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Hi-chan (火ちゃん)
07 January 2017 @ 10:45 am
I went to see Hidden Figures last night. I've been waiting for this movie since I first saw the trailer half a year ago, so even though it was at 10:10 and I am a definite early bird, I braved the night anyways.

It was really, really good! Not just the story itself, but how it made me think about uncomfortable things in ways that I sort of saw coming, but didn't really. I knew what history was like, but I didn't really know what it was like. At all. What I mean is, I didn't live in the 50s and 60s, especially as a (brilliant) black woman, so no amount of research, reading, or movies could really make me understand what day-to-day life was like. The movie definitely made me sympathize, though, and you know it's good when you feel just as frustrated by the inane obstacles placed in front of these brilliant women as they do.

The book is going right into my to-read list. It's a good price on Amazon, but I'll probably buy it at  my local B&N because it's the only bookstore on Oahu and gosh darn it, it's worth the extra dollar or two to keep brick&mortar here! Read more on my new blog!
 
 
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)
07 January 2017 @ 10:44 am
Here's something new... for me, at least! Thuy really wanted to stay in the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel, in one of the character suites, and I tend to go with the flow, so we ended up in the Beauty and the Beast suite for two days!

No complaints here! Well, about the hotel itself, that is. It's really, really nice, and I'll let the pictures speak for m.

But first, a few things, dear Disney and Japan:
1) The front desk is on the second floor, so to check in and out, you have to either carry your luggage up a large, opulent flight of stairs or go quite a bit out of your way to get to an elevator. I know you think you're worth it, but we notice those things.

2) Our suite was on the bottom floor. It overlooked the pool, so we were lucky that it was winter and the pool was closed. If it had been summer, though, it would have been both noisy, dangerous, and a LOT less private. As it was, I still felt exposed. Plus, there's no view but the backside of some bushes. Fancy hotels should never have rooms, especially suites, on the first floor.

3) There were two restaurants and a cafe in the Disneyland hotel. Neither of the restaurants could accommodate vegans. I said it yesterday too, but Japan as a whole has virtually no concept at all of animal welfare or special diets (or the LGBT movement, for that matter). The most fancy restaurant in the hotel had a set menu, and none of the options were even vegetarian. When I asked if they could make something special, they said "absolutely not. We do not accommodate vegetarian diets." Wow, okay. The waiter was very blunt, spoke plainly (which is quite rude in Japan, especially in the customer service industry), and just left an overall bad taste in my mouth. All I was asking for was something without parts of animals in it, and I was willing to pay for it. It's not a hard thing to understand. The other restaurant, a large, expensive buffet, was a lot nicer and let me in to look at the options (but even the rice had seafood in it!). I would have literally been relegated to a few pieces of fruit, and that was all. Talk about slim pickings, and for a buffet that sets you back $50 to boot. Animal rights, what're those? I'm being redundant, I know, but this issue is really important to me and Japan has NO CONCEPT AT ALL of any movement in the world beyond a trend or fad. Anyways, the cafe upstairs next to the front desk was amazing. They special-made me a veggie sandwich that blew my mind. They were very creative, and it was by far the best thing that I ate for my entire stay in Japan. So there's that. Thank you, lovely cafe, and I recommend that everyone stops by there and eschews the other options. Wallets speak louder than words, especially in a consumer-driven society like Japan.

But the hotel and room itself? Heck yeah, it was very, very nice. Read more on my new blog!
 
 
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)
07 January 2017 @ 10:43 am
Oh Japan. I miss you, and I don't.

That's for another post, though! This is all about Tokyo Disney Sea and my journey there this time. I've been there a handful of times, and written about it before, too! I was just getting the hang of my new camera (I still thought that the touchscreen was the best way to take photos, but I was SO wrong, and of taking photos in RAW. If you've known me for a long time, you might remember when I started to post photos of my walks in Arizona and my first arrivals in Japan in my old livejournal. Most of those photos are not online anymore because the server that I used isn't around, but maybe I'll dig some up for posterity later.

Anyways, I've never taken photography super-seriously (it's a hobby for me and a way to share my life), but some of you know that a few months ago, I took a side job at a resort in Hawaii doing portrait photography. I mostly do editing and printing, but I take photos sometimes as well, and I decided that I really want to up my game. So I picked up a Nikon D5500 with the kit lens. I liked the red body and touchcreen, and it was decently priced, so even though the kit lens is nothing special, I am saving up for a better one and learning how to use Lightroom to get the effects that I want. I used to own a Pentax, but in an incident with Tofu (my youngest kitty), it met the floor HARD and shattered part of the body and my only good lens.  So, it was time for a new baby, and while I was interested in Pentax as well, this red one won my heart with its good looks. <3 I really have zero brand loyalty. Good cameras, come my way, whatever brand you are!

ANYWAYS, enough about that! Let's enjoy a trip to Tokyo Disney Sea, the revised and expanded Winter 2017 edition! Read more on my new blog!
 
 
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)
07 January 2017 @ 10:41 am
I got lost on the way from customs to the train station, and it was kind of embarrassing. I walked right past the escalator down into the train station (it's inside of the airport outside of the International Arrival exit gates). Oops! We only had to backtrack a little bit, and it has been three years, and let's face it, I've only ever been to Narita Airport a few times, as I rarely left Japan when I was there, so I can be forgiven for this one.

So, once we found the underground station and I got new Suica cards (I think I turned all of mine in when I left and got the 500 yen deposits back, but I can't remember and I couldn't find them), we got on the "boring" regular train back to the city. It takes a little bit longer, but it's half the price of the Narita Express and way more convenient than the Skyliner unless you're going to freaking Nippori (aka a very out of the way place on the north side of the Yamanote line). Huh, side note for the future: It looks like you can get seriously discounted tickets if you buy round-trip tickets at the JR East office in the airport. I'll have to look into this if I want to make things quicker next time.

Well anyway, the regular train was just more Japan... you know? I was trying to save money, and also curious as to how I would feel, just being back in Japan. The train felt exactly the way that Japan used to feel for me, and looked the same way that I remembered. It kind of felt like I'd been away for a weekend, not three years. Like, hey Japan, here I am returning from a trip to the US. Did you miss me?

Except for one thing which is hard to put into writing... It was my first taste of the Japan that I'd left behind, the one that used to feel like home. But it didn't feel like home anymore. Japan looked exactly the same (only with different celebrities on the train advertisements), so was I the one who had changed?

Read more on my new blog!
 
 
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)
07 January 2017 @ 10:25 am
Well, I was back in Japan, for one quick week. Dec 9-16. My first impression was how cold it was. I don't miss that. At. All!

Aside from dealing with the cold, I wasn't sure how I would feel returning to a place that held so many memories for me. A place that, until this trip, I still considered as my only real home. Living in Tokyo for nine years was the longest time that I'd ever lived in one single city. I moved around every 2-4 years growing up (Dad's job, as an Operating Engineer), and even college was just 4 short years for me in Phoenix. I've considered moving back to Phoenix, too, but I think that I'd be better off exploring somewhere new.

So, here I am left wondering where I actually belong. It's not Honolulu, Phoenix, and it's probably not Washington, either (though I haven't tried Seattle). I'd like to take the cats and move to Los Angeles next summer and try it out there, but will the city of angels feel like home, or will I still be consumed with a sense of not having found my place yet?

I think that I adore the idea of planets full of alien societies because I've never felt like I belong anywhere on Earth. I have three cats to conside, though, and moving is stressful for them so I probably should just put down roots somewhere and travel instead of move. Right?

But back to Japan!!  Read more on my new blog!
 
 
 
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)
07 January 2017 @ 10:23 am
Three days ago, I saw Passengers, and I can't stop thinking about it. I wish that there was a book to read so that I could experience it in greater detail. In short, it was so, so, SO LOVELY... As the plot grew, I sat in the audience wondering whether, in those circumstances, I would do the same thing. Two hours later, I walked out of the theater with so many questions revolving inside of my head, and they still haven't stopped. This is masterful storytelling. Spoilers abound after this. You have been warned.

I didn't expect to feel anything like this at all when I went into the theater. Truthfully, I expected very little. Maybe some good special effects and a few warm fuzzies at most. I mean, the trailer made the movie look like a straightforward rom-com/drama in space about two people who woke up 90 years too early on a spaceship bound for a remote new planet. But the trailers were hiding something far more complex; some complicated moral questions about hopeless circumstances and a life worth living.

I never read long reviews before I see a movie because I like the possibility of being surprised, but I did see on Fandango that Rotten Tomatoes had given Passengers a score of 32%. But here's the catch. Reviewers didn't like it, but I'm starting to think that it's one of the most poignant movies I've ever seen, and it may have just made it into my top 5 movies ever. If someone doesn't have the same taste as me, we probably won't like the same movies, which is definitely what happened here. For another example, I loved Arrival, after all (it changed my life), and Thuy couldn't stop complaining about how boring it was during the movie.

Read more on my new blog...
 
 
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)
kamehameha2

I was going to write about my visit to the King Kamehameha statue the other day, but I just watched the midseason finale of Lucifer, and Lucifer and Chloe are all I can think about..

I'm going to try to straighten my thoughts out..

Read more on my blog...
 
 
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)
01 July 2016 @ 11:03 am
Morning, minna! I'm on this kick right now where I'm trying to get back to who I used to be, but with improvements... Aka, bring back my old excitement about life but mix it with a much newer sense of wisdom and compassion. That sounds so deep! Anyways, I think that in my past I was more callous than I am now. Okay, I know that I was. Is that one of those "trappings of youth" things? That you're more self-obsessed the younger you are? Now I acknowledge it if I know that I've hurt someone, and make good on it. Then I go back to trying to spread sunshine and happiness. If only that could be my full time job, to make people happy. :3

Anyway! Part of this revolution was looking into what anime were coming out this summer. I used to do that religiously, but I haven't been watching much anime, and even with TV I've only been following a few series that rotate out over the course of the year. Right now, I'm watching Pretty Little Liars faithfully, of course (have been since the beginning), Reign, and America's Got Talent, umm... and I think that's it for what is currently on. Game of Thrones just ended another season, but they killed off one of my favorite characters (Margaery! *cries forever*), so I'm mad about that and let's not talk about it....

Follow to my blog to read more!
 
 
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)
15 June 2016 @ 11:54 am
☆ To see all of the parts in this series, click here

Ah, the fangirl life!

Today, I had a TOTAL fangirl moment. ^^;;;;; I seriously thought that, 'hey, Tenimyu is in less than 2 weeks' and completely freaked. I mean, the exciting kind where I start dancing around alone! AAAAAAAH, Tenimyu!!! ♥ Tenimyu!! So gay!!!! ♥

That preeeeetty much sums up my life back then. I was living the fangirl life, and it was probably the best time of my life ::sings I had a dream so big and loud, I jumped so high I touched the clouds:: Wait, I need mood music for this post! Read more here on my blog!
 
 
Current Mood: optimistic
 
 
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)
15 June 2016 @ 09:46 am
Note: Apparently, this has been in  my queue for almost two years and it was never published! I'm so sorry! Enjoy :)

☆ To see all of the parts in this series, click here ☆

O hisashiburi desu ne! (It's been a while, hasn't it!) I realized that it's been a while since I've continued the story about my first crazy year in Japan. There's still quite a bit to say!

It wasn't long after I moved into my new apartment in Shinjuku before something else exciting happened to me. Do you remember how the father of one of the members of the NaB's (Kenn's band) approached my friends and I after a concert and started chatting with us? Well, it turns out that this was a friendship waiting to blossom.. or something like that. :)

The family (of member Karl, the guitarist) lived in Kamakura, which is a really famous sightseeing spot south of Tokyo, and one day, Mr. K invited my friends and I to come and see the area and spend the day with his family. A guided tour by a local family... and with one of the NaB's?! How could we refuse?!

So, on July 24th, Eda, Aloni, Ale, and I boarded the train for Kamakura! 

Read more by clicking through to my new blog!