1. image: Download

    Pfft Humans

    Pfft Humans

     
  2. Old figure, new pictures.

     
  3.  
  4. Just retaking pictures of older figures with the borrowed camera, including some by shooting from a stable object at ISO-64, which should result in better quality because that’s how cameras work. (Don’t ask, it’s all witchcraft to me.)

     
  5. Yagyuu Gisen from Hyakka Ryouran by Alter at 1/8 scale. At 6143 yen, an absolute steal from a small store in the backstreets of Akiba.

     
  6. image: Download

    Hee!

    Hee!

     
  7. Yaya, the Unbreakable Machine-Doll. An absolute laundry list of fetishes catered to, including traditional clothes, zettai ryouiki, thigh highs, elbow length bridal gauntlets, ribbons and feet.

     
  8. Babby’s First Camera

    On all previous trips to anywhere (mostly Anime North but also all the times I’ve been to Hong Kong and the previous trip to Japan), I’ve made do with the camera on my smartphone. Mind you even that is probably better than what a lot of tourists last century had to work with though with no front-mounted stargate it’s no good at a distance. This time, I borrowed the mother’s Nikon P80 which, as far as I can tell, is some kind of an entry level little babby’s camera from 2008.

    I’ve learned a bit about photography through this trip and I can say that it’s roughly as difficult to learn as Kerbal Space Program. That is, it’s difficult to be actually good at it as games go, but you can do it if you try and have time to learn. The biggest difference, I think, is that whereas KSP is a sit-down mouse and keyboard affair, cameras and photography is probably best played with a 360 controller.

    Taking pictures with an actual camera created with 21st century technology is something of a difference for sure. It’s also made me realize the pitfalls of photography. As travel comrade Peel pointed out, the danger of relying on it is that you keep worrying about taking pictures and not getting immersed with the experience. That is definitely true. I’ve taken well over three thousand pictures in the past two weeks and a lot of it – especially early on – was me trying to photograph specific objects of interest in some weird attempt to catalogue Japan. I’ve now learned the best photos (usually) involve more than just one thing. I don’t know how much I may or may not have missed due to this fixation but most of those pictures definitely aren’t very good and I am now confronted with the task of sorting through three thousand plus photos to see what to actually clean up, shrink and upload.

    On the more technical side, I learned that camera controls are highly standardised, though I’m not sure that as many people really know how to make their way around them as a good 360 controller. I can’t remember how many times I’ve seen a camera handed off to someone only to ellicit befuddled looks from the recipient. Effectively though, you take a picture with right trigger and a little dial there lets you zoom in or out. The fidelity of that particular control is not very good and it’s very hard to get a precise level of zoom. On the other hand, seeing a camera lense telescope out like the barrel of a megaparticle cannon is one of the coolest common-as-dirt things I’ve ever seen.

    The camera turns on very quickly and is ready to shoot far faster than the phone, which sometimes feels the need sort through all “media” in its storage before it feels ready to undertake the task of taking a picture. The software driven auto-focus is also much much better, as expected of a purpose-built device. The little green camera Easy Mode setting actually works great most of the time. Nevertheless, there were many times – such as against a low sun or snow cover – that the camera found conditions simply too demanding to do its job properly. Those times really made me appreciate how handy one’s eyes and brain are to be able to just see through all that nonsense no problem. In addition to the little green camera, there’s also this mode that lets you pick various common conditions with your D-pad and pick whatever is applicable and presumeably the camera does something to compensate. Landscape is easily the most useful as it appears to tell the camera to shut up and take a fucking picture without trying to focus on something that isn’t there. Portrait seems to make it try to focus on faces – I’ve seen it get that right once or twice. Close-up is straightforward and Museum seems to make the camera operate silently which is nice if you want to break the rules of most museums in Japan which forbid photography entirely or if you want to sneakily take a picture of someone from an inappropriate angle. The difference between Sunset and Dusk/Dawn is a little less clear to me and the eldritch mysteries of the logic behind the Backlight setting remain obscure to me.

    The most common things that make cameras screw up are movement and darkness. The former is most relevant with cats and taking pictures on the move which becomes necessary since it seems all other members of the party walk faster than me. With regards to the latter, the camera tries to take what little light there is and make the picture as bright as possible because it kind of assumes you want every picture to be well lit. For this, we have two numbers, a fraction and a decimal which are kind of like your thrust and specific impulse. The fraction (or whole number if you get very brazen) is how much of a second the camera fires for and the decimal indicates how little the hole is letting light through. Raising the fraction opens the hole longer, letting more light in but requiring the camera to be held steady for longer. On a bright day, the camera will find 1/500 or 1/1000 quite appropriate. At that setting, taking a picture can be as spontaneous as a dragonfly touching water. At 1/15 or so, blur starts getting noticeable even if you’re holding the camera ‘still’ (you can try to be a sniper and hold your breath before shooting though!). Shrinking the decimal on the other hand, makes the hole larger, which also lets more light in but the tradeoff is that everything at the edges gets blurrier. This is probably why people use tripods so they can push the fraction up as high as possible (into the whole numbers) and push the decimal up as much as possible as a result. And that is also probably why some places ban them because I can imagine how annoying that would be, having people just set shit up all over the lawn of a landmark. Normally, the camera will balance these two factors for you automatically, never letting you in on all the shit that historic photographers must have had to put up with, judging the light, stability and level of movement by eye before taking a picture that isn’t solid black or white. If you want to mess with it yourself, you can use the P setting on the dial to make a suggestion, the S or A settings if you want to mess with one or another, or the M setting (probably means Maniac Mode) if you want to do both.

     
  9. Pace

    The most important thing to keep in mind when travelling with friends is pace. I can wake up early after five or six hours of sleep and then walk all day so long as I have a big breakfast and then spend the evening planning the next day before sleeping again for a few hours. I can keep that up for about a week for which I feel fortunate because I certainly don’t lead a lifestyle to deserve that kind of stamina. Some people can keep that up forever and that’s great and some people can’t or don’t want to and that’s fine too. While roaming fees are usurious for most people (and nobody should support usury even if it’s convenient) renting a pair of phones was one of the best things we could have done for Japan because it allows us to split the party safely.

    Other random notes about visiting Japan:
    1) On buses and trams, get on and pay when you get off. If it’s pay-by-distance you take a ticket from the entry door which notes where you got on and pay according to a lit board near the front. On many inner city trams however, it’s a flat rate fare.
    2) Be careful around hotel washrooms. Bath tubs are higher rimmed than in the west and the washroom itself has a step-over threshold at the doorway.
    3) Bring everything you need in cash because credit cards suck. Japan is a cash society.
    3a) If you need to pay for 536 yen of goods with a 10k bill at a convenience store, that’s OK. (See appendix 18 section 387b for exceptions related to Comiket)
    3b) Japan is heavily monetized. Prepare to be nickle and dimed (more like tooney and loonied) to death.
    3c) If you come across a 2000 yen note, hang onto it. It is quite rare in circulation.
    4) JR Pass works at manned gates only.
    4a) For local trains, just flash your pass to the manned gate staff as you enter and leave the system but for trains requiring seat reservations (the Shinkansen and slow cross-country trains), you take your pass to the ticket office, reserve the ticket, enter via manned gate with said ticket, and exit with your pass.
    5) It rains in Japan.
    5a) Transparent umbrellas best umbrellas.
    6) Stand on the left on elevators.
    7) At restaurants, you usually pay at the front desk.
    8) Japanese servicepersons talk a lot. You need to figure out what are just generic welcomes, thanks, transit chatter etc and pay attention to what matters.
    9) There is a national neurosis about counting money precisely and demonstrating the result to the customer. This means fewer mistakes are made, but handing exact change in coins as payment can cost time instead of saving it like it does in the west.
    10) Many train stations and bus terminals - certainly the ones close to touristy places - have coin lockers. This is great if you’re moving around the country lugging luggage but beware that the large sized ones aren’t always around and they tend to be the first to run out. Japanese folk don’t usually haul the large checked-baggage sized luggage around and neither should you.
    11) While the Shinkansen is the poster boy of Japanese tourism, the best thing ever for the first time traveller to Japan is the Yamanote line, a local train route that rings central Tokyo.
    11a) For your first hotel in Tokyo, pick something on that line. Easy navigation (Japanese streets can be very confusing) to and from that magical train line trumps price, free breakfast and possibly coin laundry availability.
    11b) For the love of everything, stay out of the Tokyo *subways* if you can. They are a vat of noodles and not good for your sanity.

     
  10. "In short, I became a character designer for Lightning Returns and told them that I will make any DLC costumes they want in order to make the game very profitable. I dressed her in some of the most tawdry costumes, but I did not care since it was not my game. Toriyama definitely did not have a problem with it. This is how I secured Final Fantasy XV for the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One.”