Friday, October 31, 2008

Flickr Pic #38: [春日部夏休み] Moshi Moshi

[春日部夏休み] Moshi Moshi
[春日部夏休み] Moshi Moshi
Originally uploaded by scion_cho

On the 2nd day of the Kasukabe Summer Festival, I first went to Shinjuku to buy the 50-150mm f2.8 Sigma lens then went straight back home to Kasukabe to have a "break-in" of the newly 'toy'. Compared to the 1st day, I was able to take lots pics of random strangers; and because of my new lens' wide aperture at f2.8, was able to enhance the depth of field of my shots.

I had positioned myself on one corner to take pictures of random people passing through the whole event. I was able to take a shot of this lady who was roughly about 4 meters away from me as she was talking to someone via her 'keitai' (cellphone).

Taken on July 13, 2008
Location: Kasukabe City, Saitama Prefecture, Japan

See Flickr post #37 (click link here)

posted by ScIoN 6:33 PM |

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Flickr Pic #37: [春日部夏休み] Minnie Back Shots

[春日部夏休み]   Minnie Back Shots
[春日部夏休み] Minnie Back Shots
Originally uploaded by scion_cho

For about 6 months, I had been using the lone 18-55mm kit lens, and was kind of frustrated when taking candid shots of people since this lens is a bit short in range. When shooting closely, you would be easily be noticed; thus, capturing the desired moment would be difficult.

So, for shy people like me who wants to take pictures of people (i.e. event, street), the safest way is to take shots from behind. :)

Taken on July 12, 2008
Location: Kasukabe City, Saitama Prefecture, Japan

See Flickr post #36 (click link here)

posted by ScIoN 5:30 PM |

Sunday, October 26, 2008

October Bday Celebrants@Club 105-- Keio-Nagayama, Tokyo -- October 25

The 'Kaladkaran group' recently had a 'house party' for the October birthday celebrants at Justin&Mark's apartment (aka Club 105, name derived from their room apartment's number). There were 3 of us celebrating our bdays this October, and the good thing here in Japan for bday celebrants is that we enjoy free treats from friends (unlike in the Philippines wherein the celebrants usually give treat to the wellwishers).
In house parties such as this, it's actually some sort of a potluck party wherein the attendees bring in drinks, food, et al; then afterwards, everyone shares the cost except for the bday celebrant/s and the house hosts (all receipts to be gathered, and the costs to be distributed evenly).
The drinking session started at about 730pm with various kinds of liquor and food: Asahi beer, Chu-hi, Baileys, Cassis, Jose Cuervo, Martini; chicken, yakitori, 'limited edition' gravy (by Lau), soup (c/o Regilyn), etc.
After the drinking session, we went to the game center and played bowling, table tennis, and some of the available game machines. The center was open up to 6am, just the perfect place to spend time while waiting for the first train in the morning (530am). As for me, Keio-Nagayama is approximately 2 hours away via train from my apartment.

Attendees: Lau, Gabby, Tinats, Ish, Khen, M, Aileen, Geoff, Jhong, Vanush, Jac, Justin, Mark, Regilyn, Jem & Tha. Thanks for the company, guys! Also, Happy Birthday to Benny and Tha!

As usual, everytime I go out (non work-related) I always bring my cam. I used the 18-55mm kit lens since my 50-150mm would be too long a lens for indoor apartment shots (plus the kit lens is much lighter). Quite had a hard time determining the correct settings to use. I had no choice but to use high ISO and built-in flash. Really wish I have an external flash. I'm putting the Nikon SB-600 in my wishlist. Any sponsors? Bday gift or Xmas. :D

*I'm inserting some Akihabara pics taken the week before, since I was only able to take just a few shots (couldn't comprise a full album). Also, special thanks to JB for treating me out with Ramen at Akiba.
***drat, I forgot to input the text on the auto-watermark feature of my batch picture resizer software. Oh well, next time.

posted by ScIoN 11:03 AM |

Friday, October 24, 2008

Flickr Pic #36: [春日部夏休み] Little Drummer Girl

[春日部夏休み]  Little Drummer Girl
[春日部夏休み] Little Drummer Girl
Originally uploaded by scion_cho

About a year ago, I was sort of disappointed at Satte City (location of our first apartment) because the place was so boring as compared to the very interesting Tokyo life. After our initial stay for 3 months, we were given the chance to choose a new location and we chose Kasukabe City (infamous for anime series such as Crayon Shin-chan and Lucky Star).

We were actually hoping that our new apartment would be at Kasukabe City's west side (with reference to the Kasukabe train station) where there's lots of activity due to flourishing businesses such as restaurants, pachinko parlors, etc. Unfortunately, our company director got us some space on Kasukabe-East instead. Another boring, purely residential place.

However, during Japan's summer season (June-August), Kasukabe celebrated its 'Natsu Matsuri' (read: summer festival) and the primary location for that event was right on our side of Kasukabe. =) It was nice to experience going out and enjoying the streets without having to go to Tokyo.

The Kasukabe Natsu Matsuri was held for 2 days. On the first day, I tried to take lots of pictures with my old and trusty kit lens (18-55mm). While on the second day, I rushed to Shinjuku to buy my current walkaround 50-150mm lens, then immediately went back home to shoot more.

The above shot features the kids taking part in the Taiko (drum) competition. [first day]

Taken on July 12, 2008
Location: Kasukabe City, Saitama Prefecture, Japan

See Flickr post #35 (click link here)

posted by ScIoN 5:53 PM |

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Flickr Pic #35: Scared or Surprised?

Scared or Surprised?
Scared or Surprised?
Originally uploaded by scion_cho

After the Philippine Day event at Oji Park, we went to T.G.I. Friday's at Ueno for dinner. While waiting for our food, we saw some staff delivering a specialized treat courtesy of the establishment while singing a "Hapi- Baus-dei" (Happy Bday) song to a lady.

Not to be outdone, we readily played a game (forgot what it was) wherein Kate ended up losing. As a consequence, she would be the pretend-bday girl for the day while one of our companions, Wena, volunteered to request for "Kate's treat". I think what Wena did should have been THE consequence though, I guess Wena was just too excited. hehe

Featured pic shows Kate's reaction once the treat was delivered to her with "luces" (sort of like those used in the New Year celebrations) poached into the sundae.

*Kate's bday was actually within that month (about a week later), so technically, we were already celebrating her birthday in advance; thus, no harm done towards the establishment. =P

This was the card given to us as an added souvenir from TGIF. =P

Taken on June 15, 2008
Location: TGIF Resto- Ueno, Tokyo, Japan

See Flickr post #34 (click link here)

posted by ScIoN 5:18 PM |

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Flickr Pic #34: [Philippine Day] Closing Program

[Philippine Day]  Closing Program
[Philippine Day] Closing Program
Originally uploaded by scion_cho

At the first half of my stay here in Japan, I was almost always cooped up in my apartment during weekends. Since I was assigned to a client location far away from most of the people I know here in Japan, I rarely go out and instead just enjoy free time in front of the computer. I did buy my DSLR as motivation for myself to go out and shoot. However, with just the kit lens on hand, I was still a bit lazy to go out.

There were only a few major outings and events that I was able to join/attend within that first half. One of which was the Philippine Day at Oji Park. It was my first time to eat Philippine food in months, and also the biggest crowd of Filipinos I had ever seen in Japan.

The picture above features the closing performance for the whole day's event. Quite funny because when I took this picture about 4 months ago, I didn't know any of them (except for Kaye Brosas and Piolo Pascual who were guest celebrities). Now, I could point out familiar faces in this picture as I've already had an encounter with most of them just recently.

On the far left is lawyer-blogger Ryo (aka Atty in recent picture posts), who was a companion in recent photo trips; 2 singers (bald headed guy, and red dress woman) who performed just recently at the Utawit event's opening number (see related pics on Photos page--Utawit); a government official, et al. Looks like the Jazz singer Charito is also there in the picture. :P

Lately, I've already met lots of people; thus, being able to go out a lot more. Thanks to my newfound friends and also to my reliable 'non-kit lens', I've been going out almost every weekend already -- as compared to before when I consider myself lucky if I go out at least once a month. :D

Without friends, photography, holidays, weekends... I could have lost my sanity here in Japan. =P

Taken on June 15, 2008
Location: Asukayama (Oji) Park , Tokyo, Japan

See Flickr post #33 (click link here)

posted by ScIoN 5:36 PM |

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Flickr Pic #33: [FujiQ Highlands] 90-Degree Drop

[FujiQ Highlands] 90-Degree Drop
[FujiQ Highlands] 90-Degree Drop
Originally uploaded by scion_cho

This is the 90-degree drop of the "Eejanaika" ride at Fuji-Q Highlands. It is classified as a 4-dimension rollercoaster because aside from the usual normal/upside-down/sideways loop, the seats also rotate vertically; thus, giving you a '4d' perspective. This is actually my favorite of all rides. I really love the part where the seats turn vertically backward and you have no choice but to see the world upside down.

Taken on June 8, 2008
Location: Fuji-Kyuu (Q) Highlands, Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan

See Flickr post #32 (click link here)

posted by ScIoN 6:08 PM |

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Flickr Pic #31: [Golden Week] Breakfast at Saizeriya

[Golden Week] Breakfast at Saizeriya
[Golden Week] Breakfast at Saizeriya
Originally uploaded by scion_cho

I seldom eat outside (at fastfoods/restaurants) since we have subsidized food at our client company's canteen. Set meals there are great and costs relatively cheap at an average of 480yen (Php200) per meal. Regular bento meals (commercialized packed lunch) costs around the same, but at least food at the canteen are healthier and more complete -- rice, miso soup and a healthy viand (sometimes with side dishes too).

At home, we always do the cooking (for dinner and on weekends); thus saving a lot more money. Eating out usually costs around at least 1000yen (~Php420), and that only happens when I go outside on weekends. Japanese fastfoods/restaurants are no longer limited to washoku (traditional Japanese food), as Western-style cooking is already available on the menu. Like that of Saizeriya's meals depicted on the picture above.

Taken on May 4, 2008
Location: Center Kita, Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan

See Flickr post #30 (click link here)

posted by ScIoN 1:38 PM |

Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Golden Ticket -- December Vacation

I should've blogged about this weeks ago, but I guess it's only now that I have some time to do so. Since early August, I had been searching for cheap December roundtrip tickets to the Philippines in time for the winter break here in Japan. Initially, I had been assured of an open-ended ticket till Dec 19; but then unfortunately, there had been changes in company policies that ended up revoking my available ticket to be replaced with a fixed amount instead. (photo credit from flickr: witheyes )

We were only informed of the new policy at the start of the summer vacation (early August), and so it was only during that time that I was able to start canvassing (mid August) for ticket prices and its corresponding schedules. December is indeed a peak season for flights to and from Japan since it is affected by the Xmas rush towards different celebrating countries, plus the weeklong winter break at the end of the year.

I thought August was still a bit early to book for December flights, but I was wrong. Assuming off peak roundtrip rates would be about 40-50k Yen (~Php17k-21k), the cheapest rate I got was already at 107k Yen (~Php45k, Northwest Airlines) and it is even scheduled on Dec 27-Jan14 departure-arrival date. Other airlines offering direct flight from Narita costs even more at 130kYen and above. This is such an overkill. (Image taken from H.I.S. travel agency)

On the 26th of December, 2 of my college friends are going to be married with each other and I was really looking forward to attend this big event. This is also going to be one big reunion for all of us, since I have not seen most of them for over a year now. As expected from Glenn and May, this would probably be one of the best weddings we could witness within our batch. This I can not miss! (image from their weddingannouncer site)

And so, even though we already had applied for work leaves within the Dec27-Jan14 schedule, I was still searching for cheaper and more convenient dates that would let me be able to attend the wedding. I didn't want to tell May that I had problems with my flight schedule since she might cancel her earlier invitation for me (I'm still in, right? :P).

Alas, right in the nick of time, just before we were scheduled to pay the earlier bookings; Cebu Pacific had just opened airways between Manila and Osaka. It was already mid September when they offered their promo flights. Geoff and his group were able to buy roundtrip tickets at 43k Yen (~Php18k). I wasn't able to purchase yet since I don't have a credit card to book online plus, I had to ask permission from my boss first for the change in work leaves' dates.

I agreed to join Geoff's group and so I applied for change of leaves within the Dec18-Jan4 time frame. Osaka is about 9 hours away by bus (2.5hours by bullet train) from Tokyo, I do need companions for the long trip. Quite unfortunately, it took about 2 days before I got one of my bosses' nod (for my leave application) that the price skyrocketed a bit to 63k Yen(Php26k)! That's about Php8k loss! Anyway, I had decided I shall attend the wedding, and so with the help of my Uncle in the Philippines, paid for flight tickets on that date. whew, at last!

So this is final. My Xmas vacation in the Philippines would be from Dec 18 to Jan 4 (return to Japan). I do still have some slight dilemma, since most of my friends are in Manila but my immediate family resides in Baguio City (Benguet).

To my friends back there: my initial plan is to go home straight to Baguio upon arrival (Dec 18), Dec 25/26 - go down back to Manila for the Dec 26 wedding, after spending a few days with '01 friends after the wedding -- will go back up to Baguio and enjoy the new year with my family. I hope you guys could help me fill in the blanks in between my travels back and forth Baguio-Manila. If you guys have plans within that Xmas break, let me know so I can arrange my schedule. I really want to explore our beaches there but it seems schedule might not fit in.

Any suggestions? ;-)

See you guys this December!!!

posted by ScIoN 2:38 PM |

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Flickr Pic #30: [Golden Week] Alone in the Dark

[Golden Week] Alone in the Dark
[Golden Week] Alone in the Dark
Originally uploaded by scion_cho

After the Golden Week BBQ session, went out to the nearby park with Chi, a colleague and also a photohobbyist. It was turning dark already, then I took this shot using only ambient lighting available.

Taken on May 3, 2008
Location: nearby forest park at Center Kita, Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan

See Flickr post #29 (click link here)

posted by ScIoN 6:09 PM |

My Photo
Location: Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines

ScIoN is a former Systems Engineer in Japan who specialized in industrial imaging and digital hardware design. He is now back in the Philippines pursuing graduate studies in Finance at the University of the Philippines - Diliman.



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