Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Blog Semi-Hiatus

Hello everyone, I've been pretty busy with university and this semester I have to be ever more focused so I decided to take a semi-hiatus. That just means there will be less articles coming out each month. For example, instead of the usual 4 article per month, it will go down to 1-2 articles. I'll get back to normal uploads in December-January. I also write for so you can check me there for new articles about J-pop/Anime.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route (館山黒部アルペンルート)

The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route (館山黒部アルペンルート) is a unique and spectacular route through the Northern Japan Alps which is traversed by various means of transportation including cablecars, trolley buses and a ropeway. Completed in 1971, the route connects Toyama City in Toyama Prefecture with Omachi Town in Nagano Prefecture. The section between Tateyama Station and Ogizawa is closed to private vehicles. It is completely inaccessible from December to mid April.

The main attraction of the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is the magnificent scenery of the Tateyama Mountain Range, part of the Chubu Sangaku National Park. Visitors can enjoy varying vistas during different seasons of the year. In spring, accumulated snow, especially around the upper sections of Midagahara and Murodo, form a majestic snow corridor whose snow walls reach up to 20 meters high. A section of the snow corridor around Murodo is open to pedestrians usually from mid April to mid June.

Summer and autumn attract visitors with beautiful landscapes, alpine flowers (especially around June through August) and autumn leaves. The fall colors typically reach their best around Murodo and Daikanbo from late September to early October, and they gradually descend the mountain slopes, arriving at the lower elevations from late October to early November.

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Saturday, September 2, 2017

Matsumae (松前)

 Matsumae (松前) is a former castle town just west of Cape Shirakami, the southernmost point of Hokkaido. Only 20 kilometers across the Tsugaru Strait from Aomori, Matsumae was the northern limit of Japan during the Edo Period and the sole feudal fief on the otherwise wild, untamed frontier of Hokkaido. The prosperous town attracted merchants engaged in the shipping trade, and was protected by a garrison at Matsumae Castle, the only Japanese style castle to have been built on Hokkaido.

Built on a hillside vantage point, Matsumae Castle (also known as Fukushima Castle) cemented a foothold on Hokkaido from where to tap the island's abundant natural resources. Toward the end of the Edo Period, the castle was outfitted with cannon to counter the threat of foreign ships. As with many Japanese castles, Matsumae Castle's original keep was destroyed several times over the centuries. The current three story high structure is a modern concrete reconstruction from the early 1960s which houses a local history museum displaying a selection of artifacts of the local Matsumae clan, including some items related to the Ainu.
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Saturday, August 26, 2017

Kinkakuji (金閣寺)

Kinkakuji (金閣寺) is a Zen temple in northern Kyoto whose top two floors are completely covered in gold leaf. Formally known as Rokuonji, the temple was the retirement villa of the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, and according to his will it became a Zen temple of the Rinzai sect after his death in 1408. Kinkakuji was the inspiration for the similarly named Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion), built by Yoshimitsu's grandson, Ashikaga Yoshimasa, on the other side of the city a few decades later.

Kinkakuji 2004-09-21.jpg

Kinkakuji is an impressive structure built overlooking a large pond, and is the only building left of Yoshimitsu's former retirement complex. It has burned down numerous times throughout its history including twice during the Onin War, a civil war that destroyed much of Kyoto; and once again more recently in 1950 when it was set on fire by a fanatic monk. The present structure was rebuilt in 1955.

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Shinyokohama Ramen Museum

The "Shinyokohama Ramen Museum" is a unique museum about ramen, a very popular Japanese noodle dish which was originally introduced from China.

In a gallery on the first floor, the Ramen Museum presents the history of ramen noodles in Japan, including the big success of instant ramen. It displays the variety of noodles, soups, toppings and bowls used across Japan, and shows how the noodles are made.

On the two basement floors, visitors can explore a 1:1 replica of some streets and houses of Shitamachi, the old town of Tokyo, of around the year 1958, when the popularity of ramen was rapidly increasing. Nine ramen restaurants can be found there, each featuring a ramen dish from a different region of Japan.

For visitors who wish to try multiple ramen dishes, every store offers "mini ramen", a small portion of the feature dish. Tickets for the meals are purchased at vending machines in front of each stores before entering.
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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Okayama (岡山)

Okayama (岡山) is the capital of Okayama Prefecture, and the largest city in the Chugoku Region after Hiroshima. The city is an important transportation hub, being the location where the Sanyo Shinkansen meets with the only rail connection to Shikoku. The city developed as a castle town during the Edo Period (1603-1867) and became a significant regional power.

Okayama's most famous attraction is Korakuen Garden, which is ranked as one of the three best landscape gardens in Japan, along with Kanazawa's Kenrokuen and Mito's Kairakuen. Okayama Castle is located just across from the garden. Okayama serves as the locale for the popular fairy tale of Momotaro (the Peach Boy), so visitors will notice many references to the legendary hero.

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Saturday, August 5, 2017

Wagashi (和菓子)

Wagashi (和菓子) is a traditional Japanese confectionery which is often served with tea, especially the types made of mochi, anko (azuki bean paste), and fruits. Wagashi is typically made from plant ingredients.

In Japan the word for sweets, okashi (お菓子), originally referred to fruits and nuts. China learned from India how to produce sugar and began trading it to Japan. The trade increased and sugar became a common seasoning by the end of the Muromachi period. Influenced by the introduction of tea and China's confectionery and dim sum, the creation of wagashi took off during the Edo period in Japan.

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Sunday, July 30, 2017

Katsucon 2017: Artist Alley, Kimono Photoshooot, Maid Cafe, and More!

Katsucon was definitely a different experience compared to my first ever convention experience. I was only able to Saturday since I was commuting to the National Harbor opposed to those who stayed at the hotel at the Harbor.

Katsucon is an annual three-day anime convention held during February at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. It is traditionally held in February over Presidents Day weekend and is held/was held in locations around D.C. Metropolitan Area (which is great for me since I'm from the area).

This convention, like other, offers an array of events and activities such as an art show, artist alley, costume contests, dealers room, formal ball, a maid cafe, masquerade, musical performances, panels, workshops, video gaming, etc. One of my favorite is the Japanese Culture Programming, which I think is unique to Katsucon due to it's array and informative panels on Japanese culture.

Artist Alley
After meeting up with an old Twitter friend when checking in, we went directly to the artist alley since it was near the registration room. I'll be honest, I never bought anything in the artist alley in previous years (though I feel like as an artist I should've supported by purchasing but I'm not into buying fanart). There were a lot of amazing merchandise, especially of Yuri on Ice. My amazing longtime Twitter friend did buy this pretty sketchbook, which I was in need of.

I went to two panels + a Kimono photoshoot during Katsucon 2017, though I wished I could've gone to more but I only attended on Saturday. The first panel I attended was "Anime's Culinary World with Captain Food Science" that was hosted by Captain Food Science(@FatedSoulBlake). His presentation about basic Japanese cuisine and mixing in anime was great, plus he had some great comedy lines in between. He also gave away food related manga and candy DIY kits for those who gave questions during the Q&A sessions. 

Another panel I attended later in the day was "Cool Japan: The Panel" hosted by JCI teacher Charles Dunbar. I'm going to be honest, I didn't enjoy it as I thought I would. It's just the topic wasn't as interesting and I didn't watch any of the anime mentioned so I didn't really get the jokes said. I enjoyed the history though so I got something good out of this panel.

In between the two panels, I attended a Kimono/Yukata photoshoot, which needed to be reserved ahead of time. I've never been to a photoshoot of any sorts so I was kinda clueless but the experience was amazing, probably the highlight of Katsucon 2017. Kuniko and the other nice ladies were very great at picking the color combo for the Yukata robe and obi sash. I had lots of fun doing poses with a Japanese umbrella and they were very fun to work with. About two weeks after Katsucon, I got my HD photos from the photoshoot.  

The maid cafe was the last thing I did at Katsucon at around 6pm on Saturday, I went along with my 3 other friends. It's actually my first experience at a convention maid cafe, my friend and I actually wanted to go during Anime USA but didn't get there in time on Sunday. We were assigned a butler for our maid cafe experience. He was really nice and kept us entertained as we wait for our meal. They had board games available for a dollar for us to play with, which we chose Jinga. 

I ordered the chicken katsu with a chocolate bear cake. It's was not the best food out there especially for what it costed but it's for the experience. Right before leaving, we took a group photo with him, which I think costed another dollar but he was nice to have it done for free. 

That was the end of my Katsucon experience, though my friends stayed later for the Katsucon rave/party.  I'll be honest, I'm still trying to get used to the convention experience and so in my opinion Katsucon was crowded compared to my first anime convention experience. I think as I attend more anime convention and get good at planning everything, I'll enjoy it even more. Katsucon already announced it's dates for next year, February 16th-18th, 2018, though I'm sure it wouldn't be as warm as it was during this year's Katsucon. 

Check out some awesome and hilarious cosplayers from Pokemon to Overwatch down below. 

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