Summary of 2009

POSTED BY DANNY CHOO On Thu 2010/01/07 10:35 JST in Living in Japan Guide

2009 has been a fantastic year. So much more progress and fulfillment in life when compared to what I wrote up in the in 2008 article.
2010 is off to a great start with so many exciting projects that we are working on. Today we take a look back at the highlights of 2009.

Starting off with one of the best things we did in 2009 - hire Chris Gaunt. Chris is a fellow Brit who came to Japan a year ago on a working holiday visa. I saw some of his work online and we finally hooked up at Tokyo CGM Night. Demonstrating that you have the ability to do something is key to a successful career.
Working examples or visible past achievements is important when getting a business or career deal.

Chris is a superstar and I've wanted another person like him for a while now. Finding great people is extremely tough but it looks like I've found another superstar very recently...

Takeaway 1 - have working examples of your work (online or offline) to demonstrate your ability to deliver. You should at least have an online profile of your abilities and past experience.
Don't work on it tomorrow, do it now.

At the beginning of 2009, I was asked to be in a commercial for Nikon.

Back in the UK, I was a member of a production studio where I was also in a commercial for Coca Cola, a documentary about fireworks for the Discovery Channel and a drama for Channel 4 called Family Money.
Would love to do more commercials in 2010 ^^;

The Wieden+Kennedy team together with director Timothy Saccenti on the set for Nikon.

Was asked to be in the commercial mainly due to the photos I've been taking around Tokyo. Looks my photos have attracted the attention of a French documentary called Canal Plus - but more details later ^^

2009 was also the year when I started to write news items in Japanese too. Up until then, I would only write up photo articles in Japanese. If you are learning Japanese, you may want to keep up with the Japanese version of or subscribe to the Japanese RSS feed.

Thanks to the regular Japanese news items, I've not only managed to grow my Japanese audience to 15%, I've also connected up with many Japanese comrade bloggers and social media users.
Again, if you are learning Japanese then you really need to write it regularly - even though its just a few lines a day.
Being able to speak Japanese will open so many more doors of opportunity for you. Just a few facts for you:-
Most of the gaijin I know who are in Japan that don't speak much Japanese are English teachers.
Most of the gaijin I know who are in Japan and speak fluent Japanese are in senior management positions - most of my colleagues at Amazon Japan on the management team were foreigners.
The General Manager was Chinese Canadian, The Director of Entertainment was American, The Finance Director was Canadian and the IT Director was Chinese - all spoke fluent Japanese.

Takeaway 2 - if you really want a career working with or in Japan, learn Japanese and learn it well. Don't start tomorrow - start now.

In February 2009, I was asked to guest blog for one of the most read blogs in the world - BoingBoing.
It was truly an honor to be able to write for BB and I also managed to get BB onto the top page of Yahoo with one of my posts. You can see a collection of my articles that I wrote for BB in this post.

In February, Good Smile asked if I would appear on their live broadcast and do translations for Billy Aniki. Was certainly a laugh n a half as you can see from the photos taken on that night.
Shortly after, Nico Nico wrote up an entry on me and stuck it in their online dictionary ^^;

In February I was featured in Italy's La Repubblica XL magazine. More photos in the La Repubblica XL article.

In March-ish I was asked if I would speak at Pecha Kucha Night Tokyo. I was asked to speak in English but learned that if you are speaking to a predominantly Japanese audience then do it in Japanese. You can read more about Pecha Kucha in the A Week in Tokyo 37 article.

For the 2009 April Fools, I worked with many comrades to create some Mirai Dakimakura sheets and Oppai Mousepad. These products were even registered on retail sites like Hobby Stock ^^;
We still want to release these as products - you'll just need to wait a wee bit longer.
You can see more photos of the products in the Mirai Suenaga Merchandise article.

Another big change for 2009 was the office layout. The tables were grouped in the middle which made the office feel smaller than it was. You can see how I went about moving everything in the Tokyo Office article.

The tables on the sides meant that we could fit another table in the office which is great for a third member of staff. However, I'm now creating a working model where staff members can work remotely from any location.
The idea is to run a small profitable company that can provide reliable services for out clients and at the same time, I and staff members can choose our own working style from any location. Will be talking more about this soon.

And this is what the office looked like this time last year.

In May, Japan To Door were kind enough to sponsor the adoption of my 3rd daughter Nanoha-chan. Shes got gorgeous cheeks that you want to pinch. You can read more about her arrival in the Nanoha post.

Now that the number of stalkers and trolls have increased, we need extra security around here and Nanoha helps out from time to time.

My 4th daughter also arrived in May thanks to an anonymous sponsor ^o^
Shes the only Dynamite body owner out of all my girls. More photos from this set in the Ryomou Shimei article.

I like sponsors. 5th daughter Karin-chan. More photos of her in the Hamaya and Karin articles.

In May I was asked to speak at Nihon University - my first academic talk!
Was asked to speak about and my career - photos in the Nihon University article.

Also in May 2009, I was asked to speak at the Apple Store in Ginza about Consumer Generated Media.

I was asked if I would appear in the Firefox 3.5 movie that was shown to users who upgraded. Thanks to Gen Kanai for arranging this who tweeted me the message below.
The video is now up shown to all 300 million Firefox users... firefox users now amount up to nearly 70% which is fantastic. It means a lower Alexa rank (which started to decrease when Firefox 3.5 was released) because the Alexa ranking is dependent on IE users - the more IE users you have the higher your Alexa rank will be.

2009 saw the birth of our 3rd mascot character Hoshikawa Kanata . Ayu (moorina) owns the character design and you can see more of Kanata in the mascot page.

In May, we filmed K-ON! Trooper in Akihabara which was a load of fun ^o^

Also renewed my YouTube channel design. Feel free to subscribe!

2009 was when Andrew Shuttleworth and I started to pump out a load of Tokyo CGM Nights. It's now one of the most sought after networking events in Tokyo as it is by invitation only.

After being featured on CNN, the time came to be on the BBC and they came around a few times for filming.

T'was for a program called Fast Track.

More filming for the BBC news but I don't have a recording of it.

In June, Kodansha International published an Otaku Enyclopedia where they featured me under "C" ^^;
You can see more photos from the book in the Otaku Encyclopedia article.

In June, I was invited to the official launch of the iPhone 3Gs in Japan where I got to rub shoulders with the top guy at Softbank - Masayoshi Son.
The day following the event, wifey and I went to pick up our iPhone 3GS's - was our first switch to the iPhone - the device to change our lives and the way we work. An incredible machine which has also opened up many doors of opportunity.

More photos of the event in the Masayoshi Son article.

2009 was when I gave up on the Vader armor. I thought that it was going to be much easier than a Stormtrooper as most of the body parts are soft.
Turned out that the soft body parts was a heavy leather suit. The chest armor restricts arm movement and the helmet weighed about 5 kilos.
Managed to find a new parent for the armor though my Facebook.

The end of 2008 was when I upgraded my compact camera to the Lumix LX3 and this year I added the GF1 to the imaging armory. Again, I love my sponsors ^^;

In 2009 somebody at the Dollshow made a figure of the Tokyo Stormtrooper ^^

In August I worked with Google on their Favorite Places promotions which you can read about more in the Google x Danny Choo post.

In the Summer of 2009, Kotobukiya and I started to work on Otacool - a book featuring the rooms of readers from around the world.
This photo has all the main players who participated in the production of the book.

Otacool sold extremely well and we are now working on Otacool 2 which will feature cosplayers from around the world.
Otacool has been made into a series which will continue to showcase you and what you are passionate about.

This photo was taken at my first signing session of Otacool at the Kotobukiya flagship store in Akihabara.

Photo of my second signing of Otacool in Singapore.

In October I was asked to speak on a panel for Good Ideas Salons and Nissan which you can read about in A Week in Tokyo 46.
All panelists were also interviewed separately and my one is below. I need to keep eye contact with who I am talking to and stop saying "etc etc." ^^;

In 2009 I also kidnapped Asanon from Good Smile Company but you dont see much of her because I keep her locked up.

This is what looked like 10 years ago. The site was originally a place for me to try out web technologies and I used it as a platform for me to learn all my programming skills such as HTML, CSS, PHP, MYSQL and Apache.

In 2004 I added the blog functionality and in 2005 started to proactively blog. The main reason I started to blog was because I wanted to share my interests with others - stuff like Gundam and life in Japan. Little did I know at the time how much the existence of this blog would have such a huge impact on my life. had been running on code which I wrote as I was learning. By the first half of 2009, the site was running on a load of legacy code which was just waiting to buckle under the increased amount of readers.

In August, migrated over to a propitiatory platform that my company licenses called Mirai Gaia. Using a product that your company makes means double ROI - all our clients get features that we launch on the platform and we are launching a few exciting features which should be up and running this month.

We also have to launch 3 client sites in January too - busy start to the beginning of the year.

Launched the iPhone version of Mirai Gaia which still has a lot of work to do including auto-direction and commenting but its a good start. The version is up and running too.

In 2009, Good Smile Company made the Decoration Master for the figma Mirai. The production lines in China are currently packed so you will have to wait a wee bit longer. GSC did manage to make the Decomas of the camera that she will be bundles with too. There will also be a different facial expression and probably the black haired version of Mirai bundled too.

More photos of her in the Tokyo Figure Show Report and AFA Day 1 articles.

Last year I worked closely with Good Smile Company to help spread the word about their great products to a wider audience by displaying their figures at the various events that I host or am invited to.

In August, I held my first figure event called the Tokyo Figure Show and it was held at the H&M building in the heart of Harajuku.
Photo = together with the folks at Good Smile Company and Two Top event planners.

In 2009, we acquired a total of 5 Mac Mini's which we used as servers in the office. Was a great learning experience and while it only cost less than 10000 yen for both optic fiber connections at home, the set up required a load of maintenance time - and our time was worth much more doing something else.

We gave up hosting in the office and now host everything on the cloud at Slice Host.

The T-shirts ended up coming out before the dakimakura and oppai mouse pads and were produced by the top anime apparel maker Cospa.
More photos of the merchandise in the Anime T-Shirts article. You can find a list of places where you can buy the T-Shirts in this post and folks in SE Asia can order from Cospa.

We launched in Q4. is an RSS aggregator with a difference - it gets the first image in a post and makes a thumbnail from it. This makes it much easy to digest and identify posts that interest you. feature news from sites which participate in the Featured Feeds program. Participants will also find their feeds items appearing randomly across
One can participate in the program anytime.

In June we relaunched on Mirai Gaia where figure and doll appreciators from all over the world share their photos.
Figures and dolls mostly are based on anime and game licenses so it made sense to have a non-figure category too.

In October, a French news network La Chaîne Info broadcasted a piece on Japanese Internet usage. I was interviewed at the office on consumer generated media in Japan.
Here I am with the folks involved with the production.

Folks who want to watch the broadcast should head over to

Canal Plus in France are making a 2 hour documentary on Tokyo to be broadcasted in France later this year and I just had a meeting yesterday with the director.
French version of comes after the Chinese version. Hope to launch both before end of Feb.

Japan Rail kindly sponsored a trip for us to go Hokkaido where we had a fantastic time. Had always wanted to go there. This photo snapped at Edo Wonderland in Noboribetsu - a recommended visit if you are in Hokkaido. Many hot springs in Noboribetsu too. More photos in the Edo Wonderland article.

In November 2009 I was invited to the Anime Festival Asia by SOZO where I had my own booth to showcase the Tokyo Figure Show Singapore Edition.
Had an absolutely incredible time where I got to meet and connect with even more talented people - like May'n and Yoshiki-san for example who you can see in the photo here.
You can see coverage from my Singapore trip in the following articles.

Was a wee bit overwhelmed at how popular was in Singapore - I had no idea ^^;
Hopefully will be back in Singapore end of Feb/beginning of March - still waiting for details of the next project ^^

Together with May'n backstage at the AFA. For folks are not beknowist, May'n does the singing voice for Sheryl Nome in Macross Frontier.

For the first time since 2005, I took the armor overseas to Singapore. I also confessed that I'm not this "Danny Choo" and that my real name is Lee Kim Kua from Hap Chai.

In 2009, I met the most gorgeous maids ever.

Few seconds before the doors opened at the AFA.

In Singapore I also spoke at the Animation Asia Conference on the subject of Japanese Pop Culture.

On the panel with folks from Anime News Network and Crunchy Roll.

And this was at the top of my booth. Wanted to bring her back to Japan but she was toooo big! Somebody should have taken her home instead of letting her go in the bin ToT.

Don't think I've danced on stage in armor before.

And after the jiggling about on stage I talked about the history of

In November we launched our first e-commerce enabled version of Mirai Gaia for Cospa SE Asia.

In 2009 we started featuring posts from the Tokyo Live Bloggers.
The aim is to share more of Japanese culture with you from different perspectives. All posts are made from the iPhone meaning that we can post stuff as it happens.

At the moment we have the following bloggers including myself:-
Steve Nagata (Social Media Strategist)
Ken Lee (Professor at Keio University)
Joseph Tame (Producer)
Chris Gaunt (Web Developer)
Zuco (Engineer/Photographer)
Jerome Sadou (Web Developer)
Alan (Social Media Consultant)

You an find our posts on the top page of in the right column. You can also subscribe to the Tokyo Live Bloggers RSS feed.

Met a load of Dollfie owner comrades this year who I probably would not have met if I didn't own any Dollfies. Its also great to see so many folks adopting and posting photos of their daughters over at

There's been so many dollfie posts however that I've lost track of how many daughters are out there so would love to do another daughter introduction.
Go over to and post photos of your daughter and let us know when you adopted her. Tag your post with "daughterintro."

BTW, this photo was taken at Dollpa22 and you can see more photos here.

In December we launched image annotations. Adding notes to images is nothing new. We liked the idea but wanted to take it a step further and made it possible for you to reply to annotations by integrating it with our commenting system.

Its made user interaction so much more fun and find it funny that there is always somebody tagging my daughters eyes ^^; And remember - if you don't like the annotations then keep the mouse away from the photos and they wont show up.

In December I started live broadcasting from the iPhone and will be doing more to bring you Japan as it happens.

In December I filmed my first theatrical movie which is slated for release later this year - The People VS George Lucas.

With the co-founder of Twitter at a Tweetup event in Tokyo last October.
Twitter is an amazing social media service which enables you to connect with friends and make new ones too. Feel free to follow me on twitter.

As I spoke openly in the Tokyo Photo Walk 6 article, due to some rough seas that we went though, its taking longer than anticipated to make the company profitable. Those rough seas nearly sent us to the bottom of the ocean permanently!

However, the learning is tremendous and am glad that I'm learning these things now rather than later. Running a company is by no means easy but is proving to be a great challenge. Whats life without challenge? - A straight line and straight lines are boring.

Didn't get to travel as much as we wanted and missed out on our Canada trip. Still want to make it sometime this year though. Have been invited as guest of honor to an anime convention in the US though - need to sort out details and schedule before I can announce that.

So despite the rough seas that we sailed though, 2009 was still a fantastic year and 2010 is already off to a great but busy start.
Would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support and will continue to share my journey with you for 2010 and beyond. There will continue to be giveaways, more job opportunities in Japan and more chances to increase your profile through working with the Japanese brand names such as Kotobukiya.

And thats a wrap for 2009. I'm sure I've missed some stuff so let me know if I have ^^; You can also see other stuff that I got to in the A Week in Tokyo series.
Lets keep connected through my Facebook, Twitter and English RSS feed too!

And just out of interest, when did you start reading

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And as for Dollfies - well thats what all Dollfie owners say.
I'll never adopt another one.