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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 Unfortunately, the website is no longer being updated but contains a wealth of information and worksheets.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 – 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

  • きらい – 嫌い – dislike
  • これだがら – due to this
  • おれ – 俺 – I/me (masculine)
  • ここ – here
  • きみ – 君 – you
  • の – possessive particle in Japanese
  • べつ – 別 – separate
  • せかい – 世界 – the world
  • おもしろい – 面白い – interesting
  • よくみる – よく見る – often see, usual
  • かいぶつ – 怪物 – monster
  • そこいけば – 其処行けば – go over there
  • もちろん – 勿論 – that’s right, of course
  • しんじる – 信じる – to believe
  • よろしく – polite request
  • たのむ – 頼む – 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 am 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 – 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, 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. 

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


Reigniting my Table Tennis flame

I played table tennis it high school, reluctantly at first as I wanted to do track and field but my asthma made me unable to manage the intense training. Table Tennis eventually grew into one of the highlights of my high school years and the sport I continued to participate into my early 20’s entering tournaments and such until unfortunately life just got too busy to continue. In recent weeks I have found a nice group to play table tennis with here on my rural island. I excitedly look forward to Thursday nights now as people from all age groups meet up for table tennis.

Silver Fox vs the Young Pup

I barely made it back from driving school recently to take part in a table tennis tournament that was the most fun I have had at a sporting event in years. The principal at one of my elementary schools knocked me out in the first round after I faced him with identical stats of one win and one loss. It came down to the wire and he was the crafty fox that outsmarted me the young pup.

table tennis

Table Tennis saved my imaginary six pack

Table Tennis and jogging has also allowed me to get my weight and fitness back under control after swelling up over the winter last year, especially in the midsection. Now I am considering investing in a racket and getting fully back on the table tennis wagon – maybe I can be champion next year?

Driving School and getting my Drivers Licence in Japan

Recently I went to a driving school in Japan to aid me in acquiring my driver’s license here. For most foreigners getting a driver’s license in Japan involves going to a licensing centre doing an interview then coming back for a driving test, written test and sometimes enduring a 2-hour lecture and video. The internet is littered with stories of foreigners having to go back multiple times in order to gain the right to drive on Japan’s roads.

For me, I had a drivers license but I literally got it a week before coming to Japan. To do the process I described earlier you had to have your license for 3 months prior to moving Japan so it turns out I was no different from a regular new driver in Japan. Finding a driving school that offered lessons in English was hard enough in my rural prefecture. When many could have easily done lessons after work or on weekends that was not an option for me.

Luckily I found a school and endured 15 days of a boot-camp-like experience to get the coveted piece of plastic. In hindsight I “kinda” understand why Japan is so mental when it comes to road safety – road users are generally courteous and law-abiding – a big difference from the wild west that is Jamaica’s roads.

The 3 paths to a drivers licence in Japan are:

  1. 1. If you are from Iceland, Ireland, United Kingdom, Italy, Austria, Australia, Holland, Canada, Korea, Greece, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, New Zealand, Norway, Finland, France, Belgium, Portugal, Luxembourg or Taiwan you just need to translate your license with the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF), pay a small fee, endure some paperwork and the licence is yours.
  2. Not from a country listed above? Then if you have had your license for 3 or more months you can translate your licence, endure an interview mainly asking about how you got your license, when you got it, driving rules in your country etc, then pass a written then driving test before the license can be yours. I personally know people who have had to do the driving test more than five times to pass.
  3. If you are like me and had your less than 3 months or no license whatsoever then your options are driving school then learners license, more driving school then written test, a lecture then license! This process depending on the school you attend can be anywhere from a 2 and half week intensive boot-camp (that is what I did) to a 6 months process of checking off lectures and classes while doing the practical driving necessary.