Tohoku/Kanto Earthquake

As the world knows, there was a massive earthquake on Friday off the northeast coast of Japan.  There are no words for the shock caused by this, and the awe in the power of mother nature.  Even though I’m in Osaka, several hundred kilometers away, I felt this earthquake, while on the 8th floor of the office building that I work in.  The building started swaying slightly, and people were just laughing it off.  Then a worker who was on the phone with the Tokyo office said “Tokyo’s shaking bad”  At this point, people stopped laughing.  Then, “There’s a massive earthquake in Sendai!” and the swaying started to get worse.  Woman started screaming, and grabbing their emergency helmets and getting under their desks.  Ironically, we had just had our fire/earthquake drill on Wednesday, and so what to do was fresh on our minds.

I headed back to the 3rd floor, where I work.  I didn’t use the elevators.

The 3rd floor was shaking, but not as bad as the sway felt on the upper floors.  Pulling up Yahoo and CNN, people started realizing how bad this was.   We couldn’t get a hold of offices north of Tokyo, the trains are out in the Kanto region, and then there is the video of walls of water washing away houses, cars, boats, and most likely in all that liquid, people.  I thought about my wife, who was at home,  on the top floor of our ten story building and called.  I couldn’t get through.  I called our home phone, and no one picked up.  Thankfully she got back to me within the hour.  She had simply gone to the dentist, and hadn’t even felt the quake.

We try to continue with our work, but no one can focus.  I get pulled in to write up an emergency announcement in English to be broadcast to our Osaka offices informing employees to check public transportation before going home because of the earthquake.  My manager, who goes home each weekend to his family in Yokohama, realizes they’ve stopped the bullet trains and he can’t go home.

I think to myself, I’m suppose to be in Tokyo on Tuesday next week.  I was going to be in Yokohama on Thursday and Friday next week.  Saturday, GaiGun and I were planning to meet up for our monthly drinking in Akiba.  And I think, if this earthquake would have happened this time next week, I’d be right in the middle of Tokyo.

I came home Friday night to do what the rest of the nation was doing, sitting in front of their televisions, watching the images of what happened hours previously.  It was on every channel.  There was nothing else to watch, but the shock and awe.  And Saturday too.  Sunday as well.  Yet, for west Japan, life outside is simply that, regular life.  It’s so depressing to see nothing but the news and video, and the rising death toll.  Currently the missing and dead total over 3,400 people.  Yet there are reports that this will top 10,000 people easily.  So we went out today to the movies.  And yes, life goes on, because it seems like everyone in Osaka was out today.  And I can guess why.  Who wants to sit at home and watch death and destruction?  Yet that too, is going to be part of regular life now for Japan for the next day, weeks, months, and most likely years.

I realize that this is just depressing, sad and that I have only felt this way twice in my life.  The passing of my mother, and the day the twin towers collapsed.  Despite being hundreds of kilometers away from the affected areas, it’s still a part of the country that I live and work in.  And I feel nothing but shock, and awe.

At this point, I’m really not in the mood to post about Gunpla, so my apologies for the lack of posts on that.  Eventually I’ll get back into it.

For an even more first hand account, I recommend that everyone read GaiGun’s post about the day of the quake.

Some amazing, and saddening shots of the earthquake and it’s aftermath can be seen below.

In Focus – Earthquake in Japan

In Focus – The Aftermath

Information and Donations.

Google Crisis Response (with link to donate to the Japanese Red Cross)

GAF Quake Appeal – Gunplars unite

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Gunplar Meet-up 2011

As you all may be aware, Buster Beam of Plamo Addiction has decided to make his next move in life, and head back to Canada.  Having met with him twice last year, in Akiba and the 1/1 Gundam in Shizuoka, I knew how much of a great guy he was, and couldn’t just let him head home without getting together one more time.  A quick email to GaiGun of Gaijin Gunpla to see if he was on board as well, which he was, and the ball started rolling for a Gunplar Meet-up.   This past weekend was a three day holiday in Japan, and we used that to get together one last time in Japan for drinking, gaming, and of course Gunpla!

I just happened to be in Tokyo on business on Friday, so I used that to stay in Akiba for the night and catch up with people before meeting up with GaiGun in Akiba Saturday evening at our usual pub, to get the party started.  After hitting back a few rum & cokes to get us nicely toasted, we headed off to Yodobashi Camera and Asobi City before jumping on the bullet train to head back to my new stomping grounds, Osaka.   Upon arriving in Osaka, we proceeded to my place to continue the drinking combined with online split-screen COD: Black Ops, until about 4:30 in the morning.  The plans for sight seeing a little before Buster arrived were put aside for the more needed sleep, and after sleeping most of the day away, we headed off to Namba to pick up Buster. We did some quick sight seeing around Nipponbashi, the Akiba of Osaka, but soon moved to the drinking.

The Dotonbori area of Namba

The Glico running man

After some drinking at Namba, we moved back to Tennoji to hit up a local izakaya, or Japanese style pub/restaurant to continue the drinking.  All three of us just happen to be fans of Z’s posts about food, so we thought we’d share with you some similar shots.

The 270 yen Izakaya, everything is 270 yen!

Starting out with beer and edamame

Gyoza!

Cucumbers covered with eatable raiyu sauce

Don’t forget yakitori and takoyaki!

Several beers, cocktails, and sake bottles later…

Of course, we didn’t just get together to drink, we got together to game and gunpla as well, and we got together a bunch of kits to work on.  At least to the best of our drunken ability, we had been drinking for about five hours…

Gunpla loot

And don’t forget about Call of Duty!

But still, we’re here to build gunpla (while drinking)

Gundam UC in the background while we build.

The results of the gaming, drinking and gunpla

You could say the excessive drinking, along with Call of Duty, Gundam Musou 3, and Gran Turismo 5 kept the number of completed Gunpla down to 3, but we all had a hell of a time doing it.  We really got to work off each others synergy this weekend, and had a hell of a time.  Gunpla is great, but Gunpla mixed with alcohol, gaming, and friends at the same time is priceless. While Buster will be missed as he takes his next step back in his home country, his spirit will still be with us as one of the original 3 foreign Gunplars in Japan.

Tidbits: part 2

Before moving on to the Wing Gundam pictures I’d like to follow up on some earlier tidbits.

First up, on the Aso-bit City Gunpla contest, I didn’t place, but overall I was still quite pleased to be able to participate in the contest.  For pics of the winners, check out Moeyo’s post or Ngee’s post.  I did receive a participation prize though, a BB Senshi.  While not a fan of BB Senshi, and am not interested in the Three Kingdoms theme and all that, free is still nice.

Chouhi BB Senshi

Next up, continuing on the Spring cleaning, I’ve started tackling our spare room at home, in which I have my desk, rack of models, backlog, and pretty much everything hobby related.  Now that I’ve got the time, I’ve been slowly reorganizing the room.  First off, starting with my mess of a desk.

Before

After

Still have a ways to go around my server area and rack area though.   Here’s my current rack state.

Running out of room…

While cleaning and reorganizing, I’ve moved my backlog to the bedroom for the time being.  The picture here has my entire backlog of stuff except for the MG Ex[S] Gundam and PG Char’s Zaku II.  I showed this picture to GaiGun and Buster the other day at our Gunplar meet up in Akiba, and the initial comment from Buster was “Look at all those Zaku II’s!”  I realize I have quite a lot of Zaku building to do…

The infamous backlog

Having finished the Wing Gundam, the plan is to finish up the Unicorn Gundam (finally!) and figure out where to go from there.  Although the Musha Mk II is out in just a week…

Gunpla in China

As I mentioned, I’m taking some time to travel around and just step back from things since work finished for me a couple of weeks ago.  Last week I headed to China for four days, mainly in the Shanghai area this time around.  I had the chance to do some looking around, and managed to come across legitimate Gunpla goods in Shanghai.  While China is well known for their… for the lack of a better word, fake goods, I’ve not seen any of the Gunpla kind during my travels in Beijing and Shanghai.  Now, watches, designer goods, movies, and electronics?  Yep, tons of those.  If anything, this time it seems that officials are cracking down on the fake good peddlers, at least around Shanghai, due to the upcoming World Expo.  There wasn’t that many compared to Beijing.  But we’ll leave that be.

I’ve heard that there are some various Asia “gentei” goods out there, and managed to get a couple of snaps while I was there.  For the most part, it looks like they just import the Japanese versions, since they had the clear part runner campaign versions of quite a few kits.

Gunpla in China

Imported from Japan?

MG Wing Gundam Endless Waltz Version (Pearl Coating)

MG Gundam 2.0 Smoked Clear Version (China only?)

HGUC 0 Gundam and Exia clear versions, in one kit

Other than that, there seemed to be a few of the Astray/Seed kits like the depowered Strike Gundam, and such that I believe were convention or expo only releases in Japan. The big suprise to me was the fact that they have a HGUC 0 Gundam and Exia Gundam kit all in one there. If it wasn’t for the fact that they are clear versions, I’d almost pick it up, simply for the fact that it’s admittedly got bad ass box art. The Mechanical Smoked Clear Version of the Gundam 2.0 also is China only, since you can see it has the map of China in the background on the box art. In the long run, I ended up picking up nothing though. Similar to Buster over at Plamo Addiction, I just didn’t want to increase my luggage. The thought that I could have just pawned those versions off on Yahoo Auctions for some quick spending money didn’t hit me till I was on my way to the airport of course…

Overall though, regarding the fake this time around I got to go to Suzhou and old Shanghai, and it’s quite true what they say about the widening gap between the poor and the rich in China.  Prices for Gunpla seemed to be slightly more expensive to 1.5~2 times the price in Japan.  It didn’t seem like they were selling at all as well, as most boxes were quite dusty.  With that said, I get the feeling that it must be more popular in Hong Kong than elsewhere in mainland China.  Still, this is just idle speculation.

But, enough of that, here are some of my favorite shots from the trip for you guys to enjoy.

An American Bum in Tokyo

Well, as those familiar with Japan know, April is the start of the “new year” in Japan, with school, work, and fiscal things all starting anew from April 1st.  Guess it has something to do with Spring right, the cherry blossoms, things coming back to life, etc.  Sometimes it feels really strange to me, despite living here for now over 7(!) years total.  But, when in Rome, do as the Romans do, right?

This year in particular has somewhat of a special significance as well to me, as from April, technically I will be starting on a “new journey” so to say.  I do apologize for the roundabout way of saying it, but technically I’m an American Bum in Tokyo right now.  After working over 3&½ years with my company, economic situations and future prospects have led me (and others in my company) to part ways and go on our own separate paths.  Ahem, short story, I’m unemployed now.  How am I taking it?  Quite well compared to some of my co-workers, but I feel leaving any type of job, no matter the circumstances, whether good or bad (and mine was fairly good) is tough.  The positive side is that I was starting to come to a wall where I was, and this is a good chance to focus on moving forward in my career, and maybe getting a less stressful job.   Due to the nature of things, I’ll leave my unemployment woes at that, but for the time being, I’ve got a lot of free time on my hands while I search for something new.  But before that, small vacation!  I’ll be doing some traveling in Asia and maybe around Japan for the next couple of weeks.

The first thing I’m thinking about is to change things around here.  Obviously this will be a work in progress, but I’m thinking about going with a  brighter theme this time around, while moving some of the more popular categories up top to specific page tabs that I’ll flush out going forward.  Currently just working out things in my head, but will see what happens after I get back from vacation.  On the Gunpla side, I’m going to try and knock out some of the kits that I’ve started and just put aside, as I won’t really be in a position to pick up much Gunpla going forward until I’ve secured new employment, or start doing small things on the side for Gunpla money.  I certainly have plenty of backlog to go, but unless there are some awesome releases going forward, I think my  last purchase will be the Shin-Musha Mk. II for the time being.

Oh, you know how women eat a tub of ice cream when bad things happen?  For Gunplar’s, we just buy  more Gunpla!