jona: Yamapi of NEWS making a 'um, what?' face (JE - Yamapi knutschig)
I had just started to finally start typing up some thoughts on In Fact when I saw that [ profile] b_akakame had just had the same idea. I wrote this up before reading hers, and afterwards was pleased that for once someone else was wordier than I was! *g* Go check out her review too, which includes analysis of visuals, static and moving! >_>

Below are my thoughts on In Fact, in a mix of review and rambling impressions.

The short version: Kusabi, it ain't. Kusabi was an excellent mini-album, and in my opinion you could tell that they wanted to throw some songwriting power and skillz behind their 4nin re-debut. There were some truly excellent songs on that one.

I don't know if for In Fact they lost that kind of focus or had to make to with the replacement crew or what, but... I don't think this is a great single. It's one third 'not bad', one third 'okay', and one third awful.

The songs )

After I'd listened through the single, I thought, well, maybe the album will be better, there's lots to look forward to there with the solos and stuff.

Now we can listen to previews of four songs and I'm admittedly a bit less hopeful.

In order )

Japan 2014

May. 29th, 2014 12:17 pm
jona: Jin, of KAT-TUN, joyful (JE - Jin joy)
Okay, the plans are more or less fixed, and I decided, instead of tinkering with the old post, I'd write up the travel plans, in their more or less fixed form. ^_^

Travelling and hotels )

Activities, planned and possible )

As I understand it, we will be kind of travelling with the stream rather than against it during O-Bon, so that'll be interesting. The whole getting-to-Sapporo-in-time business turned out a little more exciting than I'd really wanted, and we were weighing our options of very giri giri trains, until I found some flights that were still affordable (everything showing up on the big search engines was €250 and up!) and then we were weighing very giri giri planes vs. a four am start, and in the end the four am start won. I am glad, though, that we're only doing the 12-hour train trek on one leg, not both.

But I am looking forward to Sapporo so much! For no specific reason, except I've always kind of wanted to go. (OK, and I have been jealous that for all the tours I've been tracking, the Sapporo tickets were always the cheapest.) Maybe it'll turn out totally lame, and I'll end up going 'OMG MORDOR!' but then at least we'll know for next time. And for now I'm just VERY VERY EXCITED.

Two potentially useful links for fellow Japan travellers: I've been doing a lot of research on the ever-painful question of Japanese phones for tourists. (As some of you may be aware. ^_^) Stuff I've found out that may be relevant to others as well:

A Softbank subsidiary that explicitly lets you buy a Japanese pre-paid phone on a tourist visa. Unfortunately -- I emailed them -- they only have pricey upscale phones on offer for their pre-paid deal, not the three thousand yen keitai I wanted, so this is more than I want to spend, but if you have the cash to spare, this looks like a very hassle-light option to get that coveted Japanese phone. They have offices at Haneda and Narita.

A company that lets you buy a sim-only at a reasonable price, with apparently no need to recharge once a year. Actively catering to tourists as well. Their call rates are pricey even for domestic Japanese calls, though otoh their rates to Europe and the US are far lower than at least my roaming charges would be. It's not quite what I want, but I'm still considering my options here.
jona: (Default)
Okay, so, before I get around to the post about the awesome weekend I originally meant to write, let me get something out of the way that goes:


The longer version is: I'm most likely going to Japan again in the summer.

Because KAT-TUN ANNOUNCED A TOUR! At the start of the year I was actually sure they would, but the longer we went without new releases, the more I thought it would be a winter tour / Countdown again. Well, now it's a summer tour with Countdown.

Anyway, this is post is for reference, in case it's of interest to anyone when I'll be where, and so I can remember the venues.

The dates actually line up pretty nicely for me, though I share [ profile] ina's sadness over no focal point for international fans like Tokyo Dome. Also, [ profile] solo can't go in September, so that saves me the agonizing over potentially doing the September dates with Tokyo. (Short version of nipped-in-the-bud-agony would be: Yoyogi sounds tempting, but it's much easier to get time off in August.)


I'm currently thinking of flying out before the Yokohama cons on 24 or 25 July, and flying back after the Sendai cons on 18 or 19 August, Frankfurt-Tokyo. Potential concert line up currently has two versions:

Concert list, bold is options. )

I'll update this post as plans become more definitive.

Oh man, now I have a Japan 2014 tag.
jona: Jin, of KAT-TUN, joyful (JE - Jin joy)
I got back from Scotland on Monday night, after an okay trip, but the worst march through bloody Frankfurt airport I'd ever had. It literally took me 50 minutes to get from the gate to the train, and there were no queues, meaning most of that was walking. And I'd packed, um, a little heavily.

See, I like to stock up on things while in Scotland. Very important things like tea and drugs and macaroni pie.

Photographic evidence )

There was a bit of frantic repacking at Solo's house when it turned out that in its original state, the suitcase weighed some 35kgs, so I ended up transporting a lot of cheddar via hand luggage. (I half expected someone to claim that 'cheeses are liquid' but was glad to find out that the air safety stuff hasn't gone that insane yet.)

I did appreciate the new development on air safety that lets you keep your electronic devices on during take-off and landing as well. My flight out was the first time I got the 'put them in flight mode, please' announcement, but nobody really dared do anything with it except one woman who kept her Kindle out. On the flight back, though, a girl across from me was working on her laptop and I was crushing candies during landing, and apparently that was fine! \o/

What I did on my vacation )

A very special and singular event! )


Totally unrelated to anything: the Japanese learners among you might know this website and I'm the only person who only recently came across it, but it's actually interesting whether you learn Japanese or not. Kanjidamage has a somewhat different approach to learning kanji, and while I didn't adopt the method (I'm set in my ways, and those ways work for me) I found the website hilarious, in a good way. I particularly recommend the Introduction, or why most kanji textbooks suck as well as Kanji Facts.
jona: (bunnies incognito)
I don't know if it's just the day I've had (looooooooooooooooooooooong and on low blood sugar) and that I'm feeling kind of loopy, but I think this may have been my favourite The Good Wife episode... ever?

Not deep. )

That is all.
jona: Jin, of KAT-TUN, joyful (JE - Jin joy)
For [community profile] kamesanctuary's Kame birthday bash, I somewhat foolishly offered to contribute a scan of Kame's 2011 Dreamboys poster.

Sharing it here now as well. Comments if you take are appreciated, as this ate a day, but also not required. Enjoy if you haven't yet. ^^

Smaller preview:

 photo Kame_DreamBoys20011_1200.png

High res downloads:
2400p, 5,7 MB
3600p, 13,2 MB
BIG, 117 MB
jona: (bunnies incognito)
Ladies and gentlemen, bunnies and cats,

After stalking the UPS delivery man like... a very obsessive stalker, I got my new rice cooker!

Completely unphotogenic and unnecessary pictures of a rice cooker under the cut. )

As for the bentoing itself, the main new recipe I tried out was making potato oyaki. I made a new batch of soboro as filling and then it's basically fried mashed potatoes. They're very tasty, though this was a case where 'making a big batch' didn't actually save me much time, and it kind of ate half a Saturday.

Pics and stuff. )

This week, the bentoing got a bit thrown for a loop due to a) one Akanishi Jin and b) my heating malfunctioning, and while I'm not terribly upset about the former and the latter thankfully got fixed within a few hours, it did sort of suck up my organisation energy for the day. I'll see what I can hustle up tomorrow, I do need one or two more vegetable staples for next week...

PS: I owe some comments and stuff. I'm not ignoring, just haven't had a lot of brain last week. Will catch up! (And also at some point post about something not bentos, I promise!)
jona: a nomming panda (panda - nom)
Short and low-picture version: bentoing still!

I started last Monday with a soboro bento.

Cut for gallery. )

I am still very happy with the bentos and pretty much look forward to them every morning. It's also nice that I now have enough of a stock that apart from the rice, I really do manage to make a bento without cooking anything in the morning at all if I don't fancy getting fancy.

In whack. )

Now, let me tell you about RICE.

Last week was also when I realised that my rice cooker is really crappy. I kept wondering why my rice kept coming out slimy. And then I thought, okay, I am a lazy panda and was never a big friend of washing my rice, so I started...washing my rice. And then washing it some more. Solo was making fun of me because I'd go 'sorry, have to go wash my rice' and then was gone for half an hour. And yet it still came out slimy.

So then I experimented with boiling the rice in a pot, and lo and behold, while it wasn't perfect Japanese restaurant rice, it was perfectly fine, unslimy rice!

Okay, so. I looked at proper Japanese rice cookers. Decided I wasn't that insane yet. Experimented with making rice in the pot in the mornings before work. Which worked okay except here I get screwed by my kitchen set-up: I have a very old hand-me-down stove, which has only one really good and fast plate that is suitable for doing anything that can burn (only plate that cools down fast) in a hurry (only plate that heats up fast). And when I cooked the rice on that plate in a small pot, the pot always boiled over a little and the whole place reeked of burning stuff, because the bubbly rice foam stuff would hit the plate. And when I cooked the rice in a bigger pot, so that stuff wouldn't dribble on the hot plate, the fact that it was a one-person rice portion made the rice burn / not get soft in time for the water to evaporate in that big pot.


So, um. Yesterday I folded, and have now ordered a real Japanese rice cooker. The kind where next I'll probably have to call my home insurance so they can adjust for the dramatically risen value of my household appliances. T____T

(But am now tracking the delivery quite obsessively because I am very much looking forward to having it. ^^)
jona: (normative goat)
1) Fake cuts. ( This ) is a fake cut. It is a fake cut because it looks like a cut, i.e. it pretends to be a cut, but isn't a cut -- in other words, a fake cut! This is a link. It is not a fake cut, because it does not look like a cut, does not try to look like a cut, and isn't a cut. It is a link, proudly owning its link identity.

2) German commas. Dear German peoplez: there is no comma before 'dass' in English. In fact there is no comma before an awful lot of things that Germans like to put commas in front of, but there is definitely no comma before the English 'dass'. It is falsch. I know, I know -- for years in high school we are drilled to properly separate our eleventy subordinate clauses with mandatory commas. I've been there. But I assure you that three out of those four German commas you squeezed into that English sentence were wrong, and the fourth one was optional.

3) 'Learning' vs. 'studying'. T_____________T

4) Opinions. Replying to 'Dude, I think you're wrong' with 'But everyone has a right to their opinion!' or 'It's free speech!!' is about as logical as replying to 'Hey, the train departs from platform 4' with 'But the ticket costs fifteen euros!!'

5) The power of expectations. 'I think there won't be a [summer tour/DVD/surprise election/ice cream van at 6]' is descriptive and not to be confused with 'I am making [a summer tour/DVD/surprise election/the ice cream van at 6] not happen, haha!'**

6) Cats.

**Does not apply if you are Johnny/prime minister/the ice cream van man.
jona: a nomming panda (panda - nom)
The bento experiment continues and has so far not broken down yet!

Last weekend I made a few more different things, four varieties of veggies for the week and two more meat types for the freezer.

-- carrot kinpira, which was nice and easy though I don't think I love sesame oil as much as I should
-- sweet simmered shiitake mushrooms, which had been MISSING FROM MY LIFE #nom
-- boiled pumpkin, which is super-easy and tasty. With the type of pumpkin I could buy, though, I had to boil it a bit longer than was ideal for the inner parts for the skin to become edible.
-- sweet potato, an excellent easy addition. However, a protip from me: when you stand there and wonder 'why on earth does this recipe give me enough to go in bentos for a month, not a week?' you might want to re-check the recipe, where you will find that it asked for 80g of sweet potato, not 800g. *cough* (I ate a lot of sweet potato last week.)
-- miso chicken and teriyaki chicken for new meat types. This was a little tricky because Germany doesn't really go for de-boned chicken thighs, you just get the whole thing, bones and all. Then you can either stand there and sweat and try to peel the meat off the bone while still raw (did that once in 2003; never again), or you can cook it and then peel it off. I tried two different routes: I marinated the teriyaki chicken thighs, fried them the next day, then peeled off the meat and fried the bits in the marinade too. I microwaved two legs for the miso chicken, then peeled off the microwaved meat and marinated that in the miso marinade. Both ways produced tasty results, but were an unholy mess, never mind the time it took to do everything in two stages. Plus the bits got very bitty indeed.

The bento line-up:

Bentooooo. )


In other weeaboo news, I passed the JLPT N4. \o/

Score, because I'm too lazy to type it up. )

I was admittedly reasonably sure I'd passed, but whether I'd passed okay enough to feel like trying the N3 in July, I had no idea, and was becoming increasingly concerned about that.

When I first saw my score, I wasn't really sure what to make of it, mostly because I'd done surprisingly well on the listening (despite that exercise that asked about THE SHAPE THE CUCUMBERS AND CARROTS ARE CUT IN), but lost quite a few points on vocab/reading/grammar. On the other hand, reading was definitely the hardest, so it wouldn't surprise me too much if that's where I lost the majority of points. I also didn't think it was that good a score, but compared to at least previous years' statistics my 155 points seem to be actually pretty good!

So, anyway, I don't think this means I'll have an easy time with N3, but at least I feel like it won't be totally silly and a waste of money (apart from the general waste of money that is a test that I don't really need) to try for it in July. :D
jona: Jin, of KAT-TUN, joyful (JE - Jin joy)
I'm not a terribly good review writer, but here is what I thought about 47 Ronin after two three four viewings in various incarnations.

Relevant information #1: This is not another movie about a white guy saving Japan. It is really really not a movie about a white guy saving Japan.

Relevant information #2: You should go see this movie. Because it’s good. And also fun. And also, if movies about white guys saving Japan piss you off, you might wanna see this movie to see how it can be done. (See relevant information #1.)

Not so relevant but @___@ information #3: Do not believe the trailers. Like, watch the trailers for the pretty but there are apparently eleventy different trailers around and half of them have nothing to do with the movie. I don't know what the promo department has been smoking. The good thing is that you can't really get spoiled by watching trailers!

I watched the movie for the first time expecting it to be 'Last Samurai with monsters', meaning: I expected to hate it, and just watched it for Jin.

I watched it four times now and am actively itching for the DVD release, and here's a hint: I love Jin a lot but he is really not in the movie enough to make that happen.

This is a movie about 47 masterless samurai, who, after the death of their master, are looking to avenge their master and reclaim their honour. Keanu Reeves is also in it.

The not so good, because it’s there and to get it out of the way:

Not spoilery if you have read anything or watched anything about the movie. )

The really good, or Reasons To Watch This Movie:

The not very spoilery unless you count history. )

More spoilery from here, though I don't think it'll ruin the movie for you. )

On the different versions
I have now watched: original English audio, Japanese subs, 2D (twice); Japanese dub, 3D (once); modified English audio, European cut, 2D (once). I enjoyed listening to the Japanese dub to hear Jin and my new boyfriend speak Japanese, but I prefer the original English audio. I enjoyed the 3D version, but I didn't feel it added so much that I'd go to great lengths to see it again – the movie was just as pretty in 2D. It was a little funny when we watched the movie again in Scotland: this is an all-Japanese cast apart from Keanu Reeves, and everyone speaks with a Japanese accent, some more fluently than others. And I was literally just thinking, 'I wonder if that hurt it overseas because unless you're a bit used to Japanese accents, some of these guys might be hard to understand for English native speakers,' when I noticed that the European release had a re-dubbed voice track for Kikuchi Rinko. ^_^ (Making her sound a) slightly less insane and b) more comprehensible. I have a lot of practice listening to Japanese-accented English by now, and it was only in the European release that I figured out 'thousands of your father's men are dead' is really 'dozens of your father's men are dead', which cleared up a big math WTF I'd had in three previous showings.) Everyone else's voice stayed the same.

There were three cuts I noticed, one I thought was a good editing choice, and two that were very poor editing choices. To wit )

On pacing & other film type stuff
I watched it four times and I did not get bored once, or identified a part that was excellent for a toilet break. I also found the camera work really cool, the way scenes are cut into and out of, and how the camera moves. I am not a movie buff but this film looked good.

On Jin
I don't think it's a spoiler to say that Jin is in about six minutes of the movie, so he's really not the main reason anyone would go see it more than once. He does look very pretty, and while he's got a small role, it's also an important role, and he's got his own little mini-arc – he's the one with the coming of age plot here.

I also thought he did a decent job with the role. He's cast to type, not against type – Chikara felt in many ways like Jin was playing himself if he'd been born as a samurai's son minus any Bakanishi elements. And there's nothing wrong with that. He doesn't get that much to do for long stretches, either -- he mostly gets to say 'Father!' or scurry off after someone tells him to 'go get your father'. He did have a few moments where he looked to me more like a guy who had 'Must. Look. Intense' going through his head than a guy who actually was intense, but on the whole I found him believable and just right. (The scene where the ronin sign their declaration before going into battle in particular is very nice, subtle but intense.)

I do wish we'd gotten better footage of him fighting. He does fight, but in general the sword fights were not magnificent pieces of cinematography, they were just all right.

We do know from when he was filming that he had lots of scenes with Keanu, and you can actually see in the film that there was some sort of subplot involving Chikara and Kai that got cut – there are SO MANY SCENES that either end with Kai and Chikara somewhere together, or cut in when Chikara and Kai are somewhere together, that it really looks like there was a friendship plot that got filmed and then extremely truncated.

Now, please note that I'm not saying it was a bad decision to cut that; I would have loved to have more Jin, but for all I know, those would have been the scenes that would have tipped it over into 'white guy explains the way of the world to Japanese dude' or whatever. I really don't know. The development of this movie after it was shot is so disaster-ridden and weird that it's impossible to tell anymore who insisted on what and what sorts of politics went into the editing. But god, I hope we will get at least some of this as deleted scenes. (Also, honest to god, just from what was left in the movie, I'm almost certain that if that subplot – for better or worse – had stayed in, Kai/Chikara would so be a Yuletide pairing.)

And one final note:

Very spoilery. Do NOT read this if you haven't seen the movie and still plan on going. Trust me on this. )

The movie is not a masterpiece, but it is a very solid, well-paced, well-acted film with some silliness around a true emotional core, and some very excellent parts. It is well worth watching.

These were my thoughts and feels. What were yours?
jona: (GKS - bigin)
This is not my Yamapi post.

Though it's kind of related, because it kind of is the reason why there is no Yamapi post yet.

Last Sunday, I started the Bento Project. Well, that makes it sound much grander than it was supposed to be, but basically, I love bentos, and I love saving money, and what with the recent shopping spree in Japan, I decided I was going to try if taking bentos to the office might be a sustainable effort or if the whole being-organised-early-in-the-morning angle would kill the project dead in a week.

[ profile] ina is kind of my bento sensei in a lot of ways, and the stuff she said about frying and folding eggs in the morning was something I wasn't sure I'd be able to do. And the various bento sites including recommend taking it easy and keep saying 'you don't have to start with a big cooking marathon!!' And I took a look at 'bento week plans' and the thought of frying eggs in the morning and trying to squeeze everything into a box and my schedule and... decided to have a big cooking marathon.

Hence there was no Yamapi report, because I spent last Sunday when I finally had some time cooking stuff for about four hours and then also defrosting my freezer, which was in no way bento-project-ready.

I made my first test bento on that Sunday, and finally sat down to eat it around 5 pm.

With illustrations that look rather same-y. )
jona: a failing panda (panda - fail)
When I went to Japan in 2011, I went to Dreamboys. (Twice, on ticket prices that broke my brain at the time, and I spent the next two years framing most major purchases in terms of, 'Wow, that's almost a Dream Boys ticket!') There was a DreamBoys pamphlet that at the exchange rate at the time would have cost around €30. So I didn't buy it, because thirty frivolous Euros seemed like too much of a waste. I think I bought three shop pics in Harajuku.

In 2012, when I was in Tokyo for the Chain tour, I bought maybe twenty old shop pics, most of them bargain basement Jin deals for 50 yen*, and hesitated slightly before buying the Chain pamphlet and the penlight, because penlights are kind of silly.** (I did buy both, though, having learned from the Dreamboys experience and my pamphlet regrets.)

This is what I came home with this time:

Read more... )
jona: (GKS - bigin)
So I was in a pretty boring conference the last two days. The upshot of this is that I finally got around to writing all my holiday check and packing lists, and my list for Thursday/Friday said 'Write LJ post about Toyota'.

Well, there's not actually much Toyota in this post, but. I'm undecided / sort-of-decided-but-sometimes-insecure about a few things regarding the trip, and I'm going to think aloud in this post, and any advice, experience or validation of my life choices would be appreciated!

Item #1: the camera
I currently only have a camera that was a good compact camera ten years ago, and is heavy and clunky. Last time I went to Japan, I borrowed my mother's quite nice camera** with its 10x optical zoom. I've wanted a less clunky, newer camera for a while, but always figured I'd wait with buying till the next time I knew I'd actually need it, so as to at least get the 'newest' for what I'm willing to spend. The need has arrived, but then I realised I'm going to Japan and now I don't know what to do. People of my acquaintance have bought cameras in Japan because of lower prices for good stuff there, but if I bet on that, it puts a bit of pressure on me to find one/buy one, or have no real camera on this holiday.

So, my options: Do I a) buy the camera before Japan, within the next week, b) buy the camera in my first two days IN Japan, because cameras are Cheaper There, or c) cajole my mamaaa into lending me her camera again because prices always drop AFTER Xmas and buying now in either country would be stupid, in your experience?

(My budget would be €100-200 with a serious preference for the €100-150 range, and I don't know much about cameras but I do care about zoom, and I care about size, so I actually will take it with me in life too. Just so you know what I'm actually talking about.)

**Any cameras discussed here are compacts.

Item #2: the luggage
My current plan is to travel with A) my huge-ass suitcase, B) a duffel, which will be IN the suitcase and consequently empty on the way in, C) my small Ryanair-approved trolley for hand luggage and D) a handbag. I am allowed two pieces of checked baggage, but I figure if I take an empty duffel, it'll force some discipline on me to not pack too much crap on the way in, and I know for sure I'll have space for all the crap I want to buy in Japan because I can stuff all my clothes in the duffel on the way back and put everything else in the hard-shell suitcase. The small trolley will be useful for overnight stays where I won't want either the big-ass suitcase or the duffel bag, though it does have the disadvantage of two to-wheel items at those times when I have all my luggage on me.

The other question is the handbag. I need a new one -- I basically need a handbag that can hold my laptop in a crunch. Not a specific laptop bag, as the laptop won't be the primary use of the thing, but big enough that I don't have to lug a second bag around when I do take the laptop somewhere. Now, I know people also like to buy BAGS in Japan. But I also know that people buy crazy expensive brand bags in Japan, so IDK if there's any logic in aiming to buy in Japan for the kind of bag I want -- nice-looking, big, not totally cheapo but staying under €70, preferably under €50. Admittedly I don't have much experience buying handbags in either country.

So, survey items:

A+B: is this plan stupid, should I just take two suitcases / one suitcase and my medium trolley?
C: would it make more sense to take a big backpack instead of the cabin trolley as cabin baggage, for better carrying of things in Japan?
D: do I put all my handbag contents in a PLASTIC BAG and go shopping for bags in Japan?

Item #3 was 'Do I really want to take the Toyota plant tour on my one totally free day in Nagoya?' but I think the answer is, 'Um, no.'

Input welcome! I think better with input! >_>
jona: Yamapi of NEWS making a 'um, what?' face (JE - Yamapi knutschig)
My Jin tag has never been more accurate.

Cut for the benefit of anyone who really does not want to read about a relatively lucky person agonizing over her luck.

Jin concerts, Pi concerts, stuff. )
jona: (GKS - fight-oh!)
As part of the shenanigans with [ profile] solo's Wii, I ended up in possession of a spare Wii.

This Wii has now been hacked for karaoke use! >_> It has a Japanese shop channel and you can acquire the Joysound Karaoke WiiWare. (Anyone who's visited me lately or been to Chibicon knows what that looks like.)

I'd sell it for €60. (Not including postage.) Note that this is only the Wii, no controllers, no cables, no mics. IOW, this works well for someone who already has a Wii and can re-plug things. The Wii will not do anything else but play karaoke -- hence the name 'karaoke Wii'. (Well, okay, you could buy other Japanese games on the Japanese shop channel, of course.) My experience with a hacked Wii was that inserting any new games required a system update, and system update VERY VERY BAD for hacked Wiis, plus this one's CD drive is allegedly buggy. (I haven't checked, because, karaoke Wii.)

There is no warranty for obvious reasons. ^_^ Let me know if you're interested!
jona: Yamapi of NEWS making a 'um, what?' face (JE - Yamapi knutschig)
So. There are still a few factors in play, and I don't think I'll book anything before I know for sure the ticket thing will work, but: at the moment, it's looking NOT UNLIKELY that I'll try to go to Pi's concerts in December, and be in Tokyo (generally) for a not-quite-decided timespan. Exact timing will depend on plane tickets and which concerts seem feasible, but I ran through various options between two and three and a half weeks, covering Pi's Tokyo concerts, with wiggle room at the start and at the end.

I've done some research and I'm feeling cautiously optimistic that a Pi trip would not necessarily kill a potential Jin trip, not unless Jin's timing is atrocious. (And I think I'll just have to accept that I can't plan for that.)

I will be going alone, and while I'd find it not totally out of the realm of possibility that I'll meet other Pi fans, I can't really plan for that. I've done holidays on my own before, twice, but neither really compares. (I spent a week on my own at a French camp site in my final year of high school and came home a week early because I was bored out of my mind, and I had a one-week club holiday in Turkey in 2010, which was fine and just what I needed at the time, but one week was enough.) This would be longer, but it would also be in Tokyo. (Solo also pointed out that I was miserable for the two and a half weeks I was in London for work in 2011, but I also don't really think it compares because, well, it was London, and work.)

So, while I am still trying to figure out how long I would want to go, and how exactly to go about a few things, I wanted to ask for advice on a few issues from you people who've been to Japan, people who've travelled alone, and people who've travelled alone in Japan.

Your survey, should you choose to accept it. )
jona: (JE - Akame hello there)
Following the Hütchen-related events as detailed in this entry, [ profile] solo and I, as well as the Hütchen, have fallen victim to RUTHLESS HEARTLESS KIDNAPPERS.

On Tuesday night, we received this disturbing message: the RED TURTLE GANG was demanding RANSOM.

Appalling letter. Cruel threats. )


Aug. 4th, 2013 05:48 pm
jona: (bunnies incognito)
Okay, here's some non-KAT-TUN fannish content:


No, okay, I have to clarify: the single is terrible. But the b-sides, they are soooo cool! If they haven't found their way to your mp3 player yet, I got my downloads here, and they're also available on Jpopsuki.

Summer Nude as a song is awful, just a step up from Hadakanbo. But it redeems himself with a PV that basically consists of a half-naked Pi rolling around in the sand and showing off his flawless skin in HD. Oh, and swimming naked underwater.


Nocturne, on the other hand, has a super-whacky green glowing tentacle porn PV, but the song is highly danceable, Pi's voice is lovely, and even the electro stuff really works for me.

And then there is 月の幻, which goes right under my skin. It makes me want to dance, but differently, and the melody doesn't really go in leaps and bounds but I looove what it does. I could imagine these two songs going well together with Hey What's Up, as three different stages of the same summer day. >_>

I'm also really enjoying Summer Nude, the drama. It's pretty soapy, with no real episodic plots, I'm really liking most of the characters and Pi looks even better than he does in that PV, and sometimes he cries and gets drunk and is adorable and heartbreaking and T_____T That drama was a gift to fangirls, really.


I also want to say, just randomly, that I'm really not worried about KAT-TUN not getting 'enough to do' at the moment. (Yes, there is a KAT-TUN section to the post after all.) My take on reality is that there was a tour, and for whatever weird reason it got cancelled, which sucked and is stupid, but when you cancel a three month tour, it's kind of natural to me that you end up with a bit of a gap and don't necessarily have three months' worth of other projects you can substitute at the drop of a hat. Furthermore, as I was going over stuff for this week's KTCafé, I noticed that the pace for singles really got faster in recent years, and outside of 2011-2012, a few months without a single is... not actually all that odd.

So, yeah, I still want concerts, but that's more wannnnnt rather than panic, which seems to sweep Twitter every few days.


Aug. 1st, 2013 05:34 pm
jona: (GKS - bigin)
So, I requested the application forms for the December 2013 JLPT test. It's not the first time I've requested the forms, but it's the first time I'm pretty sure that, barring concert miracles, I'm going to take my very first JLPT test in December.

What I don't know yet is at which level. I don't know if I should go for the N4 or the N3, essentially.

What I'm currently doing in terms of Japanese study: dairly vocab and kanji drilling on, daily; a few hours a week watching Japanese-subtitled drama; trying to remember the grammar I've already learned by writing to a Japanese pen pal.

I'm pretty sure that if I took a week or two for some more focused review of grammar and got a bit more familiar with practice tests, I could pass the N4 right now. I have a Renshuu schedule with the N5+N4 vocab and am feeling very confident about that already; I have a kanji schedule with the N5+N4+N3 kanji, and for mere passive recognition, I'm feeling confident about maybe 60%, and it's still four months until the test.

I've taken a few (small) mock tests online, and found the N4 mock tests relatively easy, but the N3 mock tests a serious jump up, where just the vocab makes me flail quite a bit.

I made myself a schedule for the N3 vocab**, which by itself contains about the same number of words all my previous schedules had combined, and I am finding that schedule very hard, with the traditional OMG THEY ALL SOUND THE SAME!! hair-tearing whenever new words come up. I still have 1770 words I haven't even seen in that schedule. I also know people who are way ahead of me on the Japanese comprehension front who failed the N3, and people who are way way ahead of me who passed it but not exactly with flying colours.

What I also haven't done yet is a timed mock-test, and I do recall that the time pressure tended to be an issue for people who were otherwise well-prepared.

So I'm basically torn between going for the N4, where the material wouldn't put me under too much pressure until December, and where I'd have a chance to get to know the test atmosphere and how it all works at a level I have, I think, a decent chance of passing, or going for the N3, where I'd have a fairly high chance of failing, and the question would be more how well I'd fail.

I'm really not sure. On the one hand, going for the more difficult test would be more incentive to get cracking on the vocab, and I'm not terribly afraid of 'failing' as such. So I admit I'm tempted. On the other hand, I may be completely overestimating myself and if we're not talking failing but tanking, and I take the N3 and end up completely overwhelmed for the whole three hour test, that isn't much fun either, and maybe not such a learning experience as the N4 would have been. Not so much into trauma, me! Additionally, I don't know how much info you get on where and why you failed and if that helps any.

Money and travel-wise, it probably doesn't make much difference in the long run whether I take the N4 this year, pass, and then try the N3 next year, or whether I try the N3 now, fail, and then try the N3 again next year. But I don't know, because of all these pros and cons re: motivation and studying effort.

I may also of course completely misunderestimate the N4. Argh!

Any thoughts? Experience? Anyone want to weigh in with their JLPT strategies?

**I know the N3 materials on Renshuu aren't official because there are no official materials anymore, but I'm guessing it's a decent yardstick anyway.


jona: (Default)
the paranoid android

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