TGIF! Happy Birthday Mr. K. Esq.

Is it me or did this Friday took forever to get here?

Regardless, I'm so glad it is finally here. I have a ton of "doing nothing" to do. And by nothing, I meant playing the latest game pack for Sims 4, Realm of Magic, and catching the latest episode of my favorite anime shows this season, Dr. Stone and Demon Slayer (Kimetso no Yaiba).

Words of wisdom
The World Food Festival is also going on downtown Des Moines, and I really wanted to see Hustlers - that is if I can be bothered to leave the house once I get home.

Anyway, a special birthday shout-out to Mr. K., Esq. (he's a real lawyer) whom I've known for a long time, and as he would say, "a friend I never see." But here is a portrait I made of him.

Mr. K. Esq.
Happy Birthday! 

Countdown to Japan: Flight and Accommodations

I was experiencing some major wanderlust when I came back from Paris and Amsterdam. My 8-day birthday Eurotrip was too short even for just 2 cities. It seemed like I really didn’t get to a whole lot of sights. Then again, I have always been averse to anything “touristy”. My mother even complained that I didn’t pose in front of the Eiffel Tower, even though I had plenty of photos of me at the Louvre. I just refused to pose in front of any famous landmarks. 

I did meet a nice French guy who had a really awesome view of the tower from his tiny apartment on Avenue de Villiers. I was staying on Rue de Constantinople, a few blocks away.

 Sorry about the crappy video.

Prior to that trip, I had not been outside of the U.S. since 2015.

I can’t remember when I did it, but I have a Google Flights alert set-up for Tokyo. I knew that flying out of Des Moines anywhere in Asia would cost over $1,000. (In comparison my flight to Amsterdam for early March was under $500 round-trip, which I booked 5 months prior.) So I was alerted that a round-trip ticket to Tokyo from Des Moines was under $900, I immediately did some “comparative-analysis.”

A lot of “experts” and websites would claim that bundling your airfare with your accommodations would save you a ton of money. But that has never been my experience since all of my previous travels involved either a multi-city itinerary or more than one accommodation. This upcoming trip is no different.

The flight cost me $891.53 through United Airlines. The travel time will be a bit longer, with an overnight layover in Vancouver both ways - which I’m okay with… for now. (Ask me again after my trip.)

With travel and the time difference, I would only be in Japan 8 out my 10-day trip. And clearly not learning from my last trip, I’m also squeezing in a couple of days in Kyoto (as well as some sightseeing in Vancouver during my layovers).

Up until a few weeks ago, I didn’t really have a solid itinerary. I didn’t know when I would be in Kyoto, so I originally only booked my first 2 nights and my last night in Tokyo. Even as I type this blog post, I’m still making some adjustments to my accommodations. And while the idea of staying at a capsule hotel seems cool at first, it will be too restrictive for how I plan to spend my time during this trip.

Here's a rough outline of my itinerary along with the cost 

  • 2 nights in Tokyo $217.13 
  •  2 nights in Kyoto $169.68 
  • 4 nights in Tokyo $495.26 

With airfare, I’m currently at $1,773.60. Compared to the current cost of a flight and hotel bundle the cheapest at $1,635 (Tokyo only) and staying at a capsule hotel. I’m not staying at a capsule hotel.

Countdown to Japan: Manga

I have been quite an otaku this past couple of years, doubling down on my anime intake and really getting into some manga (mostly Bara).

One of my goals in life is to be a published (Bara) manga author/artist, much like Gengoroh Tagame. But as you can tell in my artwork, I cannot draw in the “manga-style”. People have told me that I draw well, and are shocked to learn that I cannot draw a “simple” manga-style image. I am also shocked by my lack of competency in drawing anime/manga. But as I have come to realize, anime/manga is not that simple at all.

One of my early attempts at drawing manga. 

Apart from Tagame's "My Brother's Husband" (Volume 1 and Volume 2), most of the non-Bara mangas I own are in its traditional medium - in paperback. But there are a lot of online sites and even manga reader apps out there. There is one called ZingBox, a free app for Android, which is getting a lot of good reviews for its wide selection, including the niche genres, like Yaoi, BL, and Bara. It is not available for iOS yet, however.

I’m really looking forward to my trip to Japan next month, mostly to geek-out and visit a lot of places considered as an “otaku’s paradise.” One place that comes up over and over in all of the Japan travel videos is called Mandarake in Akihabara, which is close to one of the hotels I will be staying at in Shinjuku (and by close, I meant a 30-minute subway ride, according to Google Maps).

Oohh.. there's a Gundam cafe! I'll add that to my itinerary.