New Blog!

Hey there! I've decided to continue blogging at a different blog. The MEXT archives and some of my travel posts will remain here, but I'll be moving some stuff over. Hope to see you there!

Friday, 29 April 2016

Shukatsu is Over!





Like the title says, my shukatsu (job hunting) is over!! I've received an offer, which I've accepted, so my hunt is officially over.

I am actually too excited to think about what else needs to be in this.

So uh....

Questions, anyone? I'll collect them all and turn them into a shukatsu round up post :D

Aaaand, it's over XD 

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Sakura 2016: Around the Neighbourhood

Alright, I'm finally here with the last sakura post of the year. Long after the sakura have fallen. Anyway, the last place that I went to this year was... my neighbourhood XD I did this two years ago too, so I'll try not to post the same type of photos.

First up, the sakura near the post office! I don't know why, but sakura + post office = Japan to me. At least, this is one of the mental formulas I hold in my mind.

And after that, I decided to try and get a few close-up shots. I'm not sure if it's something wrong with my settings or my camera (it's probably my settings), but in a lot of my photos, the edges were extremely soft. So these are the better ones.

 - insert witty/entertaining comment, if I had one -

This was one of the blurry-but-not-that-blurry one.

And another one:

You know, I didn't notice that the last photo was so dark when I was editing it. I wonder what I was thinking at that time.

After I was done at the post office, I made my way to the park near the Muromi river.

Pretty sure that I took the same photo last time, but I can't help it!
And for some reason, this sakura petal fell so perfectly onto the blade of grass. I don't even know how that happens.

Last few photos would be at the path leading to the shrine. The sakura petals were falling like rain that day, but I couldn't really get a good shot.

But here's a picture of a cat. That ran away once I took the shot. 
 I guess this was the best shot that I could get of the falling sakura:

And for some reason, clumps of sakura dotted the handrails:

That's about all that I have for this year. Not that many photos, but I hope you enjoyed them! You can find the previous photos here.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

With the Kyushu Project

Hey everyone! If you're living in Fukuoka, or even if you're not and just want to help, you may be interested in the With The Kyushu project.

What is it about? 

According to this post by Fukuoka city, this is a concrete way that Fukuoka is helping the victims of the earthquake in Kumamoto. Apart from ascertaining the things they need and getting it for them, a bank account has also been opened for those who want to donate money.

The current list of items requested are:
- Wet Tissues
- Calorie Mate and other food supplements that can last a long time.

Previously collected:
- Towels
- Diapers (baby and adult)
- Blankets
- Water
- Sanitary items
- Tissue Papers

If you wish to donate, you can bring the goods to Daimyo Primary School (大名小学校) over in Tenjin. If you wish to donate money, you can transfer it to:

(transliteration/translation as follows)
 ・福岡銀行 本店営業部 普通預金 (Fukuoka Ginkou Honteneigyoubu Futsuuyokin ) 6558248 
 ・西日本シティ銀行 天神支店 普通預金 (Nishinihon shiti ginkou tenjinshiten futsuuyokin) 3087408
(2)口座名 Account name
 両銀行とも熊本地震福岡市義援金 Both accounts are called "熊本地震福岡市義援金"
(3)振込手数料 Transaction fees
    福岡銀行、熊本銀行、親和銀行の窓口からの振込手数料は無料 For Fukuoka Ginkou (Fukuoka Bank), if you donate from a counter from Fukuoka bank, Kumamoto bank, Shinwa bank have 0 transaction fees.
    西日本シティ銀行の本支店窓口からの振込手数料は無料 For Nishinihon City Bank, if you transfer from their counter, there are no transaction fees.
 ※各窓口で「義援金であるので、振込手数料は免除で」とお申し出ください。Please let the staff know that you wish to transfer to the relief fund and ask them to waive the transaction fees.
 ※上記以外の銀行からの振込手数料、およびATM振込、インターネットバンキング振込等で振込を行った場合、振込手数料が免除となりませんのでご注意ください。 If you use an account from a different bank, or transfer by ATM, internet banking, etc, transaction fees will apply.  
(4)受付期間 Collection Period
 平成28年4月17日(日)~5月13日(金)17th April to 13th May

And this is all the info I have on the project.

To be honest, I didn't know how much of a big deal this was until I saw a teacher from Aomori post about it. For the record, Aomori is at the other end of Japan, just below Hokkaido. According to the comments, it's a very effective program that won't result in wastage. All items are necessities and can be kept for long periods of time (unlike food).

Things I have learnt volunteering

After freaking out on Saturday, I decided that the best method to deal with the panic was to volunteer. So on Sunday and Monday morning, I went to help with the With the Kyushu project.

Things I have learnt:

- Toilet paper and diapers are awkward to pack.

- Single toilet paper is the most useful (to stuff spaces) but also the rarest

- towels and blankets are easier to pack.

- if your things are in small boxes, we will have to take them out to put in bigger boxes.

- Oh, and if you're ever donating and you have a cardboard box, please bring your things in a cardboard box. We need them for packing.

- For every troll out there, there's a kind soul who will donate their Yves Saint Laurent blankets and towels for someone that will need it more (there was a surprising amount of branded towels and blankets)

- Parents know best. Quite a few of them brought diaper wipes with the diapers (I was on diaper collection duty on Sunday) because in their words, "they are a set". On Monday, the call for wet tissue went out.

- People do want to help. From the tiny little children (probably not more than four) who were lugging bags of diapers as big as themselves to the student going for a job interview but stopped by to drop off items, people were going out of the way to help. From the bags they handed us, it was clear they weren't just getting rid of unused items in their houses - they were going to convenience stores, supermarkets, etc and buying what was needed just so they could give to those in need. The onion ninjas haunted me that day.

I also managed to talk to people from Kumamoto and Beppu, not to mention I have friends there, and this is what I learnt:

In Kumamoto, there's no water even in areas where the damage is not great. Hence the extremely urgent need for water.

And according to my junior who's home is in the worst hit area, the damage is terrible and no one has earthquake insurance. Luckily, the school is giving out scholarships to help affected students.

As for Beppu, the situation there is pretty dire too, but no one is reporting on it. They aren't even reporting much on Kumamoto city itself. But the girl that came fled from Beppu too, and I know a few people who are now in Tokyo/Fukuoka because Beppu/Oita isn't safe anymore.

Apparently the roads are all cracked, and she had to come to Fukuoka via the back lanes.

Thankfully, the universities there have some food stored up so they could help the students. And thankfully, things seem to have settled down, and Ritsumeikan APU will resume classes on Monday.

Let's all pray that Kumamoto and Beppu get back on their feet soon!

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Earthquake in Kumamoto

Yesterday (or was it two days ago?) a huge earthquake struck Kumamoto. At the time of the earthquake, I was talking to my cousin and didn't think much about it. I mean, my house rocked, which was a first for Kyushu, but this was fairly common in Tokyo.

Then I went on Twitter and realised how serious it was:

From the Line Live Tweet
Soon after that, messages started coming from friends in the Kanto region and family in Singapore, and then my sleepless night started.

The aftershocks are supposed to continue for a week, and a particularly strong one last night was actually another earthquake! I really, really don't like the aftershocks. There was one that a friend in Nagasaki and I felt AT THE SAME TIME. And the one I felt immediately after waking up today.

Nope, I do not like aftershocks.

alert that came one hour ago
Fukuoka is fairly far from the epicentre, but the shocks can be felt here too. Considering how rarely we have earthquakes here, I think a lot of people are panicking.

Or at least, I'm panicking. If I repeat stuff, yeah, you know why.

My family even asked if I want to go home, though I'm luckily still not in the immediate danger zone, but I do have job hunting events and classes, so even though I want to,  I can't.

Wait, why did I start this post? I know I wanted to write something, but nothing is useful so far. Well, I'm alive and unharmed so far, so yay for that. With any luck, the earthquakes will stop, and we can start rebuilding. I should probably search for ways to help Kumamoto too.

Oh, and my emergency bag is ready.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Shukatsu Updates + Blockchain Economics Research Lab

I really, really should be posting the last of the sakura pictures of the year (all the sakura around here have fallen), but... I've got something else!

Ok, first up, shukatsu updates. If you remember, I went for the Huis ten Bosch interview exactly a week ago. And guess what? I passed! Somehow.

This means I get to go to the next stage, which is yet another interview. So, I'll be making my way back to Huis ten Bosch next week for that.

I also attended another interview for a venture company at the start of the week, and apparently, I've passed that too! So it's another interview for me next week. Well... next week is going to be really busy.

That's all for the shukatsu stuff. Now, on to the next thing - the Blockchain Economics Research Lab in Tokyo! (Which is also the reason why I missed the first day of school)

The fun actually started in Fukuoka Airport, when I came across this:

If you have me on Google+, you might have seen this because I immediately snapped a picture and then shared it. After a while, they finished and the ceremony started, and because I'm a nosy person, I went up to one of the ANA workers and asked her what it was about.

Basically, they're going to send wakame (seaweed) to the imperial court, and this is the sending-off ceremony. According to Wikipedia, this offering of wakame from each prefecture to the imperial court is a pretty old tradition.

A close look at the seaweed.

And for some reason, they were giving out stuffed toys to the passengers! (The seaweed was travelling on my plane, apparently). The toy turned out to be a monkey, and it lived in my bag for the plane ride.

Ok, after we landed, I had about an hour, and since I hadn't had lunch, I went to eat a cookie shot.

Cookie cup + chocolate lining+ milk = happy stomach
Ok, now on to the actual meeting.

The meeting/study session was super interesting and filled with super smart people. I think I was the dumbest in the room! I was certainly the one with the least knowledge. Everyone was from a bank, or the government, or the CEO of his own startup, or university teachers, and clearly knew more about this than me.

Towards the end, when Black Zemi teacher was talking, I couldn't understand a thing! I had to go ask him what he was talking about during the break ><

But I definitely have a better understand of the Blockchain technology now! It's very decentralised, yet solves the double-spending problem, which makes it very suitable for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. But like Black Zemi Sensei pointed out, how much cost savings can it have for financially advanced countries?

It's also said to have wide-ranging applications, and I really need to study up on that!

Blockchain 2.0 is supposed to be about Smart Contracts and Smart Properties, eventually leading to the adoption of the Ethereum. But, smart properties reminds me a lot of the Cyber Physical System, and by extension the Internet of Things. So I wonder how much it will overlap with Predix (by GE)?

And for startups, are the advantages of adopting Blockchain significantly greater than using the cloud?

It's definitely a race to set standards, and now I know which white papers to read!

After it was over, I went for dinner with the next youngest person in the room - who happens to be creating his own cryptocurrency. Super interesting talk, and I think whoever advocated surrounding yourself with smarter people spoke truly. I really learnt a lot.

That's it for now, and with any luck, the next post will be about sakura and not about shukatsu :p

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Reviewers Wanted

Hey everyone! You may remember last December, when I published my first novella. Well, I'm about to publish again soon! It's a collection of short stories called "The School for Anime Characters"

What's it about:
All Freida wants is to be normal. Getting sent to ‘The School for Anime Characters’ was definitely not part of the plan. Being told she was the hero — well, things couldn’t get worse than that. Can her new classmates get her to embrace her inner hero, or is the world doomed to be overrun by crazy fangirls?  
The School for Anime Characters is a collection of short stories that are woven together.
Why am I telling you about this?

Because I need reviews! The book is almost ready to go - I'm just waiting for a cover. So, I was wondering if there's anyone out there with an Amazon/Kobo account/blog (and Goodreads as well, if possible), who would be willing to reading and review the book when it comes out.

The collection should be published sometime in early May, and as long as you post a review within a month (so by the end of May), I'll be ecstatic.

I'm interested, how do a get an Advance Review Copy(ARC)? 

If you're interested, shoot me an email at eustacia[dot]tan[at]gmail[dot]com with:
1. Links to your review profile/blog
2. Whether you would like a mobi/ePub/PDF file.

I'll also send a reminder when the book is out, with links to where you can post the reviews, so all I really want are your thoughts.

If you don't feel like reviewing, no worries! The permanent price of the book will be $0.99/99yen, so you can snap it up when it's finally out.

I'll be giving out ARCs until the week before publication.

Thanks for reading this!

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Sakura 2016: Fukuoka Castle

Hey everyone! So last week, when the sakura were in full bloom, I headed out to Fukuoka Castle to get some pictures! Unfortunately, most of them were rather blurry (shows you how lousy I am as a photographer), but I do hope you enjoy these not-so-terrible ones.

I basically walked in from Akasaka station, so these are the pictures just outside the castle.

And a not-so-close-up shot:

To get to the castle, I had to cross a bridge. That's when I saw this:

And for a picture that includes the river:

There was actually a sort of carnival going on, but though the food tempted me, the crowds put me off. So, I pressed on for the sakura!

Spotted these cute hand-drawn lanterns as well! Unfortunately, they didn't light up very well at night. I think the paper was too thick.

If only this castle wasn't a ruin! I think the sakura here are much more impressive than at Kumamoto, but Kumamoto castle has actually been rebuilt so...

Same location, different view:

I mean, I just love walking underneath the sakura trees! It's really beautiful!

Also, I just realised that the pictures taken with my phone might actually better, so to reiterate:

BEAUTIFUL! Although the picture in my phone was much brighter
And I managed to get a close-up of one sakura

And this is the view from the highest point:

The only bad thing was, when I wanted to take the night view, I couldn't get to the front! People in front weren't letting others take turns! I had to ask :p And as I was leaving, I heard two girls complain about it too.

Oh, and these bamboo were all over the place. Really pretty!

And this was the entrance to the paid area. Obviously, I paid to go in, because I wanted to go to the highest point. The view was well worth it, I feel.

And there you have it - the sakura at Fukuoka castle for 2016! I have one more set of photos, then we'll be done for the season.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Huis ten Bosch Group Interview and Tulip/Easter Decorations

Yesterday, I went to Huis ten Bosch for my first job interview. They actually have the interview at Huis ten Bosch and at Fukuoka, but due to scheduling constraints, buying a ticket to go all the way there turned out to be the more convenient action.

Since I like Huis ten Bosch, I wasn't going to complain.

When I got to Huis ten Bosch, though, it was raining. Well, the wind was worse. In fact, by the time I headed back, my umbrella had turned inside out twice and had broke.

The group interview turned out to be a group of one, because the other person got lost or something like that. So it was just me and the two interviewers. It didn't help that I was basically panicking before the interview. I was in a room all by myself, and they only came for me ten minutes after the interview was supposed to have started. I thought they forgot about me, and I think I annoyed the HR person because I went over to the interview room by myself. (I got sent back to wait :p)

The interview itself was kinda interesting. There were the usual questions, like why did you choose Japan, why did I want to work there and such, but plenty of questions I didn't expect. For the record (and my terrible memory), here's what they asked and my answers:

1. Do you believe in luck?

Me: I believe in making your own luck. And then I started self-publishing vs traditional querying as an analogy because I obviously cannot shut up about this topic.

Interviewer: 色々やってますね (you do a lot of stuff)

2. If you could change one part of Huis ten Bosch, what would it be.

Me: Introduce the Internet of Things (something else I cannot shut up about). I don't know if I managed to correctly talk about it though >< But I was talking about it.

Interviewer: Well, it's true that we have some sections that could be modernised.

3. If you had 一億円 (one hundred million yen), what would you do?

Me: I'd give 10% to charity, and invest the rest in start-ups. Oh, and if I have time/leftover, I'd like to go on a trip.

Interviewer: can't remember response.

The results are supposed to be out in a week, and hopefully, I'll be able to move on to the next stage.

After the interview was over, I decided to head into Huis ten Bosch to look at the tulips and the Easter Decorations. For some reason, the Easter decorations are still up. Of course, my first order of business was to get something to eat, because I hadn't had lunch and was starving!

There were a bunch of limited-edition items, but after thinking about it, I decided to go for this:

Basically because I wanted the cup (and you can keep the rabbit cup if you pay an extra 100 yen). It was pretty good though - cake with lots of custard and fruits! The tea wasn't that good though - I ordered rose, but it tasted like plain earl grey tea.

They also had a stamp rally, but obviously I couldn't eat that much. The card was cute though, so I took one. 
After my tea/lunch, I went to take a look at the tulips!

This is the square at the European village! Pretty, right?

After the tulips, I decided to go and look at the Easter decorations. I think the egg on the right is a tulip egg...

Here's another view:

The tree of eggs reminds me of a Christmas tree, though.

Anyway, I was here for one main reason: to try the make your own cream puff truck! It's 300 yen per try.

Basically, you pay for the cream puff shell, and using the nose of the egg in the truck, fill it up! You can fill it up with as much as you want, but I decided not to let it overflow. Partly because I was scared that it would mess up my suit.

And I got to eat my cream puff in this cute restaurant truck!

This is the inside. I was the only one (probably because of the rain), which was quite fun.

After I finished eating, I made my way out, making sure to pass by the windmills with (of course) tulips.

In a way, I'm sort of glad that it was raining. I've pictures with good weather, but none with the rain in them. Although it's a pity that I couldn't bring my DSLR - this was an interview after all.

This is probably the prettiest location that I'll ever interview at :D