One Million Total Views in Flickr!

Like most, if not, all families, especially in the 90s, and being the youngest, I was often the one in charge of documenting family vacations, events, etc., and it was still mostly a film-centric photography back then.

Then came in point and shoot digital cameras, phones, and whatnot, my job as the family photographer has lessened through the years. And with that, photography has been an after thought and more of a chore to me.

Come 2010, in the middle of my first year in medical school, I was craving for a new outlet other than my then current (and still active hobbies to this day) hobby of PC gaming, collecting action figures, and playing/collecting guitars. I needed another escape…

Then I had the urge to try out digital photography, and in October of 2010, I purchased my first DSLR, the Nikon D5000, and a few months later, in December 2010, I then made a Flickr account, where I can place most of my photos and a much better archival manner than it would have been in Facebook and such – and in Facebook, it severely compresses photos unlike Flickr.

Not only will it be a great place for archive/backups or used as an image hosting service, but I knew I can learn from the photos of other members and get to ask questions in discussions within the groups in Flickr. Finally, the most important for me is that if there will be any comment, either compliment or criticism, it will be from strangers that will give honest to God feedback. And in terms of criticism, they will be more constructive that I can definitely learn from.

From December 2010-December 2018, many things have changed, from my style of photography, my skills (I hope), to my upgraded gear, I was still actively posting in Flickr, but I was never the one that is the most INTERACTIVE; I hardly reply to comments (I do, but not always), to private messages, to play along in group discussions, etc. I mostly post and run…

That changed earlier this year, where I thought it is time to start really building friendships in Flickr, interact in groups, and just increase my knowledge by befriending others and have them give me honest feedback, or simply have their photos that they’ve shared as an inspiration for my next photos in the near future.

And maybe that is why I fell in love with Flickr again – learning new things from other people’s photos, their feedback, and making new friends. Granted, there may be image hosting sites, maybe 500px, but I never made an account in other sites and stuck with Flickr through the years.

To put it into perspective, from December 2010-December 2018, I only amassed 450,000 total views for my account, then when I started being more interactive, from January 1, 2019-date of this posting, I have amassed more than 550,000 total views, thus, my total tally is now over 1 million total views for my account.

That number is mind-boggling for me! I am not a professional, and I will never be a professional. I am just a hobbyist and my day job is that I’m a physician. To think that I got a million total views and that I got more than half of that many views in less than a year, made me think, if I were more interactive in the past few years, maybe I could have broken the 2 million, maybe even 3 million total views by now, as more members will be aware of me and my photos for being more interactive.

But again, I have to get real, to think that there is still a million views in my account is really mind-boggling that there are people interested in seeing my photos, take the time to comment, and some others, interested enough to even follow me so they can keep tabs on my future posts.

And speaking of people following me, from December 2010-December 2018, I only have around 250 followers or less, and now, from January 1, 2019-date of posting, I now have nearly 400 followers – not a lot, sure, it isn’t anyways near a thousand, but hey, we are getting there… slowly yet surely.

Haven’t posted anything special in Flickr for my 1 millionth view, but I did just share a screenshot of the stat screen confirming 1 million views. However, here in WordPress, I think I just want to share my very first photo I post in Flickr and my most recent shot at the time of this posting.

Not necessarily my very first photo ever taken, but the first one I ever posted in Flickr. This is my upperclasswoman during one of our medical missions.
My most recent and first attempt at stroboscopic photography

Now now, my most recent photo may not be the most impressive after all these years, but I am still proud of this shot since this is my first real attempt at stroboscopic flash photography. Another thing I love about my progress in digital photography is that I try to learn new techniques, never blaming my gear, even back then when I just had the Nikon D5000 and the kit lens, always thinking that it is my skills that I need to improve and learn many techniques. Up to this day, there is so many things I can learn, and this is one of them: stroboscopic effect.

It showcased, though not obvious, how I combined the things that I learned through the years, and how I took advantage of my current gear to take this shot. It goes as follows:

I setup my Nikon D7200 on the Zomei Z699C tripod; I then used the Nikon Wireless Mobile Utility in my Android phone to frame myself and to make sure I was in focus (for the most part, since I am moving during the stroboscopic shot); I set up my Ginto Intervalometer’s delay and interval per shot, so I can be at the ready and anticipate the shot when I click on the shutter release; I then set up the flashes, the SB-910 facing towards me from above, the 2 SB-600 behind me facing the wall, and then the Nikon SU-800 Wireless Speedlight Commander on my D7200 hotshoe, set up on repeater mode and trigger the flashes each at 1/64th power, 4hertz, and a total of 8 flashes (based on my readings, you divide the number of total flashes you want by the speed/frequency of the flashes or hertz you desire, thus why I got 2 seconds shutter speed); knowing that I am shooting at 2 seconds based on the frequency and total number of flashes I want, I may be way overexposed, so I used my cheapo Andoer 77mm ND8 to lower down the exposure.

And thus, even if it isn’t my sharpest of photos (obviously, since this is a stroboscopic effect and I tried to stay still in one place instead of full motion), but it really showcased how I can just think of a shot and use the things I learned throughout the years, and use the gear I have collected throughout the years, and most importantly, I am not full of myself that I will not crave to learn new things.

Now let us look back at my very first DSLR and its kit lens, albeit I did get a flash for it back in the day (not a Nikon one, but Yong Nuo one), a sling strap for  it (not the Black Rapid, but a knock off), and other accessories for my Nikon D5000, I want to show my first DSLR in its simplest… when I had nothing but itself – inspired me to work on my craft, have dreams of the gear that I have now, but never to ignorant that my photos that are bad or awful back then is due to the camera I have, instead, it was my lack of knowledge and skill. It taught me to be better.

Then fast forward to today, and my current camera and all the gear I have collected through the years (most of them are hand-me-downs from the Nikon D5000 days), though it may be a big upgrade from where I started (albeit not being mirrorless), and admittedly, the photos I’ve been taking have been what I envisioned in my head and have it come to fruition, I still owe it to my years using the Nikon D5000 and kit lens that made it an absolute pleasure to photograph with my Nikon D7200 and all my lenses, flashes, and all the rest of my gear, today. I don’t think I would have enjoyed shooting this much with my current gear, heck, I may not even have an improvement of my skills, if I always blamed my gear for bad photos. That is why the Nikon D5000 and kit lens is still with me, because I learned a lot and improved my skills.

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The OG! Nikon D5000 with the 18-55mm kit lens. Forgive the photo quality, I just used my Oppo A3s phone that is awful in every way.
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To current gear, well for the most part. Of course, if I took a pic of every single peripheral, it will just be more messy. Again, sorry for the quality of the photo… You can hardly see the lenses on the right and the flashes on the left. Ah well.

Hopefully this post will serve as a reminder that we all started somewhere: I started in Flickr without even getting a single view per day, now here I am, averaging at least 2000 views a day – that may not be a lot compared to others, but for me, I never thought I would see such a thing for my account, not look, I have broken a million views, and more than half of that was amassed less than a year!

Look at my first photo, so simple, didn’t even use the popup flash for goodness sake, to my most recent, where I used a new technique that took advantage of my 3 flashes in repeater mode, combined with other techniques I learned through the years,

Then see my starting DSLR to my current DSLR and gear.

We all start somewhere. Thought I often dreamed of those numbers and those gear when I first started out, I knew, what was more important, was to upgrade my skills before I upgrade my gear.

With upgraded skills, comes upgraded photos, comes more views in your chosen site, and more confidence for when you finally upgrade your skills to ensure that you’d take advantage of the features of your new gear. But never ever be content with your skills. Especially if you are just a hobbyist like me and not a professional… Never be content with your skills… always find something to improve… read new techniques… experiment. And never blame your gear.

‘Til next time! PEACE!!

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Another Dream Come True: My Trip to Japan! Days 0-1!

WARNING:

VERY WORD HEAVY AND PHOTO HEAVY POST!

THIS WAS ORIGINALLY A SINGLE POST OF ALL THE DAYS OF MY TRIP, BUT I DECIDED TO DIVIDE IT TO THREE POSTS:

FIRST POST, THIS POST, WILL BE FOR THE INTRODUCTION AND DAYS 0-1 OF MY TRIP;

THE SECOND WILL BE DURING THE DAY 2 (FORMULA 1 QUALIFYING SESSION);

THE THIRD POST WILL BE FOR DAY 3 (FORMULA 1 RACEDAY), AND DAY 4, WHERE I AM GOING BACK HOME TO THE PHILIPPINES.

FINALLY, IF YOU STILL FIND EACH DAY A LONG READ, THEN TREAT EACH DAY AS A CHAPTER AND READ IN SPURTS.


Introduction

Talk about being late to a party… I traveled to Japan, specifically in Nagoya and Suzuka, for a short vacation and, of course, watch the FIA Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix – a race that I have always wanted to attend since I was a kid, in a country I have always wanted to visit since I was a kid, last October 4-8, 2018, and I only, finally, have time to write about. Here’s hoping I still remember what I have done in those days…

First off, a lot of my friends, both close and otherwise, would know me as a guy, in spite of my age, is still into anime/manga, gaming, collecting, and a passionately weird guy… With that said, it is obvious that someone like me love the country of Japan and anything Japanese. Thus, having to go to Japan is already a dream come true.

Second off, I am a Formula 1 (hereafter, F1) fan for 22 years now, and the Suzuka Circuit that hosts the Japanese Grand Prix ranks as one of the highest on my bucket list of F1 racetracks to attend. And again, having to visit the track and attend the race weekend, is another dream come true.

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That moment I got my Formula 1 tickets!
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Comparison with last year’s Formula 1 package; if you are up to date with F1, you’d know they changed their logo from this year onward.
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No hard plastic/ID card ticket on the package; one must pick it up at the venue, unlike last year in Singapore.

Adding those 2 dreams together, this is like the perfect trip for me! And it was!

Seeing that it has been way over two months since I traveled to Japan alone (yes, another solo adventure, which is better anyway lol), let us go down memory lane together… starting with…


DAY 0

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Solo trip!

The plane ride to Japan was pretty standard, plus no annoyance or drama since I am traveling ALONE, so I can just concentrate on my own things, upon arriving however, it was immediately fun and adventurous as I had to take a train from Chubu Centrair International Airport to the heart of Nagoya in order to check into my hotel.

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Meitetsu μTicket

It was already a trip to ride this just to get to my hotel since Japan is really known for the transport system, and having to ride the metro/subway for the duration of my trip in Japan first hand, I can say they are well maintained. Sure there was one time I did get into the subway at the afternoon rush hour, but it was still minor hassle.

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My hotel, VIA INN, specifically VIA INN Nagoya Ekimae Tsubakicho, since there are actually 2 VIA INNs in close proximity, happens to be relatively close to the station, thus why I chose it, and I am glad I did, as it was seriously in the heart of the city so I can pretty much go anywhere interesting nearby, and since the station was also close by, I can pretty much go anywhere a bit farther.

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Since it was already past 9PM upon check in, and was quite tired from the flight, I decided just to limit my exploration in this DAY 0 and just head out to a Curry House CoCo for dinner.

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Immediately, my love for Japan has increased, because unlike other countries where they use celebrities or athletes in their ads, in Japan they use they beloved gaming characters or anime characters to advertise absolutely anything and everything.

Of course, there are JPOP Idols like AKB48 and such that also advertise things, and I also don’t mind that! I happen to like JPOP, the only pop songs I care to listen to… So in short, I feel right at home in Japan.

I happen to know a few Japanese phrases, and these came in handy the following days; it is nice to note, that unlike in Tokyo (though I have never been there yet), other cities in Japan, most people may not know a lot of English, so knowing simple phrases can help. Not saying they CAN’T speak English, they do, but there can still be a barrier when you need directions or buying things.

When I run out of Japanese phrases and English is not the way to go in communicating, I did resort to the offline mode of Google Translate, type in what I want to say, show it anyone, and they either reply to me in English directly or type their reply.

So if anyone goes to Japan outside the majors cities like Tokyo, Nagoya, etc., you may encounter more language barriers, thus knowing a phrases and/or using the offline mode of Google Translate will help you and keep you confident going around. PLUS! This is Japan! MOST EVERYONE IS HELPFUL! One of the safest countries to travel alone, which I did…

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Anyways, I used a mixture of my known phrases along with Google Translate to order my curry rice from Curry House CoCo, and if you are familiar with the curry rice from Japan, it isn’t the usual Indian style curry you’d expect, but both are very delicious.

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Having satisfied my hunger, I had to be taken aback for a moment to realize what I just achieved; now this isn’t the first time I traveled alone, that would have been last year when I went to Singapore, also for a F1 race, but still, having to travel to Japan for the first time, alone for that matter; having to rely on my prior research from getting from Point A to Point B around Japan; being so at home immediately in Japan; knowing I will also watch my all time favorite sport, F1, in my all time favorite country to ever visit, Japan… I really can’t think of a more perfect vacation, a more perfect race weekend.


DAY 1

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Ready to explore!

I considered the day before, the arrival day, as Day 0, because pretty much nothing really happened apart from me nearly crying at the fact I am in Japan… the country I absolutely adore… So the very next day is Day 1, officially vacation mode!

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My plan for the trip! I am OC like this… In fact, most of my trips anywhere, I make plans, but not as detailed as this LOL
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Vital files that were also transferred to my tablet and phone; every time I have a trip outside the country, I do this, but the detailed general plan is a first.

As mentioned in Day 0, I did make some research prior to going to Japan; since this is in fact my first time in Japan, and me traveling alone, I needed to research on how to use the metro/subway, how to get to here or there, what to see and do, etc., and I will just give a bit of a spoiler, my research and subsequent plan that I made for the trip worked perfectly! This goes to show that being obsessive compulsive about any minute detail can aid you in traveling to other countries you never visited before. Now I may just ask the locals, but like I mentioned above, sometimes, though they may understand and speak English, there are still a number of people in Japan that may have a barrier, but with that said, they will still be more than willing to help, despite the barrier.

When I went to Singapore, I wasn’t all too worried from getting from Point A to Point B, because it is relatively easier to navigate since it is smaller than Japan, but it is not like I walked from end to end in Singapore, what I mean is that, it is easier to get to the airport, the hotel, the track, other tourist spots, etc, than in Japan, specifically when I have to go to my hotel from the airport, or from my hotel to the track in Suzuka… Also, I have friends that live in Singapore, so if the going gets rough, I will just give them a call. My trip to Japan, I really only had myself to rely on. Just the way I like it. It forces me to be… dare I say it… an adult.

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Preordered a Sigma APO 1.4x Teleconverter EX DG, since the Sigma 2x APO Teleconverter EX DG was sold out, but was surprised when I got to the shop and they had the 2x Teleconverter after all!

Also prior to the trip to Japan, I was researching for any camera shop nearby (there were lots of anime/manga, toy/hobby, tech/gaming shops nearby, so I need not research to much on them lol), since I was considering purchasing a Sigma APO 2x Teleconverter EX DG to couple it with my Sigma 50-150mm APO EX DC OS HSM and my Nikon D7200.

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Went to the wrong Bic Camera at first; there are two Bic Cameras close to my hotel.
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The correct Bic Camera!

Lo and behold! I found a shopping complex near my hotel that has a floor specifically for cameras! Bic Camera allowed me to preorder the item online and pick it up at their Nagoya shop (but there are two, and I knew about that, but I still accidentally went to their other shop which was also nearby lol) and have it tax free, and so, a few days before heading out to Japan, I preordered my Sigma APO 2x Teleconverter EX DG. Or at least that was the plan; they said that the 2x Teleconverter is sold out in the any of Nagoya Bic Camera outlets and the one near my hotel only has the 1.4x Teleconverter, thus I said, alright, let’s just get that and confirmed my preorder.

Thus the first order of business is to pick up my item and not get to excited along the way and buy every anime/gaming/tech thing I see. And to my surprise, when I showed the paper for my preorder, they came out with a 2x Teleconverter! So I was very happily surprised!

Broketober 2018

It was a bit surreal purchasing a DSLR accessory in another country for me; I mean, sure it is almost like buying any sort of souvenir, but I always had a rule never to buy any electronic/tech gear outside my home country of the Philippines because of the simple fact that if it does fail or have problems later on, I can’t use the shop’s warranty, and let’s face it, the manufacturer’s warranty here in the Philippines can cause so much more hassle than it is worth – trust me, I have dealt with numerous RMA’s and it never ended well… actually, most of the time, it doesn’t even start well.

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Having purchased it without hassle since it was reserved for me prior to my flight, and the staff are very friendly, then add in the numerous, almost overwhelming amount of camera gear from Nikon, Canon, Sony, etc., it was like I am a kid at a candy store.

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Blurry. I know.

Also of note, just a few floors below are the action figures/hobby floor, and another is the gaming floor, and yet another floor is the PC floor. I can live here!

Another simple reason why I love Japan is that they don’t shy away from their interests and hobbies, be it gaming, anime, tech, anything! No matter how old they get, no matter if real life gets in the way, they still go back to their hobbies and are not afraid or shy to show it.

I for one, being a Filipino-American, I guess I am a little more comfortable than most people here in the Philippines to show his weird side… his sometimes, well most of the time, unbearable weird side, to others. But I don’t mind and I am not embarrassed to show my passion for my manga/anime, gaming, tech, Formula, photography, music, and action figure collecting hobbies. And to show it PASSIONATELY.

That is not to say there are no passionate people here in the Philippines with their hobbies. THERE ARE! And quite a lot! Which makes collecting easier nowadays since there are many hobby shops popping up now. Also, with the advent of the internet, ordering overseas for those rarer items are so much easier, too! But in terms of my close personal friends, I don’t have that many that are as crazy or passionate as me. I do have some, but they few and far in between.

Wait, I digress… this is supposed to be about my Day 1 shenanigans at Nagoya!

Keep Walkin'...

In The Art of the City

I had to dash back to the hotel to drop of my Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 APO EX DC OS HSM lens and newly bought Sigma APO 2x Teleconverter EX DG, then pack in my Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM and Sigma 30mm F/1.4 EX DC HSM lenses to explore more of Nagoya. And yes, I love my Sigma and Nikon combinations!

Next stop is at Nagoya Castle!

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I had to take the subway, and on the way, make one transfer until I reach the station just next to the castle. This is where my research and careful planning comes into play. And I felt triumphant, because my plan worked perfectly and not once did I feel that I got lost.

I made sure to go later than 8-9AM because of the rush hour, and being it my first time riding their subway, I need to make sure I get a seat to get used to it first.

Also, if in the rare event you do get lost or not sure where to go next, of course there are staff always ready to help you out. But it feels so much better doing things on your own, on your own (meaning, traveling alone and not relying so much on anyone but you yourself… like I did).

Another World

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With my friendly tour guides, Yasuyuki-san Mayumi-san!

I decided, upon reaching the castle, I will take up the free English Tour Guide, so at least I won’t blindly go around the castle complex without knowing anything. That way I can learn about the history and just have a fun time with the tour guides.

And talk about lucky!

I was told by Yasuyuki-san Mayumi-san, my wonderfully entertaining, knowledgeable, and friendly tour guides, that starting next year, they will start renovating the main keep and it won’t be as visible to the public. So, I visited on the right time. And as we continue with this post, you will see just how lucky I am this day visiting the castle premises.

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The golden kettle that was made from the original “shachi”

Looking at the scenery just around the castle, we also stopped by one of their tea houses and I was again lucky to see the golden kettle that is used for the tea ceremony; that golden kettle was made from the remains of the original golden “shachi” – A shachihoko or shachi is from Japanese folklore, where an animal has a head of a tiger and the body of a carp – and it usually hidden behind a glass casing, but during Fridays, the day I visited, they bring it out for the people to see, and they actually use it for customers that have tea.

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Moving on, I was learning a lot the history of the castle and that of my tour guides as persons as well. Of course, I will not give you a lesson on what I just learned from them in the history of the castle, you can always Google that, or preferably, if you ever visit Nagoya, grab a free tour guide (free English tour guides start at 1PM local time), so you can befriend and learn the history!

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Getting ever closer to the main castle keep, I was pointed towards the Hommaru Palace that was originally built in 1615 by the first Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, for his son, was actually under restoration for, if I remember correctly, for the past 10 years, and was just recently finished and opened for public viewing starting June 8 of this year. So I got lucky yet again!

I will not be posting any pictures from inside the palace, for it will add to the total picture count in the post, not to mention, more words, and it will ruin the magic… It is best to see it in person!

Nagoya Castle Main Keep

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Arigatou! Yasuyuki-san Mayumi-san!

After the palace, and after seeing the main keep a lot closer, a few more chit chat with my tour guides, it was time to part ways. It was a free tour guide, since they were volunteers, but I wanted to at least give them something for snacks or drinks, but as expected, especially from the Japanese, they wholeheartedly declined my offer. I promised the next time I ever visit again, I will surely do my best to see them, granted they will still be volunteering. Nice people like them is hard to come by nowadays.

Parting ways didn’t mean I left the castle grounds immediately, I still enjoyed myself with snacks and drinks and to get a breather, since carrying 2 lenses, my DSLR, though not so heavy, does take a toll on me, especially with a bad right knee.

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I am welcomed a ninja clan!

I was entertained by a ninja performance, so it bought more time to rest, and of course, photo opportunity with one of the ninja!

@Nagoya

Aki

I then took a few more minutes to rest up, drink up some more, then head onto the city vis subway once more, this time to just explore anything and end up in Maidreamin Cafe! Yes, a maid cafe… because OF COURSE!!

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The Lines That We Cross

Road Rules

I was also supposed to go to Osu Shopping District to find nice souvenirs for my friends, and maybe some stuff for myself as well, but after going around the city, I knew I will just end the day in Maidreamin then head back to my hotel to recuperate and prepare for the F1 qualifying session the next day.

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I then reached Maidreamin Cafe, and well, it is what you would expect if you know anything about these cafe either from reading manga, watching anime, or generally being a weeb (which a lot of people call me, but I think I’m more of an otaku than a weeb). The maids are very friendly, though there was a bit of language barrier at first, in the end, I got what I ordered, and had a nice chat with a couple of the staff at hand.

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Believe it or not, visiting a maid cafe is one of my goals in this trip, and also have a Instax photo with one of the maid which is part of the bundle I ordered. I will say this now, out of all the photos I have taken in Japan, it was this photo of me, that wasn’t even taken with my phone or DSLR, as my stand out photo of the trip!

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Also in the bundle I ordered was the cat ears (you get to choose what animal ears you like, but since I love cats, it was a no-brainer to get the cat ears), and a maid uniform keychain. Overall, a great experience, and I am glad to tick this off my bucket list. Like I said to my friends, you know you made it in life if you tick off visiting a maid cafe off your bucket list.

After the maid cafe, thankfully there was a subway station just next to the cafe, so I made my way back to my hotel; truth be told, this station wasn’t part of the plan I made previously, but I was already familiar with using the subway and where to go, so even if this wasn’t part of the initial plan, I still made it to my hotel in the end with no hiccups… also of note, I did catch the subway during the afternoon rush hour, but usually the afternoon rush hour is not as bad at the morning rush hours.

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Reaching the hotel, rested up a bit, then had a quick dinner, and decided to sleep early to take a train to Suzuka and eventually the race track.

It is gonna be special!


Stay tuned for Day 2 post!

-o-

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