Looks like this is my first real journal entry in over five years (the last
2 entries are translated works) so I guess let me start off by saying, this is
my attempt at bringing some life back. This is a text heavy entry, mainly
because I don't have time to filter through photos before the New Year. I was
planning to have the entire thing in Japanese as well, but due to lack of time,
I'll have to come back after the New Year for a full translation.
Anyway, this is mainly going to be a snapshot of my events, activities and new
interests in 2018, including some introspection, as well as some news and what
expectations I have for myself going forward in 2019. If you don't like reading
about other people's lives (especially mine), go watch a virtual youtuber or
something. This article is split into topical sections, feel free to skip what
you might not be interested in.
It feels kind of late, but I finally went on my first cycling tour this year! I
took a few weeks off at my old job in March and biked from Tokyo to Kyoto
(東京→京都) on a fixed gear road bike (Wabi Cycle's Road Pro). I posted a lot
of photos on Twitter with the #laedventure hashtag so maybe check that out.
I technically began the tour by going to GeiKa (芸カ), a regularly held event
where people typically sell fanmade Aikatsu! books and other goods (like
keychains), this time being held at the Ota City Industrial Plaza PiO
(大田区産業プラザPiO) in Kawasaki (川崎) - let's just say I ended up spending
way more cash than I should have (I took a train back to Tokyo to drop my
spoils at my friend's place and sleep there for the night).
I then left Kawasaki on the 5th of March and arrived in Kyoto on the 15th, but
took a 2 day break (3/7-3/10) in Shizuoka (静岡) due to rain and another 2
(3/11-3/14) in Nagoya (名古屋) to sightsee - I wanted to check out the
planetarium but it just happened to be closed for a holiday.... The shortest
cycling route between Tokyo/Kyoto is around 500km but I ended up biking
approximately 830km in total, making detours and touring around different
cities, including Nagoya and my A Silent Voice (聲の形) pilgrimage in Ōgaki
(大垣). Not counting inner city travel, I averaged biking around 82km for 4h35m
a day for 8 days, with the longest being 123km between Hamamatsu (浜松) and
Nagoya, which I guess isn't that bad for a first tour? At the time, I was
pretty used to riding fixed gear because I'd commute to work on one, so the
actual tour wasn't that hard on my body, but there were several sections I
either had to walk (uphill) or abuse my brakes (downhill). I can't really
suggest doing a fixed tour (at least, a fully fixed tour) if the route contains
mountains. It's probably fine for some European tours, though, and while I'm
not planning one for 2019, it might just happen in 2020.
Anyway, after this tour I really fell in love with touring. I had already
started watching JaYoe's videos on Youtube about his recumbent cycling tour
from Korea to Japan and elsewhere, but later on I also picked up watching the
Long Riders! anime, which isn't so much about touring as it is about
brevets (long distance biking events). Now, one of my life goals is
actually to eventually participate in Paris–Brest–Paris, where you
basically bike from Paris to Brest and back to Paris, mainly self-supported,
within 90 hours. I'm not sure I can make the next one in 2019, but I'm gonna do
my best to participate in the 2023 event. You might see me post about smaller
brevets or races in the meantime, though.
After that, I did one long distance bike ride back in the states with a
co-worker from Monterey to San Jose. Biking with someone else you know sure is
a different experience, I have to say, especially if they're someone more
familiar with the area. While I didn't get to do another ride with a partner
this year, I'm hoping I can find some others to regularly bike with next year.
I quit my job in July and on the spur of the moment decided to do a tour in
Hokkaido (北海道) in August. This one is pretty fresh on my mind so instead of
going into too much detail here, I'll write a series of entries instead of
making this section even longer - but basically, I took a Shinkansen (bullet
train) to Hokkaido and started my tour from Sapporo (札幌), went westwards
through the Daisetsuzan (大雪山) mountain range all the way to Shibetsu
(標津町) on the west coast, then went through the Shiretoko (知床) national
park/mountain range, biked along the northern coast all the way to Cape Sōya
(宗谷岬, the northernmost point in Japan) to Wakkanai (稚内), took a detour to
visit the island of Rishiri (利尻), down the northeast coast to Rumoi (留萌),
back to Sapporo to hang out for a bit because of the typhoon warnings, then to
Tomakomai (苫小牧) to take the very first ferry out of Hokkaido after all of
the cancelled departures, for a total of approximately 1780km. I somehow made
it out a few hours before the Eastern Ibuki earthquake that left all of
Hokkaido without power...
The entire tour lasted from August 14 to September 5, then a ride from Ōarai
(大洗) back to Tokyo on the 6th (ended up getting home after midnight). Not
including inner city travel days, this time I biked an average of ~96km over
4h27m per day for 17 days - no doubt this was helped by the fact that I
switched to the freewheel on my rear tire (so it was easier to handle high
grade terrain) - still a single gear though, and I'm honestly not sure if I
really need to change that. The food is fucking amazing around Hokkaido, so
definitely go if you have a chance. I personally recommend visiting Rumoi and
Shibetsu/Rausu (羅臼), as well as Rishiri Island (and probably neighboring
Rebun (礼文)). If you're on a budget, consider taking the ferry from Oarai to
Tomakomai to get to Hokkaido instead of taking the Shinkansen (or local
I had already had a desire to leave America and live somewhere else, but my
experiences in Hokkaido ended up solidifying my desire to live specifically in
Japan. A country formed around a small set of islands (while it does have it's
own set of disadvantages, like the earthquake from earlier) really sets the
field for being able to live a comfortable life. I'll probably end up retiring
in Hokkaido, whenever that time comes. Keep bugging me to write that article
series on my tour, though (but check out #laedventure (hokkaido filter)).
Apart from that, I attempted a challenge to bike from Nagoya to Tokyo in 24
hours after hanging out with some mahjong acquaintances for a day, but only
ended up biking 255km of the 365km distance in 20.5 hours before calling it
quits, 10 of which I ended up either resting or sleeping since I hadn't slept
much after playing mahjong.
For the whole of 2018, I've biked slightly over 5000km, which is honestly a
huge leap from ~2000km last year. I don't have any large tours planned for 2019
and might not actually be able to schedule one, but I'm still pretty excited to
target 5000km for next year, too! Instead of getting most of that distance from
a month-long tour, I'll be targeting shorter but more frequent long distance
rides (e.g. 250km every other weekend or something), since it'll soon become a
lot easier to do.
Yes, this gets a section. I think a lot of you are already familiar but
basically they're what they sound like - youtubers who post videos not of
theirselves directly but using either a 2D or 3D "virtual" avatar, typically
using motion tracking (for full 3D they usually have several motion sensors,
but there's a bunch that just use Live2D and face tracking with a webcam),
and they typically have some sort of backstory/are a different character from
their real selves. Like, look at Sally Amaki and her character Fujima
Sakura to get some idea.
Anyway, I never knew how much I needed vtubers as a form of entertainment and
emotional support/stress relief in my life until this year. Aikatsu used to
fill in this gap in 2014, but OG Aikatsu is pretty much over nowadays (well,
Ichigo is finally getting a scale figure, I guess?) and Aikatsu Friends is more
just entertainment like other anime and not really filling in the gap anymore.
Kizuna Ai was basically a vanguard/gateway into the world of vtubers late
last year (if I recall correctly) for me, and now I'm technically subscribed to
around 30 vtubers (as well as some other youtubers, like Dogen and
GYARI - since I rarely used YouTube before this year), but there's a few
that I want to highlight as having a particularly impactful influence on me.
First, @CierraRunis. I found out about her around Halloween through her
Honeymoon Un Deux Trois cover (funnily enough, I found out through the
Aikatsu-related Discord server I'm particularly active, which has a
vtuber-specific channel), which is a Vocaloid song with lyrics primarily in
Japanese but a couple of lines in English. When I first listened to it, I was
like, "Holy shit is this English? How is it so perfect?"―I went and watched her
introduction video and it turns out her native language is
EnglishBrescian and she's learning Japanese and Chinese! I was
totally not expecting this when I originally followed her on Twitter, but
happened and now we're mutuals? Cierra's fans are called classmates (since
she's a student at Overidea Academy) but I also consider her as my role model
when it comes to speaking Japanese/Chinese (and well, Obamama too I guess,
as well as Dogen from earlier). Not planning to do so in 2019, but I'll learn
Chinese! Eventually! (Though Korean may be first....)
And Cierra, if you're reading this, happy new year! I hope you get to make more
covers and other videos in 2019, and get a Switch to play games with Obamama
and friends! I know you play a lot of otome games, and that people often ask
you to post videos/stream playing those, but given the nature of those games
(like, it's kind of difficult to commentate) don't feel obligated to do so.
Then there's YuNi (YuNi's channel), a virtual singer. I found out about
her after Oda Nobuhime's support video, when YuNi suddenly stopped tweeting
(she left this)
and posting videos to secretly work on her first original song with YUC'e.
All of her covers are really well done! I ended up getting my first piece of VR
equipment (an Oculus Go) in order to participate in her first VR concert, where
she debuted her second original song, Winter Berry, and I don't regret it
at all. I'm planning another article on the concert experience, but I'm looking
forward to VARK (the startup behind the VR concert tech) bringing us a better
VR concert experience in 2019 (will we get a 2 hour+ concert next year?), and
YuNi bringing more original songs!
Other honorable mentions include Soyokaze Ame, a vtuber who speaks in
Hakata dialect and is aiming to be a professional voice actress (she's
pretty decent at idle talk, too, and I'm looking forward to her next travel
video), the Game Club (basically a bunch of high schoolers...playing
games?) and Cocoa (sister to one of the Game Club members and is a
really good singer), Natori Sana, a nurse cutie who sucks at video games,
Nekomiya Hinata, a cat who will fucking demolish you in FPS games, and
Kaguya Luna, ...what the fuck? Also, when will Anima Lyon post their
I'm waiting for my friend ひめるめる to make their debut as a vtuber.
I didn't game as much as I would've liked to. Not because I didn't have time,
just mainly because I was too lazy (to e.g. reboot into Windows). While getting
a Surface Go (Windows tablet) helped a bit for getting me to play visual novels
(I finished planetarian and started playing 9-nine-そらいろそらうたそらのおと,
can't remember if I finished any other VNs), I'm hoping that I can setup my
Linux desktop so that I can use PCI passthrough in a Windows VM for my GPU,
which would let me still have a Linux desktop environment for daily use without
having to clean up running applications in order to use Windows with native
As for games I did play - I'm now at 10.40 potential in Arcaea, and I think I'm
(only) skill level 6 in Sound Voltex, but can clear several level 16 charts. I
haven't really played SDVX in the latter half of 2018, though, but this should
change next year and maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to play level 18 charts? I
also started playing Atelier Online but it's really not keeping my interest,
especially since the events require way too much time to rank in, and it's not
as fully voiced as I'd hope. I also started playing PUBG as a chance to chat
with some Japanese folks I know. I completed all of the Cytus II story at one
point (there's new content now that I haven't gotten around to yet) and uh,
unlocked Brain Power. I've also pretty much quit playing LLSIF (a good thing).
I didn't make it to 3dan after all, but I made a new Tenhou account and got to
shodan in 77 games and am now currently 2dan (the closest I got to 3dan was
790/800). Next year I'll definitely get to 3dan, maybe even 5dan if I play
often enough, but I think I just might create another account instead. While I
passed the qualifiers, I unfortunately didn't get past the first round in the
2018 Online Riichi Championship. Better luck next time.
For 2019, I'm hoping to get around to finishing more visual novels to improve
my Japanese language comprehension, get used to playing first person shooters
again so I can play PUBG with my friends and not hold them back that bad, and
eventually finish playing all of the Atelier Arland series and play Atelier
Lulua when it comes out.
I really need to finish this entry quickly, so this section should really be
more detailed than it is. I recently started logging my shows again, but on
AniList - it's still pretty incomplete because a) I didn't login to MAL to
get a list to import and b) I don't really remember every show I've watched
since I stopped logging in 2014.
Yuru Camp and A Place Further Than the Universe are amazing shows.
Steins;Gate Zero is pretty good, too. Unfortunate about the lack of Dr. Pepper
Hey you, go read the A Silent Voice manga. It's good. I reread it this year. I
also started reading FukaBoku (不可解なぼくのすべてを), which basically is
about someone who is genderqueer. Hopefully it gets localized by someone. I'm
thinking of buying more digital manga to read for Japanese practice, as well.
I made a new friend, completely unrelated to anyone else I know, at Ayaka
Ohashi's birthday event, and he's also a software engineer (studying at Tohoku
I contributed to @yuzuki_suemizu's flower stand for Hoshizaka
Kana at Aikatsu! Music Festa in Budokan (and also became friends), and also
went to an Aikatsu offline meeting at the very beginning of the year (with
people from Kirakiratter) as well as a Aikatsu-themed DJ party. This was a last
minute decision, but I dropped the Fuji Five Lakes cycling event and also went
to Aikatsu 5th. Message of a Rainbow is such a good song....
I rushed to Mimorin's release live in Yokohama for her fourth album, tone.,
right after Comiket. I can't think of words to describe it, but I'm really glad
I follow Mimorin.
I didn't get to see Wake Up! Girls at all this year, but I have tickets for a
concert in January, and hopefully I can make it to their final live at SSA.
I'm slowly getting into 22/7.
Work and the Future
Y'all probably know this, but I'm currently unemployed. I quit my last role as
an infrastructure engineer at FireEye after a stagnant year passed―I didn't see
much prospect for my future year and totally felt like I overstayed my welcome,
seeing as how all my coworkers were either laid off or quit theirselves. My
plan was, at the time of leaving, to finish up a little over a year worth of
classes at community college and transfer to Berkeley, complete a degree in CS,
then have better prospects of getting a decent paying job as well as an easier
time to fulfil work visa requirements in Japan. I planned my Japan vacation a
little too long to be able to start this past Fall quarter so was going to
start next month. However, that plan is now going completely down the drain.
I've verbally accepted an offer to work at a company in Tokyo. Several of
my Japanese followers are familiar with this company, and it's one that I have
a lot of respect for, but am currently keeping under wraps. Further details
will be discussed after the New Year, regarding visa application and moving in
general, but I will be moving to Tokyo hopefully by March.
I'm expecting the following for 2019 from a professional standpoint:
- Write more software in Rust, possibly at my new company
- Start seriously using Kubernetes
- Continue maintenance of my open source Ansible roles (contributors wanted!)
- Create and maintain roles for Monacoin software
- Possibly also bring up CI and other infrastructure for the community
- Code review some of the software forks WakiP created in 2018
- Relearn AWS to the point I can come up with architecture designs easily
- Start building out a serious home lab for experiments (Does anyone know how
to buy server hardware for cheap in Tokyo? Homelabbing doesn't seem popular
in Japan, or I'm not using the correct search terms.)
- Learn how to leverage "serverless" in an application design (the name is
bad, but the concept is...useful?)
- Get as close to JLPT N1 proficiency as possible, since I'll also be writing
documentation in Japanese
I will mostly be doing infrastructure-related tasks at my new company, but will
also be learning TypeScript to understand and contribute to their software code
base. And hopefully, I'll last here longer than FireEye. If any of my future
coworkers are reading this, あけおめことよろ！入社後おた柔らかにお願いします…！
2019 is going to be an exciting year, and I'm going to do my best to log
everything, or at least do a better job at my 2019 reflection post! Happy New
Feel free to send me questions―I'll
answer them (if I can) on Twitter.