this blog post. Things you might want to include: $___ for filming, $___ for MetroCards,$ ___ for heavy duty extension cables, $___ for mastering, $___ for therapy and zoloft (you think I’m kidding?) Also think if any of these costs can be offset by specific non-monetary donations, e.g. you might not realize that your friend down the road has the perfect tripod. Or your other friend is a pharmacologist. I don’t judge.
6. What kind of “rewards” can you offer donors to thank them?
Don’t waste your funds away on thank you gifts! Think of low cost or free and thoughtful thank yous. Dinner with the filmmakers? A naked ride along the Gowanus? (ew) GET CREATIVE! Just don’t get obscene. Kickstarter has some restrictions, i.e. no sling-heavy orgies involving furries as a reward. Freak… Let’s cuddle?
7. What fundraising model are you going with?
You can go with the panic-inducing all-or-nothing approach of Kickstarter.com - where you get 0% if you don’t raise 100% of your goal. But there’s also the option of getting whatever you raise via a site like indiegogo.com. They both have their advantages and disadvantages, but at least from my experience… it’s easier to raise funds if it you put a bit of urgency into it. And competition. Folks donate for all sorts of reasons - tap into this. Or ask them to tap into you. BOOM! Ok, I keed. Not really.
8. How accurate is your budget?
Although the amounts differ, I think almost all crowdfunding sites keep some of what you make (how else would they stay in business)? So for example - even if you raise $5,000, you’re not gonna see $5,000 in your bank account.
9. How do your donors want to be contacted?
Yes, this sounds like cheesy demographic research but you MUST know who you’re pitching to, especially if you’re trying to get beyond the usual supporters (friends and family). Are your donors web-savy? Do they live in Facebook’s newsfeed? Are they still forwarding you political humor emails? Do they prefer to be called first? You need to reach them in their own environment, not expect them to come to you. And yes, this might mean hanging out at The Boiler Room (face down ass up on the pool table) on a Tuesday night. Such are the sacrifices we make for our art.
Chances are, most of your potential donors are like me, stuck in a 9-5 watching paint (or their fingernails) dry. There’s a good chance a 1pm Hump Day (Wednesday) email will be noticed, whereas one sent Monday at 9am will be lost in someone’s hangover eyes. Also, think about when pay day is - most people will blow through a portion of their paycheck on or around the 1st. Yay Amerikuh and credit card debt?
11. Are you talking about the campaign BEFORE it starts?
You want people to know about your campaign before you start trying to collect funds. Build buzz. Blog about it. Facebook post about it. Tweet about it. Call people and let them know about it. Don’t just spring the project on people out of the blue. Ride a unicorn into your office cafeteria while in drag and announce it. Or at least send an fax. Well, in Japan at least. The only place where faxes THRIVE…
12. How much time do YOU have?
Yes, I was able to raise $3,000 during my last Kickstarter, but it almost came at the loss of my (debatable) sanity. If I actually break down the amount raised by hours invested (without ADHD meds so you can only imagine) I wouldn’t be surprised if it fell around $5 an hour. Inefficiency? No. I call it… imagi… SQUIRREL! Between blogging, instagramming, writing individual messages to donors, thanking people on Facebook, organizing my contacts, getting work done, eating, sleeping, it took forever. I posted at least 4 incentive videos with new music, previews, etc.
13. Some thoughts about using Facebook as your campaign promotion headquarters…
- For reasons I still can’t figure out, my Facebook fan page is pretty much dead, whereas my personal page is a jumpin. Maybe it’s the references I often post to Hello Kitty. Shrug. Something to think about when you’re promoting. And my Twitter? It’s active, but not for me. Nicky Minaj posts quite a bit (yes, I follow her!)
- I tried posting re Kickstarter on my personal Facebook page 1-2 times a day, ideally around 12pm NYC time) as I figured most people would see it during that time. When posting, I thanked donors with the @tag while including a link to my most recent Kickstarter update video. This means that Facebook friends connected to anyone who pledged would see the campaign - and possibly trigger Facebook’s ever quirky algorithmic whatevers so that the Kickstarter campaign gets more prominent placement in everyone’s newsfeed. Yes, it was ridiculously spamtastic (and carpal tunnel inducing) but…
- I copied each posting either word for word or some variation of it WITHOUT the @tag (but with a link to the Facebook event page promoting the campaign link) on my Facebook FAN page. I also posted identical text in the body of the Facebook event invite.
- Many of my friends who posted the Kickstarter link to their Facebook walls didn’t @tag me so I wasn’t aware of their support - pay extra attention to what’s showing up in your newsfeed. If you see something, say something (thank you, MTA) or at least “like it,” comment back to them with an @tag thanks.
- Give your fans reasons to celebrate (“milestones”) are particularly good for Facebook and other social spaces. Mine were $1000, 50%, 75%, 85%, when I gave birth to twins, when the mothership visited me, etc.
- Beware of the “backlash” that comes with constant posting. In my case, several friends hid me in their newsfeed (honestly, I can’t blame them - I’d do the same). While this isn’t a problem per se, as a result they didn’t see my status updates about my NYC trip and we never met up. There’s a balance between self-promotion and being annoying on Facebook, and I have yet to come close to mastering it. MORE HELLO KITTY!
14. General thoughts in no particular order…
- While exciting, crowdfunding is also emotionally draining - once you get into that weird space between commerce and art, it takes a lot of effort to not tie your value, worth, etc. to how much money you bring in.
- My previous fundraising attempts have bordered on begging - HUGE mistake. Emphasizing the TEAM DANNY or some spin on TOGETHER WE CAN DO THIS (thanks, Obama?) works much better, plus you’ll feel better about what you’re doing. No one likes to beg, no one likes a begger. If you want to play the underdog card, at least put a positive spin on it!
- You may be surprised at your biggest donors - mine were kind folks I don’t speak with that often. One friend, in contrast, responded with a “What is this shit? I’m not donating. But I’ll buy you a beer when you’re back here.” It was tasty :)
- As much as I liked using Facebook for fundraising, it started to feel like I was back in a high school cafeteria, replete with cliques, infighting, political squabbles, etc. If your fans fall into warring factions or groups, getting them to rally behind you will be tricky. It’s probably worth playing up the “communities” you are already a part of - e.g. filipino, Asian-American, LGBT, corporate, non-profit, etc. or… the things you all share in common. Really depends on your Facebook experiences and connections.
- Along those lines, if you haven’t yet, definitely join any alumni groups (on Facebook AND LinkedIn) before you start. I’ve gotten some great support from alumni I’ve never even met. And this is from Sarah Lawrence. If you went to a larger, frat-centric school, get your brothers/sisters to pledge.
- There are folks that scan Kickstarter for projects they want to support. Don’t be surprised if you get funded by people who you don’t recognize. Appreciate it. It’s one of the quirky beauties of crowdfunding.
- KEEP AT IT NO MATTER WHAT! Update and be involved in the campaign regularly (i.e. if you’re going with the more traditional month long fundraising time period, may post a few times a week rather than daily). Also, keep in mind that funding will be extremely uneven (i.e. big spike in the beginning of your campaign, then leveling off - sometimes to a trickle, with another spike towards the end).
- Whatever you do, don’t get frustrated - I read somewhere that over 40% of Kickstarters DON’T get funded. I’m honestly amazed that we were able to pull in what we did in such limited time.
15. Finally, have a look at successful campaigns for ideas, inspiration, strategy, etc.
I personally like Alfa Garcia’s (http://www.alfa-music.com) recent Kickstarter: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/alfamusic/alfa-you-her-next-ep
Japanese translation of Hypebot’s MusoMap feature