Monday, March 31, 2014

At the Theater-After thoughts: Frozen

That was such a good movie! I might go back and see it in 3D.

And so many fantastic lines! At which only I was laughing because unfortunately humor is the first thing lost in translation. But I was having too much fun to care as much as I normally would have.

I'll probably post my faves one way or another. Though I will say one of my ultimate faves was the disclaimer at the end, which was so unfortunately ignored by the subtitler. I thought it was brilliant.

Anyways, not really getting exercise lately, I've decided to brave the cold wind to the nearest station on my line. It's nice to get some air.

And no work until tomorrow afternoon, so it's time for the good old long stay at Gusto. Lots of new people in the house, so it's bound to be noisy. Need to get some writing done.

At the theater: Frozen

Otherwise known as Anna and the Snow Queen in the translation of the Japanese title.

Regardless of the full theater, I am determined to enjoy this movie.

Let it go, let it go. I am one with the wind and sky!

:)

At the Theater-Intermission

So The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was pretty damn awesome. I really enjoyed it and I'm glad I saw it on the big screen. And that's in spite of the typical Spring Break crowd. So total props.

Taking a tea break before seeing Frozen. That crowd is probably going to be hell, but I don't care. I've waited long enough.

Also, bought a new letter set! It matches the pink, mikan, *and* violet. Awesomesauce.

At the theater: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

First of a double feature.

Been looking forward to this one. Thoughts after the show and before the next one.:)

Morning

You can't tell in the pic, but the sakura are blooming.

Might be a good time for a walk. Possibly tomorrow since after work, today is movie day.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

OSD: Pilot kaküno loadout


Obsessive Stationery Disorder


If you follow me on Instagram, you know I bought one of each color of the kakuno whites after just a bit of time with the Soft Blue.


I originally got the Soft Blue and within two weeks, I gave in and bought the remaining colors and pink cartridges for the Soft Pink at Maruzen. Later, I purchased a beautiful mikan-colored ink at BungBox to put in the Soft Yellow (still working on that post). All that was left was the Soft Violet, but in a desire to have them all inked up, I purchased the violet cartridges on Friday at Tomizen, which just started carrying the kakunos. And now each has some ink in it.

So here is my current loadout (a la Ed Jelley's Weekly Loadout) of kakuno whites. Three of the four are using cartridges, but that will change over time, I assure you.

  • Pilot kakuno - Soft Blue <F> with Pilot black cartridge
  • Pilot kakuno - Soft Pink <F> with Pilot pink cartridge
  • Pilot kakuno - Soft Yellow <M> with BungBox Mikkabi Fresh Mikan
  • Pilot kakuno - Soft Violet <M> with Pilot violet cartridge
Being a total fountain pen newbie, I'm not claiming any sort of authority here, just joting down some thoughts.


Soft Blue with Black Cartridge.
The workhorse of the group. I use it for practically everything. (If it doesn't do the job, I use my Zebra Sarasa Clip.) And with all the usage, I've managed to go through one cartridge in a little over a week.

The ink seems to feather more on some paper than the other inks, but all-in-all, I'm pretty happy with this ink for the time being. I'll probably try some different blacks and greys in the future, but it's not a priority.


Soft Pink with Pink Cartridge.
I saw this in the pictures advertising kakunos and I just fell in love with how that pink ink looked in the clear grip. I had to have it.

And now that I have it, I am quite happy. It's a very bright pink and apparently I'm not too sensitive about my shades of pink because I could be happy with a whole range of pinks here. Though I am considering trying out the Iroshizuku Cosmos in it. There isn't much shading, so I'm hoping other pinks might have it.


Soft Yellow with Fresh Mikan.
I almost didn't buy the Soft Yellow, but then I thought about the mikan ink from BungBox and realized this was the perfect pen for it (at least in my current price range for pens). And just to get more of the shading, I got the M nib.

Verdict: Pure love. I can't get enough of it.

I'm not really an orange person, but this is just glorious. It's harder to find the sweets spot with this nib, but I'm perfectly fine with that. It actually gives more attitude to other people than me, making me love it even more. I honestly love this ink.


Soft Violet with Violet Cartridge.
This pen turned out to be the most difficult for me to fill. I either wanted a light lavender or a deep almost black purple. Not really wanting to wait and finding out that Tomizen, a local stationery store, now had kakunos (meaning the cartridges as well) in stock, I dropped by and picked up a box of violet cartridges.

The ink turned out to be a lot lighter than I expected. I was happy to get some shading, but it wasn't the color I'm looking for. I need to try out Iroshizuku's Murasaki Shikibu and BungBox's Ink of the Witch one more time or L'Amant. This ink is the highest priority for me at the moment, but who knows when I'll be able to hunt for it.


The fun is just beginning. Wait till I have more pens to fill. (^_^)


Mel

Saturday, March 29, 2014

To work

I've gotten used to this rhythm, but unfortunately, things like cleaning my room have suffered. Such a mess. And if I'm saying that, old friends know that's a sign of trouble.

But it's the weekend. Full work days. And two full schedules for some reason. Gotta conserve energy.
Okay, this post is more of a Note-to-Self. I'll stop here.

Monday, March 24, 2014

At the Theater: 12 Years a Slave

Got my visa! And since I'm close by, I dropped by the TOHO cinema.

Premium Theater for regular price. Score.

Still here

Everyone behind the desk went to lunch. Still about 15 people before me.

Why does everyone go to lunch at the same time?

I was going to see a movie at 2, but that's starting to look difficult. Meh.

Back at the Immigration Office

Unlike when I applied, it's crowded today. 60 people ahead of me. Wow.

Got stuff to work on, so it's all good.

Morning

Wore a different coat today and I realized that I left my music player in the pocket of my other coat. *sigh*

But I suppose I can deal.

Going to the immigration office after work and I figure I'd catch a movie since I'm in town. Still debating between few choices. Also depends on when I finish up at Immigration.

Need to get some other things down, so a bit of a long day ahead, but it's not that bad.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

OSD: Sun-Star Piri-it (and other tear-able sticky notes)

 I swear, I'll write about my lovely trip to BungBox and the ink that I can't stop raving about soon. But first, here is a post I've been sitting on.

Obsessive Stationery Disorder

One trend I've noticed recently is tear-able sticky notes. Before I get to the glorious Sun-Star Piri-it, let me talk about two others.

The first one I noticed was the cocosasu by Beverly. "Cocosasu" means "point here" and basically, the pointy part of the note detaches and you can point it to the important thing on the page while using the other side to mark the page. They have a variety of patterns including a tie-up with Disney.


Another one I had to buy was the Hobonichi x Mizushima co-produced teardrop for the simple fact that it's a "tear" drop that you "tear". Not sure anyone else in the store got the possibly unintentional word play, but it made me extremely happy. Similar concept, tear the top of the drop and use it to point to stuff on the page.


Unfortunately, as much as I love the concept, these two executions fall rather short. The adhesive on the cocosasu is so shockingly weak that I'm afraid of using it to mark anything important. The teardrops are just sticky enough, but the point of the teardrop forms a triangle, so it's rather difficult to figure out what it's pointing to, especially on a busy page. For marking my tricked-out notebook, these two just don't cut it and I've gone back to using the tiny coco fusen stickies, which work perfectly fine.

Just as I had given up on the tear-able (no pun intended) sticky notes, I came across the Piri-it by Sun-Star. ("piri" is the sound of something tearing on a perforated line.)


The stickiness is perfect and the're made of a thin plastic, making it a little transparent and giving it a solid feel. Unlike the other two, the non-sticky end tears off. Basically, if you have something you need to check later, stick the "LOOK!" sticky on the page. When you check it, tear off the "LO" and you're left with "OK!"



How brilliant is that? Seriously. My mind was blown by the simplicity and functionality of this sticky note. In addition to the "LOOK!" to "OK!", there is a question mark that turns into an exclamation point and a worried face that turns into a, for lack of a better description, non-worried face.

Check out the video from Sun-Star. It's in Japanese, but you'll get the point.


These are brilliant and I'm looking forward to buying more when I use up these.
Mel

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Feeling refreshed

Maybe I should rethink working late nights on Fridays. I'm going to work at about the same time as always, but feeling so much less miserable.

Or maybe it's just that I'm giddy about my new ink.

If you've seen my Instagram, you know that I made a purchase yesterday.

I went into Hama to meet up with Samancha to have lunch and go to a fountain pen shop.

BungBox is a cozy little shop in the central area of Hama. The store has a nice selection of pens, some awesome exclusive inks, and a variety of accesories. There is a cute wooden writing desk to test out nibs and inks. The owner is a lovely lady with whom I exchanged a few emails beforehand. She really helped us find what we wanted.

Samancha ordered a lovely pen and I tried to control my "kid in a candy store" bliss.

I had already went overboard and bought the full set of colors in the kakuno white series two days before, and thankfully(?) the pen I was most interested in was sold out, so that extra temptation wasn't there.

But a set of four fountain pens posed a different challenge: what inks to use? Just black would be a crime. The blue is my regular, so black makes sense for now. Pink has the pink cartridge in it and is gorgeous. But what to do with the yellow and purple?

I had pretty much decided I would be getting the mikan-colored ink. It was meant for the yellow kakuno. I could see it before I even got to the store and when I tried it, LOVE. I will post more pics when I have time, but it's exactly what I wanted and more.

The purple, the jury is still out. Tried a beautiful purple black, but it didn't fit my image of the pen, so not this time.

In anycase, as the length of this post shows, I had a great time and will be back to BungBox soon.

Also, the OSD haul post is in the making and will be up later, not this week, but in the near future. :)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Fangirl spaz: TOKIO'S GOING TO BE AT SUMMER SONIC!!!

OMG.

The 20th anniversary tour has been announced as well.

Only one show at practically every venue. Nagoya's going to be really hard to get. But where there is a will, there is a way.


And it's taking everything I have to not scream "TOKIO'S GOING TO SUMMER SONIC!" out loud.

Never thought I'd actually try to go to Summer Sonic, but my boys are going to be there. I can't not try.

Wow.


They're also asking for songs to put in the 20th anniversary album. Easy. フラれて元気 for the single and Sonic Drive for the album/coupling song.

But we can vote every day so others will also make their way in.

It's TOKIO's year. And I'm so happy for them, I almost cried at work. Never getting over these guys.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

OSD: I am weak and gave in...

But I'm also very happy and excited.

I got a soft pink kakuno and pink cartridges.

...and other things.

Which I shall post later.

Yeah...

Hehehehe.

Monday, March 17, 2014

At the Theater: Don Jon

Got a new pair of glasses and was going to go back to the house when I noticed a poster for Don Jon. Totally forgot it was in theaters, so I turned back and there was a showing at just the right time so I got a ticket.


Joseph Gordon Levitt!

Grawr! I need glasses.

Regardless of, or perhaps because of, getting back from work early, I went to sleep without putting my only pair of glasses in their normal place, resulting in a panicked 30 minute frenzy this morning to find them.

I have on many occasions fallen asleep with them on, so I was afraid I might have crushed them in my sleep.

Since this pair is over 5 years old, it's probably about time I got a few new pairs.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

OSD: The Pilot kakuno white and Writing Japanese


Obsessive Stationery Disorder

I bought a soft blue kakuno white last Thursday partially as retail therapy and partially because it was a color combination I liked from a pen that I originally liked except for the colors. Turns out, I love the pen and can't stop using it.

So much, in fact, that I had to replace the cartridge today.

I've had this pen for just a little over a week.
It's such an easy pen to use. The grip is triangular so you hold it properly and it sits so comfortably in my hand. Plus unlike what I would probably do with a fancy fountain pen, I'm comfortable with carrying this around and letting it get banged around and touch other pens (because pen addicts aren't okay with that). And the black cartridge ink dries quickly, giving me no reason to not use it.

Thankfully I just bought some cartridges when I picked up a lilac kakuno white for my mom (and exercising some serious self control and not buying a pink M-nib one to fill with pink ink just because it looks so damn good).

As I used the pen, my desire to improve my writing grew stronger. I write a lot of English every day for work, so hopefully a bit of extra thought into the process of writing will help there. Japanese, on the other hand, all of that was self-taught with a bit of support from my mother. As a result, I can only write about twenty kanji without looking (and of those only about ten by heart), my stroke order is atrocious, and my proportions are totally off.

I've tried practice books, mostly for children by choice, and more recently, apps, but they don't stick. To be blatantly honest, they bore me and the necessity to write kanji doesn't exist. At this point in my life, typing Japanese is enough. If you can read kanji, you can type kanji. The same way predictive text and spell check are killing spelling skills. But that isn't going to cut it forever.

So I picked up a Tensei Jingo workbook. Tensei Jingo 天声人語 (or "Vox populi vox dei") is a daily column in the Asahi Newspaper that began back in 1904. It's a short essay about current events consisting of exactly 603 characters (including punctuation). Elementary schools have been using it as an exercise in writing and expressing opinions for years. The workbooks have gained popularity outside the classroom and there are currently five versions of the workbook.

I got the one that has basics on writing Japanese characters and guidelines in each square to help with proportions. I also found an app where I can read the Tensei Jingo of the day on my iPad. The current plan is to copy one article every time I visit my grandmother. I did the first one last week; it took forever, my hand cramp lasted for a full day, and I totally pressed down too hard with my pen.

天声人語・書き写し

But a journey of a thousand steps, right? I felt accomplished when I finished the article and I already got an idea of how some hiragana are supposed to look. (Not only do I not know stroke order, but I also learned to write by copying printed Japanese, so it's like learning to write the alphabet by copying Times New Roman from newspapers; it works, but it's not quite right nor natural looking.)

Having a pen I love is really making the process so much more fun. I'm always itching for a reason to use it and so practice has become time to play with my pen. A win-win.

Let's see what happens after the fountain pen shopping trip on Friday. :)


Mel

And the Stationery Podcast Universe continues to expand

As many in my shoes, I get weird looks when I say I listen to a podcast about pens, but I also keep forgetting that it's not "normal". And now I've got another to add to my list: Erasable. A podcast about wooden pencils.

I'm a mechanical pencil person, but I still have a basic Tombow in my purse pen case and a few Unis on my desk in my room. Also, I loved the pencil machine back in elementary school. Put in a quarter, turn the dial and a random pencil would come out. I still have a box full of them back in my old room.

Wooden pencils still have a special place in my heart and it's cool to hear about how deep that world actually is and listening to people who've totally gone off the deep end and have discovered they prefer it in the water.

But enough with the metaphors, check out Erasable (sorry there's no link, this is a text post). Not as cracky as The Pen Addict ("cracky" in a good way) but I'm looking forward to the next one.

Masha has a Twitter! #45Masaharu

It's mainly going to be staff folk tweeting, but Masha himself will be tweeting on occasion. Like right now during his weekly live radio show. Posting pics of the moles on the back of his left hand and how they make a puppy.

Love this man.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Late night earthquake

Magnitude 6.1.

I live the area to the right with the white, so I didn't feel a lot, but it was enough for my brain to assess the situation and possible plans of action.

For now, back to sleep. Goodnight.

 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

At the Immigration Office

Crossing fingers I got everything and this goes smoothly. Fun stuff.

What is it about official places that freak me out.

And finished in no time. Please let this be a sign of the ease of this renewal.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Post tax return cappuccino and spinach sandwich

Mmmmmm

Paperwork all filed and just enough money is coming back to cover my pension. Thank you first guy who filled out my paperwork, I'm sorry I doubted you.


Currently unwinding and recharging before heading to Enshu.

I need to learn how to make this sandwich. Spinach and mushroom yummers. I'm pretty sure there's some form of pork in there. Good stuff.

Taxes, taxes, taxes

Part one finished. Not sure if the dude was right, definitely different from last year, but he says this is better, so I'll trust him.

He also wanted to send me to the "type in yourself" line, but that wasn't going to happen. Official English frustrates me, but official Japanese is just intimidating.

I'm paying for my lack of ambition though. The lady behind me in the "somebody types for you" line keeps sighing and bumping into me with her misworn backpack. Thankfully now we're in the seat section so she can't bump into me, but the sighing!

I can stand crying babies, the mothers are dealing with far more than I can imagine, but anyone complaining doesn't get it: other people are filling out the paperwork for us. For free. How awesome is that?

So what if there is a line? I gladly choose this over dealing with the paperwork myself. Seriously, I do this myself, it'll take days of me moping around then an entire day filling it in, then another day triple-checking to make sure I filled it in right.

Nope, love this system compared to the alternative.

That being said, I really need to get my act together next year and at least try to understand what is going on. That, of course, is assuming I'm still working in Japan. More on that later this week.

Forgetting stuff

So...you know how I said I was afraid I'd forget stuff?

I got to work and realized I didn't have my hanko and my passport, so it was back to the house. And then I passed out for 2 hours. It was a much needed nap, thoug now I'm 5 hours behind schedule. But I really needed that nap.

And now, tax returns! Hoping to get some blogging done. The line is a lot longer than the past two years. I assume this is the difference between coming in the morning and the afternoon. Meh.

A busy and relaxing week ahead

One lesson at 7, then print out stuff, then tax returns, then my grandmother's, maybe a trip to city hall for one more piece of paperwork, then back to Nagoya, then recording, then the Immigration office, then lunch with a friend. Then back to the house to crash for the rest of the day as I do my laundry because I have a lunch meeting on Friday before my work week begins that evening.

Somewhere in there I'm getting a draft to check and write a podcast script.


I'm afraid I'm going to forget something so I wrote it all down.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

OSD: Kyoto Epic Stationery Haul - Part 4


Obsessive Stationery Disorder
The fourth and final part of the Epic Kyoto Stationery Quest Haul. These two stores are close to Shijō Station and are similar yet completely different. Both were missed on the Day One scout, but at the end of the shopping quest, so it wasn't really self-restraint that kept the purchasing down. More like the toll of over four hours of walking. (Part 1; Part 2; Part 3)

唐長 Karachō

This store was in a large, fancy building located on one of the busiest intersections in Kyōto. It was still rather easy to miss and like Rokkaku, more than slightly intimidating with its big glass windows and pristine layout, but I had gotten over that feeling in Day One.

Karakami 唐紙 is basically handmade paper hand-printed with traditional designs. The process to make the paper originally came from China back during the Nara Period. Karachō is a karakami specialty store (and workshop and studio). The prints are all hand-printed from hand-carved woodblocks, like so much of what I had already purchased, but these had a kind of boldness to them that I quite liked. It ended up not being one of my favorite stores, but definitely worth dropping in, especially considering its accessibility.

  1. White on light green - Something about this combination called to me. I'm not sure what it is. Maybe that it wasn't a typical "Japanese" design.
  2. Blue on black - I don't know if they use a special ink or if it's just how it is, but the blue pattern disappears at some angles and is unmistakably bold at other angles. Love it.
  3. Gold on navy - I like the simplicity. And I will forever have a soft spot for blue and gold. :)
  4. Gold on black - Snowflake! Another favorite motif and it being winter and all, I knew I had to get a snowflake.
Website


竹笹堂 Takezasa-dō

Let me get this off my chest first: tiniest shop door ever! Another hidden gem in a residential area, though still not as hidden as Uragu, this store had one of those old Japanese sliding doors in the door. The width of the door was half that of a regular door and it was short too. I'm pretty sure I have some guy friends who wouldn't make it through. I had my backpack on to carry my haul and it was embarrassing trying to get through that door in my way out.


That being said, awesome store. You have to take your shoes off to get on the raised tatami area. Small space that looked like it was originally part of the house. In fact, when I went in, there was no one in the store, but the next room over was filled with voices. It was only until one of the guests was going home, saw me, and called back "You got a customer!" That someone came out. It's been around since 1891 and features woodblock prints. There were a number of woodblock art prints on sale and they were gorgeous. And totally out of my budget. But gorgeous.

My line of stuff were the beautiful postcards, letter sets, cards, notepads, and a calendar I almost got except I had no space for it. After much deliberation, this is what I ended up with.

  1. Gold crane on red - To be honest, I thought this was a peacock at first glance. Love it just the same though. The boldness of the color is simply delicious.
  2. Pinwheel mini card - I almost got a letter set of this print until I found this mini card. I had enough letter sets, and I was more in love with the design rather than the letter set. Love pinwheels and love tessellations and love the blue on white.
  3. Stripes and dots mini card - There's something about this that speaks to me. And I just recently looked at the name; it's Snowy Day. Makes perfect sense. Total love. :)
  4. Lemon slice notepad - This is not hand-printed, but it is based on a print that is. I almost bought the hand-printed letter set of this, but again, I figured I picked up enough of those and saw this memo pad. Simple, but the different shades of yellow make me happy.
WebsiteOnline shop 

---
At the time of writing this post, I have yet to really start using all that I have acquired. That must be remedied. Hopefully the purchase of a fountain pen will send. But more on that later.

And thus ends the Epic Kyoto Haul posts. I hope you enjoyed it. And this isn't the end. My mother is coming to Japan in May and we have already booked a trip to Kyoto. I got my love of stationery from her, so a visit to some of these stores is already in the plans, namely Uragu, Kyūkyodō, Tamaru Inbō, and Washi Club (which I didn't visit, but bought a mini letter set of theirs). It's not going to Epic since I don't want to make my mother walk for four hours straight, but it will still be awesome.

Kyoto turned out to be a fantastic place to go for deliciously unique stationery and I know I've only scratched the surface. If you want more info on the stores or have any questions, please contact me. I'll be happy to help if I can.

Mel

Saturday, March 8, 2014

800yen for 6 less than flattering pics

Need a pic for my visa application. I always dislike how I look in these.

But thanks to the Japanese custom of putting them on resumes, there's a photo booth at every subway station. Can't complain about that convenience.