Saturday, November 12, 2016

Osaka

T and Amber were here in Japan for two weeks just in time for the semestral break. We took that short time as an opportunity to travel. Initially, I had proposed Hiroshima as our destination but due to the distance - it will take 5 hrs by shinkansen - we changed it to Osaka. Though Hiroshima is still possible by traveling via air, it just had to be postponed at some later unknown date in the future.

Shinkansen is the ideal mode of transport compared to airplane. For the sole reason that it takes you right in the city while the plane takes you to the airport, and from the airport, you have to ride a bus or express train to the city. Besides, the experience itself is amazing. 

We started the journey at Tokyo station. From there via Nozumi shinkansen which stops only at Shinagawa, Shin-Yokohama, Nagoya, Kyoto and finally Shin-Osaka.

From there we walked our way around less than 10 minutes to reach at our humble accommodation which we booked via Airbnb. I swear, I will use Airbnb in future travels for the sole reason of affordability. Our host greeted us at our arrival in the accommodation. It was the usual Japanese apartment but the good thing, it was spotless and clean. I kept looking for some fault but failed. 


Osaka manhole. It is very common around Japan to design their manholes in representation of their town or city. This, of course, is an art based on the Osaka Castle.

My interest in signages and shoes (yes, it's NB and I have no plans of burning them because they are comfortable - main reason why I chose to wear them on the trip). 

The gang.

Me doing typical tourist obligations. As a tourist, one should not miss a photo with the famous Glico man at Namba.
Namba is reminiscent of Shinjuku or Myeongdong. It is the center of night entertainment in Osaka.  Considering it was  a Friday, the crowd at the background was expected. Most are tourists based on their actions. 

Osaka is slightly different from Tokyo as I have read and observed based on fashion and manners. People tend to be laidback, more colorful and yes, tacky billboards in this area are overloading, hehe. Some would say the people from Kansai are not cold compared to Kanto people but I will leave this judgment to those who have actually lived long on both regions. My insights are very touristy and limited to 3 days. 

Dotonbori canal. It's Amsterdam of the east. When we arrived, the place was just filled with noise and fun. I couldn't imagine what it would be like if there was a special occasion if an ordinary Friday was that lively.

The night is always this colorful. I think that billboard of a Glico man has become an icon and automatically identified with Osaka. The design itself looks dated but instantly recognizable.

Day 2 was spent roaming around Osaka Castle. When I prepared the itinerary, I tried to limit the places on the important landmarks as 3 days can only cover a few, and keeping in mind that we have a 4 year old kid in tow. Amber was very cooperative during the entire trip. Probably due to her age, she easily understands if explained well to her level, of course.

My little one liked everything strawberry and Elsa. It was expected she would choose strawberry-flavored soft cream while Mama had green-tea flavored. 

Osaka castle is one the few remaining original castles in existence, and played a major role in the unification of Japan. I have read somewhere that Osaka once became the commercial capital, Tokyo the government seat and Kyoto, the imperial capital. It seems that all are now present in Tokyo, while the other two major cities carved its own identity still consistent with the nation.


One of my travel buddies got up close with birds at Nishinomaru garden. I wish to see more places with her.

Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

In the afternoon of Day 2, we headed to Osaka Aquarium. The entrance fee is a little steep compared to other aquariums we have been to but this aquarium is the largest and holds the most number of variety of seawater creatures. They take pride of their whale shark.


..and this colorful school of fish. They even have a space dedicate to Finding Nemo creatures

Amber in her usual curious self. She enjoyed the trip and even wanted to become a walrus or sea lion just because on how awesomely they swam.

Me contemplating on marine life. 

Osaka overall looks a little dated but that is its charm. If you go to JR Osaka station, one would be amazed of its design and surrounding skyscrapers and landscapes. At some point, T was curious and interested to visit Shinsekai. There, you'll find Japan stuck in the 80s. It has been considered a dangerous town but knowing Japan's idea of danger is an over exaggeration compared to other places in the world. I have read blogs of foreigners who were brave enough to wander the place that it is indeed stuck in the past, messy and structures dilapidated - somewhat abandoned. Its history is something I would like to read in detail.

Airbnb and Japan-guide.com proved useful in our trip itinerary and plan. Shinkansen was, of course, hands down efficient and comfortable. Better than planes. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Summer 2016

Summer 2016 was half spent wandering, reading, doing art and typical aimless search for something to do. Not that I was not busy with work, it's just that my weekend schedule was not fixed and so random until mid-August. Last half of this year's Summer was spent studying for an examination which put my aimlessness to a temporal end. 

The exams ended and the results are awaited, I am not back with aimlessness because something came up to keep my weekends alive. I am attending free basic Nihonggo lessons (again). More of that, I know my Nihonggo skills are way better than Beginner's level but I need practice that's why I signed up for this free lesson. Why not? I have nothing to lose anyway, and badly need of some distraction. At the moment, I am waiting for my artistic mojo to kick in. Ever since I took a break from it, I was hoping that my hands couldn't wait to sketch but so far, the hands aren't ready yet. I am hoping that it will come back to keep me occupied in Winter.

The selfie is in keeping with the theme. I bought a camera phone clip lens because GoPro is too expensive for me, LOL! This cheap clip lens will serve just fine while documenting my whereabouts, plus it appears to make my round face smaller compared to normal phone selfie.

In terms of the arts, my best gouache painting to date was this of Tormund Giantsbane. For those who are not familiar of him, Tormund is a supporting character of Game of Thrones series. He was introduced around Season 3 or 4 and got more famous among fans in Season 6, partly due to his attraction towards Brienne of Tarth. 

I chose him as my subject because of his looks and character. Jon Snow is too famous as a subject. I could not imagine the many artworks based on him or Kit Harrington (the actor who played him). 

This is actually my second gouache painting. My first was a blue-eyed, raven haired Natalie Portman. I can say my gouache attempts are passable in terms of wanting a career as a tacky cinema poster illustrator (imagine 90s Seiko starlets in tacky tarpaulin posters plastered all over downtown Colon Street, Cebu City). Too bad the demand has long gone. So, again, the need to practice to achieve a level higher than a tacky poster illustrator/painter.

So I got bored with gouache and decided to go back with pencil sketch to master on facial details. 
This sketch was based on Gal Gadot. I know, no one will ever guess it right.
I need to practice more. Watch out World.

I was able to read four books which was a feat for me at my age. If not for the idle time and the lack of inspiration to make art, reading books would never get any of my attention.
Books I've read were: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (inset photo), The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins, When Marnie Was There by Joan G. Robinson and a classic, The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. The first one being my favorite because it made me cry and again, good books about life and love never fail to make me ponder on for days. I love that at the end, Will's will was respected by his family and Louisa, although painful for them. If I were Louisa, I will probably be persistent to beg Will to give life a chance, live more years with me and focus on our love. But at the same time, one cannot blame Will for hating his life after the accident considering he used to live an amazing life, alongside good fortune and looks.

Lastly, something to remind me.

Also, I really need more improvement in handling stressful situations. I have allowed work to get in the way of my head; thereby, making me irritable and crabby. I seem to have forgotten how to balance work and life wherein, at my age and experience, I should have (at least) mastered the basics by now.


Monday, September 19, 2016

On a serious note

For want of some little peace of mind, I have decided to delete my FB app in my phone. My account is still active but I just feel the need to take myself away from social media, specifically FB. Other accounts from other social media sites remain unchanged. Without the all too familiar letter F on my screen will, I think, discourage me from browsing the site.

The reason behind is politics. Ever since Philippines elected a new president, people have become a little too involved to the point of fandom. Though being aware on government issues and the like are beneficial to society, it is actually getting annoying up to this time. It is understandable to support a specific candidate but playing political analysts without proper research and spreading wrong information are unacceptable.

Call me not of the majority but it does not mean that I don't respect Democracy. I do agree to some extent of Duterte's war on drugs but I do think there should be proper investigation after. I am not sure how the Police file a report at every encountered killing but knowing how unreliable witnesses can be due to fear cannot be taken as truth. The reason you get often is the suspect was fighting back. Fighting back is a little bit vague considering certain circumstances. But hey, if all witnesses agree to this, it can officially become as truth. Other than that, his brashness may be natural for him but diplomacy and good manners are not difficult to achieve. At his age and experience in public service, those virtues should be inherent.

The whole political circus slash telenovela has so affected me that I used to always start my conversation with T about it. He said that he stopped caring. I, not even there, cared too much. Good thing it does not interfere with my work but at the end of working day, I browse and every time I read about politics in my newsfeed, which are many, instantly upsets me.

I'm getting way out of topic. The benefit I will surely get from forgetting FB is a much better focus on life. In 2013, I deactivated my FB account because I decided to focus on rearing Amber and work. It was effective and after a year, I reactivated because I want to get back with virtual connection.

I'll focus on art, work and Amber. Travel might be included in the future if time and budget permit. Earlier today, as I was walking on my way to the platforms of Inagekaigan station, I saw these local travel brochures promoting Hokkaido. In my mind, it reignited my want of getting there and see its wonders myself.