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The Kilt Nihonside Below are 10 entries, after skipping 10 most recent ones in the "kiltnihonside" journal:

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September 7th, 2007
10:45 pm


Day 26 - Outta Here
My suitcase is by my side, my backpack is on my back and I`m thirty seconds away from the door and the road to Keisei Ueno station. Next blog will be in a day or two (or three) when I`ve stopped moving again and done four weeks worth of laundry. See ya.

Current Mood: Boogieing
Current Music: Leaving on a jet plane redux

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02:03 pm


Day 25 -- The Party`s Over
After I finish this posting I`m going up to my room, pack, have a bath and then get to sleep. In the mmorning I`m heading for the airport and at 11:30 local time the Great Gas Bird will breathe fire and take off headed for Amsterdam where I will catch a connecting flight to Edinburgh, the Gods be willing, and then I`ll be home.

It`s over, the trip of a lifetime, something I`ve been looking forward to for several years now since the inspiration suddenly struck, that there`s a bid for a Worldcon in Japan and if I save up reeeal hard I could maybe afford to go to it. In a day or two it`ll be time to look back on it rather than looking forward and that will bring a new set of emotions.

I will come back to Japan though. It might be to stay for a few years to work, it might only be for a couple of weeks to visit. I won`t know until the turn of the year, when I will have weighed up the pros and cons (lots of pros, lots of cons). Right now I`m ready to march down to the British Embassy and renounce my citizenship but that might be the booze talking.

In the end I used up pretty much all of my stock of yen, barely touched my backup stash of sterling and never actually flashed my plastic for anything although that might change at the airport when I buy all those presents I didn`t buy during my stay. It turned out that for a bottom-feeding traveller like myself who`s willing to stop over in salaryman hotels and eat at dirty-chopstick fast food places (bowl of beef and rice plus miso soup = 350 yen or about a quid fifty in real money) Japan doesn`t have to be expensive, absent the initial lump of folding for the airfare and optional JR pass(es). I overdosed in Akiba today, looking at stuff I wanted to buy but decided that I could either get it for the same price or cheaper back home (where I`m also a bottom-feeder) or I don`t really need it. The one big buy today that ate most of my remaining Japanese currency was the Lifebook laptop at 20,000 yen (about 90 quid). It`s man enough to do the job I want it to do and doesn`t weigh what the Road Warrior lappie I`ve already got so I`m more likely to travel with it.

Time to put this posting to bed so I can follow it as soon as feasible. I might post quickly tomorrow morning as I rush out the door to catch the airport train but if I don`t this is me saying "Sayonara" until I`m home again. Kanpei!

Current Mood: Consummated
Current Music: Onomichi farewell

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02:03 am


Day 25 -- Spot of Rain and a Zephyr or Two
The typhoon finally hit land yesterday night as promised. Luckily (for Tokyoites at least, and in their eyes they`re the only really important people around here) the storm centre dodged to the West and so all we had here was about 10-12 inches of rain and strong gusts of wind. A quick check on the Web shows that my flight from Narita tomorrow is likely to get away on time although it may be a bit more crowded than on the way out if delayed passengers are bumped onto this flight. We`ll see.

The forecast is for the skies to clear in the next few hours and Tokyo Standard Summertime weather to reassert itself, that is sunny and 33 deg C although it might be a bit windy for a while longer.

In other news I finally blagged some copies of the "Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou" manga although not the complete series. I`m going back out later to Akihabara to bayonet the wounded and pillage their pockets some more. I`ve still got cash burning a hole in *my* pocket and that Fujitsu Lifebook looks real tempting...

Current Mood: Stormy
Current Music: Hard rain gonna fall

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September 4th, 2007
04:44 pm


Day 22 -- The Party`s Over
  Yesterday was the last day of Worldcon. You might have noticed I didn`t blog at all during it. That was because I spent most of it working my little sweaty nylon socks off. I worked setup and teardown and did Ops stuff in the intervening period. Selah.

 It felt like... it felt like a small Worldcon with verbal dyslexia. The facilities were International Standard Conference concrete with added kanji, the organisers made few logistical and operational screwups having planned an unadventurous programme which was probably a good thing in the end.

 Fun stuff -- the secret theme of the con was rubber-suited monsters. The pre-Hugo Award ceremony stage show featured Japanese TV-show hero Ultraman and several generations of his nefarious latex-molded foes performing martial-arts fights on stage. Biff! Zow! Bang! Of course Ultraman wins in the end and Justice is done.

 The Hugo Award base design continued this theme with a bronzed Ultraman figure standing proudly beside the Hugo rocket itself. Seriously skiffy in a Japanese form, and few who saw it thought otherwise. Neat.

 GOH David Brin was his usual voluble self and endeared himself to the home crowd by attempting to speak Japanese when he could get at least a little preparation time, such as at the Closing Ceremony.

 The dealer`s room was limited, the art show contained many excellent paintings by artists we don`t see in Western cons which was nice. Some static exhibits included the full-scale Nausicca "glider" which has flown successfully as well as a company displaying small radio-controlled humanoid robot "toys". I put the inverted commas in there because at 300,000 yen each (a bit over a thousand quid in real money) they`re not an impulse purchase.

 Anticipation in Montreal won the 2009 bid, GOH is Neil Gaiman as most people will already know. The Hugos mostly went to the predictible recipients, but in the Seiun Awards my preferred candidate Ashinano Hitoshi got the Best Comic award for 2006 for his decade-long series "Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou" which I think is the best thing since sliced bread (see previous entries on my other regular blog at nojayfor details). It beat out other good and more popular series like the blockbusting manga/anime/live-action series Death Note.

 There might be another Japanese Worldcon in the far-flung future -- the organisers of this one did good, did no evil and threw a bitchin` Dead Dog Party (in which I scored major freebie DVD loot). I would vote for them.

Current Mood: Gapped
Current Music: Long Gone Gertie

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August 30th, 2007
12:17 pm


Day 17 - first day at Worldcon
 Usual thing setting up exhibits first day at the Worldcon. There's the usual crew of British Reprobates doing stuff and bitching freestyle but the main exhibition hall is pretty much set up after the first  day so that can be considered a success of sorts. Bid parties start soon.

 In other news it's been raining on and off the past couple of days in Yokohama. The cloud cover has taken the edge off the heat but the humidity is up through the roof. Thank Kamisama for airconditioning.

Current Mood: Accomplished
Current Music: Filthy Pierre and his mouth organ

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August 28th, 2007
02:37 pm


Day 15 -- staying dry under the submarine
 Since I was in the area, dropping in today to Hiroshima again for some shopping and to get more internet access I popped down to Kure and went round the JMSDF museum (entry is free), the one I mentioned a few posts ago with the submarine parked outside. There wasn`t much to tell the truth. Mostly it was about the minesweeping role the original SDF was involved in after the war, to clean up Japan`s coasts and allow fishing and naval commerce to operate safely again. There`s another section of the displays describing when the JMSDF got teeth again with their submarine fleet -- all non-nuclear, but competently-handled diesel-electric boats will give the nuke-powered 688s and such a run for their money in brown water, if not in open seas. Their modern surface offensive capabilities aren`t really mentioned but the museum is quite new and somewhat sparsely populated and that monogatari might be told in future days.

 When I came out it started raining so I turned left under the nose of the submarine on display and waited until the shower passed.

 Onomichi, gotta love it. I was down on the shoreline late yesterday evening watching the various members of the Onomichi Philosophical Debating and Fishing-Rod Waggling Society in conclave when I came across an earnest group of photographers who had set up a miniature open-air studio with dolls and toy furniture and some small fireworks and were busy trying to take photographs. They seemed in need of occasional illumination to reset the display between shots so I whipped out my 100yen LED torch and acted as a key grip for half an hour or so.

 Up to Yokohama tomorrow for the con -- I don`t know what internet access will be like at the con site itself but I`ve got a local netcafe dialled in that I can use if necessary.  The blogging will continue until morale improves.

Current Mood: In the shade
Current Music: Yellow submarine

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August 27th, 2007
06:05 pm


Day 14 Monday -- losing track, grip and my mind

 Back in Hiroshima this evening -- I`ve just ridden the Shinkansen over 1000 km because I know there`s an internet cafe here. Jesus. What I`ll do for internet access...

 Sunday I went up to Niigata and stayed the night there. Another Japanese city, this time on the northern coast on the Sea of Japan, facing the Bear. The local earthquake/disaster evacuation notices are written in Japanese, English and Russian, reflecting Niigata`s shipping and fishing traffic with Russia.

 There`s a fairground-ride style tower in the middle of Niigata, the Rainbow Tower with a revolving glass-walled lift that climbs slowly to the top to give you a panoramic view of the city out to the coast. Well worth the 450 yen if you`re in that area. Otherwise bleh, not a lot to distinguish it from the rest of urban Japan. That`s why I`m down south again. I got a sudden hankering to go back to Onomichi for a day or two. It`s got a certain amount of character about itself, it lacks pretensions and doesn`t care to be like the neighbours. After I finish up here I`m going to hit up a couple of bookstores and then I`ll head off to catch a local JR train back home/to Onomichi.

 From Wed afternoon I`ll be in Yokohama and that`s my travelling done for this trip, mostly as my 14-day JR pass expires. After the con is over next Tuesday I`m going to do Tokyo properly before I fly home on the Saturday.

 I will come back to Japan. I was considering doing a "teaching English to Japanese cram school students" stint -- one minor task for this trip was to decide if I could hack living here. The answer is "yes", now I have to decide if I`m ready to actually do it. It won`t happen in a hurry -- next year at the earliest before I make that decision. For sure I`m not wanting to work in the Tokyo urban area. I wonder if any cram school in Onomichi is hiring?

Current Mood: Bouncing
Current Music: City of New Orleans redux

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August 26th, 2007
07:57 am


Day 13 Saturday -- Can`t think of anyything witty, it`s only 7 in the morning
 First stop in Yokohama, met up with some of the Worldcon ops guys who are in early, ate Chinese at the Landmark tower which is tres chichi and upmarket smarmy and so very not Japanese in feel. The hole-in-the-wall place in Osaka I had ramen at on Friday is real working-class dirty-chopsticks eating but the guy behind the counter knows his regulars and hands out tea and small plates of icecream because he feels like it.

 I did some exploring down south into the peninsual but the further I got from civilisation the rarer hotels got so I had to abandon the idea of spending a couple of days out west. I`m going north today for the night but I`m really tempted to head back to Onomichi for a day or two before my work for the convention starts on Wednesday. At least I know where the hotels are there.

Current Mood: Vaguely disappointed
Current Music: Time to go, love to say but you know how it is...

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August 25th, 2007
06:51 am


Day 12 -- hop-on hop-off shinkansen
 It`s kind of an odd idea, to use the shinkansen as a replacement for a taxi I suppose, but while I was in Nagoya I decided on a whim to go to Osaka (about 150km away) for some ramen. So I did. Then on the way back I stopped off in Kyoto, World Heritage city for some doughnuts. Because I could. Yay for JR Passes -- but I said that already.

 As for the title of this post, I haven`t skipped a day, it`s just a combination of losing count previously and fencepost errors. Nan de ya nen.

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August 24th, 2007
09:54 am


Day 10 - boogieing outtahere
 Off to Nagoya, mostly because I can with my JR Pass and the Hikari from Tokyo only takes about two hours. Gotta find a post office or Fedex place to ship some manga and laserdiscs back home first though, as lugging them around the Japanese countryside is getting old. Keep this acquisition thing up and pretty soon I`ll be able to tie my shoelaces without bending down as my arms will have stretched.

 Bargain of the week -- OK, it may be tacky to come to Japan and eat at MacDonalds but they`re offering a 100yen McPork barbeque "sandwich" at the moment. In real money that`s about 45 pence, or a bit under a dollar American.  "I want cheap food, lots of it and right now!" -- Hrun the Uncivilised.

 Sayonara for now. There`s a densha with my namae on it out there.

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