April 2010. Bought tickets–four adults (’cause 13-year-olds pay the same as 47-year olds), round trip airfare (Singapore Airline) plus five nights lodging in Shinjuku (a ward of Tokyo): I don’t remember the exact amount, but it seemed like a pretty good deal.  We split the five nights–three on the front end of the trip and two just before flying home–with several of days of mostly rail travel through western Honshu and Kyushu in between.

Screenshot from Kana Complete app

Screenshot from Kana Complete app

May. Bought Kana Complete app for iPad. It’s actually an iPhone app, but it works on the pad as well.  I figured there was no hope for me to learn any significant amount of kanji, but I should at least be able to read the syllables and sound out the words that I probably would not know.  Neat thing about this is that I found that at 47 years I still have the capacity to learn new stuff–96 kana plus all the digraphs in two syllabaries in 48 hours.  The app is really pretty simple, but it was very effective as a learning tool.  It says the syllable and shows you the romaji, and you’re supposed to pick which of the kana is the right one.  There is also a writing practice function, if anyone is planning to have to write in kana (I am not).  Learning kana was a fun exercise and potentially very useful–I mean, what’s the point of having any vocabulary in Japanese at all if you don’t have any hope of being able to recognizing the words when they are there right in front of you?  Now I just need to develop some Japanese vocabulary.

Screenshot of Japanese app

Screenshot of Japanese app

To that end, also in May, I bought the Japanese app for iPad.  At $16, this is my most expensive app, but it seems like a huge bargain if compared with the cost of stand-alone translation devices.  This app, combined with the iPad’s syllable-converting keypad for Japanese and pictogram-deciphering pad for Chinese (kanji) characters, not only does a credible job of translation (Japanese-English and vice versa), but it also allowed me to create a “stack” of flash cards for vocabulary and kanji recognition.  I chose to restrict my learning of Japanese to what was really important to me–I am going to Japan to eat. period–so I created a vocabulary list of several hundred food and food-related words that I am now able to recognize and understand on sight.  I got most of the word entries from real Japanese menus that I found online.  Now I know the difference between the characters for low-grade and high-grade dehydrated bonito (arabushi vs. karebushi). Don’t ask me anything about culture or politics, but I should be able to do a halfway credible job with a Japanese menu. [just as long as they don’t do things like use verbs or complete sentences. it’s really annoying when menus do this.]

Partial screenshot of CommunityWalk showing Shinjuku-Shibuya areas

Partial screenshot of CommunityWalk showing Shinjuku-Shibuya areas

June and July: I scoured tons of restaurant reviews in all of the cities that we’d be visiting (Tokyo, Matsumoto, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Beppu, Oita, Kumamoto, Minamata, Kagoshima, Osaka, and Mishima), and created maps in CommunityWalk (the list of all my  CommunityWalk maps).

And no, I don’t expect to eat at all of these places, but the exercise definitely gave me a very real “spatial feel” for these places I’ve never been to.  The CW maps only exist for me on the web, so I really don’t anticipate being able to access these with my iPad unless I manage to find hotspots, which apparently aren’t all that common in Japan–most people just use smart phones, so wifi is considered rather pointless.  [And this, by the way, may severely limit my ability to post new entries while on the trip.]

Screenshot of PDF reader showing Kyoto bus routes

Screenshot of PDF reader showing Kyoto bus routes

Since the CW maps are not going to be there for me, I still needed maps to use while in Japan, so I found a free PDF reader app got busy downloading.  Now I have several city maps, rail and subway route maps, as well as a couple of visitor guides residing in my iPad and at the ready for our trip.

Adriana and I will be going in different directions at various points during our trip–I arranged for phone rentals for the two of us.  After comparing prices, I went with Rentafone Japan.

Yesterday I bought our Japan Rail (JR passes). This will allow us mostly unlimited travel on all JR trains, except the Nozomi Shinkansen, though the other levels of “burret train,” e.g., Hikari and Asama, are fine.  At over $500 per 14-day pass, this may seem pretty steep, but it is a good deal for people doing a lot of travel within Japan, as we are.  Most of Tokyo is served by JR trains as well, though in some places (like Kyoto) we’ll need to buy local transportation separately.

Adriana and the boyz are in Europe now.  They come home tomorrow (Friday) and we leave on Monday for Japan.  My stuff is ready to pack (extra clothes, iPad, camera–that’s about it). My next post will probably be after we get there on Tuesday.

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So posts can be deleted (I just did exactly this with another test post).

This one I’m saving as a draft without publishing it, then I’ll go make some modifications with my iPad and try to publish it from there…

Okay, I’m now in the iPad wordpress app modifying… When I hit the save button does it stay a draft, or does it go public?

Apparently it stays as a draft. Now let’s see if there is a way I can publish a draft from this app. See, the problem I’m having is that there isn’t really any support for drafts in the app.

It looks like the only way to publish a draft is to go to the browser.

So far I have learned that in order to use the iPad to blog, pictures cannot be attached though safari, only throughout the app. Drafts can be created only in the browser–they can be modified in either the browser or the app, but on order to publish a post that has been saved as a draft you have to go back to the browser.

Let’s see how or if I can even post with this iPad.
Hmm. I can’t browse the ipad’s photo library from the wordpress/safari interface. I may have to post images to Facebook and then insert them here by URL.
Will try that later.

Haha. Ha. I downloaded the free wordpress app for bloggers. Let’s try this.

Hmmm. This app only allows images to be added at the bottom of the post. Well that’s better than no pics, I guess.

The wordpress app seems to have allowed the photo to be put in, though it looked like it was completely frozen. I went back to safari and–surprise! it was there.

How did I get this text below the image? Inserted with the safari browser. Now I’m going to check to see how this looks edited from the app.

Okay. Let’s try adding another picture. This one is the Eiffel tower or something.

Okay. That time it didn’t freeze. This might just work. I’m able to add this without going to the blog site in my safari browser. The only problem is that I still need to go to the browser to see how the post looks. Oh well.