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Amazon Echo Flex – thoughts on smart speakers

Smart speakers and assistants are all the rage these days but I have always been a sceptic even though my background is in IT. These companies already do so much with your search history, friends list, pics etc. Now they want your biometric details such as your face scan, fingerprint and voice. Resistance is futile and my curiosity got the best of me so I have willingly signed up to join the Borg or maybe its the beta version of Skynet – hello Amazon Echo Flex.

Hello Alexa

The cheapest one seems to be the Amazon Echo Flex and Alexa seems to be the most widely supported platform at this time with so many compatible devices and accessories – so I bought one to try out! I decided to do this post and a video as somewhat of a log of my first dip into the pool, so to speak, and then I will make other posts/videos as I hopefully get more used to the system. I am no Youtube tech reviewer getting gadgets for free to review so my views are that of a consumer, like 99.9% of you hopefully reading this.

Amazon Echo Flex

Amazon Echo Flex – Teach me!

On to the system itself. It’s a simple white thingy with decent build quality and a predictably terrible speaker. I already noted this and plan to use my Bluetooth speaker for sound. The box it came in and the device is tiny which is OK because I don’t want something too noticeable and intrusive. It will go up on the wall in a socket intended for an AC system then paired with a Bluetooth speaker. It has a few accessories that can plug into the bottom of the device but I have no use for a night light or a motion sensor at this time. Please feel free to scream tips or useful info for to a first-time Amazon Echo  Flex owner in the comments below and @Jamaipanese or let me know if you would like to see more in this series.

Amazon Echo Flex

Amazon Echo Flex
Amazon Echo Flex
Amazon Echo Flex

Gaming in Japanese – Doraemon: Story of Seasons Demo

Doraemon: Nobita no Bokujou Monogatari (ドラえもん のび太の牧場物語) – try saying that super fast ten times is known as Doraemon Story of Seasons in English. I downloaded the demo from the Japanese Nintendo eShop to… practice Japanese! Doraemon is a bonafide celebrity in Japan (or is he a slave?) – and many products targeting kids feature the cat from the future. Sticking with my philosophy of trying to learn Japanese like the Japanese do I decided to check out the demo for this game and I am glad I did.

Doraemon: Story of Seasons

Farming Simulator

I have already bought the full game (just before publishing this post) and this purchase was more than an impulse buy turn Japanese learning tool like Sumikko Gurashi – School Life Begins (no regrets!). Where the Sumikko Gurashi game is all about school and thus teaches related vocabulary, Doraemon Story of Seasons is all about farming. If you have ever played a Harvest Moon game or clones like Stardew Valley and My Time at Portia then the gameplay is very similar.

Doraemon: Nobita no Bokujou Monogatari (ドラえもん のび太の牧場物語)

Doraemon: Story of Seasons in Japanese

Download the demo on the Japan Nintendo eShop or anywhere else it is available and get it a try. Tweet me @Jamaipanese or leave a comment below if you try it and like it or need help setting up an account on the Japanese Nintendo store. This might be one of the games I stream in the future so be sure you are subscribed to my Youtube Channel and follow me on Twitter for updates.

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.

Doraemon: Story of Seasons

Behold my expanded farming vocabulary

Some of the words I have made note of while playing the trial version can be found below. I can’t wait to “impress” people with my new farming vocabulary because my samurai vocabulary learned from playing Sekiro has not come in handy.

体験版, たいけんばん, demo version (of software), trial version
物語, ものがたり, tale, story, legend
牧場, ぼくじょう, farm (livestock), ranch (US), station (Aus, NZ)
耕す, たがやす, to till, to plow, to plough, to cultivate
季節, きせつ, season, time of year
作物, さくもつ, produce (e.g. agricultural), crops
植える, うえる, to plant, to grow, to raise, , to insert, to transplant, to implant
枯れる, かれる, to wither (of a plant), to be blasted, to die
育てる, そだてる, to raise, to rear, to bring up
所, ところ, place, spot, scene, site
掘り起こす, ほりおこす, to dig up, to unearth, to uncover
畑, はたけ, field (for fruits, vegetables, etc.), cultivated land
畝, うね, ridge (in field), row of raised earth when planting crops
種, たね, seed (e.g. of a plant), ingredient
渡す, わたす, to ferry across (e.g. a river), to carry across, to traverse
部分, ぶぶん, portion, section, part
茶色い, ちゃいろい, light brown, tawny
その通り, そのとおり, just like that, quite so, I agree
次, つぎ, next, following, subsequent, , stage, station
種蒔き, たねまき, sowing seeds, planting seeds, scattering seeds
蕪, かぶ, カブ, turnip
キャベツ, キャベジ, cabbage
注意, ちゅうい, caution, being careful
状態, じょうたい, state, condition, situation, appearance, circumstances
当たり前, あたりまえ, natural, reasonable, obvious
数日, すうじつ, few days
肥料, ひりょう, manure, fertilizer, fertiliser
雑貨屋, ざっかや, general store
余る, あまる, to remain, to be left over, to be in excess, to be too many
お仕舞い, おしまい, the end, closing, being done for
生える, はえる, to grow, to spring up, to sprout, , to cut (teeth)
雑草, ざっそう, weed
整備士, せいびし, mechanic
道具, どうぐ, tool, implement, instrument, utensil, apparatus, device,
斧, おの, axe, hatchet
如雨露, じょうろ, 如露, じょろ, ジョウロ, watering can, watering pot
ハンマー, hammer
平ら, たいら, flat, level, even, smooth
収穫, しゅうかく, harvest, crop, ingathering
売る, うる, to sell
出荷, しゅっか, shipping, shipment, forwarding
収納箱, しゅうのうばこ, storage box, chest
安心, あんしん, relief, peace of mind
スロット, slot, , slot machine
変わる, かわる, to change, to be transformed, to be altered, to vary

*some of these words have other meanings depending on use but I focused on the words related to farming since this is a farming simulator. I used the Takoboto Japanese Dictionary to look up these words as featured in my post about the 7 tools I used to pass the JLPT N5.

Doraemon: Story of Seasons

Doraemon: Story of Seasons
Doraemon: Story of Seasons
Doraemon: Story of Seasons
Doraemon: Story of Seasons
Doraemon: Story of Seasons
Doraemon: Story of Seasons
Doraemon: Story of Seasons
Doraemon: Story of Seasons
Doraemon: Story of Seasons

Climbing Mount Fuji? Here are 7 tips!

Climbing to the top of Mount Fuji is easily one of the highlights of my time living in Japan. I get a lot of questions about the climb and wanted to do this post to point people to whenever I am asked for tips. Consider climbing Mount Fuji even if you are not the hiking-type, do so with friends and enjoy yourself – but before your go – here are 7 tips for climbing Mount Fuji.

Mount Fuji Hike start

Be prepared

Climbing Mount Fuji is not easy – even if you are an experienced hiker PLEASE be prepared. Wear proper shoes, protection for the cold and rain, water and easily digestible high energy food. The weather seemingly changed every few hundred metres and get more and more erratic as we got closer to the top after breaking through the clouds. We had rain, light hail, strong winds and penetrating sunlight that had us adding and subtracting our layers as we climbed.

Get the walking stick and the stamps

Starting out at the 5th station there are areas where you buy a wooden walking stick of different sizes. Get one as you make your way up the mountain their will be different huts that you can get stamps at for 200 to 300 yen a piece that chronicles your journey. Some of these branded stamps change depending on when you climb and are a great way to chronicle your journey and to have a keepsake afterwards. I got the longest stick and it’s now covered in stamps and its a prized possession.

Don’t lose to the elderly

There are people who have climbed Mount Fuji every year for many years. I know this because I met a few on my way up. Some are elderly and seem frail but will teach you the lesson you should have learned when you read about the turtle and the hare. I met a friendly 70+ year elderly Japanese man on my way up, had a small chat in English and skipped past him. Many hours later guess who made it to the top before me?

Know your body

Climbing Mount Fuji doesn’t start when you are at the mountain. Start from weeks in advance by assessing your fitness level, experience and any existing issues you may have with your body. ALTITUDE SICKNESS IS REAL. For me physically I was alright but hiking a 3776-meter mountain is not an everyday occurrence so I started light training in the weeks leading up by jogging, stretching, walking, light weightlifting and getting used to carrying around my fully kitted backpack with all my supplies.

Climb with a group

What’s better than climbing a mountain alone? Climbing a mountain with friends! I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my pals. Having a team or even just a partner to climb with makes a huge difference – lord knows at different points in the wet and cold darkness I was ready to call it a day/night but my friends were there to support me and I was there for them when they needed me. The result? Wonderful memories and a shared experience that will stay with us forever.

Mount Fuji Hike group

Don’t give up

There will be times along the path when the heart will be willing but the body will be weak. While climbing I took heart from seeing hundreds of people of all ages and nationalities climbing together. I met elementary school groups with hikers as young as eight to elderly couples in their eighties. I heard many languages being spoken from Spanish to Tagalog to Russian. One step at a time, minute after minute, hour after hour and soon you will make it to the top and there will be no regrets (giggle).

Coming down is hard

Climbing up to the top is not the end. Nobody ever talks about the descending part when it comes to hiking giant mountains. Want the truth? Coming down was the HARDEST part of my hike. It was hot, my knees were busted, my toes were screaming and everything hurt. I sound of my feet trudging through the loose pebbles remain with me to this day and is easily my least memorable part of the journey.

Bonus: Visit nearby attractions

My group made a whole multi-day adventure out of our trip with Mount Fuji being the centrepiece. There are many other places nearby to visit such as Mishima Skywalk and the beautiful Arakura Fuji Sengen Shrine. Grab a Goshuincho (temple stamp book) and collect stamps anytime you visit a temple/shrine in Japan.

Arakura Fuji Sengen Shrine

If you do end up climbing Mount Fuji after this or you have already done so please leave a comment below or tweet me at @Jamaipanese. Thank you for reading.

PS5 Reveal – The 5 Most Exciting Announcements

After teasing us, delays and so many terribly fake leaks the PS5 controller, console and a handful of games have finally been revealed properly. I have been a happy PlayStation 4 owner with so many triple AAA titles still yet to play as I balance my PS4, Nintendo Switch, Gaming PC and LIFE! However, I was happy to see a glimpse of what the PS5 will offer and these are my picks for the 5 most exciting announcements during the PS5 reveal.

playstation 5 - PS5 Reveal


The cat lover in me stood up at attention when the trailer “Stray” was revealed. “Stray is a third-person cat adventure game set amidst the detailed neon-lit alleys of a decaying cybercity and the murky environments of its seedy underbelly.”

The PS5 Console

We say the PS5 controller a long time ago but the console itself remained under covers. I wasn’t disappointed with the reveal as it is as sleek and futuristic as the controller. I cant see how anyone could think any other console looks better than the PS5 – I can’t wait to unbox it! I am torn on whether I will get the console with or without the optical drive – I’ll make another post about the pros and cons in the future.

Gran Turismo 7

The Gran Turismo series is one of a handful of iconic series that I have grown up with. AT some point “life” happened though and I missed out on playing all GT titles after GT4. Seeing Gran Turismo announced for the PS5 brought me real joy, I’m not much of a competitive racer but I really like GT’s brand of simulated driving and I can’t wait to fall back in love with the series.

Spider-man Miles Morales

Miles Morales is the Spider-man I wash I had when I was growing up. Technically we never stop growing so I intend to continue to follow my teen-aged dreams through the eyes for Miles. The movie was one of my favourite superhero movies and animations ever and while I didn’t play the critically acclaimed Spiderman for PS4 (I might pick it up eventually) I will DEFINITELY be playing Spider-man Miles Morales on the PS5 on launch day.

Kena: Bridge of Spirits

Kena: Bridge of Spirits looks like an interesting adventure game that is taking queues from other popular titles but might just have enough originality to stand on its own. I got some real Lord of the Rings vibes when I heard “You have no power here, Kena,” during the trailer and I am excited to watch this game develop until release. “Travel with Kena, a young Spirit Guide on a quest to uncover the mysterious story surrounding the demise of the village.”

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.

What announcement from the PS5 reveal event were you most excited about? are you getting a PS5 on launch day? If yes will you be getting one with or without the disk drive? vote it the poll above.  Leave a comment below or tweet me @Jamaipanese

The Metroid Amiibo is squishy

Ladies and gentlemen – I present to you the coolest Amiibo ever – the creature at the core of my favourite Nintendo series – Metroid. I’ve already collected the amiibo for the boss of the space pirates; Ridley, in his Super Smash Bros Ultimate form. I’ve also collected the special edition Metroid version of the Nintendo 3DS.

Awesome details

I’ve wanted to collect the Metroid amiibo for a while now but the prices were too high. I lucked out recently and managed to grab it for close to its original launch price from two years ago. The figure itself is dripping with detail as the Metroid organism is perched on its broken container looking menacing, but what are the Metroids?

metroid amiibo closeup

What are Metroids?

These mysterious organisms have the power to absorb the energy of any life-form with which they come in contact, and this ability has put them at the center of many a galactic conflict. Nefarious Space Pirates want to use them as a weapon—one powerful enough to conquer the entire galaxy. To combat this threat, the Galactic Federation dispatched a lone bounty hunter, Samus Aran, to eliminate the Metroid™ menace once and for all.

metroid amiibo with Ridley

Squishy Metroid Amiibo

The figure is squishy to the touch and is of amazing quality. With Metroid Prime 4 enduring development delays I’m happy to add this figure to my collection as I wait for the next game to be released. Fan of Metroid? have you collected this or any other amiibos? Leave a comment below or tweet me @Jamaipanese

metroid amiibo nintendo 3ds

metroid amiibo closeup

metroid amiibo with Ridley

metroid amiibo

metroid amiibo nintendo 3ds

Remembering the Jamaica Pegasus Tweetups from 10 years ago

Do you remember the Jamaica Pegasus Tweetups? Twitter launched in 2006 and will mark 15 years since going live next year. Like all major social media platforms, it has gone through many changes. However, if I may dare share my opinion – Twitter remains the most relevant social media platform; and though not without its flaws and shortcomings, remain mostly true to its original identity.

Tanto Blacks

When Tweetups were a thing

Pardon me as I don my rose-tinted glasses remembering a past era when “Tweetups” (Twitter meetups/linkups) were a global thing and the Jamaica Pegasus hotel capitalized by ensuring Jamaica wasn’t left out. Back then, the Jamaican Twittersphere was a smaller (friendlier) place and Tanto Blacks was still on a “budget” and not yet “real rich.” Over the course of 9 months, three tweetups were held at the Pegasus.

Jamaica Pegasus Tweetup

So nice they did it thrice

The first version was like tipping their toes in the water, the second one being more accomplished with a party atmosphere and the third one being the most extravagant of them all with a valentines day theme. I wonder where many of those early Twitter personalities are and what they are up to 10 years later?

tweet me if you remember the Jamaica Pegasus Tweetups or about anything  @Jamaipanese

Japan Scene 10: Doraemon the slave

My Japanese rap album flopped unfortunately but my list of blunders as I learn Japanese gets longer and longer each day. My main issue being mispronunciations or mixing up two words who sound similar. Somehow I mispronounced Doraemon and now he is enslaved – which is hilarious because I dressed up as a relative of Doraemon last year at an elementary school Halloween party but that is a story for another day because those pictures should NEVER make it unto the internet.


The word for slave/servant in Japanese is どれい ( 奴隷 ) – pronounced “dorei”. While reading “that” 2nd-grade junior high school lesson that many English teachers are used to in Japan I mispronounced Doraemon as Doreimon and my lovely students ( and co-teacher) erupted into laughter after taking a few seconds to process my blunder. I can’t be the only one that messes up often when switching between English and Japanese pronunciations mid-sentence right?

The worst thing that will happen is that I’ll be teased by the rascals for a few days – the best thing is this is a teaching moment about mistakes and I will now never forget the word for “slave” in Japanese. That is how I learned the word for “carrot” and “human” – that mistake made the local newspaper!! Tweet me your hilarious language learning mistakes @Jamaipanese.

Chibi RX-0 Unicorn Gundam

Joining RX-78 Gundam, Astray Gold Frame and the fallen Exia in my chibi gundam collection is Chibi RX-0 Unicorn Gundam. I forget when I picked this up as I have had it sitting on my desk at home so long but it might have been one of the times I went to check out the life-sized Unicorn Gundam in  Tokyo.

Chibi RX-0 Unicorn Gundam

Chibi Unicorn Gundam built in an hour

The mostly white, simple and iconic design of the Unicorn Gundam has always appealed to me – I built the 1/100 scale Unicorn Gundam almost a decade ago now. There isn’t anything really special about this chibi  Unicorn Gundam set compared to the others. It was easy to build and very beginner-friendly – I build it over the space of an hour while watching Netflix while sharing on Twitter @Jamaipanese. Chibi gunpla sets make awesome gifts and I think I have had more “stolen” over the years by casual Gundam fans than I still have in my possession.

The Pearl in my collection is?

Gundam Wing Heavy Arms – Master Grade remains the pearl in my gunpla collection here in Japan while the rest of my collection is back home in Jamaica probably swimming in dust and enduring attacks from my cat Lynxx. Gundam fan? gunpla builder? like the chibi Unicorn Gundam? Poke me on twitter @Jamaipanese to share pics or leave a comment below. Cheers.

Chibi RX-0 Unicorn Gundam with Heavy Arms

Chibi RX-0 Unicorn Gundam box

Chibi RX-0 Unicorn Gundam box
Chibi RX-0 Unicorn Gundam with Heavy Arms

Chibi RX-0 Unicorn Gundam

Ghost of Tsushima – State of Play presentation

I was REALLY excited when Ghost of Tsushima was first announced in 2017. However, as time passed and information dried up I kinda filed it away in the back of my mind hoping to revisit it in the future (as I focused more on Sekiro). Well, that future is now the present with the awesome Ghost of Tsushima – State of Play presentation video that has planted this game unto my “must buy on launch day” list.

All the ingredients of a great game

The music, the visuals, the combat, the sounds, the atmosphere, customization options – it’s like if a classic samurai movie came to life and you control the characters. There will be obvious comparisons to Sekiro Shadows Die Twice of course and although I have not played an Assassins Creed game in a while there are comparisons being made with that game too as well as The Witcher 3.

Ghost of Tsushima

13th-century Samurai

The option to play it all with Japanese voices is the icing on the cake even if the words I pick up will have me sounding like a 13th century Samurai. Ghost of Tsushima releases on July 17, 2020 and I can’t wait to play and maybe stream so follow me @Jamaipanese on Twitter and let me know if you watched the Ghost of Tsushima – State of Play presentation and will be playing too!

Sumikko Gurashi English Conversation Book

My dive into the world of Sumikko Gurashi continues with a book I picked up recently – すみっコぐらしの英会話 or Sumikko Gurashi English Conversation. Its an English phrasebook featuring the super cute Sumikko Gurashi characters. As an English educator here in Japan I don’t think its the most useful book for someone looking to practice English BUT for us Japanese learners especially if you are a Sumikko Gurashi nut like me its awesome.

Sumikko Gurashi characters

The book starts with a short description of the main Sumikko Gurashi characters of course;

  • Tonkatsu – the port cutlet that’s 99% fat and 1 % meat
  • Shirokuma – the polar bear who ran away from the north pole because they dislike the cold
  • Penguin? – The penguin who might actually be a Kappa – a demon from Japanese folklore
  • Tokage – The cute dinosaur pretending to be a lizard
  • Neko – The super shy calico cat who is my favourite

Sumikko Gurashi English Conversation Book すみっコぐらしの英会話

Sumikko Gurashi English – Chapters and audio

The book is split into 5 chapters – hanasu, asobu, taberu, kurasu and yasumi or speaking, playing, eating, living and free time. The real reasons why I think this book is awesome for Japanese learners and makes a great gift is that it uses simple Japanese including kanji that is a great step after learning hiragana and katakana. It also makes a great companion to the 1st-grade unko kanji drill book which I recently completed. It gets even better because not only can you practice reading but you can also practice listening! The book has accompanying audio for each chapter that is fun to listen, even though it has some cringy moments. You don’t even have to buy the book to get the audio. Download and listen here.

Sumikko Gurashi English Conversation Book すみっコぐらしの英会話

Read, Speak, Write and Listen

So if you really want to make this a full Japanese language learning resource you can read the book, speak by practising reading out loud, write the sentences and phrases in the book and listen to the accompanying audio. Are you ganna get this book? Do you like Sumikko Gurashi? Leave a comment below or tweet me @Jamaipanese. Also check out the Sumikko Gurashi game for the Nintendo Switch.

Sumikko Gurashi English Conversation Book すみっコぐらしの英会話
Sumikko Gurashi English Conversation Book すみっコぐらしの英会話