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Day 11: Osaka

A change of job and holidays sort of slowed down work on the rest of posts about our trip to Japan, but finally here is another one.

On day 11 in the morning we packed our stuff, ordered a taxi and moved to another hotel - much more cheaper Kyoto Ryokan Shoei.

Of course the new hotel was not available for checking this early in the morning, so we just left our suitcases with the lobby and went with the rest of the day's plan from there.

And the plan was to visit Osaka. We got to a nearby JR train station and took a train first to central Kyoto railway station and from there an express train to Osaka.

Main goal of our visit was to see Osaka Castle, but a secondary one was to see a Mandarake shop or two in Osaka as well. And also of course to try some Osaka cuisine.

We arrived to Osaka quite hungry (no breakfast) and then immediately went to the Osaka Castle surroundings hoping to find some food around there. Unfortunately it turned out that restaurants were located not very close and we also took quite a walk to the river and then crossing it.

Sashimi on rice bowl
Seafood on a rice bowl.

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Visit to New Orleans

So like I said in my previous post, we have been to New Orleans recently to visit Supercomputing 2010. Of course SuperComputing show floor was not the only place we have visited.

We arrived on Sunday Nov 14, but not pictures from that day as I was pretty busy with work and attending an important meeting.

Monday was my free day to roam around, but it turned out to be the worst day of the visit with rains and overcast sky. Still since out hotel was at the edge of the French Quarter, we decided to visit it and also to find some breakfast.

St. Louis Cathedral on a rainy day
St. Louis Cathedral on Jackson Square. Just several blocks away from our hotel.

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BPS at SuperComputing 2010

It's this time of the year again, and all supercomputer enthusiasts gathered for SuperComputing show that was held in New Orleans on Nov 13-18 to determine who has the longest fastest supercomputer in the world.

We decided to go too, and not alone, we decided to introduce our newest project, BPS (Akira Shirase) to the world and what better place to do it than at the SuperComputing show.

For those of you who do not know, BPS (Battle programmer Shirase) is a cool Japanese computer hero who singlehandedly defeated evil hacker "King of America" in the mighty struggle over supercomputer control.

Shirase at SC10
Shirase at the main floor.

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Day 10: Kyoto garden Ryokan Yachiyo

For the evening after the moss temple we had plans to eat in our ryokan. Actually it is customary for people to get their ryokan reservation together with food arrangements for every day there, but we did not want to limit us to one eating place only just in case.

The dinner needs to be reserved in the morning when you go out, so that the inn keeper can buy all the right stuff while you are away.

So we returned into the ryokan and decided to take proper pictures of our room for review purposes. This is being 8-tatami traditional japanese room with a bathroom.

8 tatami room in Yachiyo Ryokan
This is our room in all its glory.

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Day 10. Kokedera Moss Temple

For our second day in Kyoto we had a plan to visit Saiho-ji temple. The temple is also known as Kokedera which means "Moss temple". The reason for that is because the temple grounds are covered with a lot of moss, more than 120 kinds of moss grows there.

The legend says that the moss part was planned way in the past on one of the restorations, but research of a French historian François Berthier found that in fact the temple grounds were filled with white sand and it is only recently during Meijin era (1860-1912) when the temple lacked adequate funds, the grounds fell into disrepair and moss started to grow.

Getting to the temple is no easy feat, you need to send a postcard to the temple in advance requesting a visit and then a reply will come informing you when you can visit, but that's not all. The entrance fee is the highest in Kyoto at 3000 yen, and once you pay it you also must do some (pretty long) sutra writing and chanting before given access to the temple grounds. All this is done since 1977 to limit the hordes of tourists ruining the delicate moss ecosystem.

The visit was actually scheduled at 13:00 so we had some time to walk around hotel some more in the morning and hopefully find a breakfast too.

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Some small shrine near the hotel.

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How to find BJD shops in Beijing

UPDATE from Oct 2014: only Angell studio shop is left there, the other two permanently closed.

It was a busy time with a lot of travel lately, so no updates as a result. We are back home now and so the updates will resume and we'll also work on the backlog of pictures to post too.

Our last trip at the end of October happened to be in Beijing and while there we decided to look for some BJD shops.

The task turned out to be more complicated than anticipated. Various Google searches only returned a single relevant page on UK BJD forum that contained some vague instructions that later appeared out of date. Luckily it had some pictures and after some running around we finally confirmed that the shops have moved and so the hunt for new locations begin.

The shops in questions were for Angell-studio, Spirit Doll and Doll-Zone. I contacted Angell-studio and they provided me with an address of their dealer in Beijing: 北京市朝阳区朝外大街日坛国际贸易中心B座G层H089 or in plain English: H089, G/F, Tower B, Ritan International Trade Center

This is just a few blocks away from the old location in the Kuntai Royal hotel, about 5 blocks from Chaoyangmen subway station on the circle line (line number 2).

Here are the directions, starting with a map:

map
#1 is Ministry of Foreign Affairs, #2 is Kuntai royal hotel.

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Natsume figure

Recently we have acquired another boy for our figure collection. His name is Takashi Natsume from Anime Natsume's Friend Book.

Natsume and Nyanko-sensei

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The Queen of Hearts and The Hatter arrived

This week we had two long awaited VOLKS dollfies arrived.

Both sent last week from FDQ magazine headquarters, The Queen have arrived on Monday and The Hatter on Wednesday (oh, he is so easily distracted on the road).

Red Queen and Hatter
Gorgeous couple together.

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Summer Palace in Beijing

Last weekend I had a really brief visit to China (only for 3 days), luckily of those 3 days one was Sunday so I did not need to do any work and had time to wander around instead.

When coming to China this time everybody warned me that Beijing is not pretty at this time of a year, humid with a lot of smoke in the sky, but surprisingly when I arrived the sky was blue on Sunday and also to some degree on Monday before becoming totally covered in smoke on Tuesday.

We have already been to the Summer Palace on our first trip to Beijing (here are some pictures, though quality is not great), but the visit ended abruptly as the rain started. Also the palace itself is huge so you really need entire day to see all of it.

This time I decided to visit south-eastern part of the palace that we have not been to and the plan was to wait for a sunset there.

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Day 9. Kyoto. Miyako Odori

On our day 9 it came time to leave Tokyo and move to Kyoto. Unfortunately we were moving in a great hurry, so no pictures from the travel on Shinkansen. This mistake was somewhat fixed on the way back, though.

High speed train from Tokyo to Kyoto takes ~2.5 hours (515 km/320 miles) and while the speed is pretty high, it does not feel like a fast moving train while you are inside.

We arrived to Kyoto in the mid-day and took a taxi to our hotel.

Kyoto Garden Ryokan Yachiyo
Our hotel from outside.

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