又来到了东京

2019年8月3日。这是我第五次来到了日本,第三次到访东京。

身边的人都问我为什么每年都来日本,其实也没为什么的。就是单纯的喜欢这里的人文,迷恋这里的风景。想让自己沉浸在这里的文化,呼吸着这里的气息,感受着这里的步调。也许是小时候受到了动漫,J-Pop与日剧的熏染,也许我上辈子是一个不择不扣的日本人也说不定。没有理由,没有原因,就是喜欢,仅此而已。有时候,“喜欢”这种感觉就这样突然来袭,在心灵的某个层面上互相连接,让一个人无法自拔。这种感觉很难加以解释,也很难理解缘由的所在,就像是“一见钟情”的感觉一样,当你回过神来一切都为时已晚了。

“又是东京?”有人这样问着。嗯,是的。虽然来过了两次,但是这里依然有着许多的事与物等待着我去探索,去发掘。有些人喜欢旧地重游,有些人绝不重返到过的景点。而我呢,算是一半半吧?如果一个景点游遍了,或许就真的没有必要再回去了。但是,有些地方与景点就是会不知不觉的和心灵某处连接上,让我恋恋不舍。就好像京都的岚山,清水寺与伏见稻荷大社,只要我来到京都就一定会去那里逛逛。而东京让我最迷恋的,算是浅草寺吧。所以每次来到东京,我都会选择住在浅草一带,而不是交通更方便的新宿区。

然而,这次会再来到东京是有别的原因与目的。一来是刚结束了十八个月的MBA课程,想借此机会回馈自己的用功和努力,所以算是毕业旅行吧。另外就是我从去年开始就朝思暮想的,一个小小的,卑微的梦想,无论如何都必须尽快将它给完成。机票确实很早就已经订了下来,但是其余的行程几乎都是直到最后一刻才一个接一个的被决定下来。这和我之前的旅行很不一样,前几次的行程都是老早就安排好所有衣食住行的。嘛,当中有各种缘由啦,前一阵子忙着搬家,换新的工作等,让我有少许的喘不过气。也许算是机缘巧合吧,这趟旅程来得正是时候,好让我可以暂停脚步,休息一下。

这一次的东京之旅,我是一个人前来的。这也是第一次只身一人来到日本,来到东京。这或多或少也让我在行程编排上多了几分的自由空间。“既然再一次来到东京,那么就做些不一样的东西吧!”我是这样下定决心的,但是世事却没有想象的那么简单。前两次来到东京都去了许多的地方,那这一次还可以去哪里,做些什么呢?“想要体验不一样的日本,不一样的东京,不一样的旅行。”抱着这样的想法,我开始寻找有什么还没去过的地方,还没做过的事情,让自己可以深度的体验日本,感受东京。另外,既然是一个人的旅行,那就可以无拘无束,花多一点时间摄影,也可以散漫一些。

刚开始还是毫无头绪的,但庆幸的是,渐渐的一切都像拼图那样把整个行程给拼凑了上来。虽然并不能说得上是精彩万分,但是对我来说,这也应该算得上是一个蛮特别与不一样的日本之旅。旅程开始之前,我也决定了要在这趟旅程中写下旅行随笔,把我的心情与思绪,透过文字给整理一番。以前的我会把这些编写成一本书,这次只是会在网上发表就算了。接下来我会陆陆续续发表几篇关于我这一趟日本之旅的文章,有兴趣的人就拭目以待吧!

A Brand Story

Recently I have read a couple of books on some of the famous brands in the world, about the story behind their creation and success, about the vision, mission and values that formed a part of their identity. There were two books which I found to be particularly enjoyable and insightful to read:

“The Starbucks Story, How the brand changed the world” by John Simmons

The story of Starbucks has always been a fascinating one. A company that was founded by a few gentlemen who were obsessed over high quality coffee beans, which was then bought over by Howard Schultz, a man who was obsessed with the coffee culture and experience which he immersed in Italy. The whole brand was then transformed, from selling beans and brewing equipment to serving coffees and pastries, creating “The Third Place” that everyone will go besides office and home.

“Shoe Dog, a memoir by the creator of Nike” by Phil Knight

This is actually the first time I got to know the Nike brand in detail. I was surprised that the whole story was started off with Phil importing Onitsuka Tiger’s shoes, how it all went south in the end and ultimately led to the creation of their own shoe brand: Nike. The struggles of Phil and his fellowships was so real and raw, and it made me continued to read and read in order to find out what they did to get over all the hurdles. The story brought up the spirits behind Nike, on hindsight, you can really see where those spirits and rebellion came from.

Both books offered insight and behind-the-scene of how a brand was created, how their identity was defined. For Starbucks it’s always about customer experiences, for Nike it’s all about winning. Both books were easy to read and digest, and I learnt a couple of things about business management along the way as well. Even if you are not a business person, these books were entertaining enough for you to read and get to know the brand better, that is if you are a fan of these brands.

Never stop exploring

For my recent trips, there have been a slight change in terms of what activities I planned for those trips. Before this, it was all about walking around those touristy spot, snapping some pictures of the famous locations and that’s all. But as time goes by, I started to enjoy a little more on something else.

It probably started during my trip to Hong Kong, where I hiked through a few trails and paths (be sure to check out some of the blog posts I shared previously on this), and I found that although tiring, I very much enjoyed the experience. And then I tried to venture into some “off the beaten path” location in Japan, and later in Taipei. I am not ready to camp out in the wild yet, but I do enjoy hiking through some day trails, getting close to nature and away from the busy buzzing crowd.

With that change in taste, it had partly contributed to some changes in terms of my gears and the way I plan my trips. For camera setup, I ended up switching from only primes to mostly zoom lenses, this is to cater for the unforeseen circumstances and photographic opportunities arise during hiking. Now whenever I plan my trip, I’ll research for locations where I can hike for half or full day. And I am considering to get a better backpack that is more comfortable for hiking use.

Let’s hope I can explore more places while I am still able to do so. In fact, I’m flying over to Tokyo tonight (yes, again…) for a trip that I have been planning for so long. It will be my fifth visit to Japan and the first full solo trip all by myself. Let’s hope that everything will be fine, and I’ll share more when I’m back from the trip. Till then.

Goodbye AirPod… and Hello Sony WF-1000XM3

My AirPod was officially dead. It no longer hold its charge properly after almost 18 months of use. Despite people hating it, and I was one of them in the beginning, I started to love using it more and more, day after day. That’s until I ran into some frustrations (in particularly sound leakage) and got myself the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones, which has been the king of noise cancelling headphones to date.

However, as pointed out in my earlier post, if there’s a choice, I would prefer something of a hybrid between AirPod and the WH-1000XM3 as I am not so much of a headphones person after-all. And after almost a year owning the WH-1000XM3 (and still using the AirPod on and off)… my dream was answered.

Thanks to AirPod, the wireless earbuds space has boomed. And then in came the WF-1000XM3. Sony seriously need to find a better way to name their products… That aside, this has become my go-to earbuds, replacing both AirPod and WH-1000XM3 (AirPod sitting in the museum now, while WH-1000XM3 was sold off).

I’ll not dwell too much on the technical aspect of the earbuds, in short, this beast provides true wireless, noise cancelling, excellent sound quality and great battery life. It is indeed a shrunk down version of the WH-1000XM3, with equally appealing aesthetic to boot.

My experience of using them so far has been positive. Both sound quality and noise cancelling are almost as good as its elder brother. In terms of noise cancelling, similar to its elder brother, there will be some white noise when it is activated, and it is still unable to handle noise cancelling well under windy condition. If you can’t get a good seal, your noise cancelling performance will degrade sharply. Anyway, for daily commute, this pair of earbuds does the job pretty well.

In terms of connection, you can’t pair this to more than one device at any one time, and transitioning from one device to the other is not as seamless as AirPod, which is to be expected. As for the connection stability, I do experience a few stutter in crowded places, which could be annoying to some. I believe like what others had pointed out, you’ll probably need Android devices in order to make full use of the new Bluetooth chip inside, I’m not too sure. By the way, I’m connecting to my iPhone 8 Plus.

The main concern I have will definitely be how well it stays in my ears. Similar to my AirPod, my right ear was the one that gave me the most problem in getting a good fit. Although these buds have not fall off from my ears for the past weeks, I do have a “less secure” feeling as compared to my AirPod in the early days of wearing it. Perhaps its due to the bulk of the size and weight of the earbuds is located further away from my ears, hence creating the sense of “it may drop off”. But as time goes by, I got used to it and it isn’t a problem anymore now. It survived the rush hour train ride and some stair climbing without any issue. Although it does look a little bulky, but once on your ear, it is actually quite flushed and didn’t protrude out too much.

Like what others had commented, it would be great if the earbuds are come with water resistant and volume control. Either way, it is not a deal breaker and I can live with it for now. Besides that, the black model comes with a case which has a soft satin finishing to it (the silver model looks the same too), and my concern is that this could be a dust/scratch magnet, or it will become pretty nasty looking as time passes. I would much prefer the function of multiple device connection to come as standard for the next generation.

All in all, I’m happy with the WF-1000XM3. It certainly lives up to the hype and will undoubtedly deserves a spot in my gear arsenal. It serves a good middle ground market between wireless earbuds and noise cancelling headphones, and I’m looking forward to see how Sony will improve on the M4 version. Till then.

Goodbye Fujifilm X100F

This is the second time I’m parting with Fujifilm, and X100 series camera as well. The first X100 series I owned was the X100S, and I got the X100F in 2017. I shoot almost exclusively with only this camera for about a year or so, and I owned both the wide angle and telephoto conversion lenses.

To be honest, the form factor and overall usability of the X100 series has always been good. If you just want to pack light and be casual, it’s a great everyday carry camera. I shot with it with me on my trip to Hanoi and Taipei, and it’s very enjoyable to lug it around for snapshot moment.

This is not to say the camera is not capable of delivering professional work. There are those who shoot professional street photography work with this camera, and I do enjoyed using it on the street as well. My only complaint will probably be the lack of weather sealing and subpar lens performance when shooting close up and in wider aperture. The lens seriously needs to be updated in the next iteration.

Of course being a compact fixed lens camera, it is what it is. If you can live with the limitations, you will be happy using it. I had been using it solely for the past one year as I was trying to figure out what’s next. After I decided to purchase the Sony A7 III, I gave it a hard thought to decide whether or not to keep the X100F. In the end, I decided to let it go.

Well, I could have keep it and use it along with my Sony A7 III, but that means I will need to deal with two camera systems and process two different types of raw files. Anyway, since I had decided to move on, I figure I’ll just reset my stuff and stay focus with one for now. Anyway, I can use the extra cash as well.

Goodbye X100F. You had served me well. I will still hold a soft spot for you in my heart, and hopefully you will evolved to a better camera in next iteration. Till then.