Random Friday

So, Japan. If you travel to Japan, you don’t need to bring travel slippers or PJs, since the hotels will give you that – at least in Takayama and Kyoto they had PJs for guests. I sleep with a nightgown, so I didn’t try them.

Takayama hotel PJ on Muse H

Takayama hotel PJ on Muse H

If you’re a smoker, you better stay at home, since it’s forbidden to smoke except in selected areas (meaning no, you’re not allowed to smoke in the streets either).

Food – since I don’t like sushi, I was kind of wary and thought I’d eat only ramen for 9 days. Nope. I actually had ramen only once. I didn’t mind tempura, loved the crabs and I like shrimps. I even had meat and it was good. So the food is fine – I didn’t starve! πŸ™‚

People – they’re all very nice, but their English is mostly non-existent, therefore it’s very frustrating sometimes. Oh, and I dared crossing a street with a red signal (it was green when I started, but I hadn’t noticed it was soon going to turn red) and I got honked and chided (in Japanese) – to which I could only apologize with a bow.

Places – the natural places are at their best with autumn-colored leaves. Those reds, oranges and yellows mixing with various shades of green are beautiful even outside of the Japanese gardens with their maxi-bonsai and carefully crafted fountains, lakes and whatnot.

Buildings – sometimes those pagodas were a little too colorful for my tastes! πŸ˜‰ I was happy to visit different styles of houses at Shirakawago (rightfully listed as World Heritage site). Unfortunately it was raining and most pictures came out blurred. But it was a nice change of landscape from the castles and temples of Tokyo, Takayama, Kanazawa, Kyoto and Nara! πŸ™‚

Public transport – I’ve managed to take the JP (subway) in Tokyo on my own, and it wasn’t too bad. Except the English writings last very shortly, even on trains, so you have to look for them! πŸ™‚ Then I tried the Shinkansen (high-speed trains of Japan) and normal trains. And bus/coach and car with driver since for two nights there was only 3 of us – our lovely guide Aya, Andrea and me.

It was a good taste, but it was enough for me. I’m still sorting through the 1800+ pictures, so maybe I’ll leave that for another post –Β probably divided into slideshows (food, nature, temples, castles, etc). I guess my love story with Japan is over. I should have visited 10 or 20 years ago…

nextTrip_resize(for whomever is new to this blog, that’s Muse H and me. Follow link to see what he actually looks like – but then I don’t look like that either, LOL!)

News from Japan

I interrupt my usual Friday Love-story with… for a good cause. Yesterday I finally received an e-mail from Masayo. She’s OK, but…

– their life completely changed after the earthquake of March 11. More quakes keep hitting the islands even if on smaller scale. Scary.

– she wasn’t hit by the tsunami, of course, but the nuclear plant disaster is the biggest and long term problem for all of them. As if Hiroshima and Nagasaki hadn’t been enough.

– they have power failure and the governments forbids to use electric power for 3 hours a day – that’s 3 hours with no computers, no lights, no fridge, no trains, and they worry about spending their hot summer without AC.

– after the earthquake they couldn’t buy food because most food factories were in the tsunami area.

Things are slowly getting better, but they still need help. Kristan here has a good list of things to do to help Japan. Or you can buy Barb&Masayo’s Stories, all earnings will go to her. I’ll also contribute a story to the anthology Stories for Sendai.

As for nuclear power, wake up world, and give up dangerous toys NOW! Will this lesson be enough? Only the future will tell… don’t read The world without us if you want to feel safe on this very unsafe planet.

Love-story with… Japan

When I jotted down a list of love stories, Japan was still doing fine. In the aftermath of last March events, I guess it’s time to share my love for a country so different in culture and language from Europe, that it’s still on my list of countries to visit ASAP.

It all started in 1978 with the anime invasion of Europe. Grendizer‘s pilot was my first love, baptized Actarus both in Italy and France (his real name being Daisuke, like I learned some 20 years later), and I followed any anime that would show up on Italian TVs and Antenne 2 (French national TV that could be seen in Rome up to 2005). Some I saw in both languages (including Grendizer, and I preferred the French dubbing to the Italian one, he was cooler! :-D), most in Italian. The last series I saw in the late 1980s were Cat’s eyes and Saint Seya.

To this add the TV series (spoof or Star Wars) Message from space: galactic battle, where I was in love with Ayato (or Hayato? That’s how they wrote him on the Italian DVD… and that’s why I wrote it with an ‘h’ in Air… I spelled it right in the late 1970 and not now? Ah, these foreign languages… ahem, whatever!). Doesn’t look bad today either, now that I’ve seen his face on IMDB… at the time he was 18 and absolutely gorgeous! πŸ˜‰ And, wow, he’s now working with my muse… ahem! Sorry. Let me get back to Japan.

Then there was the manga invasion. Today I concentrate on a few authors (Ikegami, Hojo, Katsura and Miura), but I’ve read many, from Dragonball to shonen ai and shojo manga. I know a little more about the country today through (pen) friends and studies, but I still need to see the real deal. I really hope to visit one day, even if I know I’ll be Lost in translation… πŸ˜‰

I had two Japanese pen pals, one is long lost, the other is Masayo I have already mentioned. And may I say my Muse is playing a half-blood Japanese (which isn’t hard for someone of Chino-Hawaiian origins… ;-)) in the Hollywood version of a Japanese historical event? (And he’s working with “Ayato”, yay! :-D). His Japanese co-stars were safely in Budapest when the earthquake and tsunami hit, but they must be very worried for their families…

Let’s hope the world dismantles ALL nuclear plants and starts using cleaner energy, more eco-friendly, such as winds or the sun…

Indie Publishing Week 3

Middle of the week and already procrastinating. Daunted by the prospect of working on a web page (in spite of WordPress support) and learning that Saturday I’m free – so one more day to work – I decided to do some extra work. Well, not completely.

I uploaded Air on Lulu, and I have problems fitting the cover on the Lulu Cover Wizards. So I’ll have to adjust it with the help of the cover artist. Sigh.

Then yesterday it occurred to me that I’ve worked with a Japanese artist in the past, and I haven’t heard from her. I e-mailed her, but she didn’t reply. She never does. She drops me an e-mail for my b-day or around Christmas and then disappears again. She lives south of Tokyo, so the tsunami shouldn’t have hurt her place, but…

So, after seeing JC Martin launching an anthology for Japan (check her guidelines here), I decided to upload on Lulu a compendium of our works – it’s manga, of course. I wrote them, Masayo did the drawings.

Except I have all of them on paper – I had one saved on a back-up CD, but half of it isn’t readable… – so today I spent the day scanning and preparing the PDF for Lulu. As soon as I check the proof copy, it will be available on my Lulu store.

All earnings will go to her, or, if I fail to get in touch with her, to her country (I will go to the Japanese Embassy in Rome to ask where it’s more needed).

Here’s a preview of the cover images –Β  I did the coloring, so blame me if it’s not so good. I have some drawings she did in color, but not the mangas, as we didn’t have color covers back then.

A bloody story of vampires



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