Japan Scene 6: Air Traffic Controller

A few weeks ago I attended a yard sale-style event put on by the boarders at the High School on my island. The aim was to sell-off stuff and raise funds. There were books, clothes, crafts and chocolate. One booth even had currency from counties all over the world. I took the opportunity to pick up a 50 Thai baht note and support my milk chocolate addiction. The real memorable encounter though was with an elderly Japanese man who I continuously noted was staring at me and my friend I came with. I’m used to the staring when I go to the mainland but being stared at on my tiny island was not normal as everyone should be aware of my presence by now. Maybe it was my super tall African-American pal? I soon found out why he was staring when he walked over to nervously say hi to us.

Retired ATC: Hehehello, my name is ____. Where are you from?
Me: I am from Jamaica. How are you?
Retired ATC: I am fine. JAMAICA?!?!? Wow. Why Did you come to this island?
Me: Yes, I Teach English at the Junior High School.
Retired ATC: Thank you for coming to our rural island. I am a retired Air Traffic Controller…

50 baht

Picked up a 50 Baht note featuring the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej

Japan Explorer

He proceeded to speak to us more relaxed and excitedly about his time working all over Japan at various airports from Tokyo to Osaka and many smaller obscure airports. I went from feeling uncomfortable as I was being stared at to having an enlightening conversation with an elderly man who was so excited to speak English to foreigners.

Aggretsuko – Aggressive Retsuko is helping me learn Japanese

I haven’t watched regular TV at home in months. Most of my TV time is split between video games and Netflix. I am a huge sci-fi buff and I have been inhaling everything from Star Trek Discovery to Annihilation to the Lost in Space remake. However, there is a new non-Scifi love it town – her name is Retsuko and she is bae.

Frustrated with her thankless office job, Retsuko the Red Panda copes with her daily struggles by belting out death metal karaoke after work.

Aggressive Retsuko

Japan has a big problem balancing work, family and leisure time. It’s not unheard of for office workers, teachers etc to spend 80+ hours a week at work – hardly taking time off – even national holidays. Aggretsuko or aggressive Retsuko delves into this, albeit not directly but also mixes in various characters you would usually find in the workplace such as the rumour spreading office worker, the terrible boss and the ass kissing new recruit just to name a few. The writing is so good and the humour hits home most of the time often in unpredictable ways.

Studying Japanese

I started to watch Aggretsuko mainly to study Japanese – it has everyday relate-able dialogue that I can follow at my level in short episodes. I still use the subtitles but it feels good to understand more than half the words spoken even though my understanding and translation is a little different from the subtitles at times the gist is usually the same.

Check out Aggretsuko if you like cute characters and real-life situations with a comedic twist. I have a few episodes left to devour and I am already anticipating future seasons and injuring my wallet when more merchandises become available.

Hiroshima x Miyajima x Pokemon Center

I spent Golden Week 2018 doing some travelling within Japan. At long last, I have finally visited Hiroshima. I also visited the famous Miyajima Island and spent some time with Pikachu and friends at the Pokemon Center in Hiroshima as a tried to snatch a rare Japan-only item for a friend in Jamaica.


Hiroshima (広島) is a city in Japan with an unfortunate history. It was largely destroyed in 1945 at the end of World War II when America dropped an Atomic bomb on the city killing tens of thousands of people instantly and more in the coming days, months and years. As a teenager, I read about WWII and it’s different players. I found it surprising that a country devastated by War recovered so well to become the 2nd largest economy in the world at the time. It many ways WWII and Hiroshima ignited my interest in Japan and I have wanted to visit ever since. I am glad I finally did and visited the A-Bomb Dome, Peace Park and the exact epicentre of the bomb. It was a life-changing experience.

Hiroshima Memorial Peace Park

Hiroshima Memorial Peace Park


Miyajima (宮島) is an island close to Hiroshima. I got there via a boat ride from the city centre but returned using the JR ferry and train. The main attraction is a giant torii gate, which at high tide seems to float on the water. The accompanying shrine and a few other attractions such as a museum and aquarium make this a great day trip. I spent half a day but could have easily spent a few hours more exploring.

Miyajima Island Torii

Miyajima Island Torii

Pokemon Center Hiroshima

I am an old school pokemon player. Pokemon burst onto the scene when I was a kid. The original pokemon games up to maybe Pokemon Silver and Pokemon Gold were handheld games I pumped hundreds of hours into and had tonnes of fun with my friends and classmates – battling and trading. I haven’t been able to keep up with the now hundreds of pocket monsters but the original 151 are still dear to me.

Pokemon Center Hiroshima

Pokemon Center Hiroshima with Pikachu

Hiroshima Miyajima Pokemon Center

Pirate’s Choice #414

Tribute To Studio1


Where do you start when learning Japanese?

In a recent vlog, I spoke about having a Japanese focused video series. Over the past few weeks, I have struggled with getting it recorded as my perfectionist mentally has taken over and I have recorded and recorded it more times than I would like to admit. So what am I going to do? Continue doing what I have been enjoying! making video logs of vlogs of my experiences living in Japan. This includes things I have vlogged already such as travelling, video games, food etc but now from time to time it will include commentary on my own journey learning Japanese as well and I am keeping the name Nihongo to Kakutou suru (日本語と格闘する) – or fighting with Japanese!

Kanji, Hiragana, Katakana

It goes without saying that Japanese is very different from English. Its different from all Indo-European languages. Japanese is written using 3 alphabets – Kanji – borrowed from Chinese, Hiragana which are simplified kanji characters and Katakana which is used to primarily for foreign words but also has other uses you don’t have to worry about at the beginning of your Japanese language journey.

Hello, my name is Jamaipanese – こんにちは 私の なまえは ジャマイパネズです。
Today’s weather is good – 今日の天気は良いです

Not a Japanese Language Guru

Before I continue I must say that I am no qualified guru of the Japanese language, I am just learning the language like anyone else but have spent a lot of time trying different methods of learning with varying success over the years. Now that I live in Japan – learning Japanese is now about surviving here so I have been more serious about it in recent months. If you are just starting out learning Japanese then without a doubt, you first want to learn Hiragana and Katakana. Learning to write and read Kana as they are called together to me is the first pillar towards building your Japanese ability.

Start with Kana

So how do you learn Kana? You practice! For some people it takes a few hours, for others, it can take months. My advice? – study ’em five at a time. You can use apps, flashcards or the good old fashioned pen and paper. Write them, enunciate their sounds and in time you will know them.

Some apps I recommend are:

  • Get Kana – a simple no fluff app that’s just focused on helping users recognize hiragana and katakana. It allows you to select the characters you want to study, revise or skip altogether
  • Katakana/Hiragana Pro – Individual apps with paid options that offered a more gamified approach to learning Kana. I am a happy paid customer and these are my favourite kana apps
  • Kana Dojo – from the same developers of Katakana and Hiragana pro another gamified app with “eye Spy” agility test and “Matchmaker” memory test that mixes things up a bit and allows for studying in short sessions.
  • Japanese Word Dungeon – This is straight up a game where the aim is to defeat monsters with your knowledge of kana – Personally I don’t like how it is monetized but the level 1 dungeon is free and gives you just enough to know if its something you will want to pay for going forward.

There is no shortage of apps out there to help with Studying Japanese but don’t be like me not long ago and get buried in the options walking around with 20 plus Japanese learning apps on your phone but barely using any. Stick to one or two and start learning Japanese!

Struggling creatively and sick recently

Spring is finally here in Japan! the cherry blossoms are blooming, it’s getting warmer (except today! right now its raining and 7 degrees) and terrible winter is behind me! Then why am I struggling a little recently?

First Spring in Japan

The 1st part of my troubles is I’ve been sick recently. I have been anticipating the arrival of spring for months and now it’s here and my body is spazzing out. Its what are these smells?!?!? Why have the last few days been hot, then cold then hot then cold?I’ve been to the doctor but even he isn’t too sure whats going on. It feels like Hay fever, allergies, a cold and migraines came together to attack me. The result is me being tired and groggy. Thankfully I have started to feel better in the last day or so and just in time too as the kids return to school next week. Its the beginning of the school year in Japan and I have an increased workload due to changes in the English education system here in Japan.

Creative Struggles

The second part of my struggles is I’ve been struggling creatively recently – I have some ideas for my blog I can’t seem to get off the ground and remember that Japanese vlog series I mentioned in my last vlog? I have recorded and re-recorded so much of it in the last week. I am making the same mistake again – its like I know the problem, do my best to avoid the problem but end up having the problem again! That problem is overthinking a task and trying to make it too perfect – Its so nerve-racking to put yourself out there especially in this era internet trolls and negativity. I had the same problem when writing my book (The Jamaipanese Story) and instead of finishing it in 5 months as planned it took me almost 5 years!

So here’s hoping blogging this helps me refocus and gets me re-energized for the coming days , weeks and months. I need to get back to studying Japanese and I want to share my progress with you!

Chibi RX-78-2 Gundam

It was my birthday recently! So like your typical adult male I got myself a gift! Like your not so typical adult male I got myself a cute miniaturized robot figure from my favourite anime series…

I got the chibi version of the iconic RX-78-2 Gundam. If you havent seen my video from my pilgramage to the Life-sized Unicorn Gundam in Tokyo earlier this year or my visit to the Gundam Cafe in Tokyo almost 7 years ago now during my 1st trip to Japan you should check them out and SURPRISE! I’m really fond of giant robots.

RX-78-2 Gundam Sword

I chose a chibi Gundam because they are easy to build, cheap and most importantly sturdy. I’ve owned a few chibi Gundam models over the years and I havent been disappointed yet. As much as I love Gundam models I’ve been known to grow bored and stop mid build in the past ( Sorry Zaku, I”ll finish building you one day I promise). The plan in to pimp out out my home in Japan with stuff from my favourite anime, games, movies etc.- a process that is still ongoing.

RX-78-2 Gundam rifle

Building Rex (Yes I’ve named him) took me a few hours while I binged a new Netflix series called “On My Block” check it out its awesome – Jasmin is bae – nobody else is allowed to love her! I saw her first. Back to Rex, I”m happy with the finished product – I think I will assign him guard duty in my Genkan.

RX-78-2 Gundam x Star Wars AT-M6 Walker

I usually take part in reddit gift exchanges – for those who don’t know it is a blind gift exchange facilitated by Reddit.com where you exchange gifts with random people anythere in the world on a particular topic or for a particular occasion from Christmas to plushies to anime and manga. As faith would have it the last reddit gift exchange I participated in was under the anime and manga theme – and guess what my randomly chosen reddit person sent me? Wing Zero from friken Gundam Wing Endless Waltz movie – I feel like I am 14-year-old again and rushing home after table tennis practice to watch Toonami on cartoon network.

RX-78-2 Gundam back

But anyway! leave a comment below sharing your favourite anime or video game. Also do you have any figures, posters or other memorabilia from any of your favourite pop culture thingies. Let me know below!

RX-78-2 Gundam vs Monster Hunter Deviljho

RX-78-2 Gundam chibi

RX-78-2 Gundam shield

RX-78-2 Gundam box


Monster Hunter World is Awesome

Monster Hunter World is a great game that proves that hard work, attention to detail and a focus on fun can still make a successful game in this the age of lootboxes and corporate greed in triple A gaming titles. It isn’t without its flaws – an unnecessarily complicated process to play with friends, underutilized gathering hub and some underwhelming weapon designs are a few. Overall though, Monster Hunter World is a great game that has been a commercial success with over 7 million copies shipped and counting.

Monster Hunter at its best

For those new to the Monster Hunter series, the games involve hunting monsters, from cute bird-like egg thieves to giant dragons. The gameplay premise is you progress from fighting lowly creatures, to battling behemoths while learning about your environment, crafting gear from defeated foes and getting stronger not from leveling up your character’s imaginary stats but from improving as a player and understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your opponents. Mix in 14 weapons, an open world, the creatures than inhabit it and an overarching story and you have the latest installment – Monster Hunter World.

Monster Hunter World light bowgun action

Ballerina armed with a giant hammer

I cannot express how satisfying it is to hunt a monster and make weapons and gear from its parts. The feeling of accomplishment when you finally defeat that giant fire-breathing T-rex only to face off against a flying, poisonous, fire-breathing wyvern! After a while you realize that you are starting to learn your opponents, you research their weaknesses, prepare the necessary tools and have practiced enough to the point where you are dancing around their attacks like a ballerina armed with a giant hammer.

Monster Hunter still isn’t for everyone

Though some might say otherwise – Monster Hunter World isn’t for every one. Though World has fine tuned the Monster Hunting Formula a bit, it still has some rough edges. However if this game clicks, especially if you have friends to hunt with, its one of the most enjoyable experiences in gaming at the moment and some will argue for a while. The first and only Monster Hunter game I played for any extended time before world was Monster Hunter Tri for the Wii. Back then the gaming world wasnt so connected online and I had no real world friends to play with.

Monster Hunter World Sword and Shield action

Fast forward a decade and after a long period of handheld only releases Monster Hunter is back on consoles and its epic. I’m 100+ hours in and I am having just as much, if not more fun, than when I hunted my first Great Jagras.

Games as a service? eww!

Many Triple A gaming titles have become unbearable grinds infested with lootboxes and DLCs. They say games are now a service with the emphasis on the dollar signs and not the product and consumers. Monster Hunter World proves that the old ways of designing a complete game can still be successful, I am very happy it is successful and looks to continue to be for a long time.

Monster Hunter World Barroth

How you played or plan to play monster hunter world? Leave your thoughts in a comment below – also let me know if we can hunt together; I play on the PS4.

Black Panther is the movie we need

Black Panther is a commercial hit. The King of Wakanda has been ruling the box office worldwide for weeks now. It took its time arriving in Japan but Marvel’s Black Panther movie was worth the wait.

Poke the Colonizers

I’ve never been one to get too emotional when watching movies but from the opening scene I had a feeling that I can only describe as my head-swelling and by the end I was teary eyed and ready reclaim my throne. I grew up in Jamaica – a former colony of Britain; so many of the low key pokes at the colonizers resonated with me. I strongly believe that black people are disconnected from their roots and divided intentionally.

Lessons for all

Black Panther’s music, sound, cinematography, story, casting and effects are to notch. However, underneath is all I feel there is a message. It may be a fictional world but it does overlap with reality and there are some important lessons there for all to see.

Important Movie

Personally it was so inspiring – those are my people, they look like me! They aren’t drug dealers, thugs, thieves, criminals, slaves, inmates etc. Go see it if you haven’t yet! take your kids, take your mom, take your neighbor; this is an important movie for all descendants of Africa and their friends.

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Tokyo 2020 mascots revealed

As a big fan of the summer Olympics especially athletics it goes without saying that I am excited for Tokyo 2020 Olympics. We are two years away but I have been following and will continue to follow as the excitement builds.

Japan is character country

Japan is a country obsessed with characters, mascots and all things cute. Many Companies, police departments, prefectures, sports teams and more have characters that represent their brand. Since moving to Japan Its unbelievable how powerful characters like anpanman, doraemon and pikachu are and thats just the tip of the iceberg. The mascots for Tokyo 2020 were recently revealed. Its been a multiple-month process of illuminations with the final 3 being voted on by Japanese elementary school kids to choose the lucky mascots to represent Tokyo 2020 Olympics and ParaOlympics.

B > A > C = A

From the three choices I’ll say favourite was B with A coming in slightly behind then C. The kids overwhelmingly voted for character A and the reactions so far seem mostly positive. Their names will be revealed later in the summer.

What are your thoughts on the chosen mascots – which of the 3 choices did you like? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts!

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