Hokkaido Part 2

On the road. From Lake Toya, we headed up to Niseko (a ski resort which is apparently invaded by Aussies every winter), then to Ootaru for some architecture, fresh fish, hand-made glass and excellent German beer. This was my favourite photo of the journey:

I’ve never seen someone so dour riding a quad bike. I like to think that he was busted for drink driving and lost his licence, so now he has to commute to work on the bike.

2 more photos:

More to come…

Hokkaido Part 1

Hokkaido is my new favourite place. It’s like the Tasmania of Japan. All delicious food and stunning countryside. Made me almost sad to come back to our urban cave in Tokyo (almost — but then I remembered Tokyo is where computer games live).

The photos below are from our first day, which we spent driving down to Lake Toya.

If you like really long tunnels, then you will love Hokkaido. Also if you like crabs:

Moon Tan spies a delicious-looking goat in yonder field. Lunch!

Luckily for the goat, Moon Tan then spied an even more delicious-looking ice cream.

The goat is safe… for today.

This shetland pony was seriously grumpy. Maybe it was hungover from drinking with Wild Horse? He didn’t say it, but I could tell that he really wanted to bite my hand.

Lake Toya is actually a gigantic caldera, and there’s still a lot of active volcanoes in the area.

We stayed in a backpackers hostel right on the bank of the lake (near the house with the red roof in the photo above). The hostel was clean and quiet, and the only slight complaint was that we both had the unshakeable feeling that we were going to be murdered in our sleep by the owner. In the event, of course, we weren’t. Still, even the inspiring the feeling that guests will be murdered in their sleep is something that an accommodation provider should try to avoid, in my view. I give the hostel a rating of 7/10.

Lake Toya is a nice place.

Tokyo Game Show

[Warning: nerd content ahead. If you are not a nerd, check out this video of a sloth orphanage instead. So cute!!]

What can I say about the Tokyo Game Show that will fully communicate its total awesomeness? It would be like if anthropomorphised versions of Final Fantasy VI and Civilization II had a baby, and that baby was a Japanese video game trade show.

Moon Tan bravely volunteered to accompany me on a very wet Tokyo day. The convention centre was across town, and we had to wait outside in the rain for like an hour before we could buy tickets. But it was totally worth it! (Moon Tan’s opinion may vary…)


There were a phenomenal amount of people (okay, mostly dudes). Apprarently about 250,000 people visited this year over the two days. That made it pretty hard to get to actually play any of the games, particularly if they were highly anticipated by the locals. Still, there was a lot to see, and a lot of freebies to collect.

Two of the most popular games at the Capcom booth were:

Street Fighter x Tekken. (I mean, it was inevitable, right?) And…

…Ace Attorney 5, the fifth instalment in the definitive Japanese fantasy courtroom simulator. As my mate ReserveList pointed out to me, it’s now being made into a ridiculous movie (hilarious trailer here — incidentally, this is exactly what it’s like to be a Tokyo lawyer).

Personally, I was most excited about the Squaresoft booth. I know, I know, they’re Squenix now, but I’ll always know them as Squaresoft. In any case, they had a giant inflatable chocobo towering over their booth!

They had some info on some new games coming out which look veeeerry interesting, but I was actually most excited about the remake of Final Fantasy III (which some call “the forgotten Final Fantasy”, but most just call “FF3J”) which seems to feature completely redone graphics and music:

Best of all, it’s on the Vita right now. Now all I need to do is learn some Japanese… (actually, I’m playing FF Tactics in Japanese at the moment, and let me tell you, that game is already hard enough without not being able to understand what you’re doing).

Aside from all the awesome games, the cosplay (that’s dress-ups, for all you non-geeks — hey, shouldn’t you be watching that sloth video?) was mind-blowing. The Japanese fans really go that extra mile to get the costumes just right.

FFX is still (unaccountably) really popular over here. Above is Lulu, Yuna and Rikku.

…and here’s Tidus photographing a rather camp Wakka.

…Zack and Aeris from FFVII: Crisis Core.

Hmm… I don’t think that’s canonical….

All in all, I had a great day. It’s always good to be amongst your people. Tokyo Game Show: highly recommended.