dorchadas: (Default)
I made a dumb Utena meme on the tumblr I share with [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd. You might like it.

On Tuesday, before Japanese class, we went to the Museum of Contemporary Art to see The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg, an exhibit of Murakami Takashi (村上隆)'s art. I didn't know anything about it before we went and modern art isn't usually to my taste, but I was surprised by how much I exjoyed the exhibit. Not the pictures where DOB, Murakami's cute Mickey-Mouse-esque character, is unfolded and stretched across a campus in a nightmare of teeth and eyes, but the works that are more traditional.

Examples:
Click for art )

Yesterday, both [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I went to the farmer's market together, which meant that I had some input on the contents of the meal! I originally thought about having duck and pita bread, but there were no bakers selling any pita at the market, so we settled on something different and made sandwiches instead. Ingredients are mostly my idea with [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's input, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd was the one who put them all together into the final meal. Emoji Kawaii heart

Farmer's Market food pictures )

I have a dentist appointment in two hours to reapply a sealant on my teeth, so of course I'm very nervous. I'm going to [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's dentist, because he's within walking distance and she recommended him to me, and I know that sealants are an easy procedure and it shouldn't take more than half an hour, if that. But any number of things could go wrong, and even though I know they won't, what if they did? Emoji Panic flailing

But there's not much point in worrying about that now. Back to playing Wind Waker.
dorchadas: (Default)
For the first time in a long while, I actually added some icons into the pool I'm using!


I only had one Japan-related icon, and even that I only added after I moved back to America and then edited into some old posts. This provides more diversity I could have used then. The left one is a picture of the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima City that says "Peace to the world," the middle one a picture I took of 壬生の花田植 (Mibu no Hanadaue), a 500-year-old rice planting festival in Chiyoda. The text there is the Japanese version of "When in Rome"--gō ni itte wa, gō ni shitagae, "When you go to your ancestral village, follow their rules." The icon on the right says "Land of Eight Million Gods." It's from a picture I took of a shrine to Inari we stumbled on while wandering through the hills of Kamakura.

There's one more icon I have that was sitting in my icons folder. I didn't make it, but I don't have the source anymore:


That should come in handy when I post about studying Japanese. Emoji Smiling sweatdrop
dorchadas: (Warcraft Burning Moonkin)
For how long I've kept this blog--over a decade at this point--and how much time I spent playing World of Warcraft, I wrote surprisingly little about it. The last time I remember checking the /played on Manaan, my balance druid and the subject of the user picture on this entry, it was something like 410 days. Over six years, that's over four hours a day on average. I played a lot of World of Warcraft. If you check the blog tag, there's one post about the RPG campaign I want to run, two posts about my memories of playing, and two posts from the very beginning of my playing time. Almost nothing else. I guess when I was playing all the time, I didn't feel like I needed to write about it? The fish does not see the water, and so on.

Well, eventually I grew disenchanted and drifted away, and nothing I've seen since has ever convinced me to go back. Not even finally adding a real travel form. I spent six years turning into a cheetah by clicking on a hoof icon, but the pull is not strong enough.

I still really like the Warcraft setting, though. I want to run that game, I've bought the art books that I didn't get in the collector's sets that I own, and last night, I received something else I've been after for a while:

Moonkin statue

With art book for a backdrop.

Here's a dirty secret--I actually never liked Moonkin Form. I thought it was silly and didn't like the idea that druids needed to transform to accomplish anything. I do think moonkin are cute, though, and I spent years staring at feathery moonkin butt, so I have a big soft spot for them. I can see them now in my mind, wandering around Winterspring.

I set this guy up on my computer desk, where I keep most of my computer gaming memorabilia. I don't have much there, and don't usually want much there, but this was worth getting.
dorchadas: (Default)
One of the benefits I get from my job is an extra day off during the summer, taken in two half-day increments, and since last Friday was the last Friday that [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd would be free before she returns to work next week, I cashed in the second and last of my half-days and we went out to lunch. And after lunch, we followed a suggestion from [livejournal.com profile] drydem and went to the Art Museum to check out an exhibit of Japanese period maps on display.

I've actually known about this for a couple weeks since [livejournal.com profile] drydem first sent us the email, but we didn't get around to going until now. And it was great, especially so since we just got back from Japan! My favorite parts were the maps of Kyōto, which is where we spent the majority of our time, poring over them and looking for all the temples that we had visited. We didn't find all of them, or maybe it's just that I can't read some of the pre-Meiji kanji and didn't know what I was looking for, but I did find some. Including [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's favorite temple:


North is to the left.

Look at that detail. That's the layout of Sanjūsangendō--our recent visit to which you can read about here--with the long hall in front and other buildings in back where the garden is. The river at the bottom of the picture is still there too, and I remember crossing it when we walked from Kyōto Station to the temple. The whole map was like that, obviously made by someone who had been to the temples or had excellent descriptions from people who had been there, with relief maps of the mountains all around Kyōto. Mountains filled with temples because of course they are.

That turned out to be the only thing we saw at the art museum and it was worth the price of admission. There was an exhibit of 1930s American art called "After the Fall," but it was a special exhibit that required a ticket, so we didn't go.

We also went to get more tea to replace the enormous amount we drink, and while we were there I finally bought a 茶碗 (chawan, "tea bowl") so I can stop making tea in our rice bowls. And today, I got the chance to use it to make tea:


Tea and sweet!

It was much easier. The depth allowed me to whisk without having to worry as much about spilling tea everywhere, and the bowl is just the right shape to make gripping it to drink without spilling easy. Basically I don't have to worry about spilling it anymore. I think that's why it took me so long to get the proper amount of foam, because the vigorous whisking necessary for it is pretty hard to do when you're concentrating mostly on not launching tea all around your kitchen.

And it was delicious. Yum.

Hiroshima: Wednesday

2016-Jul-20, Wednesday 23:50
dorchadas: (Genbaku Park)
We woke up at 7:10 today, and so hopefully this is the last time I have to make note of our wake up time. Maybe it's because we're in Hiroshima, and like I said, it feels like home. Maybe it's the drinks we had before we went to bed calming us down enough that we were able to sleep through. Maybe it's just that all that walking and travel tired us out--I know that [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd basically fell asleep the instant her head hit the pillow, before I had gotten more than a few words into the last writing session on yesterday's blog post.

Or maybe it's because Hotel Active has the most effective blackout curtains I've ever seen. Seriously, it's like being in an oubliette.

Sakura Hotel was a good price, especially for Tokyo lodgings, and double especially after we got that discount. ¥9300 a night. And ¥350 for all-you-can-eat coffee, tea, toast, and soup is nice too. But, Hotel Active cost us ¥8900 a night, breakfast is also all you can eat, it's included in the price, and it's a buffet that looks like this:


Rice and miso soup in the background.

This is actually my second plate of food. They have a full buffet with Western and Japanese breakfast, so I absolutely loaded myself to take advantage of it. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I still hadn't showered, so we went back to do that and everyone lounged around for an hour or so until we were all ready to face the day.

We headed out toward the Peace Park, walking down the covered Hondōri for all of its length and watching the shops start to prepare to open. When we got to the Peace Park, the sun was shining brightly and it was incredibly hot and humid, with absolutely no sign of the storms that were supposed to show up later. Just another Japanese summer.

I don't really like visiting the Peace Memorial Museum. It's not the sort of thing that one likes. I keep going because it's important, and because the museum does a great job of focusing on the horrors of the bombing while not falling to the Japanese tendency to cast themselves as the victims who always suffer at others' hands. The displays admit that Japan invaded Manchuria, for example, which is more than some of their history books do. But of course, there were innocent victims:


Shinichi Tetsutani. Born 1942, died August 6th, 1945.

We went through the museum in silence, and when we were done and people had bought souvenirs, mostly made of recycled paper from the cranes sent in from around the world, we headed out to lunch. Our original choice had a line waiting in the sun, so we walked back down Hondōri to Okonomimura, a multi-story bundling stuffed full of okonomiyaki restaurants. It's not somewhere we often went when we lived here, but that's because our neighborhood had an okonomiyaki restaurant run out of someone's house, so we wanted different food when we came into the city. Here, though, I figured that there'd be at least one restaurant in there that didn't have a line, and I was right. We went to Chichan and stuffed ourselves with okonomiyaki (I got negiyaki, which leaves out the noodles), and then split apart.

One friend went off to Hiroshima-jō to look at the grounds and castle, and [livejournal.com profile] tropicanaomega went back to the hotel. [twitter.com profile] xoDrVenture, [livejournal.com profile] tastee_wheat, and I wanted dessert, so we walked over to the Polar Bear Cafe for gelato. ¥380 for a double, murasaki imo and rum raisin. [livejournal.com profile] tastee_wheat ordered a double after we did but before the workers put any ice cream on ours, so she got a giant stack of matcha and mango. We all ate our gelato together, I surprised a pair of obāchans with how huge I am, and then we went our separate ways.

[personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I headed back out to Hondōri, now looking more like I remember:


That covering is really nice right about now.

...and did some shopping. Now that I overhauled my personal style and would actually wear some of the clothes here, I figured that I should look and see if I found anything I liked. And I did. A black button-down shirt with wine-red cuffs but a black collar, so I don't look like a total asshole, and an incredibly pretentious shirt with white birds and vines and swirls of mist that says: "We are born, so to speak, twice. Once into existence, and once into life." It's perfect for me.

We went up and down Hondōri, into Parco and Sunmall, up to the new Andersen's location and down to Bookoff, where I got another Neko Atsume souvenir and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd got a Sailor Moon brooch charm. This was a three hours of shopping, and by this point it was 5:30 and we needed to use the laundry machines at Hotel Active, so as it started to rain, we walked back to the hotel.

Unfortunately, all the laundry machines were full, so we took showers to wash the Japanese humidity off while we waited. Eventually [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd went down to physically wait at the machines while I headed over to the cultural center to check and see if the kagura performance we had gotten a flier for was still on, since it said that it might be canceled due to storms and there was a thunderstorm outside. When I got there, though, the rain had basically died, there were red banners placed all outside the building, and:


The archers confront the demon.

Kagura is one of [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's and my favorite memories of Hiroshima. It's an old art form that's not super common in the rest of the country anymore, though it used to be a thousand years ago when kagura was a ritual form used at shrines--it literally means "god music." Nowadays it's mostly for entertainment (though it still occurs in its original capacity in the Imperial household), and in Hiroshima especially there are kagura performances at most major festivals.

In another bit of serendipity, the specific show they performed tonight was Akkoden, which along with its sequel Sesshoseki was performed almost every time there was an event with kagura in Chiyoda. To happen to be here on a Wednesday, the night of the kagura performances, and then to have the specific performance be this one...

Also, at the end, they invited people up to the stage to take picture with the actors and, well:


Roar.

One other person came with us, and after the performance let out and we had gone out to dinner at an Indian restaurant, we took stock of the situation. It turned out most people wanted to stay in for the night, so our friend went back to the hotel and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I went to check out a bar we knew. Unfortunately, it had closed in the meantime and been replaced by one with a ¥500 table charge, so we headed back up Nakimi-dōri toward the hotel and stopped in at a sake bar called いいお酒 一彩 (ii osake issai).

That turned out to be a great idea. It was small, seating maybe a dozen people, with smooth jazz playing on a low volume, and other than us there was no one in there but a single salaryman in the corner. The bartender asked us if we knew Japanese, and then handed us a menu and asked if we wanted oolong tea or beer as our free drink. We both picked tea and looked at the menu before asking the bartender for his recommendation--I couldn't read most of it, and even what I could read didn't mean anything to me because while I like sake a lot, I don't know that much about it.

He gave us a very dry sake that wasn't super strong, at least in taste. It got a bit much toward the end of the glass, but it was delightful before then, and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I drank our sake, ate our complementary fried tofu, listened to the music, and chatted. When our glass was done, we went back to the hotel, waited for our laundry to finish--it took close to five hours for a single load; good thing it was free--and then went to bed.

Steps taken: 21042
dorchadas: (Chicago)
Journey is one of those games I've always wanted to play that I knew I would never have a chance to. The main lifespan of the PS3 occurred while [profile] schoolpsycherd were in Japan, with it only being out for a short time before we learned that we were moving there, at which point buying one was kind of pointless, and when we moved back I had gone away from consoles almost entirely and [profile] schoolpsycherd was in grad school. And Journey never came out for any other platform (except PS4 recently), so I knew I'd never get the chance to play it.

Then I saw a Kickstarter for a musical performance to accompany it, the way old orchestras used to perform at silent movies. Unlike Symphony of the Goddesses, though, this would be a musical performance accompanying a longplay also performed live. It was pretty much as close as I'd ever get to playing the game, so I chipped in for two tickets and last night, we went to the performance.


The performance was fantastic! The musicians were a chamber group that usually work together, and you could tell. In addition, the musical score was adaptive--since the game was being played live, the musicians had to change what they were playing, possibly with only a measure's notice, and frequently did. Because of that, they all had iPads hooked up to bluetooth controls so they could switch pages back and forth at the drop of a hat. There was one section where they had to loop for a bit because the player got stuck under a ledge and took a while to get his head out from under it and find his way on top of the tower.

I've owned the Journey OST for years now. Maybe I should listen to it...

The actual game wasn't quite as profound, though. I've listened to several podcasts about it--this Incomparable is the most comprehensive, but it's come up a lot in other episodes here and there--and they all describe it as very moving experience. There was a question period after the concert where some audience members and performances spoke about it in similar terms, but I didn't get much from it other than beautiful visuals and sound. I loved the kind of soft post-apocalypse aesthetic the game had.

Maybe it's that I didn't play through it myself? I was talking with [profile] schoolpsycherd afterward about the impact of video games being that you perform the actions yourself, which is something that very few other forms of art can boast. If I were playing the game, then I would be making the journey myself. As it was, I were merely watching it, and while it was lovely I didn't dissolve into a crying fit the way some of the speakers at the Q&A said they did. Or the way I got misty-eyed when Symphony of the Goddesses played the Windwaker opening theme. That's not even my favorite Zelda game!

Still great, though!
dorchadas: (Not the Tale)
I was really tempted to make a custom icon for this entry, probably something like this with "We're watching you...scum" written on it, but in the end I went with something a bit more generic.

Over the Fourth of July, I was rooting around through my parents' basement and I found the map from the Collector's Edition of Morrowind. Until I found that, I didn't even remember that I had the Collector's Edition. I knew I had the soundtrack, and I found the art book the most recent trip to their house I took, but I still haven't found the Ordinator figure that came with it. I bought it over a decade ago, and I'm amazed I've managed to find the pieces of it that I have.

Anyway, once I found that, I started to get an image in my head. I wanted to get it framed and put it up on the wall when we moved, and since we had kept talking about having a dedicated computer room and I figured putting gaming decorations in there would be a neat decor style. I looked up framing places nearby, went to the nearest one that had a good Yelp rating, and...



Those of you who know how much I love Morrowind can probably guess what my reaction was when I picked it up a week later. Even with the water damage to the map from the times my parents' basement has leaked during one of our midwestern storms, it flattened out pretty well. You can tell it's crinkled if the light is directly on it, but, well, you play the hand you're dealt.

It's not the best picture, but that's because I realized after I picked it up that I didn't want to hang it until I had all the pictures that I wanted all framed. I'm next planning on framing the map from the Dark Sun boxed set and one more and setting them up in a V pattern, but I'm not sure if the third map is going to be a video game map or a TTRPG map. I have the Hollow World boxed set map, the 2e Forgotten Realms map, the Council of Wyrms map, the Ravenloft 2e maps (Core and Islands), the Red Steel 2e map, the Might and Magic VI map, the Ultima IX map, the Baldur's Gate II map...but none of those really connect with me the way either Dark Sun or Morrowind do. I kicked in for the Exalted 3e map, but that's going above our couch in the living room.

I'll have to think about it.

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