Valentin Bianchi

Tokyo, a step into the future
Location: Liege, Belgium
Nationality: Belgian
Biography: Valentin Bianchi is a Freelance Photojournalist based in Liege, Belgium. Not far from the borders with Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and France. He started his career as a Freelance Photographer in 2009. His journalistic work focuses on... read on
Public Story
Tokyo, a step into the future
Copyright valentin bianchi 2021
Date of Work 01/26/20 - 02/15/20
Updated 02/20/20
Location Ginza, Japan
Japan is often perceived as a country where technology is omnipresent. For a long time now, technological advances have made life easier for the people of this country, which is passionate about electronic innovations. 
Here, perhaps a little more than elsewhere nowadays, the arrival of robots in daily life is being felt. Interactions are still very limited, but they appear to be an entertaining novelty for most customers. Often, it is even a marketing tool to differentiate oneself from the others. 
In the Japanese capital, there are not yet many attempts to do so. Relatively discreetly, a few hotels of the same chain are trying the bet. 
When you arrive at the front desk, you will find only two robots with human features and in uniform. The welcome is special, the atmosphere is icy despite the soft music. 
The actions proposed by these robots are not yet very developed and are limited to a vocal guidance inviting you to give your name, first name and nationality in order to check your booking. 
When you arrive in front of them, you are greeted by a traditional greeting. This electronic staff can greet you in several languages of course. And they invite you to register on the touch screen located on the reception desk. 
These hotels are becoming more and more common in Tokyo, but apparently do not seem to be popular with visitors. The number of guests is often very limited. 

And the human in all this, well in these hotels as in a restaurant in Shibuya, the presence of humans is necessary. 
In hotels, you have a particular question when you arrive at the establishment, the robotic humanoid calls the staff present in a nearby office to be able to answer all the requests that the robot can't handle. 

But this hotel chain is also taking the more daring gamble of offering an even more special welcome at the reception desk. Indeed, on several sites in the capital, two robot dinosaurs will be present at the hotel reception to welcome you. Lush vegetation, dinosaur cries and jungle atmosphere in the background. The welcome is no warmer there. But it has the merit of offering yet another facet of these robots. The newcomers, often amused, are ecstatic about the dinosaurs. Some customers even confess that they like to come back for the completely offbeat side. But do many of them also like the experience? It's hard to say, but the lobbies are not overloaded with newcomers. And these reception areas do not invite to comfort. You're just passing through and you need to check in quickly. 
Several of the chain's establishments dare to offer this special welcome. 

At a trendy restaurant in Shibuya, several robots are present in the dining room and at the counter. Their visual appearance is, in this case, much closer to the image of the robot. Almost inviting to think about the toy. 
Here too, interactions are limited. The robots at the counter provide vocal guidance in Japanese or English. Helping you place your order. 
The robots in the dining room near certain tables do not do more for you at the moment. They are able to entertain you and offer other orders on the menu of the establishment. 
But beyond that, man is necessary. Several servers are busy in the dining room to bring orders, answer questions or clear the tables. 

So these robots make a discreet entry into daily life here in Japan but they also ask the question of jobs. Japanese society may not have the same reactions as most European countries on this point. 
But what will it be like in the near future at least? The capacities of these robots are constantly evolving and they definitely raise questions.

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