small museums

So, my cousin and I were chitchating about PotO the other day (she’s a baby phan, she just read the Leroux novel) and she had this brainwave about a Phantom of the Opera theme park, and we started toying with the idea and what it would look like and what it would include and well… these are some of the ridiculous things we came up with:

  • “some of you may recall the strange affair of the Phantom of the Opera”, playing from the speakers whenever someone enters the park
  • an underground lair boat ride
  • a chandelier drop tower 
  • a chandelier chair swing ride
  • a Punjab Lasso reverse bungee
  • Punjab lasso claw machines where you can catch monkey plushies
  • a mirror funhouse (obviously)
  • a “find the safety pin” game
  • a torture chamber escape room with live actors as the Daroga and Raoul
  • karaoke (once again, obviously)
  • a “catch Christine’s scarf” game
  • small comical skits every day at 5pm, possibly inspired by the Tumblr posts of the Phandom
  • AN ACTUAL ORGAN FOR ANYONE TO BLAST
  • a “climb the elephant from Hannibal” climbing wall
  • an “escape the rat catcher” flipping doors game 
  • dunking game with musical/book trivia or musical lyrics
  • “keep your hand at the level of your eyes to take a photo”
  • a roller coaster ride that takes you to the roof of the opera house, then plunges to the cellars
  • a trapdoor escape game 
  • a “climb the rafters” zip line/climbing game
  • scorpion/grasshopper animal springers for da babies
  • pony rides with Cesar for da toddlers
  • a souvenir shop with all sorts of PotO memorabilia and merch
  • actual masquerade balls every Wednesday and Saturday, and the invitations will be notes signed by Erik
  • a small museum showcasing the history of the book and the musical
  • there will be street names like “Rue Scribe” or “Rue Notre Dame de Victoires” and the centre square will be “la Place de l’Opera”
  • an actor dressed as the Daroga, wandering around the theme park, randomly staring at people suspiciously
  • the faucet handles in the WCs will be a scorpion and a grasshopper, and you’ll have to turn the grasshopper for hot water and the scorpion for cold water (because Erik would definately be the cold water lmao)
  • a hologram of Erik will show up in the WC’s mirrors every now and then to scare the shit out of people
  • Gaston Leroux and Andrew Lloyd Webber “head in the hole’s”
  • A “Cafe de l’Opera” coffeshop/restaurant/bar/whatever (just like the one that’s across the Opera House in Paris) where there will be a self-service policy for wines and spirits and you’ll have to go get them yourself from actual wine barrels and every time you pour wine in your glass you’ll hear “barrels! barrels! any barrels to sell?” from the speakers
  • “IIIIT’S OOOVER NOOOW THE MUUUSIC OFFFF THEEE NIIIIGHT” playing whenever someone leaves

…I never realized just how much I needed this in my life aND I SWEAR I’LL GIVE MY KIDNEY TO ANYONE WHO’LL MAKE IT HAPPEN

{feel free to make your own additions to the list. actually, please make your own additions to the list}

ME:A Companions Reactions

Mass Effect Andromeda companions reactions to the Pathfinder having a meltdown after everything they’ve been through.

Liam: Shit, he knew this was coming. After everything they had been through? He’s surprised that it hasn’t happened sooner. He sits with them, their backs propped up against the wall, beers in hand as he just listens to them talk and cry. He puts a hand on their shoulder, offering support and telling them how he admires how far they have come. If romanced: He scoots over and scoops them almost into his lap, squeezing them closely as their chest heaves in sobs, and he rubs their back as he starts telling stories of his past to try and get their mind off of things.

Cora: She makes sure to get them somewhere calm and quiet, and gets them to sit down and rest. Her commando training kicks in and she uses this to get them to breath in, and out. In and out. She recites Sarissa’s manuals calmly and softly until the Pathfinder calms down at least a little, and Cora tells them how proud she is of how they are doing at this job, especially with not having any training whatsoever. Their father picked them for a reason; they can do this. If romanced: she wraps her arms around their chest, hugging them gently. After they calm down a bit, she takes their hand and drags them to her room on the Tempest and has them help her water the plants. It’s not much, but it’s at least relaxing.

Vetra: Oh, no. She’s seen this before. She remembered when Sid had a breakdown after losing mom and dad left. After doing a lot of hunting and digging, she manages to find a package of the Pathfinders favorite cookies and brings them to a nice spot on Kadara, overlooking the scenery. They sit and talk about anything and everything; their lives before the Initiative, their parents, their plans and dreams. If Romanced: Vetra spends all evening making their favorite meal (somewhat butchering it, but the Pathfinder still loves it) and they sit down and watch a movie together. A sappy, romantic thing that lets the Pathfinder let out their emotions and be able to blame it on the movie, all while Vetra hugs them to her side.

Peebee: Uh oh…it’s finally happening, huh? She sometimes forgets everything Ryder has been through. But she’s not really good at the whole…weepy, supportive thing. She knows what helps her, though! So she drags the Pathfinder to her escape pod and they create a zero gravity environment and just float, letting all their pain and worries drift away. If Romanced: After they spend a lot of time just floating, she takes the Pathfinder to their quarters and they enjoy some…stress relief together, after which they just lay together, silently holding and supporting each other, no words needed.

Drack: Oh, jeez. He knew this was coming. He can’t blame the kid; they’ve been through a lot. He thumps them on the shoulder and drags them out to Kadara, where he has set up a shooting range with various targets, many of which are canisters that explode. While they are both shooting, he gives them a talking to about how tough life can be, but he knows how tough they are (for a human) and that they’ll get through it. After a lot of ammo and a lot of explosions, they share a lot of drinks together at Kralla’s Song.

Jaal: Poor Ryder! He cannot believe how they have been holding this in for so long; it’s a surprise they haven’t fallen apart even sooner. He drags them to their quarters and makes them sit down and talk it all out; he refuses to leave until they have gotten everything of their chest. He feels so sorry for all they have been through that even he shares some tears with them, and they spend hours together just talking and letting everything out. If Romanced: He holds them in his arms, stroking their soft hair as they shake and sob. When they finally cry themselves out, they are stretched out on the Pathfinder’s bed, Jaal stroking their cheek and looking lovingly into their eyes. He asks them about everything; their live before they game to Andromeda, their family, their childhood. It’s a long night, but by the end of it they both feel so much better.

Kallo: He isn’t surprised; they’ve been through so much. He isn’t sure how to make them feel better, but eventually gets an idea! He finds a large area of open space and has them come over so that they can fly the Tempest around themselves. He stands behind them, a hand on their shoulder as he instructs them what they have to do. By the end of it, the Pathfinder has a huge grin on their face, and they give Kallo a huge hug (that is returned a little awkwardly).

Suvi: Oh, she feels so bad for them. She meets them in their quarters and makes them a nice cup of her favorite tea (some of the last she has) and she makes them sit and drink it to calm down a bit. She doesn’t know quite what to do, so she launches off on all of the things they have learned about the life in Andromeda. Plants, creatures, even the rocks, she explains everything until the Pathfinder calms down, smiling into their cup of tea. If Romanced: She holds them on the couch, sipping their tea and she reads to them out of the book she is currently reading. Ryder just loves to listen to her voice, and eventually they drift off, tucked against Suvi’s shoulder as she continues reading out loud, stroking their back.

Gil: Well, shit. Had to come eventually. Well, the only thing that can solve this is alcohol and a lot of cards. He takes them out on the town, and they spend the evening playing cards against each other, dancing, and just enjoying themselves to get their minds off of everything. If Romanced: After they enjoy their night out on the town, they go back on the Tempest and Gil takes through the rounds of what he does to take care of the ship, and Ryder sits happily (and somewhat intoxicated) watching him as he waves his arms around, happily describing everything. Eventually they end up in each other’s arms, dancing to music that only they can hear.

Bonus!:

Reyes: When they stumble into his room, he can immediately tell something is wrong. When they collapse on the couch next to him, head in their hands, he leans forward and orders some of their best whiskey, and they share a few drinks as the Pathfinder just talks about everything that has gone wrong so far. Reyes listens quietly, putting a hand on their shoulder in silent support; he knows how hard life can be out here. If Romanced: He wraps them in his arms and stands them up, softly dancing to music (a lot slower than the music that is playing), swaying side to side. After Ryder cries themselves out, they fall asleep with their head in Reyes’ lap on the couch, and he sends a message to make sure no one disturbs them for the next hour or so as he lets them rest, running his hand through their hair.

Avela: She feels so bad for the Pathfinder, and here she is asking even more of them. They’ve been through so much, it hardly seems fair. The next time Ryder visits, she takes them on a small tour through the museum, talking softly about all the pieces they have gathered. If Romanced: She takes Ryder on a tour through Aya, taking them to her favorite spots, letting them see all the grace and beauty of their city. They find a nice spot by a waterfall and Avela surprised them with fresh fruit, which they share together as they listen to the sound of the water. Ryder talks to Avela about everything, what they’ve been through, their stress, all they’ve lost. Avela wraps them in a hug and they sit there, silently enjoying their time together.

anonymous asked:

Hi! How are you? I saw the pictures of your previous trip to Japan. They are awesome. I plan to visit Kyoto this April and I would like to ask which Shinsengumi related places are worth the visit? Are there any places where I can buy Hakuouki related things? Last year I watched the whole Hakuouki anime series (all of the seasons, movies, specials) and I became a fan and I would like to visit the places which were mentioned in the anime. As you were there in April was it crowded? Best wishes, Éva

Thank you! I didn’t post nearly enough of them, honestly, I have so much more to talk about because the whole experience was just… completely surreal, but what is time? 

There are books dedicated to touring Japan to visit significant sites relating to the Shinsengumi, including two Hakuouki ones (one of which JUST came out). Of course, the biggest issue is that this information is all in Japanese and that’s something you’re going to come up against if you want to visit these places. You definitely don’t have to understand Japanese (I’ve heard of people managing) but it honestly helps.

My personal trip started in Tokyo, then we went down to Kyoto, back up North to Aizu-Wakamatsu and then onto Hakodate. We really just focused on many of the big spots but there’s just so much to cover, two weeks was never going to be enough, especially as it was my friend’s first time in Japan too so we had other things to do. 

As to the crowds, being hanami (cherry blossom viewing) season Tokyo and Kyoto were crowded, but I feel like that’s always a thing since it’s Japan, but the more you go off the beaten path, and the Shinsengumi sites kind of are off the beaten path, it’s not so bad. Aizu and Hakodate are definitely not as crowded, especially with foreign tourists. My friend and I were definitely standouts.

As far as being able to buy Hakuouki related goods, if it’s related to the Shinsengumi your chances of finding Hakuouki things to buy is high but it really depends on the location. I had the best luck in Kyoto, Aizu, and Hakodate since… they’re kind of big Shinsengumi hot spots, but we didn’t spend a lot of time in Tokyo for me to really go looking for stuff there. (I will say there is a disappointing lack of stuff in the Animates I went to.) I’ll be going back in April and focusing more on the sites in Tokyo so I’ll have to report back on that.

Here’s some of the major highlights of my trip that might be most worth noting:

**Warning: Long post is long! Click the location names for relevant links!**

Tokyo

Hijikata Toshizou Museum

The Hijikata family residence where Hijikata’s family resided during his lifetime has evolved to include a museum. Since the site is still a private residence, the added on museum is only open during certain days of the year. Typically two Sundays each month. Hino is considered part of greater Tokyo, but it’s quite a hike from the city itself. This is one of those places you have to be prepared to go to and spend a good chunk of your day at. The museum is small and you won’t be there long but it’s a wonderful place to go. The family runs it and is very pleasant to visit with. This is also where you would go to see Hijikata’s beloved sword, Izuminokami Kanesada. 

Sekiden-ji

Being that Hino is Hijikata’s hometown, there’s more than just the museum to visit. Just a few minutes journey from the museum is the Sekiden-ji or Sekiden Temple which is one of at least four places, I believe, with a grave for Hijikata. It’s a temple with a cemetery, containing many members of the Hijikata family, so it’s important to be respectful but it’s easy to find the stone marker and the grave itself is nearby. 

Hino also has a big Shinsengumi festival every year in May. One of these days I’m going to go to it. 

It’s good to wander around the city a bit. There’s so many houses with the Hijikata name plate and it’s clear this town is proud of it’s famous historical figure. I’m looking forward to going back and exploring it more on my own to see what I missed last time.

Itabashi - Kondou Isami’s Grave Marker

Itabashi is where Kondou was executed and after the war was over, Nagakura Shinpachi built the grave to memorialize the commander in 1876. Hijikata’s name is also inscribed on the stone pillar. Nearby is also a grave for Shinpachi as well. It’s a straight shot from Itabashi station so it’s not too difficult to find. The grave honestly is a memorial to the entirety of the Shinsengumi, but being that this is where Kondou was executed, it has special significance for that reason.

Other places to visit in Tokyo, that I intend to visit when I go back this year, include: 

Shieikan dojo - There’s nothing much remaining here beyond a stone marker, but this is the origin of the Shinsengumi and worth visiting.
Ryuugen-ji - Kondou’s body was brought here (sans his head) after his execution and buried. 
Imado Shrine - This site is primarily famous for being the birthplace of the manekineko or ‘lucky cats’ but it’s also significant for being the site of the hospital where Okita Souji was supposed to be recovering from tuberculosis. It’s not his grave or where he actually died though.
Sensou-ji - But his grave is close at the famous Sensou-ji, however, it is only open one day a year.
Chofu/Mitaka City - Birthplace of Kondou Isami and many members of the Shinsengumi. 
Kashio Bridge - Former site of the Battle of Koushuu-Katsunuma, the battle the followed the Battle of Toba-Fushimi and Kondou Isami’s last battle before his execution.

Kyoto

Mibudera / Yagi House

One of the sites of the Shinsengumi’s headquarters, these two places are a must see. The nice thing is that once you find one, the other is right down the same road, practically around the corner. You’ll see big “makoto” banners that signify they’re Shinsengumi sites. The Yagi House does do tours but they will not be in English (hopefully you get the nice man with the strong Kansai accent–he’s super nice). After the tour you get to go to the little shop that’s out in front for some tea and a treat as part of paying for a ticket for the tour. There’s a little garden in Mibudera that you pay 100 yen to get into but that’s where all the statues and memorials are that are the highlight. Including this really neat prayer board:

Nishi Honganji

The second headquarters of the Shinsengumi. It’s HUGE and it’s beautiful. Definitely worth a visit. Seriously, my pictures do not do the size of this place justice. It was immense. No wonder the squad wanted to relocate here. 

Ikeda Inn/Hana no Mai Restaurant

Now the site of the Hana no Mai Ikeda Inn branch but there’s a stone marker outside that states that this is the site where the Ikeda Inn used to stand. You need to make reservations but worth it for a good meal and where I drank my way through the Hakuouki Shinsengumi XD

Nijo Castle

Nijo Castle is a good place to visit just because it’s Kyoto and it’s where the Shogun lived when he was being protected by the Shinsengumi. As I recall it’s the site in the Hakuouki game where Kazama and the other demons reveal themselves to Chizuru while the Shinsengumi are guarding the Shogun.

Sanjo Bridge

We weren’t able to make it here, being on a time crunch, but it is near the castle. A site that is also famous to the Shinsengumi and all of Kyoto in general. This is the bridge where the notice was that Sano protected in Hakuouki. It’s also said that there’s a sword wound on one of the pillars on the east side from the Ikeda Inn Incident. 

Shimabara

Our ryokan was here so we got kind of an intimate experience of the area but it’s a nice little area to explore if you have the chance. The infamous red light district, this is where many men, the Shinsengumi included, would go to relax and drink off-duty. The entrance gate is kind of the major tourist attraction but this is where you can find the Sumiya.

Sumiya

This is the ageya famous for being visited frequently by Serizawa Kamo and the location where Hijikata and Kondou got Serizawa drunk before later assassinating him at the Yagi House. It’s also the oldest remaining example of an ageya still in existence. There’s sword marks inside made by Serizawa on the first and second floor. You need to make a reservation to see the second floor but it’s so worth it. We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside (which is pretty typical) but there’s one room that is just covered all over with inlaid mother of pearl and it’s just insane. And they still don’t know how they did it! 

You are allowed to take pictures on the first floor and this is supposedly one of the sword marks from Serizawa:

Our ryokan was literally two houses down from this site and when I realized where we were I might have had an emotional freak out… >_>

There’s soooo many places in Kyoto though, one day I hope to go back and find the others that I know we missed. Fun side-story, one of the things one of my friends wanted to do what do some Shinsengumi cosplay, so he found us a shop that did it and on our last day in Kyoto we dressed up and got to visit the Mibudera in our outfits, it was pretty embarrassing but I’m glad we did it XD

Here, have a picture:

Ironically, it was the one day in our stay that it was RAINING LIKE CRAZY -_-

Aizu-Wakamatsu

Tsuruga-jou (Tsuruga Castle) aka Aizu-Wakamatsu Castle

When Saitou talks about defending Aizu, this is the castle at the center of it all. Tsuruga Castle was the home of Lord Matsudaira Katamori, who is the man responsible for sponsoring the Shinsengumi in the first place. He is the man that they feel indebted to and is basically the man they answered to, ultimately, and this is where he and his family resided. And for me, this is where my fascination with this period in history started, so naturally I had to go back. The original castle had been so riddled artillery fire during the Battle of Aizu, that it was demolished by the new government in 1874. The tenshu, the largest tower of the castle, was reconstructed in 1965 and currently houses a museum on the inside. It really is a must-see for anyone interested in the Bakumatsu and the Shinsengumi. 

Iimori-yama (Iimori Hill) / Byakko-tai Memorial

The Byakko-tai was a squadron of young teenage boys from the Aizu domain that fought to defend Tsuruga Castle and the city of Aizu during the Battle of Aizu. They were fighting along with the remnants of the Shinsengumi that stayed behind (such as Saitou), perhaps not directly though under the same banner of Aizu, but tragically, when the boys saw Tsuruga Castle burning they assumed the castle had fallen and each committed ritual suicide on the hill. While the castle would eventually fall, the tragedy is the boys’ death was premature. At the top of a long path of stairs climbing up the side of the hill (mountain? Feels like a mountain lol) is the memorial dedicated to them. This was the site where I really felt my first interest in the Bakumatsu and the Boshin War blossoming, so while not exactly a Shinsengumi site per se, it’s still related history and worth visiting. 

Hakodate

Goryoukaku

The famous site of the last battle of the Boshin War. Goryoukaku fort is where Hijikata retreats with what remains of the pro-Shogunate forces when they flee to Hokkaido, at the time called Ezo. Now the site is a park that is infamous for it’s gorgeous cherry blossoms. I was sad that unfortunately we were there a little too soon for the cherry blossoms but practically all the trees on the site are cherry blossom trees so when they are in full bloom it is quite a site I’m told. 

The Magistrate’s Office (lower picture) was only recently rebuilt as a museum over the site of the original office and is the location of Hijikata and Chizuru’s infamous kiss in Hakuouki ;) Though in reality it is the last stand of Hijikata and his beleaguered men. Walking through it is rather incredible as much detail was put into the restoration and one of the rare sites that lets you take pictures throughout the interior. They had DVDs for sale that went through the details and the lengths that they went through to reconstruct the Magistrate’s Office and it is beyond fascinating, I purchased a copy and hope to be able to share it some day.

Goryoukaku Tower

Not necessarily a Shinsengumi site historically speaking but if you want a nice aerial view of Goryoukaku Fort this is where you want to go. Also, personally, there’s two wonderful Hijikata statues here that are worth seeing, and a whole blow-by-blow of the Battle of Hakodate that’s really neat and that I have pictures of that I hope to share at some point.

Shomyo-ji (Shomyo Temple) / Memorial Monument for Hijikata Toshizou and the Shinsengumi

Here’s a description taken from the sign on site:

“After joining Enomoto’s army, Toshizo Hijikata (deputy leader of Shinsengumi) was killed in the battle of Hakodate. Opinions are divided regarding the exact location of his burial; Ippongi in Wakamatsu-cho, Tsuruoka-cho, or Eikokubashi in Jujigai. A record taken from the Kongoji Temple in Hino, Hijikata’s hometown in present-day suburban Tokyo, only noted that Hijikata’s memorial monument was erected in Shomyoji Temple in Hakodate. The monument did not survive three fires during the Meiji era, and the present monument was erected in 1973 by volunteers. 

Four others names of Shinsengumi members’, whose tombstones in Shomyoji Temple were destroyed during a typhoon in 1953, were also engraved on the monument.”

Monument Marking the Site of Hijikata’s Death

Located in front of a rather normal office building, this was the end of our pilgrimage, which I’m not a religious person necessarily but the weight of standing here and having come so far, I cried. Finding this was a little difficult but we had managed to get lucky and when I explained to our taxi driver why we were there and what we were doing and he literally drove us to our last two destinations pointing out highlights and patiently waiting for us at each site. It’s really cheesy, I know, but coming here was the pinnacle of a long journey and I really hope I can go back again one day to pay my respects again.

This person’s blog has some great suggestions of things to see in Kyoto relating to the Shinsengumi: 

http://matome.naver.jp/odai/2140320228711779601?&page=1

Of course, as I said earlier, the only downside is that none of it is in English, which is going to be the struggle for anyone really wanting an immersive Shinsengumi or Bakumatsu experience. While you can get around not knowing the language I feel like, honestly, there would be a lot lacking. Especially if you try to venture further North to Aizu or Hakodate, Aizu in particular would be tough for non-Japanese speakers. 

There were so many places to see and since I was not on my own there was just not enough time to hit them all, but these were the major stopping points on our tour along the path of the Shinsengumi. 

you know what would be some interesting first date questions?

  • what is your favorite fruit?
  • do you like plants? if yes, do you own plant? if yes, what is plant’s name?
  • to murakami or not to murakami
  • favorite nocturnal animal?
  • small gallery? big museum? sculpture garden?
  • you would be the god/goddess of _____?
  • you are in a bookstore, where the books are organized by genre. which genre do you go to first?
  • do you believe in anything that is considered supernatural?
  • we’re packing lunch for a picnic. first food/drink that comes to mind?
8

I’ve made a small museum dedicated to Trevor de Verili, a fictive painter, scientist, engineer, inventor and writer (totally not copied from De Vinci 👀 ) who supposedly lived in this former Renaissance house. A large part of his work can be found in the old Library of Windenburg and the National museum of Willow Creek though ;)

Windenburg makeover progression

“So, how do you know each other again?” asked Yukako.

I held my water glass against my lips for a second longer, looking over at Alejandro, buying time. He looked back at me. We locked eyes.

What were we supposed to say in a situation like this?

But to properly tell this story, I need to back up a few days.

I was in Shizuoka, about an hour ride out of Tokyo, Japan. My goals were simple: visit the Magic Grand Prix tournament in Shizuoka, and then spend the next week seeing Magic stores and trying to explore a side of Japan I had not yet seen.

It was the last day of the Grand Prix.  The world is slowly crumbling around 2,700 players, as the delicately placed banners and colorfully shaped signage are being stripped down and removed.

This is the saddest part of any Magic tournament: when it ends.

It’s when the convention center hall stops being a living, breathing embodiment of Magic, with a pulse that sounds like the slapping of cardboard and a heartbeat that echoes with shuffling. When this marvelous world goes back to being a white-walled building that will be used to host dance recitals, or cheerleading rallies, or car shows.

But there was a brief moment left. A flicker of life, minutes, maybe, before the convention center passed the threshold of no return and reverted to its blank state.

And that’s when I had the fortunate happenstance of being introduced to Ryan.

Blonde hair. A slight grin at the corners of his mouth. A full backpack. The discerning gaze of a Magic player. He introduced himself: a local player, formerly from the States, who now lived in Japan.

“I had heard from Helene   you were staying around in Japan for a little longer, and I know it’s out of your way, and it’s probably a long shot, but I live in Nagoya, and it has a great Magic scene, and plenty of people who would love to meet you, and I know you like food and I would show you great food, and some of the sights, and we can play some games of Magic, and once again, I really know there’s probably a low chance, but if there is any possible way you could briefly come visit Nagoya during your stay, I’d be happy to show you around.”

“Okay, sure.”

“Wait… Really?”

“Yeah, sure. See you tomorrow?”

And that, ladies and gentlemen and those who identify as neither of the crowd, is how I travel.

I got Ryan’s information. And true to my word, the very next day, I found myself on a train, bound for Nagoya.

And so the tour began.

Delicacies, with a mix of known and unknown and unwanted-to-be-known contents, were consumed. A smorgasbord of 7 Magic shops were visited, showcasing so many shapes and sizes and colors that Doctor Seuss would have had a field day describing them all. Games were had. Stories were told.

We ended up by visiting one final game store: Mishimaya. A small family run shop, with that lovely musty smell that reminded me of childhood. And there we met a group of other local players.

And, well… It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a group of Magic players, in possession of decks, must be in want of a game.

Rajib. Kevin. Daniel. All from far-flung corners of the English-speaking world, we slammed down our cards. We ran Goblins into Angels. We laughed. We bantered. We talked about life in Japan. I took a picture of us. Put it on Instagram. We went out to dinner. Menus were attempted to be navigated.

It was a good time. We parted ways.

I hopped on a train, headed elsewhere, redrawing up new plans to account for the change of plans. And that was that.

Or so I thought.

Still riding the train back, something else unexpected happened. A notification popped up on Instagram from someone I had never spoke with. His name was Alejandro.

It read as follows: “You should take the [train] to Fukuoka. I still have an original Conspiracy box in Japanese to open and draft :)”

I looked it up on a map. Fukuoka was basically on the entire other side of Japan. My brain’s impulse was immediately to say no. I mean, it was a long way out of my way, I hadn’t planned on going there, time in Japan was precious, I didn’t know this person at all. It didn’t make sense, right?

Right?

…Right?

Well, it’s a good thing that Japan has all these bullet trains.

I arranged to visit in a few days. Alejandro writes to me, “Just so you know, it’s actually quite a bit west of Fukuoka and a bit rural…”

Perfect. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I took the bullet train to a station. From that station, I took a subway train to a tinier station. From there, I took yet another train. Out the window, I watched the metal buildings turn into brick buildings, the brick buildings turn into blossoming trees, the blossoming trees turn into rice fields. For the first time during my stay in Japan, signs begin to look run down. Roads begin to look bumpy. The passengers on the train were no longer mostly in suits.

The train spit me out at my stop, and it was immediately clear I had walked into a Miyazaki movie. Little statues sat in the streets. I spotted farmers in the distance. The buildings all had wooden sliding door entrances.

This – this was the Japan I grew up thinking about.

I’m swept up from the subway station by a car full of strangers. Alejandro has rounded up five others – three local Magic players, whom he had taught himself, one of their wives, and her young daughter – to come meet me. 

I’m taken to a restaurant, in an old wooden building, that has had many lives and seen many owners. There is a small museum in the front of the restaurant showcasing its history. People are sitting on pillows and tatami mats, eating from small tables.

The five of us sat down. I took a sip of my water.

“So, how do you know each other again?” asked Yukako.

That is the question, isn’t it? How do you answer that? How do you even begin to summarize it all into a short paragraph, or sentence, or word?

Let’s just back up for a second and review the facts.

I had traveled to Japan to visit a card game tournament as part of my job at Wizards of the Coast. I then met a local player, who showed me around his city for the day and introduced me to a number of players. They gave me a bunch of advice for my travels. I posted this on Instagram, of all places.

Someone on the other side of Japan whom I had never even talked to saw this, asked if I wanted to visit, I replied saying yes, and traveled 5 hours by train to get there. Once I arrived into Chikuzen-Fukae – the middle of nowhere in Japan – I met five total strangers, and was now sitting in a traditional Japanese restaurant, speaking with these people like they were family. Combined, we heralded from Spain, The USA, Japan, Nigeria, and London.

Pause for a moment. Cue, eyes widening. Cue, flashbacks to the many other times similar things have happened to me or other Magic players. Cue, the sudden realization that this is actually an extremely abnormal event.

Cue the realization that this is family.

I love Magic. It is the greatest game in the world. But even more powerful than the game, even more meaningful than the hours spent smiling and learning, are those people you spend those hours smiling and learning with.

It is a community of immediate friendship. A game which is a blacksmith that forges “Hello and Good Luck” into stories, stories into friendship, and friendship into family. A game which will always direct you to your long-lost cousin or your mystery aunt in every town, in every city. Time and time again, I have found there is always a family member there for you. There’s always someone from the family of Magic.

And there is nothing else like it. Not in the whole world. And I find it hard to imagine anything – truly anything – that could properly describe this series of events other than one word. So it’s what I said:

“We’re… family.”

I elaborated more, but that’s really the only way I can best explain it. We laugh. We eat our meal. We learn about each other’s lives. I make goofy faces at the young daughter like any cousin would. And, in that short window of a single meal, we become a family.

That day, this family of Magic visited sites in this tiny town. We climbed the muddy path up a mountain and watched a waterfall in the forest. We visited an Island temple, wind biting at our noses. We dropped by the restaurants – which my new family knows the owners of – to see if they will open just for us. It is a neighborhood where you actually know your neighbors.

And, eventually, we drove back to Alejandro’s place, with sliding doors and tatami floors, short ceilings that hit my head and tall tales that hit my heart, and we sat at the wooden, engraved kitchen table. We smile and, knowingly, reach for our Magic decks.

That afternoon, my family drives together, an hour, to play in a tiny store for the local Magic tournament.

That night, I sleep on a rolled out bed, in a room kept warm by a kerosene heater. Like an uncle, Alejandro lights the heater for me. And, like a nephew, I wish him sweet dreams.

When I wake up, there are trains to catch. Things to do. New places in Japan to see. I bid my farewells.

My adopted uncle walks me to the train station. He gets on the train, going part of the way there with me. Like any family member, he gives me a long list of directions, trying to be careful I don’t lose my way back.

The train goes for about 20 minutes. Alejandro stood up to get off. He looked back at me. We had known each other in person for less than 24 hours, and yet, I already felt a bit emotional.

I nodded. He nodded. We may never see each other again.

But that’s okay. We both knew it would be far from the last time we saw      our everlasting, evergrowing, evergracious family: our family of Magic.

anonymous asked:

I work at a small museum. Apparently last night a guy got locked inside! The guy ended up setting off the alarm and climbing onto the roof of the museum just to get out. I'm still trying to figure out how it happened because they're supposed to do walkthroughs before closing to make sure customers are gone and I'm not sure if this guy was just hiding somewhere or if they flat out didn't see him during the walkthrough.

flammenmeer  asked:

Okay for your Kayleigh Lives AU - please consider this: It's summer break and Kayleigh takes her sons to the beach for vacation. (Maybe last minute booking so the four of them have to share ONE room or one of their bags got missing during the flight and it's big drama. BUT ALSO - BEACH! SUN! FUN?!)

>> The Kayleigh Lives AU <<

Omg I sidetracked so hard from your prompt i’m sorry
but consider: Kayleigh’s 50th birthday

(I just realized it might be unclear but Kevin is holding a selfie-stick lmao)

Keep reading

mrsives  asked:

hi pauline, I was just wondering if you have any places in edinburgh you find particularly interesting/enjoyable/that you'd recommend to someone visiting there? I'll be there for 4 days with a friend, and we're trying to make the most of our visit. (also I hope you're enjoying the ma and living there, and apologies if this has already been asked!)

Hey love, sorry for my late reply! 

First things first, I have to say that I’m still pretty much a tourist in the city, and that I keep to the old part of town anyway, which might make things a bit boring for you. But here are the things I like doing best here:

Walk the Royal Mile up and down over and over again. It’s terribly cliché, but it’s such a lovely street, cobble-stoned, full of overpriced, archetypal scottish products, but resonating with the song of bagpipes, buoyant with street artists, surrounded by old, tilting houses, peppered with fairy lights; at the top, you enter a strange, time-travelesque, gothic slope that will bring you up to the castle, which is absolutely a must see. You can stay within the castle walls for hours on end—magnificent view, multiple museums and chapels, stony benches, a strange step in the Middle-Ages.

Tour the university campus—there, you’ll find Walter Scott’s house, the beautiful Old College buildings, the modern Library and its art collections. In the Student’s Union House, you’ll be able to take a drink and walk through rooms upon rooms of comfortable armchairs, hushed whispers and loud laughters, impressive ballrooms and tiny writing offices. Down the Middle Meadow Walk, you’ll find a large, green park too. 

Really, it’s a strangely scaled city: it feels like an out-of-time town, small and twisty and labyrinthine, yet it’s the capital, full of historic sites and cultural spots. 

St. Giles Cathedral is exquisite, and solemn, and full of hushed light; of course the National Gallery is lovely if you’re interested in British art, but my favourite is the National Museum, which is a wonderful bric-à-brac of knowledge and playful activities and delightful treasures. There you’ll find fashion designs as well as medieval war weapons, dinosaur skeletons and Art Deco tapestries, the Lewis Chessmen, and even space stones. The National Library is worth a short visit, with its whacky museum and a bunch of beautiful maps and books. Grab a coffee in the charity coffee-shop of the Storytelling Centre, enjoy the view of its lush, secret garden, and its folktales bookstore. Near it, you’ll find my favourite jewellery shop, full of Scottish stones, Highland Gems. I also love to walk in the Greyfriars and the St. Cuthbert cemeteries, which are gothic and yet full of whimsical life stories, ornate benches, strange, twisted trees; and of course, try and go climb Arthur’s Seat—the climb is painful and the view is spectacular, and it’s so strange to see this ragged, wonderful, green, ocre, beautiful hill in the corner of your eye, wherever you are, alien in the center of the city. 

The light, here, anyway… The light on Arthur’s Seat, on Calton Hill (another nice climb!), on the Castle; rich and golden and extraordinary.

In Grassmarket, you’ll find Armstrong Vintage store, which I recommend wholeheartedly, especially if you want a Scottish wool cardigan for an affordable price, or even just to take a look at the ancient ecclesiastical and victorian garments hanging from the ceiling. There’s also this wonderful shop with a lot of dinosaur’s bones, fossils and star stones, Mr. Wood’s Fossils. From there and up to Westport, you’ll find Mary’s Milk Bar (great ice-cream), cute antique shops, bookstores, and the Art Library.

Now for my favourite bookstores, I’d recommend you go to Armchair Books (the absolute best, a twisting labyrinth of new and second-hand books, with a great antique section); Southside Books; Waterstones on Prince’s Street, where you’ll find beautiful modern editions and will be able to get some great coffee/tea and nice gluten free (or not) cakes; the OldTown bookshop, where victorian copies neighbour old maps and antique drawings of the old Edinburgh, and which is incidentally located on the lovely Victoria Street; and of course Blackwells, which features a very cool Harry Potter window. 

Now for the real Tourist Experience, I do recommend you take one or two of Edinburgh’s walking tours, because they’re wonderful. One of them would be the writer’s museum book-lover tour, which starts at the museum (very small, but super nice, with a lot of Scottish’s writers memorabilia) and takes you around Old Town—to the university where Conan Doyle studied, the hospital where J. M. Barrie invented Wendy, wrecking the myth of J. K. R’s Elephant House (Harry Potter was NOT written there!), etc. The other tours I’d recommend are the ghost tours (usually guides dress up and play morbid jokes on your group, and it’s a very fun way of learning about the actual old Edinburgh) and the underground tours (the underground city being full of morbid legends, spooky closes, twists and turns). 

Here you go, it’s mostly stuff you can find online, I’m afraid, but I hope you have fun!

Quiz time.  What place is Watson describing here?

The room was as curious as its occupant.  It looked like a small museum.  It was both broad and deep, with cupboards and cabinets all round, crowded with specimens, geological and anatomical. Cases of butterflies and moths flanked each side of the entrance.  A large table in the centre was littered with all sorts of debris, while the tall brass tube of a powerful microscope bristled up among them.  As I glanced round I was surprised at the universality of the man’s interests. Here was a case of ancient coins.  There was a cabinet of flint instruments. Behind his central table was a large cupboard of fossil bones. Above was a line of plaster skulls with such names as “Neanderthal,” “Heidelberg,” “Cro-Magnon” printed beneath them.  It was clear that he was a student of many subjects.

We gets hints throughout ACD canon that Holmes likes his clutter and his specimens, but not to this level.  221B in this show much more closely resembles (the real) Mr. Garrideb’s room than it does the 221B of ACD’s description.  So is there also something about Sherlock’s identity (and reality) that we’ve been deceived about?