ArtLit, Blog

I’m now a figure skating fan (thanks to anime)

My holiday break could be defined simply: unproductive, probably fattening, and also consumed by this groundbreaking popular anime called Yuri!!! On Ice.

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HEART EYES.

Plot summary After suffering a crushing defeat during the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final and other failed showings at other skating competitions, Yuri Katsuki develops mixed feelings about ice skating and puts his career on hiatus, going to college in Detroit and later returning to his hometown of Hasetsu in Kyushu. He visits his childhood friend Yuko at an ice rink known as “Ice Castle Hasetsu” and perfectly mimics an advanced skating routine performed by famous Russian figure skater Victor Nikiforov, who is Yuri’s idol. When secretly recorded footage of Yuri’s performance is uploaded to the internet, it catches the attention of Victor, who travels to Kyushu and offers to coach Yuri and restart his figure skating career. Together with Victor, Yuri aims to win the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating series as he battles against his rival, Yuri Plisetsky, a 15-year-old rising star skater from Russia.

In my humble opinion, this anime has taken the figure skating world by storm. Famous figure skaters like Evgenia Medvedeva and our very own Michael Martinez have professed to being fans; and now droves of figure skating newbies like me are following the sport as it goes. And for good reason.

It’s hard to define what makes Yuri!! On Ice so special. It’s well-written, true, and the animation of the key skating routines is breathtaking. Maybe it’s in the characters and their relationships (which, to be fair, is the heart of almost any anime). Maybe it’s in the showcase of both racial and sexual diversity.

Yuri!!! On Ice is a story of how people can gain confidence and love for themselves in the face of crippling anxiety and self-doubt. It’s a story of how success can sometimes drive depression and isolation, and how relationships can bloom through adversity. It’s a story of life and love.

how YOI kind of changed my life, aka I am now following this sport

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Lego x Asia

I alone heard my internal squeeing (obviously) when I saw an exhibit that featured two of my favorite things: Lego, and Asian Appreciation.

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I never actually played with lego as a child; my fascination of the said building blocks stems from its use as a metaphor in one of my favorite books, Sophie’s World.

In the novel, it is mentioned that Lego is “the most ingenious toy in the world” as it puts the burden of play on the creativity of the player. The lego pieces are likened to atoms, the building blocks of the world as theorized by Democritus.

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In an exhibit featuring palaces and castles, it is somehow anticlimactic to see the Rizal Monument. While extremely relevant and important to our culture, the Philippine landmark simply isn’t as architecturally or aesthetically impressive as the Taj Mahal or the Great Wall or a giant Buddha statue.

Though I would need an outsider’s perspective to truly know, I also doubt that its silhouette is as iconic or recognizable as the Merlion, for example.

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I love Asia. I really, really do.

xxx

This has been a scheduled post.

Blog, Travel

日本 2015: Universal Studios Japan

Last hurrah. Universal Studios Japan, late night dinner and a flight back to Manila.

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TIPS

There will be a lot of people in the theme park (this is a real tip I’m serious). I think it’s because many of the students and whatever have annual passes already, so they could all go together after school or work every other day, idk. The point is that there’s a lot of competition in terms of getting tickets to Universal Studios (they bar entry when the park has already reached capacity) and to the specific rides. 

We made sure to buy tickets before getting there —otherwise, best case scenario, you’d have to line up for an eternity and miss the chance to ride a lot of attractions later on. Universal Studios tickets can be purchased online or at select JR ticketing booths (just ask a tourist info personnel).

Lastly, make sure to run the moment the gates are open and head over to the timed ticketing area for the Wizarding World (otherwise you may not even get in!)

Day 10

THEME PARKS Universal Studios Japan

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日本 2015: Osaka

A possibly relatively short post on the things we did in Osaka (Day 1).

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TIPS

Osaka has a different vibe from Tokyo  (naturally), even though they are both developed and populous cities. For one thing, I actually saw reasonably priced grocery stores out in the open in Osaka. The people may also be a little less tourist-friendly, but they’re not bad! Promise. 

Day 9 

TRANSPORTATION OSAKA STATION

Osaka Station is also really big –like, seriously. I’m not sure if these shots were taken in Osaka or Namba or Nankai or whatever, but I am sure that getting one place to another was a long walk, we passed by so many side stores, bakeries and even a gallery or two.

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日本 2015: Kyoto

This admittedly long blog post covers our time in Kyoto. Featuring bus rides, temples, shrines and rainy days.

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TIPS

It’s a walking/cycling/bus-riding city! Familiarize yourself with the system. You can choose to go on the subway/railway lines, but we were told that they aren’t as comprehensive or on-the-spot as the buses are. You’d have to walk a little bit more after a train ride to get anywhere. 

Next, be sure to review what temples you want to go to before getting to Kyoto. I mean, there are a lot of temples in Kyoto and they are all beautiful, but if your schedule is a bit tight, be sure to go to the ones which are most breathtaking (like Kiyomizudera —which we weren’t able to visit, boo). 

Also, the streets surrounding the busier tourist sites (basically any place with temple) are filled with authentic street-style food stands and quality souvenir shops. Be sure to check them out! 

Day 7 

CULTURE Kyoto Imperial Palace

We were very lucky to find this palace open when we visited. Apparently it is closed to visitors on some days —so be sure to check your schedule

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日本 2015: Hikone Interlude

That day when we celebrated my mother’s birthday in a lovely little town. 

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TIPS

Rent a bike! Go around the city in the style of locals —just don’t get lost. I don’t know how to ride a bike I am a failure in life Also, read up on what you should do when in shrines or temples. There are specific sets of actions to clean up one’s hands and body, make use of the incense, throw coins for a prayer, et cetera. Research (or a convenient english brochure) is your friend. 

Day 6

TRANSPORTATION Shinkansen

There we went, fast as a bullet. Ha. The other option was to take an 8-hour bus, and no, we weren’t having that.

And complete the experience! Buy yourself a bento box from one of the station kiosks and enjoy! I only had a vague idea of what I was eating on the way to Hikone, but it tasted yummy.

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日本 2015: Tokyo Part 2

This post covers our last two days in TOKYO (all the good food and breathtaking places).

TIP

There are loads of Japanese food to try: ramen, sushi, raw fish, yakitori, tonkatsu, tempura… If you’ve got the time, make sure to try them all!

Day 4

GARDENS AND PARKS Chidoriga-Fuchi Park in Hanzomon, Chiyoda

I love the fact that we visited Japan in spring. Everywhere you look (well, not really everywhere), there are cherry blossom trees standing artfully against the sky. So many beautiful things in reach.

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CITY LIFE Tokyo Tower

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FOOD CULTURE Tsukiji Outer Market

Raw fish, yum. Apparently, the Japanese have this thing where their stomachs are a bit more sensitive to oily foods and food in general, so they eat a bit of radish and start with some potato salad to line their stomachs first before a meal. Continue reading “日本 2015: Tokyo Part 2”

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日本 2015: Tokyo DisneySea

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This post mainly contains adventures in DisneySea, ramen eating and city living.

TIPS

Tokyo is home to two Disney parks: Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea Resort. Because we only had one free day for a theme park in Tokyo City, we listened to everyone’s advice and chose to go to DisneySea Resort. 

Buy the tickets online. As a foreigner, the tickets already come with the ability to acquire fast pass tickets to any ride. In Japan, fast pass tickets are more like timed ticket entry tickets; that is, you can go to the fast pass lane (basically skip the otherwise two to three hour wait) only within the allotted time given by your timed ticket (which you have to line up for earlier on). But the catch is you can only line up for a fast pass ticket every two hours (I think it’s to prevent hoarding) and sometimes the fast pass ticketing machines close early. So be sure to strategize which rides you want to get some fast passes to! 

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日本 2015: Tokyo Part 1

This photo dump disguised as a blog post covers our first two days in TOKYO. 

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I still look out of the windows 
in airplanes; 
I still think there are 
exciting adventures 
in store.  

28 March 2015

TIPS

As I’ve mentioned in the previous post, try looking at the option of buying the Tokyo Subway Pass, which covers (if I remember correctly) the Metro and Toei Line. There are a lot of public and private lines running through the whole city, but I find the Metro line to be the most relevant to the places we wanted to visit. 

Also, don’t assume there’s wi-fi in Tokyo just because it’s a techie city or whatever. Instead, what the people do is they rent pocket wi-fis (I think they can give coverage to up to 5 devices?) for maybe 50 USD for 5 days or so, I’m not entirely sure. But staying connected is really important for the modern traveller, so be sure to have access to the internet!  

Day 1

SHOPPING CULTURE ROPPONGI + Street Museum

My family always says that random pieces of art scattered around are the marks of a rich city. 

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日本 2015: Quirks, Signs and Life

This post contains some observations, random photos and five things to remember. When in Japan.

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#SquadGoals

A fun quirk about the Japanese (aside from their curious love for popcorn) is that they like to dress up to match. Here are a few examples (a lot of them could be found walking around tourist spots, okay, I was not being creepy). 

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