Elite Blogger: Rendezvous With Taro Calvino

Here at EliteChoice, we had a fad for gadgets and more so electric products. And the place that breeds these revolutionary products is Japan. Lately, we got hold off Taro Calvino, Editor, 3Yen for his expert views on blogging about Japan, trends in Japanese market, the floating gadgets from Japan and his mistakenly existence as a Japanese, thereby doing justice to our EliteBlogger series.

He loves being known as a ‘writer’ and chooses to ignore the titles he is worthy for i.e. blogger, reviewer cum entrepreneur. With out-of-the-box thinking, this multi-skilled personality keeps himself engaged with editing high-tech patents when not blogging. Whilst in any given hour of the day, he probably works five minutes on patents and 55 minutes staring at my navel and looking for wacky Japanese stuff over the Internet. Wits are embedded in him and before I allow you to dive into his pool of responses, I would like to pen down his favorite Japanese joke that he shared with me.
Q: What do you call a salaryman with an opinion?
A: Unemployed.

Here you go with the flow:
Introduce yourself to my readers and take us to your typical day at work?
The 3Yen.com and my Japanese existence is a mistake. That is, I studied Chinese not Japanese in grad school. Likewise, the 3Yen blogs hatched out my need for a just place to post my observations about Japan and my Photoshop oddities. My business partner, the mysterious Mr. Y had the same problem of too much junk just sitting on his computer desktop and so together we formed the 3Yen.com and invited a bunch of our friends to join in the fun.

My day flows like this: I get up every morning at six and turned on NHK TV (Japan Inc’s BBC) to find out what’s happening as I scanned my RSS feeds as a dress. By 7:30, I scanned 100 or so headlines and stories, before I go out the door to visit my clients and pick up my work of the day—I edit high-tech patents.

I get back to the house by 9am start learning about the background information and technology of the patents that I will be “reading”, and of course I start looking for weird Japanese news for my blog. By lunchtime, I post on the 3Yen.com whatever Japanese weirdness tickles my fancy. In any given hour of the day, I probably work five minutes on patents and 55 minutes staring at my navel and looking for wacky Japanese stuff on the Internet.

How many hours do you contribute towards Blogging?
Basically all. Sometimes I’m surprised to find that I have been online for more than 18 hours a day for the past week according to my operating system logs. Of course three days a week I’m out of the house, playing high-tech patent editor, advertising copywriter, or a corporate communications hack.

We at EliteChoice enjoy reading wacky finds at 3Yen and they quite reflect the man behind the words. However, tell us three things about you that not many people know?
Although most people think Taro is a goodfy, 20-something Japanese guy with crappy proofreading skills.
I actually am:
1) Nearly 60 years old
2) A quadruped, and
3) A half-completed dissertation away from a Ph.D.

I am curious about the reason behind the thought that all weird gadgets and products are unveiled in Japan. Can one label it as their heights of creativity or just an attention-grabbing gimmick by the geeks residing there?
It’s really neither creativity nor attention-grabbing, it just Chidoku geekiness. Chindōgu is the Japanese art of inventing ingenious everyday gadgets that, on the face of it, seem like an ideal solution to a particular problem. Occasionally, they are described as ‘unuseless’ i.e. they cannot be regarded as ‘useless’ in an complete sense as they do solve a problem; but in practical terms, they cannot be labeled as useful’.

Taro CalvinoDirect us to your daily-reads or favorite blogs.
Gee, I must follow hundreds of blogs, forums, and online news sites in an average day. My RSS reader has 60 sites are so. Here a list of my daily absolutely must-reads.



NBR Japan Forums


Pink Tentacle

Sake-Drenched Postcards

Weekly Teinou Woman

What Japan Thinks

Is 3Yen only catering to Japanese audience or do invite readers from across the globe?

The 3Yen only caters to the stars; that is, aliens! Almost no native Japanese read the 3Yen. Our alien readership breaks down to about 15% living in Japan, 40% living in the Americas and 40% in Wallaborongamala, Africa and even Europe. The remaining 5% comes from aliens off world I guess—Unknown hits from wireless, proxy, SETI, NSA, etc.

If given an option to write for a blog other than 3Yen, which one would be that?
I guess I would take $300,000 a year to write for Salon or the New Yorker. Otherwise, I’d rather just blog as I’m doing now. I’ve turned down job offers to blog for various major gadget websites and freelance work for magazines/newspapers.

Have you ever thought of writing other than Japanese Market? If asked, which potential country would that be?
I don’t write for the Japanese market: I write about Japan, from Japan. In the States, I have written about classic car restoring and customization, and no doubt I would probably do that again if I was living in the America. I own six cars from a 1962 pink Cadillac de Vile and 1976 MGB up to 2007 Infiniti M35/Nissan Fuga 350GT.

Besides Gadgets and other electronic products, Japan keeps on delivering variety of robots. Can you picture a day when robots would behave no less than a man and own one to blog as your substitute?
Robots are junk. Since they are not independent, Japanese robots are barely toys. Artificial intelligence is my specialty in linguistics as it is applied to machine translation of language. We’re still many decades from usable Japanese to English translations. Robots will need to be sentient, and that is not going to happen for a long time yet. Certainly someday..maybe not in my lifetime.

You mentioned: “Unlike 99.999999% of the blogs out there, the 3Yen is very much a profit-making business.” What is the revenue generation figure that you are minting out of 3Yen? What is the business model of ShinyShiny? From where do you tag monetary innings?
95% of my yearly income came from the 3Yen; mostly 3YenFriends are a lot of geeks out there with Japanese girlfriend fetishes. Last year we had two large corporate sponsors that allowed us to hire a writer that cranks out many posts a day.

At personal front, how open are you for inking pricey deals for outlandish gears? We at EliteChoice complied a list of 80 World’s most expensive things. What is your take on this?
Not one of those 80 items would I want to own or have in my house, but if you want to give me one I’ll gladly take it and sell it on eBay.

Whenever I buy something expensive, the first thing I always think of a status brand item is, “Could I get a master craftsman to make something better for me?” Case in point, I was buying a fancy-pants chrome entertainment rack from Miller of Sweden for a couple thousand when my plumber saw my CAD plans of my interior. He laughed and had his great uncle come into my home take a few measurements. One month later he delivered a custom kaidandansu — tradtional stair-step chest made of 300 year old, windfallen zelkova wood that fit my flatscreen and DVR.

Can my readers know: Which are those three gadgets (one fashionable) that Calvin doesn’t skip to carry while stepping out?

I always wear my father’s 1965 stainless steel Oysterdate Rolex. I always am listening to my first-generation iPod that was given to me for free a week before it was released to the general public. Alternatively, I carry my toxic treefrog green OLPC XO-1 from the One Laptop Per Child project.

Also I always carry a “Voice Tech” 2 GB digital voice recorder bound in leather case carved with Yakuza tattoos. I record almost every conversation. I run it through Dragon Dictate software so I have a transcript for my so-called novel, “The Codex Taro” ha ha.

What do you count as pros and cons of running blogs with as individual identity or in a community?
Anonymous blogging is standard in Japan, and most companies forbid using your own name for blogging while you’re in their employ. It’s much better to blog in a community/forum and anonymously here in Japan from an employment standpoint of view.

Taro Calvino

3Yen covers every hidden face of Japan starting from business, cinema, teaching, food, gadgets, video games, music, travel, mobile phones, food, fashion and many others. Which one will you count as the hottest lifestyle trend of Japan?
“Non-involvement.” Called Hikikomori. It means pulling away, being confined, i.e. “acute social withdrawal

Provide us with your favorite posts from

1. 1. EveryDay3Yen
Kawasaki’s Halloween Parade

2. Fashion3Yen
Japanese Construction Worker Fashion


Do you think RSS is the future of content distribution? How many RSS feeds do you track daily?
I follow 60+ RSS feeds. But ads via RSS is a bitch so that will always limit RSS.

We wish luck to Taro Calvino and his business partner Yves for their future endeavors. Hoping i have done justice to my readers by toning down Japanese slangs to universal lingual via wikipedia.
Taro Calvino

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