Japan trip preparation

Been preparing for a trip to Japan lately. Lots of last minute bookings for hotels for sightseeing. Looking forward to going to Japan again!
I’ll be doing some anime location siteseeing, climbing Mt Fuji with friends, going to some concerts (LiSA, angela and Lantis Festival), and some anime events (Wonder Festival)

After looking at the preview of Glasslip, I made last minute changes to my trip so that I’ll be going to Mikuni to the anime location.
I booked a glass blowing session at the Watari glass studio shown in the anime preview.

I have also been experimenting with using twitter and twilog RSS feeds with a wordpress plugin to transform my daily tweets to actual draft posts so I can blog more easily.
This should help me blog more often and also help me cover my Japan trip on my blog much quicker. I haven’t really made much progress in documenting my previous Japan trips on my blog, so hopefully this will help me do that easier this time.

DIY speaker cabinet finished!

DIY Speaker cabinet finished last night! Whoohoo!

My desk with my newly completed speakers. flic.kr/p/nxPAbK

Injured ankle :(

Rolled my ankle last week. Physio says it maybe fractured. Need to rest it.

Update: All healed now! 🙂

Making more progress on speaker cabinet

I’ve been making my own speaker cabinet recently using some Mark Audio CHR-70 mk3 speaker drivers I bought in Japan a over year ago. I am new to woodworking, but after playing with 3d printers, I think I felt I wanted to make something with my own two hands rather than click a button and have something complete with no real effort put in.
I cut the parts from MDF and based it on one of the recommended designs on the Mark Audio webpage. I used a mix of power tools and hand tools.

The glued speaker cabinet turned out great! Did have to sand down some of the joints a little to make it neater.

Finished drilling the dowel holes in the 2nd speaker cabinet. Fit is perfect so far. Plan to glue it later tonight. pic.twitter.com/l3XdO7XYWS


Finished glueing and clamping my 2nd speaker cabinet. Made good progress this weekend. pic.twitter.com/65vMDeSDI0


Building a speaker cabinet

Been building a speaker cabinet the last couple of weekends. The pieces are all cut.

Speaker cabinet test fit to see if the cut parts fit together correctly. pic.twitter.com/y0CoqEo0XH

What the speaker cabinet front looks like with the speaker and 3d printed bass port tube. pic.twitter.com/2zhaD1mtWl

DIY speaker cabinet status. Just finished drilling all the dowel joints. Glued it after successful test assembly. pic.twitter.com/izPMxSJrgv


Review of 2013

It’s been a really long time since I last updated my blog. I’ve been very busy at work last year and also have been equally busy pursuing a lot of hobbies.

I have been keeping up my music related hobbies including piano and violin practice. Due to lack of free time, I dropped cello for a bit, but I’m hoping to restart it again this year. So far I’m feeling I’ve improved in both piano and violin, but I am still not yet satisfied with my piano skills yet. I am still a bit weak at my sightreading which is preventing me from playing all the anime songs I enjoy, but I’m now learning songs from the music sheet and learning techniques to take the songs of the page into memory which I believe will take me that step further to playing the songs I want to play.

As for violin, I have been making good progress every week and I am just starting on learning a bit of vibrato. My teacher has also said I am almost ready to be able to start playing in an orchestra. I still am not happy with my intonation yet, although it is improving. I am quite good with sightreading, but need the practice so that I can play songs in tune and correctly despite any added pressure. This is so I can record myself playing easier. At the moment, there are too many mistakes that I can’t easily make my own piano and violin combination videos to post onto youtube.

At the beginning of last year, I had the problem that I was struggling with trying to memorize all the simply music songs on my playlist. I recovered my playlist, but due to work being too busy, I have been struggling throughout this year to keep up with all the songs.

Apart from music, I’ve been quite into making a lot of stuff. I got into some hobby electronics and built several headphone amplifies and some speaker amps. I even built a couple of tube amplifier kits and fabricated my own PCBs to make my own CanAmp headphone amp clone which I’m proud of. I also designed and build my own metronome for music practice. I then moved on from discrete electronics into some PIC chip programming to try make some other projects included a test project to play a ham radio greeting with my call sign on a buzzer in Morse code.

I also got into 3D printers as they have become popular lately. Around the middle of last year, I bought a RepRap 3d printer kit from MakerFarm of the 8” i3 Prusa. It is a laser cut kit and it took me about 2 weeks to put it together. I bought my kit around the same time as another person at work bought the same kit, so we worked together to debug issues until we got it working. It was a lot of work and looking back, there was a lot of trial and error needed to learn how to get it printing decently. The printer kept falling apart while printing or something would happen that would cause the prints to fail and I’d have to try figure out how to fix it. Thanks to that, I wasted a lot of time, but also learnt a lot of how to fix all of the issues. Now I can keep it running fairly reliably since I know it inside out. Recently I modified the kit to add automatic bed levelling and it involved updating the firmware to enable the feature. It turned out that the newer firmware had bugs in it, so I had to make some changes to it to get it working on my printer.

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Japan Trip 2012 – Day 14 At the recording studio

I woke up early and got on the train to meet with my friends to record some music at a studio!
This will be the first time I’ll meet up with these friends for about a couple of years.

Back a few years, I bought their doujin (fan-made) music CDs they sold at comic market, and had been in communication with them. It was about last year that they offered to let me participate in their CD which has been motivating me to improve with my violin and piano.

I brought my violin, music stand, midi keyboard and macbook air with me as well as some change of clothes.

It seemed that although I arrived on time, the other two members were running late.

The studio was a bit of a distance away so we had to catch a bus there. Before leaving we brought some breakfast at McDonalds.

When we arrived, we went to the studio to set up and one of us went to check in to the hotel in the same building.

When setting up, we noticed a few things, the drums didn’t come with any drum sticks and the keyboard didn’t have a sustain pedal.

My friend prepared a timetable for roughly how we should organise our time to record the parts for the CD, and my part was to practice the violin parts until I can play it quite flawless even without music sheet.

That was the other problem. My friend ended up not creating an arrangement of Gymnopedie as discussed, so we decided to drop that and focus on the Aozora song that I started practicing a couple of days ago.

There was no music sheet for that, so I spent some time getting a midi copy of the song converted into music sheet and worked on transposing it down an octave and into the key of D as it is the easiest key to play the song in.

Since I converted the song from a midi, the rhythm was messed up on the music sheet, so I had to just refer to the notes, but play the rhythm by ear. Playing it in tune was an issue and I had to occasionally play the midi and adjust my tuning to match the midi file to ensure I was playing it perfectly in tune.

While I was practicing the violin, the guitarist, Tsukineko, was busy making his own guitar tabs as the music he had to learn was only available as music sheet.

The main person in the group, Nagai, was busy still working on some songs on his laptop while we were practicing and making our music sheets.

There was one other person in our group who worked on lyrics for the vocals for use in the singing software Hatsune Miku.

I am busy practicing violin now and the current plan is to have me record my part tonight.

Lunch was at a restaurant in the same building complex. A couple had the meal of the day, but me and another one of the guys had a different dish.

We couldn’t use the studio till late at night, so after 8pm? we had to leave and call it day for the recording. In the end, we were not able to complete any of the recording and the guitar part needed a bit more work and adjusting of the guitar effects pedals and amp to get the right sound they were looking for.

Apparently we also had a curfew on what time we could go out, so we had to quickly head to the convenience store for dinner. It seemed that there weren’t any other places to eat nearby.

I bought myself some noodles, some cheese karage and some other snacks.

The room we stayed in was quite big and spacious. It was a Japanese style room with a large table in the center.
We ate dinner, had a shower and then Tsukineko and Nagai worked on one of the songs while trying various tweaks to the guitar and effects pedal setup.

Since there was nothing much I could do as I left the violin in the recording studio, I just relaxed and played some little busters on my ps vita.

We also recorded something called Otaku radio and we all contributed to the mock radio talkshow that Nagai was hosting. It wasn’t going into the current CD, but was for something else later on.

Because I slept late the previous night and woke up early, at this stage, I was getting quite sleepy. I was actually on the edge of sleeping as I kept nodding off while they were working on the CD and recording some talk show style interviews.

Japan Trip 2012 – Day 13 Doujin CD recording practice

Woke up about 10am.

Good news! Yokohama arena’s lost and found rang to let me know they found my missing pamphlet. They will post it to my hotel.

Hmm, apart from violin practice, my schedule says to go to Ghibli museum and nakano broadway or watch anime movies… Sounds good. :).

About to head off to book tickets to ghibli museum soon. Hopefully it isn’t booked out today since it’s school holidays after all.

Left hotel to go to lawsons to see if i can book ghibli tickets.

Bugger! All Ghibli tickets sold out for the day.. guess i’ll check the cinemas first for anime movies before nakano shopping.

I did kinda leave it till last minute before booking.

Seems eating at a family restaurant at lunch time is not a good idea. Order is taking a while because it’s crowded.

About to head to Ikebukuro to check cinemas for anime movies.

Arrived at Ikebukuro at about 1:30pm. First time this trip.

I can’t remember if the anime stores on the east or west exit of Ikebukuro.

Oops! I went out the wrong exit. Looks like i’m after the east exit.

Found the cinema and made it in time for code geas movie.

I still had 15mins before the movie started so I took a quick browse at Lashinban before heading back to cinema for the movie at 2:30pm.

Finished watching the movie. It was rather short and I had no idea what was going on in it. After the movie, I looked around the Ikebukuro anime shops again.

After browsing for a while, I was feeling tired from lack of sleep so I decided to head back to hotel at about 4:30pm.

Will go to nakano another day. need to get back to rest and practice violin.

As I was halfway back to the hotel, there was a sudden change of plans! Ronald rang telling me he was in Akihabara, so I’m meeting him there since i’m closeby.

I met up with Rin in Akiba at about 5pm and he showed me around, telling me where all the best places to buy figures were.

He remembered I liked the companies minori and Visual Arts so he took me to the minori and Visual Arts in-store festivals at Gamers where I bought a bit.

We also went to tower records where I bought some music cds I wanted (Sakamichi no Apollon OST) & we had sushi for dinner together.

We left at about 10:30pm and I headed back to the hotel.

I need to pack for tomorrow and practice violin quietly with heavy metal mute as I’ll be recording music with my Japan friends tomorrow. We will be recording a CD of anime and game song arrangements and selling it at the event Comic Market.

I’ve only ever participated as a shopper, but this would be the first time to participate as a seller.

The group or “circle” i’m making the CD with is called SheepSlowlySleep. We’ll be selling the CD on the 2nd day Saturday, 11th Aug West area “さ” block 07a.

Since it’s the 2nd day, I’ll be spending the first day still at the recording studio instead of at the event working on getting the CD recorded.

According to my friend, we will have the recording studio booked for 1 day and the morning of the first day.

Tomorrow will be the first recording day at the studio. I’ll have to wake up early to make it on time.

Japan Trip 2012 – Day 12 Doujin CD recording practice

Had a nice sleep in today and practiced more violin this morning. Violin practice is going well. Will plan to do more laundry later too.

For a while my violin wasn’t sounding very good.. until I realized that I forgot to tune it. It sounded much better after that. 😛 Oops. LOL

After some more violin practice i’m off to lunch at 1pm for katsudon. Then off to ochanomizu for a music stand to use for practice and browsing music shops.

Forgot to charge my kindle so charging it on the go with a portable battery.

On the train, i saw an elderly woman carrying a giant DSLR camera. Not something i’ve come across often.

2pm now and just arrived at Ocha no mizu now. I wonder where all the music stores are.

Found the stores! Wow so many! I went out of the wrong exit of the station.

I explored a violin shop with lots of nice violins and cellos.

Another violin shop. This one even has a repair section upstairs.

So many guitars at Ocha no mizu. I wish I could play guitar as it would be heaven for a guitarist.
I saw some keyboards stuff as well but not as much.

I didn’t spot any places selling acoustic pianos or the Yamaha Avant Grand though. 🙁
Maybe I didn’t know where to look for it all.

Ocha no mizu is great! Got my music stand and even found a cello Ghibli anime music book. Spent about 3 hours looking around at the shops too. Time to head back to practice some more.
posted at 15:33:08

Arrived back at the hotel at 5:30pm. The music stand I got is quite nice for about 880 yen. Won’t take it home with me, but wish i could. At hotel checking out stand now.

Done some more violin practice for an hour.. My fingertips are getting sore so i’m taking a break.

Had quite a break.. Slept a bit, browsed the web and drew a bit. Almost 8pm now, so time for dinner, then i’ll practice violin near the river.

Went to an Izakaya (japanese bar) for dinner. I ate some Yakitori and fried rice.

After dinner I went back to the hotel to grab my violin and headed off to practice violin in a nearby park. Seems that the park was quite a walk away.

In the end, the lighting at the park was too dark and there was a homeless person sleeping there so I decided to practice violin at the bridge near the river.

Practiced violin near the river. Had a very good practice session and everything sounds good. practiced about 2hrs.

Nice cooling night. Heading back to hotel now. Will be a bit of a walk. Is almost 1am.

Back at hotel. Seems the river was about 1km away based on how long it took to walk back. Not too far actually.

Seems my arms are tired from playing violin all day.. sore finger tips too.

I ended up sleeping at around 3am that day. :O

Japan Trip 2012 – Day 11 Doujin CD recording practice

Checked out of hotel and did some laundry. For some reason, the dryer at my hotel seemed to make my clothes wetter than before I put them in the drier.

I ended up checking out of the hotel at 11am.

After checking out of the hotel, I left some of my luggage at the hotel while I went to the post office to post some shopping home.

I posted 2 boxes, one by EMS containing some figures & my signed goods and another one by sea mail containing some books and all the CDs I bought. It was pricey and cost me about 16000 yen. It took a while to pack everything but managed to get everything posted.

Having lunch at about 1:20pm before catching bullet train to Tokyo.

It was about 2:24pm when I was about to board the bullet train back to Tokyo.

The bullet train is MUCH more comfortable than a night bus.

I arrived in Tokyo at about 5:35pm so it took about 3 hours to get back.

Heading back to hotel.

Arrived at my hotel at about 6pm. Gonna unpack quickly and decide what to do the rest of the day.

I was planning on practicing violin today, but my Tokyo friend who was arranging the song I was going to work on was still busy working on the song.

I decided to do some general violin practice anyways just in case. It seems that despite a almost 2 week break, I was able to play it reasonably in tune.

I got so carried away with my violin practice that I ended up playing for about an hour. Now most shops will be closed now as it’s almost 8pm. Oops! I did want to check out more shops in Akihabara.

Headed out for dinner at around 8:45pm. Trying to decide what to eat..

Seems that I spent half of my Japan trip budget so far. I set my budget a bit tight this time but will see how I go without changing more money.

Eating Saba fish for dinner at a restaurant outside the train station near my hotel. I felt like eating something different.

Yum. I haven’t eaten a whole grilled fish in ages. It was delicious!

After dinner, I chatted to my Tokyo friend on twitter about what song to practice on violin so we can record  it for the doujin music CD we planned to make.