Thursday, August 28, 2014

General Blog Update [I am still in Japan]


Thanks to an anonymous commenter, I was alerted to the fact that my blog hasn’t been updated since Halloween, LAST YEAR. There have been quite a few interesting things that happened since then and I will be retroactively updating my blog to reflect that.

The reason for not updating is because this blog was originally made for friends and family I know in person. It was always public, and I noticed it does get quite a few hits monthly, mostly for my hiking and happoshu reviews, of which I will be refraining from the latter due to it giving me bad headaches from the low quality liquor.

Anyhow, thanks anonymous reader. I hope you enjoy the new updates coming soon. Here’s to some new posts, cheers!


Since making this post earlier this morning, I have added 9 updates. Basically anything new is between January 2014 up till the date of this post. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Mizugakeyama in Hokutoshi 瑞牆山


I haven’t done any serious hiking since last September when I climbed Mt Fuji. Today I changed that, as my friend invited me to climb with him to the summit of Mizugakeyama in Hokutoshi. There’s a really big, free, parking lot at the head of the trail with restrooms which was nice. Another plus was that the majority of the hike is shaded in a heavy evergreen forest.

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It was a long hike but I feel alright considering I haven't hiked since Mt Fuji last September. I still got a beating by underestimating the trail. The majority of the trail is an uneven, windy slope, full of rocks and large stones. It looks great but takes a toll on my feet even with proper shoes on. My quads felt like someone whacked them with a bat all day, for the next 4 days!

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The last 400 meters or so aren’t too bad but there were a few spots where I had to use climbing ropes/chains that were provided by the city that maintains the trail. The trail its self isn’t that well marked, not because it’s written in Japanese, but more that it’s marked by red ribbons tied to branches on the way up. If you aren’t paying attention, I could see people easily losing their way.

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Alas, there were too many clouds when we reached the summit so we couldn't really see the valley below or Mt Fuji this time. The ironic part was that it was clear once we got back to the car. Well, anyhow it was a great hike. I wonder if I’ll squeeze in another before fall rolls in.




Sunday, July 20, 2014

Erinji 恵林寺


Located at the foot of the mountains of Koshu, Yamanashi, the temple where the famous samurai warlord Takeda Shingen rests. I’m not a Japanese history buff or know it all so that’s as much as I know about the place. IMG_20140720_124340 IMG_20140720_123639

I visited it during the beginning of summer but I’d reckon that it is much better looking in the spring during cherry blossom season or fall when the leaves are turning color. It was my first time ever visiting the temple but I’m pretty glad I visited.

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I love visiting temples and shrines in Japan because the architecture is really appealing to me. Erinji is especially nice because it is taken well care of and has a really nice garden surrounding it. I’d say this is one of the better places to visit in the Yamamashi basin.

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Thursday, May 1, 2014

DIY Car Mechanic. I changed out my brakes.

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When I bought my ekWagon last year after changing jobs, I knew the car was old and stuff would eventually need to be changed out but I thought I got all the big expensive things handled before buying the car like timing belt and other engine related things. I forgot about the second most important thing second to tires, my brakes. The front disc brakes and pads on my car were worn to nearly nothing and the discs looked like it would be better just to change them out completely without bothering with a resurfacing. Thank goodness my rear drum brakes were rebuilt and painted before I bought the car, I would’ve cried if they were all bad and I were sold a nice looking lemon. So I handled it all by myself.

Before- Crusty brakes with a hairs width of brake pad

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I got some price quotes for parts and labor and found it was far cheaper to just do everything myself. The parts alone saved me over a hundred bucks even if I were to resurface. I ended up picking up a front disc and pad set from for under $80. So I just went all in and gave myself a crash course on auto repair though YouTube. I had already done some car work in the US with my old MR2, but I never did brake work before so I was a bit nervous.


After closer inspection, I'm glad that I went ahead with the brake change but it wasn't easy. The rotor was stuck to the hub and the bolts on the caliper didn't come off easily. Thank god for rubber mallets and breaker bars.
I managed to scratch the front bumper of my car because I was wearing glasses and put my face on the bumper to give myself leverage to free a very stubborn bolt on the passenger side caliper. 

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Everything swapped out without a hitch outside of needing a breaker bar which set me back another 10 bucks. Even with the additional tools needed, most of which I bought at the 100 yen shop, I came out under 100 bucks and 2 hours. Not bad for a first time DIY job. But now I am totally cool with brake repair and my car is much, much safer to drive.

A HUGE difference-

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Ooboshi sakura festival in Fujikawa 大法師さくら祭り


After a very chilly and long winter, spring has finally arrived. I haven’t done much to go out and see a few local cherry blossom festivals in a years so I decided to do a long bike ride across town with a friend. If you look at the highlighted route in purple, you’ll find it to be quite a long route indeed.

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I got there about a week before full bloom but it looked nice enough for pictures. It’s a really pretty place at Oboshi with plenty of stands to buy drinks and food and plenty of spots to lay out a picnic blanket and chill with family and friends. Night time viewing is supposed to be pretty nice but I don’t feel like bothering with it as I still have a young son who can’t handle late nights yet.

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I would love to do some more rides like this in the future.

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I built a new PC.


I used to build, repair, and upgrade PCs as a hobby growing up. I haven’t really bothered with PC gaming or building for nearly ten years because I got used to console gaming and having laptops for everything else. Also, with the convenience of smartphones and tablet PCs, there really wasn’t much need in my life for a dedicated PC till now. I built it as a home media center/mid tier gaming system. I am not ready to jump into the PS4/XB1 foray and find nothing either side offers interesting as of yet. So till then, this PC will tide me over just nicely.

I went with an economy build which set me back about $400 because I had some parts on hand already from other things. I probably could’ve gotten the same things cheaper in the US, but I had to buy all my stuff in Japan, mostly online. I think the system screams and plays 3D games well enough on my Sony Bravia 1080p 42 inch display. It’s good enough for me, and that’s all that matters.

AMD A8-6600 3.9ghz APU with Radeon HD 8570D graphics on shared memory
MSI A78M-E35 motherboard SATA3
DDR3-1866 8gb of RAM
LG 16x Blu-ray multi-writer
1TB Western Digital SATA HDD (used to be external)
Transcend 128gb SSD SATA3
Mini/Micro ATX/ITX case with 300 watt PSU (gets the job done)
Windows 8.1 64bit PRO (had a key from the initial launch sale)

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It's a bit cramped inside as I opted for a micro case, but I think I did a good job routing the cables and wires. Airflow is good enough and the PC under load doesn't go above 75c. Not bad for its compact size. I don’t plan on overclocking or doing anything fancy for a while. If I want to expand, I can drop a better CPU/heat sink into it or even get a larger case and an additional graphics card to run in parallel with the APU.

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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Snowpocalypse now! Please stop snowing! Halp!


I live in that red circle in the above picture… It was the absolute worst place to be.

After watching an unbelievable amount of snow fall the day and night before, I was unprepared for what I saw in the morning. It was still snowing at 7am and coming down in big fluffy chunks. Everything was covered in a few feet of snow.

The night before-

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Morning after-

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So now this is my new benchmark for snow and I hope I never see a day like this again here. While it was beautiful and serene, it was also a nightmare because the national and local government botched rescue organizations. I could understand some unpreparedness as this is heavy snowfall for anywhere, even places that commonly get snow. But the place where the ball was dropped hardest was not closing the highways and roads the day before, leaving thousands of cars stranded on the highway and free roads which completely cut off Yamanashi from any relief services. It was like having flashbacks from 3/11/2011 after the earthquake and tsunami. All the stores were stripped bare and all the gas stations sold out of gas. It was even worse as if you wanted to get anywhere you’d need to walk it. Nothing was plowed out for at least couple days later.

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The snow was just over my waist and I am a 6 foot tall male. So, yeah it was high. I donned my Mt Fuji snow gear dry suit and started shoveling straight after breakfast. I didn’t stop shoveling till dinner. I even helped the local old folk dig out the driveway and part of the road in front of our homes the next day after spending this day doing my own apartment by myself.

My body ached so much but we got quite a bit done. I ended up shoveling for the week to clear out the rest of the packed snow in the driveway because my idiot neighbors all got stranded away from home and when they did end up coming back they just parked on top of the packed snow making the lot even harder to get in and out of…

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So yeah, no more snow like this please. Once in a lifetime is more than enough and it appears this record snowfall hadn’t fallen for over 100 years. Go figure.

Looks beautiful but sucked to live in…


What it looked like even after a couple days on city roads (left) and highway (right)

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