Friday, 21 July 2017

Tokyo Xanadu (Vita)

Originally I wasn't going to beat this version... I only got it so i could get the Limited edition (cause no matter how much I like falcom 200 bucks (cad) is too much for a game I have little to no history with.

Still in the end i'm really glad I did play through it... even if the bulk of why i'm glad is so i can hold Aksys accountable for the things that are off in this game.

This ramble will be spoiler free (though i will mention a few things that happened in my playthrough near the end game... still no spoilers.)

Tokyo Xanadu is the latest in the Xanadu series which is a offshoot of the Dragon slayer series. To date I have only played Xanadu next (which i haven't beaten yet). We follow Kou Tokisaka, a Second year student who seems to be the only part time work available in the entire town. One day after a particularily late shift at a cafe he sees his class present Asuka Hiiragi being followed by some thugs. He follows them to make sure she is okay when suddenly they all get transported to another world.
Luckily Asuka seems more then capable of handling herself and gets them all other of this hellish labyrinth. Wanting to be helpful Kou forces his way into help Asuka on her mission to stop these Gates from appearing and keeping the Greeds inside at bay.

They are joined by some unlikely companions as they try to figure out how to stop another potential disaster.

The combat is fast and fluid, every character feels very different so no matter what you'll find a play style that works with you. Dungeons are very short (longest one I was in too about 18 minutes and it was only that long cause i suck at platforming).

The lag doesn't get too bad until late game where i swear some cut scenes run at 1 frame every few seconds.... luckily only one or two fights was it painful due to lag.

Still if you have a ps4 I would say wait for that version, it most likely will have improvements in both graphics and translation.

SO.... lets talk about the translation shall we? Normally I don't harp on about this cause as long as intent in intact i'm pretty happy.
However there are some things that I will be seriously disappointed if Aksys doesn't patch/fix in time for the next game.

Quality control issues I noticed:

Sometimes characters have random Us at the end of their name. (like in one scene you'll see them be called both their name with and without a U.... i can't say the name sorry)
When you cook for some reason it said CPreperations complete
when you are at a save stone in dungeons is says "Strengthen Greed" when it means "Strengthen Grid"
Also on the save stones there is "Change Element" but it's supposed to be "Exchange element"
Two of the cookbooks you read gives you a completely different recipe then what they say they will give you (don't remember which one)
there is an entire scene where after every apostrophe there is a space. ex. i' m going to hope that they' ve fixed these things soon.
one time the word naïve is spelled like na  ï  ve
Speech bubbles will come out of the wrong characters mouth.

The translation itself seems decent, My japanese isn't the best but there wasn't any point where I felt like they had blatantly changed a line. But seriously the quality control has me so bummed I find it hard to describe. Everything I mentioned could have possibly been fixed with another pass at the script.... like spacing issues are no big deal I know Falcom is kinda notorious for them but spelling errors and inconsistent translations (or just outright miss translations of functions) are just kind of inexcusable. 

On the other hand I think It's a testament to this game on how hard it was for me to put down... I wasn't going to play at all but i'm glad I did and I really look forward to playing on ps4 (on a higher difficulty cause why not) 

The story was good, the voice acting is really good (though all in japanese so consider that a warning) there are only 3 scenes with no translation (two songs and a bit before the final fight.... I wish companies would remember that just cause there not a space for subtitles doesn't mean we'll suddenly understand) The music (while a little closer to a persona sound then other titles) is still Falcom JDK Sound Team at their finest. 
The only thing holding the game back are a few sloppy translations. 

Well that and a few bugs. 
Maybe I just got unlucky near the end...
First I soft locked the game, I used a smash attack near a curved wall and ended up in the void.... which is solid so I had fun walking around before realizing "uh oh i can't get back in bounds" and having to reset. 

Then after beating the final boss the credits started to play with no sound... I don't know how I triggered the sound to stop working (I was just going through the dialogue normally) but yeah it just cut out and I had to watch the credits on youtube cause that final fight is probably the most challenging in the game.... and I didn't want to replay it only to have the same hiccup happen. 

I am looking forward to EX+, apparently there are more playable characters, more story and better framerate so already i'm sold (no seriously I bought my ps4 preorder at the same time as the Vita LE preorder) I just seriously hope Aksys does a quick pass, fixes some typos and makes the entire thing cohesive. 

I really want this game to do well and I hope that by some miracle we get Tokyo Xanadu 2 sometime in the future (cause there are hints)
I am also looking forward to comparing the two versions... also replaying while knowing what I know now is always a good time. 

SO in case it isn't clear I really did love this game, just maybe wait for the ps4 version (unless you only have a vita then get that as it's another excellent title for the ignored handheld) 

Friday, 30 June 2017

First Impression: Tokyo Xanadu

For whatever reason the place I ordered this from set it WAY early... So i figured i would give my impression of the first chapter spoiler free.
Also i'm going to talk about the special edition.

Tokyo Xanadu is a new entry in Falcom's Xanadu's series (which apparently is a spin off from Dragon slayer)
You play Kou, an average student who prefers to do part time work instead of club activities.
One day after work he spots his class rep being tailed by some thugs and he worries about leaving her alone. This action changes how he'll perceive the world from now on.
He gets dragged into another world full of monsters that his class rep is able to fight off.
From now on he gets dragged into helping his class rep stop these "eclipses" from growing in size or number.

The gameplay in town is so Persona-esque i'm actually surprised falcom didn't get in trouble.... even the music has a kind of atlus sound to it... it's a bit odd.
HOWEVER.... the dungeons are very unique and the combat system while a bit complex is really really fun.
It's 3rd person dungeon crawler over the shoulder (Think trails of cold steel) with action based combat with enemies that have weaknesses to certain types of attack (Think Ys Seven or Memories of Celceta) and you can change party members on the fly but only one of you can be seen at a time (this seems similar to how Ys 8 is but i can't comfortably make the comparison as i haven't played that yet)
The lock on system could use some work but i have a feeling i'll get used to it.

However... for now at least i'm not playing anymore.
See i'm Canadian... and the special edition for the PS4 version of this game (which has more content and better graphics) is 200 dollars.
So instead i bought the special edition for Vita and the vanilla version for PS4.... in the end it cost be 160....
I wanted the special edition partially cause i like artbooks and cds BUT mostly because it came with the game Blade which can be played in cold steel.
I was really excited for these cards.

Then I opened them up.
I don't know who approved the proofs of these but... maybe you should have looked a little harder.
The back and front of the cards are incredibly low res. it's like they took a tiny image and tried to make it bigger... had it been apparently that they were going for a pixelated look maybe i could forgive it... but the borders are smooth and the promo art cards look fine.
It's still a playable game but wow it's disappointing.... they also weren't punches out very well and feel extremely cheap.
The other special edition goodies are fine, the plus toy is tiny but incredibly soft. the cd didn't have nay info so having to manually input all the information sucked but a minor gripe.

I am going to have a blast with this game and if you have a vita and want to play something this is a great option.

if you also have a PS4 just wait for that... it's the complete version of the game.

Also the voice acting is really good (japanese only so be warned) and the translation seems ok so far... i look forward to continuing later on this year. (or i may just cafe and play the game twice... depends on how long it is i guess?)

Monday, 26 June 2017

Eccentric Family 2

This show is hard to describe but i'll do my best... also i'll be posting more trip pictures at the end!

Eccentric family is about the balance between Tanuki, Tengu and Humans.

The second season has a slightly different focus then the first but all the pieces are there.

Yasaburo is still causing trouble because of his fool's blood.
The Friday club is still having a year end Tanuki hotpot.
The question of who will help lead Tanuki is still up in the air.
Akadama is still pining for the Half-tengu Benten.

However there are quite a few new characters that create an interesting dynamic.

The show can be goofy at times but I adore it's heart warming nature and it's ability to make me cry.

I'm sad that it's over but a small part of me is hopeful for even more of yasaburo's foolish adventures.

Both Season are on Crunchyroll and I highly recommend them.

Now for pictures!
While i was in Japan there was an eccentric family Cafe~ it was really yummy and super cute so here are some pictures.

The whole cafe (which was in a really nice mall across from Tokyo Station) was themed around the show. I had the Curry and 'frog in a well' Latte (which was just a green tea latte) and it was absolutely delicious.
My friend had the Gyuudon and Benten cocktail (which i believe was hibisucus from what she let me try)
I also ended up buying and acrylic stand of Yasaburo, a book with loose papers that apparently you are supposed to bring to different shrines to have stamped... I also got something else but I seem to be forgetting it at the moment.

After that we actually in Kyoto and because that is where the show is set i'll show some locations~

Unfortunately I didn't take many picture in town because it was pretty Rainy and miserable every time we were there but I hope you enjoy these Kiyomizu-dera and Inari Shrine pictures.

I will say considering Kiyomizudera was a location showed shortly after i got back i can't wait to rewatch the show and see what other landmarks i witnessed in person.

So yeah go enjoy this show!

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

RDG: Red Data Girl

Recently Crynchyroll added a ton of stuff to their catalog and I had heard about this show so i figured why not give it a try.

What i got was an interesting premise with little to no payoff.

RDG: Red data girl Is about a young girl named Izumiko. Her entire life she hasn't been able to use any kind of technology since it will just break in her hands. Apparently she is one of the last humans to possess 'true power' and is destined to become a Hime-gami who has the power to destroy the world.
After being pared up with a mountain monk who is her age they transfer to a new school in Tokyo in order to learn more about the Hime-gami as well stop the destruction of the world.

only thats not what it's about at all

They transfer to the school and theres a power struggle between the two top students. One an omnioji (a kind of diviner though thats not completely accurate) and one who has a relationship with a divine spirit.
Somehow or for some reason one of them will be picked as the "world heritage person" by judges who are all secret and Izumiko picking a side will effect the world or something....

I think the main problem with the Anime is that when you try to cram 6 novels (or what i'm assumign is a portion of 6 novels) into 12 episodes you are going to make things feel rushed and/or unexplained.
Most of the main plot points are said as if we are just supposed to automatically know what on earth is going on.
Worst of all the ending doesn't tie off any plot threads introduced (my guess is that they planned for 2 season but only [as of June 21 2017] 1 season has been made. )

The other disappointment is that a main plot thread, her inability to use technology, is only touched on a handful of times but it's a main character trait so it was just disappointing... as well as her red glasses and braids which are apparently important until they suddenly aren't.

It's not all bad, the show is animated by PA works and they did a lovely job. It's nice seeing a PA works show that attempts to have a bit of plot. the characters are all distinct enough and again the baseline concept is interesting it just feels like this adaptation focuses on the wrong thing. The main character feels like a side character most of the time. So it's just a little disappointing.

All that said if they made another season i'd watch, I may check out the manga if possible to see if that adaptation explains things a little better.

At least i don't feel like my time was wasted i just feel like it was all cut short.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Natsume Yuujinchou Roku

10 years....
6 seasons...
and that ending.

Ok Biases out of the way first.
This is my fav show.
Hands down if i had to pick only one show to watch for the rest of time it would be this one.
I recently went to Japan and i spent an obscene amount of money on merch..... about 90% of that for this show.
There was a cafe that was open for the final week of my trip.... I went with a friend EVERY DAY....
I went to the damn town that this show is loosely set in.
I love this show.
It will be my number 1 anime of the year.
If someone licenses it I will buy it no matter what the price is.
and i will hope it doesn't take 3-4 years for another season even though i know thats probably exactly whats going to happen.

So my opinion on this show is utterly worthless because i love it so damn much.

That being said.

Natsume Yuujinchou is about a young boy who can see spirit, after a chance encounter with a cat he learns of his grandmothers final possession the book of friends. This book holds the name of every Youkai his grandmother defeated and is sought out both by yokai wanting their names back and those wanting to control the names within.

The show is episodic in nature and as far as pacing goes it's pretty chill. Sure there is a surprising amount of blood for what is essentially a shoujo title and some of the questions asked in episodes are genuinely scary but overall this is a heart warming show that will make you feel good about everything.

Until this season where it'll take out your heart, show it to you and then crush it right infront of you.

I mean it's still heartwarming but I don't think i've cried so hard for a show ever before.
It's to the point where i'm convinced i need to build a time machine and slap past me up the back of the head for predicting exactly when the 3 most painful episodes of the season would air.

Now we just get to wait for Natsume Yuujinchou Nana... it'll probably be a few years (the manga needs to get ahead) but much like Go and Roku it'll be worth the wait.

My only hope now is that someone licenses it for North american distribution (i'll even pay the aniplex tax if i have to just let me own this damn show)

Expect more fanart from the show as well... if past experience is anything to go by i tend to need to do something with this show every few months cause it's just so damn good.
Also just for fun....

I have more pictures from Hitoyoshi but.... i figure this is enough for now.
Alright.... Thank you for reading!

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Trails in the Sky The 3rd

I want to start this off the same way i started my Trails in the Sky Second Chapter Ramble.

To everyone who had a hand in making this game and allowing an English speaking audience to enjoy it I have one thing to say.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart... Thank you.
I know (while this may not have been as large in scope as second chapter) that this series is a bitch to translate for. I know the sheer amount of text (not even mentioning that damn near every chest says something unique) was an insane task. You persevered and worked extremely hard to get this game out and to that I say Thank you.

Thank you!

I can't say it enough.

Thank you.

I know none of you will ever read this (granted last time i said this BOY was a mistaken)

But seriously, Thank you.

True story: The day I saw the tweet. "A nun and a priest walk into a game" I audible gasped. My family who were nearby at the time wondered who had died. (then i had the joy of explaining it's for a game where i got the look.... you know the one) Still even though the evidence was pretty damning I had some to terms that we were never getting the 3rd and i refused to get my hopes up.

The next day (or shortly after? my memory is not known to be the best) I was streaming some art and in a 5 minute break I checked twitter.
"Trails in the sky the 3rd coming to the west" I heard myself reading that glorious tweet out loud before tears rolled down my face.
I honestly don't know of any other series that could make me cry by announcing a localization (well i can think of a few more now but i'm not going to get greedy)

Alright onto the Spoiler free ramble.

... Now to think of a way to describe this game without spoiling anything....
I know!
A nun and a priest walk into a game : D
Alright so this will be short.

We follow two Grailsritters, Kevin Graham and Reis Argent,  as they look into a mysterious artifact that was pull out of the lake.
Soon they find themselves drawn into a new mystery in which they will need to rely on old friends to help solve.

Out of the three games (hell out of the 5 if you count cold steel series) this one is the most unique. Pretty much immediately certain things are added to the combat system that make it far more deadly then ever before.
It's also got a far less powerful protagonist then any of the other games do. Not that Kevin is physically weak by any means but for me his job was making sure no one got hit and if they did that no one stayed hurt for long. Sure Reis makes up for this by easily being one of the most (if not the most) powerful characters in the game... but still it takes a little getting used to.

Outside of that I can't say much other then you get a lot of party members and i loved it.

My playtime was 42:03 which i feel is pretty close to how much time First chapter got? This game is shorted then Second chapter for sure but again Second chapter was massive.

One of the things I'll say is that near the end if you enjoy double checking things you are asked. "Was it worth the wait"
100% it was worth the wait.
Not a shadow of doubt in my mind... it was worth the wait.
I loved this game, Every moment drew me in and when I'm getting teary eyed at chests being so supportive near the end... I know i was hooked.

Part of me wonders what it would have been like to play this in the order of the series but honestly i don't care. I'm just happy i got to experience it at all since i had given up on ever playing it.

I will say this.
Star door 15 was not nice... I don't think I've cried that hard concerning anything ever.... Falcom (and I guess those that translated it too but this one is mostly on falcom in my mind) That was not ok.... you should feel bad for that.... I know you don't cause you thrive on our suffering but no... bad Falcom, you sit in the corner and think about what you did.
No don't think about how to make it worse!

Now for the part where I get a little greedy.
I would love to have Xseed put out the crossbell games.
I know it probably wont happen.... I'm even ok with it not happening but if i had one hope.... it would be getting to play those games. I just love this series so much and i just wanna throw as much money as possible to whomever brings it over.

However for now I'll just enjoy the fact that i can look at a little more of my kiseki art books without getting spoiled. (well I'm pretty sure a lot of crossbell has been spoiled cause of Cold steel but hey.... gotta keep whatever i can under control.)

But seriously...... Thank you for this.

Alright I think it's time for some Kiseki fanart! right after I finish these project pieces! (which you will find out more about in August!)

Also just in case my Bias wasn't clear enough in all this.... I put aside Persona 5 to play this game... so yeah.... I enjoy Falcom games just a little too much.

Side note: there are a few instances where the text is still in Japanese (at least in my play through, it's probably been patched by now)... both in battles.
one at the end of Schera's door and the other in the final round of the final arena.... neither are story relevant but just thought I'd mention it.

But yeah... This will probably be my number 1 game of the year... at least... don't be surprised if it is come new years.
For now it's back to work and back to chipping away at Persona 5, Fire Emblem Echoes, Xanadu next and all the games that are coming out just around the corner.

And for those who stuck through to this point... i present my fav Chest phrase.

Yeah I'd buy that.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Japan Day 21 - Canada Day 10421

I meant to do this after getting back yesterday but nope... was just too loopy.

The day of the final day was a bit surreal. We were all making sure that two things were accomplish.

1. we were all packed and leaving the place pretty much how i came
2. we ate all the food we couldn't take with us to the airport or Canada.

After accomplishing these two things Keiko stopped by and walked us to the station and bid us a safe flight.
Our flight wasn't till 5ish but we didn't want to risk anythign so we just went to the airport early. I think for most of us 21 days is plenty of time to do what we needed and we all just wanted to get home at this point.

At least the flight home was direct.... thats just about the only kind thing i can say about the flight though.

I have learned that i can deal with my anxiety when playing... the turbulence still sucks but i'm not a mass of tears.
What i can't handle is a asshole behind me digging his knees into the back of my seat for 12 hours... but if it was just that i maybe could have gotten some rest on the plane.
BUT it wasn't just that, douche bag infront of me from the very start of the flight pushed his chair so far back i heard cracking... and every half hour or so he'd try to push it further. I wasn't too worried about the chair actually breaking but it was annoying cause i had the tray down to watch movies on my tablet and it was pretty much poking into be for 12 hours.
but thats not even all of it.
A fligth attendant knew the dumbass behind me so for portions of the trip where there chatted he used my chair as an anchor and had the bonus of being a hand talker.
so yeah no sleep.... but the food headign to japan hadn't been terrible... maybe this would be the high point.
ha ha ha.... no.

Sure air plane food is known for being pretty awful but this was bordering inedible.... in fact out of the 3 meals i only ate 1..... and some cookies.

However the flight itself wasn't too bad... occasional bits of toubulance but nothing like the first flight had.

Getting thrug hthe airport in Canada was easy for me because i managed to do this entire trip on one carry on rolly luggage and my purse. still i waited with my friends for their luggage since i needed to wait for my ride as it was.

Customs was also far less painless then i thought it would be, a lot of "ok now go here" but in the end a pleasant experience overall.

Now that hard part began.

We left japan around 5 pm on the 21st.
We arrived in Canada at 4 pm on the 21st.... and in order to help my sleep schedule go back to normal... i would at least need to stay up till 10. by the up already been up around 24 hours... and anyone who knows me knows i like sleep.

Luckily I had some tea waiting for me when i got in the car (which was the best welcome home present anyone could give me ever) and lots of stories to tell while fighting off the sleep.

I gave my families their souvineers... ate and then the rest gets a little fuzzy... i know i did stay up till about 9:30.... and i woke up at 4.... not the best start but i should be able to get back to normal in a day or two at least.

The best part of coming home was the reaction from my cats,  iwas expecting them to be cold nad distant but they were all over me right away and very tolerant of my constant snuggles.

The plan now that i'm back in Canada is simple.

1. Work on art for the zine, i've got my two mockups done i just need approval.
2. Play all the games.... between Persona 5, trails in the sky the 3rd and fire emblem i have a bti to catch up on.
3. Catch up on 3 weeks of anime, specifically natsume yuujinchou cause 2 of the episodes that aired i have been waiting for years (and what i saw of the fandom reaction was glorious)

So yeah the daily blogs have come to an end but still lots of stuff in the future.
(also i may do a post mortem blog in a few days with pictures to just wrap my thoughts abotu the trip up.... i just need to recover first)

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Japan Day 20 - Final full day

All good things must come to an end.

Granted considering getting 7 people to get 3 weeks off is more then a bit of a task I should be thankful we got to stay as long as we did.

The last leg of our trip has been in Tokyo, and we happen to be here for the Sanja Matsuri Which is one of the great Shinto festivals.
We were led by our Air BNB host (who has been amazing this entire time so far) to the central path of the festival. We got to see many people of all ages and sizes carrying "mikoshi" (which are like portable shrines)

I took a lot of pictures so should be fun seeing how those turned out.

After tha we headed to to a store because a haikyuu ichiban kuji stared today..... problem was it sold out in an hour.... so we bought the last natsume yuujinchou ichiban kuji.

After that we decided 30 degrees with 80% humidity was too damn hot and we headed back to the place with the lovely AC.

I'm still feeling pretty sick but it seems to just be a scratchy throat for now.... i think my body will hit me once i'm at home but you know what? I appreciate it waiting.

Colin brought a hand scale so i decided to weight my carry on.
23 lb.
Shit... my max is 22lb... and i don;t want to check anything.

So after rearanging my bag and purse i think i managed to get carry on to 19-21 (cause the hand scale wavered between that) so hopefully that all works out. (I'll check if i have to but i have mugs and i rather not have air canada move those for me.) [and if i have to pay a fee then so be it]

Other then that just enjoying the final evening before a 12 hour flight.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Japan day 19 - Foreboding

Back in tokyo it's time to tie up loose ends.   Since being here last time store have changed and events have updated. Marise and I got ready and headed to Ikebukuro.
Her goal - new Yuyu hakusho items, mine -  persona 5 shop.
We headed out, figured out the subway system since that's what we are currently close to an made our way to the shops.
Only there also happened to be right in the area of the natsume cafe so we had to stop there... in unrelated news we have pulled every keychain and every towel.... impressive? Maybe but also a little sad.
Anyways we made it to the yu yu hakusho cafe and Marise got some more key chains and then we headed to the other side of the station to the persona 5 shop where i finished picking out souvineers for people (i mean blind pulls count at picking out?) as well as a new awesome shirt for myself (Morgan a telling the player to go to sleep) and after all that spending i got to do three lottery draws... and the first one was a 'gold' draw so i wont the grand prize of a big button (like.... 8 inch button?)

It was at this point that i started to worry... i could feel a tickle in my throat.
So close to the end i can get sick yet.

I ignore it, we head back home and search out lunch. There's a soba place around the corner and we went in there. Even though it was a hot as hell day we got hot Soba and you know what? Worth it.

After that amazing meal we headed back to the place to simply relax.
Only when you read more you can feel it more... the awful tickle in the back of my throat getting worse and worse. It's getting harder to think and i just want to sleep.

Hopefully i last the next 2 days, that's all i ask... i can be sick back in Canada.

Eventually the guys return but then we headed out again, this time for dinner. Marise has been hunting for sushi with no luck an tonight was no exception.. tomorrow hopefully or it'll be a sushi breakfast before the flight.

As i prep to sleep i just hope that this cold leaves me alone... just for a little longer. At least all my shopping is done (cause i am almost out of money.... i have enough to get me thought the next two days but not much more then that)

Alright... final full day in tokyo tomorrow, wish me luck!

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Japan Day 18 - Back to the beggining

6 hours is a long time to spend on a train so unfortunately i don't have much to say about this day... just that we headed back from Fukuoka all the way to Tokyo, and in that time i finished one of the books i brought (luckily i still have a few because yay Kindle)

I will talk about the check in experience because it was different.

We have been using air bnb and so far everything has just been self check in.
This time the owner of the place actually came to pick us up from the station. She showed us around the area, taught us how to use everything in her house and even left us surprising amount of free treats.

Also even though the beds are close together there is plenty of breathing room on the main floor
It's sad that the trip is coming to an end but at least my health seems to have held out through the trip (though my back and heel have started to protest)

Tomorrow i hope to take a short trip to ikebukuro but overall just going to  enjoy the last few days in japan.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Japan Day 17 - Pilgramige 2.0

From day one i knew i wanted to go to Hitoyoshi because that's where Natsume Yuujinchou was loosely based on.
The other place i wanted to go was Karatsu since it's where Yuri on Ice Loosely takes place for the first few episodes. It's also a seaside town and no matter what would be pretty to go to. 

However i miscalculated. 

Yesterday was considered a free day so Marise and I took it easy and just went to the aquarium... Apparently today we were all supposed to go to Hiroshima. 
Thing is HIroshima is pretty far from where we are AND i really did want to go to Karatsu and I had kinda planned to do that today. Marise and I discussed it and said even though we did want to go to HIroshima, better to go to Karatsu because who knows when we can come back to Japan. 

So once again we broke off from the group and i'm really happy we did. 

The trip was simple but odd. As a foreigner in Japan i can have something called a JR pass, essentially i pay a lot of money but i get to ride all JR and some shinkansens for free. This doesn't apply to subway/trams/local lines/busses. 
So to get from here to Karatsu we had to take the subway.... but about halfway through the trip the subway turns into a JR train.
Essentially we had to pay 3 bucks then the remaining 7 was free. This was super easy heading there.... (heading back was an adventure but more on that later.

We arrive in Karatsu and it's sunny and stunning. Not a lot of foot traffic but still we had a few locations we knew we wanted to try to get to (the bridge and the castle mainly.) 
So we headed that way, both were right beside each other which was nice and even though it was up a lot of stairs it wasn't like Inari and the view of the water from the top was super pretty. 

We also checked out the bridge which was... well a bridge nothing too special there. 

Then we looked for a place to eat. 

"The reviews on this place are good and it says it likes yuri on ice fan" 
So we headed over and oh boy... it wasn't kidding. 
First question. "Anime ga suki?" (Do you like anime?)
"Hai" I replied and got a clap from the chef. 
"Yuri on Ice suki?"
"Hai" i replied again and then... then the merch came out. We were literally surrounded by plus toys, mugs, posters, gold rings (given to the chef by kubo but i'll get to that) given place mats of the three in hot springs or in a car shopping... it was a little nuts. 

Then we looked at the menu and the first thing i spot is a 100 dollar steak. 
'Oh no we made a mistake' I thought to myself. 'Why is such a fancy place embracing anime so much? Just cause it's set here' 
Eventually i did notice some more reasonably priced options (i mean still cost a lot but it was 100% worth it) and we ordered and waited. 
Now there was nothing english in this place, and my japanese isn't the best, i can get by but just barely.
So as we wait for him to cook our order in front of us more merch appears... we notice a yuri on ice room where the show is just constantly being marathoned. He walks by and his chef coat gets more and more Yurio merch. 
He shows us his phone and it's got a agape yurio background. 
The store's music is all yuri on Ice on loop. 

It was interesting to say the least. Eventually a japanese customer who spoke very good english came in and helped me translate some of the chefs stories. 

Apparently he is one of kubo's friends (more on this later) and he really loved the show and took full advantage of the fact that it was set in the town he worked. 

We ate our meal, it was (for lack of a more appropriate term) fucking amazing. Worth every penny. And then as we got up to get ready to pay the chef stops us. "Ochoa ii?" (Is free tea good/would you like some green tea) I reply that it's good and then he gets us to pick mugs... i picked Victor and Marise got Yurio and then he took us to the yuri on ice room and handed us a notebook. He asked us to write a note and enjoy our tea. 

So we did and then just as we were getting ready to leave once again he stops us and asks us if we are rushing to the next place. Well no this whole trip was about no more rushing and just doing our own thing. So he brought us to the side of his store and told us the story of why he embraces the anime as much as he does.

Again my japanese is not the best but the gist i got was that He always loved anime but it was considered odd to like something that was seen as being for children. 

I'm going to side step for a second because when i heard him say this my heart broke. It's hard to explain but anime is everywhere here. It just feels like another aspect of the culture, not everyone likes it but i didn't think it would be odd if someone did like it as an adult. But here was this amazing chef who had a complex about the fact he liked shows like Madoka magica. 

Anyways he continued on his story about how he became a chef and eventually gained a Michelin star. (Which having eaten at his restaurant i can understand cause the food was amazing) I'm not sure if he met kubo before or after this but she apparently came to eat at his store and noticed that he liked anime. They discussed it for a while and after hearing how he felt about his passion she cried and gave him a hug. Eventually the two became close friends. She would come and discuss themes of the show (fate, love, bonds) and even though he wasn't part of it in any way he felt a deep connection. 

He was invited to cator one of the events for the show and had a group photo on his twitter with the production team. I'm not sure when but Kubo even gave him a replica of the golden ring that the main characters had. (She apparently proposed and everything) and with her help he decided that he could embrace his passion of being a chef and an anime fan and just have fun with it. And that he's seen more people from all over the world thanks to this then he may have simply being a Michelin star chef in a tiny seaside town. He was great full to the show for helping him accomplish this and hopes to continue being a fan of all things anime for many years to come. 

After this we were able to pay but then the customer who spoke English really well came and showed us to the station were we could fill out a survey and get a map with all the show locations. 
We ended up also seeing all the aspects of the station and yuutopia thanks to this map (we could have gone to the beach but it was already starting to get late. 

ANow for the way back... we started JR but halfway through he had to rush off the train, go through the ticket booth. Pay the 3 bucks and rush back on the train. The goal was simple... get back on the same train we left or wait the 13 minute for the next one. 
Miraculously we managed it and it was quite the adrenaline rush. 
After that we just grabbed some mcdonalds (cause it was cheap and we had spent enough on food today) and i grabbed another natsume cafe item because dammit i don't have a problem i swear. 

As much as i did want to see Hiroshima... I'm really glad we did this because i had an amazing day and i felt closer to the people here then i ever had before. I can always come back and see it next time. 

Tomorrow is the massive trip back to Tokyo for the final few days. 
My family is tying to convince me to stay but between my JR pass ending soon and my lack of accommodations (not to mention missing my bed, my cats, my computer and oddly toilet paper that is more then 0 ply) I really just want to head back to canada and sleep for a day.... or two... we'll see when the time comes. 

Also fun fact.... even though. I have nearly taken 1000 pictures my camera STILL says i have 9999 shots left.... well at least i never had to swap the cards? 

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Japan Day 16 - By the Sea

Today was a bit different from all the others.
Half of our group were in another town... and the rest of us had no solid plans.

So for the first time this trip i looked up tourist destinations.
There were some parks, a castle ruin and an aquarium.

All were about an hour from here and all would cost us a bit of money but they all seemed pretty fun. In the need we went to the aquarium since they may have some displays that we wouldn't get to see in canada.

It was a bit odd how out of the way it was, the station literally had no attendants and just trusted that people would pay their fare (i'll talk about this in a post mortem but this trust based society is really strange at times... and i'm canadian.)

We go down a little path and come into view of the lovely aquarium. We spent most of the day here and considering how much i end up drawing mermaids i'm glad i got some good reference material.
We say a dolphin show which was pretty cool and we even ate at the restaurant which was very tasty (another note for the post mortem... even if attractions target kids the food is always quite adult and you can pretty much always order alcohol)

After getting through the building we debated going through the park but honestly it had been 4 days of non stop action and we were looking forward relaxing back at the place (no matter how terrible this place is)

And it was a chill day, we went to a local place that is literally just meat and we waited for the other group to join us and tell us all about their Nagasaki trip.

Tomorrow is apparently Hiroshima (granted i don't get why we made that a day trip instead of a stop over since we literally have to go back that way to get back to tokyo.... perhaps i'll just ditch and go to Kumamoto or Karatsu instead... we will see.

But yeah trip is coming to an end and i am looking forward to my bed and cats.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Japan Day 15 - Hell house

Cristian's words not mind.... the the sentiment remains.
Also you get what you pay for i guess.

So for this trip we have been doing a combination of Ryokans and Airbnb. For the most prt all the places we have stayed at have been great (except fuji.... fuji ryokan was kinda lame)

But this place? It sucks
It said it's for max 9 people? No.... just cause you have 9 beds.... doesn't mean you can house 9 people.
The bed we picked much we a couch futon cause there is a rather painful line down the middle.

They didn't even have a drying rack for the dishes.

Anyways onto the day.
We took a day trip to Nagasaki, we saw the peace museum and park... it was depressing as all hell (though i've been told that Hiroshima's museum has a lot more impact)

Then we went to the shopping arcade for lunch and animate.... once again spent too much money but it would be cheaper then importing so... yay?

Desite saying we'd stay till 6 we ended up leaving at 3... it's been 4 days of go go go so i think we are all just a little tired.

Matt, Ambernay and Cristian are staying in Nagasaki for the night and hopefully they are having a good time.

Back in fukuoka we went to the natsuem cafe again cause why not... i puleld tanuma coaster and charm and marise puleld taki caoster and charm... we traded casue she ikes tanuma and Taki makes me smile (especially in that pic since she's flipping out over Nyanko.)

And then we to dinner, there was an Evangelion cafe in the station so we went there.
It was incredibly lame... the food was good but the cafe itself was easily the worst one we have been to so far... i don't even really like eva and i feel bad for how shit that cafe was.

Oh well... we are appraoching the end of the trip (and i am startign to get nervous about my moeny but i should be able to make it as long as i don't spen too much.... wish me luck.

Plans for tomorrow... uh.... play it by ear? Who knows... figure that out later!

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Japan Day 14 - Who Dares, Wins

We didn't get to spend as much time in Hitoyoshi as planned.... however.
We had a decent amount of time till the train to get us to the next place so Marise and I went on a small adventure.
One of the landmarks we wanted to see was the red bridge Natsume is constantly crossing in the show.... problem was even though it was a 10 min drive it was over an hour by transit or walking from where we were.
After trying and failing to get on the bus we hailed a cab and heade to the next station.

After the taxi left we found out that this really was the middle of nowhere.
Sure there were no cars but there were also no taxis.
Oh well too late now. We headed to the bridge....

Suddenly a note from the group. "There is a landslide blocking the tracks to the station we need to get to.... we're coming up with a new plan."
Well shit. Still we are here and we are almost at the bridge when.
"New plan: take this bus and hour earlier then expected, please hurry back to the Ryokan as they will shuttle us to the bus."
........ Okay.

So we take our pics on the bridge, it's a really pretty area and I would have loved to have not rushed through it but ALAS... today is not our day.
But then we come back to the main problem... we couldn't figure out the busses.... and there were no taxis around.
Luckily we passed a Speed Racer themed gas station/mechanic and we went in and thank to google translate asked for help calling a taxi.
About 10 minutes later we had our ride and even even had time to visit a souvenir shop with some natsume merch i had never seen (so now.... I'm bringing back 3 too many mugs and a sake flask thing)
We went back to the ryokan, had a discussion with the owner of the ryokan about the show (she was very thankful for our sketches) and then we were off to our bus.

The bus was pretty fun, we got to see all these towns in the valleys of all these mountains. I'll be hones i prefer this rural setting far more then Kyoto or Tokyo.

After that we adjusted our shinkansen tickets and we were at the penultimate place in an hour.

After that we went for ramen, first time this trip for me.
It was very tasty but i didn't drink the broth... honestly i don't want to risk getting MSG toxic overseas when i only have a week left here.

Then Marise and i split to hunt down one of the many natsume cafes.
The deal is you get a drink, a coaster and an acrylic chain (both random)
I got a tanuma coaster and Takashi acrylic chain.
Marise got a Taki coaster and one of the Nyanko senses ones.
We also got hand towels, she pulled takashi and i pulled nyanko.

We will be back to try again.

The plan now? Day trip to Nagasaki, more Natsume Cafes (cause i need more merch apparently... at least it's all flat since i am pretty much out of space.) And then from there who knows.
No matter what though it'll be fun and that what matters.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Japan Day 13 - Pilgramige

Hitoyoshi, the town where Natsume Yuujinchou is somewhat based off of.
And they have embraced it. However I am getting ahead of myself.

First off we left Tensui in Amagase early in the morning and readied ourselves for a 4 hour track south to Hitoyoshi.

Now in all the trip this was the one place I requested.... I only got one day of the schedule for it but honestly more then enough.
So we get to the Inn (aptly named Hitoyoshi Ryokan) and the first thing i see when we walk in is a mini shrine to the show. Some plush nyankos, a huge paining and lots of little sketches from guests.... I knew we had to join in so we planned out day.

First hunt through the town for landmarks.
Second have dinner.
Third Rush to have a bath in the Onsen
Fourth sketch something for the shrine.
Fifth sleep and enjoy our one night here.

And that's exactly what we did. Only a few landmarks are near the Ryokan itself so hopefully we can get to at least one more tomorrow as we wait for our train to our next location. But still we got to see a bit from the second intro and there was a literal shrine turned into a Natsume Shrine and it made me so happy.
Afterwards we just wandered town till dinner. Dinner was a mixed bag.
A lot of local fish (to be expected) but also raw horse meat... so.... that's a thing i can say I've eaten now.
Actually complaired to other Ryokans this one had a lot of meet... Pork, Beef... uh horse.... but yeah it was all pretty tasty (though seriously wish that last one had at least been cooked.)
At the end of the meal i was completely full and i didn't even finish everything.
Then we rushed to the bath. This bath was way different from the other two. It had a far more sulphuric smell and you could see small particulate in the water.... plus I feel so soft getting out... i kinda wish we were staying another day cause even though it had the worst view... it was probably my favourite bath.
Then was the sketch, i did one of Natsume and Nyanko while y friend drew matoba enjoying a bath... it was fun and after we gave it to the front desk they gave us a map of the landmarks for the show.... could have used them earlier but we had them marked in google maps already.
And now we are heading to bed, prepairing for the long trek to our penultimate destination.
Only a few more days here, and while i will admit I am missing home i know it wont be long before i want to come back here...
Though probably not with 7 people.... i love them all but co-ordination has been interesting to say the least.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Japan Day 12 - First day we slept in

"Breakfast is at 8 right? It's 7:56" is not the most pleasant thing to wake up to... but still no reason to be late.
We threw our yukata's over our pjs and rushed to breakfast where only Colin waited.
And the other guys were not in the room.
And we had no signal to contact them.
They did show up eventually but it was a big worry about were we early? Were they late? We still don't know the answer but it was a decent breakfast (side note, I can state as a matter of fact that i simply do not like raw fish in any circumstance... i tried many varieties and each one was less palatable then the last... raw fish and me are no good)

After filling our bellies we decided to trek down the mountain and head into town... or at least that was the plan.
See the manager said that was no good and drove us down the mountain since there was currently a rather nasty storm overhead. Still we did want to check out the town so we hoped in the van and explored.
The funny thing about this town is it's already quiet... but with the rain it was dead.
We checked out nearby Sakura Falls which was really nice and then hunted for food... and hunted... and hunted some more.
Eventually we decided to eat at the first open thing we saw across from Amagase station.
It was this cute little frog souvineer/pizza shop/icecream stand and it smelled devine when we entered.
We ordered 2 pizzas, both were made fresh and we tried to pay but no.... not till the end, then we ordered some drinks and ice cream and stilll no paying.... only when we insisted we were done did she allow us to pay..... and then we had to take a picture for her facebook page and she bowed to us as the van picked us up. It was honestly the most wonderful experience i have ever had in a shop and the entire trip down the mountain was worth it for that.

Back at the Ryokan we still had a lot of time till dinner so despite the heavy rain we headed to the baths.... which were outside... and uncovered.
The cold rain and the boiling onsen was an interesting combo and i can say i have taken a bath in the rain now so that is neat.

Then was the wait for dinner, i did a little sketching and enjoyed the peaceful scenery and then it was time for the meal.

Which was actually pretty good. I managed to eat quite a bit of it (despite being a picky eater)

And now it's time for bed. Tomorrow is my 'pilgrimage' day.... Going to the town my favourite show is set it.
It's going to be a bit of a ride there but honestly it'll be worth every moment... i wish we were spending more then a day.

Also i will be amazed if we have wifi... i seriously doubt it cause we will be in the middle of nowhere.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Japan Day 11 - Fancy Trains and Double Baths

Today we said farewell to Kyoto which was fun but honestly a bit more of a chilly reception then Tokyo or Fuji. Perhaps it's just that the worst sorts of tourists tend flock there (or at least were there on the few days we were there) or the fact that it really is still stuck in some old ways. Either way we headed off to the first of two Onsens in a row.
The one we're currently at is in Amagase and let me just say now it is stunning. Our room (cause a group of 7 is too much to fit into one room) has a private bath which each of us used almost immediatey on arrival. It was outside which was new but the view of the falls was lovely... could have done without the bigs but hey you win some you lose some.
After that it was time for the meal. I was dreading this since I am extremely picky... and we are a good 30 min trek up a mountain away from any stores. Considering food would be hard to come by I really hoped to be abel to eat something for dinner.
And i did! Kind of...
There was this super smooth tofu at the start which was pretty good... tofu i've had before this has always had a bitterness but this didn't have that.
There was some pickled chunks of ginger which i really liked but they only give you two.
There was this deep fried whole fish which i did eat but not the head or tail... sorry i have limits.
There was raw tuna and mackrel.... i tried to tuna cause i figured out of all of them i could maybe stomach it raw.
I was wrong... i will never like raw fish this is just something i need to stop even trying.
There was this shrimp egg dumpling thing which was pretty good... there was a clam soup thing which i didn't like.
 In the end i did try almost everything that looked even remotely tasty but i did have to rely on Matt, Cristian and Bram to finish the plates.
Then after the meal a reserved bath! Couldn't stay in too long since i was already warm but it was still enjoyable (i still prefer my private bath though. )
We are here for one more night then off to Hitoyoshi where Marise and i will ditch the group and check out the the town.
But hey at least we have wifi

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaimen

Norse Mythology has always been one of my favourite topics. However it’s not the easiest mythology to decipher.

Green and Roman myth have been told and retold even do this day. You know of Athena or Zeus and their many tales but not so much when it comes to Norse.

Granted you have probably heard some. Everyone knows Loki, Thor and Odin. However Jormangund or Frey may be less well know over all.

So when, about a month before my trip, my father showed me that Neil Gaimen had done his own compilation and telling of norse mythology in a way that would be entertaining as well as accurate I knew I needed to save it for those long shinkansen rides we had between locations.

It isn’t a terribly long book, I would say the whole thing only took a few hours to read but it is extremely entertaining and just proves to be far more interesting then Greek and Roman myth. It was far more interesting then the 40 pages give or take I got crammed in the back of mythology textbook from college.

My only complaint is that it doesn’t really cover the beginning in much detail. It’s there but I wish there was a bit more detail.

Alternately this is the best telling of the end I have seen in a book. Perhaps most translators get tired by this point but Gaimen is a writer first and foremost and it was an enjoyable ready from cover to cover (or In my case from 1%-94% on kindle [the last batch of pages is a glossary])

It’s not the only book I brought on my trip luckily and hopefully I’ll be able to finish another soon. These train rides are really perfect for reading.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Japan Day 10 - Deer and Rain

Today is our final full day In Kyoto so a bunch of us decided to take a day trip to Nara which i famous for deer.
Lots.... and LOTS of deer.

We bought some crackers, were accosted by the wildlife for said crackers. We walked around and saw some temples and shrines (we couldn't go into any cause a million schools were having their field trip that day and it was packed.)
After walking around the grounds we headed back and got some curry.... where they almost got my order very very wrong.

I ordered a mild pork curry because i'm allergic to spicy food and i didn't feel like taking a bendryl in the middle of the day.

So they served me a level 4 spiced (out of 10) beef curry....
so.... even though i hate sending food back i had to because i couldn't handle a level 1.... level 4 would be a bad time for me.

So got that swapped out and we prepaired to head home.... where not only was it raining... it was pouring.
Luckily that sun umbrella i bought on day 2 or 3 works for rain! I even found out a hidden pattern appears in the rain.... when this one dies i'll probably buy another cause it really is cute.

After that when we got home Bram had returned! So now we are back to a group of 7.
Tomorrow we head to the first of two Ryokans in a row... I have no clue if we will get wifi but considering how out of the way they are i highly doubt it... guess we'll see tomorrow (or.... i guess i'll just do a bunch of these as one post? I'll figure something out since i'm going to have a lot to say about the second ryokan for sure.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Japan Day 9 - I lied, migraines are the enemy.

Today was a bit more of relaxing day but not completely y my choice.

In the morning we went to the Kyoto Toei Studio Park which is an awesome place that it set up like an old town in Edo japan and maybe used for films.
It was a bit more expensive to get into then other things but there was lots to do and tones really cool free shows inside. There was a street merchant one where a man spoke both the fastest Japanese and English i had ever heard.
Then we saw them doing. Demo on a sound stage which was pretty funny.
Lastly we caught a chunk of a ninja show and for something with no wires the acrobatics were very impressive. Also the use of practical light effects with a projector was super neat.

However after we headed home i got hit with a massive migraine... I'm actually glad i didn't go to Kobe with the guys because it would have sucked to feel this sick out and about.

But it did keep me in the house for the second part of the day... Marise got to look at some kimono's and hopefully today i can join her in finding one to buy.

But yeah short little adventure today, i did take lots of pictures so look forward to those at the end of the month.

Not too much in the way of planning on this final day in Kyoto... Nara maybe? It all depends on what everyone else wants to do.
Until then have a great day everyone!

Monday, 8 May 2017

Japan Day 8 - Stairs are the enemy

Today was the first day Marise and I didn't have anything planned so we woke up early and headed over to Inari Shrine.
We ended up leaving one of the group behind cause they were still sleeping but we knew they would catch up (and funnily enough, they did... while we only about a third up no less.)

It was very sunny and humid but that was fine, I actually had a much harder time of the stairs then i was expecting. I feel like had it all just been a dirt path it would have been so much easier (but also a lot more dangerous so i get why there are stairs.)

Still the view from the top of the mountain was lovely (although surprisingly smoggy) and the decent down was far more relaxing then i expected it to be.

We did end up getting separated from the group but we all just made it down at our own pace and made our way over to some of the food vendors.
I got some strawberry shaved ice with condensed milk syrup... it was really really good and very refreshing on this hot and humid day (27 C with 30% humidity [though that's current data... it felt ike more up the mountain])

Thanks to friends i also got to try the spiral potato and roasted chestnuts.
After waiting a while we eventually all met up and i found ice cream... i got Matcha flavour while my friends tried the Sake Icecream and the Tofumilk flavour. All in all pretty yummy

After that we went home and rested... the hike was a bit intense and some of us felt like the need to sit was greater then the need to rush off to the next thing.

However the day was young and in the afternoon we headed out once again to a Shrine called "Kiyomisudera".
Cristian had his heart set on a specific shop at the temple but unfortunately it was closed.
Still it was a lovely temple to walk around and i got (what i hope were) some nice pictures. (Fun fact, been taking more pictures then i normally would and the camera STILL says 9999 shots left.)

After walking around it was time once again to head home and bask in the glory of the AC unit. Even with my dorky umbrella I still think i got a bit of a burn (all the sunscreen in the world wouldn't fix that apparently) but as long as it isn't as bad as i got that one day in Fuji i'll consider it a win.

This was where i was going to end it but then one more thing happened.
We were planning on eating in so cristian made spaghetti but it wasn't enough for all 6. So Matt, Cristian and I left for food... the walk was nice but it was already pretty late and the only sold food i had eaten all day was some bread for breakfast.

Cristian wanted Kushikatsu (essentially fried food) so we went to a place... Reserve only.
Then we were two second from another place... but they didn't feel the reviews were good enough... so we walked to another place about 10 mins away an it was closed.
At this point we said Screw it... lets just go for curry which is nearby and open.
We were about to cross the street to go into the curry place when Cristian tells us he found another Kushikatsu place. My protest for just going with the guarenteed food fell on deaf ears and we walked for another 15 mins or so.
We do fine the place, it's unite literally a hole in the wall but it was absolutely delicious.... i just wish we had got here first.

Then we headed home and I went straight to bed because I ended up doing a lot more walking then expected today... oh well.

Still in Kyoto for a little longer so hopefully we get to go to Nara or Kobe or even just check out some Kimono's.

At least for now i think all my shopping is done... just the one cafe event left and that is all small stuff. Got my bro a fancy shirt but i have no idea if it'll fit him.... guess i'll find out in a few weeks.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Japan Day 7 - The only thing I really cared about

We had a lot of event planned for this trip.
Between Cafe's and store doing Collab events there was only one thing where i would have been genuinely upset had we not been able to work it out.

In Osaka there was a gallery for the creator of Natsume Yuujinchou and a focus on the 15 year old series.

I bought tickets for this month ago.
So when we finally got to this place which is only about an hour away from Osaka i knew we had to do it ASAP (also cause the gallery closes tomorrow but ignoring that). We woke up at a decent time and the whole group traveled to Osaka for a day trip.
We split off almost immediately and enjoyed our show.
Just as excepted it was worth every penny, so many of her originals were up on display. You could see things that had been cut off but cropping or places where she made a mistake or changed her mind and made it work.
You could see her style evolve over the course of the 15 years and it just made me wanna sit down and draw.

It wasn't a huge exhibit but we spent an inordinate amount of time looking closely at the work cause what's the chance we'll get to see something like this again.

Then came the gift store where I spent only 3 bucks more then i had expected to. When i get him I'm debating having some of these items framed since they are very nice.

After that we went to check a store for a collab event Marise was looking into but once again it was sold out... so we met up with the others and headed to "Denden town" (it's apparently a mini Akihabara)

There we managed to find a Namco store which had some of the Namjatown event items that had been sold out in actual Namjatown town (so i got the acrylic stand for yuuri and victor)

Then i saw a white Ys Vita in the wild and for 238 bucks it was almost worth it but i currently don't have space in my bag left... that being said if i see it in Tokyo on the way back.... i'll probably make room... i just don't wanna carry it all trip.

And then we headed back home to rest our tired feet.
Luckily (for my wallet) there are no more events till the 15th so we will be doing more traditionally touristy things. I know there's is talk of Imari shrine, Kiyomisudera, Nara and maybe Kobe... no idea if any of these will really happen but that is the plan.

Once thing i am sad about... i haven't been able to find anything falcom (besides the vita and a few games) anywhere.... i want some merch but the universe is saying no... oh well... i have a few weeks to keep trying.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Japan Day 6 - Farewell Fuji-san

I thought I would be a bit sadder leaving the Ryokan but honestly... the thought of a bed on the other side for this 4 hour trip sounds so enticing.

We woke up early, not because we needed to but because there was a window with no drapes on the floor and sunrise is around 4:50. However we used this time to take one final dip in the hot spring then got out stuff ready to leave.

The plan wasn't too complicated. We needed to catch a bus to a local town and then hope on the Shinkansen (bullet train)
I'll admit this was my first time on a bullet train and i was really excited to be on one. Honestly it was a bit like a roller coaster just with far more gradual rises and falls... my ears were popping the entire time but otherwise it was a comfy ride.

Before we knew it we were in Kyoto.
It was surprisingly different from both Tokyo and the town surrounding Fuji. It was both far more busy as far as cars are concerned but also a lot more abandoned building. Almost like it's half ghost town half old world charm. Also a lot of people walking around with really nice kimomos despite the dreary weather.

Luckily we arrived in kyoto early enough to walk around. We made our way to a tore called 0101 which was in the penultimate day of it's natsume event.
We ended up asking a lot of questions in broken japanese and the attendant was incredibly kind and even pulled up japan's version of google translate in order to communicate. At one point we were both asking questions through the phones. He kept saying Sumimasen (which is like the only word you need to know in japan as it's a hybrid of Sorry and Thank you and Can i bother you/ask for help) because he felt bad about the way we were communicating but in the end it was incredibly helpful.

After that we headed home just to be whisked away to dinner.... which was about a one minute walk from where we had just been.
We went to Coco Curry which was nice because it lets you control the level of heat... hell you can customize damn near every aspect. It was pretty tasty and because I could ask for ess rice I actually managed to finish my meal.

After that we just wandered a bit and then headed home. Tomorrow is the day i'm most excited for. Tomorrow we head to the Gallery in Osaka (which is still about an hour away but worth it) and it should be my final expensive day... it should also be the last day that my bag had a chance of getting heavier (i've been really good to far though)

I'll also hope to take more picture today, yesterday everything was just grey but hopefully we get some sun soon.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Japan Day 5 - Disclaimer

This country is called Land of the rising sun for a reason, the sun rises and then stays in the sky for far too long and far too hot.

Oh well.

There wasn't much planned for our only full day in the town at the base of Mount Fuji so once again we ended up splitting up.

Matt, Colin, Cristian and Ambernay went to visit the wind cave and Marise and I headed towards the other side of the lake to head to a Museum.
It was about an hours walk but the view was lovely and worth it.
Along the way we actually came across something called the "Gem Museum" and i'm a big fan of rocks so we took a small detour. It was 600 yen (about 6 bucks) to get in and they had some really cool high quality Gemstones as well as some interesting things done with gems from all over the world.
The ended up having some of the largest geodes and ammonite specimens i've ever seen. Also some massive pieces of petrified wood. Won't lie I did buy something from that store (i would call it a gift shop but it felt more like the store was the focus and the exhibit was additional.

Still with that mall detail out of the way we made our way to the bridge that would help us cros the lake It gave us a stunning view of Mount Fuji

We ended up on the side of the bridge where the sidewalk ended so we took a small detour under the bridge in order to get to the other side, there was a shrine on top of a steep walkway. I didn't have to guts but Marise said it was a nice little shrine.

Then we continued down the path and eventually made our way to the Ichiku Kubota Art museum and this was great. We knew he was mostly famous for his Kimono's but the museum was so much more then that.
You are greeted by an attendant who can help you is many different languages. Handed an english pamphlet (but there were at least 4 other choices)  and explained the layout of the museum.
The gift store had both Ichiku styles as well as Fuji specific souvineers. But for now we went to a side room which had a lovely exhibit of another artist who used colours in way that just made me smile. We weren't allowed to take any pictures but when i get back i'll scan the pamphlet i got.

Next was the bead exhibit where you are greeted with your choice of warm or cold drink then escorted to a patio area with the perfect view of Mount Fuji.
This is where you see his inspiration really went further then just Japan and it was very interesting.

Finally the main show, the Kimonos. Ichiku was famous for being inspired by a lost art and after spending 20 years to figure out how it was done he then spent the rest of his life working on Kimonos. Each one taking about a year to complete. We know all this cause they brought us to a room and played an english video for us.

The kimonos really were amazing but again no pictures and even if they had been allowed it wouldn't be able to convey what we saw in person.
After al that we went outside and enjoyed the foot path because this artist had designed everything to be stunning and i was able to take pictures of that.

After that we made our way back. We however needed lunch so we stumbled into a place that specialiesed in udon and Soba and dug in.
Then we had to cross the bridge... the only Robles this time was that the sun was high in the sky and angry. Even though i lathered up it didn't matter I still ended up a tomato.
On the other side of the bridge our mission was clear. We hunted for some ice cream. This wasn't hard as no matter where you looked someone was serving it. The place we happened to pick had three flavours. Vanilla, Lavender and Mixed.
So i decided why not and got a mixed cone and it was surprisingly nice. It was thankfully very subtle so it wasn't like eating perfume.

Then before heading to the Inn we tried to find a bunny shrine but we ended up failing that adventure.

Finally we headed back to the inn and hoped dinner old be edible (it wasn't really but i'm also far too picky)

And thus the only full day we are spending in Fuji comes to an end.
Tomorrow we have a decent length ride on the bus in order to get to the Shinkansen (bullet train) that'll bring us to the next place. (Which will be another few hours... but hopefully it's nice and comfy.)

At least the next place should be the end to any large purchases for me. I've gotten all my souvenirs taken care of. Now i just need to go to one final collab event and the gallery i bought tickets for months ago. I'm not going to lie i'm still super excited for it.

Should have wifi in the next place but may not so for now... signing off!

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Japan Day 4 - Changing the scenery

I laughed when Matt casually mentioned that we would have to wake up early to catch the bus... however all week i had been waking up at 5 so that wasn't really an issue.
Still my body decided to be extra cruel and woke me up at 4.... oh well.

But yes Today was the final day in Tokyo, we were heading to our first Ryonkan (hot spring hotel) of this trip. Right at the base of Mount Fuji.

So we got up, cleaned up and made sure we left nothing behind before saying farewell to Bram (whom we will meet up with later) and catching our 3ish hour bus at Tokyo Station.

Now waking up at four has some interesting side effects... one being ability to nod off on the bus... I couldn't stay awake to save my life but I also couldn't sleep because of lack of comfort.
Still the ride was beautiful and we arrived a few hours before chec in time.

After wandering around we found a tempura place and i think we all exclaimed how good everything was with everything we tried. It wasn't even terribly expensive and i managed to eat my whole plate of food (which i did partially because i worry that the ryokan dinner will be too odd for me to eat)

After we were done we were able to check in and do the most important thing you can do when going into a hot spring hotel... take a bath.

Verdict is..... it's nice...
I kind of exprected it to get hotter... but it was enjoyable.

After the bath we chilled till dinner which was... well a challenge.
Traditional Ryokan meals focus a lot of texture more then taste and i am the pickiest eater you have probably ever met.
I did try some new stuff... crab for one but for the most part i just ate what i figured i could stomach.
Apparently breakfast tomorrow should be an adventure as well.

We are staying here another night (which actually is a bit sad... it's nice to see mount Fuji but at the same time everything in the area is super expensive and other then that food place it hasn't been worth it... this hotel feels like it's trying so hard but it's just not what i expected and i would have rather had the extra day in Kyoto.
Still it's all good and tomorrow should be neat to walk around and in the end at least i wont be spending money... so that's good!

Alright... till tomorrow!

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Japan Day 3 - A Better Pace

Yesterday was too much, this was the one thing we all agreed on.
However since this was our last day in Tokyo without travel there were still 2 things we wanted to do.
Still today was going to be less intense no matter what.

We actually started the day by going to another nearby park Colin had seen on his map. The walk through the residential area was really pleasant and pretty quickly we saw the gate. Unlike the other park this cost 150 yen (about a 1.50 dollars) to get in and looked more like a rose garden then a park. Still it was cheap and we were here so why not.

The first thing we see is a rather large western style house with an equally opulent rose garden (with each type of rose seperate and labeled even if they weren't blooming just yet)
a little further in they had all kinds of flowers so i got a lot of reference material from that.
Then there was a little path to the side... and we found a rather large area that could be described as a park and a japanese garden. There was a huge pond with koi and lovey stone paths and even though it only took about 40 mins to go through there was a lot to see. It was the perfect way to start this relaxing day.

After heading back to the place and having a small bite to eat Marise and I headed out on another adventure alone. This time we headed to Tokyo station in order to get to the Eccentric Family cafe.
Truth be told i was worried we'd be turned away like we were last time we tried to go to a cafe without a reservation but i also knew this place was first come first serve... so why not try.
There was one minor hiccup we didn't account for.
Today was the official start of golden week which is a national holiday in japan. So the trains were packed and there was a sea of people at every stop. Also apparently people get more aggressive on holidays cause so far everyone had been extremely kind but now it was just a bit more forceful.

Still we headed out of the station and found the mall the cafe was in and let me tell you it was breath taking.
It was like a triangle with an open centre that goes 6 floors up. All elegantly designed and far to fancy to have an anime cafe.
Still we made our way to the 4th floor and found an attendant handing out numbered tickets.
The attendant started at 66 and we were 95 so we knew we had a bit of a wait ahead of us but we came for this place. No point in turning back.... then 15 to 20 minutes later we were being called.
Now I do know a little japanese but the one thing they never tell you in lessons is that Japanese people talk extremely quietly.... and they mumble... and they talk very quickly... and we didn't have anyone to help translate.
So the first thing he asked was. "We are running low on plush toys, do you want one? You have to buy it befor sitting down." This of course took a minute to get across but eventually we figured it out and Marise got one before we took our seat.
Then we got in line to order food. Marise got a beef bowl and i got the curry (which was a bit more tomato-y then i expected but still pretty good and sadly the closest thing to real food that i've had all week) and for drink Marise got then "Benten Cocktail" (which she let me try and i think it's hibiscus with lemon or Yuzu) and i got the frog in the well Latte (which was essentially a Matcha green tea latte which was so creamy and nice.
It was a lot more expensive then other cafes but i'm glad we went.
After the food was done we told them how delicious it was and went to the goods table.
I got a book am acrylic stand and a kyoto delicacy (because that is where the show is set) and a book that you apparently get stamped at shrines, i may not use it for that cause i'm just not sure but we will see if i figure it out.

We debated between going home for a rest but instead we figured just head to our final planned destination for the day. A store called HMM who were selling Natsume Merch.
I bought a lot and i regret nothing.... it all fits nicely in my bag... though this did bring my cup/mug cup up to 2 so i'm pretty sure i'll get scolded when i get back (mugs are dangerous i tell ya)

Luckily the store wasn't packed and we managed to do everything we needed to there in no time at all. We headed home and got clean and did laundry and just enjoyed the rest of the day. Slowly we all trickeled back in and told of our seperate adventures.

Tomorrow the format will change a bit. We are headed to a Ryokan at the base of Mt. Fuji and i'm pretty sure there is no wifi. So most likely i'll post any more updates when we get to the next place in a few days.

This trip had been a b;sat so far but i'll be honest im a bit worried about how golden week will be at Mt. Fuji... guess we'll find out.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Japan Day 2 - Pushing the Limits

so for our first few days we are in tokyo... and wow there is a lot to do while we are here and today was another jam packed day and my feet hate me for it.

We woke up at 5 again, Some people feel that's early but it all seems to be the sleep schedular we are stuck with for now.
We did have a nice chance to relax and eat breakfast and plan the rest of the day.

However today was slightly different from yesterday, Marise and I would be going on an adventure alone.... in tokyo.... Ikebukuro to be precise.
Fun fact: I have little to no sense of direction... Marise is better but has never been here before so it's hard to get bearings.
So needless to say we got very very lost... but after a little adventure we eventually made it to our first destination.

Because Anniversary years are celebrated for popular shows Yu yu hakusho, Marise's favourite show, got a themed cafe.
Problem was it was reserve only and you had to be a member with the store... since google tranlate isn't the best so it sounded like there may be a way to in through general admittance if there was room... we went to test the theory.
Long story short no they really wont let anyone in even if the cafe was mostly empty... oh well we tried... and at least the 3rd floor shop to go with the cafe was open and marise got some mercy she wanted (though everything was a blind pull so that was more based on luck then anything else.

Next we headed to Namjatown.... getting to the store it's in is easy..... finding Namjatown itself is hard.
So as we are once again lost we see a store. "Tsutaya" it wasn't marked on the map as one of the stores with the collab goods from Yu yu hakusho but we figure why not give it a try.
Well they didn't have it, but they did have a banpresto draw for some Natsume yuujinchou glasses... and there was this really pretty glass that i hoped for and in the end i drew the proper letter. I was so happy!

After that we went back to finding Namjatown town and wow.... i know the description is "amusement park" and i had no idea how that could be in a mall but it was.
Now we went there for the Yuri on Ice Cafe... which we both though was like... a single ordering spot and then single eating area.
Turns out no, that's not what it is at all. See Namjatown town has all these mini food stalls and each food stall could have a chance of having one of the yuri on ice food items.
Both marise and i ended up getting the Katsudon Peroski for our lunch and then she got the Maccachin crepe for dessert and i got cake with the theme of love flag in it (I took a ton of pictures)
The thing about the crepe is first off it wants you to literally bite the head off a dog... which is pipped so adorably.... but then there is also strawberry syrup running thought the middle.... yeah i don't think they completely thought this through.
My cake was really good, simple spong but with layers of what i think was banana in between the layers.... the macaroons on the side were a bit dry but i don't expect patisserie level macaroons out of a little collab cafe.
After stuff our face with delicious treats we headed to the gift show where once again.... everything was blind pull.
Ok that's not entirely accurate.
There were some things like acrylic stands that could be outright bought but considering that it's nearing the end of the event there were only a few characters to pick from.
So i took a chance.
I got a few blind pulls for these exclusive namjatown yuri on ice things and a blind pull from the kiss cry set.

I just so happpened to get Yuuri, Victor, JJ (which i guess is kinda funny cause i'm canadian) and the kids cry was Yurio wearing the cat ears.
Honestly i don't think I could have picked it better myself lol.

After a quick stop to the neighbhoring pokemon centre (more so out of curiosity to see one then anything else.) we finally decided to wander back and try and meet up with friends. However it ha only been about half a day and our feet were already dying. Hopefully we would get to sit soon (spoilers no... no sitting)

We made our way to the Hachiko statue which had a large group of tourist around it taking pics. We didn't stay long and went to another Tsutaya that was marked on our map but alas it was all sold out of the Yu Yu Hakusho goods.

After that we went to Nakano broadway which is like a huge mall full of all kinds of goods (some second hand or rare) however by this point th pain in our feet was so bad it was hard to think and eventually we just tried to find a good plan to sit. (Ended up picking a McDonalds)

However our day was not nearly done yet! We still had a reservation for the Dragon Quest pub (Ludia's bar) and the best part? It's a standing bar : D
Still the food was great and the theming was really fun and again i took a ton of pictures. (Funnily though my camera still says i have 9999 shots left so.... yay~

We bought an obscene amount of food and ended up staring it semi family style... we accidentally ordered the wrong dessert (cause it's based on numbers) but it was a declicious mistake. And then after all that we dragged ourselves back home and proceeded to all pass out even though it was only like... 9.
I did manage to make it to 10 but just barely.

Tomorrow will be more chill... it has to be cause i can't keep up this pace.
The goal for tomorrow is go to HMM and the eccentric family cafe. Hopefully the start of golden week doesn't make either of those too nightmarish.