Tokyo Disney Land and Sea

IMG_0134

I finally got to go to both Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea. I was looking forward to going since I booked the hotel in March of this year. I went there with my girlfriend and came back with my fiancee, so it was quite magical for me.

I enjoyed Tokyo Disneyland more than Disney Sea but both were worth going to. As long as you plan like we did, you can get to most of the rides you want. Both days were quite tiring, with all the walking (and running sometimes) and standing in line. Speaking of lines, it wasn’t as bad as I thought, well except maybe Disney Sea’s Toy Story Mania Fast Pass line, that was unbelievable! It was really like it said online, you really have to line up early and basically run to the line or else you won’t be able to get a Fast Pass. Well, we were able to get a Fast Pass but it was at a late time, so we wouldn’t be able to make it back home on time if we rode, so we…passed (sorry, had to).

We stayed at the Sunroute Plaza Hotel, which I thought was a good deal compared to the other Tokyo Disney Resort Official Hotels, although next time I aim to stay at one of the Hotels within the resort like Hotel Miracosta.

Well, my favorite part of this trip was winning seats via lottery to the Once Upon a Time show at Tokyo Disneyland, and pretty good seats at that! The show itself was worth it, which was basically a mapping of different Disney movies on to the castle, but since we were up close you could feel the flames coming out the sides of the castle.

All in all, a very fun weekend spent! Looking forward to next Disney theme park adventures.

Okinawa Tacos

Okinawa
The building you see on the left is the hotel we stayed at.

 

Okinawa has been one of the places I wanted to go in Japan and I finally was given the chance to this year. It was really worth it too. The views were really nice, the image I had in my head of Okinawa totally matched what I saw in person.

Thanks to a nicely laid out itinerary I was able to:

IMG_9199
eat Okinawa Soba
Osaka Churaumi Aquarium
see the 甚平鮫 (whale shark) at the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium
umi
hang out at a beautiful beach
eat taco rice, Okinawan cuisine, which has been added to one of my favorite foods
eat taco rice, Okinawan cuisine, which has been added to one of my favorite foods

and a bunch of other things all in a span of 3 days (May 9 to 11). I would definitely consider coming back here in the future.

Japan Work Visa Renewal

I went to the immigration to pick up my work visa today. My emotions are mixed because the good news is, I get to stay in Japan, the bad news is, I was only given a length of stay of 1 year. I’ve always wondered how the length of stay of a visa is decided. I still don’t know exactly how.

As a resident in Japan, I’ve payed for my taxes, have health insurance, applied for pension and am currently employed. The only things I think that could have hindered me is that I don’t speak fluent Japanese yet, haven’t been volunteering in enough activities that benefit Japan, or maybe I didn’t smile enough at Immigration. I honestly don’t know.

What I do know, is that I will do everything I can to get permanent residence in Japan, and live a stable and healthy life here. It’s always been my dream since high school and I don’t intend on giving up now.

I am thankful for my current employer who was very helpful and prompt in getting through the renewal process. It’s been 3 years since I had to go to Immigration for this so I had to recall and make sure I was doing everything correctly.

Anyway, to anyone reading who is interested in how the process went. Here’s what I did.

Around 2 months before the expiration of my previous work visa, I contacted my employer about my situation. They asked for a copy of my gaijin card and my address, then they sent me the documents I needed by mail. I then brought those documents to Osaka Immigration on a weekday, since it’s closed on weekends, which I don’t exactly understand why. So I had to tell the school I was working at that I had to leave a little earlier than usual to make it in time.

The documents I had with me were my:
1. Passport
2. Passport size photos
3. Filled out applications
4. Gaijin card 外国人登録書
5. Current work contract
6. Diploma
7. Company info documents

After consulting at the Information desk. I was told to only hand my passport, gaijin card, and the application papers with my photo pasted on front page. After that, I was given a post card and was told to write my current address. I then went home.

Around a week later, I received a letter requiring additional documents: a photocopy of my work contract, tax form proof(納税証明書), and income tax proof(所得税証明書). I had the first one hand, the other two I needed to get from city hall. The next day, I went to my local city hall and asked for these documents and they told me since I stayed in Nagoya(名古屋) the previous year. I had to get it from the city hall there. I didn’t want to have to go all the way to Nagoya for them. Luckily, I found out that you can get them by post on the Nagoya City hall website. I printed out and filled out the request forms and sent those along with a payment slip and a self-addressed envelope so that I would receive it in the mail. It arrived around a week later, I then sent the tax forms and contract to Osaka Immigration. I waited around 1 more week and got the postcard in the mail saying that I go to immigration with my passport, gaijin card, and a 4000 yen stamp (which you could purchase at Immigration). I went there and waited less than hour and got my passport with the new work visa. I thanked the Immigration officer and went home. All in all, the process took around a month.

Games I’ve finished in 2013

I honestly think 2013 was a pretty good year for games, I just didn’t get to play them all the games I wanted to play, either because I didn’t own the game, lack of time, or I didn’t have a PC that could handle it.

I did get to play a bunch of good games, not just ones released this year but games that I’ve had in my queue. Here they are in order of when I played them.

1. Persona 4 (PS2)
Release date: December 9, 2008                                                                
Played from February 3, 2013 to April 30, 2013 (on and off)
I’m a big fan of the Persona series and I was told how great Persona 4 is so I tried it out this year. I was pretty impressed and I personally like this game for its story and gameplay more than Persona 3. I also watched the anime while playing this to see the small differences. All in all, a very enjoyable RPG.

Rating: 9/10

2. Red Dead Redemption (Xbox 360)                                                            
Release date: May 18, 2010                                                                              
Played from September 21, 2012 to September 25, 2012 and May 1, 2013 to May 4, 2013
One of the most satisfying games I got to play and was my favorite game by Rockstar until the release of GTA V. Enjoyed the graphics, setting, the characters and the gameplay. After getting 100% I immediately played….

Rating: 9.5/10

3. Undead Nightmare (Xbox 360)          
Released: October 26, 2010                                                                               
Played from May 4, 2013 to May 6, 2013

Interesting setup but not as engaging as the main game, still played through the end but didn’t exactly 100% it. Obviously not canon but still was worth playing through. Hopefully a PC version will be released.

Rating: 8/10

4. Assassin’s Creeed: Brotherhood  (Xbox 360)                                              
Release date: November 26, 2010                                                                    
Played from May 6, 2013 to May 20, 2013

I really like the Assassin’s Creed series but this is arguably my favorite in the series so far that I’ve actually played. I liked this more than the first game because the story was more interesting with an interesting main character and the gameplay is more refined. I started AC: Revelations soon after but I still haven’t finished it yet because I felt too overwhelmed with things to do so I eventually put it on hold. I’m still interested in the series though and want to eventually play through most of the AC series.

Rating: 9/10

4. Battlefield: Bad Company (Xbox 360)                                                            
Release date: June 23, 2008                                                                              
Played from August 5, 2013 to August 6, 2013

I remember buying this in a sale while I was in the States. I wanted to play an FPS this year so I decided to try this game out. Quite short, but was worth a playthrough. Gameplay was fun because you got to destroy a lot of things with weapons, something COD didn’t really have. I was probably my settings, but it took me a while to get used to the aiming sensitivity and controls. One of the reasons why I chose to play this game was because it didn’t look like it was gonna get released on PC, apparently it’s sequels did though, so I might try those out when I get the chance.

Rating: 7/10

5. Gears of War                                                                                                  

Released date: November 7, 2006                                                                     Played on August 9, 2013 (Casual difficulty)

I never actually got to finish this game from start to finish, so I decided to give it a quick playthrough on an easy difficulty. I could see why this got awards before at the time. Gameplay is really good and holds up today, with the cover system it uses. I also liked that John DiMaggio was Marcus Fenix.

Rating: 8/10

6. Gears of War 2  (Xbox 360)                                                                          
Release date: November 7, 2008                                                                      
Played from August 20, 2013 to August 24, 2013

I didn’t notice any big differences from the previous game, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The game is still really good. I gotta play the next games in the series when I can.

Rating: 8/10

7. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (PS3) (JP)                                                  
Release date: February 21, 2013                                                                
Played from August 25, 2013 to August 31, 2013

I got this bundled with the PS3 I bought this year and didn’t exactly play it right away. When I ran out of things to play, I tried it out and got hooked pretty quick til I beat it.

What I remember from this game is that kills, whether done stealthily or not were pretty satisfying. Story wasn’t that memorable but I was able to understand most of it even thought it was in Japanese. It’s gonna be released on PC soon so I’ll likely replay it there.

Rating 8.5/10

8. The Lost and Damned (Xbox 360)                                                                  
Release Date: February 17, 2009
Played from August 31, 2013 to September 3, 2013 (Story finished, 65%  completion)

9. The Ballad of Gay Tony  (Xbox 360)                                                               
Release date: October 29, 2009
Played from September 4, 2013 to September 16, 2013

Played both of these DLC just to get myself ready for GTA V. Both good games. TLaD is shorter than TBoGT but made me like the motorcycle in getting around town. TBoGT helped me get used to parachuting.

Rating: 8.5/10

10. Grand Theft Auto V (PS3)
Release date: September 17, 2013                                                                        
Played from September 17, 2013 to September 28, 2013(Single Player)
I was really hyped about getting this game. Got it as a digital download for PS3 and downloaded it as soon as I could. Was hooked til I got 100% in Single Player. I still play GTA Online from time to time but really enjoyed Story mode a lot more personally. Trevor is one of my favorite video game characters of all time. I’ve personally never seen a character this crazy but somehow likeable. Cruising around Los Santos reminded me a lot about living in California. There’s so much things to do and see just by driving around Los Santos. I can’t wait for the eventual PC version just to see the enhanced visuals.

Rating: 9.5/10

11. The Last of Us (PS3)                                                                                                
Released: June 20, 2013 (JP)                                                                                
Played from October 20, 2013 to October 26, 2013

I bought this game used and never really played multiplayer. I really enjoyed the Single Player mode story a lot though. I can see myself playing this again just because the game is that good. Gameplay, voice acting, characters were really good. I played through the game stealthily but I guess you don’t really need to if you were playing on a lower difficulty. I’m glad I decided to get this game.

Rating: 9/10

These are all the games I finished in 2013. Time to catch up on my game queue and finish some more awesome games in 2014.

Babelian Bang Bang Love Strikes!

So I watched Pacific Rim in IMAX 3D last Friday, and it was one of my favorite movies this year. I thought the pacing was very good. I also noticed that it had a Japanese actress as one of the cast. I aslo saw The Wolverine which also had a Japanese actress (Tao Okamoto). Whereas Tao Okamoto just started her film career with this movie, Rinko Kikuchi had other Hollywood roles. I was curious about them and started watching them. I started with the movie Babel (2006). In this movie, she plays as a 17-year old deaf high school student, which makes it easier for her since she doesn’t have to speak English but she did have to learn sign language, so I’ll give her credit for that. She was actually 26 during that time, but she fit in pretty well. Not sure if its just me but telling the age of a Japanese woman is difficult just by looking. It gets tricky sometimes. Anyway, back to the movie, although the story was decent enough and it was quite unique in how each of the countries’ stories blended together. I don’t see myself watching this again. Rating 7/10

babel-1251656063
Rinko Babel version
The next movie I watched with Rinko in it was The Brothers Bloom (2008) which was a little more entertaining than Babel. Although she doesn’t speak much, she was interesting to watch here. I do prefer her with black hair, even better with colored streaks like in Babel and Pacific Rim, instead of dying it blond.

Rinko The Brothers Bloom version
Rinko The Brothers Bloom version
I also learned after watching Pacific Rim, and checking Wikipedia, that she was in the Japanese TV drama Moteki but I couldn’t tell at first because I was used to her black hair in the movie. It was dyed blond in this show. I did enjoy watching Moteki though, one of my top 10 dramas maybe, although I haven’t seen the whole series yet.

Anyway that’s it for this post.

Fast and the Pretty

While I was in the Philippines, I had a conversation with a friend about cars and we eventually talked about the “Fast and the Furious” movies. I decided to check them out today. starting with the first one released in 2001. After watching it, it didn’t really strike me as amazing but I’ll still go through the other 5 movies just to see how the story continues.

220px-Fast_and_the_furious_poster
Meh. I mean Vrooom!

 

I didn’t feel like watching the 2nd movie right away, so I decided to catch up on other shows I could possibly watch and found the Japanese animated movie “The Garden of Words” or (言の葉の庭 Kotonoha no Niwa) which was released this year and directed by Makoto Shinkai, who directed one of my other favorite anime movies 5 Centimeters Per Second (秒速5センチメートル Byōsoku Go Senchimētoru). To be honest though, I started watching The Garden of Words 2 weeks ago but stopped halfway and just finished it today. It has an interesting story but didn’t move me as much as I had expected. But I will say that the animation is some of the most beautiful I’ve seen, everything looks so clean.

The-Garden-of-Words-Shinjuky-Hyoen-1024x592
超きれい。

Steamy week

valvesale

Other than the title sorta resembling the weather, with it being humid and all. It’s actually about the sales happening on Steam. Steam is a place where you can download PC games that are tied to an account meaning that if you change PCs you can still access your games as long as you have that account. I personally think it’s a great system and that’s why I chose to buy some games to add to my library.

So right now, it’s the Steam Summer Sale, where a bunch of games are discounted but you have to be on the lookout for the best price since the prices fluctuate throughout the week. This sorta reminds me of the days I waited for the Black Friday sales on Amazon.

I’ve gotten quite a few games, but my current setup doesn’t give me the capability to play them. I’m still working on my new rig and it’s been taking time trying to find the best parts. Anyway, once I build it, I’ll be able to enjoy the games I’ve gotten. Looking forward to finally playing BioShock Infinite and Tomb Raider.

なんでやねん

So I’ve recently moved to Osaka from Nagoya. I’ve always wanted to live here and see what it’s like. Can’t really enjoy it much at the moment, since I’m low on cash because of moving costs and getting a new apartment. I’m still getting used to my surroundings, like finding the nearest supermarkets, convenience stores, post office, city ward etc.

Like previous years, I also don’t have any plans for Golden Week, hopefully I’ll be able to keep myself busy.

Apple debates

So lately, all that’s been on my mind is what Mac I should get. I’ve always wanted one and now that I have some money saved up. I can actually get one. Thing is, I can’t choose the right one. But if I were to list the Macs in the order I would buy. It would probably be:

1.) 27-inch iMac

366696-apple-imac-27-inch-late-2012
This would probably suit most of my needs specs-wise. I would really have no problems with lag in doing most tasks and I would definitely have no problems with the games I want to play.

Pros:
Awesome screen
Dedicated video card
All-in one which means less wires
Most powerful from the Macs I’m choosing
32GB max RAM
Fusion drive sounds like an awesome concept
Built-in web cam for Skyping

Cons:
Price – main issue, for the build I want it would cost me 236661 yen
Space, considering I live in a cramped space already, this might not be a good idea
Since it’s all-in-one, if a part breaks having it fixed could be a problem

2.)Mac mini

macmini-highre-100009678-larg-100009701-gallery
I was actually ready to buy this, until the iMac caught my eye again.

Pros:
Price – this is actually the cheapest Mac I can buy
Size – I like this a lot, because it doesn’t take much space
Specs-wise better than a laptop
I already have a mouse and monitor that I can use with it
Fusion drive sounds like an awesome concept
Consumes less power
Portable in the sense I can plug it into any monitor setup and use it, good for when I move.

Cons:
No dedicated video card, so I would have to resort to low to med settings, which kinda doesn’t make this an upgrade
More wires because it needs to be connected to a monitor.
I don’t have a web cam I can use with it
Not really good at showing off as a Mac because it’s small
Portable but not bring with you anywhere portable

3.)13-inch Mac Book Air

IMG-5603-1
I considered this if I wanted to bring it with me anywhere, but was thinking that my iPad 2 could probably fulfill that role. I also considered using this to drive the monitor I currently have but was worried that it might not be powerful enough.

Pros:
Portable
Light
Can do more tasks in more places

Cons:
Worst specs of the bunch
Can’t upgrade parts
Small, so I probably can’t use this as a main work station because of less screen estate

4.)15-inch Mac Book Pro with Retina Display

Macbook_Pro_2012_with_Retina_Display_35331572_05_620x433
If I had the money, I probably would get this.
Pros:
Great all-around computer
Portable
Dedicated video card
Nice display
Good to show off

Cons:
Price – this is actually the most expensive of the bunch
Overheats – I’ve been watching videos regarding this problem
Weight – Kinda heavy to bring around everywhere
Price…I mentioned this already but yeah, I’m going over 300000 yen for the model I want
Specs-wise, the desktops fare better

So I guess, to be honest it’s a toss-up between the iMac or the Mac Mini. A Mac laptop will probably come after that.