Yononaka no Okugi (Part 5)

Hitoshi supported me as we headed back towards the school building and into the student council room. This was supposed to be as simple as when we came from there, but the struggle with this newly acquired feeling in me that is difficult to concentrate with had me quite confused.

“Don’t worry, Fujibayashi. This is normal for anyone who has seen images of males. Try to get used to it like it’s nothing or it would be difficult to concentrate on studies, though that can be an uphill struggle if you never had it before, or, in my case, intensity being stronger than I have ever felt before. Try not to see or think about them and it won’t get worse… though that is kind of unavoidable with your quest in finding out the past.”

We both struggled to make it back to the main building as we both were unable to think well with this persistent new feeling. Eventually, we find ourselves in the student council room. We were thinking too much of our new feelings that we did not care about who saw us along the way, but it was not until we heard a voice in there that there was someone else inside.

“Inosaki-kun! It seems that we have a guest here.”

I struggled to see who that voice belonged to. It was the student council president,  Sakae Kotani (小谷サカエ), third year, who is known for her top grades. She is in a big office chair with the back her back is facing us, so we could only see her head.

“Ah, Sakae-san. I was showing Maeda-san was showing an interest in… well…”

Hitoshi seem troubled in deciding if she should tell a lie or the truth. In that moment, there was a long awkward silence where no one said or did anything. She was holding a dual-screened portable gaming device, with only the top screen visible, and unclear what she is doing with the other hand. She seem to have quietly resumed playing her game before she said something.

“Oh, hold on! Maeda-san. Were you the one who had asked me about what happened to the school yearbooks and history books? I was on library duty if you recall, though I didn’t had the usual hairstyle that day. I’m afraid the books that have been removed due to it containing something… our bodies have developed somewhat like an allergy from just the sight and thought of it that people of the past did not have. Sounds absurd, but that is how our bodies work today. We would rather you be curious on what that something is, than ever knowing anything about it. We humans developed this allergy only less than a decade ago versus the tens of thousands of years we have existed on earth, so it’s fairly recent. If you are wondering if the current CEO and director of Hatsuya Research studied here before, yes, she was a student here, with her photo in one of the yearbooks that was removed from the library. She does look different today though.”

I’m surprised that she said all that with just that short phrase from the vice president. I wasn’t looking up about that CEO, but being told that she studied here does give that special feeling towards the school.

“President? Can you please turn around?”, said Hitoshi gently, but her turning the president’s chair with as much strength as she could does not match her gentle tone. Then again, I’ve never seen anyone who isn’t gentle.

Hitoshi turned the chair around, exposing what the president was doing while her back was facing us. There was nothing special about the game console apart from being old, but she was playing some game that had shooting and violence with a lot of men on it. She probably knew who I was without turning around because the screen is quite reflective to see me through it without turning around, and recognizing my voice after my encounter with her at the library. The odd thing I observed is that she does not have the same state as us despite the amount of men on the game she is playing, and the amount of times she mentioned them earlier.

“Oh, sorry about that. I was… playing a game I want to play. It wouldn’t look good on me as the president of the student council or the top student if they see me playing this violent game. Helps me to express feelings that no one can physically express correctly, like that anger you tried earlier. No wonder you pre-evolution people have a split personality: you know what anger is like as you grew up being able to express it, but we post-evolution people can’t express it and therefore not know what anger is. Games today are just not that great if made by post-evolution developers. Because practically everyone today is, from a pre-evolution point of view, a Japanese girl. That is the area where the Ryukyu, Honshu, and Hokkaido islands are back in the days where the concept of “countries” separated us from those of elsewhere with “immigration laws”. You don’t see much variation of the people in games today, and it kind of odd for squeals of games first released pre-evolution that had a lot of men where they are forced to either abandon the series, or replace all the males with females. The latter appearing odd if not done correctly. They can choose to not bother, but game ratings of today have been revamped: any game containing males, including those “for kids”, faces the same treatment as adult games in the past were sale and display are more restricted. Nobody does it anyway because of the resulting effect of permanently being harder to be able to think.”

She seemed nervous. I believe she wants to avoid talking about the obvious things we could see on each other that, despite being visually distracting, would be considered rude to talk about it as it is something we have no control of, even though it is somewhat common. Why do we humans have this condition at all?

“In case you were wondering, I’m wearing a special Mizuho uniform that looks a lot like our Kaisei uniform. They look alike… but I feel more comfortable in it. Anyway, what are you guys doing here? There’s no meeting today, and classes have ended long ago.”

I don’t know why she mentioned that school out of nowhere or how that is related to the conversation. For those unfamiliar with the Mizuho Academy, I have observed that everyone who came from there seem to have a slight variation of the same body measurements for some reason, but they also do not have that condition at all despite being exposed to situations where they should have. It seem to have some special feature built into the uniform itself that no other uniform has, but I don’t know what it is or what it does as the technology behind it appears to be a closely guarded secret. So secret that people who seem to know about it appear to not be able to talk about it to people who don’t know about it, which extends to anyone within hearing range, or is being recorded or heard through any microphone in the area that could pick up the conversation.  It is not clear what the president meant by “that school’s version of our uniform” as I can’t tell the difference, but her body does look like it has about the same measurements of an average Mizuho girl.

“We went to the baseball clubroom and saw what was on the ceiling by accident. Our body reacted strangely when we saw it”, I said plainly before we get further distracted away.

“You mean you saw a group picture of that club’s last male-only team members? They don’t look attractive to me in my opinion… I mean there isn’t a cure that I know of. Sure there are top scoring students who that condition, but their condition isn’t “cured”: they just simply have stronger endurance and willpower to not let that feeling get to them. Hitoshi here is an example of one of them: she may not be able to hide her expression, but she’s not going to let it affect her thinking, though her “previous life” experience might have had her get used to it, but also more likely to have it when they think too much of it. Those born after won’t as they have no experience of it.  Those who could not handle this condition would find it a mental torture. This absurd condition is actually common due to how much old stuff lying around that we aren’t supposed to see, but how can we avoid looking at our past?”

She is indirectly admitting that she could see our aroused faces. I guess she really didn’t want to talk about it, though unclear why. She has the knowledge of any pre-evolution person, but her name being in katakana itself tells me that she was born post-evolution. Evolution happened less than a decade ago, so that eliminates the possibility of her being reborn from an old age, but how does she know all of this? I have to ask her.

“How do you know all of this? You’re only a couple of years older than me at most, and evolution was earlier than that,” I questioned her.

She seem to have been caught off guard on being asked this question.

“Well, not long after I was first aware of my existence, was approached by someone who own a research facility to be a part of a test. They were the ones who gave me this uniform, though that did not happen until during the test. Another girl they picked at random was from Yuribashi Middle School, from one of the towns neighbouring this city. Can’t reveal what exactly I went through, but being in a world where males made up a little more than half of the population has initially had my body to suffer from immense overload of the sight and thoughts of males triggered our archaic instincts that failed to trigger organs that our post-evolution bodies simply do not have. Males are easily identifiable for having a flat chest and are bigger than us in size on average.”

As interested as I am on the subject, it gets difficult to concentrate on what the president is saying with how much she talks about males. How does she maintain the look of having never seen males before even though she talks as if she has seen a lot of them? Was the mention of the Mizuho uniform related?

“Us humans used to have dual genders, but evolution turned us into a single-gender or genderless species where we are neither male nor female that no body has a clue on how to reproduce, leading some to think that our species is going extinct slowly, but I was told I was born after the evolution happened, so who knows how I exist. Nobody knew why the evolution happened and experts stop short of how it happened than as a unseen unknown force that, is at best, be described as like a pandemic virus outbreak that nobody died from, but neither could it be traced nor stopped. Referring to ourselves as the female gender isn’t technically wrong either as we look, sound, dress, and behave like them in every aspect. Isn’t it strange that we are not even allowed to see what we evolved from? Remembering how one looked too for those who had went through it. Either way, you don’t see me in the same state like you two, or anyone with the same condition, because this uniform is a-“

Her conversation was abruptly stopped this time, but it was clear it was something to do with clothes again. This time, she noticed that words aren’t coming out of her mouth as quickly as being unable to make a sound.

“Mizuho Academy”, she said randomly after an awkward pause.

“Let me say that again, this uniform is a-“

“Has a-“

Her face seem to have an internal struggle inside her with the look of being uncomfortable with herself, but quickly returned to her normal face like that never happened. I am confused as to what is going on.

“Um, sorry about my speech being cut off abruptly, but apparently either you or anyone who could hear us wasn’t supposed to know what I wanted to say.”

So, how do we continue from here?

Part 4 | Part 6

Alternate Dimension Special: Secret Documentary of Mizuho Academy by Hatsuya Institute: History & Uniform

How did Mizuho Girls academy came to what it is today? A well known school, but yet most people don’t really know how it works under the hood.
It started many years ago, which is to say some years before where the academy is today was built, when the founder of Mizuho High School approached us, and we discussed plans on how to implement it.
Mizuho Girls Academy was founded around the early or mid 20th century as a co-ed high school, where boys and girls attend together. Right until around the time Mamiko Hisakawa (one of our staff on assignment there) enrolled to that school, the design of the uniform was was virtually unchanged since the school was founded. But we will talk about why the uniform was changed later.
Why the backward conversion from a co-educational school to a girl’s school? The founder of the school has this fetish of seeing girls, and yet wants his school to become as big like a built up city with technology that would make everyone in awe that they would not see soon outside. After several talks, we would develop the technology to make it possible, and also let us use the academy as a testing ground for new technology we have in plans, but lack the real world testing situation for it. On top of that, he also wanted to expand the school by creating middle school and college, as well as create commercial and retail spaces, along with dormitories for people to rest at because people may not want to leave as the campus is so big.
We were set back by the attacks on our staff from whom we strongly suspected be from Senritsu Corporation, but the plan went on nevertheless. It was a coincidence that, in recent years, this academy has help us to quickly adapt to the phenomenon where all living humans around the world has “evolved” to become quite close to what the Mizuho founder wanted the people in Mizuho Academy to be made up of and nothing else: young women.
Why young women? Well, they are less aggressive than men to begin with, look beautiful, and fewer mental distractions from concentration. The problem here is that trying to have a large campus that is made up of nothing but young women is next to impossible: there aren’t enough available women that fit the description to fill it up, and the can get old too. They could fill in the vacancy if they accept men and older women, but the founder doesn’t want that. He suggested to us that we turned them into girls, and them turning back to what they were on leaving. On top of that, he wanted to have the people who knew about the transformations to absolutely not be able to tell people who do not know about it, including via electronic means and people overhearing a conversation between people who do know about it. He added that he also wanted components of their body to work exactly like a healthy young woman, even if they were originally elderly, disabled, a girl who has not yet reached puberty or any kind of male.
Most people had objected the idea of having people being turned into something else against their will, but that next part he suggested is almost like a way to get away with what they aren’t legally allowed! However, the order came from the highest person of both companies.
We didn’t accept or reject the request right away as we tried to develop the technologies that makes it possible. The most difficult part was figuring out how to turn any kind of person into a biologically a young woman? We are aware of male to female gender reassignment surgery, but those people remain mostly biologically male no matter how much female hormones they take or what modification they did to their body. Aside from that, how you turn an elderly person into a young person, or remove their disability like they never had it, and squeeze it all into a piece of clothing?
One of the first steps we did was to collaborate with other researchers from Germany to research on the most difficult step of all: having a male to be biologically turned into female as if born one. The director of that time offered his nephew, who was newly born, as part of the experiments. That experiment turned out to successful where she grew up like any other female with little or no sign of male behaviour and even managed to reproduce two children with her body. Sadly enough, that child in question became aware of the experiment, and another unrelated experiment done to her, after her second child. Most people would demand to be turned back into a male, but she didn’t as she can’t think of living as anything other than being a female as she was already female when she became remembering and being self-aware of the world around her. Ironically, that same girl is also Hatsuya’s current director, Kotomi Hisakawa (maiden name is Miyazawa).
With the experience we had learnt from that, we figured how to turn male into female, and it wasn’t that hard to figure out what else to do. Funnily enough, having them turn back to male after temporary turned into female regardless of how long it is as long as they wear it, works differently from turning females into males. (We did try the latter as a follow up of the opposite, but that didn’t work successfully, and we abandoned that idea.)

Next, is to turning people of any age into a teenager and, at the same time, remove imperfections that they would have. By imperfections, we meant things like disabilities, cancer, myopia, scars on the skin, and things like that. The challenge here is that they should be restored to exactly to what they were like when it is applied to the uniform on being removed. To achieve this, we examine every single bit of the person’s body, store that data, and then transform them into the template we have on all uniforms. However, to ensure that everyone does not look or sound the same, that template is modified to have them look like a teenage female version of what they are, and of different body measurements that meets the requirement of the Mizuho founder. They would all look like the staff whom the template is based on, and would cause confusion to everyone as nobody could tell anyone apart.

Even with all the research, we also have to optimise and make sure that glitches do not happen. Major issues we encountered at the beginning was that the transformations took unacceptably long, which we expected as the amount of data of the human body to handle, and the capacity needed to handle them quickly, is far larger than anything commercially available at the time of research. We has to put in a lot of research to achieve that, and at the same time squeeze it all into the fabric of the uniform, and protected from damage by water. We received feedback from people who knows a male that has worn the Mizuho uniform long-term that it has caused them to behave more feminine than before even when they aren’t wearing it. While we can assure you that the uniform does not brainwash people, we can, however, explain why this happened. (Yes, post-evolution people, people in the past could take off their clothes for as long as they like.)

You see, what we feel with our bodies does affect how we behave, including what our sense of touch is telling us. As the anatomy of male and female bodies are different, particularly that relating to reproductive organs, one would feel different while being of either gender: having weights on the chest that are quite sensitive to get touched versus not having it at all, or feeling of something between the legs pressing against your trousers versus feeling nothing but air all the time. Another influencing factor that made them behave more like females is because, while wearing the uniform, their body gets turn back to the adolescent stage where mental developments to a person happens more than the rest of a person’s life. Since they are also turned into a female, the body naturally develops their mind towards being a woman. Since adult males receive no further mental development, there is nothing but willpower (if they have any) to counteract the female mentality they acquired. The effects are minimal if a man wears it for a short time and does not wear it again for the minimum of same duration as when he last wore it. That means that regular visitors, and staff who does not regularly work overtime there, would have little effect. Having their minds being steered in the female direction is unavoidable for students as, on the request of the Mizuho founder, not allowed to be able to take off the uniform for their the entire duration of their study there.
Having the uniform to be removable only in certain conditions was introduced as an anti-rape measure. We take precautions to make sure the wearer doesn’t feel uncomfortable even when they wear the uniform for long periods at a time, so we also implemented technologies to have them to always feel like they have just taken a shower. If they get wet, the uniform would quickly repel away the water, so they would stay dry even after a bucket of water was poured at them.

To help our students deal with stress from studying in such a prestigious school, we had also implemented a stress-relief program into the uniform. Due to the nature of how this looks as it happens, only students and outsiders would not be able to witness it happening, but to make sure those that could see it do not plan around it, the time it happens are random, and would not be able to talk about it. With the evolution, however, we had to design around the redesigned body. The design we came up with seems to be the first and, currently, the only way to be able to relieve built up sexual frustration at all with our evolved bodies, which isn’t designed for us to be able to have sex (as we know it) at all. As the technology is part of the uniform, no one knows about this and those who have not worn the fourth generation Mizuho uniform before sees the frustrating feeling as not curable.

While designing the second generation uniform, we did take into account that them looking more attractive makes them an easy target. We found that the toilet is where they are the most vulnerable in the toilet, as a pervert could rape the girl while she is using it. That has happened before, but we believed that the long skirt and how old-fashioned the first generation looked was a deterrent from having it more often as the statistics of girls of other schools whose uniforms looked close to what we planed to change to had more victims of rape cases. Testimonies of the rapists, and a closer investigation at how the victims looked like with the uniform have shown that the girl looked irresistibly beautiful.

You would think we would come to a conclusion of having the second generation uniform to look less attractive than those schools when these findings were shown, but instead, approval of the opposite happened: have the girls to look even more attractive. However, development to have a way to eliminate the need for them visit the toilet in the first place began. It took us time to figure out how, but let’s just say it is “wirelessly transmitted” to a central location from anywhere, though, like the rest of the uniform, underwear could no longer be removed even in the toilet, and rendering all toilets in Mizuho obsolete. The system that keeps the uniform fresh and dry takes care of the hygiene and sanitation too. I honestly don’t know how the girls could perform better than other schools with all of these.

Other bizarre things the higher-ups wanted was to have all Mizuho girls to be constantly be producing breast milk. Their burst size was based on a percentage increase from the average average size of everyone (which included men and children) instead of a few size increase of the average woman. That has not changed since, even in this post-evolution world, but it seems bigger today because the demographics the average is based on are now nothing but women with a noticeable burst. The blouse is designed to optimally accommodate her burst size at the time she  enters Mizuho, though her bust size itself changes all the time. During the evolution, however, the transformation of men into women has meant that the average bust size of everyone increased. That means a permanent and frequent burst size increase for everyone in Mizuho, which meant that for anyone who does not step out of Mizuho academy often would feel the strain of their blouse getting tighter due to the increased size until they re-enter, where their blouse is readjusted for their enlarged breasts. For reasons unknown, we did not receive any complains about this.

Why did we completely change the uniform design years after the school became an academy that was virtually unchanged since Mizuho was founded? Well, even in the years before the academy opened, Mizuho uniforms were starting to look old-fashioned against most other schools, and certainly out of place if we wanted the academy to have the latest and greatest advancement of technology in the world. However, our resources were quite constrained and have our priorities to the underlying technology in the academy to be more functional than the design of it. Also, one of our staff had her body programmed to only allow skirts of certain length or shorter to be worn.

We could have sent someone else there, but we have to use her specifically for an experiment in there. Combining her being able to only wear skirts of a certain maximum length and the mandatory wearing that old Mizuho uniform with its long skirt could cause trouble that we delayed her being allowed in without telling her directly by enrolling her in other schools, which aren’t owned or associated with Hatsuya or Mizuho, until the new uniform is ready. Can you imagine the conflict of being forced to wear short skirts and the old Mizuho uniform with that long skirt at the same time? Well, because of how they both work with ejecting non-compliant clothing, she would be able to wear that old Mizuho uniform, but would be uncomfortable with the forces she would feel: the one rejecting the long skirt would try to force it out, but as long as conditions of being able to remove the old uniform are not met, would try to fight what the uniform sees as unauthorised removal and tries to put it back up.

Tests has shown that it would give a noticeable vibration with the skirt, and would immediately fall off when conditions for being able to remove the uniform are met. Long-term tests has shown that the skirt could break apart within less than a day from the wear and tear of being forced in and out repeatedly and rapidly. Sure a replacement would appear the next time she steps in, but the issue is the comfort and potential embarrassment in public view, plus the strain it causes on our systems because of the persistent amount of attempts to keep the uniform on, while, separately, her body would also try to take it off. With the new design, we were made it less restrictive and switched the style from sailor to the blazer kind. Skirt length was shortened from ankle-length to around the thigh, which is somewhat a big change as most other schools usually do that gradually. However, this new length is slightly shorter than what other schools of the time were using

People like the new design as not only did they see it as “keeping up with the times” and even have the girls wearing them look prettier than other uniform without any cosmetics on. That is true as there was no change for decades and, even in the years before the change, design was so dated that it stood out from uniforms of other schools. The new set of uniforms have slightly different designs to easily tell which department in Mizuho a person belongs to, and what position they held there. Pleated skirts tells you they are with the academy, pencil skirt for everyone else. Both may have different colour for the top and bottom. For the academy people, rank is based on the pattern of the skirt, with the common tartan for students. For the other group, the darker the skirt colour, the higher the rank.

Guests do not have ranks, but if they are form another branch of a company that does have a branch in Mizuho, the top would look similar to that of the Mizuho branch, but the skirt would be the same as that of a regular guest, which is any random colour and pattern that isn’t being used. For students of other schools, it would be based on that school’s female uniform, but with technologies included with Mizuho uniforms added. In other words, that is also a Mizuho uniform, but customised to look like that of their school’s. For visiting students of boys’ schools, or anyone else, it would be based on any female uniform they have seen that they liked the most, though with slight alteration if it belongs to a school in the same prefecture or a well known one. The easter egg about this is that, if the uniform in question happens to be a Mizuho uniform, the first generation uniform would appear instead. All old and external uniforms are not modified from the original, but because of the evolution, we are forced to shorten the skirt length to at least the longest we could wear. I personally think it is too short, but no one could wear anything else.

The leaders of all sub-departments wore the supervisor uniform that looked like a business formal outfit. However, with the external companies in the campus that reports to headquarters or another branch outside Mizuho, and an unforeseen programming error, one of their employees was automatically assigned the supervisor uniform even though no leaders were assigned to the branch. As mentioned earlier, they can’t wear anything besides what the system assigns them in the campus, even if it is not what they are supposed to be wearing. Embarrassingly, that also includes one of our own staff who works in the branch there. To be fair, that staff does reports to headquarters more than the other staff, due in part of having worked and visited other Hatsuya branches more than the others, and established relations with important people in the company, including the director. Although that staff is a guy, he did not remove the Mizuho uniform that turned him into a woman when reporting to headquarters despite it not a requirement to report in.

The third generation fixes that confusion, and supervisors now have a uniform that looks more like a slight variation of what people in their charge wear, and supervisor-less groups that were previously given supervisor uniform are now given what they were supposed to wear! This was proven to be even more important post-evolution since everyone looks alike with the same age range. To avoid discrimination, a person’s actual age should not be revealed, and instead use their biological age instead. The fourth generation introduce in this period was a revision to address the changes to the human body that the third generation wasn’t designed for, and a slight change of design to tell it apart from earlier generations.

For those curious, the clothes our staff found themselves wearing, for those who did not have clothes meeting the post-evolution requirement, became an unofficial uniform because only staff of our company across all branches specifically have the same unique uniform design that contained a lot of bright colours, primarily white. Unfortunately, we are no longer able to wear the same white coat or safety suits that we wear pre-evolution without redesigning it to be less loose-fitting and no clothing except what we wear at our feet are allowed to cover the rest of the legs. Even we at Hatsuya, and practically everyone who lived long enough to know what pre-evolution was like, found this absurd, but it was either that or not able to wear at all.

In the next document, we shall discuss about architecture, bureaucracy, and the schools in Mizuho academy.

(Author’s note: This report was dated post-evolution, about the same time as events of story 7, Yononaka no Okugi. Details relating to people that were transformed during the first year of evolution were lost, including who the founder was, as they were transformed beyond recognition into a teenage girl with no trace left behind of their former selves, and nobody remember who they were. Subsequent transformations had them retaining their memories and remain with the same family, but failed to prevent other changes. The final wave of the evolution transformed everyone, including those who were transformed in earlier waves, into young women that don’t age that effectively made males extinct, though the final transformation makes up for it by redesigning the reproductive organs. However, the design behind the transformed body assumes that one will never ever see a human male again, but did not take into account what would happen if they were to read up history or look at old pictures. The unmodified female instinct would result in them getting aroused on thinking of men, but with their redesigned bodies, they have no way of calming that feeling down, resulting in that feeling remaining persistent permanently. That feeling gets stronger with each subsequent time they think of men. Those that were men pre-evolution are more easily affected by this, especially when they think of their past self. Officially classified as an incurable disease, but not life threatening. The author and editor of this documentary suffered a permanent huge increase of arousal from frequency of the mention of males. They had to be trained to ignore the feelings midway through and frequent breaks to prevent their feelings from affecting the professionalism of the document.)

691st post: How to prepare to travel abroad

Having travel abroad myself, I have went through the trouble of preparing for my travels. I have seen and heard of people who don’t travel just because of the fear of the unknown, or not understanding the situation behind horror stories they may have heard, or while they are just about to travel, they have forgotten something important at the last minute. This guide assumes that you are not using an agent to help you or have anything that requires your attention while you are away that can’t be done while travelling.

This list is sorted according to how important you need to get things done, with the most important first.

  1. Get a passport
    1. This is the most important document you would need to travel. Some countries have agreements to let citizens of one country into another with just an ID, but you will need a passport for all others.
    2. If you already have a passport, make sure it isn’t expired, or a few months close to the expiry date. The exact number of months varies by country, but it is generally 6 months at most.
      1. If you are getting a visa (see below) for the long-term, like work or study, you might also want to take note if they require your passport’s validity covers the length of the visa that can be in years.
  2. Determine your destination
    1. You might also want to check if the weather or political situation there is suitable too.
  3. Check if your destination requires a visa
    1. Some countries requires citizens of certain countries to obtain a visa before entering the country, including a tourist visa. Even with that, which port of entry you would enter with may have different rules, or particular visas that could only be obtained there, or even the total amount of visa-free period you would be given.
      1. China, for example, have separate immigration laws for Macau, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, and China itself only allows a handful number of citizens of countries in visa-free. If you are transiting through China to another country, take note that transit visa would only be given at the Shanghai airports (Hongqiao and Pudong).
      2. Visa-free periods varies from 14 days to 6 months, and some have the additional requirement of not having spent more than more than a certain number of days in a year.
    2. For those entering for reasons besides short-term visit, you might also need to prepare additional paperwork to give to the customs officer.
  4. Check if you can take leave from work, and for how long.
    1. This would determine how long the trip would be and, indirectly, the flight you would book.
    2. You might want to reserve some days off should there be something.
    3. To maximise the amount of total days of your trip while using little of your leave days, take days off at on the work days before and/or after your days off. (I say “days off” instead of public holidays or weekends as it wouldn’t be correct for people who work on those days.)
  5. Reserve flight
    1. Book flights before booking the hotel (or check both without booking) as some airlines do not fly every day, or are fully booked. For the budget concious, different flights on different times/days to the same destination may have different flight fares, even within the same airline.
    2. To avoid disappointment of encountering full flights or not being able to sit together with your travel companion, make sure you book your flight months in advance.
    3. Flights with stopovers are likely to cost less than a direct flight, but waiting times between flights add up to your total travelling time.
    4. You might want to take note of the local time of departing and arrival locations. The airport may have public transport, but if your flight arrives after hours (or too close to the last train), or departs at a time that is practically impossible for you to catch, that would mean spending hours at the airport. Do you want that?
      1. Ideally, you should plan to be able to reach the hotel within a few hours of when the check-in hours are (usually in the afternoon), even if they allow you to check in up until their offices close for the day.
      2. Depending on the flight, timezone and travelling time, you might not have an option to change this.
  6. Reserve Hotel
    1. You can book a hotel before the flight, but in my opinion, flights should be handled first as they are trickier get on, where availability and costs varies greatly. You would be limited to the flights available and may be forced to take the more expensive flights when the cheap ones are unavailable.
    2. Check the reviews from reliable sources, and beware of fake comments and ratings that artificially make a bad hotel look good when it is not. Some groups may use names of different hotels but use the same images.
      1. For places like Hong Kong, where property prices are expensive, they might do this to have rooms in other places that are likely to be different units within the same building.
    3. Some “hotel rooms” are actually a bed in a shared dormitory with a number of other people, and facilities shared with other people. If you are lucky, they may have enough facilities so you don’t have to wait for another person to get done with their turn. Unless otherwise mentioned, assume they are mixed-gender dorms, though female dorms are available. This is among the cheapest option to have a decent place to stay in.
    4. Some places are what it is called “bed & breakfast” (BNB), where it is basically like someone’s place to sleep at.
  7. Exchange money
    1. It may seem funny for me to list this after reserving flight and hotel, but chances are you would have paid for those via credit/debit card, where they would be converted automatically, or you would pay for the stay at the hotel itself.
    2. It is best if you would exchange money in your home country, and withdraw the cash to exchange for at where there aren’t suspicious people around. If the currency you want to change to isn’t offered by the money changer, change to the USD first and change again at that country.
      1. If, for whatever political reason the country has against the US, you might want to change to another currency like the Euro instead.
    3. While you can use your credit/debit or ATM card abroad, you would want to have some local currency on you, and in case there is a problem with your cards.
      1. While some shops and hotels accept your currency, the exchange rates may not be favourable, and you would possibly receive change in the local currency.
    4. If you are transiting through another country, it is recommended you change some money for the currency of there too, though there could be ATMs that you can use.
    5. Keep in mind that exchange rates at the airport money changer may not be favourable than elsewhere, though the ATMs there might offer the same rates as anywhere in the country, which may be better.
      1. Note that not all ATMs accept foreign cards. If they do accept it, the rates and fees by one bank might be less favourable than an other bank.
      2. If the bank you are with have branches at the country you are visiting, withdraw with that bank before using another bank as you should not be charged for withdrawal.
      3. In countries like Japan, most ATMs operate only during business hours, so make sure you have enough cash to last through the night and weekends. Foreign banks and those at Seven Eleven are the notable exceptions.
  8. Pack your bags
    1. Don’t pack too much, unnecessary things especially.
      1. If unsure, or if it is something that can be bought at the destination country that wouldn’t be needed while travelling, do not pack it in.
    2. Don’t pack what isn’t allowed through the airport or the country.
      1. This includes liquid-based toiletries above a certain total capacity.
    3. If staying for several days, just pack a few clothes and wash it at the hotel instead of bringing clothes that covers the whole period: it would make your bag heavy, and take up space.
  9. Check and recheck your flight info.
    1. Airports, airlines, or destination country require that you check-in 45 minutes to 2 hours before the departure time. Make sure you are already at the airport when they open if you don’t want to rush, which means that you should start departing a lot earlier than that.
  10. Bring your stuff along, and check-in on time
    1. You wouldn’t want to forget everything you have prepared and miss the flight, would you?

An Unexpected Wish (Part 12)

Out of concern that Nanami might do something crazy over someone disappearing, her niece visited to comfort her. Nanami thought that she would come with Saeko, but instead, she brought her father. Even though the age gap is quite huge, they are of the same level in the family tree in relation to the grandmother in question. Naomi was curious as to what was going on.

Nanami’s parents has described the relatives on that side as being “irresponsible” for their uncle and his son having children too early, which was confirmed by Kotomi, daughter of the said son in question, and explains why Kotomi was Nanami’s niece despite being older. But it seems that she wants to break that vicious cycle, and in fact, is already older than they had children. And it seems likely that she would marry that man she is often seen with.

Nanami explained that the name she mentioned over the phone was her grandmother, Ajisai Miyazawa. The others thought about it, but found it odd that they can’t remember who she was. They also added that they had not seen an elderly person recently.

“That is something wrong very wrong going on here. How could large amounts of people of a specific age range vanish without a trace or anyone remembering them? At least people knew what an elderly person was.” added Naomi who was within hearing range of my conversation with the other two. Nanami thought to herself on the irony of Naomi herself being possibly transformed from an elderly person.

The atmosphere was awkward as no one but Nanami knows who Ajisai Miyazawa was. It’s hard to for anyone feel sad for someone they had forgotten, which is very much like a complete stranger they never met before for them. To Nanami, it’s like she has passed on, but she didn’t exactly die either: she might have become a new addition to an another family like how Naomi became part of Nanami’s family, even though her original family has been killed by a burglar some time earlier.

Part 11 | Part 13

Alternate Dimension special: Riding the Train With Kids (Part 2)

We finally arrived at the station in the capital. The tickets for the kids were enough to cover the whole trip , but not for mine. I alerted the kids about this before we head to the ticket barrier.

Me: “Hold on there! Remember that I bought a ticket that isn’t enough for the trip? Watch what happens when I try to use the ticket, and don’t enter through the ticket barrier before me or I can’t show you something in this paid area.”

I inserted the ticket into the barrier where it closed on me as it makes beeping sounds that were different from the people who managed to go through. There was also a red light, but I’m not sure if the kids could see that. The staff who was at the window between the gates was looking at me.

Me: “And that is what happens. If you were to look over there, there is a machine similar to where we bought our tickets from, but it is for paying off the difference between what I paid and what I am supposed to be paying. Remember that this is only in Japan. Elsewhere, you definitely should be paying the full fare or a “penalty fee”, which is many times more than what you would have paid for the actual fare.  Later, I will show you a card where you don’t have to keep buying a new ticket or worry about the fare.”

We walked towards the fare adjustment machines. There was a queue, but being spread across different machines means we didn’t need to wait for long. At the machine, I inserted the ticket into the slot, and the fare to pay appears on the screen. (Fare paid and station it was bought at is printed on the ticket itself.) On the machine, arrows indicating for coins, notes, and the cancel button were flashing together at the same time. The kids also noticed that the arrow indicating for the ticket was still flashing despite me having already inserted one, with the size of the slot itself being as wide as a card.

Me: “If you have the ticket I mentioned earlier, you could use that as a way to pay, or use that ticket on this machine when you have insufficient balance. But for now, let’s pay with the cash I have.”

I took out the coins and notes on me, though I put some of those back after realizing that the coins I had already out is more than enough. I don’t know why I carry so much money on me, but with how much money I have, it doesn’t matter if I loose them. Though, I wouldn’t like to loose money at all.

Me: “Now we had broken down the large note, we can use any amount of the smaller denomination coins to pay. Only a maximum of two 500 yen coins could be used, and the 1 and 5 yen coins can’t be used. I would advice you to use as much of the smallest denomination the machine accepts, which is the 10 yen coin, so you would have fewer number of coins on you. Also, psychologically, you would tend to use more of the higher denominated notes where, if you have insufficient of, are likely to use the notes more than the lower denominated coins despite having enough. You can pay more than what they ask you for as. like the ticket machine, would give you change too. Don’t be afraid to use a 10,000 yen note, even if you are just 10 yen short of paying the balance.”

I inserted the coins I have into the coin slot without really paying attention to what denomination they were, stopping only when I see that I had paid enough. The 1 and 5 yen coins the machine doesn’t accept that I had inserted without looking came out immediately at the coin tray meant for giving out change. I did not collect those coins until the machine gave me change for the amount that the machine did accept. At the same time, the machine dispensed a new ticket for only to get out of the paid area of this specific station I am at.

Me: “If the machine breaks down, or if there isn’t a machine like this around, you can approach the staff at that counter between the ticket barriers.”

Now that we are out of the station, the kids got excited to see so many people and tall buildings at a place, with more seemingly further down. We went to eat as we were happy. However, this place is not our final destination, and would have to continue to the subway to get there. The concept is the same, but stations between each other are closer, more likely to be underground, and serve only within the city limits and some areas bordering it.

Of course, we have to eventually make our way back home. They have a curfew set by their parents, but if they are aware that I am with them, that curfew is not in effect with no other restrictions other than, in Kotomi’s words, “make sure they are not sleepy and done their homework if they have school the following day”. What they are unaware of is that I can modify the children’s mind and mood to feel as if they have slept, and do their homework that seem that they did it in an instant.

It’s in the children’s genetics that lets me do this that’s from the result of their mother being modified at birth, which even though the mother doesn’t have it herself, it does affect the children she produces, and the children of those children, and so on… It’s almost like having a virus being spread across generations.

Teary Promise (Part 19)

We walked towards the local school together with Nishizawa and Saeko. Nishizawa revealed to me that Saeko is like a programmable robot that is immortal, but defenceless, with an actual person’s soul inside.
Right now, Saeko has been put on the command to behave like a high class hotel receptionist serving important guests, which is so unnatural from Saeko’s usual behaviour. I wonder if Saeko is cringing in her mind with this forced behaviour, or has she been brainwashed to behave as such? If it is the former, maybe I can make her say or do something that would make this obvious. The tricky part is with the presence of Nishizawa, who made her behave as such, and not being obvious that I wanted to check on Saeko.
Me: “How did the school turn out to be this bad? Surely the education ministry or the city mayor would have done something about it.”
This town does not have a town hall, so all admin matters fall in the charge of the nearest city, which is where my high school is. However, the city council there does not monitor much of what happens outside the city they are directly in charge of, so things like education doesn’t get monitored much.
Nishizawa: “Well, it started many years ago. You can say it is something like a continuous cycle of seniors teaching stuff to their juniors. To make matters worse, the teachers were graduates of that school, or for those from elsewhere, made them swear to not tell about it or they would find something that would dismiss them as a teacher. During some of the few official visits from the city hall, the bad things that the school is known for gets covered up and…”
Saeko: “I would appreciate it if someone were to stop stepping on my feet.”
I had Nishizawa to look at me as we were talking and walking in a way that one of Nishizawa’s feet would keep stepping on Saeko’s feet, with she herself unaware of it because of the shoes they wear. I’m surprised Saeko did not yell in pain despite the way her feet was stepped on would have been painful, but it certainly seems that she could feel it.

As we were having our conversation, I couldn’t help but to feel that my phone, which was in silent mode, kept vibrating. I think Saeko is trying to tell me something, but with Nishizawa talking to me practically non-stop, the opportunity to check what the message says without her raising the topic is non-existent.

Moments later, Saeko tripped over something and fell down. I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but she seem to have tripped with the foot Nishizawa was stepping on earlier. What is even weirder are how her arms and legs are positioned as she lay on the ground: they are positioned the same way as if she was standing earlier.

Nishizawa: “What are you doing? Get up.”

She turned Saeko around as she said this so that her face is not facing the ground.

Saeko: “My deepest apologies, but my body is restricted to be unable to do that without assistance.”

Nishizawa: “Okay, you made your point. Here, you look silly.”

Almost as if having ran a marathon, she got up and went gasping for air.
Saeko: “Don’t ever do that again to me. It reminds me of what Itsuki did to me on my birthday.”
She said that in an almost crying tone, even though the words she said was supposed to be in an angry tone. By the way, who is this Itsuki guy Saeko is talking about? I’m also guessing that the same thing happened on her birthday.

Nishizawa: “Are you angry? You sound like a crying child to me, and i lifted your behavior control. Oh yes, you can’t get angry in that body as any anger gets expressed as sadness instead. I only controlled how you behaved, and no, I did not forget about unlocking all of your body’s moods: your body just wasn’t even designed for being able to express anger at all, which the designers seem to have either forgotten about, or just didn’t want to see their own invention to get violent at them. It is because of this fundamental design feature (or depending on who you ask, a flaw), you are unable to fight someone without being scared, if you could fight at all. It seem very odd to make an immortal body like yours to also be scared and defenceless, but that itself can be useful for deception. Of course, you have to feel the actual pain incurred in order for you to express the appropriate action, including ones that results in death which your body would react as if you actually are, though you don’t actually die and automatically revived when only a Hatsuya staff, someone you trust, or with nobody looking at you. If it weren’t for the director saying that having your mind controlled may caused long term damage to you, I would have also tried to brainwash you to see how you would react in certain mindsets of various situations.”
Saeko seemed as if insulted at that comment, but did not respond to it either which tells me that everything Nishizawa said was true. It must be suffering to be controlled by someone else and unable to escape.

…Hold on, did she say that Saeko was immortal? How did I not know of this before?

Part 18 | Part 20

687th post: Water and electricity wastage

From time to time, I come across a situation where there is obvious wastage. No, these aren’t like “this factory uses too much energy”, but more of “hey, someone left this tap running for a long time” or people unnecessarily turning fans and air conditioning to its maximum, leaving the tap running as they brush their teeth, and so on.
I don’t know if anyone knows, but phones these days uses more and more energy (and battery technology not keeping up with it) means charging more frequently, and indirectly, more energy being used.
Well, at least the good thing about energy use these days are that devices are that they generally use less energy than the older counterparts.