First thing we did was go to the Empire State Building. Fortunately it was not very busy and we didn't have to wait in line very long. The view was of course magnificent, but very windy ;p
After this we went to eat something at Wendy's, and then went to take a look at Madison Square Garden, Nike World, Trump Tower and we are now at the Apple Store at the corner of Central Park, through which we will have a walk in a few minutes.
Cya later for more updates...
Today we went to Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Unfortunately it was a very rainy day. We were quite wet when we arrived at Liberty Island, to top it off, there was a large security check, both at the port and at the entrance of the monument. Typically American, but in the end we had a good view of the statue. Then to Ellis Island, with no more security checks. Ellis Island is where 12 million people entered the US at the beginning of the 20th century. It was a very interesting experience.
After this we went back to the hotel to have a rest and in the evening we went to eat at Riverview restaurant in Queens. The food was very good, but the music was a bit less ;p
Our actual first full day in New York. We first went to take a walk to Downtown New York. Went past City Hall, Ground Zero, Wall Street and to Battery Park to have a look at the ferry to Liberty Island. Took the metro up to Times Square again to get our tickets for the tour bus from CitySightsNY and the tickets for the Empire State Building and the ferry to Liberty & Ellis Island. Took the whole route with the tour bus and ended back near Times Square to get a hot chocolate at Ben&Jerry's (where they also had some internet pc's).
Now we are going to Bleecker Street and Soho, and going to eat something in China Town.
See you later for the rest ;p
(since we don't have internet in our current hotel, I'm just typing some quick & short posts for now)
We arrived half an hour early in New York. Got into airport shuttle and got to our hotel. The hotel is really still in China Town with lots of chinese shops in the area.
Went to have a quick look at Times Square and go to eat some dinner. We went to Carnegie Deli to eat some famous Pastrami. We ordered something typical from the menu. But man, was that BIG. You could feed 3 people with one. All the portions here were of very large size.
A few pictures for the first day ;p
I'm getting excited, only 13 hours to go until our plane leaves to New York ;p
We will depart in Brussels at 11h45 on Delta Airlines flight DL141. Flight will be 8 hours and 10 minutes, but I think I can say I'm used to long flights after having gone to Japan 3 times which is a 12 hour flight ^^; Of course, I'll try to sleep again, but that won't work.
I will try to keep my usual coverage of japanese stuff on track too, while I'm in the US, but you'll find between my US trip posts ;p
Hopefully my laptop will survive as the screen is starting to have some trouble sometimes.
Next time I will be in New York (where I'll hopefully have internet access in the hotel, but I don't think that should be a problem). Mata ne!
Hirano Aya's newest release is an anime character single called Unnamed World. It is the ED song for the anime Nijuu mensou no Musume (or The Daughter of Twenty Faces) in which she also voices the main character Chiko. Because it is a character song, it is not part of her single series as a solo artist, so it's not her 7th single.
This single also features her new look, which we had already seen on her photo blog. It gives her a less playful and a more serious style and look.
Release date: April 23rd 2008
Catalog number: LACM-4485
1. Unnamed World
2. Maybe I can't good-bye
3. Unnamed World (OFF VOCAL)
4. Maybe I can't good-bye (OFF VOCAL)
Support Hirano Aya :
Hirano Aya - Unnamed World on YesAsia
Here's a piece of the PV:
Added a new category "Real-life locations" under the Anime category. On my last 2 trips to Japan I went to check out quite a few real-life locations from anime series, so I decided to make it more accessible by making a separate category. By doing this I noticed I haven't even updated the post from last year when I went to check out the locations from Onegai Teacher/Onegai Twins ;p.
I guess I'll work on that later today. I have to sort out the pictures from this year as well anyway. I have also decided to make English guides for other people as most (read: all) guides are in Japanese.
Updated all posts of my Japan trip with photos. Check it out: Japan 2008
Seems like Dreamworks is going to produce a 3D Live Action movie of Ghost In The Shell. Several companies were bidding for the rights but because Steven Spielberg really wanted to produce, it became Dreamworks. Spielberg says it's one of his favorite movies and that it's a genre that it is here now.
So the signs were true about a new singles: shooting PV for extended version mirror and her recent recording of a new song called Life.
Ayumi Hamasaki will be releasing a special anniversary single called "Mirrorcle World". It will be released in 4 versions: 2 CD and 2 CD+DVD. They will all include "Mirrorcle World" and "Life" (and the PV and making of for Mirrorcle World on the DVD). The difference is that one CD/CD+DVD version will include a 10th anniversary version of YOU and the other CD/CD+DVD version will include Depend on You. Both songs will have been rerecorded for her 10th anniversary. Also, the CD+DVD case will be a DVD portrait box, just like DVD movie box.
She has done it again, it was close but she did it again! She got the weekly number 1 position. It was close by just 5000 copies with number 2. She sold 145576 copies in her first week, that is more than her previous single in total. But this makes her #1 single streak to 18 consecutive number #1 singles and her 30th number #1 single.
Week 1 sales: 145576 copies (#1)
Week 2 sales: -
April 16, 2008: Chart positions week 1
March 13, 2008: Covers added
March 3, 2008: added
Mirrorcle World [CD+DVD] (Version with Depend On You) + poster + plastic map
Mirrorcle World [CD+DVD] (Version with You) + plastic map
Concert towel (x2)
Concert phone strap (red) (x2)
Concert phone strap (black)
Concert light stick (x2)
Concert key chain
X-Japan concert photo book
Concert Phone strap
Band score NIL
Band score STACKED RUBBISH
lots of plectrums
Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu part 4 & 5
Clannad part 1 & 2
Comp Ace (May 2008) (+ Lucky Star playing cards)
Comptiq Heroines (Vol. 8 & 9)
NewType Voice (+ poster)
ViVi (May 2008)
Yoko (from Gurren Lagann)
And some Hello Kitty stuff too.
Some big bags I got free at Tokyo Anime Fair + lots and lots of flyers.
Only just got back from Japan and in 2 weeks I'm again on vacation to the States. As you have read before, this is with 3 other friends just like last 2 years ago.
It's been in preparations for a few months now and it's almost in its final stage.
Just received our tickets for a baseball game in New York at Yankee Stadium and all other tickets are printed out (New York Citysights bus ticket, SeaWorld and Kennedy Space Center).
The only thing left to do now is printing out my directions between hotels and parks. Just like last time, I'm the co-pilot & navigator (as I haven't got a drivers license (yet)), but I like doing that ;p.
Got up at 6h in the morning to be able to catch my flight. I heard that the rain that was going on since last evening hadn't stopped. Was out of the hotel by 6h40, grabbed an umbrella from the hotel (which are freely available, you find this service also in some shops) and went to the nearest train station, which was still about a 15-20min walk. It was really raining hard and lots of rain came on my suitcase, although myself didn't get wet cause of the umbrella. But I should have taken more attention to my suitcase. Some of the upper stuff got a bit wet... Luckily, almost all of the books were still in their plastic bag and were okay. Except my thick Comp Ace book (the monthly manga mag) had some water damage, but it's still readable. Didn't make the train of 7h24 to Narita by just a minute, so took the one of 7h50 and got there at 9h04. Still nice in time for check-in. Getting at the check-in counter, they weighed my suitcase and I saw on the display it said 30.5kg :s Max allowed was 25kg... So I had to pay extra. Paper seems to weigh a lot ;p Anyway, I didn't care and paid the extra and got my window seat that I wanted.
We got off the ground at 11h with some strong cross wind. As the wheels lifted from the ground the right wing was only about 5 feet from the ground ;p. I heard from the people on the other side and I had also noticed it because the left wing really went up in the air. Isn't it fun ;p The rest of the flight was quite smooth actually.
Arrived in London on time at 15h30 and a connection at 18h25. It felt like a longer wait than on the first (which was even 1 hour more). London to Brussels is like up and down and you're there so I was quickly back in my home country by 20h30. Got back home unpacked everything and went to bed at 23h. Next would be back to work...
The rest of the pictures will come later, because of the trouble with my camera. But the posts will be updated slowly.
Sadly it's my last day again. So went to Akihabara for the last time. Had met up with Matthew from the concert, but for some reason we could not find each other. Went to eat some curry-rice at Cafe with Cat again (I'm getting quite a regular customer there ^^). Then went around to look for some cheap stuff I could buy with the money I have left. Went to Shibuya afterwards to buy Ayumi's new single Mirrorcle World. Bought it at Tsutaya, because you could get a special plastic folder with it. Seems like these printed plastic folders are popular lately. I'm seeing the same trend in anime as well. They are nice because they are quite big (A4 format), and actually useful to put some papers in them ;p. While the pencil boards are used to lay paper on them and write on it, which means you could "damage" the pencil board when you press to hard. Anyway, I got my single (2 versions) and a poster with it, so I'm happy ^^. I actually got two plastic folder because I bought both versions, but it's the same picture printed on them, and the plastic bag it came in, also has ayu's picture on it ^^.
Then went back to Akihabara to eat something again and went on foot back to the hotel. It's not that very far from Jimbocho and since my Japan Rail Pass was only valid for 14 days until yesterday, I can't spend too much money on train tickets any more, just for the Skyliner to Narita Airport tomorrow and some food.
Gonna get some sleep now to wake up again at 6h and take the Skyliner at 7h25 to be at least 2h in advance of my flight. That might be early but you get better choice of seats and I like window seats. I like them for 2 reasons, I like watching out of the window in an airplane and you don't need to get up for other people wanting to get through. Only one downside is the opposite of the last one, if I need to go to the bathroom I need to pass by other people. But I don't need to go very often on airplanes, so that's good.
Be back later for more pictures and a final review of my trip. Off to bed now.
Finally, it's the day of the concert! Went early to the stadium area at around 11h30. I had been emailing with a girl from Australia who I was gonna meet there. And also left a message on AHS, but I wasn't sure it would get to them in time. It was a very sunny day I must say, think I got a little bit of a tan from this vacation ;p. Been noticing it the for the past days. Didn't expect it. I waited until 13h, and didn't see anybody and went to the merchandising stand, cause I still had a few items to buy, and met another guy there from England. He was shy about buying some merchandise and helped him along. He wanted a t-shirt, but as you know, they aren't out yet until the 8th so he bought a hoody. We started talking (his name was Matthew) and eventually met up with Amanda (the girl from Australia). Took some picture for each other with the arena in the background, got something small to eat and it was almost time the doors opened so we went to get into the line. The doors opened half an hour late, which also meant the concert was starting half an hour late at 16h30. I had already seen the tracklist on AHS from the day before and read some of the things that were going to happen on stage and seen pictures of the costumes ;p
Today I moved back to Tokyo, where I'll be staying 3 more nights, during which I'll be going to Ayumi concert ^^.
I don't really like Osaka, but it's location is convenient for the Shinkansen, although my hotel was not so convenient to get to Shin-Osaka station for the Shinkansen. Especially with a heavy suitcase... Getting on the loop line in morning rush hour, FULL of people. I like being in crowds like that, but not when I need to carry along heavy bags or suitcases.
Anyway, I finally arrived in Tokyo at around 13h and went to my new hotel in Jimbocho this time: Jimbocho Sakura Hotel. You may remember I was in Jimbocho a week ago, it's where there's loads of book shops in one street, music instruments shops and sports shops in another. I was not very well prepared and didn't print a map (which is not my style, not being prepared), but I kinda knew where it was. So I just went in that direction and searched for a map. The good thing is, the maps in the area also have hotels on it. And indeed, Sakura Hotel was on the map, and it was 2 streets away around the corner ;p Once I know where something is, I remember it. I had been to the previous two hotels last year so I could find them quite easily.
Dropped my bags there and went to Shinjuku to take a look again at the skyscraper district. This time I was going to go to the observatory on the 45th floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, which has a very nice view of Tokyo. (and it's free ;p) You can actually choose to go up the north or the south tower. I took the south tower because I heard it had a better view.
After Shinjuku I went to have a look in Harajuku where the first concert of Ayumi's new your was going to be. I wanted to get some merchandising the day before I went to the concert so I could wear some of it. There were of course,loads of people around especially at Harajuku station, which was not only because of the concert but also because it's near Takeshita street with all the trendy cloth shops and it's Saturday. I met with two down side when buying merchandise. The t-shirt weren't out until the 12th and the light fans weren't out until the 8th of April. So no light fans or t-shirts ;( Did get the towel, muffler and phone straps though. I'll order the rest through the internet later.
Now I had to get back through that big swamp of people to my hotel. End of today, getting some sleep. Tomorrow is concert day!
Today is Hiroshima, which was originally planned for yesterday. I also shortened the schedule a bit as I was late out of bed. Orignally planned for Hiroshima, Miyajima and Iwakuni, but I dropped Iwakuni, which was actually just added to fill up the day because it was not far from Hiroshima.
Hiroshima is of course very well known because of the atomic bomb that was dropped here in World War II. There was one building still standing, that actually stood the closest to the impact. It has a very distinct look as it has a dome on top of it, of which the steel frame is still visible. The building was kept in the exact state as it was when the bomb exploded, and will be kept like this for eternity to let later generations remember the cruelty of war and the destructive force of the atomic bomb. The building is also on the world heritage list.
Next I went to have a quick look at Hiroshima Castle (which was rebuilt after it was destroyed by the atomic bomb).
Then I took the streetcar to Miyajima, where I took the ferry to Miyajima island. This is the location where there is a Torii standing in the water and has many temples and shrines. I was surprised (but not completely) that here also there are deer walking around freely. I've seen the same last year in Nara. These seem to sometimes like paper as one of them tried to eat my flyer which had a map of the island on it ;p
It was low tide, and therefore you could walk up to the torii that stand in the water (well, the water was gone now, obviously). On the shore in front of the torii, there is a large and very old temple. A bit further up the hill is also a small five-story pagoda. Both had very bright red colors which was very beautiful. It's possible to explore the whole island and go to the top by a ropeway. Much of the island is also on the world heritage list. But it was getting late and wanted to get back in time.
Today will the farthest point from Tokyo I've ever been. That is to Fukuoka which is at the other end of the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen at 1179km from Tokyo. Osaka is right in the middle, so I only traveled about 650km today (in only 2.5 hours).
In Fukuoka is where the first Zen temple in Japan was built in 1195, the Shofukuji temple. It's not the original temple any more of course, but it looks quite old.
Then went to go look at the ruins of the old Fukuoka Castle and the Ohori park nearby. Was not much left of it and the park was too big to do all the way, because I was still quite tired.
Took the subway further on to check out the Fukuoka Tower. It's a tower of 130m with a large antenna on top of it and stands by the sea and is the only large building of this kind in the area. Wasn't much else to do there, so went back to Hakata station to take the Shinkansen back to Osaka. I did this by bus. Taking the bus in Japan is quite a different experience. Firstly you get on the bus at the middle, and go out at the front. When you step on the bus, you either stamp your card in the machine, or take a ticket. When you reach your destination, you go to the front, the the ticket in the machine and pay. Interesting fact (which I'm not 100% sure of). The ticket that you get has a number printed on it. At the front of the bus is a display with 32 numbers which represent the number on your ticket and displays the amount you need to pay. This amount changes according to how far you're going. If you think a little more about it, it's a strange but easy system. Also, the bus driver will almost say at which station he will stop, and also notifies the passengers who just rang the bell that he/she heard it and will stop at the next station. I'm not seeing this done in Belgium ;p Again, it shows the politeness in Japan.
Today I went to check out some anime locations again, this time from Suzumiya Haruhi. It is highly based on a wonderful guide made by some japanese guys (the guide is in japanese, but it has maps and lots of pictures on it). I may want to make my own guide (in english) later on in the same style with some reference pics.
Went to Umeda Station (right next to Osaka station) and took the Hanshin Main line to Koroen station. Not far from here I found the library where Nagato goes with Kyon. Then I went back from where I came from and went further north and passed by the other train station (Shukugawa from JR). From there one, beside the tracks is a long stretch of park with a small river going through it. Because there were many sakura trees in this park and it is now hanami season it was swarming with people who also wanted to take pictures, so I didn't stand out taking many pictures myself. Sakura blossoms can be very beautiful. This is the park where Kyon and Mikuru walk through looking for "weird" things but end up doing a kind of date and this is also where Mikuru tells about her true nature.
At the end of the park, I follow the railroad further up north. Here we come by the railroad crossing where Haruhi talks to Kyon about her past. I follow the railroad further up north until I reached the terminal station. Here are also a few locations to be found which you will see in the pictures. Here at the end station we can make a choice, go right, to go to the pond scene location, or go left to the road to the school. I wanted to do both so I went to the pond first. It's quite a long way to go and I actually end up way too far. I actually ended up at 2 other locations that I didn't plan on doing because they were so far away ;p The baseball playground and a Volks restaurant where SOS dan meets up. Going back I find the pond where some of the movie scenes were shot. Like the attack of the zombies where Mikuru falls into the water. Now all the way back to the station (getting almost lost), I went to the road to the school. This has quite a few stops with elements that appear in the anime like the stairs, the bench on the stairs, an arc bridge, a gas station and finally the school. In the anime, Kyon complains about the road to the school being so steep, and I must concur, it is very steep and exhausting. Whoever had the idea to build a school there, must have thought of the saying by the greek: a healthy mind in a healthy body. It certainly gets you into shape if you do this every day. After I got to the school, went back down the other way, but by doing that, I got quite lost (again) and asked some police man for directions to the station. I didn't end up at the station I started but at the one before that. So I walked quite a way. I'm going to find out just how much I walked later one ;p
So I took the train to Shukugawa station and from there the train to Nishinomiya-Kitaguchi station. Here are also some locations of the SOS dan meeting in front of the station and where they meet for drinks. After this, I went back to Osaka to eat some ramen and then back to the hotel. I was quite exhausted...
The second part of my visit to Kyoto was a side trip to Kyoto Animation studios like the main characters did in the Lucky Star anime (which is also from KyoAni). For those who don't know, Kyoto Animation did the (very good) animation work for some quite famous recent animes like Air, Fullmetal Panic Fumoffu, Fullmetal Panic The Second Raid, Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu, Lucky Star, Clannad and most likely also the second season of Suzumiya Haruhi.
I did quite some research to find the location and which train station it was. Using the only pictures that I had found on the internet and Google Earth, I was able to pinpoint with some precision where it was.
So for others who would like to do this "pilgrimage", here's a little guide.
When you arrive in Kyoto by train, you will most likely arrive at JR Kyoto Station, which is good because that's where you need to take you next train. Take the Nara local line to Nara, and get off at Kohata Station.
When I got off at Kohata, my first thing to find was the yellow main building of KyoAni, of which I didn't know the exact location. When I walked outside the station and walked to the right, I realized I was in the right street that I thought it was and turned back and there it was right in front of me!
So when you get out of Kohata Station, look left, and you will see the yellow building right in front of you ^^ You can't miss it. This is the main office of Kyoto Animation, and it has a nice sign on the outside of the building. It says there's a shop inside, but I didn't see it, or I didn't look very good.
Up next, was the second studio which is a few blocks away. Got off in the wrong direction at first, but came back. When you came out of Kohata Station, go right and then go left at the big road. A few blocks further, you come by the other Kohata station (from another railway), cross that and you will find a building on the left side, which has a quite particular winding stairs on the front side of the building. On the third/top floor is where the second studio of Kyoto Animation is.
I will get some more reference pictures (like maps) later.
Today I went to Kyoto. I've already been to Kyoto last year, but I didn't get to see some things, so I went back to go to the ones I've missed. I actually went quite a bit unprepared, didn't print out stations or directions, but I still knew in what direction everything was, so I just had to work it out on maps. It was sometimes raining a little bit, but just not enough to need an umbrella.
Went to Gion again, to go from there to Kiyamizudera. I came by the dark 5-story pagoda again, but went all the way up the hill this time. It's a very nice and old street that winds up the mountain. Many shops are there and it's swarming with tourists, but it has a nice atmosphere. When you reach the end of the street, you find yourself at the beginning of the Kiyomizudera temple complex which consists of several buildings. There are many good luck statues and stones here. And of course, the temple that is built against the hill-side on wooden pillars. You get a spectacular view of the city from there. When going down, there happened to be two geisha (or apprentice geisha) who were begin photographed in several location around the temple. Many tourists, including me, grabbed this opportunity to take some pictures as well.
Japan has to have its own strange etiquette about escalators. In most parts of the world it is custom for the people who are not in a rush, to stand right, so that other people who are in a hurry, can go up on left. Well, Japan has 3 ways ;p
In Tokyo, you stand left.
In Osaka, you stand right.
In Kyoto, it doesn't matter (people from Kyoto are not so much in a hurry than those in Tokyo or Osaka).
How did all this happen? While walking on the pavement in Japan, I tend to have to feeling, that 80-90% of the time, people walk on the left, when crossing each other. This might explain why people in Tokyo, stand on the left side of the escalator.
In Osaka however, I've read that there was a world expo in there. A world expo has a lot of foreign people visiting, and in 90% of the world, people stand right, and so people stood right in Osaka. So I've read.
In Kyoto, where people are in less in a hurry, I've read about another story. That there was a rule, that you stood left in the subway, and right on the Keihan lines. Thus creating confusion.
Also, knowing that people in the street walk left, it makes for a small paradox ^^
I had just stayed a week in Tokyo, standing left, and was now staying in Osaka, thus standing right. And today I went for a day to Kyoto, and I actually noticed it myself that in Kyoto, there isn't any rule. Some were standing left, some right. So it's actually true, and I was confused myself because I didn't know it was actually like that in Kyoto. I was thinking, who is right and who's wrong here?
Tokyo, Osaka & Kyoto may be one of the biggest cities in Japan, but how is in the other big Japanese cities. Is it only in Osaka that they stand right, or all cities down from Osaka? I will probably notice in a few days, when I'm in Hiroshima & Fukuoka ^^;