Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Tsukuba Tourist Trophy_Part 1「筑波サーキット_ツーリスト・トロフィー Part I」


筑波サーキット Part 1
Paddock Lot Pimpin' 

You can thank video games for pioneering the way we explore the world, engineer technology and test our limits. I still remember when I got my first Playstation system and how much time I devoted to it during summer vacations playing Final Fantasy VII and Gran Turismo. When I wasn't busy running in circles trying fighting enemies to build up my characters in FFVII, I was busy getting licenses and tuning my cars in Gran Turismo. It wasn't until the third one when I started to get a hang of tuning my cars correctly and just dumping all my credits into horsepower. I matured throughout the series of Gran Turismo but at some point you really need to detach yourself and find another way to get your fill of speed adrenaline. 

Then like a gift from the Gran Turismo gods, they released a motorcycle junkie's version, Tourist Trophy. It was then I got hooked on the physics of the game and how different it was in corners and acceleration. I fell in love. But every time I came back from Tourist Trophy to Gran Turismo, I would need a few practice sessions to get used to the car handling again. 

The best part of Gran Turismo is the exposure of real world tracks around the globe that you have access to race on. The newer versions are getting ridiculously accurate to every aspect of each track. Once I found what type of corners and speeds I liked to race on, matched with certain cars I found my holy grail of tracks - Tsukuba Circuit.


About a two and a half hour train ride from Tokyo, with two train transfers and taxi ride into the country side of Sodo in Shimotsuma, you'll find yourself in one of the quietest places that you'll hear yourself breath. At the station that looks like it hasn't changed for decades, you'll be greeted by one or two taxi drivers that can assume where you want to go just by looking at you. Of course, my heavy camera bag and tripod doesn't camouflage me that well so the taxi driver knew right away where we wanted to go. 


We were blessed with amazing sunny weather, no winds, just sun rays and clear country side air. I couldn't have asked for more, perfect race day weather.

The event I was shooting was the Tsukuba Tourist Trophy which consisted of 8 different class races. Upon entering Gate D, you can already here engines warming up and smell the yakitori grilling for the spectators to enjoy during the long race day ahead. After getting my press credentials, you can bet before I even took my camera out, I scuffed down some salted beef tongue and chicken thighs before I started trekking around the track trying to find the money spots. 


It's been a while since I've shot some motorsports, and especially at this caliber. For some of you who don't know, I get car sick and after long drives sitting in the back seat I'll need to step out to get air. The same goes for long train rides facing backwards from the direction of the train, so enduring a grueling two and a half hours was a stretch for me, but I was not gonna let a little headache toll me over on this opportunity to shoot at my favorite race track.


With all the shots I took, it would be unfair to some people to post all of them in one post, it would be murder and a long drag for some servers. So I'm going to break this race segment into three lengthy parts: paddock shots, action shots of the race, and final podium shots.

So far all you motor heads, here's some juicy pictures of to drool over from the paddocks as the racers warm up their tires and finish final preparations for their races.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Kanto Tour 2014「関東旅行始めよう〜!」

IMG_2036-Edit copy

This past weekend I took a trip out to the Kanto area of Japan to visit friends, check off more items on my Japan bucket list and explore new areas I haven't been to from the past visits. I've still got one last day on my rail pass so we're going to spend it in Hiroshima so I've got to keep this post short. I've got a lot of work to do as soon as I get back so I can get you folks back up to speed. My Japan trip is winding down to less than a month now and time isn't slowing down towards the tail end. So stay tuned for pictures of my Kanto trip!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

日本デビュー:Hell on Heels Triple "Chinookie" IPA_Japan Release 2014




I don't have kids. Well not just yet that is, but I sure do know the feeling of having them...oddly through brewing beer. "How is that?" you ask. As with raising kids, you invest your heart, your soul, and whatever you have in your wallet. Throughout the process, you monitor your beer/child along every step in hopes that one day they turn out successful. 

Well ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to introduce to you the newest addition to my beer family, Hell on Heels! Triple "Chinookie" IPA. 

It took months of planning and brewing and even longer to age this to our exact targeted taste and aroma. Our plan was to bring this beer with me on my Japan trip to give the Japanese a taste of what American is made of. Being a hop head myself, I knew what I wanted in this beer. It was put into consideration that our targeted crowd should not be so overwhelmed by crazy bitter hops and aromas. 

Since Japan in not such a hop-heavy country, mostly lagers and the occasional "stouts" filling beer aisles, we wanted to keep the essence of hoppy IPA's and not just "hops in your face!" bitterness. So we balanced out a smooth bitterness once it hits the tongue palette but a pungent hoppy aroma which was achieved by Chinook hops, hence the name "Chinookie" IPA. 

Looking forward to seeing how Japan reacts to this beer! 

Big thanks to Silenus's Ego for helping with the brewing and label cut work!

Look out for our future "collaborations" in 2014!




Monday, March 10, 2014

Hell Bound Soap Box Series_"Scalliwags" Kansai Racer


Soap Box Series #1
"Scalliwags" Kansai Racer

Here's the first piece of a series I'm working on based off of an ongoing incite joke between me and my brother-in-law. Well let me vaguely fill you in, you have to be in his presence to fully get the essence of his humor and personality, to slightly understand our jokes. It started at the beginning of the Sochi Olympics, as family tradition at the Ishioka residence, we toast beers at the beginning of dinner time when everyone gets home. I can count how many times we DIDN'T drink beer more than I count how many days we did...and it's been almost three months. 

The Olympics bring out the worst, the best, and sometimes, the prejudice in people due to hometown pride and what not, but there's always a brighter side to it. With 3 rounds of beer and chuhai in our system, watching the Olympics inspired us to want to create a new breed of sports trials. Some of these sports don't really exist and our rules are far from logical but it was good laughs and still continues to be and our list just keeps growing.

Some of the ideas we created, inspired me to do a Soap Box Racing Series which I would love to print on some tees when I arrive back home to Cali. Once the series is completed, I will definitely try out some samples prints.

As for now, I'm still having a ball drinking while watching "FAIL" videos on YouTube with Toshi. Let the creative juices flow!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

B&W Film Series_Vol. II_Kyoto 「関西旅行_京都」


白黒フィルムセット_Vol. II

関西旅行/ /京都

Kyoto's vibe is so different than the rest of the other Kansai cities, a sense of prestige and tradition. It's always a nice stop after coming from sleepless nights in Kobe and Osaka. This trip was shorter than usual, due to time restrictions and some of the main places we wanted to see were closed, we couldn't do everything we wanted. Besides, I want to save some color photos of the sakura blossoming in spring before I head back home, black and white film will not do any justice.  


Kyoto station is definitely one of the biggest stations and most architecturally developed stations that I've been to. With 11 floors of department stores, souvenir shops, and traditional Kyoto cuisine, you could spend a good portion of your day at the station before heading out to the temples and shrines.

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Kinkakuji is a must when making your way through Kyoto
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After doing the temple tour, it's always a treat to eat some of Kyoto's traditional shirotama dango served with a cup of maccha to sip on.