My smartphone died during the night. I use it as my alarm, so I was glad I woke up unusually early at 4:00 a.m. this morning. I was going to share some pictures from the Osaka Comic Con that was held over the weekend May 5th to May 7th. Unfortunately, those pictures remain locked in my sleeping black mirror. Hopefully only temporarily.
This got me thinking about how much I rely on my phone. I am in thrall to this miniature monolith, almost a servant to the black mirror. I use it for so many things. I’m almost afraid to do this, but here is a list of what I use my little Sony Xperia for on an average day:
Hey there. Happy Friday from Japan! I filmed this on Wednesday morning close to where I work. It’s a lovely spot with the sakura trees growing along the small river. They call it “cherry blossom road.” It wasn’t too crowded, probably because it was a weekday morning. We were blessed with perfect weather. I love the contrast of the blue sky and the pale pink sakura. My daughter makes her YouTube debut here. I only had to give her 99% of the royalties.😉 I hope you enjoy this brief glimpse into where I live.
Thanks so much for reading. I hope you are having good spring weather where you are. Have the cherry blossoms opened yet?
Wakizashi, *so happy to have some precious family time this week!*
I devoted a lot more of my free time to growing my YouTube Channel in 2022, which led to more comic books read but less “proper” books completed. Despite this change in hobby priorities, I still published 48 posts in 2022. Of those posts, only 14 were book reviews, 9 were comic book reviews, and 8 were Movie or TV reviews. In total, 31 reviews compared to 34 the year before.
After a quick check on the Wakizashi’s Teahouse YouTube Channel, I see that I made 104 comic book review videos in 2022. Imagine if I’d also posted short written reviews of those comics on WordPress. Definitely something to consider for this year.
In 2022, the Blog got 13,014 views, up 27% on last year. “Visitors” were up 28% compared to 2021. But “Likes” and “Comments” were both down. Most of my traffic came from the United States, followed by the U.K., Australia, Canada, and Germany.
This is a quick post to share a couple of very short videos of my family’s Japanese New Year. The first video shows “Daifuku” or “Anko Mochi” being made. The second video is a brief clip of “Sukiyaki” being cooked by my father in-law. It’s been a bit hectic here with all the preparations, cleaning, cooking, etc. I will be writing a Year’s Retrospective post in the coming days. Let me wish you all a very HAPPY NEW YEAR 2023. Thank you for all your support this year. よいお年を！(Yoi o toshi o!)
Thanks so much for reading! You really are Amazing!
In Japan, most people change their car tires in winter. They call them “studless” tires or “snow” tires. A lot of husbands take on this challenge themselves, probably “encouraged” by their wives. Other saner people drive to the local “gasoline stand-o” and pay a professional to do it. I’m one of the “encouraged” people and take on the job of replacing 8 tires twice a year. It’s one of those jobs that you keep wanting to put off until the weather is just right, you know, forever next weekend.
This year, the first snow to fall in the city came before I’d changed my tires. So I had to drive to work this morning in the snow with my regular tires still on. My wife was panicking a bit, giving me a shovel as well as the number for a taxi in case I got stuck. I was all bravado, “it’ll be fine!” But secretly hoping everything would be okay. I set off 30 minutes earlier than usual and guess what? Everything was fine! I took it easy and drove safely and arrived at work unscathed. To be honest, I didn’t feel any difference between the fabled studless tires and the regular ones. Hang on a minute. Is it really a clever con by tire companies and gas stations?…. “NO!” everyone in Japan screams. You gotta trust the science, right?..
Anyway, I’ll stop boring you with my tire-d story and share these pictures with you. It wasn’t a BIG snowfall. That usually hits around New Year. But this was the scene this morning around one of the public schools I work at.
My first trip in 2 years, it felt so refreshing to travel again. 🙂 You can see Osaka Castle in the distance. The cherry blossoms are blooming at their peak here. It’s been 20 years but they still blow my mind. After walking round the castle grounds, we ate some delicious Korean food in the city. Then we took a train to Kyoto for shopping and dinner in a craft beer bar. It’s wonderful to meet up with my daughter! ❤️
Thanks for reading!
Wakizashi- *Hey Mister Blue Sky, why did you have to hide away for so long?*
I don’t know if you’ve heard but Amazon has just launched its ComiXology Update 4.0 with emphasis on the ZERO! This has made a lot of readers and customers very unhappy, including me. I was so annoyed that I did a livestream on this topic last night. It’s a topic which is very close to my heart, as you will probably know if you’ve been reading my reviews for a while.
To cut a long story short, Amazon have made the digital comic book reading experience much much worse. They’ve also managed to make it very user-unfriendly. What the @*?<> is going on? Now you can only read comics on the Kindle Reader, which was not designed with comic books in mind. It’s for prose books, of course. Imagine taking all the pleasure out of reading a particular format. You’d think Amazon would be looking to attract more users and sales. I don’t see that happening now.
Two of my favourite parts of the ComiXology desktop app have been removed: the “Guided View” feature and the “Browse Pages” feature. The Guided View was one of the best things about the original app. It took you through the comic panel by panel, zooming in where appropriate and delivering a very satisfying comic book reading experience. The Browse Pages feature let you easily jump ahead (or back) to a specific page. Not anymore.
I go into more detail in the video and show examples of the old reader and the new one. I’d love to know what you think.
Thanks for reading!
-Wakizashi, *realizing I sound like a middle-aged man moaning about comics. What was the name of that character from The Simpsons? Comic book guy?*
I try to keep this blog focused on book reviews but I wanted to share some of my thoughts on YouTubing. This is coming from a “newbie’s” perspective and is not meant to be read as advice. Because after all, what do I know? I’m making this up as I go!
I’ve recently started doing more“livestreams” on my channel. This has been a real challenge for me because I’ve always considered myself a listener more than a talker. I take after my mum in that regard. When you do a livestream or a podcast, you have to be able to waffle well. Some of the people I watch on the platform can talk and talk like there’s no tomorrow. I’m hoping this is something I can learn or at least get better at doing with practice. Is talking a skill? I guess so. Just ask any actor or public speaker.
Anyway, I think I’m improving, but the main thing is I’m really enjoying it. In the last few livestreams I managed to get a (very) small audience. I’m talking around five or six viewers, but they’ve been coming back for more. This is much more satisfying than talking away to nobody! But I will happily do that if I have a topic to waffle about. The best thing about the audience is they usually drop comments in the “Live chat” which gives me more to talk about. It also provides me with some great info or recommendations regarding the topic(s) I’m blabbing on about. And there’s a rewarding social side to it, too. It can feel a bit like being out in a bar or cafe chatting with friends or strangers who may become friends. Remember those halcyon days?! But I’m waffling.
I’m a big fan of comic books and have been reading them since I was a teenager, back when Duran Duran were burning up the charts. Wait a minute, they’re back in the charts now, aren’t they!? Proving, yet again, that history repeats itself. But I digress.
I bought and read comics, off and on, for over 35 years. My main focus was Marvel and especially DC Comics. I started out reading The Amazing Spider-Man and my favourite character, Batman. For any comics history buffs out there, I started buying Batman just before Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s brilliant “Year One” came out, so that’s issues 404 to #407. After checking on the net, I see they were published between February and May 1987. Yikes! 34 years ago!
After a couple of years, I stopped buying Spider-Man but continued reading the two main Dark Knight titles: Batman and Detective Comics. I added Legends of the Dark Knight to my monthly haul when that title was launched in November 1989. Yep, I was a big Bat-Fan.
I continued reading DC Comics titles including such classics as Hellblazer, Sandman, Animal Man and Shade the Changing Man. I saw the birth of Vertigo and watched Neil Gaiman’s star rise and rise. But this is turning into a mix of a comics-history lesson and a walk down memory lane, so I will stop waffling and get to the point of this ranty post.
It’s traditional in Japan to make mochi for New Year. I want to share this very short video with you. It’s my family making anko mochi. We use a special kind of rice called mochigome, which translates as mochi-rice. The anko is made from sweet red bean paste. You put it in the center of the mochi and roll it all into a ball.
The anko mochi are delicious. But take care not to eat too many. You might get stomach ache like me 🤣
Thank you for reading. I wish you all a very Happy New Year and all the very best for 2022!
-Wakizashi, *enjoying a wee dram of Scotch whiskey from Islay*