Monday, March 12, 2018

Tamozawa Imperial Villa (田母沢御用邸)

Tamozawa Imperial Villa (田母沢御用邸) blends traditional Edo and early modern Meiji Period architecture throughout its 106 rooms. The villa was erected in Nikko in 1899, using parts of a residence that originally stood in Tokyo.

Before being moved to Nikko, the building served initially as the Tokyo residence of a branch of the Tokugawa family and was later temporarily used as the Imperial Palace. In Nikko, it was enlarged into a summer residence and retreat for the Imperial Family, but suffered neglect after World War II. In the year 2000, the villa was opened to the public after extensive renovation works.

In addition to the building's long line of illustrious occupants, Tamozawa Imperial Villa is one of the largest remaining wooden buildings in Japan. The interior of the villa is a curious mix of Japanese and Western styles. Many floors are carpeted, and elaborate chandeliers hang from the ceilings. Yet the villa's Japanese elements, such as sliding paper doors and tatami flooring are prominent as well.
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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

FAKY's 5th Anniversary: Fan Book Project

FAKY's 5th anniversary is coming up this July (which is when they released their first digital single "Better Without You"), they were meant to have their major debut in 2014 but due to Tina and Diane wanting to leave to follow a different direction, FAKY went into hiatus in Summer of 2014. They came back October of 2015 after Akina joined and ever since then, FAKY has been on a roll finally making their major debut with "Unwrapped" in 2017.

I want to collect messages and fan art for a FAKY fan book to show out support for their 5th year as a group. Submission are due by June 15th. 
  • Send us your message to FAKY in general, or a member in particular, down below. You can also add an image, it can be a selfie, an image of your country, a collage, a hand-written message, art work, etc. Just let your creativity fly and show your support!
  • Your work MUST fit on a A4 Paper Sheet. (You can use one or both sides of the sheet).
  • All Messages will be printed in color and compiled in a folder.
  • Messages preferably in English or Japanese (are easier for the group to read).
  • Messages MUST Include name/nickname and country. (Messages without ANY of the two won’t be included)
  • Just ONE message / Sheet per person.
  • You can also add your Twitter/Instagram username so that FAKY can identify you
Submissions are due June 15th, it gives me time to compile everything into a PDF and have it printed by a printing company. 

Submit your photo entries to the following address:
(Subject: FAKY Fan Book-2018)

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Monday, February 26, 2018

Gion (祇園)

Gion (祇園) is Kyoto's most famous geisha district, located around Shijo Avenue between Yasaka Shrine in the east and the Kamo River in the west. It is filled with shops, restaurants and ochaya (teahouses), where geiko (Kyoto dialect for geisha) and maiko (geiko apprentices) entertain.

Gion attracts tourists with its high concentration of traditional wooden machiya merchant houses. Due to the fact that property taxes were formerly based upon street frontage, the houses were built with narrow facades only five to six meters wide, but extend up to twenty meters in from the street.

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Friday, February 23, 2018

Kurokawa Onsen (黒川温泉)

Kurokawa Onsen (黒川温泉) is one of Japan's most attractive hot spring towns, located in the middle of Kyushu about 20 kilometers north of Mount Aso. Well coordinated efforts by the town to maintain a pleasant, traditional atmosphere have kept Kurokawa free of the massive concrete hotels, neon advertisements and loud colors that are encountered in many of Japan's other resort towns.

Instead, Kurokawa's townscape is dominated by natural colors and materials, wooden buildings, earthen walls, stone stairs and a river flowing through. The town center, located in a forested valley, is compact and easily explored on foot, except for a few ryokan which are located less centrally.

The town's lanes are lined by ryokan, public bath houses, attractive shops and cafes, a small shrine and bridges that lead over the river directly to ryokan entrances. A walk through town is particularly enjoyable in yukata and geta sandals provided by one's ryokan. An information center, where maps and other information can be obtained, is also found in the town center.

Image Source 
Image Source
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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Tsumago (妻籠)

Tsumago (妻籠) was a post town on the Nakasendo route between Kyoto and Edo. It is known today as one of the best preserved post towns in Japan. The town and its residents go to great lengths to recreate the ambiance of the Edo Period. Cars are prohibited on the main street in the day and phone lines and power cables are kept concealed, allowing visitors to imagine they have slipped back to an earlier time.

Tsumago also recreates the post town atmosphere by maintaining its Honjin and Wakihonjin. In all post towns, the Honjin was the principal inn and served government officials who were traveling through. When more lodging was required, the Wakihonjin served to accommodate the travelers of lower status. Tsumago also maintains the office where laborers and horses were rented to aid in travel.

Many minshuku and ryokan are located in the town, and a stay at one of them will greatly add to the illusion of having left the modern era. If time permits, it is highly recommended to hike a preserved trail of the former Nakasendo from Tsumago to Magome. It is well maintained and well marked in both Japanese and English.

Image Source
Image Source
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Friday, February 2, 2018

[Review] Ohuhu Markers 60-piece Set

For years I've been interested in trying out alcohol-based markers since all I do these days is digital artwork. I didn't want to invest in Copics or Prismacolors since they're more expensive and I'm just starting out in doing alcohol-based marker artwork. I decided to go with Ohuhu Markers, since they are affordable and gave great results (based on the reviews/videos I've seen. I opted for the 60 set since I'll get a good range of colors).  


The set included a large range of pinks, blues, and grays and a good range of purples, greens, and browns. I wish it came with more skin tones since one of lighter tones already ran out and I've only had it for 3 days so far. Luckily there's another color that's pretty close to it so I don't mind for now. 

The markers feature dual tips, broad and fine twin tips for precise coloring and for drawing with both thin and thick lines. They're pretty fast at drying so you don't have to worry about blotches on the paper (I recommend using paper made for markers such as mix media paper, printer paper is a no-no). Below, you can see an example of one of the marker's dual side tips. 

I did a few little fanart doodles to test out these markers and I'm very satisfied on how they turned out, especially for someone like me who has no experience with alcohol-based markers for artworks. It takes a while to make sure that there aren't any streak lines, which I had when it came to the hair since it took awhile to color the whole thing before it dries. 



Overall, the markers are great for a first timer like me who doesn't want to invest on Copic/Prismacolor Markers just yet. The only thing is that I wished it had more skin tone markers and I hope that in the future, they have an option to buy markers individually just in case one were to run out. I look forward to buy the full 80-piece set to get the full experience of Ohuhu Markers in the future!

If you want to purchase your own set, the Amazon link is down below!

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Monday, January 29, 2018

Album Review: E-girls – Love☆Queen

File:E-girls - Love Queen Photobook.jpg
Release Date: July 26, 2017
Track List:
1. Love☆Queen
2. Smile For Me
3. Tomorrow will be a good day
4. Piece of your heart

Total Runtime: 00:17:36
Recommended For: Those who love up-beat tracks including pop-ballad, musical theater-like tracks, and EDM/tropical house.
NOT Recommended For: Those who despise EDM/tropical house or those who are looking for slow ballad tracks
Love☆Queen is the nineteenth single released by E-girls, this is the group’s first single since reforming the group to 11 members. It was released in three editions: a CD+DVD version with a photobook, a CD+DVD version, and a CD only version.
Track Review:
Track One/Title Track: Love☆Queen
This is the first single in the new 11 member lineup of E-girls so we no longer have the deep vocals of Ruri and Shizuka. This is one of their more poppy title tracks that they have released, the song starts out with the chorus’ catchphrase along with a high note from Reina. The song itself is catchy throughout but since Reina and Yuzuna are more high-pitched in this, I wish they utilized Karen deeper vocals so that there’s a variety in vocal colors. Karen also does the rap lines and I felt like they could’ve introduced Anna and Yurino in this and have Karen sing instead. Overall, it was a solid track and the lineup change didn’t affect E-girls popularity as they still sold 70k CD copies on the first week of release.
Track Two: Smile For Me

This track was more like an upbeat pop ballad than anything. This was probably my least favorite track on the EP although I really loved the pre-chorus. The song was used for a behind the scene video clip and I think it was made to show the group now as a 11-member unit and to give a heartwarming feel knowing that this will be a new era for E-girls.

Track Three: Tomorrow will be a good day

This was the usual E-girl’s “Broadway” track, which I always enjoy. The reason why I say Broadway is because the song has a theatre-esque feel to it and I could always imagine a song like this being performed in a stage play, just like their previous songs “Saturday Night” and “Kikai Shikake no Bye Bye!” The violin and the trumpet gives the track that jazz/classical feel, Reina has that type of voice that matches well with theatre/stage play music.

Track Four: Piece of your heart

Probably the only song that has the most replay-ability for me as well as my favorite track in the EP. It’s one of E-girls most catchiest chorus along with “Pink Champagne” and “Go! Go! Let’s Go!” It’s been awhile since we’ve gotten an EDM track from E-girls and I think instrumentals fit the vocals the best, and the line in the chorus “Singin’ o-i-o-i-o you go a-i-a-i-a” is the charm of the song. I think the only part that doesn’t fit is the pre-chorus because it really breaks the flow of the song from the verses to the chorus. Other than that, it’s a pretty well done track that makes me want to replay it again.

I hope you loved all the songs like I did. If you want to listen to the full version, the entire EP is available on Apple Music and Spotify.
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Friday, January 26, 2018

Kanto Matsuri (竿燈まつり)

The Kanto Matsuri (竿燈まつり) is a Tanabata related celebration in Akita City, held every year from August 3 to 6. The highlight of the festival is an impressive display of skill in which performers balance kanto (long bamboo poles) with arrays of paper lanterns attached to the end. The Kanto Matsuri together with Aomori's Nebuta Festival and Sendai's Tanabata makes up the three great festivals of the Tohoku Region.

The kanto poles come in different sizes with the largest measuring 12 meters, weighting 50 kilograms and carrying as many as 46 paper lanterns, lit by real candles. To the sound of drums, flutes and onlookers chanting "dokkoisho, dokkoisho", each kanto is hoisted up by a single performer who balance them on end using various techniques. The performers change every few minutes and gradually add extensions to the pole until the kanto are at their maximum height.

The main event of the festival, the Night Parades, are held nightly along Chuo Dori street in the center of the city. The various performing groups, carrying nearly 250 kanto poles, line up on the street, and when a signal is given, the poles are all raised up at once and the performers show off their skills. The event lasts about 90 minutes, and at the end of each night there is a 15 minute session during which the audience is invited to talk to the performers, take pictures and try their hand at hoisting up a kanto.
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