deralte: (Default)
( Jan. 24th, 2016 07:56 pm)
So I have been having a blast here in Tokyo despite jetlag and the pain of walking up and down subway steps (this is the reason I lost so much weight in Korea... you just have to live with the pain for the first few days). I have been hitting the communal bath on the top floor to compensate for all the aches but soaking in hot water can only do so much.

I went to see Star Wars in 4D and it was utterly amazing that way. Having your seat tilt down following the slow pan of the opening shot was really thrilling, as were all the space battles. They sprayed mesquite into the room whenever there were things burning which I liked but it also made me a bit hungry. It was actually a little weird to have something hitting your legs at the same time as a tentacle monster attacking Finn. Japanese 4D theaters have more seats and they tilt forward more. So much so that if they had gone slightly more angled, I'd have slid off. No wonder they suggest you put your bags in free lockers before you go in. Incidentally, to get the tickets, I had to go to the roppongi hills cinema several hours before the show and buy one of the last four tickets for the 3pm showing. They sold out insanely quickly but this was unsurprising considering the weekend was already sold out when I went on Friday. By virtue of seeing it alone, I actually had a really nice center seat.

I made it to Mandarake in Shibuya to check out the "doujinshi for women" as they put it. There's not a lot of series I'm interested in atm (I already have tons of doujinshi that I've only flipped through at home) but I love to look at the western series doujin because it's rather fascinating to compare to the western fandoms. Usually, the focus of pairings is quite different. So for example, the Avengers fandom is still being dominated by Tony/Jarvis with science bros not too far behind. Stucky was a rare pair and I only saw a few Stony. I have yet to figure out too why the Boondock Saints fandom is still going strong in Japan. Anybody? But much to my surprise The Hobbit fandom was really fascinating because the doujin almost exactly reflected the western fandom. Bagginshield dominated (it was nonexistent in Japan in 2013 when I last checked) and Bard/Thranduil had become popular since the last movie, with a couple of rare pairs and gen thrown in for good measure.

I also made it to Akihabara. I checked out animate first as I usually do but my interests in anime don't currently line up with anything that is showing atm (except One Punch Man), so I headed over the building with the mandarake cafe in it. The lower four floors there have recent doujin, electronics, and an astonishing collection of figurines and memorabilia. There's one shop on the third floor I believe which consistently sells all the figures about 20% cheaper than anyone else so it's worth checking out. I first tried to find a new battery for my lenova pad but I was told they don't make anything like it in Japan so I'd have to get one from the US. Oh well. I then set out to find memorabilia and figurines from Natsume Yuujinchou and Star Wars. I particularly wanted some action figures of Rey and BB-8 but she was almost as hard to find here as in the US. I did get a cute 3-inch figure of Rey which was made for the Japanese market only and looks great but there were no BB-8 figurines to be found, or the larger Rey figurine which the internet tells me exists but I have yet to see. My capsule luck held and I got an awesome looking tengu from a gegege kitaro machine. Turns out it's one of the rarer expensive ones so I was doubly pleased. (You can tell by how they price them in other nearby stores that sell figurines individually. Mine was the most expensive, therefore it was pretty rare.) I picked up some tiny Natsume yuujinchou figurines like one of Madara as a daruma. I then headed out and north to another store which was advertising for Star Wars. They did have a BB=8 figurine there but it came with R2D2 and I wouldn't have been able to fit him in my bag. So I bought a cute set of BB-8 stationary and headed back to my hotel.

I have been eating out on occasion but mostly living on the hotel breakfast (which is quite nice) and convenience store food. The thrill of meat buns and onigiri for a buck will not wear off for awhile. I also tried some famous Asakusa pudding which was amazing until I hit the burnt sugar at the bottom which totally ruined the rest of the pudding for me. I also had some famous maple melon bread and a delicious sweet potato paste thingy.

Today, I headed out of Tokyo to attend Bujinkan training at the Hombu dojo. Nobody told me, but they knocked down the old dojo and built a new, larger one with better facilities. It was a bit difficult to find at first until I started looking for the kanji. The other dojo was quite stereotypical looking so it was easier to find, though I suppose you could always just follow all the foreigners on a Sunday morning. There were a ton of Australians there and I made friends. I trained with one of them, M. who was my height and a bit of a beginner, plus she had a leg injury, so we took it easy. I don't mind teaching someone since it helps me learn as well (it's only frustrating if they're not trying and this was not the case). Despite the dojo being bigger, it was still crowded so when we switched over to sword, there wasn't really enough room to do anything. But it was fun. Hatsumi soke has a wicked sense of humour (that Jack definitely gets from him). For example, he took a guy down, let him go and then when he thought he could escape, put him in an even worse lock, and all with a smile on his face. It's interesting to be able to understand enough Japanese to know what he was talking about. He talked about intent and convincing your opponent that they took a hit, even though they didn't. We then got a gruesome story about Japanese executions and people getting their heads chopped off. Apparently, heads being chopped sounds like a wet towel being snapped so they went down a line and at the last person, they snapped a towel instead and the person died of fright. He's also still talking about things that Jack passed on like spiraling in to the proper point while taking people down and of course, taking the right space and distance and moving. I liked his point of using both sides of the chest to take someone out (catching on one hand, then bringing that shoulder down before taking the space around the opposite elbow and letting the rebound from the shoulder you pressed down send the other shoulder up). I ended up with a few more bruises and tired but I found out where there's training in Osaka and made a lot of new friends. Plus I got some calligraphy painted by the soke.

I headed back to Asakusa afterwards and wandered through the markets looking for a place to eat lunch (it was 2pm by this point). Everywhere I tried had people waiting outside in the cold for a seat so I bought some snacks and wandered out of the tourist areas until I found a ramen place for lunch. I haven't had proper ramen in ages so that was nice. I then headed out, bought some food for my dinner and stopped at a cat cafe near by hotel, Cafe Calaugh. This one was set up a bit differently than ones I've been to before. They served food and drinks and didn't cover anything but the cats seemed to mostly ignore the food. I found a snuggle buddy who huddled next to me for warmth and then inherited a lap cat from someone else. That cat just didn't want to do anything other than sleep in people's laps. I had to pass her on myself after my hour of time was up. She did give me a kiss when she first came to my lap - probably to smell the hot chocolate on my lips.

I head down to Nara tomorrow so I'm getting ready. Ja ne!
deralte: (zoro exhilaration (by me))
( Aug. 27th, 2007 09:54 pm)
I woke up fairly early this morning and took a shower, then headed out to Ueno station. There I hit up a bakery for breakfast before hoping on the Yamanote line to Ikeburo. Have I mentioned how cool the Yamanote line is? It's got this fantastic computer display over every door that shows you where you are, how long it will take to get to your destination, any delays or messages, plus where the stairs are when you exit. Anyway, at Ikeburo, I found the STA travel office and discovered I'd been idiotic enough to forget a passport photo which necessitated wasting time taking a new photo in a sweltering photo booth. I look utterly miserable in the photo and since I'm wearing an orange shirt, you can't really tell the difference between it and a prison photo. I'm kinda impressed by how bad it is.

After I finally got the STA card, I headed to Shibuya to hit up Mandarake for doujinshi. I had 5000 yen from some of my students, to which I ended up adding another 3000 of my own money in what was a rather impressive doujinshi haul. I'm really entertained by their selection in the foreign film section btw. I blinked mightily when I found Boondock Saints doujinshi. (And then wished there was some Supernatural doujinshi *L*). I was also impressed by the weird mind that thought of the Harry Potter/Spider-man crossover I found pairing Peter and Harry. Hornblower was surprisingly popular, as was Master and Commander. So far, one of the Hornblower ones is Horatio/Bush in which they hilariously attempt (and seem to fail) at having sex, and Bush has a rich fantasy life which mostly involves him imagining him and Horatio as a lion and a dragon respectively, and every chapter ends with them fighting in the captain's cabin while a guard stands outside sweat-dropping. Don't ask *L* I'm going to have to spend some time tomorrow shipping the doujin home. So it goes.

I then rushed back to my hostel to change and a quick check of the internet revealed that Leeds had idiotically sent my final acceptance letter to my apartment in Japan, rather than the US as I mentioned they should (several times). *throws up hands* Have had my friend send it to the US asap, and sent Leeds a disapproving email after training. The crisis meant I was late for training, but some judicious train hopping (I'm entirely too comfortable navigating around this part of Tokyo) got me there in time to catch the bus. It was just me and R., so we ended up turning around and heading for his apartment for a private lesson.

The training was really fascinating. It was kinda the principles behind shinnenjustu, and I can only liken the experience to finally being told the secret behind a magic trick, or perhaps being shown the final step that I knew was there, but could never see. Not that I mastered it or anything, but now I know it's there and can work towards it. My poor little brother is going to be my guinea pig *eg* Some of the stuff we did was seriously like magic (like bringing someone down just by running your hand over their leg), while other things were just counter-intuitive to the extreme. Some were new, some weren't, but it's been awhile so it all felt fresh. I came away really inspired. We hung around afterwards, and he cracked my neck and back and I gave him a massage. We ended up discussing Western porn vs. Japanese porn and dating here in Japan, which just goes to show - I'm always meeting really weird people *L* I'm really glad I ran into R. though since I got three times the training in than I expected (and hell, I could have done more this evening if I hadn't had the Leeds fiasco to sort out).

This evening, I tried to have okonomiyaki for dinner since I had a hankering to have it one last time, but the restaurant near my hostel was closed (and damn are there a lot of homeless around here, especially the ones sleeping in the covered market/mall area. It's really weird since nobody ever glances at them and they hardly pay attention to the outside world either. It's like they're living somewhere else and we're just getting a glimpse...)

My body was barely functioning at that point so I just grabbed some gyoza and a salad from 7-11 for dinner, and ate it back at the hostel, using the extremely hot Japanese bath here after dinner. The hot soak seems to have helped a little though I'm still pretty sore. For all shinnenjutsu isn't about force or moving the body, you move a lot more muscles than you think, plus any other aches built up from training at the main dojo yesterday. Suffice it to say, even going up and down stairs makes me move like an old lady *L* And yet, I wish I could stay and train every day...

Tonight, I'm going to read some more doujinshi then hit the sack. I have to pack everything up again tomorrow. I'm going to drop my bags off at Ueno or maybe Akihabara and do some manga/anime shopping around Akihabara before I head for the airport in the early afternoon. My flight is very long with a short stop in San Francisco, yet I'm arriving late on the same day I leave. Here's hoping I survive. Won't be logging on tomorrow, so I'll see you all in America.
deralte: (zoro exhilaration (by me))
( Aug. 27th, 2007 09:54 pm)
I woke up fairly early this morning and took a shower, then headed out to Ueno station. There I hit up a bakery for breakfast before hoping on the Yamanote line to Ikeburo. Have I mentioned how cool the Yamanote line is? It's got this fantastic computer display over every door that shows you where you are, how long it will take to get to your destination, any delays or messages, plus where the stairs are when you exit. Anyway, at Ikeburo, I found the STA travel office and discovered I'd been idiotic enough to forget a passport photo which necessitated wasting time taking a new photo in a sweltering photo booth. I look utterly miserable in the photo and since I'm wearing an orange shirt, you can't really tell the difference between it and a prison photo. I'm kinda impressed by how bad it is.

After I finally got the STA card, I headed to Shibuya to hit up Mandarake for doujinshi. I had 5000 yen from some of my students, to which I ended up adding another 3000 of my own money in what was a rather impressive doujinshi haul. I'm really entertained by their selection in the foreign film section btw. I blinked mightily when I found Boondock Saints doujinshi. (And then wished there was some Supernatural doujinshi *L*). I was also impressed by the weird mind that thought of the Harry Potter/Spider-man crossover I found pairing Peter and Harry. Hornblower was surprisingly popular, as was Master and Commander. So far, one of the Hornblower ones is Horatio/Bush in which they hilariously attempt (and seem to fail) at having sex, and Bush has a rich fantasy life which mostly involves him imagining him and Horatio as a lion and a dragon respectively, and every chapter ends with them fighting in the captain's cabin while a guard stands outside sweat-dropping. Don't ask *L* I'm going to have to spend some time tomorrow shipping the doujin home. So it goes.

I then rushed back to my hostel to change and a quick check of the internet revealed that Leeds had idiotically sent my final acceptance letter to my apartment in Japan, rather than the US as I mentioned they should (several times). *throws up hands* Have had my friend send it to the US asap, and sent Leeds a disapproving email after training. The crisis meant I was late for training, but some judicious train hopping (I'm entirely too comfortable navigating around this part of Tokyo) got me there in time to catch the bus. It was just me and R., so we ended up turning around and heading for his apartment for a private lesson.

The training was really fascinating. It was kinda the principles behind shinnenjustu, and I can only liken the experience to finally being told the secret behind a magic trick, or perhaps being shown the final step that I knew was there, but could never see. Not that I mastered it or anything, but now I know it's there and can work towards it. My poor little brother is going to be my guinea pig *eg* Some of the stuff we did was seriously like magic (like bringing someone down just by running your hand over their leg), while other things were just counter-intuitive to the extreme. Some were new, some weren't, but it's been awhile so it all felt fresh. I came away really inspired. We hung around afterwards, and he cracked my neck and back and I gave him a massage. We ended up discussing Western porn vs. Japanese porn and dating here in Japan, which just goes to show - I'm always meeting really weird people *L* I'm really glad I ran into R. though since I got three times the training in than I expected (and hell, I could have done more this evening if I hadn't had the Leeds fiasco to sort out).

This evening, I tried to have okonomiyaki for dinner since I had a hankering to have it one last time, but the restaurant near my hostel was closed (and damn are there a lot of homeless around here, especially the ones sleeping in the covered market/mall area. It's really weird since nobody ever glances at them and they hardly pay attention to the outside world either. It's like they're living somewhere else and we're just getting a glimpse...)

My body was barely functioning at that point so I just grabbed some gyoza and a salad from 7-11 for dinner, and ate it back at the hostel, using the extremely hot Japanese bath here after dinner. The hot soak seems to have helped a little though I'm still pretty sore. For all shinnenjutsu isn't about force or moving the body, you move a lot more muscles than you think, plus any other aches built up from training at the main dojo yesterday. Suffice it to say, even going up and down stairs makes me move like an old lady *L* And yet, I wish I could stay and train every day...

Tonight, I'm going to read some more doujinshi then hit the sack. I have to pack everything up again tomorrow. I'm going to drop my bags off at Ueno or maybe Akihabara and do some manga/anime shopping around Akihabara before I head for the airport in the early afternoon. My flight is very long with a short stop in San Francisco, yet I'm arriving late on the same day I leave. Here's hoping I survive. Won't be logging on tomorrow, so I'll see you all in America.
deralte: (bujinkan (by me))
( Aug. 26th, 2007 11:09 pm)
I actually got some sleep last night though it wasn't enough for me not to be tired when I woke up around 8:30 this morning to go to the Hombu (main) dojo for Bujinkan training. It was a tired mess of travel through various train lines, but I did it before last time I almost made it to training so it wasn't too bad. I got there early and ended up chatting with this shy Swedish guy until they would let us in. The dojo is really small, and the walls are covered in weapons from naginata (long spears) to sub-machine guns (replicas). There's also dusty suits of Japanese armour, and really random pictures (most of which were of the Soke). We all paid our fees then squeezed into the dojo (it was about five tatami wide (along their ends) and four tatami long to give an idea (well, if you know what a tatami is...)).

Masaaki Hatsumi, the soke, just jumped right into the class after the bowing in. He chose a bo, and demonstrated a move, and we all grabbed bos and tried to recreate it with a partner. I trained with a guy from Spain who was very nice and only gave me one nasty bruise (pinches are a bitch). We couldn't do much since there wasn't enough room to really hit out with a bo or even throw someone. The highlights of that first hour were really watching the soke do his stuff. He's got a very light touch, with almost no force behind anything he did, but a hell of a lot of power. He demonstrated some pretty weird weapons like one long pole with two weighted bags attached to chains on one end. Another was a four ft long pole that was hollow with a hook fitted on one end. A long string was attached to the hook and stuffed down the tube. He then proceeded to casually string up his uke(s) without so much as getting close to them or using much force. (He did have a lot of fun demonstrating places you could use the hook... like ripping out someone's jaw or gouging out their eyes. I can see where my own sensei gets it...). It was fascinating to watch though we had no chance of replicating it what with not owning the weapons nor having any room to train. We "played" a bit more with the bo, then took a break during which everyone got Hatsumi to write and draw calligraphy for them (I was rather surprised). I used the time to chat with a random Jewish guy, and then with a guy from Florida (who lives in Japan) called Rob. He knew my sensei quite well, and consequently invited me to his own training/class later that afternoon (main dojo training is from 11-1, the class was from 4-6). This was great, and I wish I'd known him before now since I could have got some training done last time I was in Tokyo after all.

After the break, our training was knives for a bit (neither I nor my partner had one (mine's in America) so we just pretended), followed by palm strikes to the thigh, neck and head which are interesting, though my partner's pinch was a hell of a lot more painful than the strikes. We did have a pretty good time playing around with the moves. And then it was over far too quickly so I packed up, and followed Rob to the train station. There were five of us total and we all caught a train back to Kashiwa station where we had kaiten sushi for lunch. We then hit up the 100yen shop, then caught a train further west, where we got off and hung out at McDonald's for awhile until training time. I should mention that all these guys are tall with nice bodies and most of them were pretty handsome. I felt kinda the odd man out hanging with them (what with being short and a woman *L*). It was hilarious to watch them try to hit on the Japanese women though.

We caught a bus to a nearby sports centre where we were met up by another guy and trained like mad for two hours. Rob's focusing a lot on shinnenjutsu which translates vaguely to "mind control" or "heart control" and is what the soke is focusing on atm also. It's all about getting your opponent to see and feel only what you want them to feel. It requires almost no force, is all about pushing, not pulling, and can be pretty strange to an outsider (One of the funniest techniques we tried was shinnenjutsu hugging which was basically hugging someone into submission without them feeling it. Bet you didn't know you can bring someone to their knees by just hugging them the right way, ne? (and absolutely no force)). It was good training, even if I've forgotten the names of half the kihon happo and I made at least two very beginner mistakes (*sigh* you get so rusty). Had a lot of fun with swords since Rob told me to cut lose on this other guy and use any attacks I wanted. These guys were a lot of fun to train with, and it was nice to be treated as an equal since as a woman, I'm often side-lined one way or another.

Afterwards, they talked me into going out to dinner and karaoke. We had Italian food and I had a pretty decent salmon creme pasta plate. The karaoke place was actually pretty cheap compared to Shidax, so we just went all out and sang for two and a half hours. I was kinda younger than them so I had to search a bit to find songs we all knew, but we could all do Bon Jovi and Queen, and The Who etc. I even managed to slip in Flow's 'Go (Fighting Dreamers)' which I can almost fully sing, excepting one verse. Damn that is fun to belt out^_^ I caught a train back to Ueno then with Levi (who looks like a thinner Alan Rickman, and is from Texas) and had such a great time, I'm seriously regretting that I'm leaving Japan.

Of course, they kinda closed the showers by this point at night so I've had to make do with a sponge bath, not to mention my muscles are aching from the four hours of training and my voice is pretty hoarse, but I've agreed to go back tomorrow in the afternoon to train again. Need to visit the STA office tomorrow morning and go manga shopping, but then I'll go back to training so yay! (Yes, I know I'm insane, but damn, when will I get this chance again?)
deralte: (bujinkan (by me))
( Aug. 26th, 2007 11:09 pm)
I actually got some sleep last night though it wasn't enough for me not to be tired when I woke up around 8:30 this morning to go to the Hombu (main) dojo for Bujinkan training. It was a tired mess of travel through various train lines, but I did it before last time I almost made it to training so it wasn't too bad. I got there early and ended up chatting with this shy Swedish guy until they would let us in. The dojo is really small, and the walls are covered in weapons from naginata (long spears) to sub-machine guns (replicas). There's also dusty suits of Japanese armour, and really random pictures (most of which were of the Soke). We all paid our fees then squeezed into the dojo (it was about five tatami wide (along their ends) and four tatami long to give an idea (well, if you know what a tatami is...)).

Masaaki Hatsumi, the soke, just jumped right into the class after the bowing in. He chose a bo, and demonstrated a move, and we all grabbed bos and tried to recreate it with a partner. I trained with a guy from Spain who was very nice and only gave me one nasty bruise (pinches are a bitch). We couldn't do much since there wasn't enough room to really hit out with a bo or even throw someone. The highlights of that first hour were really watching the soke do his stuff. He's got a very light touch, with almost no force behind anything he did, but a hell of a lot of power. He demonstrated some pretty weird weapons like one long pole with two weighted bags attached to chains on one end. Another was a four ft long pole that was hollow with a hook fitted on one end. A long string was attached to the hook and stuffed down the tube. He then proceeded to casually string up his uke(s) without so much as getting close to them or using much force. (He did have a lot of fun demonstrating places you could use the hook... like ripping out someone's jaw or gouging out their eyes. I can see where my own sensei gets it...). It was fascinating to watch though we had no chance of replicating it what with not owning the weapons nor having any room to train. We "played" a bit more with the bo, then took a break during which everyone got Hatsumi to write and draw calligraphy for them (I was rather surprised). I used the time to chat with a random Jewish guy, and then with a guy from Florida (who lives in Japan) called Rob. He knew my sensei quite well, and consequently invited me to his own training/class later that afternoon (main dojo training is from 11-1, the class was from 4-6). This was great, and I wish I'd known him before now since I could have got some training done last time I was in Tokyo after all.

After the break, our training was knives for a bit (neither I nor my partner had one (mine's in America) so we just pretended), followed by palm strikes to the thigh, neck and head which are interesting, though my partner's pinch was a hell of a lot more painful than the strikes. We did have a pretty good time playing around with the moves. And then it was over far too quickly so I packed up, and followed Rob to the train station. There were five of us total and we all caught a train back to Kashiwa station where we had kaiten sushi for lunch. We then hit up the 100yen shop, then caught a train further west, where we got off and hung out at McDonald's for awhile until training time. I should mention that all these guys are tall with nice bodies and most of them were pretty handsome. I felt kinda the odd man out hanging with them (what with being short and a woman *L*). It was hilarious to watch them try to hit on the Japanese women though.

We caught a bus to a nearby sports centre where we were met up by another guy and trained like mad for two hours. Rob's focusing a lot on shinnenjutsu which translates vaguely to "mind control" or "heart control" and is what the soke is focusing on atm also. It's all about getting your opponent to see and feel only what you want them to feel. It requires almost no force, is all about pushing, not pulling, and can be pretty strange to an outsider (One of the funniest techniques we tried was shinnenjutsu hugging which was basically hugging someone into submission without them feeling it. Bet you didn't know you can bring someone to their knees by just hugging them the right way, ne? (and absolutely no force)). It was good training, even if I've forgotten the names of half the kihon happo and I made at least two very beginner mistakes (*sigh* you get so rusty). Had a lot of fun with swords since Rob told me to cut lose on this other guy and use any attacks I wanted. These guys were a lot of fun to train with, and it was nice to be treated as an equal since as a woman, I'm often side-lined one way or another.

Afterwards, they talked me into going out to dinner and karaoke. We had Italian food and I had a pretty decent salmon creme pasta plate. The karaoke place was actually pretty cheap compared to Shidax, so we just went all out and sang for two and a half hours. I was kinda younger than them so I had to search a bit to find songs we all knew, but we could all do Bon Jovi and Queen, and The Who etc. I even managed to slip in Flow's 'Go (Fighting Dreamers)' which I can almost fully sing, excepting one verse. Damn that is fun to belt out^_^ I caught a train back to Ueno then with Levi (who looks like a thinner Alan Rickman, and is from Texas) and had such a great time, I'm seriously regretting that I'm leaving Japan.

Of course, they kinda closed the showers by this point at night so I've had to make do with a sponge bath, not to mention my muscles are aching from the four hours of training and my voice is pretty hoarse, but I've agreed to go back tomorrow in the afternoon to train again. Need to visit the STA office tomorrow morning and go manga shopping, but then I'll go back to training so yay! (Yes, I know I'm insane, but damn, when will I get this chance again?)
deralte: (Default)
( Aug. 25th, 2007 09:09 pm)
Mwahaha. My hostel has not one, but two unsecured wireless networks around it. I win!

I am so beat after today. I left Onoda in the early afternoon, negotiating my way to sending my overweight bags (they wanted to charge me nearly two hundred dollars, but I figured out a way around it, that cost me $50), then headed to Narita airport to put the bags in storage for tuesday's flight home. The lady there was so pleased I could speak Japanese, she gave me ten percent off. Then I had to find my way to my hostel with my overweight carry on bags (I'm really overloaded this trip and I've already sent at least a hundred dollars worth of packages home. I figure I'm going to have to send more once I hit the doujinshi shop on Monday.) Tomorrow, I wake up fairly early to go training at Bujinkan's dojo. I'm nervous but that's on top of all my other stress so I barely feel it.

Speaking of stress, I've kinda lost my appetite nearly completely, presumably from the stress. I haven't been able to eat a normal meal since before China, and the full meals that have been pressed on me by my students made me nauseous. I'm fine if I just eat something small like an onigiri though so it's not like I'm starving. But it's weird for me not to have my appetite. I was kinda disappointed when I was at the airport that I wasn't going straight home, but I'm fine now that I'm settled in the hostel with free internet.

There's currently some anime playing about a little girl who was befriended by the spirit of a sakura tree when she was a baby and now she's come back on summer holiday and keeps running into the spirits around the tree. It's very low key.

I feel so dead. I hope I survive training tomorrow.
Tags:
deralte: (Default)
( Aug. 25th, 2007 09:09 pm)
Mwahaha. My hostel has not one, but two unsecured wireless networks around it. I win!

I am so beat after today. I left Onoda in the early afternoon, negotiating my way to sending my overweight bags (they wanted to charge me nearly two hundred dollars, but I figured out a way around it, that cost me $50), then headed to Narita airport to put the bags in storage for tuesday's flight home. The lady there was so pleased I could speak Japanese, she gave me ten percent off. Then I had to find my way to my hostel with my overweight carry on bags (I'm really overloaded this trip and I've already sent at least a hundred dollars worth of packages home. I figure I'm going to have to send more once I hit the doujinshi shop on Monday.) Tomorrow, I wake up fairly early to go training at Bujinkan's dojo. I'm nervous but that's on top of all my other stress so I barely feel it.

Speaking of stress, I've kinda lost my appetite nearly completely, presumably from the stress. I haven't been able to eat a normal meal since before China, and the full meals that have been pressed on me by my students made me nauseous. I'm fine if I just eat something small like an onigiri though so it's not like I'm starving. But it's weird for me not to have my appetite. I was kinda disappointed when I was at the airport that I wasn't going straight home, but I'm fine now that I'm settled in the hostel with free internet.

There's currently some anime playing about a little girl who was befriended by the spirit of a sakura tree when she was a baby and now she's come back on summer holiday and keeps running into the spirits around the tree. It's very low key.

I feel so dead. I hope I survive training tomorrow.
Tags:
deralte: (shinto squirrel (by me))
( Jun. 2nd, 2007 10:05 pm)
I woke up a little early, returned our DVD, and bought breakfast. We ate and finished packing up, leaving our bags at the ryokan while we caught the train to the Ghibli Museum for the 10:00 opening. There's a little bus with the ghibli coat of arms on it that takes you to and from the museum. It was really crowded with at least a hundred people in line. The building is one of the coolest I've ever seen. It's designed to resemble random parts of sets in the movies. Like so. There were tons of flowering plants and all the windows in the building were stained glass with scenes from the movies in them. Inside was all polished wood and warm tones and little passageways and doors going many places, plus iron spiral stair cases that were fun to climb. There were no pictures allowed inside, but there were rooms explaining how they animate things, and then there was this dream office with sketches and watercolours from all the movies pinned to every available space. So cool. Oh, and up on the roof was a garden with the giant robot from Laputa. People would line up to take pictures in front of it. Around the other side is the Totoro entrance with the life-sized Totoro. (Don't worry, I took many pictures with Sauron-chan.)

There's a theatre inside which shows short movies that aren't released anywhere else. We had the luck of watching "Mei-chan and the (baby) Cat bus" (can't remember the title exactly) which is a ten minute sequel to My Neighbour Totoro. It was the cutest thing in the world. Mei accidentally traps a baby cat bus in the house then feeds it a caramel. In return it takes her on a trip that night and they see all the cat buses and their families (there was one that looked like the shinkansen (bullet train), etc.). Just when it's getting scary (there's all these phantom passengers) Totoro shows up and they meet the baby cat bus's grandmother, and everyone is happy. So very cute.

We explored the whole place then had some ice cream (pumpkin for me, honey lemon for Kirk) and took lots of pics outside. The store inside was actually very small with more exclusive stuff to the museum than the usual huge amount of merchandise you see in the rather ubiquitous Ghibli stores. I should also mention they give you a strip of film from one of the movies with your ticket when you get in. <3! I bought a little baby cat bus plushie, a dust bunny keychain and some bookmarks made from film in Spirited Away, and Kirk bought a white plushie of a forest spirit.

When we'd finally had our fill, we caught the bus back, grabbed some onigiri for lunch on the train and headed back to Akihabara for an hour or so of shopping. We discovered a whole new floor of K-books that we'd somehow missed and founds lots of extra things to look through, especially the Harui key chain Kirk was looking for. We could have hung around there all day looking through old book stores, but time was up so we headed back to the ryokan, grabbed our bags and took the subway, train, and Tokyo Monorail to Haneda airport. We once again saw Tokyo Tower as we were going away. It was pretty cool that you could check in before even getting on the monorail btw. Anyway, the flight was fine if slightly delayed and we got in, picked up some food and checked up on the internet before retiring somewhat early for kindergarten in the morning. And thus ended our Tokyo trip. Owari.
Tags:
deralte: (shinto squirrel (by me))
( Jun. 2nd, 2007 10:05 pm)
I woke up a little early, returned our DVD, and bought breakfast. We ate and finished packing up, leaving our bags at the ryokan while we caught the train to the Ghibli Museum for the 10:00 opening. There's a little bus with the ghibli coat of arms on it that takes you to and from the museum. It was really crowded with at least a hundred people in line. The building is one of the coolest I've ever seen. It's designed to resemble random parts of sets in the movies. Like so. There were tons of flowering plants and all the windows in the building were stained glass with scenes from the movies in them. Inside was all polished wood and warm tones and little passageways and doors going many places, plus iron spiral stair cases that were fun to climb. There were no pictures allowed inside, but there were rooms explaining how they animate things, and then there was this dream office with sketches and watercolours from all the movies pinned to every available space. So cool. Oh, and up on the roof was a garden with the giant robot from Laputa. People would line up to take pictures in front of it. Around the other side is the Totoro entrance with the life-sized Totoro. (Don't worry, I took many pictures with Sauron-chan.)

There's a theatre inside which shows short movies that aren't released anywhere else. We had the luck of watching "Mei-chan and the (baby) Cat bus" (can't remember the title exactly) which is a ten minute sequel to My Neighbour Totoro. It was the cutest thing in the world. Mei accidentally traps a baby cat bus in the house then feeds it a caramel. In return it takes her on a trip that night and they see all the cat buses and their families (there was one that looked like the shinkansen (bullet train), etc.). Just when it's getting scary (there's all these phantom passengers) Totoro shows up and they meet the baby cat bus's grandmother, and everyone is happy. So very cute.

We explored the whole place then had some ice cream (pumpkin for me, honey lemon for Kirk) and took lots of pics outside. The store inside was actually very small with more exclusive stuff to the museum than the usual huge amount of merchandise you see in the rather ubiquitous Ghibli stores. I should also mention they give you a strip of film from one of the movies with your ticket when you get in. <3! I bought a little baby cat bus plushie, a dust bunny keychain and some bookmarks made from film in Spirited Away, and Kirk bought a white plushie of a forest spirit.

When we'd finally had our fill, we caught the bus back, grabbed some onigiri for lunch on the train and headed back to Akihabara for an hour or so of shopping. We discovered a whole new floor of K-books that we'd somehow missed and founds lots of extra things to look through, especially the Harui key chain Kirk was looking for. We could have hung around there all day looking through old book stores, but time was up so we headed back to the ryokan, grabbed our bags and took the subway, train, and Tokyo Monorail to Haneda airport. We once again saw Tokyo Tower as we were going away. It was pretty cool that you could check in before even getting on the monorail btw. Anyway, the flight was fine if slightly delayed and we got in, picked up some food and checked up on the internet before retiring somewhat early for kindergarten in the morning. And thus ended our Tokyo trip. Owari.
Tags:
deralte: (zen (by me))
( Jun. 2nd, 2007 08:23 pm)
5-30-07 - Today saw us waking up early to walk to the Asakusa Tobu station and catch the 2hr train to Nikko, the shrine to Tokugawa Ieyesu and his progeny. Oddly enough, I saw many of the treasures from there long ago at the Leeds Armoury, but it was still fantastic to visit the place where they're stored in person. (I recall thinking I would never get the chance to visit Nikko while looking at the stuff in Leeds, which in retrospect was kinda silly of me.)

First we caught a bus into town and had lunch in an old fashioned road side shop. I had some type of tofu udon that wasn't kitsune soba and Kirk had tonkatsudon. The first thing you see is Shinkyo bridge which is very pretty. See? We bought a combination ticket and had fun following the water that flows in channels down the mountain up to the top. There was a really cool bronze bowl up there too. Near the top, we first went to the Sanbutsudo with its three gold buddha, followed by a quick visit to the Japanese garden opposite. We walked up a wide, steep avenue to the Toshogu shrine. The decoration on the buildings was gorgeous and we saw the original carving of the "Hear no evil, Speak no evil, See no evil" monkeys. There were tons of elementary school groups there. Scary.

There's a side hall to the shrine with a giant gold dragon painted on the ceiling. The acoustics are designed to amplify sound from the centre of the hall, and the priest demonstrates by cracking two sticks together. It was very loud. Next was Futarasen shrine which had many sacred trees and a sacred spring which led to many Inuyasha jokes. We climbed many steps to the Ryukoin temple which is notable for its many varied/brightly coloured temple guardians (mostly sky gods). We were tired and unwilling to walk much more so we headed back to the station. Our train wasn't until four so we had some tempura fried anko which was delicious and sat and ate while drinking free tea. Good stuff.

Back in Tokyo, I decided to visit Mandarake in Shibuya. It took awhile to get there and it was raining when I did, which made that famous crosswalk crossing rather hellish (since I didn't have umbrella). The character of the crosswalk changes because everyone has to give enough space for the umbrellas too. I finally made my way to the store, rather damp, and I did a double take upon entering. They were having a cosplay contest and contestant #66 was working in the store sorting through manga - as Kakashi. So very amusing. I wish they'd allowed pictures. I picked up another DBZ doujinshi, this one a rather plot & fighting heavy story with Vegeta, Krillin, Trunks and Eighteen. It's really well done. I picked up a few others as well. The best was a POTC one called Black Pirates that I read on the subway going home. It's hilarious - one story's about Will complaining Jack never tells him anything about Bill so Jack spins this horribly sappy story about how Bill broke his leg and had to learn to walk again, etc, which finally ends with the advice, "Don't ask Jack a serious question while drunk". Another story ended with Will morphing into Legolas and Jack into Edward Scissorhands. Pretty art too.

We watched some more Supernatural and had gyros for dinner before going to sleep.
Tags:
deralte: (zen (by me))
( Jun. 2nd, 2007 08:23 pm)
5-30-07 - Today saw us waking up early to walk to the Asakusa Tobu station and catch the 2hr train to Nikko, the shrine to Tokugawa Ieyesu and his progeny. Oddly enough, I saw many of the treasures from there long ago at the Leeds Armoury, but it was still fantastic to visit the place where they're stored in person. (I recall thinking I would never get the chance to visit Nikko while looking at the stuff in Leeds, which in retrospect was kinda silly of me.)

First we caught a bus into town and had lunch in an old fashioned road side shop. I had some type of tofu udon that wasn't kitsune soba and Kirk had tonkatsudon. The first thing you see is Shinkyo bridge which is very pretty. See? We bought a combination ticket and had fun following the water that flows in channels down the mountain up to the top. There was a really cool bronze bowl up there too. Near the top, we first went to the Sanbutsudo with its three gold buddha, followed by a quick visit to the Japanese garden opposite. We walked up a wide, steep avenue to the Toshogu shrine. The decoration on the buildings was gorgeous and we saw the original carving of the "Hear no evil, Speak no evil, See no evil" monkeys. There were tons of elementary school groups there. Scary.

There's a side hall to the shrine with a giant gold dragon painted on the ceiling. The acoustics are designed to amplify sound from the centre of the hall, and the priest demonstrates by cracking two sticks together. It was very loud. Next was Futarasen shrine which had many sacred trees and a sacred spring which led to many Inuyasha jokes. We climbed many steps to the Ryukoin temple which is notable for its many varied/brightly coloured temple guardians (mostly sky gods). We were tired and unwilling to walk much more so we headed back to the station. Our train wasn't until four so we had some tempura fried anko which was delicious and sat and ate while drinking free tea. Good stuff.

Back in Tokyo, I decided to visit Mandarake in Shibuya. It took awhile to get there and it was raining when I did, which made that famous crosswalk crossing rather hellish (since I didn't have umbrella). The character of the crosswalk changes because everyone has to give enough space for the umbrellas too. I finally made my way to the store, rather damp, and I did a double take upon entering. They were having a cosplay contest and contestant #66 was working in the store sorting through manga - as Kakashi. So very amusing. I wish they'd allowed pictures. I picked up another DBZ doujinshi, this one a rather plot & fighting heavy story with Vegeta, Krillin, Trunks and Eighteen. It's really well done. I picked up a few others as well. The best was a POTC one called Black Pirates that I read on the subway going home. It's hilarious - one story's about Will complaining Jack never tells him anything about Bill so Jack spins this horribly sappy story about how Bill broke his leg and had to learn to walk again, etc, which finally ends with the advice, "Don't ask Jack a serious question while drunk". Another story ended with Will morphing into Legolas and Jack into Edward Scissorhands. Pretty art too.

We watched some more Supernatural and had gyros for dinner before going to sleep.
Tags:
deralte: (shinto squirrel (by me))
( Jun. 2nd, 2007 07:02 pm)
Tuesday was declared museum day. We went to Ueno Park, saw the statue of whatshisname walking his dog, then meandered to a small shrine on an isolated island in a giant lake filled with lotus flowers (not as pretty as it sounds due to littering) to see a golden dragon painted on the ceiling. Next was Toshou gu shrine where Tokugawa Ieyasu's soul resides in a palatial, colourfully decorated shrine. The 200 yen to get in is well worth the close up look at it.

Leaving there, it was a short walk to the Tokyo National Museum. It was crowded with people who wanted to see the Leonardo Da Vinci display and middle school groups, but as long as you avoided them, you were fine. There were English descriptions of nearly everything so we spent a lot of time in the main building looking at Japanese art/culture stuff through the ages (the Ainu are woefully under represented and their oppression isn't even mentioned) which meant lots of swords, pottery, paintings, ukiyou-e, kimono, poetry scrolls and bronzes. Poor Kirk had to put up with me taking over an hour to get through the Hyokeikan i.e. the Archaeology Wing. Their display on the kofun period was very comprehensive and unlike the Kyuushu museum, they actually admitted to the culture of the time being directly influenced by Korea and China. The parallels with stuff from the same time period in China/Korea in the Asian art branch of the museum were striking.

We toured the whole place until very late and ended up having a very late lunch of somen at the station. We then wandered past a bonsai auzelia display to visit the Shitamachi History Museum which recreates life in the area during the early Meiji and Showa era. A little old lady gave us a very interesting tour, then we wandered about playing the old children's games etc. Amusingly, I've still been to onsen and houses that looked like this museum, though with modern appliances installed. They gave us little presents as we were leaving, and it was just a really nice, interesting place to visit. I recommend it. Our feet were killing us by then so we headed back to the ryokan.

I went off into Kaminari cho and found a black pair of rubber-soled, ankle length tabi socks. I've been looking for some for ages since I wear through the cloth soled ones too fast while training at Bujinkan. They were also only 800 yen here, as opposed to the $30 I pay in the states. We had curry and naan for dinner with mango sours to drink, and followed that up by renting eps 6-7 of Supernatural to watch before going to sleep.
Tags:
deralte: (shinto squirrel (by me))
( Jun. 2nd, 2007 07:02 pm)
Tuesday was declared museum day. We went to Ueno Park, saw the statue of whatshisname walking his dog, then meandered to a small shrine on an isolated island in a giant lake filled with lotus flowers (not as pretty as it sounds due to littering) to see a golden dragon painted on the ceiling. Next was Toshou gu shrine where Tokugawa Ieyasu's soul resides in a palatial, colourfully decorated shrine. The 200 yen to get in is well worth the close up look at it.

Leaving there, it was a short walk to the Tokyo National Museum. It was crowded with people who wanted to see the Leonardo Da Vinci display and middle school groups, but as long as you avoided them, you were fine. There were English descriptions of nearly everything so we spent a lot of time in the main building looking at Japanese art/culture stuff through the ages (the Ainu are woefully under represented and their oppression isn't even mentioned) which meant lots of swords, pottery, paintings, ukiyou-e, kimono, poetry scrolls and bronzes. Poor Kirk had to put up with me taking over an hour to get through the Hyokeikan i.e. the Archaeology Wing. Their display on the kofun period was very comprehensive and unlike the Kyuushu museum, they actually admitted to the culture of the time being directly influenced by Korea and China. The parallels with stuff from the same time period in China/Korea in the Asian art branch of the museum were striking.

We toured the whole place until very late and ended up having a very late lunch of somen at the station. We then wandered past a bonsai auzelia display to visit the Shitamachi History Museum which recreates life in the area during the early Meiji and Showa era. A little old lady gave us a very interesting tour, then we wandered about playing the old children's games etc. Amusingly, I've still been to onsen and houses that looked like this museum, though with modern appliances installed. They gave us little presents as we were leaving, and it was just a really nice, interesting place to visit. I recommend it. Our feet were killing us by then so we headed back to the ryokan.

I went off into Kaminari cho and found a black pair of rubber-soled, ankle length tabi socks. I've been looking for some for ages since I wear through the cloth soled ones too fast while training at Bujinkan. They were also only 800 yen here, as opposed to the $30 I pay in the states. We had curry and naan for dinner with mango sours to drink, and followed that up by renting eps 6-7 of Supernatural to watch before going to sleep.
Tags:
deralte: (shinto squirrel (by me))
( Jun. 2nd, 2007 12:30 am)
Monday (5-28-07) was a shopping day since all the museums were closed. We had melon bread for breakfast, then headed to Akihabara. I have it described in my own little guide to Tokyo I made as 'discounted electrical mecca' which led to many jokes about the other type of mecca and perhaps they'd have a gundam for sale? We got there before most of the shops opened so we wandered through a few hobby shops before going into the SEGA arcade. Kirk played Melty Blood while I played Virtual Fighter 5 and we killed time until 10am.

We then visited K-Books, then Mandarake which has a decent toy selection on the 6th floor and a scary amount of hentai doujinshi on the 5th. We wandered to the main street after that and went in a place called ________ comic books which, it turns out, was right next to Animate's Tokyo store. Haul for the morning was Bleach plushies and Saiyuki cards. Kirk bought a Raito from Death Note plushie though what I'd really like is the Ryuuk one that's coming out. Next, we headed to Ginza to see if the Sony Building still had free video games in it (it doesn't. Damn you twice Lonely Planet!), so instead, we had pork cutlets with cabbage salad and miso soup for lunch.

Our final shopping stop was Shibuya in search of yet another branch of Mandarake. We got to the stare at the famous crosswalk outside the station and take lots of pics of the scary amounts of people there. Saw the dog statue, and wandered through HMV. Mandarake is down two flights of stairs that are painted black, making it feel like you're going to a night club and not an anime/manga store.

This was the anime store that had everything. Cels, really, really old manga, new and used manga, toys, action figures, plushies, and, as they put it, "new and used doujinshi for women." My goal for this trip was to find gag DBZ doujinshi, plush any doujin by some of my favourite artists. It was a daunting task since the majority of the doujin isn't collected in books but released in individual chapters books, so you end up pulling a lot of slim books off the shelves. On the plus side, most were only 210 yen so you were free to indulge.

Doujin babble mostly )

Days 3-5 tomorrow (perhaps...)
deralte: (shinto squirrel (by me))
( Jun. 2nd, 2007 12:30 am)
Monday (5-28-07) was a shopping day since all the museums were closed. We had melon bread for breakfast, then headed to Akihabara. I have it described in my own little guide to Tokyo I made as 'discounted electrical mecca' which led to many jokes about the other type of mecca and perhaps they'd have a gundam for sale? We got there before most of the shops opened so we wandered through a few hobby shops before going into the SEGA arcade. Kirk played Melty Blood while I played Virtual Fighter 5 and we killed time until 10am.

We then visited K-Books, then Mandarake which has a decent toy selection on the 6th floor and a scary amount of hentai doujinshi on the 5th. We wandered to the main street after that and went in a place called ________ comic books which, it turns out, was right next to Animate's Tokyo store. Haul for the morning was Bleach plushies and Saiyuki cards. Kirk bought a Raito from Death Note plushie though what I'd really like is the Ryuuk one that's coming out. Next, we headed to Ginza to see if the Sony Building still had free video games in it (it doesn't. Damn you twice Lonely Planet!), so instead, we had pork cutlets with cabbage salad and miso soup for lunch.

Our final shopping stop was Shibuya in search of yet another branch of Mandarake. We got to the stare at the famous crosswalk outside the station and take lots of pics of the scary amounts of people there. Saw the dog statue, and wandered through HMV. Mandarake is down two flights of stairs that are painted black, making it feel like you're going to a night club and not an anime/manga store.

This was the anime store that had everything. Cels, really, really old manga, new and used manga, toys, action figures, plushies, and, as they put it, "new and used doujinshi for women." My goal for this trip was to find gag DBZ doujinshi, plush any doujin by some of my favourite artists. It was a daunting task since the majority of the doujin isn't collected in books but released in individual chapters books, so you end up pulling a lot of slim books off the shelves. On the plus side, most were only 210 yen so you were free to indulge.

Doujin babble mostly )

Days 3-5 tomorrow (perhaps...)
deralte: (shinto squirrel (by me))
( Jun. 1st, 2007 10:29 pm)
In order to make up for all the decent trips I've had since coming to Japan (with the exception of Fuji), my bad travel luck struck immediately on this trip. The moment I walked into the airport, their computer system went down. After forty minutes of waffling, they started checking us in manually. The plane left an hour later than planned, but only arrived a half hour late. A friendly flight attendant confirmed for me that it would take about 90 min. to reach the Hombu dojo through I suspected longer. I would be at least an hour late for the two hour class.

One worthwhile thing was the sight of Mount Fuji. This time of the year, it's covered in streaks of white snow. The peak rose above the surrounding clouds and seemed to float only a few hundred feet below the level of the plane. It was majestic. For the first time, I was glad I climbed it.

The first major sight you see when you take the Tokyo Monorail from Haneda airport into the city is Tokyo Tower. I had trouble taking my eyes off of it since I was expecting it to be destroyed any second.

Tokyo proper )
Tags:
deralte: (shinto squirrel (by me))
( Jun. 1st, 2007 10:29 pm)
In order to make up for all the decent trips I've had since coming to Japan (with the exception of Fuji), my bad travel luck struck immediately on this trip. The moment I walked into the airport, their computer system went down. After forty minutes of waffling, they started checking us in manually. The plane left an hour later than planned, but only arrived a half hour late. A friendly flight attendant confirmed for me that it would take about 90 min. to reach the Hombu dojo through I suspected longer. I would be at least an hour late for the two hour class.

One worthwhile thing was the sight of Mount Fuji. This time of the year, it's covered in streaks of white snow. The peak rose above the surrounding clouds and seemed to float only a few hundred feet below the level of the plane. It was majestic. For the first time, I was glad I climbed it.

The first major sight you see when you take the Tokyo Monorail from Haneda airport into the city is Tokyo Tower. I had trouble taking my eyes off of it since I was expecting it to be destroyed any second.

Tokyo proper )
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