Friday, December 29, 2006

- nagano chapter: nagisa -

currently listening to – Kouya Ruten (Fiction-Junction YUUKA)
mood – upset

sidetrack 1:
the printer doesn’t wanna cooperate with me. tried switching computers in the lab but it still didn’t work. and it’s kinda saddening to see everyone else, who came later than me, leaving earlier than me with their printed papers.

sidetrack 2:
just finished watching Black Lagoon. it’s been a while since I last watched an anime which is related to mafia and crime. nice, but the plot’s slightly naïve at some points. then again every story has it’s own “naïve” points. looking forward to season 2. :D

started on Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto (?)… it’s 幕末機関説いろはにほへと in Japanese (I know, a not-so-short title). I remember learning the olden Japanese-style A.I.U.E.O during kobun lessons, the Iroha Song, which goes like this.. いろはにほへと ちりぬるを わかよたれそ つねならむ うゐのおくやま けふこえて あさきゆめみし ゑひもせす… “irohanihoheto chirinuruwo wakayotareso tsunenaramu uwinookuyama kefukoete asakiyumemishi wehimosesu”, which sounds terribly horrible if you read as it is. however, there’s actually a special way of pronouncing these phrases. the style of pronunciation was invented during the Heian Period, if im not mistaken? and it sounds something like this, “iro wa nioedo chirinuru wo, wagayo darezo tsunenaran, ui no okuyama kyou koete, asaki yume mishi ei mo sezu”. oh well, judging by the arrangement of the words in the title (it’s like.. “iroha + ni + hoheto”), I doubt that it’s “iro wa nioedo”….

back to the anime.. another bakumatsu story (oh yeah.. Kouya Ruten by Fiction-Junction YUUKA, the song that im currently listening to, is the opening theme for this anime. another typical Kajiura Yuki song..)… never get bored of bakumatsu, ne? and I’ve just found myself yet another source for my graduation thesis. **peace**

by the way, the theme of my sotsuron is Shinsengumi.


this is a continuation of what happened on Christmas, 25th December 2006.

woke up later in the morning (or was it afternoon..).. we ate our Christmas cake after singing the birthday song to Jesus (err… like.. happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday to Jesus~….), and set foot for Nagisa 1-Chome, a place near Matsumoto Station. we didn’t actually know the directions, but im telling you, Japanese town maps are so efficient that even a directionless idiot, like me, could lead an entire gang of foreigners to the destination, without much trouble. one thing that makes life easier in Japan is that, things do stay at a place for some time. unlike some certain places in the world, where it’s even possible for locals to get lost due to mass renovations of buildings and roads..

Nagisa 1-Chome consists of an onsen (the Zuisho Onsen), a small shopping complex, an electronic goods shop, and a few restaurants. a fine place to spare one’s leisure time.

first we went to the bookstore to laze around. it was about the same size as the one we have near our university, not an exceptionally huge one, but has quite a variety of books. unfortunately, the English books section was pathetically small. there were only a few storybooks and novels written by relatively famous writers. if it hadn’t been my friends who were making a fuss about how few English books are found in Japanese bookstores, I wouldn’t have noticed that the number of these books are way less than what I’ve imagined. for one thing, you can’t find MPH in Japan (duh).

later, we had our second onsen session of our trip in Nagano. this onsen’s relatively larger than the previous one, with more variety in the types of bath. first, after cleaning yourself thoroughly, for the shallow bath for your feet, there were seats and lukewarm water flowed out from the top of the seats, so when you sit on it you’ll feel as if you’re lying against a river that flows vertically. then for the outdoor baths, there’s the usual boiling-hot one, as well as the lying-down type (which was further separated into 2 types, the sheltered and unsheltered ones), where one can lie down and relax in the hot bath. there’re also “personal” bathtubs, where only one person can enter at a time. other than that, we also saw a “meditation” onsen, which was hidden in a tiny building. I didn’t dare to enter coz it was too dark and steamy.

after attacking the outdoor baths, we retreated inside. we saw a milky bath, an ice-cold bath and some Jacuzzi-type baths. the Jacuzzi ones were fantastic. again, there’re 2 types – the standing ones and the sitting ones. personally I preferred the sitting one because the waist massage was incredibly good. the ice-cold one… of course I attacked. didn’t know we could actually dip our entire body inside (we got scolded for dipping our towels in the water) until we saw a lady practically swimming in the cold bath. this was even more shocking than the previous onsen outing. I could feel my whole body going numb after staying in the cold water for long enough..

siok sendiri, ne?

^ the foodcourt in Zuisho Onsen ^

^ very nice settings.. ^

^ the resting place outside the bathrooms ^

at night, we had our Christmas dinner at Royal Host, the family restaurant opposite the onsen-restaurant-bookstore-shop place. without realizing (yet) how much money I’ve spent, I ordered the special set which cost more than 1,600 yen (that’s at least twice the amount of money that I spend on my usual dinners).. which included a bowl of soup, a small lasagna, a plate of pork with lemon sauce, a plate of rice and free drinks. satisfying, I must say. although I do hope that I can find a larger plate of lasagna someday in Japan..

one of our friends (my Santa) wasn’t feeling well, so we separated into 2 groups – one to accompany her to the clinic, and the other to return at our own pace. I was in the latter group, because I was still busy attacking my cheesecake when the first group was about to leave. we finished our desserts, stole a few more teabags, paid the bills and finally, left the restaurant. we chitchatted along the way, making fun of each other….

without realizing that we went the wrong way from the point we left Royal Host.

had to trace back a little and take a shortcut by relying on the town map…. it took us ages to finally arrive at the Matsumoto bus terminal. to find out that there were no more buses back to the inn. dammit…. so we had to take a cab (coz somebody suggested that we should exercise a bit in the cold to burn our fats)…….. the problem is, the cab driver didn’t know where’s the inn and he refused to cooperate with us at first (we suggested that he follow our directions, we didn’t know the exact address). thank goodness at last we managed to reach the inn safely.

since it was our last night in the inn, the inn keepers had a little “bonding session” with all of us. we talked a lot about each of our countries (and about which university we’re applying to as well =[]=;……..) and had some shouchuu. I find this inn a very nice place to stay, economical and safe (and convenient), despite that some certain cab driver didn’t know anything about it. if I ever visit Matsumoto again, I’d definitely try to apply for a room in this inn..

with that, our journey in Nagano had come to an end. the next day, the rest of the group returned to Osaka by bus early in the morning, and my Bruneian friend and I proceeded to Tokyo.


1) kobun – classical Japanese. or is it ancient Japanese?
2) bakumatsu – the end of Edo Bakufu Period.
3) sotsuron – graduation thesis. “sotsugyou (graduation)” + “ronbun (thesis)”, get it?
4) shouchuu – a kind of… Japanese liquor?

Thursday, December 28, 2006

- nagano chapter: the secret santa -

currently listening to – Rolling Star (YUI)
mood – starving. nobody wants to lend a corner for me to cook. that’s why im blogging.

on the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me~…

a phone bill in an envelope~...

which says “you’ve spent 12k with your mobile in December and you’re advised to start being stingy on money again”.

whatever. I didn’t actually receive my bills on Christmas (there’s no way I could. I was just too far away to check my mailbox). just felt like saying it. but the numbers are true. 8k was claimed to be spent on international calls, which was unavoidable since my parents couldn’t call me through my room phone during my trip around the kantou region for almost 3 weeks (calling from my mobile costs shit a lot, as you can see). the remaining 4k… probably most of it is for the basic charge and a tad bit for music downloads.


12am. though it’s just a few minutes after the things that happened in the previous post, it should be considered as another day… the long awaited CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!! I don’t know why am I so happy about it (as I have never really celebrated Christmas before), but seeing that many people around me were very excited about the event (though they were the ones sleeping and we poor souls were demanded to wake them up when it’s time), it’s best to go with the flow, no?

so the exciting present giving ceremony began, with the participants crawling to the living room at such a graceful speed that those who first reached the room (including me) were starting to tremble in the cold. the heater decided to act funny during Christmas, to create some atmosphere. we had no choice but to wait under the not-so-warm blankets for everyone to gather in the room…

then, we chose a starting person to guess her Secret Santa – the one who bought her presents for Christmas. when the Santa of the first person was found, it’s the Santa’s turn to guess. and so on. was very triumphant when my Bruneian friend couldn’t guess who’s her Santa even after her third attempt. at last, she pointed at me questionably, and being a nice person, I handed her the presents without taking my own sweet time. just as I thought, she went, “EEEEEHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH?????!?!?!?!?!?!”

darn, im MEAN. muahahahahahahaha……..

as I’ve mentioned in the previous post, it was a thrilling (?) experience trying to buy a present for this friend. BECAUSE. simply because… we were together throughout my Tokyo – Nagano – Tokyo trip. the moment I saw the name which I drew from the pile of paperbits, I knew I would have difficulty accomplishing my task beautifully. there are many sharp minds around the world. and I know exactly how sharp my friend is. so, to spice up your life, sometimes you need “tactics” in facing these people. I first discovered that about my special tactic when trying to buy my ex-roommate (when I was studying in Singapore) a birthday present.

patience and a wise choice of words”. the objective of this tactic is to lure out the answer you want from your target, without directly asking the question. there are many ways to do it, depending on the situation… basically I depend on my luck. and often enough, answers come to me even if I didn’t mention or do anything.

my opportunity came when we were in Tokyo Disneyland. a vast variety of souvenirs, yes. was hesitating between a few accessories (even thought of NOT buying any presents from Disneyland coz it’s too obvious) when my friend caught sight of a pair of earrings which she was interested (but didn’t buy). to spot your target’s needs is relatively easier than to obtain them. it took me a while to make up my mind before I actually went and get the accessories.

then, there’s the “suspicion” problem. to prevent yourself from looking suspicious, you have to make yourself a false proof. and it so happened that my mom’s birthday falls on the 23rd of December. a couple of days after the purchase of the present for the Secret Santa event, we went shopping in a department store. hinted to my friend that I need to get a present. but a present for WHO, I did not state. since I was the only one who knew about my mom’s birthday, I suppose that my friend took it as a present for the Christmas party. furthermore I hinted that this person (didn’t say it’s my mom) is “clumsy” and “I don’t really know her preferences”. and it so happened that these statements suit one of our friends in the Nagano gang. long story short, in the end, I bought a square plate with Christmas designs, right in front of my friend. by then, I was 70% sure that my plan worked efficiently.

lastly, but the most important thing, to remember to bring the “fake” present to Nagano. otherwise all my stupid efforts would be wasted. had to sacrifice some man power in carrying it all the way to Nagano and then back to Tokyo, which was a little annoying there.. in any case, my initial plan was to use the wrapping paper and the ribbons to finish up my “real” present (yes, that Disney shop didn’t provide wrapping service). bought some origami papers (initially I thought of making a Christmas card) as well as tapes (staplers would be too ugly). however, after some consideration, I chose to wrap the accessories with the origami papers and the ribbons only.

I apologize for making this such a long-winded story.. this is to clarify your doubts, and by saying “your” I meant people including the person who received the present, and whoever who’s wandering why did I take all the trouble tricking the others. don’t worry, normally im not that calculative.. and usually I don’t use that much brain cells. it’s just to make the Santa thing more fun (kinda boring if I had passed the present without doing anything right??). you know my usual status is “blur”, if you know me by person. :D


I got MY Christmas presents too. presentSSSS – a letter, a lovable-looking tiny frying pan, and a big mug cup with spoon. when choosing each person’s Secret Santa before the holidays, I submitted my name as “J. K. Rowling”. well…. because… im known as that sometimes (?)……….. so the point is.. my cute Santa played along with me and wrote me the letter.

Dear Miss Rowling,

I really love your book. It’s great. Out of all the “Harry Potter” characters I love the Weasley twins best. They are incredible (children’s way of saying “incredibly”) clever and wicked! I really love the part when two of ‘em ran away from Hogwarts to build their own joke shop. Anyway, can you make Dumbledore back alive in the 7th book? PLEEEASE… Thank you =) By the way, I hope the frying pan and the cute mug gives you the inspiration to finish writing the 7th book =)

Fred & George

how lovable.. *awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww*

I really love the mug. using it everyday.. the letter, I have it hanging against the wall in my room. whereas the frying pan…… well, I guess someday I’ll use it. when I feel like eating pig-faced pancakes or fried eggs?

all in all, 2 of my closer friends – my Bruneian friend, and my Santa herself – got tricked by their shopping partner. that is, they got their Secret Santa right beside them when buying presents, but didn’t notice it. everyone was happy with their presents (I hope), and we all fled back to bed at the speed of light once the session was over. finally, it’s bedtime..

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

- nagano chapter: asama onsen -

currently listening to – Around the World (FLOW)
mood – slightly depressed

phrase of the day – raksasa gila seks


translation: now, let’s go to the hot springs!!!

24 december. Christmas eve. had a very cool (literally and figuratively) experience, skating on ice. yes, we made it to the skating ring after all.

left the inn in the morning and went to Asama Onsen by bus. from there, we took a cab to our destination. the thing about “the skating center is across the mountains” was so true. our cabs wandered along the winding road in the mountains for what seemed like hours, till some of us got carsick… by the way, I’ve read this LJ post of another friend and she mentioned about motion sickness. I totally agree with her. I don’t get motion sickness on boats but, heck, why do I sometimes feel dizzy when im on buses or cars?

^ the Misuzu Lake ^

the unmistakable structure of a skating center loomed before us as the cab was passing by a lake. the first impression about the place was… “WOW… it IS a skating center..” – most of us didn’t expect to come to an international-level skating ring, that’s why. we paid for the entrance fee and the skating shoes (the girls took the shoes for figure-skating, and the one and only guy in our group took the speed shoes) at the counter and headed for the lockers to store our valuables.

seriously, it was cold (saw a bit of snow there but they looked more like frozen water from the freezer.. anyway I was well-prepared for it) and slippery. do realize that that was my FIRST TIME traveling on footwear that MOVES. to make this statement more understandable… I have NOT tried roller-skating, roller-blading, skateboarding or anything of that sort. sad me, yes. it was only recently (like… a few years ago, when I first got my TWO-wheeled bicycle in secondary 2) that I learnt how to ride a bicycle. and I’ve only officially received my proper driving license less than a month ago.

^ oh it's skating RINK.. paiseh i read the japanese one.. which says "center" ^

^ main entrance of the skating center ^

^ a quarter of the skating ring. that white stuff on the left is snow.. ^

anyway here I was, trying to reach out my first step on ice. while everyone else was having fun gliding (or maybe not, for some) everywhere. felt very grateful that 2 of my friends tried what they could to teach me the most elementary way to skate. first you kick off the ground with one of your legs, and then you balance with your other leg. one… two… one… two… try leaning forward so that you don’t fall down. yes. that’s how you make a start. and I managed to move on, by literally “walking” on the ice. damn.

people say that after falling a million times you’ll finally learn how to skate. I thought I really fell a million times. with styles. backwards, forwards… first touching the ice with hands, knees, ass… believe me the bruises looked furious. I deserve an award for making efforts. and thanks to the many full-of-impact fallings, my pretty mobile phone strap (made of metal, which I bought in Nagoya during my bus journey to Tokyo) broke into bits. towards the end, it turned out that I could actually skate without walking. was able to skate faster than one of my friends who learnt skating earlier than me. probably because I was desperate when trying, with all my might, to chase after my friends, who *claimed to be* the faster skaters in our group….

^ skating shoes!!! it's as unstable as wearing high boots.. ^

well, fun moments end very fast, you see.

before we knew it (or rather, before I knew it), we’ve already spent more than 2 hours in the skating ring (once you paid the entrance fee, you can skate all you want until the closing time). time to say bye-bye. most of us could no longer stand the cold air, so we had to retreat into the building. called the cabs, and we returned to Asama Onsen bus terminal. from there, we walked to the hot springs building for some real action – STRIPPING IN FRONT OF FRIENDS AND ENTERING THE ONSEN SEEING EACH OTHER’S NAKED BODIES.

but of course, it’s separated into male’s bathroom and female’s bathroom. not interested in seeing old men’s privates, anyway…

^ main entrance of Asama Onsen ^

I have been to public baths for quite a few times in japan before, to tell the truth. so it wasn’t such a big challenge taking off clothes in front of people, or even people I know. again, we paid for the entrance fee (and small towels) and off we went into the bathrooms.

first there’s the locker cum changing place, where everyone’s supposed to strip and then enter the shower place. NAKED, of course. you MUST clean yourself at the shower place (soaps and shampoos are provided) before dipping yourself into the hot baths, for obvious reasons. these are simply not normal public swimming pools where one can pee and poop all he wants in the water. for goodness sakes that too shouldn’t be done but I just don’t understand why even adults do this in reality.

there are different types of baths in an onsen too. as for Asama Onsen, there were the shower-type, hot bathtub type and so on for the indoor ones, and there were the cold and hot baths for outdoor ones. I couldn’t really stand the hot air for a long time so I spent most of my time outside, where there was better ventilation. it was fun taking a hot water bath out in the cold. imagine, 5°C in the afternoon. you spend your time “smoking” – as in, creating white smokes with your own breath when you’re in a very cold place – while enjoying staring at the other naked people (grannys, and your friends, who’re hopelessly trying to cover their entire body with a tiny towel), or being stared at (which was the usual thing when it comes to us foreigners). you go out of the hot water when you start feeling dizzy, and you dip your feet into the icy-cold water bath which is right next to the boiling hot one. then you give yourself some cheap thrills by dipping your feet into the hot one again (which is very painful).

that’s how I spent my time in the onsen. found out that my bruises were everywhere only when I was there too. it’s like.. they’re even on my ass. very nice patches of Australia and New Zealand. not to mention I have China and Mongolia on my knees as well (err.. to minimize the possibility of misunderstanding, please don’t think about it too politically). the almost-broken right wrist, fortunately, healed after the bath.

revived and refreshed, we left the onsen for dinner. came to this Korean restaurant along a dimly-lit stretch of road… and we had a very HUGE meal. rice, vege, meat, noodles, steamboat…… you name it. and obviously we had to pay a lot in the end.. hehehehehe… that was my second time eating in a Korean restaurant, and my second time paying a large sum of money for it too. the first time happened during my part-timer days as a translator for the Japanese TV cameramen for 11th ASEAN Summit. we – the Japanese cameramen crew from TBS, TokyoTV, NipponTV, TVAsahi etc, and I – were kinda tricked by the restaurant into paying much more than what we expected. ahhh the trauma….

since it’s Christmas Eve, we had to return to the inn soon after dinner to prepare for Christmas. before the winter holidays began, each of us were appointed a “secret santa”. which means, we’re to buy a present for someone in the group, but secretly. I had an adventure trying not to reveal myself to the person whom im supposed to get a present for. so I was looking forward to the present-giving time.

meanwhile, while waiting for the clock to point at 12, we played random word search using eMule in the room (our Brazilian friend has internet). it all started with our New Zealand friend asking the Brazilian friend to download the song “Grandma Got Ran Over By A Reindeer”. it did occur to me that the thing that we want will be hiding among the many weird files with names that are associated with sex and porn.. anyway the point is, we played with the search engine by typing words like “grandma”, “grandpa”, “underground”, “Japanese”, “New Zealand”, and… many more im sure. try it and you’ll find out for yourself (oh, we found the parody of the Grandma song, “Grandpa Got Ran Over By A Beer Truck”).

and slowly, the clock ticked towards the exciting, next day…

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

- nagano chapter: matsumoto castle -

currently listening to – Real Face (KAT-TUN)
mood – sleepy

^ Matsumoto Castle ^

^ the river surrounding the castle. birds flying over(?) it.. ^

^ man, i think im a potential photographer..^

^ swan princesses spotted. ^

^ the view that lies outside the moon-viewing veranda.. ^

23 december. mom’s birthday. and also the current Japanese tennou’s birthday. :D

for the time being we decided to go for lunch, then visit the Matsumoto Castle. chose to eat at Coco’s coz some of us found the name very amusing. apparently the word means “poop” in Portuguese.

wasn’t my 1st time eating at Coco’s actually. in fact my family was one of the regular customers of this restaurant during our days in Tsukuba. which was like.. more than a decade ago. other than Coco’s we often patronized Skylark as well, which now some of its outlets changed their names to Gusto (and of course, places like McD and Mister Donuts). we didn’t really fancy restaurants like Denny’s and Royal Host, though. don’t ask me why.

so yeah, we split into 2 tables and started ordering food. I was sitting with the Bruneian, Indonesian and New Zealander, and we started gossiping and bitching about everything out of nowhere. it wasn’t until later, when we were halfway munching our strawberries and chocolates, that the table next to us was already empty. it would’ve been too peculiar if all of them went to the washroom at once, with all their belongings and valuables. then only we realized that we were ditched. the worst case scenario would be: we were abandoned by the other 4 and were expected to pay for all their meals.

fortunately, the joke wasn’t as bad as we thought. we managed to leave the restaurant by paying only our own bills. the other group seemed to be overly excited about the Matsumoto Castle outing, so they have gone ahead of us. leaving us in the restaurant eating in peace. thank you.

went to the castle by foot. wasn’t a long walk. thanks to the many signboards all around the city we were able to make our way there successfully. Matsumoto Castle wasn’t such a big building. well, not as huge as Osaka Castle, I think.. one thing special about this castle is that the dungeon’s one of the four castle dungeons which are set as national treasures. there’s a veranda for moon-viewing, where you can enjoy the beautiful lake (with swans swimming in it) while resting. the 8 of us secretly (?) took a group photo there. anyway, I personally thought that the staircases were pretty scary, though. the entire building is made of wood, including the staircases. and the width of the surface of the steps and the height of the steps varies…. we kinda crawled when going up and slide down when attempting to return to the 1st floor (there’re 5 or 6 floors, by the way)…..

later, we found ourselves wandering around the souvenir shop just beside the castle. there were automatic vending machines outside the shop, with one of them selling Haagen-Dazs ice-creams.. I remember, when my family once went to Huis Ten Bosch (some theme park) with our Japanese friends, during WINTER, we ate ice-creams. yes. and I also remember, that I did a very brilliant move – eating the ice-cream upside-down like how one does when he’s trying to get the last drop of coke from the can – and the almost-not-attacked vanilla part struck the floor. like, SPLUTTER. so that fine afternoon during our visit to Matsumoto Castle, my friend and I got very excited on the ice-cream idea.

until our bubble was burst when we saw the sign on the vending machine saying, “not functioning during winter”. thank you so much.

next stop: ICE-SKATING. found this “Asama Onsen International Skating Center” on the net, which opens throughout the year except for 31 dec and new year’s day. weren’t able to ski at anywhere around Matsumoto City or even take a bus to the Alps (the roads into the mountains were blockaded and we have to take a taxi up there if we were desperate), at least satisfy ourselves by skating for 2 hours or so.. so from Matsumoto Castle, we set foot for Asama Onsen. the inn keeper told us that there’re buses to the onsen directly, and the bus stops were supposed to be everywhere around the city. we started off walking with springs in our steps (with 2 directionless idiots – one of the 2 was me – leading the way), and eventually everyone was half-dragging themselves in the dark, in search of a bus stop. tried asking for directions in a pharmacy when the worker (an old lady) refused to cooperate with us by asking us to “Please wait a second”, a few times, when we had already been waiting for some few hundred seconds.

finally, we came to a bus stop. the bus timetable showed that we could go to the onsen through this route. bravo. and to confirm that we were taking the right bus, we asked the lady who was also waiting for the bus (in Japanese, of course), “Excuse me, can we go to the Asama Onsen International Skating Center by this bus?” but, after realizing that some gaijin was actually talking to her, she pulled out her earphones and started staring back at me, and all she answered at last was, “tabun.” which meant “probably”.

here we go, hopping onto the bus. we came to this dark, quiet place with no people around. it said Asama Onsen blah blah… but the skating ring was nowhere to be seen. found a town map and we wandered aimlessly along a straight road. then. the wide straight road with lights turned into a dark, small winding road when we reached a junction. had no choice but to stop by the Indian restaurant at the junction to seek for help. and guess what, the man in the restaurant said, “Oh, you’re going to the skating center? it’s across the mountains. if you’re to walk there you’ll take more than an hour.” sir, you’re the nicest person we’ve met along the way, it’s just that you came too late. we’re already here and you tell us it’s NOT here?.......

moral of the story: never entirely believe what Japanese people say (especially pedestrians and passersby) when asking for directions.

I actually felt very stupid, partly because I was one of those who led the way (so I had the responsibility to confirm beforehand the location of the Asama Onsen International Skating Center, which currently IS clear to us that it’s NOT at Asama Onsen). shocked and confused, we decided NOT to risk our lives going to the skating center by foot that night, and settled down in the Indian restaurant. but we promised ourselves that we would restart our journey to go across the mountains after getting a good night’s sleep.


1) tennou – the Japanese emperor.
2) onsen – hot springs.
3) Asama Onsen – one of the most famous onsen in Matsumoto City.

Monday, December 25, 2006

- nagano chapter: the accomodation -

update: PICTURESSS!!

^ the inn Kaze no Yasuyado ^

^ the bridge that leads us to the other side of the river (which flows right in front of the inn). ^

^ zoom-in river. ^

^ the Yotsuba Cafe. it's the name of the inn's.... living room? ^

^ the 6-bedder room. one more double-decker behind the cupboard on the right. ^

^ by the way my bed's the one in the middle, top compartment. *grinn* ^

currently listening to – COLORS (FLOW)
mood – slightly amused

22 december.

initially, we planned to purchase a seishun-18 ticket and depart for Nagano using the cheapest route. it’s a kind of special ticket which enables one to travel all around Japan all he wants for the entire day. but with a condition: you can only use it for JR railway, and even for JR you’re not allowed to use it for limited expresses. a normal trip to Nagano (Matsumoto City) from Shinjuku station (which takes more than 4 hours) costs more than 3,000 yen (approx S$50), not to mention the faster ones, they’re definitely going to cost a bomb. by using a seishun-18 ticket, which costs only (?) 2,000 yen (S$30+++), we could have reached Nagano by 3pm if we left our bunking place in the morning. judging from the flow of my sentences, you’d know we didn’t make it.

better open a hole in our pockets than being too late – was our decision, after realizing that we would definitely miss the train because both of us forgot to withdraw money from the ATM. it’s time for Plan B, again. instead of going to Takao we took a train to Hachiouji, and, from there, we went to Nagano with the limited express Super Azusa.

we went through a cool summer this year, so we expected to see the winter wonderland beckoning to us with snow upon our arrival. well of course, since the inland prefecture Nagano constitutes many mountainous lands. from the north-northwest to the south-southeast of the prefecture, you can see the Itoigawa – Shizuoka Kouzousen, a massive fault which goes across the Japanese archipelago. on the west there are the Hida Mountains (the Northern Alps, where the Kamikouchi and the over-3000-metres-above-sea-level Norikura volcanic region is), the Kiso Mountains (the Central Alps) and the Akaishi Mountains (the Southern Alps). it’s said that during winter this prefecture’s frigid and dry. plus, Nagano hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics… **referring to the electronic dictionary’s encyclopedia…**

and it turned out that this year, it’s going to be a mild winter. despite the reika. dayum… in the end we didn’t see any snow throughout our train ride (I couldn’t really see the mountains from my window seat coz my vision was, unfortunately, blocked by these tall wind-blockers and tunnels).. even after arriving at Nagano station, snow was no where to be seen. there goes my dream White Christmas... sob sob… however, it was definitely much much much colder than Tokyo, and probably Osaka. looking up with our backs facing the train station, we saw a huge digital… board thingie (temperature sensor???) which said “5°C”..

joined the other gaidai foreign students (who came straight from Osaka by bus that morning) at McD’s. in total there were 8 of us, who came from all four corners of the globe – Brazil, Brunei, Croatia, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and New Zealand. we encroached upon a corner of the second floor, and displayed our Osakajin-ness by conversing like there’re nobody around us. of course, even if we weren’t boisterous people we would have been gazed at like zoo animals because of most of our clearly-non-Japanese features. and we were speaking in English too.

after filling our stomachs, we set foot for our lodging. actually we could have asked the keepers of the lodging to fetch us from the train station, if only there weren’t that many of us. apparently their car’s only big enough to fit 5 people max (excluding the driver). it’s alright. it wasn’t that far from the station. we had the chance to sightsee around the main street of Matsumoto City by taking the Town Sneaker minibus (or should I say, van?). such a cute little vehicle. AHHHHHHHHHH shit I don’t have the pictures with me…. the Nagano pictures are all yet to be transferred to my new Vaio baby..

anyway. the lodging is called Kaze no Yasuyado (the Wind’s Inn, if translated literally). this wooden inn is situated beside a river, and from the living room we could see the clear-cut outline of the Alps far beyond the city. couldn’t tell how much snow has accumulated on the mountains yet coz it was slightly foggy that day. the keeper of the inn is a kind lady, who used to be a backpacker who traveled in over 30 countries in the world. together with her husband, they have been managing this small inn for some years. we self-introduced to each other and had a short conversation, while paying our 4-nights worth of the accommodation fee. then, we were led to our rooms.

the rooms weren’t that big. slightly uncomfortable for people who are used to spacious living compounds, I suppose. but it was enough for me. I haven’t been sleeping on a fluffy bed for quite some days, and my back’s aching. we split into fives and threes, and took over the 6-bedder room and the 4-bedder room respectively. fortunate enough, I got the upper bunk of one of the double-deckers (by the way all the beds are double-deckers). remember when I was a kid I used to dance in my sleep, so I was never allowed to sleep on the upper bunk whenever we’re provided a double-decker during our family trip. now, I don’t do that anymore obviously…

by the time we received a map from the inn keepers (they asked us what was our plan throughout our stay in Nagano and we had no idea how to answer them. didn’t have any plans in particular, you know), it was already late in the evening. and 6pm during winter is DARK. we asked for directions, and left the inn for dinner. by foot. there wasn’t enough bicycles for all of us, and I’m sure most of us didn’t want to cycle in the cold. we crossed the bridge to the other side of the river, and started tracing back the path that we came from. went through the Agata no Mori park, passed by some old school buildings, and we came to a crossroad. the nearest convenience store was at one corner of the crossroad. though a convenience store, it’s a tiny convenience store. which doesn’t even sell alcohol.

arrived at Saizeriya after 2 minutes more of walking. after all it’s near the center of the city, so things are a bit more convenient than gaidai… there’re a few more family restaurants around the place, and a JUSCO department store right in front of Saizeriya, which we planned to attack another day. believe me, it was a tiring day. we Tokyo gang ran up and down for the trains, whereas the Osaka people had a long bus ride. we headed back to our inn not long after our outing (with the many teabags that we snatched from the drink bar in Saizeriya without the waiters’ knowledge). **grinnnn**


1) Kamikouchi – scenic tourist attraction at the Alps.
2) reika – cool summer.
3) Osakajin – an Osaka person. it’s said that Osaka people are loud and dead to shame, and some Tokyo people despise Osaka people because of that.
4) Saizeriya – Italian restaurant. cheap and some of the food are not so nice. but has a drink bar and you can drink all you want from there (if you ask for it).

Sunday, December 24, 2006

- tokyo chapter: mitaka & kichijouji -

currently listening to - hitoiro (nakashima mika)
mood - bored

20 dec. wednesday. we booked one of our todai seniors for dinner that night. actually none of us have met him before.. he was more like a "legend" thats being mentioned in the other seniors' conversations from time to time. found out his contacts from someone recently.. and since my friend and i came all the way to tokyo (from an unexplored region called oh-sah-kah) why not meet him in person for at least once? .. was our common intention. by then we still had our wednesday afternoon free, so we thought of going to the ghibli museum in mitaka (which, our senior said, was quite near the todai dorms).

the problem is, we didnt know which train station exactly should we get off. since the ghibli website said it's in mitaka, we took a train to mitakadai, which has the word "mitaka" in it (so it shouldnt be too far away from where we're supposed to go).. but it turned out that we were supposed to get off at JR's mitaka station (we were taking some other line...). and that it would take us ages to go to the museum from mitakadai. no wonder it (mitakadai) looked a little too inaka and lack of mood for a place for museums..

enough said. 1st we headed to the nearest Lawson at mitakadai to purchase entrance tickets for ghibli (dont aks me why, but the website said we can only get the tickets from Lawson), and rushed for mitaka.. yeah, there are 4 entrance hours for ghibli museum in a day: 10am, 12pm, 2pm and 4pm. it was already in the afternoon, so the only choice left for us was the 4pm one, and when we left mitakadai it was almost 4pm..

it's been a while since i last ran.. maybe for more than a year. i know ever since napfa ended i havent been marathon-ing or doing anything of that sort. that day (at long last?), i was offered the golden opportunity to display my athletic power by fast-jogging to the museum from mitaka station (approximately 1km). given time limit: 5 minutes (by the way the latest entrance time was 4.30pm). thinking back now, i wonder why could we still take our own sweet time buying onigiri from the convenience store during our race against time. hey, we're hungry okay... ate our tuna-mayo onigiri in the cold while half-running towards ghibli. just like marathon athletes drinking off water bottles, you know.. thank goodness there were many helpful signboards along the way. managed to reach the goal right before times up.
stage clear!! tetetete-tette-tettete--- (final fantasy's level up music)...
good job, folks.
as expected, the museum was a very oshare place. it stood silently amidst the dark woods, illuminated by the orange lights coming from a few antique lamp posts scattered around the place. it looked as though it was closed (shit, did we miss it?!?!) but the main gate was left open. so we ventured into this mysterious piece of land. we were greeted by an actual-sized totoro at the fake reception booth (where there's a sign saying "the real reception booth, this way"), and saw more antique-looking lamp posts inside.
too bad we're not allowed to take pictures of anything in the building (yeah we made it somehow..). basically we learned about how a ghibli movie is made, from phototaking (of nature and scneneries), sketching, colouring.. to techniques used to make motion pictures. saw a lot of drawings of howl's moving castle and gedo senki and stuff. extremely impressive works (by that i meant the paintings of sceneries. but of course, the others were very impressive too..). plus, there was a room for the making of wallace and gromit. and also a merchandise shop (i bought a makkurokurosuke doll and a laputa diary) and a cafe. on the rooftop, there was a huge Laputa robot, which we took pictures of it and with it.
another attractive spot was the restrooms (eh?).. no, really. they were very stylish too. look at the pictures and you'll know. the one with a bench looks like a cozy corner in a lounge but it's actually part of the restroom (there were urinals right opposite the bench). everything was, just like the outside, illuminated by orange lights.
when it turned 6, we left ghibli and headed for kichijouji station to wait for our senior(s). ghibli museum was sort of like the midpoint between mitaka and kichijouji station, so we could afford to go there by foot. we met 2 of my seniors, and ate in a restaurant in kichijouji. they were very nice people, more cheerful and friendly than some of the people of the same batch as us, i think.. we discussed and bitched about many things during our dinner: math tests in osaka gaidai, how did the seniors manage to enter todai, human relations, gossips...
later at night, we were escorted to the todai dorm. from kichijouji, we took as bus to shinkawa, and walked for some 10 minutes, before a few blocks of old (or not so new) buildings came into view. it wasnt as bad as it seemed. at least for me, their rooms are more spacious than the one that im living in currently. equipped with air-conditioner, bed, study desk and cupboard, and also bathroom, just like mine. but they have a tiny personal kitchen and internet connection, which i dont have. one thing about having a personal kitchen in the room is that it attracts pests, but it's definitely more convenient and you dont have to worry about booking a place for cooking when your stomach starts rumbling. quiet place. conducive studying environment, i suppose.
met a few other seniors from various countries who are currently studying in todai, and we had a small feast to celebrate (for the 2nd time) my senior's (the one whom we made an appoinment with) belated birthday. there, we continued our gossips and discussions about university life. it seems like many among the seniors dont really like tokyo, due to several reasons. if it wasnt for todai, i wouldnt have chosen tokyo, said one of them. oh well, like it or not, we juniors have already handed in our university application forms. no turning back.
we talked till half past midnight, and decided we should leave. the senios suggested that we have a one-night stay in the todai dorm, but we insisted on going back. so one of my seniors walked us back from the dorm. and it took us about an hour. man, it was freaking chilly. i was lucky for not falling sick after that. anyways we were very grateful for the senior who sent us back voluntarily. and the other seniors as well. for being so nice to us. if only we had more time we would arrange another outing with the seniors...


1) inaka - rural. countryside. a perfect malay translation for "too inaka" = too kampung.
2) napfa - shortened form of National Physical Fitness Award (singapore). it's like a national-levelled PE test la...
3) oshare - stylish.
4) totoro - a grey forest spirit which is at least 3m tall (according to wikipedia) which appeared in one of ghibli's most famous works, My Neighbour Totoro (Tonari no Totoro). the word "totoro" is actually a mispronunciation of the japanes pronunciation of the english word "troll" (which sounds like "toro~ru").
5) makkurokurosuke - black round hairy bugs that appear in totoro.

Friday, December 22, 2006

- tokyo chapter: disneyland -

currently listening to - wind it up (gwen stefani)
mood - ...

having a mental block currently. been spending too much money at a time. such a traumatising experience..... my savings........


it's been ages since i last went to disneyland. the tokyo one, i meant. never been to other disneylands in the world..

not again.. another 620 yen train ride.. this time, we went by another route (a different route from the one we took for jump fest). bought some sandwiches and onigiri and here we come, disneyland!! .......... thought that it would be a fun-filled trip to our destination, but.... the fun was beyond our expectations. never in my life have i experienced such a fully-packed train before. well at least, not that i remember of any... and i meant real man-in train that's packed to the brim.

for about an hour, we stood in the train, almost lifted up from the ground by the people surrounding us.. if i hadnt been standing next to the wall i wouldnt have been able to make some space for my bentou to prevent them from getting squashed. put my hand against the wall to leave a little space in front of me for the food, throughout the journey. it was my 1st time using foul language in public too.. kinda snapped a bit coz one side of my earphones kept slipping off my ear (yeah i get fussy over minor problems, i dont know why) thanks to those annoying beings who squeezed into the train one right after another even though the people near the opening doors were about to fall out of the train already..

some of our tokyo friends were complaining that one thing they didnt like about tokyo was that it's too busy and everyone seems to be always in a rush. as a proof, we see these japanese people, always trying to make way into the trains during peak hours even though these poor public transports are about to explode. but thats the way it is, i guess. thats the "culture" in tokyo. cant just tell the people to wait for the next train (or even bus)... and needless to say, im definitely not gonna give up tokyo just because i'll get irritated when riding a bus or taking a train during peak hours. anyway the experience wasnt that bad after all... was lucky that everyone around me wasnt that tall and i didnt have to suffer under someone's armpit.

and finally, we arrived at maihama. i always thought that the ticketing booths will be so crowded even on weekdays (that day, 19 dec, was a tuesday) but surprisingly the place was quite emtpy. the entrance fee costed around 6,000 yen. look at how money disappear from one's wallet. how depressing. im a money person. i love to save money (and not use it). maybe this gives me pleasure or something (err....).... whatever. right after we entered, my friend and i "armed" ourselves with our fluffy snoopy hats (which we bought in USJ) and began our little boycott on disney-related fluffy hats.

^ on the bridge connecting to the entrance of disneyland ^

^ the huge christmas tree near the entrance (along the souvenir shops) ^

1st we went to the fastpass machine for Big Thunder Mountain (a mine-train ride thingy) to book our places. then we went to the riverside for the Beaver Brothers Exploring Canoe. the title of this attraction's quite self-explanatory, right? basically we're gonna canoe around the river in disneyland. suddenly reminded me of our famous NJ canoeing team. believe me, they're scary. both mentally and physically. i remember how built our physics lecturer (who's the advisor for the canoeing team) was.. one of the asean scholars used to comment that "his veins pop out whenever he grabs his pencil". great teacher, in canoeing (i dont know about physics coz i had never concentrated during physics lectures before). heard that his team beat the singapore navy during the national canoeing championships..

gomennasai. sidetracked again..

yeah.. so we lined up for the canoe. there's a group of noisy japanese girls (hmm.. cant say we're not noisy though..) in front of us at that time. the guide person asked how many people were there in their group and all of them said simultaneously, in a sweet, joyful tone, "NANA MEI DE~SU!!" which meant something like "there're seven of u~s". hey, our group consisted of 7 people too. thats why when it's our turn to answer, one of us (actually it's me) shouted, or at least tried to shout, in a similar way, "NANA MEI DE~SU!!!" it's a pity that nobody bothered to stare at us (hai?)..

next we went to Splash Mountain (that splash-down-from-a-steep-slope water ride thingy..). thought of recording a video of the ride.. but on 2nd thoughts i didnt think it was a good idea. i mean.. i wasnt even sure if i could grab hold of my digicam firmly during the ride.. anyway, the ride was fun. more exciting than usj's jurassic park ride. there were more slopes during the ride (even double slopes). kept me anxious throughout ever since we splashed down the 1st small slope (im the someone who screamed during the back to the future ride).

then, we took the Big Thunder Mountain ride. we were expecting some steep slopes but it turned out to be a normal rollercoaster ride (= not frightening. but was fun..). also, we went to the Haunted Mansion later in the evening (or late afternoon maybe), which was basically another ride. with no thrilling moments..... sigh. the "mansion" was well-decorated, though. felt very much like halloween. not scary at all.. well as a matter of fact, i've never freaked out in a haunted house before.. when im not alone, that is. on the other hand, the tower of terror (disneysea) seems to be advertising a lot. wonder if it's worth going... anyone has any ideas?

^ road to the haunted mansion. those are pumpkins.. ^

of course we tried a lot of food in disneyland. went around different attractions in search of popcorns of different flavours. my friend and i tried honey, chocolate and curry flavoured ones. i'd say the honey one tasted like honey stars.. but the chocolate one wasnt anything like coco crunch.. just popcorns with a bit of chocolate on them. the curry one was alright, better than the chocolate one. and had stronger smell too. had to wash away the curry breath by eating turkey drumstick after that. at night we had dinner in a food court by ourselves. ordered seafood doria.. coz i didnt really liked the other ones. but this doria tasted so-so, probably because the seafood part of it wasnt properly processed and stinked a little..

^ my seafood doria. plus fries and coke and my wallet. ^

^ friend's "rice with chicken and egg" set thingie. on a mickey mouse plate! ^

and parades!! we 1st saw a performance by mickey mouse and the other characters at the castle when we were busy taking pictures with the many disney characters like alice, the 7 dwarves, wendy, peter pan and merry poppins.. later, there was a special parade for christmas, as well as the usual illumination parade which is held every night (but in christmas version). it's rather annoying when somebody obstruct you unintentionally (or not) when you're doing all you can not to shake, so that your camera wont snap some blurred pictures for you. unfortunately the 2 ladies in front of us were leaping up and down trying to take photos from the best angle. and it's even more annoying when.. whenever you want to take a picture, the performers will just look away and face their asses at you.. i was starting to think that this has got something to do with my phototaking skills (for moving things especially) itself.

before going back, we rounded most of the souvenir shops. that was when the rest of the group members decided that they would wanna go for karaoke after disneyland. so we well-behaved people (eh?) bid farewell and left for bed earlier.

speaking of bed... im too tired to continue now. i guess i shall end it here. sorry if it looks unfinished to you. will post more pictures when im more awake. tata..


1) onigiri - riceballs.
2) man-in - (extremely) crowded.
3) bentou - packet lunch.
4) maihama - a place in chiba prefecture where tokyo disneyland is situated.
5) USJ - Universal Studios Japan. situated in osaka.
6) NJ - this is how the students call their alma mater, National Junior College. 1st junior college in singapore. lee hsien-loong's our sempai. =p

^ disneyland castle from far. i think i like taking pictures of random scenes... ^

^ muzium negara spotted in disneyland ^

^ one of the popcorn vendors ^

^ getting fastpasses for the big thunder mountain ride ^
Posted by Picasa

^ canoeing... these are the 7 girls that i was talking about.. ^

^ splash mountain ^

^ peter pan and the snoopies ^

^ eh? ^
Posted by Picasa

^ wtf is docomo doing in a disney parade... so the mood-killing.. ^

^ illuminated castle ^
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 21, 2006

- tokyo chapter: the supposedly tokyo tower outing -

currently listening to - ketsui no asa (aqua timez)
mood - sleepy..

... turned out to be just an eragon movie outing.

probably due to exhaustion (and because it's me, the sleeping beast) after 2 whole days of jump fest outing, on monday (18 dec) we woke up late in the afternoon. planned to visit tokyo tower (maybe just taking pictures of the tower without going up to the viewing place, coz according to the internet it costs money...) in the afternoon and THEN go watch a movie. which is eragon. a movie which one of us longed to watch because she's so crazy about the eragon novels........ since half the group woke up late we decided to book the movie tickets 1st, then go to tokyo tower, then come back to shinjuku to watch the movie..

it was quite funny that even though some among our group have been to kabukicho (it's said to be one of the red light districts in tokyo but who cares, let's just ignore the problem for now), i, an osaka person (= a foreigner), was the one leading the tokyo people the way to the cinemas... i had no idea why. we got lost (obviously, especially because it's me, the super houkou onchi) for a while, had some small conflicts among ourselves..... but thanks to the convenience store lady we were able to reach our destination in the end.

however, it's too late to go to tokyo tower by then. we had only an hour left before the show started. what to do. might as well just bura bura around the cineplex till the time comes...... so happened that there's a game center right in front of where we were. PURIKURA TIME!!!! muhahahahahahahahaha.......

- one hour later... -

i dont understand why it took us so long but we only managed to take 2 sets of purikura. and then it was time to buy popcorns. surprisingly, during the show, it seemed like our row of seats was one of the few which actually has people sitting on them... i must say, the cinema was big enough to make us few people feel lonely in there. the last time i felt this way was the time when i was watching howl's moving castle with 3 friends in toa payoh (singapore). there were less than 20 people in the cinema at that time. it's not like howl's not a good movie (anime?) or what, but that particular cineplex simply got no visitors...

anyway.... watched the movie till the end.. and it was...... i dont know. i personally prefer the lord of the rings to eragon for movies of fantasy genre. both storylines were extracted from long novels, but i think peter jackson and the others did a much better job in preventing the movies from being mere "summarised versions of the novels". though after reading the novels, you'd still feel that there are so many things that werent mentioned in the movies, and that books are still the best. in my opinion, that is. well yeah LOTR novels are kinda long and difficult to comprehend at some points....

that was what we did that day. i'd say it's not really a productive day but what the hell, i could still type an essay-long post about it...


1) houkou onchi - directionless idiot
2) bura bura - laze around
3) purikura - shortened form of "print club". small decorated photographs commonly measuring 1 inch by 0.5 inch.


sneak peak (a.k.a a reminder for myself):
next post - disneyland!! :D

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

- tokyo chapter: jump dattebayo!!! part 2 -

currently listening to - ningyohime (koda kumi)
mood - relaxed

my posts are still way behind time.... memories fading away too. bwaaah..


1st of all... pictures. which i didnt post earlier...

^ allen!!! this picture's definitely more than 2m ^

^ goods section. had to wait in batches before we could reach the booths.. ^

^ naruto dattebayo!! ^

^ ichigo giant figure! ^

^ gin-san what are you doing on the screen... ^

^ giant kyubi head... ^

^ luffy giant figure! dont know why but it's been segregated to exhibition hall zone 3 ^


thought of waking up earlier in the morning, so that we could attack more stuff in the fest the next day (17 dec). unfortunately (yeah yeah..), it was too cold outside (hey, everyone was "smoking" okay..) and the futon was too warm and comfortable (not as comfortable as my bed but well..)............

this *approximately* one-week stay in tokyo really made me realise that transportation fees will eat up a lot of money from our monthly allowances when we shift to kanto district next year. dont really know how much will it cost to travel to another state by train back home, but going to chiba from shinjuku is definitely not cheap to me. 620 yen from shinjuku to kaihin makuhari (where the anime fest was). which is about... S$10. a round trip will cost more than S$20. and we went to chiba twice. furthermore, we planned to go to disneyland and disneysea as well, each cost 620 yen too.

ah, what else can we do. we've already known that the living expenses for tokyo will be much higher than that of osaka, well at least, compared to gaidai.

good thing is, we managed to familiarise ourselves with the train system in tokyo, which is much more complicated than that of umeda. the 1st time when we went to kaihin makuhari, all we could do was to follow the crowd blindly (which was probably going towards disneyland. kaihin makuhari is like.. next to it) and watch out for signboards. after arriving at the station, we had to take another long walk to finally reach the exhibition halls. this experience, to those who didnt rest well thanks to the night bus, definitely contributed to the weariness.

alright enough of ramblings. let's get on..

our main purpose of the day: take loads of pictures with the cosplayers. so we headed towards the cosplaying section straight. on the way, we were obstructed (eh?) by this huge crowd gathering around a small stage. on the stage there stood the voice actors / actresses for Luffy, Sanji, Zoro, Nami, Usopp, and a guy with funky (?) silver hair who had a raspy / hoarse voice (who, later on, appeared to be the voice actor of Jango, Mr. 2 and Franky). since it was something to do with one piece, we had no choice but to postpone our jouney in search of cosplayers and find out what's going on there.

apparently it was a promotional event for the newest one piece movie which will be shown next year. for one piece movies in previous years, the storyplots were not based on any part of the manga and they were all original. whereas this time, the producer decided to re-make the Alabaster arc, in the form of a movie. according to the producer, this arc is one of the best arcs in one piece and is loved by everyone in the production. that's why they wanted to present it to the fans in a different point of view. the voice actors seemed very excited on the new movie too (aiya obviously la hor..), especially Mr. 2's voice actor, who declared that he will transform himself into a real okama for the movie.

before the promotional event ended, each voice actor was asked to leave a message to all who came for the event. and the yamaguchi kappei did it again, by leaving really a message for all of us.

"chinko desu."

hai, next....

the time has come. for us to intrude the cosplaying section. as i've mentioned in the previous post, dgrayman and gintama are becoming real popular. so wherever we went, we saw gin-san and company and allen and company..... whatever it was, we succeeded in attacking most of the cosplayers, including those for dgrayman, gintama, one piece, naruto, reborn, bleach, death note and even rurouni kenshin... it was freezing cold at the cosplaying section (coz it's not indoor), still everyone ran around chasing after their "idols" with cameras.. i myself wasnt that crazy over cosplayers (and i probably wont be), so i guess this must be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me. unless i start going to anime conventions in japan every year...

^ reborn cosplayers. scarily a lot of them.. realise there are doubles in this picture. ^

^ dgrayman cosplayers. dont need me to explain who's who, right? ^

^ akatsuki members, unite!! ^

^ lame manga produce lame cosplayers, huh? (i meant the pose) ^

^ how i wish i had her costumes.. ^

^ rare cosplayers spotted! vivi, luffy, nami and chopper in alabaster. ^

^ rare alert!! franky!!! no idea why sanji's in the middle among the CP9... ^

^ speechless.... ^

^ i like this cross marian. ^

^ it took me a while to figure out whether they're male / female in disguise... ^

there were very mezurashii cosplayers too, not to mention. on the 16th there was orochimaru, but i didnt get to see him with my own eyes... then on the 17th there's a very mafia-boss looking crocodile (the one piece villain) in his expensive-looking grey fur coat, and there's a tall nico robin in white (with her white cowboy hat of course). and we didnt expect to actually see a franky too. the exact franky that we see in the manga. yes. salute for his bravery (brave enough to show his thighs, and brave enough to withstand the cold). also, there was the sogeking.... but he was running around the exhibition halls so we couldnt take a picture of him...

lastly, we returned to the jump stage to watch the final show of the day. a one piece show. again, the voice actors / actresses showed up, as well as odacchi. this time, they actually came in obasan outfit (all of them, including sanji and zoro, AND odacchi), with AFRO. some of you might know how they look like if you have watched / read the once piece "obasan time". by the way odacchi's afro was pink, and zoro wore beige-coloured tights under his apron which is supposed to make him look naked (and sexy?). the others were wondering why he had to wear like that, and he answered something like this, "why. isnt it obvious? if you wear an apron, surely you'll think of going naked underneath!"

in addition to these noisy people, there came the voice actor for Mr. 2 too. initially he was only wearing this hawaiian shirt (unbuttoned) with *tight* brown underpants. he couldnt stop doing the HG waist-shaking thing, so in the end he was forced to dress up as an ojisan. 2 important voice actresses couldnt come to the event, nico robin and chopper. they appeared on the huge screen and entertained the crowd for a while, though.

first it started with reminiscing their (the luffy gang's) time with the Going Merry (their ship). suddenly the whole stage (and the audiences) became so serious and gloomy that even some audiences (to be exact, one of those CP9 cosplayers in front of us) started crying. oh, come on...... ah, by the way, sogeking came to jump stage to watch one piece too..

then they moved on to the variety-show-like section, where the voice actors are asked to stand up and sue anyone whom they werent happy with. 1st, zoro was sued by luffy for farting on the chair earlier on. he protested that he has been acting in one piece for 8 years and he had only farted once (before luffy and company entered the grand line), and he didnt fart at all this time. "it's the chair that was squeaking!" next, mr. 2 got sued by sanji because he could act for 3 characters (jango, mr.2 and franky) and currently in the story he's even joining the strawhat family. somehow the arguments got more complicated and everyone ended up sueing odacchi. however, things settled down (?) when odacchi said, "maybe i should consider re-shuffling the voice actors for the one piece roles next year..."

though christmas was still way ahead, the event came to an end with everyone (people on the stage and the audiences) singing one of the famous one piece songs "Family", which, at the end of the song, Tanaka Mayumi (Luffy) shouted "Go! Go! Going!!"... and everyone answered..

"Merry Christmas!!!!!"

that was a very touching ending... (TmT)

to think that it's been so many years, and manga / anime like one piece havent lost their fans... and many promising manga are coming up as well.. i must say, to me, jump comics is the best. im not an otaku, to be honest. but how do i live without these manga? how do i li~ve witho~ut you.. i want to know.. how to i brea~the witho~ut you.. if you ever go.. how do i ever~ ever survi~~~ve....... ahem. yeah. im 20. going on 21 in a month's time. but i doubt that i would stop reading japanese manga for the time being.

i was right to stay in japan for the winter holidays.


1) futon - mattress / quilt.
2) okama - homo.
3) mezurashii - rare.
4) obasan - japanese auntie. stereotype: has curly hair. wears apron and carries a basket around all the time.
5) ojisan - japanese uncle. stereotype: bald. wears white singlet, stomach-band, ragged shorts and slippers.