Posts for 'Travel'


Using Suica on iPhone when travelling to Japan

October 30, 2016 •

I love the iPhone. So much so that people have accused me of being an Apple fanboy in the past before (they’re probably right).

I also love Japan. I spent a chunk of my childhood growing up there and I now enjoy traveling back to the country whenever I can.

So during the September Apple keynote this year, you could imagine how excited how I was when Apple announced not just the iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2, but that both of these devices had the necessary capabilities to have Suica loaded onto them.

What’s a Suica? Suica is a NFC-based prepaid smart card that you can use to pay for things in Japan with a simple tap of the NFC receiver. You can buy them pre-charged in Japanese train stations, and while they were originally intended for automatic paying of fares on train lines, they can now also be used to pay at vending machines, and even some types of stores.. Easily the most convenient way of paying for things when you’re over there. Continue reading

try! Swift and Japan!

March 28, 2016 •

Whew! I’m back home from Japan and settled back in. What an amazing trip that was! Before it becomes too much of a distant memory, I figured I’d write a wind-down blog post on it. :)

So late last year, I was invited by Natasha Murashev (Better known as @NatashaTheRobot) on recommendation of my colleague JP Simard, to come and present at a conference she was organizing in Japan for March of 2016. The conference, known as try! Swift was going to be a 3 day conference consisting of a stream of 25 minute talks, specializing in Swift, Apple’s new programming language but also including iOS development in general.

A trip to Japan (one of my favorite places), to hang out with iOS developers and talk about app development (one of my favourite things)? I couldn’t say ‘hell yes’ fast enough!  :D Continue reading

Living in Japan with my foreign iPhone

July 12, 2014 •

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog post on the quickest and easiest way I knew of to get your international iPhone working in Japan. And, after one of my friends traveled to Japan late last year, I can confirm that renting a Japanese SIM card from JCRCorp is STILL a quick and viable option, with unlimited voice, and unlimited data.

That being said however, while JCRCorp is really good, their rates start to get quite expensive the longer you stay in Japan. It’s probably fair to say that this is a service that is geared mainly towards tourists of Japan; those only staying for a short while before promptly leaving.

So last year, when I went to go work at pixiv, something I knew that I would be doing in upwards of 7 months, I figured I’d have to do something else. I also figured that since I would be going to Japan on a working visa, I could most likely pop into a telco shop and just grab a pre-paid SIM card.

So, armed with my carrier-unlocked iPhone 5 (Bought outright from Apple), I traveled over to Japan!

Unfortunately, when I got there, a few of my friends who had traveled over there a few months early, broke the news to me; apparently a ‘pre-paid SIM’ as we know and understand it in Australia, doesn’t really work in Japan. Continue reading

Pokémon X and Y

August 22, 2013 •

Of all the reasons for attending the Pokémon Game Show in Tokyo last weekend, probably the most very important one was the chance to get a sneak preview of playing Pokémon X and Y, the upcoming Pokémon title for Nintendo 3DS.

Naturally, I was there in a heartbeat to give it a try. :D

As was probably to be expected, a HUGE chunk of the game show floor was dedicated to the placement of Nintendo 3DS stations with copies of Pokémon X and Y running. To get in, you had to present your guide map from your Pokémon show bag, which would then be stamped (Assuming so people couldn’t keep going back for more. XD). A guide would then take you to one of the 3DS stations and give you instructions on how to play. :)

I probably don’t have to explain what the demo featured, as many people way more versed in Pokémon lore than me at this point have already posted about it, so I’ll just give my general impression about it. :D

Back in 2000, when Pokémon Red and Blue were being superseded by Pokémon Yellow, Pokémon Stadium came out. When I first saw a demo of Pokémon Stadium, I had a grandiose vision of it that it was just like the (at the time 8-bit) Game Boy Pokémon series, with the full world-traveling storyline and everything, in full 3D. Sadly, that wasn’t actually the case…

… until now. :D

Basically, from what I saw in that demo, Pokémon X and Y fulfilled the vision that my 14 year old self had more than a decade ago. It. Is. Amazing. :D

And the weird thing is, it felt perfectly natural going from the pseudo-isomorphic 2D/3D feeling we had in Pokémon generations IV and V to complete 3D in generation VI. They absolutely nailed it.

Seriously. If Nintendo is having trouble pushing 3DS hardware at the moment, they won’t once this game hits the stores.

My only problem is that thanks to Nintendo’s policy on region locking the 3DS (Incidentally, go sign this petition!), I have no idea whether I should buy an Aussie 3DS or a Japanese 3DS. ಠ_ಠ

Anyway. Yes, Pokémon X and Y is amazing. Yes, it appears to cost more than previous generations, but yes it’s going to be worth it. :D

The Pokémon Game Show 2013!

August 17, 2013 •

It’s uhhh… probably fair at this point to say that I’m a pretty big fan of Pokémon. And naturally, I’ve been looking forward to the release of Pokémon X and Y

So when I heard about the Pokémon Game Show that was going to be held in Tokyo, which would be featuring playable copies of X and Y, there was no question about going or not. XD

The event was being held at Tokyo Big Sight, so less than a week after Comiket ended, I always already heading back there again. Thankfully, this time around, the crowd was SLIGHTLY smaller than what was at Comiket.

BigSight

After seeing such a massive crowd at Comiket (And also at Reitaisai), it was kind of weird to see Big Sight so empty this time around.

In any case, when I got a bit closer, I knew I was definitely in the right place.

Pokémon Game Show Sign

Unlike Comiket and Reitaisai, getting in was actually somewhat different. As it turns out, due to the volume of people in the show floor, it was actually necessary to stagger the entry of new people until the others had left. So after I initially went in (After a baggage check, interestingly enough), I was required to wait in line with a block of people for about 20 minutes or so. (I guess this is actually pretty normal, but coming from Perth, I can understand why I’ve never seen it before. XD)

After finally entering the show floor, I was immediately floored at the size and scale of it. Holy crap it was massive!

Pokémon Game Show Floor

Not only that, the place was fully decked out. There was an amazing light-show at the front door, there were giant Poké balls floating in the air, and there were awesome Pokémon stands featuring the starters and the legendaries from all of the games every 20 metres. XD

The show floor was divided up into multiple sections, each catering to different Pokémon related activities. In the corner, there was a Pokémon Tretta lab in the corner, where the prize for winning was an exclusive Red Genesect tile.

Pokemon Tretta

In the middle, there a dedicated section for video/ card game Pokémon battles, with a raised stage in the middle. Suffice it to say, incredibly awesome. XD

Pokemon Battle Stage

And in the far corner, was the Pokémon X and Y exhibition (Will write more on that later). :D

PokemonXYExhibition

Beyond that, there were a few other sections, of which I’ve uploaded photos onto my Flickr.

Overall, it was an amazing day. It’s sometimes hard to fathom just how popular Pokémon is; especially in Japan. But when there’s events like this, it blows your mind even more. XD

Summer Comiket 2013

August 12, 2013 •

Even though a great deal of my friends have said how amazing Comiket is, sadly, I’d never had the opportunity to go. Until today. :D

Since I’m almost about to go home to Australia, I have very little space for buying any more things, and not to mention this weekend went on record to be ONE OF THE HOTTEST in Japan’s meteorological history, I was a little hesitant about going. But I figured, since I’d come this far, it’d be worth going to check it out, if only  for the experience. Whoo boy, and what an experience that was! XD

I decided I was only going to rock up and hour or so before it ended. I just wanted to walk around a bit, check out how the place was laid out, check out the pixiv booth, and then pop home before heat stroke set in. XD

Being from a small Australian city, I’ve only ever been used to conventions ranging in sizes of 4,000 to 18,000 attendees. Jumping off the train and witnessing the magnitude of Comiket’s over 500,000 attendee reputation BLEW MY MIND. This thing is big. It is crazy big. Holy crap it was big. XD

Having been a volunteer at Perth’s most kickass Japan-themed convention, I was also keeping an eye out for how the event was managed. It was absolutely incredible how meticulous crowd flow was managed from the train station right through the entire convention centre.

I basically did one lap of both halls to check out what kind of goods were on display, before heading up to the industry booth section. While I was walking through the rows of tables, looking at all of the comics, music, games and animation DVDs, I couldn’t help but feel a great deal of admiration for everyone there. I feel like I can only appreciate a small amount of the sheer amount of work that goes into those creations and how proud they must feel when people come up and buy that work.

Since my Australia-bound luggage-space is already at a premium, I originally wasn’t planning on buying anything. But as I was walking through one of the rows, a very enthusiastic chap offered me to browse one of his artbooks, and then got 4 of his friends to train their fans on me as I was browsing it. Figuring that gesture alone was worth it, I bought the book off him. I plan to cherish it as my first official book from Comiket. ^_^

Comiket Art Book

In any case, while I was a bit sad I didn’t get much time to look at any more goods in great detail, I ultimately don’t regret going at the end of the event. To say it was HOT is a crazy understatement, and by the time the event officially closed, I was completely drenched in sweat and partially blind as a result. ^_^;

Overall, I still found the whole experience amazing and definitely worthwhile, even in the extreme heat. Even though I’ll be back in Australia by then, I’m definitely considering flying to Japan for Winter Comiket and actually doing the whole thing properly next time. :D

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