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Sunday, 31 July 2016

BLOG -- Recap of July

Well July was really busy for me. I got older and went out more often than I usually did. *sigh* I wish time would just stop so I can recollect myself, lol. I really need to think about certain things in my life, lol... x_x'''


Outings/Events in July:
- Celebrated a friend's birthday.

- Attended Daniela Andrade's performance at the Mod Club with a friend. I wanted to cheer, but was too shy, lol. It was a really fun night xD 

- Met up with a friend to celebrate my birthday. We had sushi buffet, mmmm... x3

- Met up with a friend to chat about her trip to Japan.

- Had a really unlucky day where: 1) I found out that unauthorized transactions were made to my credit card; 2) Somebody smooshed me against the wall in the subway as I was walking to the next train; 3) I lightly smooshed one of my fingers between my chair's armrest and desk at work; 4) Minutes after getting on the subway after work, the car went out of service. I ended up taking the bus home.  

- Did an escape room for the 6th time (Escape Games Canada -- The Unknown Room). We didn't get out, lol. Was still super fun though x3

- Checked out a Sailor Moon-themed pop-up cafe with my sister. The cookie and cupcake were good. The parfait was okay. It was nice, but unfortunately the cosplay wasn't too varied. The English voice actor to Serena / Usagi (Linda Ballantyne) popped in briefly, which was really neat.

- Karaoked by myself.


Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn achievements / news: 
-My subscription has run out and I will keep it that way for a longer-than-usual while. I... really need to play through my other games and get more caught up with my life. *sigh*


Exposures:
- (Food): Strawberry Shortcake Donut -- I tried the version from Krispy Kreme this time and I did not like it very much. The dough by itself tasted kinda plain, and the center was too full of taste. I would not really recommend this, lol.

- (Food): Maple Bacon Donut -- I was very curious about this after reading it as a response in Miitomo. I couldn't try it right away though, 'cuz the place closed kinda too early for me to get to after work. Now that I've tried it... the parts with no bacon bits are too sweet, lol. With the bacon bits it was a bit weird, lol.

- (Food): Pepsi Ginger -- This was weird. It had a strong ginger smell when I opened it, which I didn't like (I'm not a fan of ginger unless it's ginger snaps). Halfway through drinking it, though, I started tasting a light ginger kick, which was interesting.

- (Food): Tsujiri Sundae -- I liked the ice cream and the pink flower thing. Not really sure about the rest of it.

- (App): Pokemon GO -- I have a love/hate thing with this. It's fun when I can catch lots of different pokemon. It's not when the app isn't working properly or when friends can't hang out because they are too busy gathering balls... lol. :P I'm currently Level 18. 


Finished...
Watching:
- (Movie): Finding Dory -- Very good for one watch. I cried immensely at one scene. The short before the movie was really, really cute and sweet.

- (Movie): Swiss Army Man -- What a weird movie... but also thought-provoking and enjoyable. The more I think about it, the more I want to watch it again. I love the music. That underwater scene is so, so lovely, lol. :)

- (Movie): 9 -- This was very nicely done. But wow -- I don't think I've ever watched a computer-animated movie as dark as this. I'd say it's worth at least one watching.

- (Anime): Love, Election, and Chocolate -- This series had a few moments, but overall pretty meh for me. I was also not a fan of the harem-ness of it.

- (Anime): Legend of the Mystical Ninja -- This was quite... not good, lol. I stuck it through because it's Mystical Ninja, but I would not recommend it. Just play the SNES game, lol.


Playing:
- Nothing this month.

Reading:
- Nothing this month.


Currently... 
Playing (not all at once):
- (PS4): Dragon Ball Xenoverse
- (PS4): J-Stars Victory Vs+
- (PS4): Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree's Woe and the Blight Below  
- (PS4): IDOLM@STER: Platinum Stars
- (PS3): Borderlands 2
- (3DS): Story of Seasons
- (3DS): Fantasy Life
- (3DS): Shantae
- (GBA): The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition   
- (PSP): Persona 
- (PSP): Crush
- (PSP): Corpse Party
- (PSVita): Persona 4 Golden
- (Wii): Fortune Street 
- (PS2): Atelier Iris 2 
- (PC): UnEpic  
- (PC): King's Bounty: The Legend
- (Mobile): Dragon Quest II


Watching:
- (TV Show): The Walking Dead (Season 5 - Episode 12)
- (TV Show): Orphan Black (Season 3)
- (TV Show): Criminal Minds (Season 10)
- (TV Show): Six Feet Under (Season 1 - Episode 3)
- (Anime): Yu Yu Hakusho (don't remember)
- (Anime): Log Horizon (episode 3)
- (Anime): K-On! Season 2 (episode 3)



Reading:
- (Manga): Elemental Gelade by Mayumi Azuma (Volume 15)
- (Manga): Trigun Maximum by Yasuhiro Nightow (Volume 10)
- (Manga): Ouran High School Host Club by Bisco Hatori (Volume 6)


That's it for July. Here are some pics I took this month plus the trailer for Swiss Army Man.


 One of my birthday gifts from my sister. Hahaha, a Minesweeper postcard 
where I can scratch the boxes. I really enjoy Minesweeper, lol. 

And this is the finished product. As you may be able to tell, I blew up four times 
before beating it. This was kinda tougher than the 
actual game -- there are no blank spaces!

A close-up shot of Daniela Andrade singing. My phone's camera is so crappy, lol.

The placemat and ticket for the Sailor Moon-themed pop-up cafe. 
I just had to support something like this, lol. 

The cupcake and cookie. They had a light lemon taste.

 The maple bacon donut. 

Tsujiri sundae.

A package that I picked up yesterday. Lol, I only got the magazine 
'cuz the cover has Teru on it (the vocalist for GLAY).

Unboxing the IDOLM@STER: Platinum Stars Platina Edition 

The trailer for Swiss Army Man. I did not see this before watching the movie.


Thanks for reading! As usual, if you have any questions / comments about anything, feel free. :)

Have a good rest of the weekend and take care :)

Sunday, 24 July 2016

BLOG -- My Trip to Japan V.2 -- ADVENTURE PART 3 (Akihabara, Shibuya, Ikebukuro, Shinjuku)

So this entry will cover the places I already visited back when I went to Japan a couple years ago. Due to that, I won't say much about these places since my thoughts are still the same. You can read more about these places in the links below.

Japan Trip 2014: Akihabara & Ikebukuro
Japan Trip 2014: Shibuya & Shinjuku


AKIHABARA

DAYS SPENT: 2

OVERALL THOUGHTS: It is still the same nerd spot. Unfortunately for me, I had already hit my declaration limit when I visited Akihabara, so I didn't roam around too much. I mean -- why find things that you may want but ultimately can't buy?? Lol.

On my first day at Akihabara, I chatted a bit with another traveler at the Eorzea Cafe (the cafe will be covered in a future blog) and we ended up hanging out that day around Akihabara. I showed him Kotobukiya and Mandarake Complex. We also checked out Book-Off to help him find a PS3 game (one of the Tales of games that was only released for the PS3 in Japan -- I used my Katakana reading skills, whee). Hahaha, it was very random, but not bad. Maybe I was feeling lonely that day. As of this writing, the person is on my PSN, though we haven't contacted each other since.

PLACES VISITED:

Kotobukiya (RE-VISIT)

This is still the same. Lots of cool nerdy stuff to buy. I couldn't stay in this store for very long, lol. It would tempt me too much.


Mandarake Complex (RE-VISIT)

This is also still the same. But this time... I got to spend my hours browsing the music section. Unfortunately, with two years passing since my last visit, the CD singles section was overflowing -- to the point where many CD singles (in bad shape) were taped together and were being sold for 100 yen. And I... bought some of them, lol. I just couldn't pass up the chance to get possibly good music for so cheap. I am a sucker for CD singles -- especially if they come with a karaoke / instrumental track.


Various Game Stations (RE-VISIT)


So when you're in Akihabara and you can't buy too many things, checking out the various game stations are the next best thing. Then you just have to think about how much luggage space you have. I really wanted to get the kitty in the cakebox in the pic above! 


Yeah! I got one!!!


Book-Off

I actually went to various Book-Offs while in Japan this time. It is a shop that carries used media (CDs, DVDs, books, video games, etc) at decent prices. They also carry used consoles and handhelds, which were very tempting if I had the luggage space. Whenever I saw a Book-Off, I went in and browsed their CD section. Just... gotta... check out all the video game music, lol. I highly recommend this place!

OTHER PHOTOS:

A standee advertising Akiba's Trip 2.

Advertisements for Dissidia Final Fantasy.

A Dragon Quest-themed Lawson store. It made Dragon Quest 
sounds when you stepped in and if you used the Loppi machine inside.


SHIBUYA

DAYS SPENT: 1

OVERALL THOUGHTS: So I went to Shibuya for two things: Sushi no Midori and karaoke! Lol. I've been to both of these places before, but I just had to go back. Sushi no Midori will be covered in a future blog.

PLACES VISITED:

Karaoke-kan (RE-VISIT)

It's been two years and my legs still remember how to get to this place. Now... there are tons of karaoke places in Japan. I go to this specific one because... well... it was my first karaoke place in Japan... and based off the guide I use, it has a really decent rate when it opens. 

Last time, I devoted an entire blog just for my karaokings in Japan, but this time I didn't sing very well. I guess I am out of practice, lol... However, I still really enjoyed myself and was happy to sing songs I normally wouldn't be able to sing at the karaoke places in Toronto. And I'll just say -- karaoking for three hours in Japan just isn't enough! Lol.


My rate for the room. I also had to buy a drink, but it was still worth it. 
My total cost (room rate + drink) for three hours was 1048 yen.

video
Me singing "Let Me Be" from Glay. I mess up a little, but... well... it was my first time singing the song karaoke. I like some of my vocal quality here. This song is in Japanese
Just like with all my other karaoke videos, 
the screen is black so click "Play" and do something else, lol.



IKEBUKURO

DAYS SPENT: 0.5

OVERALL THOUGHTS: If I had a chance, I would have spent more time here. The weather just wasn't in my favour. It is still the same as last time -- the nerd place for girls.

PLACES VISITED:

Animate (RE-VISIT)

This is still the same, carrying tons of nerdy goods, though more towards the female audience. I went there mainly to check out the floor carrying video games, soundtracks, and movies. I would have loved to visit the Cardcaptor x Animate Cafe, but I was reading that I would have to input a Japanese address just to reserve, so I didn't try. It looks like it is still running until early October, so check it out if you are in Japan anytime between now and then!


OTHER PHOTOS:

I checked out this Book-Off while it was raining outside. I found a couple things.

An advertisement for a Neko Atsume-themed cafe at Namco Namjatown. 
I was planning on checking it out, but... with the rain and me wearing very few layers... 
I ended up going back to the hotel. As of this writing, the 
Neko Atsume-themed cafe is over. :(

Another pic of the advertisement.

And another. Namco Namjatown eludes me again! Lol


SHINJUKU

DAYS SPENT: 1.5 + almost everyday after 5 PM

OVERALL THOUGHTS: Ahh, my home base, yet again. I really did enjoy the area last time and I like that it is located around the middle of many other places I wanted to check out. Often when I got back to the hotel, I'd drop off my stuff and wander out to Shinjuku, often to get dinner.

The first few times, my legs didn't remember how to get to Shinjuku from the hotel so I had to back-track a few times. Once I ended up just at the entrance of Kabukicho (red light district). I knew something was up the moment I found myself several feet away from a building with a huge pic of a stylish hot guy. An actual hot guy in dress clothes was sitting at the building's front steps, watching me as I was looking at that picture. All that ran through my mind was, This... is not... right... I... need... to move... away... I think if I started walking toward the building, the guy would have sprung into "action". 

I didn't check out many new things here, but it was nice just to wander around.

PLACES VISITED:

Shinjuku Post Office

So... even though I did my best not to go over the declaration limit of 800 CAD, I did (darn you Book-Off!!! Lol -- still love ya, though <3)... and I had to do something about it! Here are a couple not-the-best solutions to lowering your declaration limit if you plan to declare honestly (if anybody has any other solutions please let me know!):

1. If you were planning to bring back food, eat it. I know, this isn't the best suggestion, but not many options are available if you don't want to leave anything else behind.

2. Mail out the excess as gifts (to a certain extent). This is an option after weighing that it would cost less to ship out the excess than it would be to pay tax on the whole thing. 

I was carrying some things I was planning to mail out anyway so I figured, Let's do it now. Then I will also get to learn about the processes of mailing out a package from Japan. Win-win! Lol. I also did end up eating a bunch of foods I was planning to bring back home. 

Before going with the mailing route, it is best to look up how high a package could be valued before the recipient would pay customs (for example, as of this writing, to mail something to the US and avoid customs, the package value cannot exceed 100 USD; for Canada, it's 60 CAD). 

It is also best to look up what is really acceptable in terms of mailing packages out. Mailing to yourself could count as part of your declaration limit as mailing to yourself wouldn't be a gift. For the US, people traveling together and mailing packages to each other would also not count as gifts. 

Okay, so when all of that is done, get your items ready and go to the post office!

I'm not sure if all post offices are the same, but Shinjuku Post Office was really nice. There were stations for putting boxes together and writing out the mailing slips. There was also a large waiting area. It kinda felt like a crafting centre, lol. I also felt very lost, being my first time at the post office. Thankfully, there were some English signs around. I also set aside a whole day just so I could feel lost... but still do it! Okay, now I'll step you through the process:

1. Buy shipping boxes. You can skip this step if you bought your boxes elsewhere. If you need to buy shipping boxes, find the counter that sells them. For me it was to the far left. Then in front of that counter, press a machine to get a numbered ticket and wait to be served. When your number flashes on the screen, go to the counter and buy your boxes. They will come folded.

2. Put your boxes together + Writing in mailing slips. Go to one of the crafting stations and put your crafting skills to work! A couple stations should have packing tape, but bring some just in case. 

For writing in mailing slips, EMS seems to be the most cost efficient and timely shipping method so take those slips. Even when I thought airmail would be more cost-effective for one package, it turned out that EMS was actually cheaper. 

One thing that is stressed when writing in mailing slips is to be accurate when listing the items and the netweight (best guess is okay as the package will be weighed at the end). When sending food items (not sure if this applies to all countries), it needs to be listed as "[insert food item] (Non-commercial)". When sending cup noodles, it needs to be listed as "Instant noodles (Non-commercial)". In the return address, I put down the hotel's address.

Writing the mailing slips took me the longest time as I was trying to make sure it wouldn't cause any raised eyebrows. I didn't want to risk the possibility of it getting sent back and I wouldn't be around to receive it. It was also my first time sending out a package from outside of Canada -- I was really scared of messing up.

3. Mail out your packages. At this point, I can't recall if local mailing and international mailing was separated into their own counter areas. If they are, though, get a numbered ticket for the international mailing area and just wait till your number flashes on the screen. Pay the shipping and you are done! Wheee! 

I spent about three hours at the post office, lol... but I did it! Yayyyyy!


OTHER PHOTOS:

Yes!!! I got you!!! No more taunting me from the other side.

I don't know what is happening here, but it looks like 
that old-looking house is getting demolished :(

A mailbox in Japan. The left slot is for letters and postcards. 
The right slot is for other things. I dropped my pocket WiFi into the right slot.

A shot of beers being sold in plain sight in a supermarket. I think this 
really shows a difference of culture and values.

I took this pic to remind me how to find the Capcom Bar, so I 
won't end up wandering through Kabukicho (red light district) 
like what happened a couple years.
The Capcom Bar is down that street, on the left side.


That's it for Part 3. Thanks for reading! Next I'll be covering the new areas I hit... for nerdy reasons, lol. x3

If you have any questions or comments about any of these places I visited, feel free to say something in the comments box! :)

Saturday, 9 July 2016

BLOG -- My trip to Japan V.2 -- ADVENTURE PART 2 (Gamagori -- Laguna Ten Bosch)

So this was the reason I stayed in Nagoya during my first week in Japan. Ever since I found out years ago that a life-sized Thousand Sunny replica existed, I had to experience it! For those who don't know, the Thousand Sunny is a ship from One Piece, one of my favourite anime series.

Once I booked my flight to Japan, one of the things I did next was look up if the Thousand Sunny was still accessible to the public and where it was. It may sound silly, revolving part of my trip around something that could be perceived as so trivial, but... well... I'm a silly person! Hahaha :) 

When I went to Japan for the first time a couple years ago, my trip wasn't fully "complete" until I experienced melon-filled melon bread. This time it was the Thousand Sunny. And the Thousand Sunny led me to Laguna Ten Bosch, an amusement park in Gamagori.

GAMAGORI (LAGUNA TEN BOSCH)



DAYS SPENT: 1

OVERALL THOUGHTS: Initially, I set aside three days of my trip just for Laguna Ten Bosch. But after factoring in admission cost and commuting time (it takes about one hour from Nagoya to Gamagori), I aimed to do everything I wanted in one day. And I did.

Since Laguna Ten Bosch is the first amusement park I attended in Japan, I have no idea how it would compare to other Japanese amusement parks. All I can say is that there are some interesting attractions / exhibits and I thought it had a bit of something for every age. Rides, stage shows, flowers, a food market, a spa area (I did not explore the spas at all) -- a little bit of everything. 

Would I recommend it? Yes! I did enjoy much of my time there. Unfortunately I didn't get to experience all the attractions I wanted since they started after I left. I... may have to go back one day, and I will say why later in this blog.

If you are thinking of going to Laguna Ten Bosch for the One Piece attractions, I strongly suggest paying for regular admission. I paid "passport" admission which gave me free access to the regular attractions. Since I had no interest in their roller coasters, I struggled a bit trying to find attractions to experience to make my "passport" admission worth it.


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REGULAR ATTRACTIONS / AREAS VISITED
*************************************************************


Parallel Walk


Out of all attractions, for some reason the Parallel Walk piqued my interest. And I have a slight fear of heights... ha... And it's a two-seater ride and am I by myself... haaa...

I thought it was neat that the riders had to pedal to make the ride progress. It was also amusing to see two people get on the ride, but only one was pedaling. When it came to my turn, I was by myself to the ride, and it was fun but unnerving at the same time. I kept thinking, 'Must keep pedaling! I can't get stuck up here!'. That was like my exercise for the day.

With regular admission, Parallel Walk would cost 200 yen.


Wonder

So I mainly attended this because it was one of the more costly attractions (600 yen). It was a dance performance with a projected star background. It was okay, but it didn't do much for me.


Fire Fire NEXT

I noticed this attraction having long lines throughout the day, and for good reason. It was pretty fun! Fire Fire NEXT is a pre-set indoor ride with various enemy targets littered through the walls. When you get to them, you shoot the targets with a laser gun. Sometimes shooting some targets reveal other targets. At the end of the ride, you receive a score card and the ending you got. If I didn't experience this so late in the day (around 5:30 PM), I would have gone again.

With regular admission, Fire Fire NEXT would cost 750 yen.


My rating and score card for Fire Fire NEXT. 
*sigh* Bad ending, lol... ^^''


Flower Lagoon



This was an area with tons of flowers. It was really nice seeing all the different types and colours. I didn't like the bugs, though, lol.


I liked this. It's one way to see the flowers up close. 

Another shot.

Flower arches at the far back!

So colourful! 

So violet!

So purple!

So red. This one actually feels a bit creepy.


La Grille


I actually stumbled upon this by accident, and I really enjoyed it. It was a stage show about a character going through various worlds. And there was singing and dancing in each world. I didn't understand a thing, but it was neat and enjoyable. One of the worlds had a performer doing tricks with a chair, and then a table. It was really cool. I also really enjoyed the show's theme song.


"Dinosaur Event"


I stumbled into this by accident as well, and I would say this was the highlight of the regular attractions. I don't know what this event was actually called, hence the quotation marks. 

It was a very entertaining event. Based on the motions ('cuz I didn't understand any of it), I think two dinosaur tamers and their team were searching for dino eggs. First they enlisted help from various children in the audience, who then went about the area looking under crates and such. Then partway through two dinosaurs appeared. I think the dinosaurs were manned by people inside while the head was part animatronic (the eyes would blink!). 

When the egg was found, some argument between the two tamers ensued which caused the egg to be dropped. Then... craziness! The dinosaurs went crazy, rushing into the audience every so often and attacking them. The tamers were desperately trying to find the egg again while the dinosaurs continued going around and attacking the audience. It was soooo hilarious. My forehead was tail-whipped by one dinosaur while I trying to take a picture of the other one.

That was so fun.


video
A short clip of the dinosaurs in motion. It's really crappy quality, I apologize. 
I don't understand any of the Japanese. 



OTHER REGULAR AREA PHOTOS:

The bridge to Flower Lagoon and another area. The arches light up at night.

I really wanted to see this attraction "activated", but I would have had 
to wait around 7:20 PM just to see it.

Pic of Sanji on the bridge to the Festival Market.


*************************************************************
ONE PIECE ATTRACTIONS VISITED
*************************************************************

POSSIBLE SPOILER WARNING!!! Depending on where you are in One Piece, these attractions could have spoilers. The attraction I considered MOST spoiler-y, I moved into its own "walled off" section around the end.

A.S.L. "Exhibit"


This was an exhibit that focused on Ace, Sabo, and Luffy's friendship. This exhibit also came with a mission. When I paid admission (600 yen), I was given a pamphlet in Japanese. I opened the pamphlet and saw a series of multiple-choice questions... all in Japanese. I tensed up. Omg! How do I do this??!! When I said "I don't understand Japanese" in Japanese, they tried their best to convey that I can find the answers in various parts of the exhibit. "Good luck!" one of the employees said in English. 

Also in the exhibit was a brief animated film in Eiichiro Oda's (manga artist) style. It was pretty cool, seeing the manga style characters come to life like that. 

I would recommend this exhibit to any One Piece fan. Answering those quizzes, though, was really difficult, lol... I passed it, phew! 

A shot of some of the One Piece information "strewn" about the exhibit.

Sabo, Luffy, and Ace. When you get close, an audio track 
plays with the dialogue of the scene.

Ditto with this scene.

All the info you'd like to know about Luffy, Ace, and Sabo... in Japanese! lol.

The pamphlet with the quizzes. I ended up getting a "NICE" score and got to pick out 
a faced-down card. I got Sabo. I think Nami came with admission of the exhibit. 
The card on the left is actually the score card from Fire Fire NEXT.

The quizzes I answered. Even with me slowly reading the katakana and hiragana, 
I barely understood what I was reading and was guessing at the last two questions.


Thousand Sunny Cruise


Ahhh, my reason for being in Nagoya... but due to the windy weather that day, all the scheduled cruises were cancelled! :( I was still able to explore the boat at a discounted price (800 yen instead of 1200 yen). *sigh* It just means I'll have to try coming back another time. I want to be on the ship while it's moving around the waters! Otherwise I won't feel as immersed... hahaha.

Exploring the ship was really cool. There were life-sized figures of all the crew members. And it's just... really cool, lol. That a ship from an anime series was replicated and can move. It's amazing


Another shot of the ship.

Luffy.

Zoro.

Sanji. Ahh, my kick-a** chef <3

Nami by a table of yummy-looking foods.

Brooke.

Franky.


OTHER ONE PIECE PHOTOS:

I don't remember where I took this pic, but it's really cute!

Life-sized Law vs. life-sized Doflamingo. Ohhh, who will win??!

So many puzzles for sale.

That's it for Part 2. Thanks for reading! The next Japan trip-related blog will cover some of the places I visited in Tokyo. Not sure which places just yet.

If you have any questions or comments about any of these attractions or Laguna Ten Bosch in general, feel free to say something in the comments box! :)


The spoiler-y One Piece attraction is past these scrolly things. Just like in my reviews with a "Spoilers" section, I'll add some more scrolly things afterwards in case anybody wants to comment, but not see that section.

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The One Piece Attraction Considered MOST-Spoilery


Whitebeard and Ace's Graves


Some may consider this an old spoiler... but hey! Not every One Piece fan is all caught up. These graves were really well-made. I actually teared up a little, and I wanted to kneel and pay my respects. Ahhh... I'm such a geek, lol.  

"Ace, may your soul be eternal. Your brave soul will always be with us." 

"Edward Newgate, Captain of the Whitebeard Pirates. Here lies a great Captain 
and Father, liberated from the exhausting role and labor, who captained 
the Moby Dick in the spectacular era of pirates."

*bows* May you two rest in piece.



That's it for this section. Thanks again for reading and feel free to comment :D

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