Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Plastic models: Tamiya Sd.Kfz.232 1/48

I recently joined a group of Japanese plastic model fans who meet about once a month in Ogikubo (荻窪) near a famous plastic model shop called Kiyahobby (喜屋ホビー).

On my first day, I was lucky enough to meet and talk with one of the most famous plastic modelers in the world, Mig Jimenez, who was visiting Japan from Spain. I learned a lot from him in just a few hours. I also learned a lot from my new Sensei, Masahiro Doi, who guided me during the application of a surface primer (Tamiya TS-4 German gray lacquer air spray) on my plastic model: an Sd.Kfz.232 German 8-wheeled heavy armored car (Tamiya, scale 1/48). The trick to obtain an homogeneous surface was to apply the air spray with quick strokes. After applying the German gray primer and letting it dry for about 30 minutes, I started painting the shovels, the wheels and the turret. For that I used Vallejo acrylics.

On my second time, Doi-sensei guided me through the process of weathering my model. I started by applying a wash of Tamiya XF-64 Red Brown enamel paint (diluted with about 2 times of Tamiya X-20 enamel thinner) using Tamiya modeling brush HF No.0. The goal here is to give some depth to the model by darkening corners and making the surface more realistic. Then, I removed the excess of enamel paint with a Tamiya craft cotton swab using up-to-down strokes for expressing the aging caused by rain. Once the enamel paint was dry, I applied Mr. Weathering Color Sundy Wash (diluted with Mr weathering color Solvent 110) on the wheels and lower parts of the car to emulate dirty and dust. I used a slightly bigger Tamiya HF modeling brush (no. 2) for that. The result is what you see above!!

Conclusions: I think there are many ways to improve the result, but it's probably good enough for the first time. In the process I learned many things such as the difference between lacquer, acrylics, and enamel paint; or the typical steps in the painting sequence. I also learned that there are many magazines and blogs explaining numerous tricks to make your models even more realistic.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Kamakura Sanzagaike: easy hiking trail

Kamakura was one of the first places I visited in Japan. Since then I have been several times in Kamakura, including last month when I walked the Nagoe kiredooshi pass.

Today I walked another nice trail that started near the Sanzagaike forest park (散在が池森林公園). Here are the details of the route. Go to Oofuna's JR station (大船駅) and take the bus towards Kamakura lake (鎌倉湖畔ゆき) at platform 5. Get off at the Imaizumi fudou (今泉不動) bus stop. Then, follow my GPS log (use Google earth to see the log in context) which will eventually lead you to an Italian restaurant not too far from JR Kamakura station (sorry, I didn't log the last segment but you can guess it from the map), the final destination.

Perhaps the main attraction of the route, especially if you travel in June, is the wide diversity of flowers you will see. Lillies (ユリ), Magnolias, and particularly Hortensias (アジサイ) are really abundant and popular.

There are also lots of harmless little animals to see such as beetles or lizards; and a wide variety of birds singing all the time. If you live in Tokyo this is a nice one-day trip for escaping from the daily routine.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Nagoe Kiridooshi pass

A few days ago I joined a beautiful walk between the cities of Kamakura (鎌倉市) and Zushi (逗子市). The route follows ancient paths with man-made carved cliffs (大切岸 ookirigishi) and passageways (切通 kiridooshi) that used to protect the Kamakura shogunate. In particular, the route passes by the Nagoe-kiridoshi (名越切通), one of the seven major passageways that still remains close to its original form. Another interesting spot is the so-called Mandara-dou Yagura-gun (まんだら堂やぐら群), a group of cave-tombs carved into a clif.

Even if you are not interested in its historical value, the route has a lot more to offer. The beauty of its paths, the variety of trees and the smell of the Japanese wisteria flowers (beginning of May) are all worth the walk.

I have prepared a file containing the route I walked: nagoe-kiridoshi-pass.kmz. The file can be opened in Google earth or converted to your favourite GPS file format. The route starts and ends in Kamakura station. First, get on any of the following buses (you can walk instead): JR bus (platform 5) or Keihin buses no. 23, 24 and 36. Make sure your bus stops at Jōmyō-ji (浄明寺), the bus stop where you want to get off. Near the bus stop there should be a Spanish restaurant called La Casita. If you find it then you are on the good track. Then, just follow the route described in the .kmz file. There may be a few mistakes in the file, but I think it's mostly accurate. The route includes marks for the major spots, and suggestions for having lunch by the sea or for taking a break at a nice cafe (Hoa cafe) that serves delicious donuts. You can see some more pictures here and here.

24h de la bande dessinee 2016

This year I also participated in the "24h de la bande dessinee" event. The goal of this event is to make 24 pages of comic in 24 hours. The topic is decided every year when the event starts. These are the pages I made this year (translation to English here).