Korankei Stop

In the Spring, the Japanese enjoy seeing the first cherry blossoms bloom. In the Winter, they look forward to the first snow and now that Autumn is here Nagoyans celebrate it like many others by watching the leaves change color.  Every city has their favorite spot, and in Nagoya that spot is Korankei. Located near Toyota City, the home of Toyota Motor Corporation, traveling here by car is straightforward and doesn’t take more than an hour from Nagoya by the highway.  The community in this town has embraced these visitors by setting up beautiful shops and stands, as well as offering parking (for a small fee).  The town is extremely pleasing to the senses. From the colors of the shrines, temples, and buildings to the smell of the fresh country air, everything is organized to welcome thousands without sacrificing the small Japanese town atmosphere.

A short walk from the parking lot takes you over the first of many bridges, which is not necessary to cross if you want to enjoy the festival game stands or snacks that litter the boardwalk.  The most famous of the bridges is red and most visitors choose to take pictures of it or of it, while also capturing the beautiful leaves change colors and the river that runs all around.  From there, you can reach the center of Korankei’s festivities where they hold activities, sell delicious local foods, namely deer, and boar.  From here, you can continue north to a large building resembling a temple, enter the village museum, or go further into nature and the suspension bridge, that bounces as you walk.  Wherever you choose to go, the beautiful colors of the rainbow accompany you for a wonderful time.

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Kyoto in the rain

 

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Kyoto station’s Christmas tree!

On the morning of the 23rd, a national holiday in Japan, we took a train out to Kyoto. The train ride went smoothly, and with the exception to the heavy rain, we had a pleasant stay. We started out with something to eat before heading over to see the castle.  The meal was some quality beef from Miyagi-ken! The restaurant is actually a chain one, and can be found near most Japanese stations. There is actually one near where I live. The name is however, on the tip of my tongue.

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Beef dishes can be expensive in Japan

Nijo Castle in Kyoto actually doesn’t look like a castle. Traditionally, this is how most castles in Japan looked like due to the influence of Buddhism. Nobunaga and other warring state generals changed how Japanese castles look. This castle definitely felt more like a temple or a shrine than a warring castle. However, the interiors were very similar!

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What a shape?!

It was a very rainy day, but the castle grounds were still as beautiful as ever. The rain was making it difficult to shoot on this day, so I didn’t take many shots. Unfortunately, photos are prohibited inside Nijo Castle. The walk from the JR station can be a bit far, but there was a subway nearby.

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Small store, big on culture.

Afterwards, we stopped by the Kyoani shop, located just below the actual studio! The rain was really heavy about now, and I was slightly disappointed about its size. However, there were rare things to be found here. Particularly posters and board games from older series! However, 50% of the store was made up of Free merchandise. I haven’t seen the show yet.

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I love chain Pizza restaurants! Especially, all you can eat ones. The wacky Japanese flavors and side menus!

We headed to the covered shopping area afterwards. Turns out there was a convenient station right by the Kyoani store. I didn’t have to get wet anymore and all we could eat Pizza was available before Blitz had to head home and get ready for work the next day.

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Kyoto Tower at night

On our walk back to the hotel and Kyoto station we got to have one look at the illuminated tower. I don’t usually stay the night in Kyoto and this was probably my second time ever seeing it. Quite a wet and eventful day with a lot of eats and sights. The prices were reasonable for what we did and see. The castle didn’t cost much and we got to enjoy a sweet sake drink with small amounts of alcohol. The next day we would begin our roadtrip to Western Japan! Note: All pictures were taken with an iPad on this day.

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Breakfast for the next day!

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Our rental car. A Honda Fit!

Winter Vacation Recap Part I

About a month ago, I awoke in Kanazawa, but this wasn’t an accident or a drunken stupor. I woke up here because I wanted to be here, in another part of Japan. We were away from the concrete jungle, and with some good friends who visited from North America. After a quick ride on the shinkansen to Maibara and an express train from Maibara to Kanazawa, we caught a bus that took us up to the far northern Noto Penninsula where we found our Ryoukan’s bus waiting for us.  It wasn’t a cheap trip! The bus ride itself cost over 2000 yen!

The first thing we did was check in, and because the weather was right we went fishing! After freezing for a while and catching many fish, we let most of them go.  The biggest one was saved for dinner! We proceeded to the orientation room, then the hot springs before a wonderful 10+ course dinner! After dinner, we snuck outside to take pictures, but were hastily told to return. We spent the night talking, and in the morning we had breakfast on a nice enclosed balcony platform.  We were then off to explore the city of Kanazawa.  After fixing Blitz’s phone,  we went to look for dinner, and then headed back to the hotel.  The next morning we were off to the famous site where Hanasaku Iroha was based off of. This being my second time there, pictures were less of a priority!

Out and about Nagoya

 Mandarake, near Nagoya Station, is selling the Kagami Miku Nendroid for 1800 yen.  They have a lot of them!  They normally sell for 3500 yen so pick them up if you can! Kagami: Miku Version, was released in 2009, based of the Lucky Star OVA.  Kagami was having a dream sequence, and was transformed into Hatsune Miku during a run in with Konata the fairy god mother.
You can also find GoodSmileRacing Miku 2010 Nendroid there for 7000 yen.
Hatsune Miku’s 1/24 Scale Porshe GT3 is 3650 yen at Kiddy Land.  There are two versions, black and white.  Unfortinately, I am unable to find the 15000 yen Tamaya version there, but there is a dedicated Tamaya section for models.

Hatsune Miku: First Win Ver.

To celebrate BMW’s first victory in this year’s GT 300, Good Smile Racing is releasing a Racing Miku 2011: First Win ver. figma. Hatsune Miku Good Smile BMW came in with a lap time of 2’08″488, just seconds ahead of the Ika Musume and the Evangelion cars respectively. 

 
The figure looks incredible compared to the previous Racing Ver.’s . It will only be available through four packages from NicoNico Chokuhan and the prices range from 7000 yen ($85) to 50000 yen ($600). 
 
 The bigger packages will come with a lot of accessories, which are worth it for collectors. I’ll have mine on order, but I’m not crazy enough to drop $600 yet.  I still have my Project Diva: Dreamy theatre controller arriving soon.

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Hatsune Miku’s first overseas concert at AX was also a success.

My Top 3 Convenience Stores in Nagoya

There are a lot of convenience stores to choose from in Japan.  Almost too many, that you get a little spoiled.  Sometimes you walk in and think, “Oh, they only have 10 different kinds of Obentos and 10 different kinds of Onigiri to choose from.”  Then you realize back in your home country you’re lucky to find 3 choices of anything, and hurry to the counter with your bento.

Anyhow my Top 3 Convenience stores in and around my neighbourhood:

1. 7-11 – A store you can find almost everywhere around the world.  Except in Japan it’s my bank, my ATM and a convenient place for me to use my Point Card. However, it’s also the furthest convenience store from me. They do have great tasting salads that are more like bentos though.
2. Mini Stop – It’s Nearby my apartment, and has a great selection of ice cream, fruit desserts and obentos.  Always a good place to go for desserts and a great place to visit to indulge in all your guilty pleasures (well not all of them but most!). There is also a place to sit at most mini-stops in case you want to enjoy your meal inside, away from the Summer heat. There are a lot of great ice cream cones and parfaits waiting for you here.  It’s made me quite fat.
3. Circle K – Also Nearby, but Circle K has a better selection of new drinks, pasta, salads and bar food (nuts). It makes for a good place to visit if I want to lose weight.
These are just the places near me, in actuality how much a store carries depends on its size and location.
Update: Circle K and is now overthrown because Family Mart opened up next to us, and they sell Miku goods!

Day 446

Not a lot of anything this week.  Made a trip to the local space port to pick up some applications for frequent flying.  Kind of strange that with all the information they know nowadays they can’t just tell me how much I’ve flown and how much I’ve earned.  The trip to and from came in at under an hour and we had lunch their at the new gyuudon place.  We walked around to look at the museum, and other things in the area.  It was quite dead as you’d expect, since the disaster took place.

Those who can afford it get gene therapy to extend their life, the others buy manufactured organic organs.  Those who are poor buy mechanical organs, and the even poorer ones build their own from spare parts.  To think people once had to wait, and some even died waiting for something so common nowadays.

Out.

Day 438

There was a disaster several months ago in the East Sphere, in which the authorities remain rather silent about.  It appears a “Quad Wave” managed to breach the outer hull of the ship.  Being a rather small ship compared to the other classes the damage was quite extent in that sector.  It poses no real threat to our general health, however the ventilation systems may have suffered a leak which allows chemicals leaked from the damage air to filter in.  The filtration system is ahead of its time, but there are fears that food stored in that area may be contaminated due to the instability of the filters in that area.  Many lives perished in the “Greater Wave” disaster.  Memorials were held and many remain missing and unaccounted for.  The space contaminated space debris may cause a problem for other ships entering the area.  General complaints have been submitted by ships that frequent the area.  Life has gone back to normal in many parts of the ship, but power shortages do exist.  Relocating and restoring the health of those who lost their homes have been difficult.  Production and manufacturing sectors have been hit really hard by the loss of electricity and supplies that were only available from the contaminated areas.  The ones that didn’t leave in fears of a greater disasters have reassured our families that the problems have been contained, and that chances of recurrence are low.  We will have to shut down the air cooling systems in the general hall way though.

The heat is a little difficult to deal with during our travel between rooms and spaces.  The air cooling function has been turned off in most corridors but remain functioning in living spaces.  This is in effort to preserve electricity as many generators have been shut down in preparation of fixing the damaged zones.  This isn’t the first time we had to deal with such humidity and heat though.  Every year for about 3-4 months, energy use is reduced to conserve and repair certain systems and function of the ships.  Such as emergency systems, and preparation for situation where energy and life preserving systems are in critical or reduced conditions.  I think about moving to other ships or back to the mother ship on occasion, but no ship is perfect.  Every ship will face a disaster, wither human related or ship related.  The best thing to do is remain calm and sane in such a situation.  Although many of our nerves are in shock or denial about the situation the fact of the matter is it existed, and may continue to exist for as long as our species does.

I’ve had a lot of chances to travel between nearby ships to help out on personelle shortages.  I really like travelling by super rapid transit.  The change in scenery is also nice. I wish I could do this more often, there’s a lot I want to see and do before I have to make any final decisions about leaving.  I am however changing my room in a couple of months, and then I will definitely get my own form of transportation between ships. Since I’ve been feeling down lately, maybe it will help me feel better.

431 days

Day 431.  It has been 431 days since I’ve arrived on the Eclipse.  At the advice of a colleague I’ve decided to start a journal of my travels on this ship. The Eclipse is the newest class of Vectorcraft, designed to house the industrialists of this ship.  Although it is quite small compared to other ships, it is quite crowded compared to other ships.  The room were all designed to be small and efficient, providing only the bare minimum of services required, but in fine quality.  There are other housing areas further along the centre, but those areas are much smaller, and dirtier.  I feel lifeforms weren’t designed to be separated from their biological planet for so long, but examples in evolution have shown that adaptation is possible.  Those who don’t adapt will probably struggle, or die.  I don’t have it so bad, but because of the population ventilation systems are a little overworked.

I’ve come to assist industrialists with basic knowledge of other ships, and help bridge any culture problems that arise from their departure from this ship.  Because this ship is so small a lot of the culture has become homogenized and a lot of the time I feel isolated.  I’ve heard good things about this ship though,  their workman ship is great and many of the people here struggled in their past life to make it this far into this competitive, new ship to make a better life for themselves.  I’ve learned a lot in these past hundreds of days, but I feel the time goes by fast when you’re always working.  I’ve had time to explore and see the culture with help from some natives.  Although the belief system has passed on since ancient times, many of the beliefs these people shared in the past had been incorporated into their culture.  So many superstitions are just a part of their lives, that many don’t realize the impact it has on them.  As an outsider its quite a surprise to me, but they never really gave it any thought.

I’ve recently acquired a license that will allow it easier for me to use some of the more private transportation methods on this ship.  I hope to one day buy one for myself, but when I think about it, the capitalist culture died out a long time ago in the past.  People never really own what they buy any more, most of the time we’re just renting it, and that’s just fine.  We can change in any old model of communication devices and transportation device any time for the new one.  The only cost is that they have a log of how we use it, so we have to be more responsible, but mandatory insurance will cover any accidents. It’s another way that us humans have thrown away our vanity and attachment to things that won’t be here forever.  The culture on this ship and products at our disposel help us free ourselves from the evils of desire that plagued our ancestors and created class differences.  Since that time, we’ve been free from “masters”, and “popes”, figureheads and others who tried to teach us how to live our lives according to how a minority believed. We’ve truly become our own people.  However, we always have to keep ourselves ready for a time where the darkest times might return.  In that case this newest ship has the best GeneComputer.  She is more than just a living computer, she herself manages all life support systems, and navigation, as well as basic necessities of food, water, and transportation.  The old systems were great, but G.C. really does allow us to use our time to pursue our potential.  I think it’s time to take another break!

Hamamatsu a successful, Canucks not

Today, I had booked my morning off to watch Game 7.  I put in this request before Game 1 began, I had a feeling it would come to a game 7.  However, I didn’t predict a loss.  I predicted a riot thought and Downtown is ground zero for the Stanley Cup riots.  Just like in 93-94.  While the world has suffered disasters, Vancouver has been creating their own man made ones. The game was a bit of a bore, but Hamamatsu was quite fun.

I took the Shinkansen for the first time in ages, and it was as fun as I remembered.  It was full of high school students returning from their trip out West.  It was noisy, but in a fun way.  When I landed in Hamamatsu I had little trouble finding my way to the LC.  Its a nice place, but some of the rooms smelled funky.  The kids room had no tables, and we have to take our shoes off!  That’s kinda a surprise.  The Peda forms are filled out a little different from us and they do BE1-4 like we do BE5-8.  We move point by point.  The rooms are huge as is the Staff room.  They also have WI-FI! I wish we had Wi-Fi!  They’re also just above Freshness burger, something we lack in Nagoya.  Everyone was very nice and they prepped all my lessons over an hour before I even arrived.  They got all my material, even for my kids classes (which usually takes a dozen minutes or more).   Last but not least a big surprise, they work until 10 P.M., but they also start work at 10 A.M., which is a lot better than 8:30 AM.  Which I have to do tomorrow.  Sigh.