Showing posts from 2014

Hokkaido trip preparation 9: Testing under actual use

As the actual day comes closer, and with electronics ready, how would it be like under actual use? In this case, it would also mean how convent (or troublesome) it would be to bring all the cables and chargers with me. Looking through the things I have, which were either bought for earlier trips or not originally planned for it at time of purchase, I could make multiple use of some to save up on additional chargers and cables. The only new thing bought for this trip was a 32GB microSD card with full-sized SD adaptor for my camera (and the unrelated iPhone 6 Plus). If my camera and the laptop I plan to bring uses a full sized SD card, why did I buy the microSD version instead, you may ask? Simple: using it on a camera phone. I know I mentioned iPhone earlier, but it is for my Android phone that serves as a (second) backup camera. It served me well during my Bangkok and the Paris section of Europe trip. Even if I did not end up bringing that phone around, at least I could

Hokkaido trip preperation 8: Planned places that didn't make it

(I should rename this series since I'm not just heading to Hokkaido only.) I have mentioned earlier in this series that I have dropped the Hakone section due to accommodation and cost issues, but there are other places that I have considered that did not make it to the planning stage that Hakdate did. While I do want to visit other countries, nothing seems to come to mind. As for within Japan, I did thought of (from west to east) Himeji, Nagoya, Nara, Niigata, Fukushima, Sendai, and Aomori. However, I found this to be too much to plan around, or I just couldn't see any place of interest in there. In any case, it's kind of too late to change my current plans without incurring cancellation charges. Flights are the most costly ones to cancel or change as those are paid in full instead of as a deposit.

Hokkaido trip preperation 7: Bringing a computer along

A laptop. Deciding to bring it is tricky because it adds weight to my travelling bag and being one additional valuable item to worry about, but yet there are things that I can't do with alternative choices. Here are my choices: Smartphone – Use it for all my internet needs, including using Wi-Fi. This is what I had done on my travels so far, and even used it to book a flight from Venice to London Gatwick. Screen is too small for things that are not optimised. Mobile data roaming overseas is expensive, and getting mobile data of that country is troublesome. Tablet PC – I don't have one and, depending on the operating system it runs on (Windows RT vs iOS / Android) and the hardware features it has, it's could as well just be a smartphone with a larger screen. It does likely to have something called USB On-The-Go (OTG), but I don't want to carry an extra cable or adaptor. Also, I can't do any quick and productive writing with on-screen keyboards. Hostel PCs – This

Hokkaido trip preperation 6: Revisions to plans

As part of any planning, there would be changes to plans. Additions to it, and of course, removal of some. I mentioned on twitter and part 2 of this series that I would be adding places to visit between Tokyo and Hakodate. These are Osaka and Hiroshima, with side trips from these two cities. I know that I have visited Osaka before, but since I was based in Kyoto, an hour to get between Kyoto and Osaka, and with many places in Kyoto planned, it's difficult to add places in Osaka to visit that, in retrospect, there were more places in Osaka (and a viewing area in Kobe) that I did not visit, so being based in Osaka this time, and staying there longer, would give me more room. (The real reason for duration being to fill up most of the gap.) There may be a chance that I would visit Kyoto again, but only for the Fushimi Inari shrine and Ginkakuji. Both of which I had visited before on previous visit, but I did not "exit" properly for one because I found myself lost from go

Disorientated Feelings (Part 56)

No one became aware of this as it happened until there was a large deviation when data was being gathered for the population census of the year after it happened, or people noticing the absence of the elderly, or an unusually high number of schoolgirls that replaced them. Indirectly, the number of deaths from age-related illnesses has dropped too. Of course, a lot of time may have passed for this to be noticeable. These transformed people had also been genetically modified to seem as if they actually the daughter of any random couple, as well as the memories of the people who knows either the new or old selves. This is technically still going on today, but the difference being everyone remembering who they were. The earliest knowns report of it happening was from my aunt, whom she claims that a man she saw on the train transforming in front of her , or suddenly having a sister she never had before living with her. It is difficult for me to use her words as an official eyewitness acco

Hokkaido trip preperation 5: Bookings

Flights and hotels. When should you book? If your trip involves the two together, choose the flight first if you hadn't pick specific dates or duration of travel. The reason is that flight fares vary a lot on a day-to-day basis and you would have more flexibility, especially if the flights are at the start and the end of the trip. If travelling through various cities, you may also want to check if a one-way ticket to your first city and another one-way ticket to your last city would be cheaper than having a return ticket to one of the cities. Don't forget to include the cost of getting to the airport itself! What time your flight arrives and departs would also determine if you should save/spend on a night at the hotel. Some flights fly more than once a day, some only a few times a week, with the latter giving you less flexibility. If your flight arrives quite close to midnight, local time, where transport out of the airport may have ended service for the day, or have you

Hokkaido trip preperation 4: Clothing

Being the northernmost part of Japan also means it is colder there. Obviously a lot colder than Onikawa, which is considered the Hawaii or Florida of Japan. Winter in Tokyo is not that cold where seeing it covered in a blanket of snow itself is rare. While I have been to cities further up north, which were the cities of London and Paris that I visited last year, the season was obviously the wrong one to expect to see snow: May to June. (Just to let you know the other extreme of what I've been through, I have stepped to the outdoors of Quatar's Doha airport, which was very warm.) I am unsure if the warm clothing I have in my wardrobe are sufficient. Might need to head out to buy if they are insufficient. The problem is that I don't know what to look out for other than the general temperature (-5℃ to +5℃) I think Hokkaido might have in early January, and clothing stores themselves not stating what temperatures they are designed for. A jacket for 20℃ weather is not the sam

Hokkaido trip preperation 3: Camerea

What trip would be complete without a camera to have a record of what you have seen? Especially more so if it is of somewhere where it isn't easy for you to get to enough to have the next time of being there being hard or impossible? Well, you don't need those expensive cameras, as well as expensive lenses and equipment to go with it, to get a good picture. A normal point an shoot camera will do. I don't recommend ones built into a mobile phone: it lacks a lot of features (though smartphones like iPhones has things like point focus and exposure), memory is shared with everything on your phone (less space for your photos and messy to organise), reduced battery life due to non-camerea related use (not good if you want to take pictures all day), analog zoom, the awkwardness of holding it. More importantly, how long does it take between activating the camera and being able to take a picture? And for phones with touch screen, are you able to take a picture without looking out

Hokkaido trip preperation 2: Accomodation and timing

Since the previous post, I have more or less decided to enter Hokkaido by plane to New Chitose Airport. Shinkansen (Aomori is the furthest north it goes currently) would still be an option should there be an aviation or timing related issues. Initially, I was thinking of making a day trip to Hakodatte from Sapporo, but the travel time of 3 to 4 hours made me reconsider to maybe staying there for some days instead. Double that to make my way back. What can I see if most of the day was spent on travelling alone? Adding to that, it is winter, and quite far north (though London is the furthest north latitude-wise I've been), which means less sunlight. Timing-wise, I'm not sure of the exact dates yet as this is largely determined by flight and accommodation availability (and prices). I want to visit the Winter Festival in Odori park in Sapporo, but that is in February. Not sure when this trip would be, but it won't be any earlier than December. This also largely depends if

Hokkaido trip preperation 1: Where exactly?

It has been more than a year since my last trip to Europe, which made up of the Paris, Venice, and London. (Read my entries that I had written on this blog as I was travelling then, though I neglected to write the London portion of it there) While planning for that, there were considerations to visit Iceland, Berlin, Rome, Vatican City, and Zurich, but time and financial constrains limited this. Total trip was about a month. How is this related to this next trip I'm planning? Preparation, packing, and an unfamiliar environment that pictures and words can't make you fully prepared for it. My packing was so efficient, having experience from earlier travels (Hong Kong and Bangkok), the accommodation host was surprised that I only had two regular-sized backpacks instead of those large luggage bags with wheels commonly associated with a travelling tourists. My plan at the moment is to visit Hokkaido, with nothing booked yet, but where exactly should I go? At the moment, I'm

Teary Promise (Part 21)

The electrical appliances seem a bit more recent than the others: the TV displays were still of those bulky square-ish screens that were common until the past 10 years. Only a small number of them used the more recent widescreen flat screen TVs, which I assume were replacements of broken screens. The computers were provided by the prefectural government, so those are the only recent ones as they are standard issue across all schools in the prefecture. The location of vending machines may seem odd, but since the school is known for vandalism and violence by the male students, they are strategically placed at locations where there is a recording security camera nearby like the main entrance of the building, or where several staff working nearby could see and hear people using it, like at the cafeteria and outside the teacher's room. The school board has warned on removing most of vending machines when there are any damages to them that would render it inoperable or theft to the con

Teary Promise (Part 20)

After what seemed like an eternity for an oddly short walk from the park, we arrived at Yosaka Middle and High School. I was not expecting both the middle and high school education levels together, which is quite rare in this country. Well, those large academies in this region do have those two in the same campus, but those two are treated separate and are not counted. Immediately as soon as I could see the front courtyard of the school, I could already see how much I appreciate that I am not sent to this school. The state of the school building and the greenery alone has seen better days with those looking no different from an abandoned place with noticeable damages to some facilities. Well, I am not saying the school is really in that bad state, but certainly not as maintained as the schools I have been to. There were students still in the school. Some of them stared in our direction, not because of me, but how glaringly obvious Saeko's Mizuho uniform sticks out. A uniform of

Alternate Dimension (Part 96)

I knew Kotomi had been to this Kaisei Middle School I'm at now, I realised what I knew about it is no different from any other random school I have been to, apart from the layout of each school always being different. Unfortunate for me, I had spent too much time waiting outside the teacher's room when I realized that the transfer students are now briefed in a totally different room. In this new world where transfer students are frequent, schools have created a room dedicated just for them. It is unclear to me if there could be more than one transfer student in a day at any school. I don't know where this room is, but a teacher and a student did walk past me when everyone else have disappeared from the corridors. I guess I have to follow them if I want to have a chance at finding someone today. These two made their way to a first year classroom. I would have left here if I knew the name of the transfer student and how she looked like, but I don't. They don't see

Alternate Dimension (Part 95)

Now that I have Ako Matsumi from Yuribashi Middle School to join me for the experiment, I need another person to better understand the effects that may happen is unique or to everyone. This would have been a lot easier if I could use people that I know well, but that was messed up the last time I was there years ago when something that happened to them there that didn't happen here. They added that they recommended people born post-evolution as they do not have a known pre-evolution gender, and to see how they would react in a world of dual genders. Now, who should I pick next? It's hard for me to pick a random person without knowing about their character, and that distracting beauty everyone has on top of that. Where should I begin? Well, first of all, How do we know if someone had just been born? No one saw them being given birth, but the population is still steadily increasing despite scientists having no idea how we give birth with our evolved bodies, the person in ques

Yononaka no Okugi (Part 5)

Hitoshi supported me as we headed back towards the school building and into the student council room. This was supposed to be as simple as when we came from there, but the struggle with this newly acquired feeling in me that is difficult to concentrate with had me quite confused. "Don't worry, Fujibayashi. This is normal for anyone who has seen images of males. Try to get used to it like it's nothing or it would be difficult to concentrate on studies, though that can be an uphill struggle if you never had it before, or, in my case, intensity being stronger than I have ever felt before. Try not to see or think about them and it won't get worse... though that is kind of unavoidable with your quest in finding out the past." We both struggled to make it back to the main building as we both were unable to think well with this persistent new feeling. Eventually, we find ourselves in the student council room. We were thinking too much of our new feelings that we did

Alternate Dimension Special: Secret Documentary of Mizuho Academy by Hatsuya Institute: History & Uniform

How did Mizuho Girls academy came to what it is today? A well known school, but yet most people don't really know how it works under the hood. It started many years ago, which is to say some years before where the academy is today was built, when the founder of Mizuho High School approached us, and we discussed plans on how to implement it. Mizuho Girls Academy was founded around the early or mid 20th century as a co-ed high school, where boys and girls attend together. Right until around the time Mamiko Hisakawa (one of our staff on assignment there) enrolled to that school, the design of the uniform was was virtually unchanged since the school was founded. But we will talk about why the uniform was changed later. Why the backward conversion from a co-educational school to a girl's school? The founder of the school has this fetish of seeing girls, and yet wants his school to become as big like a built up city with technology that would make everyone