Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Japan: 2012-05-18 Tokyo Disneyland

Working at Tokyo Disney Sea, it was only inevitable that I eventually end up at Tokyo Disneyland, right?
Yuka and I met up with a friend of her's for a girl's day out at Disney! 
It was a beautiful spring day and a lot more crowded than when we visited Tokyo Disney Sea, but we still managed to fit in most of the attractions!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Japan: Monsoon Cafe dinner @ Maihama

As the sun set over Tokyo, we boarded the trains towards Maihama station.
Our coworkers were soon to be released back into the wild, and we were going to meet them.
After working with Disney for some time, both the Ishizawa sisters decided to depart us. 
First Kanae, then Yuka. It was quite a loss for our team as the bubbly duo were not only exceptional at their jobs but vibrant, uplifting personalities who made the days more enjoyable to endure. Without their presence the work environment was never going to be quite the same. To bid our farewell, we took Yuka out for dinner with a surprise in store.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Japan: Ginza, Marunouchi & Hibiya park

After exploring Tsukiji fish market and taking in the view from the 19th floor during afternoon tea, Yuka and I went to Ginza to walk through the neighbourhood to Marunouchi and Hibiya park while enjoying the warm weather.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Japan: 19th floor tea over Tsukiji

After exploring the markets for several hours, Yuka and I escorted her mother to the hospital she was visiting for medical treatments. There was still a bit of time before her appointment, so we nipped up to the 19th floor of the hospital to have afternoon tea in their restaurant. Once seated we were greeted with a fantastic view of the city below, including the famous Tsukiji fish market complex and even a helipad!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Japan: 2012-05-10 Tsukiji Market

Tsukiji Market is the world famous fish market in Tokyo featured in multiple travel shows, a must-see location for any fan of sushi or sea food. During the time of our visit the early morning tuna auctions had been closed to the public, but there was still tons to see from hulking crabs to unrecognisable squiggly things. Yuka's lovely mother joined us for this outing, meeting with us at the markets after Yuka and I walked there together from the station.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Japan: Kamakura DaiButsu

The Kamakura Daibutsu is the world's second tallest bronze Buddha statue and one of the main attractions for the little town, making it a necessary stop in our tour.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Japan: 2012-02-08 Kamakura

Kamakura is a beautiful town roughly a couple hours by train outside of Tokyo. It's a popular tourist destination and used to be the political centre of Japan in 1192. Yes, that's right, 1192! My coworkers Naoko & Noriko Watanabe were familiar with the area and suggested we all visit together on our days off from Disney. I happily obliged and Naoko kindly drew up a guide for me to find my way through the maze of Tokyo station on my own. Fun fact: the Watanabe sisters commuted over 2 hours one way, each day, to go to work at the Disney parks! Despite the carefully crafted map, I still found myself at a loss as to which train to board. Overcoming my lifelong timidness, I summoned the courage to ask a station staff member for directions and he cordially escorted me to the correct platform and double checked that I was in the correct location to reach my destination before returning to his previous duties. ^^; Thank you, sir!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Vegas: We are the Music Makers Open Mic Night

Every Monday night We are the Music Makers open mic night that takes over The Beat coffeeshop in Downtown Las Vegas.  Hosted by our good friend Diego, you're guaranteed a wide cross section of the many music talents inhabiting our city. From tie-dye clad Hamlet rapping newbies to seasoned pros belting out covers of classic bluesy tunes there's something for everyone, and all are welcome. 

It's pretty groovy. The coffee and grub aren't half bad, either. If you're of a particularly stoney mindset, give the Slap & Tickle sandwich a try; peanut butter & homemade jam with smoked bacon and pickled jalapeños on simple white bread. It's an unholy medley of sweet, smokey, savoury and your forever tainted childhood. 

Antho and I rolled out with our light show, 710 Visuals, illuminating the event's proceedings. We had a lot of fun and the music was ever-so-delightfully coffee house chic, which means I felt like whipping out a sketchbook and doodling most of the evening. Next time, sketchy, next time.

We're definitely going to be doing more of these in coming weeks!
I'm looking forward to it. ^_^

Have you ever been to an Open mic night?
Did you perform?
I don't think I'd ever be brave enough ^^;;
Drawing is kind of a quiet, solitary thing, compared to music, isn't it?
But then again, Bob Ross made a career on his happy little trees, so there is potential there.
Anyway...if you're local, you should certainly give it a shot!
Everyone's very friendly and accepting, so don't be shy. 

Hope you have a happy little day!
Thanks for stopping by! 


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Watching Dead Mid-Season Finale Party @ Shakespeare's 2015-11-29

It was time for the mid-season finale of The Watching Dead, so I packed up my drawing supplies and made my way over to Shakespeare's Bar & Grill. Antho came dressed as Carl and my good friend Kaity joined us at my table for the event. As always,  we had a blast! We're grateful to Shakespeare's for hosting us, the cast of Evil Dead the Musical for doing trivia and giveaways, and FatBeard for organising and promoting the event and inviting us to attend. As I was so busy drawing I didn't really get to take any photos, all credit goes to team FatBeard! 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Critical Care Comics Hospital Visit 2015/12/12

On a cold and gloomy December day, an unlikely team of heroes quietly gathered in front of UMC Children's Hospital in the Las Vegas valley to battle the forces of sadness and evil!
Taking on a couple of side-kicks in the form of FatBeard & your's truly, our mission was to bring some fun to the hospital-bound kiddos' day. 
I've discussed my work with Critical Care Comics before, but this was the first time I was invited to tag along on a hospital visit. It was a great honour and privilege to take part in their work and seeing the excitement the heroes and comic books inspired was wonderful! Wonder Woman was a surprise hit, with multiple fans proclaiming her as their favourite, much to Batsy & Spidey's chagrin. ;) 

Spider-Man keeping a watchful eye as I work on this drawing of a young Star Wars fan. 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Japan: Urayasu station & Indian grub

Urayasu station was about equidistant with Shin-Urayasu station from my residence, so I split my time between the two "local" stations quite a bit, while Maihama was heavily associated with work and more likely to be a stop on my way home as opposed to a day off venture. 

On this lovely winter day, my friend & coworker Zoltan and I decided to explore a bit together. His residence was closer to Urayasu station, so we agreed to have dinner there.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Japan: Mamachari & Shin-Urayasu shopping complex

Oh, Soft Bank, with your adorable doggy mascot, bravely setting paw where no pup has stepped before.

While I meandered around the shopping center quite a bit, I actually came with a singular goal in mind:

Ah, my sweet Mamachari. I had that bike for the rest of my stay in Japan all the way up until the day I left, at which point it was handed down to my coworker Jason who lived a few blocks away. 
The bike cost roughly ¥10,000 and some change, about $100US, which is pretty reasonable. With the basket, the bell, and the price, it was a great find that would make my life so much easier. Many a grocery trip ended with the basket stuffed full of veggies and bags dangling off the bars. What I didn't realize is that I had just purchased the two-wheeled equivalent to a minivan, usually owned by mothers who need to get around with baby in tow. Womp womp.
Honestly though, it was my first breath of true freedom here, allowing me to cruise all around the town like a bat out of hell. 
While I had to wait for the bicycle shop employee to process all the paperwork and prepare the bike for me, I took the time to continue browsing the enormous entertainment/shopping center.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Japan: Shin-Urayasu Arcade

Taiko no tatsujin!!!
One of my favorite arcade games in Japan, it's essentially a rhythm music game except you get to wield drum sticks as big around as hot dogs and pound away on an oversized drum. It's a blast and the psychedelic animations that adorn the screen as you play just add to the experience. To be fair, Japanese arcades, often located near or on the top floor of multi-level shopping and entertainment centers, are pretty trippy on their own.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Japan: Shin-Urayasu & The HUB

Shin-Urayasu station is the next stop on the Keiyo line, a brief ride from Maihama. It's also the newer area of Urayasu, as denoted by "Shin" in front of the name, built up from landfill to create more land for the sprawl. There are many lovely hotels and restaurants in the area, and the shopping center connected to Shin-Urayasu station is full of lovely shops. I spent many a hard earned yen there! There's also a British themed pub called "The Hub" that's quite popular among the foreign residents of the area,  though there are many throughout Tokyo. I've met rugby players and watched the dramatic antics of the dancers there, though I only went a handful of times.
After all, I went to Japan to experience Japan, not try to recreate my experience in London. ;)

Gindaco! Ever tried Takoyaki? They're small round dumplings stuffed with pieces of grilled octopus and all sorts of savory yummies, like tempura batter crumbs (tenkazu), pickled ginger (benishoga) and more, then smothered in a thick soy-based sauce and other tasty toppings. They're one of my favorite quick snacks and they're also a great show as the adept chef uses chopsticks or simply small wooden sticks to flip the dumplings as they cook, ensuring a crispy round exterior and molten hot interior. Be careful not to burn your mouth!
This gent kindly allowed a photo as he worked. ^_^

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Japan: Toyouke Shrine in Urayasu

Japan is an old country, especially compared to a newcomer like the United States. As such, there's a lot of history to accommodate in a relatively small space. Appreciably, they try to conserve this history whenever possible, meaning that your liable to stumble into multiple unexpected temples throughout the cities.  Surrounded by all the modern trappings you can still readily find your zen zone.

Toyouke shrine, in the Nekozane area of Urayasu, is a beautiful structure and integral part of the cultural heritage of the area. Every four years there's a huge festival in the town called the Urayasu Sanja Matsuri, which includes Toyouke shrine among the three celebrated. 
All was quiet when I visited this time, but I was lucky enough to catch the Sanja Matsuri in 2012!
Here's hoping I can catch the next one in 2016~

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Japan: Grey day in Urayasu

Hailing from the desert, rainy days are a favorite of mine. 
There's no shortage of rainfall in Japan, which bodes well for my affinity for precipitation.