February 2009

Ok, I was thinking of doing a post like this before, but have never taken the time. Its time for some Q&A on this blog.

1. What the heck is an Otaku and why is one in the Heartland? 
A: An otaku is a japanese word for a fanatic: see this Wiki article. It has the connotation of a nerd or geek, shaded with obsessive-compulsive. It is commonly used as a slang term for fans of anime, manga, and video games. To make a long story short and not turn this into a biography I am an otaku although I would add tabletop gaming (miniature wargaming and role playing) and technology (computers/internet/photography) to the description. I live in the midwest of the USA, sometimes called the heartland. I thought the name had a ring when it came to me one night so I stuck it on my blog subtitle.
2. Aren’t people who follow anime/manga weird and creepy?
A: Heh, the extremes of vitually any hobby look odd to outsiders. Anime and manga with its extremes of sex and violence and coupled with Japan’s penchant towards fetishes (used underwear vending machines?)  will certainly generate that opinion to onlookers. The truth is that anime and manga like virtually anything else comes in all flavors. From high school love triangle dramas to ghost hunters, anime/manga covers everything and then some. I myself tend towards mecha style anime and sci-fi or fantasy oriented manga. Thats’ pretty much it at the end of the day, boring old Gundam and Neon Genesis Evangelion. The guys and girls who are into the eroge games and the doujinshi manga can have their little fetishes. I like mine.
3. All your posts lately have been about Japan. Are you obsessed? 
A: I guess its the way I operate, I bounce from one obsession to another. Its also a function of what I am into and surfing around the web, I have been reading a lot of blogs and news of Japan so most of what I post reflects that. I am planning a trip to Japan and have been diving into Japanese language and culture beyond just anime and manga and currently that is my focus. The constraints of time limit me to about a post a day. I want to get back to posting more general news and technology and stuff on tabletop gaming but will do so naturally. I do not want to force myself to do that, it will happen on its own.
4. What other stuff do you blog about? All I see is Japanese stuff.
A: I am limited both by time and resources, but my interests are diverse. And my posting will be also. I have been poking around the blogosphere for ideas and style and have a few new ideas germinating. Food, Photography, Wargaming, Technology, Gadgets, etc. etc. So I do have plans for more posts about other things. We can only see what winds up here. Stick around and hang on, its gonna be fun!
I do want to thank my readers, the few out there.  Arigato gozimasu. Stick around, the journey is just beginning, lets see whats around the next corner.


One thing I want to get in Japan is a tabletop RPG. Not a videogame/computer RPG but a real Tabletop RPG with paper and dice 🙂 

Wikipedia has a nice write up of the game scene, although it is a short article, they also have a nice list of tabletop RPGs by genre.
I wonder if Gear Antique Renaissance is still available?
Sword World 2.0 was published in 2008 and is still popular. Heh, they only use six siders, poplyhedrals are not common. Class/Skill systems are old hat in the American tabletop scene but it has its advantages.

Sword world RPG’s classes are called ginou (技能 lit. skill?). Each ginou has packaged a number of skills. It is considered as a hybrid system between class system and skill system, so it is often called class-skill system.

There are 8 classes (Bard, Fighter, Priest, Ranger, Sage, Shaman, Sorcerer and Thief) for Player Characters and 2 classes (Dark Priest and Dragon Priest) for only NPCs. 5 major races (Human, Dwarf, Elf, Half-elf and GrassRunner) can become PCs.

The game uses only two 6-sided dice, as other polyhedral dice aren’t common in Japan. 2d6 dice roll is translated into a more wide range of random numbers by using a Rating table. The Rating table is used for damage roll, damage reduction roll and such. 

The official Japanese web site of Sword World is here
One more thing to get while in Japan.  ^-^

ummmmm, ok, ummmmmm yeah thats great training, seriously they are gonna be so prepared

(via Tokyo Times)

This is being reposted all over the web but it deserves it, Mr. Kunio Kato getting his Oscar for Best Director and slipping a reference to the classic song into his acceptance speech:

So, this morning I was remarking about how hard it has become for me to back my car up in reverse. Judging distances, angles, etc. Then I see this video on Japan Probe of an 84 year old man in Japan who backs his car into a garage so narrow he has to fold the mirrors flat when he backs in. There is a sliding door installed in the side of the garage that he must open to allow him to open his car doors and get out. Unreal skillz…

originally from Boing Boing Gadgets:

One of my favorite treats at an Asian grocery store is Ramune. Ramune is a soda with Japanese origins (there’s aTaiwanese version as well) that comes in a variety of sugary-sweet flavors. But the cool thing about Ramune isn’t the taste; it’s the container. Bottles of the soda are sealed up with a marble. To open them, you have to force the marble down into the bottle, where it gets captured in a small chamber within. Pop it in hard and it makes a fizzy mess; which of course can be part of the appeal of drinking it. While the bottle may appear novel, once again it’s in fact an old technologythat just happens to feel delightfully modern.

The bottle is a Codd Stopper, invented by soda magnate Hiram Codd (of the Camberwell Coddses, not those low born mother-scratching Devonshire Coddses) and patented in 1873. The idea is that the bottle uses internal pressure from carbonation to force the marble up against the rubber stopper at the lip, sealing your tasty beverage inside. 

These bottles were not popular in the US but apparently remain popular in Asia. Something to look for next time I am in a Asian foods store. The first few minutes of this video show a kid opening a bottle of Ramune:

i want this packaging in the States, tofu packaging is right up there with the death by hard plastic clamshell on the despised list:    (via Japan Probe)

This is an interesting music video from Peter Bjorn and John following a 50’s styled greaser/dancer who hangs out with his buddies at a park in Tokyo. These dancers in this park have been doing this for years. The video follows one through his day from doing his big hair in the morning to laughing with his buddies as the sun sets. Great stuff… (via Japan Probe):

via Akihabara News:

Samsung introduces Blue Earth solar powered phone:
Today Samsung unveiled the first solar powered Full-Touch Phone, the Blue Earth. As you can guess, it features a solar panel, located on the back of the phone. According to the Korean manufacturer, it generates enough power to make calls anytime, anywhere. The Blue Earth is also equipped with an ‘Eco-Mode’, for setting screen brightness and backlight duration, and a Bluetooth energy efficient mode. This eco-friendly phone features an “Eco-Walk” function featuring a pedometer for calculating CO2 emissions reduced by walking as opposed to motor transport. ‘Eco-Walk’ will also tell you how many trees you saved! 
the phone looks good, full touch screen, decent size, etc. It looks to be running android though the blurb text does not mention Android. Have to keep an eye on this one. It has potential.
addendum: Samsung usually uses Windows Mobile, so I would surmise this is built on a version of WinMo with touch capabilities bulit in. Achh, so close, and yet so far ………

In keeping with the Oriental theme  🙂

A couple of blogs I have been following –
Ramen Adventures – A teacher in the JET progam blogs about his travels around Japan trying and rating ramen shops.
also have been poking into The Ramen blog – Love the story behind the Gomen shop’s name that he posted with his review of the place. He also is American rather than Japan based and reviews the California ramen scene.
Also I am really digging Pikko’s Adventures in BentoMaking which I mention in the post below. She makes the seemingly simple bento box lunch look scrumptious. Desceptively simple, and so appetizing.

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