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Beginner Japanese Kanji and Vocabulary books GIVEAWAY

So you have started studying Japanese? Or maybe you have been studying for a while? or stopping and starting over many years? You’ve learnt Hiragana and Katakana and want to tame the Japanese language demons called kanji, grammar and basic sentence construction? Do you have at least a dozen Japanese learning apps on your phone or learning websites bookmarked but almost never use any of them? What if I told you that the secret to learning Japanese is to do it the way the Japanese learn Japanese? Connect with your inner 6-year-old and level up your basic Japanese by clicking the link below to enter the giveaway for a chance to win a beginner Kanji book AND a beginner vocabulary book. Both books are from Daiso – the King of the 100 yen shops in Japan. If you are outside Japan and studying Japanese this is your chance!

View Giveaway

  • The Kanji book teaches you how to write and read your first 80 kanji including simple practice sentences and quizzes. It’s one of the tools I personally used to pass the JLPT N5. Its really useful stuff like counting, days of the week, body parts, directions, colours and more.
  • The vocabulary book is awesome because it starts you slow and slowly raises your level until you are writing and hopefully speaking those basic Japanese sentences by the end of the book. It has some interesting quizzes and tests as well that are honestly fun to do.

The giveaway runs from April 10th to 24th 2019 and I will mail the books to 3 lucky winners anywhere they are in the world, just provide me with your snail mail address when I request it via email if you are one of the winners. Tweet me @Jamaipanese if you have any questions. Good luck.


  1. The giveaway runs from 12:01 AM April 10th to 11:59 PM on April 24th 2019 (Japan Time)
  2. Must be 13 years old or older to enter
  3. Must be living outside of Japan to enter
  4. Must provide a mailing address if you are one of the three winners so prizes can be mailed
  5. Winners will be announced on April 25th 2019 after being selected by the GiveLab application
  6. This giveaway is not endorsed or sponsored by Daiso Japan
  7. Please direct any questions about the giveaway to @Jamaipanese on Twitter

Utilities and Rent โ€“ Cost of Living in Japan

So you want to move to Japan but have no idea about living expenses or cost of living in Japan? Especially utilities and such. This post will share utility and rent costs in different prefectures and hopefully, it will be useful.

TL;DR: I share the averaged utility and rent costs for 10 Jamaicans living all over Japan in an effort to compare living costs and give an idea of some of the costs related to living in Japan. Costs will also vary due to usage habits, size of apartment and lifestyle and more.

Cost of living in Japan

Cost of living varies widely

Understanding, comparing and estimating the cost of living in Japan is very important if you hope to move to Japan in the future, move within Japan or just to see how your costs stack up to others. Cost of living varies widely depending on lifestyle, the prefecture, the time of year, size of the apartment, the country you are from and more. I thought about how I could share some useful information about living in Japan and decided to focus on the cost of utilities and rent.

Japan prefectures cost of living

The big 5 – Rent, Electricity, Internet, Cellphone, Water, Gas

I feel like a large percentage of English-speaking foreigners living in Japan came here as ALTs – some branched off into other industries, some remain as ALTs and others will stay for a couple of years then return to their home countries or another destination. I myself came to Japan as an ALT on the JET programme. I thought that it would be interesting to compare the big 5 utilities (Water, Electricity, Phone, Internet and Rent) to see how they differ depending on where in Japan you reside (and of course your own lifestyle and usage habits). Including myself, I managed to get 10 data points from 10 different prefectures in Japan thanks to my fellow Jamaican Jet Program participants. This data is averaged over one year. I am no statistician but I hope this data proves useful for those researching the cost of living in Japan. Feel free to tweet me @Jamaipanese or send me a message with your feedback or any questions.

Cost of Living in Kobe Cost of Living in Osaka Cost of Living in Shimane Cost of Living in Shizuoka Cost of Living in Tokyo Cost of Living in Tottori Cost of Living in Fukuoka Cost of Living in Gifu Cost of Living in Hiroshima Cost of Living in Hokkaido

Utilities and Rent in Japan – Spreadsheet

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice โ€“ First Impressions

I’ve clocked up about 5 hours playing Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, and wanted to do a first impressions video of the game so far. To begin I have a fractured history with From Software titles. I didn’t play Demon Souls, but I absolutely enjoyed Dark Souls one and Two. I didn’t play Dark Souls 3, (though I hope to in the future) and Bloodborne’s setting and narrative didn’t appeal to me, so I skipped that as well. Sekiro, on the other hand, has checked a lot of my fangirl boxes – historical Japan, samurai, ninja, giant bosses, deep story-line and a true sense of achievement as you struggle to progress through the game just to name a few. I am also able to play the game in Japanese so I can also use it as a learning tool – even if I end up sounding like I am from 14th century Japan.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice has an Awesome Combat System

So far, I am absolutely enjoying my Sekiro play-though. Unsurprisingly, I suck at the combat and the game is very difficult but the fun-factor remains high and I am very motivated to come out on top against all these bosses standing in my way. The combat system in Sekiro needs special mention not only how you fight enemies with the posture system, dodging, reflecting, blocking, rolling but also the different skill trees and tools you can equip to your arm.

In Sekiro you are a Vengeful Wolf

As with all good single player triple-A games, I have really bonded with the main character and the story, as the wolf seeks revenge and to rescue his master in this fantastical setting. There is so much more to see, fight, kill and be killed by in this game so I expect to be playing if for a long time. I am literally playing with a notepad beside me to ensure I connect all the dots and record my exploits in this awesome game. Did you pick up Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice? I got it for PS4 but it is also available on Xbox and PC. Share your thoughts below in a comment or tweet me @Jamaipanese and let’s chat about it!

7 tools I used to pass the JLPT N5

So you want to attempt the Japanese Language proficiency test starting at the N5. Don’t let anyone troll you that its the lowest level and you shouldn’t bother! Mastery of the N5 level as described on the official website is “The ability to understand some basic Japanese”. If you pass you should be able to read and understand typical expressions and sentences written in hiragana, katakana, and basic kanji and also be able to listen and comprehend conversations about topics regularly encountered in daily life and classroom situations. As requested by Heather on Youtube and a couple of people by Twitter I have prepared this post with a quick overview of some of the JLPT N5 tools I used to pass the exam.

Genki 1 Textbook and its accompanying workbook is the first of the JLPT N5 tools I would like to highlight. Its the most recommended text for a reason and I got through about half the book beginning numbers to Te form of verbs before sitting the N5 a second time. I bought the workbook on Amazon and borrowed the text from my local library.

Kana Dojo – an android app that is perfect for learning or refreshing Hiragana and Katakana (together called Kana) on the go. Learning Kana is one of the first things you should dedicate time to when starting to learn Japanese. I learned Kana many years ago but there are a few tricky characters that an app like this helps to keep fresh in your mind.


The Great Chokochoko Library. Unfortunately, the website is no longer being updated but contains a wealth of information and worksheets. I used my IT skills to dig up a few of the worksheets that are useful for reading and comprehension at the N5 level below. Take your time, go through them all and feel good about yourself as you make progress learning Japanese.

The JLPT website has free downloadable materials in the form a workbook for each level that includes an example of all sections of the test including listening. If you don’t use any other tool I talk about in this video go the JLPT website now and download this resource. When I did the test only a workbook from 2012 available but they have since added at the end of 2018. The workbooks are also available is physical form. I managed to snatch one for cheap on sale on Amazon.

Daiso Kanji Book. Daiso is a popular 100 yen store in Japan that sells everything from school supplies to pots and pans. Japanese people learn all the important kanji beginning at the 1st grade of elementary and that’s the book I started with. I also have the second-year book that I am working through now. The book shows stroke order, the different readings and most useful of all simple practice sentences – quite possibly the best 100 yen I have ever spent. I might do a giveaway of a couple of these in the future. This JLPT N5 tool makes an awesome gift

JLPT N5 tool for kanji

Takoboto Japanese Dictionary is awesome. A dictionary is vital to learning any new language and I have tried at least a half a dozen android dictionaries in the past few years. Takoboto is the one that stuck with me with its great design and features. I can look up words, see the readings in hiragana and kanji, I can also get explanations for the kanji and example phrases – it hasn’t failed me yet.

Finally, I recommend Satori Reader. The free articles allow users to read about and listen to different situations you could find yourself in, such as visiting the hospital and asking for directions. The vocabulary is broken down and easily translatable on the fly as it tracks your progress and allows practice over and over again.

There you have it. 7 JLPT N5 tools I used to pass the JLPT N5. Some of JLPT N5 tools can grow with you as your knowledge of Japanese improves. There are other tools I used but I didn’t want to make this post too long. If you are more advanced in Japanese or also learning any have any other tools you would like to recommend please leave a comment below or tweet me @Jamaipanese. Good luck studying Japanese!

Gaming x Japanese โ€“ The Witcher in Monster Hunter

I love video games, I am learning Japanese so why not combine the two? I’ve played a lot of video games that offer spoken dialogue in Japanese. One such game in Monster Hunter World. Let’s go through the dialogue in a recent scene, and see how many words, phrases, grammar points etc we can pick up on together. This will not be a word for word translation, but hopefully, as my Japanese improves, I can get more confident at this. This type of practice will not result in the type of Japanese you can use in most everyday situations but is great for getting used to the sound of Japanese in a memorable and fun way. So enough blabbering – let’s start!

Witcher in Monster Hunter World – Vocabulary

  • ใใ‚‰ใ„ – ๅซŒใ„ – dislike
  • ใ“ใ‚Œใ ใŒใ‚‰ – due to this
  • ใŠใ‚Œ – ไฟบ – I/me (masculine)
  • ใ“ใ“ – here
  • ใใฟ – ๅ› – you
  • ใฎ – possessive particle in Japanese
  • ในใค – ๅˆฅ – separate
  • ใ›ใ‹ใ„ – ไธ–็•Œ – the world
  • ใŠใ‚‚ใ—ใ‚ใ„ – ้ข็™ฝใ„ – interesting
  • ใ‚ˆใใฟใ‚‹ – ใ‚ˆใ่ฆ‹ใ‚‹ – often see, usual
  • ใ‹ใ„ใถใค – ๆ€ช็‰ฉ – monster
  • ใใ“ใ„ใ‘ใฐ – ๅ…ถๅ‡ฆ่กŒใ‘ใฐ – go over there
  • ใ‚‚ใกใ‚ใ‚“ – ๅ‹ฟ่ซ– – that’s right, of course
  • ใ—ใ‚“ใ˜ใ‚‹ – ไฟกใ˜ใ‚‹ – to believe
  • ใ‚ˆใ‚ใ—ใ – polite request
  • ใŸใฎใ‚€ – ้ ผใ‚€ – to ask

Gaming x Japanese

Again I am only a beginner when it comes to studying Japanese but I hope this kind of translation activity proves useful for other Japanese learners. Play your games in Japanese whenever that option is available and learn while you have fun! Be sure to check out my Youtube channel as I intend to combine Gaming and Japanese in more videos!

I passed the JLPT N5

Six months ago I announced that I failed the N5 level of the Japanese Language proficiency test. I tried to be positive about it but deep down I was disappointed. Fast forward to today and I amย happy to say that I have now passed the JLPT N5. So far two of the reactions I have been getting are the people whose Japanese is from another planet snickering at me celebrating my basic triumph and the people who now think I speak fluent Japanese so they are asking me to translate the manual for their Japanese car.

JLPT N5 Vlog

Let’s go JLPT N4

Overall though The response has been positive and this victory is the wind I needed in my sails as I head towards the next level of the Japanese language proficiency test N4! I want to take the time to congratulate everyone who passed whatever level of the JLPT they attempted but also I want to encourage those who didn’t pass this time. Chin up and try again soon, attack those books and focus on your week areas. Comment below and let me know if you have tried the JLPT and what your result was? Let me know also if you will try in the future!

My JLPT Scores

July 2018
December 2018
Overall Score
Language Knowledge

Elgato HD60 S โ€“ Hello Gaming content

So I’ve decided that I wanted to do more video game streaming and gaming-related content in 2019. I got myself an Elgato Game Capture HD60 as I really want to make gaming a core pillar of my channel again going forward along with my vlogs about life in Japan, more videos about learning Japanese and also some giveaways. Follow me on Twitter @jamaipanese for information about the giveaways starting in a couple weeks.

Checked all my boxes

So from my research, it seems the Game Capture HD60S is one of the best external capture cards on the market and it ticked all the boxes I had. It was compatible with current gen consoles – I have a PS4 and plan to buy a Switch in the near future. It was within budget at just under 20,000 yen or $180, it captures at 1080p and it is portable with a small form factor that I really like.

Tested and it works great

I’ve tested it with my PS4 and TV capturing footage from the game I’ve probably sunk the most hours into over the past year Monster Hunter World. Setting up was intuitive enough for techie like me, I just need to do a few test streams and fiddle with audio and video settings to ensure my streams and game recordings improve going forward.

Teach me the way of game streaming!

If you have any tips for a streamer rocking his first capture card please leave them in a comment below. I”m not sure what my streaming schedule will be like yet but looking at doing a stream a couple times a month mostly on the weekend Japan time. Some of the console games I am looking forward to this year are Anthem, The new Pokemon Game and of course the expansion to Monster Hunter World.

Please subscribe to my youtube channel for more gaming content, vlogs about life in Japan and more. I”m also making plans for going to the Tokyo Game Show this year. Cheers to a gaming filled 2019!

The Railway Museum in Saitama

Take a short train ride outside Tokyo to Saitama to the Railway Museum and enjoy hours of fun learning about railway technology over the years and Japan’s own technological contributions. This museum has everything in its various exhibits from simulators, explanations of train-related jobs, history, science, real trains, miniature trains,ย dioramas as well as looking at what the future holds.

The Railway Museum Vlog

Hours of Train fun

I had a few hours to kill and decided to go at random without much research and I was pleasantly surprised and very satisfied. I am a huge fan of Japan’s more modern trains with the Shinkansen, Narita Express and Yamanote line being some of my favs. This museum is very family friendly with enough to do and see to take up an entire day.ย 

Take a short train ride outside Tokyo to the Railway Museum
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When I visited it was 1300 yen for adults and 600 yen for kids. There are also group rates. Check out the English guide and the official website. Are you a fan of trains in Japan? tweet me @Jamaipanese or leave a comment below!

Japanese High School Kids enjoy visit to Jamaica

Tottori Prefecture and Western Jamaica’s relationship has been growing deeper and closer. Culture, sports, tourism, education and training partnerships have been mutually beneficial and the signs are that it will only get between for the 2020 Olympics and beyond. The latest chapter in the partnerhsip/love story involves 10 students from Yonago High School visiting Western Jamaica and having meaningful exchanges with their peers at Little London High School and Grange Hill High School in Westmorland.

Japanese High School Kids enjoy visit to Jamaica

I really felt all warm and fuzzy when I read the article in the Jamaica Gleaner – “Japanese Students share Jamaican Warmth.” As a Jamaican living in Japan next door to Tottori Prefecture teaching English and exchanging Jamaican culture with kids here I have really enjoyed following this partnership. Check out the article and share your thoughts in a comment below or tweet me @Jamaipanese on Twitter. Cheers!

 Jamaica Gleaner – “Japanese Students share Jamaican Warmth

Play date with Dodogama in Monster Hunter World goes horribly wrong

Dodogama is my pal but unfortunately, he is the least fearsome monster in an end-game area of Monster Hunter World. That leaves him to be bullied frequently by the likes of Azure Ratholos, Uragaan, Bazelgeuse and others who also tease him for being a little chubby. So I wanted to hang out with Dodo but when I showed up Bazel was lurking around probably jealous that he wasn’t invited. He eventually left and Dodo and I started playing only for Azure to show up in all his annoying splendour followed by Bazel grinning! They had planned to team up to bully Dodo!

I tried to “direct” Dodogama to a new area but Azure Rathalos was unrelenting in his bullying of the poor guy and when Dodo did move he was dive-bombed by Bazelgeuse again and again. Hang in there Dodo – keep eating your volcanic rocks, one day you will be big enough to show these bullies who is the boss.

Dodogama chibi

Chibi Dodogama by DilEmmaArt