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Kotatsu train: While not having a backrest is annoying, I'd love to ride this once.

The Fifth Act drabble in which chibi!Cloud gets Cloud and their mother together: Can you say aww?

I've been torturing myself by reading tons of WIP FF7 time travel fics, some of which are currently being updated and some which…might be abandoned. Sadly, my favorite of the bunch has probably been abandoned but I keep regularly checking my bookmarks to see if the others have been updated. I keep getting the stories confused because I read a bunch of them in a very short period of time and still have to read the first chapter or two to reacquaint myself with the fic before jumping into the latest chapter. It feels like it's the fate of 90% of time travel FF7 fics to be abandoned, and it's almost always the good ones that do. I hope the others get finished. *sighs*

I actually watched the 2012 Kouhaku (It's so long! It's been a couple of years since I last watched Kouhaku and I'd forgotten just how long...) and was amazed at the number of completely forgettable girl groups in the thing. I did find a couple of songs I've become attached to, tho.

One female idol I've grown to like is Kana Nishino (who can actually sing). She sang Go For It!!, a very happy, very bouncy song with an amazingly 80's vibe to the video. I've also grown attached to the interestingly-named Momoiro Clover Z's interestingly-named song Saraba, Itoshiki Kanashimiyo.
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The Junjou Romantica anime. Yes, I finally watched them all (except the Nowaki/Hiroki eps). I wish there had been a third season!! If I have the energy, I'll do a squee post...Years late, yes, but I love reading really late to the bandwagon squee posts, personally.

Richard Dreyfuss Reads the iTunes EULA, especially "Effective until."

Via [ profile] wednesday_10_00: Cartoonize My Pet...I'm obsessed with getting my cat just right (and failing).

Dear Photograph, a tumblr that shows old pics in the locations they were taken now. I love the idea!

Ninja Pins...Why did I find out about these AFTER I got back from Japan. ;_;

My iPad! Along with Google Reader and the app Reeder, I can keep up with the many, many blogs I follow so much easier. Transferring my bookmarks took forever, but once it was set up? Perfect!

I also learned a couple of (new for me) tricks to make things even easier. First, the switch next to the volume controls can be set to lock the rotation of the screen! I carry the iPad around all over the place and always got irritated when the screen turned to match the iPad even when I didn't want it to. Now I can keep things horizontal even as I shift around. Second, pressing the home button twice brings up the open apps. You can hold your finger on one of the icons to make them wiggle, which allows you to close them. Or you can just select one to go to that app instead. If you swipe to the left you get ipod controls, if you swipe to the right you get more open apps.

I am also even more addicted to Sudoku now. I need to find a good Kenken app, as well as good solitaire and mah-jjong apps.

(It's sad how many "basic" things I don't know how to do. The reason screen caps are showing up in my posts recently? Because I recently learned how to do screen caps on a Mac! least six years owning one. ^^; I never had that big an urge to screen cap, but learning to do it now just seems a bit pathetic.)

Less happy-dance and more thought-provoking: The Media's "Ugly" Women.
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Erg. I bought a pair of shoes online that I ended up not ever wearing because it was too tight. I kept hoping it'd somehow magically fit and left it in my closet. I realized recently that the store has a one year return policy and decided to just return the damned thing. I checked my records and found out I missed the return deadline by a couple of weeks. *sighs* Now I have a lovely pair of shoes I can't wear without what I suspect would be quite a bit of pain that I can't let go because they weren't cheap. I'm wondering if stretching can save them....How much can leather shoes be stretched? GAH.

I counted up the number of manga I bought this last trip and it was a pathetic amount. I even forgot to pick up the new Viewfinder! I am now rethinking my run around Japan then end up in Tokyo and go crazy shopping strategy, as the go crazy shopping can't happen if your body is exhausted and unwell from the running around Japan by the time you get to Tokyo. The best new book I picked up this last trip is hands down S.S.SP. I know I mentioned the book, but I haven't had the time to write a lovingly detailed post on it.
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I'm home, I'm exhausted, I am embracing the sunny high 80s weather here after the cold rainy season of Japan. I would've been okay with rain and cold if I had been well, but...these things happen on trips, I suppose. ^^; Ate a lot of good food and did lots of sightseeing. Two places I highly recommend visiting: Kurashiki in Okayama Prefecture (Ride the river boat!!! Get to the tourist info office at 9 and reserve seats--they are only 300 yen/person. It helps to know Japanese since you get lots of good info from the river boatman, but I think just floating along down the canal is pretty awesome) and Adachi Art Museum in Shimane Prefecture. Adachi is super duper famous for its gardens (which are indeed breathtaking) but the art inside is pretty awesome as well. Lots of late 19th cen/early 20th cen Western influenced Japanese art. Also, Shimane really wants foreigners to visit so you can get discounts into a lot of places if you show your passport. Adachi was half-price! I also enjoyed the prefectural museum right near Izumo Taisha. They have the corniest video explaining the myths regarding Daikokusama/Ookuninushisama (same kanji, different readings, the curse of Japanese!~!), the god enshrined at Izumo Taisha. Instead of doing the logical thing and making an anime, they did a really cheesy mash-up of live action and really REALLY bad sfx (the scene when Daikokusama gets run over by a molten boulder and is burned to a crisp is pretty tacky). It was helpful until all the names got to me and everything became a blur.

I couldn't find a single copy of Ao no exorcist volume 6 in all the bookstores I looked in. Of course, I didn't have a chance to look in many....But it was kind of amazing to not find it anywhere. It was even not in stock on Amazon!!

(BTW, Amazon Japan will ship for free in Japan for any price and if it's in stock it'll almost always be delivered in two days! I'm so jealous since I always have to give two weeks for free delivery from Amazon US to get here. ;_;)

I was very surprised to find out there's yaoi doujinshi for Summer Wars....It even merited it's own section in K-Books! I never even dreamed of slashing that movie...Am I losing my fujoshi lenses?

I bought the May issue of Ciel just to read Super Lovers chapter 10 in Japanese. I had to laugh at just how badly Ren's essay writing skills in Japanese were. I also enjoyed reading the chapter of Junjou Romantica in the same issue. That Za-Men mangaka makes me laugh and icks me out at the same time. Also, Usami jealous makes me smile every time. I wish I'd been able to buy the next issue that has the new Hakkenden chapter in it...I've missed that series so much.

I had no idea that there were FOUR volumes of Yume musubi koi musubi. I so couldn't get into the series...I hope her next series is more to my taste, especially since I've liked everything else she's done.
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I am currently in Kyoto having a heck of a time typing on my iPad. It's massively convenient in many respects, but if you need to type a lot you need an external keyboard. :P I just wanted to say that I bought and read and loved S.S.SP, the cheesy BL novel [ profile] wednesday_10_00 posted about. Will write about it more later.

ETA: I haven't caught any Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi or Ao no Exorcist anime...I can't figure out the stations for the former and the time sucks for the latter. :(
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I am doing a major houseclean before leaving for Japan this week. MY GOD I feel tired, and I'm not even done yet. I just can't do nothing before having my friend come and feed my cat during the trip, you know? My mom and I almost died deep cleaning the cat litter box. I think we let it go for a little too long this time. -_- Cat urine is sooo toxic.

Loving the ipad so far. Been playing games and listening to podcasts (speaker is better than the ipod and more portable than my laptop) and surfing the net with it.

Some game apps I've been loving:

-Sukoku Daily. Lots of difficulty levels and a good interface. I'm thinking of buying the paid version now.
-Viking Slice. Puzzle game in which you slice vikings out of ice and get them on a waiting viking ship. I like that there's no time limit.
-Burn It All. Puzzle game in which you light ropes within a time limit. The flame makes me think of Calcifer from Howl's Moving Castle.

I think I just don't do well with non-puzzle games. Those I'm not finding that fun:

-Chop Chop Caveman
-Pilot Winds
-Bug Heroes

Any suggestions for places to eat (or cool things to do that aren't in every guide book) in the following cities?

-Nagoya near the station
-Takayama near the station
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I was riveted by the Fresh Air interview of the author of Singular Woman, a biography of Barack Obama's mother. First off, I didn't know that she had met Barack Obama Sr and her second husband at the University of Hawaii. Sad as it is, it's thrilling to find my alma mater as setting for such a story. Also, she seems to have been quite a fascinating woman. I think I want to read the book.

I also listened to Andy Borowitz's humorous telling of his scary brush with death on The Moth and died laughing at "ileostomy propaganda." I love deadpan delivery.

I am leaving for a trip to Japan next week and had planned on trying to catch Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi on TV, but looking at the rather long list of broadcasters on the website made me realize I have no idea how to find out if/when/what channel the cities I am in will air it. ;_;
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I am loving the Sekaiichi Hatsukoi anime SO MUCH. I giggle through the whole episode. I have no idea how they will end the anime, but so far I am enjoying the ride. I also recently got volume 5 of the manga and was sad that the first really long chapter was about Kisa and Yukina. I don't dislike their characters, but I'm quite tired of Kisa's insecurity being the source of all problems. I felt really sorry for Ritsu as the end of chapter 9. I wish Yokozawa would just lay off on Ritsu. He causes so much trouble for the two by being such an unrelenting asshole. I did like the manga on the cover showing Yokozawa surrounded by cats, though. Also, the "we work at night"=hosts was fabulous.

I also got Natsume Isaku's new manga, Ameiro Paradox volume 1. It's about a reporter for a weekly who ends up partnering with a photographer he feels a rivalry against in the paparazzi division. I...couldn't read it straight through. The characters act like annoying kids. But the end made up for EVERYTHING. why the end kicks ass ) I look forward to volume 2.

Honto Yajuu volume 4 by Yamamoto Kotetsuko wasn't quite as awesome as volume 3, but I don't know how you'd top Aki's mother anyway. But the little kids at the run-down ryokan(?) adoring Aki in his awful yazuka get-up and getting upset when he is dressed normally and looks like a regular good-looking guy was wonderful. Also, the sempai policeman lending Aki his clothes and getting stuck at the police box because he can't go home dressed in Aki's outfit was hilarious. XD;

I liked volume 2 of Shizuku Hanabira Ringo no Kaori by Kawai Toko even more than volume 1. They are so sweet, the uke is so upbeat, the sex is frequent but not gratuitous, the seme isn't a bastard. It's not the best thing I've ever read, but it's so satisfying.

[ profile] rachelmanija posts about Diana Wynne Jones' Charmed Life, which she likes and many of the commenters like. I am a Cat person so reading it made me happy.

Via [ profile] genkischuldich, what happens when you greet people in the street as per (a really annoying) commercial (Japanese).

I already knew this: If You're Looking For A Little Diversity On Television, Try HGTV. One of the few TV stations I watch is HGTV, and I noticed a while back that they had a lot of minorities on their shows. Lots of non-whites, same sex couples, mixed race couples, all presented without comment. Wish all the shows on TV were as (or more) diverse.

NPR: Rickrolled: Or How One Politician Overcame Partisan Divide To Pull A Prank


Apr. 23rd, 2010 08:06 pm
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I've been successfully cooking out of Washoku: Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen by Elizabeth Andoh the last couple of weeks. The flavors tend to be on the light side, which suits me fine. The language is a bit pretentious (at least, in the intro), but the pantry info was very enlightening. Though I've grown up eating Japanese food I certainly didn't know the different types of kombu and other basics. The picture above is the Sanshoku Domburi, which consists of Tori Soboro (ground chicken with ginger, shoyu, sake, and sugar), corn, and peas. I also added unsweetened tamagoyaki (hidden under the pile of nori) and cut up nori on my own. This is very, very easy and very, very good.

I think one big drawback to this book is how heavy it is. The paper used is thick and the book itself is pretty large. I borrowed this from the library, and am thinking of buying it...If only it wasn't so heavy. :P I also have requested several other books to try them out.
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I was highly amused listening to For Japanese Women, The Past Is The Latest Fad on NPR. It's about female fans of Japanese history, mostly as presented through media such as TV shows, games, and anime, and how they seem to make up a subset of the otaku. I was most amused by the highlighting of the shinsengumi as particularly popular because they were young and lived in a dynamic time...and are often played by popular young actors. How true! The only problem I had with this was the reporter’s particularly bad pronunciation of Japanese words. I try not to let pronunciation issues get to me, but this was painful.


Mar. 25th, 2010 08:46 pm
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There's an amusing show called "Chakushin Onrei! Keitai Ogiri" ("Riddles on Mobile") where they throw out a set-up and receive responses from viewers. Some of the responses are so inspired. An example from the episode I'm watching right now:

Set-up: This 2-hour suspense drama isn't good..Why?
Response: The hero's catchphrase is "In the name of my sponsor..."

I believe this is a play on Kindaichi from "Kindaichi Shonen no Jikenbo" ("Kindaichi Case Files") always saying "In the name of my grandfather..."

The responders' names are quite amusing as well. I highly recommend this show if you know Japanese (and Japanese culture) pretty well.
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One Noodle at a Time in Tokyo, an article in the NYT about (duh) ramen in Tokyo, was rather ho-hum. But now I want to go Tokyo and gorge on good ramen.

I tried to read When We Were Romans by Matthew Kneale, a novel from the POV of a nine-year-old British boy who is taken by his mother, along with his sister, to Rome to escape their scary father. I couldn't get through it. The steam-of-consciousness style got to me fairly quickly. I tried slogging through, but I didn't feel immersed in the narrative because everything was too jumbled and odd. I skipped to the very end to at least find out what happens and just felt sad. It seems, from the reviews, that if you can get into it it's a powerful book--the reason I tried reading it. Oh well.

I've been rereading the manga Sono kuchibiru ni yoru no tsuyu by Fukai Youki a lot recently. It's not very original and the art is only so-so, but I really like it. It's about a bus driver and a salaryman who had been friends in school until bus driver had raped salaryman. They don't meet again until they are both working adults, and this time salaryman gets to do the raping. Yes, it sounds awful. It's kind of stupid, especially since the sex happens in the bus...Which is practically out in the open. How is it that they are never caught? In any case, I think I like it because I like the journey the bus driver goes through in the manga. It seems slightly less ridiculous than the typical way these stories go, and the way he frees himself from the salaryman (at the hospital) is lovely. What else could the salaryman do but what he did in the manga after that? I love the little manga in the afterward, too. )
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I recently heard a recommendation for that samurai exhibition at the Met I posted about a while back that made me gnash my teeth in frustration. The guy recommending the exhibition mentions a helmet with huge lacquered bunny ears on them! He felt they were the funniest AND the scariest thing he'd ever seen. I found a pic of the ears here, but it's just not the same as seeing it in real life. :P
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Man, if I was in New York I'd totally go to see Art of the Samurai: Japanese Arms and Armor, 1156–1868, an exhibition of (mostly) the arms and armor of the samurai at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I happened to catch an interview of the sword specialist who'd gone to the US to see their swords and helped put this exhibition together. It'd taken ten years to get permission to borrow some of the National Treasures in the exhibition.

I loved the story the guy told about the first time he'd met his Master. He'd been given a sword to hold, and he'd started to sweat and tremble after a while. It was a National Treasure. The Master tells him, THAT is a sword. He's then exposed to masterpiece after masterpiece. Then he's given a sword that gives him an unpleasant sensation, and his master tells him, THAT is a fake. He'd absorbed what makes a masterpiece by being around them. I can totally see the story told as a manga.

In any case, the exhibition is until January 10.
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I see you have learned to work the Google on the internet machine.
-Blades of Glory

Herbivore boys

When I heard NPR's report In Japan, 'Herbivore' Boys Subvert Ideas Of Manhood, I was fascinated but dubious. It just sounded like a silly trend piece media like to do, playing up what some people do into some big cultural shift. The comments were also rather critical. I decided to check it out more and came across a much MUCH better article in the Japan Times, Blurring the boundaries:As the future facing Japan's young people changes fast, so too are traditional gender identities. This was more nuanced and detailed, thus making it all seem a lot more plausible. For example, the NPR report made it sound like these guys aren't into sex at all but the Japan Times article mentions that they aren't interested in sex with other people and rely more on porn and toys. These "herbivore" boys (草食系男子, soushokukeidanshi) are, per an online dictionary, "young men who are not competitive as in tradition male stereotypes, including in the avid pursuit of money and sex, and who may also be kind, co-operative and family-oriented." I can't get the image of well-groomed cows mooing gently in the pasture, thanks to the word "herbivore" used to describe them. ^^;


In The Nine Fingered Economy, Jake Adelstein, an American journalist who covered the yakuza in Japan for ten years and the author of a new book called Tokyo Vice, is interviewed about the yakuza on NPR's Planet Money podcast. Since I read so many BL novels featuring yakuza members, it was really interesting learning about the real deal. I didn't know that they didn't always have very transparent front companies that did all kinds of things from construction and real estate to finance and trading. It was only after displaying their clan name/symbol for intimidation purposes was outlawed that they created companies and thus branched out from the traditional gambling/prostitution/extortion thing. Adelstein is also interviewed on Fresh Air.
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I was highly amused by a post of a photo of a sign at Kasugayama Castle that refers to Mirage of Blaze at [ profile] mirageofblaze. As a fangirl it makes me want to go and see for myself! It also reminded me that I'd gone to see Matsumoto Castle on this past trip. A lovely castle and the leaves were changing right then, but unfortunately I didn't take very good pics. I highly recommend going to visit when walking on bare wood in your socks won't make your toes freeze, because you have to take your shoes off and the castle is basically open to the outdoors. The stairs are FREAKY, too. It was fun if scary to climb up and down some of them, but it also made the lines really long since there were bottlenecks at each set of stairs.

Instead of my crappy pics of Matsumoto Castle, see a less crappy picture of Kaizo-ji in Kamakura:

I like this temple because it's pretty, it's close by, and it's usually pretty quiet--especially early in the morning. I made the mistake of venturing out to Hachiman-gu on a Sunday and almost died from the sheer number of people milling around. It didn't help that it was Shichi-Go-San that day so there were tons of families bringing their little kiddies. Some of the girls were so beautifully made up in kimono with shiny things in their hair. Very cute!

In any case, I do want to check out more sites that were featured in Mirage. I've gone to Nikko and Hakone before, but that was before I'd read Mirage. I want to go again so I can properly fangirl!
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I'm back! It was nice, but I'm *so* glad to be home. In my own bed. Petting my darling noisy attention-whore cat. XD

pics and rambling )

I'd write more, but I'm rather tired. Got back yesterday, went to work today. :P


Nov. 10th, 2009 05:44 pm
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I realized at some point this past week that I had not posted that I was going to go on a trip. Of course I had no internet access for kind of a while...I missed it, but not as much as I thought I would. In any case, I am now in Japan (again). I am dreading carrying the manga I bought (I swore I would not buy too much this trip, but my shoulders are telling me something different!) back to Shinjuku from Ikebukuro. Ugh. The internet cafe is HOT.

But one cool thing is that there will be a Book Off next to the Ikebukuro Tokyu Hands! It is opening 11/20 so I will miss it, but having another place to find used books nearby should come in handy in the future. XD

BTW, I HIGHLY recommend never ever ever staying at Kadoya Hotel in Shinjuku. NEVER. It is dingy. Double ugh.
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I laughed when I heard a commercial on the local Japanese radio station earlier today. I didn't catch the beginning, but I soon realized it was for Sunshine City Prince Hotel! A female voice with interesting intonation tried to sell the fabulousness of the hotel by mentioning that it was close to the great attractions in Tokyo. I wanted her to add, "such as Otome Road!" I doubt the listener demographic (old people) would have any idea what Otome Road is, but it would've been cool. Though....I don't think Ikebukuro is that convenient for the typical tourist attractions of Tokyo...


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