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Gundam Wing Leo model kit

The Gundam Wing Leo is an iconic mobile suit from the Gundam Wing series. It is a mass-produced machine based on the more capable Tallgeese with various configurations making it adaptable to battles in a planet’s atmosphere or outer space. Outside chibi Gundam models I haven’t built a proper gunpla in a decade.

HG Gundam Wing Leo

I wanted to ease myself in with a simple but fun build and gunpla model kits don’t come easier than HGAC -GUNPLA EVOLUTION PROJECT- New Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Leo 1/144 scale. The last kit I got was the Gundam Wing Heavy Arms – Master Grade – a wonderful gift from my friend Mike.

Gundam Wing Leo

This model kit is easy to build and great for 1st-time builders. It’s also very cheap so perfect for experienced builders to experiment upon. I am more of a casual builder but I am excited to get a couple more of these to experiment with – maybe I will make a diorama.

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

If that’s something you want to see let me know in a comment below or tweet me @jamaipanese. Also, let me know if you are a model kit builder or want to try your hand at the hobby.

Gundam Wing Leo box

Gundam Wing Leo

Gundam Wing Leo
Gundam Wing Leo
Gundam Wing Leo box

Japan Scene 12: Bento Battles

A bento is a single-portion meal that can range from food thrown into a sectionalized container at a takeout restaurant to edible masterpieces crafted by mothers and wives (and I hope a few fathers and husbands too).

Bento Battles

There is a whole industry here in Japan dedicated to the art of making a good bento. It’s not unusual for your home-packed lunch to be anywhere from a small conversation topic on one end or paraded in front of cheering classmates/coworkers on the other end. In my experience, the battles are fiercest at the kindergarten level.

Bear vs Titan

The bestowed compliments and praise feed the fire of these battles and before your know it, your curry and rice dish has your rice shaped like a bear soaking in a curry hot tub and your salmon meal is the colossal titan screaming at you as you pick him apart with your chopsticks.

22 Jamaican Short Stories

Recently I have been trying to get back into reading more books again. However, some of the books keep piling up and going unread after being unable to keep my interest. However, there are two kinds of books I have been enjoying lately – children’s books written in Japanese like The Boring Book and I have a complaint – luckily there is no shortage of those kinds of books I can read at or borrow from the library in my town. The other kinds of books (in English) that I have been enjoying are short story collections like How to Love and Jamaican and most recently 22 Jamaican short stories.

22 Jamaican Short Stories

22 Jamaican Short Stories book blurb

For professionals and amateurs alike, the Jamaican Cultural Development Commission’s annual literary competition offers a rare opportunity for testing skills and reinforcing the literary aspects of Jamaica’s cultural heritage. This anthology features prize-winning stories from 1967 to 1983 and reflects themes that have caught the attention of all Jamaicans in the first 25 years since the country’s independence.

All award-winning stories

Sadly I don’t think the JCDC’s literary competition is a thing anymore but back in the day was a great opportunity for writers to gain some notoriety. I have really enjoyed reading most of the stories from this collection – all written before I was even born. These stories really act like a portal, transporting the reader to a different time and way of thinking, though some things remain so familiar and true.

22 Jamaican Short Stories book cover

My favourites

My favourite stories are “Less than a man“, “The Exister” and “The art of Kite Flying“. Have you read this book? Or is it something you would be interested in? Get 22 Jamaican Stories wherever you buy your books and tweet me @Jamaipanese with your thoughts. I am also to suggestions of short story collections I should check out.

22 Jamaican Short Stories
22 Jamaican Short Stories
22 Jamaican Short Stories
22 Jamaican Short Stories

Model Trains are my latest addiction

The world has been on fire for over a year now. Like many others, I have spent a lot of time at home, had many trips canceled, and endured a lot of disruption to everyday life and plans. In that time to soothe my anxiety, I have learned many new things such as baking the best banana bread in the world and a Rasputin karaoke performance that should win me some kind of medal. However, my latest fixation is not banana bread or Monster Hunter Rise – its model trains.

model train - Narita express n scale

Model Trains = Fishtanks but cooler

Having a model train set and a miniature railroad is so soothing – kind of like why people have fish tanks but cooler! My love for regular-sized trains is a big reason why I visited Japan all those years ago, heck I fell in love with the first train I set foot on after landing. With all this time on my hands, I fell down a Youtube rabbit hole watching dozens of hours of videos about models, building dioramas, and eventual model trains and railroads. I have been hooked since and started thinking… why can’t I have my own fish tank model train set?

I bought the wrong thing

I had my eyes on my first model train set, an N scale (or N gauge) set by Kato. I knew I didn’t want something too big and complicated, but I didn’t want a plain boring oval. I found a small enough figure 8 design that I really just planned to poke around with on my bedroom floor when I am bored and store it away when not in use. However, like the typical noob, I failed to follow instructions and bought the wrong pieces for my railroad. My mistake turned out to be an inadvertent stroke of genius as I managed to scrounge together a different layout that looked more like a race track but it wasn’t a boring oval. The best part? It could fit on the bookcase where my TV is or on my seldom-used kotatsu! The worst part? The model of my favorite train – the Narita Express, wasn’t compatible with such a small layout so back to the drawing board.

narita express train

Model train plans and three configurations

I went on bought the right things this time and with all the extra pieces of track I had not 1, not 2, but three configurations. The first one is the racecar-looking setup I won’t be able to use until I get a compatible train. The second one is that figure eight I had my eye on that I can build out when in the mood on my bedroom floor. The third layout and the one I will be using the most is an oval but with an interesting slope using the mini diorama kit I built a while back. This configuration is perfect for my rarely used kotatsu table and in the future could fit on a coffee table as well and my Narita express runs with no problem!

Excited to experiment in the future with model trains

I want to learn how to build better dioramas, what if I combine my love of Gundam/Gunpla and build a sick train layout? I am so excited to explore my new addiction, stay tuned, there is more to come as long as my wallet cooperates. Got any N scale model train tips? Tweet me @Jamaipanese or leave them in a comment below.

model train - Narita express n scale

Fujifilm Instax SQ6 Landscape walk

It’s a beautiful spring day and I was excited to take the Fujifilm Instax SQ6 out for a spin to take some landscape test shots as promised in my unboxing video and blog post. I have not shot on one of these instant film cameras in a long time but I had nine shots left in one of the film packs and I wanted to have them all count today, so off we go on a photo adventure.

Backstreet trees and road – SQ6 Landscape

The first place I wanted to go was this eerie wooded area off this rarely used back road that had some interesting trees – they look far creepier in low light and fog but I wanted to take a photo of them anyway to warm up. Landscape mode enabled and 1st photo down but while walking back to my bicycle I saw an interesting slope in the road and before I knew it I was laying down in the streets looking to frame the shot just right.

SQ6 Landscape

Ferry shots auto and landscape mode

Two shots down, 7 to go. I rode around a bit but couldn’t find anything interesting so I decided to get something to drink and unsurprisingly I ran into one of my students – I seriously cannot hide on this island. After a short chat and a drink, I switched to my car and headed to the port to get a photo of the docked ferry. I had only been out less than an hour and I was already losing my blue sky and things were getting hazy. Across from the port, I snapped 2 shots of the ferry because of course I forgot again to put the camera in landscape mode for the first one so took another one to see if there was any noticeable difference. I liked the 1st shot in auto a little better.

Shinto shrine x Pokemon

From the port, I drove to the largest shrine on the island. I wanted to get a shot with the lines of the tori gate. I took shots, again comparing auto with landscape mode but this time landscape mode was much better.

SQ6 Landscape pokemon

Because walking around with pokemon in your pocket is a perfectly normal thing to do I whipped out the OG starter set of Charmander, Bulbasaur, and Squirtle and this is where I noticed an issue. I am not sure if I am just failing to understand framing and I have tried with and without my glasses but the framing always seems off compared to what I am seeing in the camera vs the printed photos. I’ll have to experiment a little more with my next set of photos.

Now for the shots and my feeling about each. Let’s just say the adventure started well but ended badly. The trees and road pics are by far the best followed by one of the two ferry and shrine tori gate pics. Of the three pics, I struggled to get framed right of my pokemon friends only one was barely usable! Leave any questions or tips in a comment below and check out my Youtube channel for videos of my hobbies and travels.

SQ6 Landscape

SQ6 Landscape
SQ6 Landscape
SQ6 Landscape pokemon

Building my first Diorama – γ‚Έγ‚ͺγƒ©γƒžγγ‚“

A new train modeling addiction has taken root in my head that I will explain in more detail in a future post and video. But today I take my 1st steps in a bigger journey, by building the γ‚Έγ‚ͺγƒ©γƒžγγ‚“ N scale 25-917 mini diorama kit by Kato.Β  From what I was told it has everything you need to complete the kit so let’s see how close I can get this thing to the picture on the box. This is my first kit since the miniature PlayStation.

Unboxing γ‚Έγ‚ͺγƒ©γƒžγγ‚“

Inside the box, we have the dioramakun book I’ll check out later, the base, foliage, paint, glue, rail, instructions, and a few other things. Looking at the instructions it seemed easy enough to follow though everything is in Japanese.

Diorama - γ‚Έγ‚ͺγƒ©γƒžγγ‚“

Beware of Trees

My years of building Gundam figures are finally coming in handy. or was it? I made so many mistakes and became so frustrated building this thing but I learned so much. I have never worked with a kit with so many tiny pieces and I damn near gave when it came to cutting out these things and the trees, the damn trees – I learned the meaning of patience with those things.

Diorama - γ‚Έγ‚ͺγƒ©γƒžγγ‚“

Even with all the mistakes and poorly followed instructions, it started to come together little by little and my motivation returned once it started to take form. painting stuff, working with the putty-like thingy and applying the grass were easily my favourite parts.

It took me 5 hours

In the home stretch, I finished the papercraft train which will be a placeholder until I get a better one. Then added the additional bits and pieces and voila the diorama was complete. It took 5 fricken hours but I honestly would do it again, maybe I might but with actual model trains next time.

Please rate my completed diorama in a comment below or @Jamaipanese on Twitter and feel free to give me tips and pointers.

Diorama - γ‚Έγ‚ͺγƒ©γƒžγγ‚“
Diorama - γ‚Έγ‚ͺγƒ©γƒžγγ‚“

diorama, mini, kit, kato, N scale, N gauge, Kato 25-917, γ‚Έγ‚ͺγƒ©γƒžγγ‚“, mini diorama kit

Modern film camera – Fujifilm Instax SQ6

I have been fiddling with a new camera, an instant film camera of all things, the Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6 – let’s check it out together.

Why the Fujifilm Instax SQ6

Fujifilm has a whole family of film cameras, and after pouring over reviews and videos I decided on the SQ6 because of its form factor, different shooting modes, and features. I wanted to use the camera in a variety of scenarios for selfies, landscapes, food, portraits, group shots etc. Let’s take a closer look at this instant film camera and my other recent camera purchase (DJI Pocket 2) doesn’t get jealous.

Fujifilm Instax SQ6

Instax square instant film

It comes in a variety of colours but those who know me know how much I love gray so no surprise I got it in graphite gray. This camera being an instant camera I needed film, so I got a 2 pack of their Instax square instant film, which gives me 10 shots each or 20 shots total. The film aspect of this camera is what I am most excited about as I feel like a kid in the 90’s again after shooting exclusively digital for the past 20 years.

Holding the camera in my hand with everything, I must say it does feel quite sturdy and not plasticky and toy-like as I feared. Seeing that lense extends when powering up is also satisfying.

Fujifilm Instax SQ6

Jiraiya is now a model

I recently unboxed and talked about my Jiraiya figure. Seeing that he is sitting on my desk at home I decided to make him the subject of the first shot. Fujifilm says it pictures should take about 90 seconds to fully appear depending on the temperature, atmospheric conditions etc. From my measuring, it took about 2 minutes indoors at room temperature on a spring day about 19 degrees Celcius.

More thoughts coming after more testing

The shooting modes on this camera are auto, selfie, macro, landscape, double exposure, light and dark modes. I will be doing a follow-up post and video as I take the Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6 out and about so leave a comment telling me what kinds of tests you want me to try and subscribe to my youtube channel for my follow-up video. Cheers.

Fujifilm Instax SQ6

Naruto Shippuden Jiraiya figure – all hail the pervy sage

There is a new figure in my collection rivaling my Yoko Littner as my favourite. One of the legendary Sannin, one of the pillars of the Naruto anime and manga series, the pervy sage himself Jiraiya.

The younger cooler Jiraiya

The Figuarts Zero Naruto Shippuden Jiraiya figure is a 205 mm pre-painted figure. It looks amazing right out of the box. It features a younger Jiraiya posing on one of his summoned toads with a cool smoke effect. I really love the coloring on this figure and with Gama’s head being semi-transparent it gives it a great look when lit from behind.

I have seen the other figures in the series that feature Sasuke, Naruto, and Tsunade but I didn’t really care for them. This Jiraiya version jumped out at me though and has been sitting in my cart for about a year while I saved enough to grab it. It really looks good from any angle.

The Jiraiya figure us huge

It is huge and dwarfs most of my other figures. He will be sitting on my desk at home next to Alphonse and his Nyaruto cats version as I occasionally shed a tear when I remember his heroic death and sacrifice in the Naruto manga and anime series.

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

Do you have any collectibles? Want this Jiraiya figure? Let me know what collectibles you have in a comment below or tweet me @Jamaipanese.

Jiraiya FiguartsZERO Kizuna Relation Gallery

jiraiya figure

Yasuke – The African samurai reimagined as a CRAZY Netflix anime series

When news broke of the new Netflix series about Yasuke – a warrior of African descent who served under Japanese daimyo Oda Nobunaga, I thought it was going to be some kind of animated documentary. What it turned out to be was an alternate-reality version of the Sengoku period Japan reimagined with magic and advanced technology. It was like Lone Wolf and Cub meets Guardian of the Sacred Spirit with story elements that wouldn’t be too strange in the Gundam universe.

Yasuke anime plot

In a war-torn feudal Japan filled with mechs and magic, the greatest ronin never known, Yasuke, struggles to maintain a peaceful existence after a past life of violence. But when a local village becomes the center of social upheaval between warring daimyo, Yasuke must take up his sword and transport a mysterious child who is the target of dark forces and bloodthirsty warlords.

The high production values of the 6 episode series are really what jumps out at you from the first few frames. The animations, the voice acting (English and Japanese), the music, the art style! I haven’t been excited about or enjoyed an anime series like this for a long time.

Yasuke is made out of organic vibranium

The first episode is simple enough, establishing the world and the main characters. However, as the series went on with ever-evolving enemies and increasingly ridiculous battles, I just checked my brain out somewhere around episode four. Indestructible main characters is a well-established anime trope but our guy Yasuke must be made out of some kind of organic vibranium. The dude has been blown up, drowned, stabbed, punched kicked, and launched into a star. His naps are the stuff of legend as by the time he wakes up he is healed.

yasuke netflix anime

Frodo taking the one ring back to Mount Doom

It isn’t a perfect series by any means but it doesn’t have to be. By the end, it was just like a ripoff of Frodo taking the one ring back to Mount Doom and it was less and less a story-driven spectacle. I am (and many others) are just glad a series like this can be made, but the only way to go after this is up as it can’t get any worse.

Now I want to play a game like Sekiro or Ghost of Tsushima with Yasuke as the protagonist – Universe make it happen! Did you watch Yasuke? Tell me what you thought in a comment before or tweet me @Jamaipanese

Operation Visit Japan – a lesson about Personal Goal Setting

The year is 2010, I am living paycheck to paycheck and I didn’t realize yet that I was stuck in a cycle that would not change. I was really passionate about all things “Japan” and wanted to visit but there was no way I could afford to.Β  What did I do? I made a 2-year plan to save $100 a month from my meagre salary so I could visit the land of the rising sun. This lesson about personal goal setting has been one of the single best lessons about life I could have learned as a young adult. I learned how to set achievable goals and how seeing through the process can change the trajectory of your life.

shinkansen conductor - Personal Goal Setting

Operation Visit Japan revisited

The goal was $3000: $1400 for plane tickets $500 for a 14-day rail pass $800 for accommodation and $300 for visa fees and other miscellaneous expenses. This was before online crowdfunding was a big thing but many of the readers of my blog wanted to send me cash towards my goal. I was reluctant because

  • I would be held accountable and this is other peoples money
  • other peoples money?!?!?

In the end, I found a platform that would be transparent about donations (this was hard in 2010) and started to accept donations for “Operation Visit Japan“. The donations came flying in from all corners of the globe from awesome people like @rainbowhill @tamegoeswild @yonasu and @Gordonswaby and many others who had been reading my blog. I was honestly surprised and just a little terrified. What have I done!

Personal Goal Setting

By March 2011 the goal has been reached from saving monthly, donations and earnings from Jamaipanese.com. There was a terrible earthquake and tsunami in Japan around this time as well and I adjusted my plans and took aim at September 2011.

First time in Japan

It’s the 1st week of September 2011 and I must be dreaming because I am landing in Tokyo. Then I went to Yokohama, Nagoya, Nara, Kyoto, Osaka?! But back to the reason for this post “setting achievable goals and changing the trajectory of your life”.

jamaipanese in Japan - Personal Goal Setting

There are so many books/podcasts/websites/coaches etc that can provide a much more learned explanation to all this personal goal setting mumbo jumbo. In the end please know that goals don’t have to be massively complicated undertakings. Look within yourself and ask what you want to do, where do you want to be, what do you want to learn etc. Doing this has allowed me to complete many kinds of goals from very personal undertakings to attending University to now living and working in Japan.

Personal Goal Setting advice

In this face-paced, cut-throat, social media-loving world there are a lot of external stimulants and distractions. Many people only imagine the start and the end of the “race” but it’s the middle part that’s the longest and the most difficult important.

Run, walk, crawl your own race today and see how the high of passing through that finish line refuels you to run another race, set a bigger goal – just go at your own pace.