A true to life drama of a Jamaican male, living and working in Japan since March 2008.

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Sunday, May 27, 2012

One Love Jamaica Festival in Tokyo 2012 Part 2

Days 1523 - 1529
Sunday, May 20 - Saturday, May 26, 2012   

Day 1523 ( One Love Jamaica Festival in Tokyo 2012 Part 2  )
Sunday, May 20, 2012 ( 4 years 2 months)

Went to Tokyo this morning a bit later than planned because I was waiting on a friend of mine for a very long time. Yesterday for the festival, I took a train to a station name Yoyogi Koen (Yoyogi Park). Because the festival is at Yoyogi koen. BUT! the station and the actual park are not exactly right beside each other. So I got lost and had to be asking where the park was. I eventually heard the loud music and followed my ears. But it took me about 15 mins to find the location. While coming back from the park however, I walked with a couple Japanese friends of mine to Shibuya, which was only like 10 mins away from Yoyogi park.

That was yesterday. Today, I decided to try the Shibuya route by myself. And no surprise again, I ended up getting lost. I was using the GPS on my iphone but that was only helping a little. Again I had to be asking persons where the park was. It took me about 30 - 45 mins to eventually find the park. Not only because I am "directionally" challenged but also there was a huge matsuri (festival) going on in the middle of Shibuya.
Hey I look like I have a mo hawk hair style

This festival was going on. 

Yeah so I eventually found the park and headed to the Jamaican embassy booth where all the excitement was going on. But my phone battery was at 10% because of me exhausting the GPS. At the embassy booth, I saw Tomoko Uemura who has been living in Jamaica for about 17 years now. She helped me to translate one poem for my book. She also teaches Japanese at my university in Jamaica.

Uemura Tomoko

I bought a few banana chips from the booth (You can see them in the yellow bags in the picture above). They were selling for 200 yen, about triple the price it is in Jamaica. I also saw couple of other friends. around the booth area.

Tracy in the Yellow introduced me to the YMCA, her husband is in the black.
Rhondeen living in Niigata prefecture also in black. 

A Japanese Reggae artist. Don't remember her name

Some Japanese dude in a Jamaica T-shirt

Unfortunately, these were all the pictures I managed to take with my camera phone. These others I copied from other people.

They all lived in Jamaica for 2 years as JICA volunteers

There was also a modelling segment as well as a dancing segment. The dancing portion I missed because I got to the park late. But the modelling section I couldn't see properly because of the crowd. I heard there were about 235,000 people there this year. Only about 10%  or less were actual Jamaicans. There were quite a few Africans though posing as Jamaicans. But most Japanese people can't really tell the difference.

To be honest, quite a few of the Japanese girls, maybe 70% or more, are like these ones who entered the Jamaican dance hall queen competition last year in Montego Bay, Jamaica. I am not complaining though :p


The following fancy photos were of course taken by a professional. www.paulstevensphotography.com

The dancers

This was their dance. I am not sure who took the video but I am borrowing it and also added it to youtube. Whomever is the owner of the video... sorry about the infringement :) found it on facebook.

Bob Marley's son was even there. Don't know his name though. Anyone can tell me?

My friend Otis with  one of Bob Marley's sons 

Otis with Monique (singer/entrepreneur) and Jamaican Ambassador Claudia Barnes 

Otis and Dave Mcanuff (Reggae artist)

The guy in black on the left actually owns a banking/investment firm in Japan :o
The other guy in black with the glasses is an actuary and division manager

In the centre are the Peruvian ambassador and his wife


Day 1524 ( Annular Solar Eclipse )
Monday, May 21, 2012

This morning I woke up with some messed up cold symptoms. "Again", I thought to myself. It seem like every change of season, I get a cold twice. I even spat out some blood this morning.

There was a Solar eclipse this morning in the 7:00 am bells. I went out to look at it but I could only see clouds. Nothing else. A couple of my friends took some great photos though. The last time I remember seeing an eclipse of any sort was maybe 15 years ago or longer.

Rare eclipse delivers spectacle despite cloudy weather

Monday's rare annular eclipse wowed millions nationwide as they looked up in the morning sky to witness the astronomical event. 

Events were held at schools, along waterfronts, at zoos, parks and rooftops to witness the point when the moon passed in front of the sun, leaving a perfect fiery ring, or annulus.

The brief, bright annulus could be seen along much of the Pacific coast, including from Osaka, Nagoya and Tokyo, but was not visible in northern Tohoku or Hokkaido.
The eclipse started a little after 6 a.m., with the ring forming at 7:20 a.m. in Kyushu and around 7:35 a.m. in Tokyo. It lasted only a few minutes.
Although Okinawa experienced an annular eclipse 25 years ago, Monday's event was the first time in 932 years that the phenomenon could be observed across a broad swath of Japan.
Tokyo had to wait 173 years.




Day 1525 ( Sky Tree Grand Opening/Blog Facebook Page Update )
Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Forgot to mention that 2 weeks ago my former student at my last job in Jamaica, visited me. He has a really cool bike.


The world's tallest tower finally opened today, but an elevator had to be stopped in the tower because of strong winds. Scaaaary!!!

Skytree has elevator glitch on first day

Despite cold and rainy springtime weather Tuesday, Tokyo Skytree attracted thousands of people to the new landmark as the world's tallest tower opened to the public.

But the first day didn't go off without a hitch. High winds forced two elevators to halt at around 6 p.m., stranding visitors in the No. 2 observatory, 450 meters above the ground.
The elevators soon resumed operations, but at 7:36 p.m. the No. 2 observatory was closed due to the wind.

A total of 200,000 people were expected to visit Tokyo Skytree Town, the complex in which the tower stands in Sumida Ward, on the first day alone.
Skytree Town is a commercial complex combining the 634-meter-tall broadcast tower, an aquarium, a planetarium and the Tokyo Solamachi complex, which boasts 312 shops and restaurants.


After work today, I stayed in and sort of tweeked my blog's facebook page a bit. It was a lazy tweek though. I created the picture below using the conventional MS paint instead of using Adobe photoshop, because I couldn't be bothered with the lasso tool stuff, plus it takes up too much memory on this old laptop.

So please please please to like my facebook blog page at




Day 1526 ( Visit to Asakusa )
Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My friend wanted to speak to me about some pressing matters, so I rushed off to Asakusa in Tokyo. I always confuse Asakusa (Temples and shrines area of Tokyo) with Akasaka (upscale part of Tokyo where the US embassy and TBS TV station is). Today was the first time I was going to Asakusa. But I've visited Akasaka at least 4 times already.

I bought a Yukata (traditional Japanese robe looking thing) along with a belt. Together they cost a little over 5000 yen (US $63) . We then went to the main temple there, known as Sensoji.

Sensoji Temple, the kanji reads Kaminari mon
(lightening/thunder gate)

A view of the sky tree (opened yesterday) from Asakusa
2 big white dogs. They were much bigger up close
Another view of Sky Tree
Me and my friend then walked from Asakusa to another part of Tokyo name Ueno.

A park in Ueno



Day 1527 ( Drugs in Vending Machines )
Thursday, May 24, 2012

Just went home early and played some games.


Hallucinogens sold in vending machines legit?

Hey there is even a Bob Marley sign
Vending machines may be ubiquitous, but one that is selling quasi-legal hallucinogens has raised the eyebrows of police and health authorities as they clamp down on the sale and use of such drugs.

police last week raided a self-proclaimed "general merchandise store" in Yokohama for allegedly selling herbs containing cannabislike ingredients like those in illegal drugs like marijuana and stimulants.

Vendors of quasi-legal hallucinogens take advantage of legal loopholes. Unless illegal ingredients are found in the drugs, police can only request that sales be restrained. Even if illegal substances are found, most vendors claim they are unaware of the fact, according to police.




Day 1528 ( Meeting up with Jamaican/New Yorker )
Friday, May 25, 2012

Had a full, tiring day of teaching today from 8:30am - 3:00 pm. Luckily it seem like this year, it isn't so often. Even the principal said to me after work "Hey 6 classes for the day is tiring isn't it?" Well I told him its not so bad actually. In the early stages yes, but now, not so bad.

So there is this American guy who was working in Nagoya as a dean in a small university, married to a Japanese but didn't really like his job that much. I met him once last summer, then another time earlier in January.

He eventually got an offer to work in New York where he is a dean at a much bigger university. He told me online that there is a Jamaican student there who is coming to Japan to visit. So I got this information from February. I kept in touch with the Jamaican guy via email until he finally got to Japan 2 days ago. So I met him along with his friend and his friend's mom (all from New York) tonight in Shibuya. Kevin who has been in Japan for about 9 years now also came along.

I tend to go to Shibuya a lot because there is a Jamaican restaurant there and Shibuya is only about 40 mins from Yokohama. Compare that with Niimi (where I previously lived) which is about 1hr 30 mins from Okayama city (the main city of the prefecture).

Yeah so we met up and went to the Jamaican restaurant. He said he left Jamaica since 1994 and has never been back since. So he is more American than Jamaican, just like a couple of my cousins.



Day 1529 (  )
Saturday, May 26, 2012

Had 4 lessons at the YMCA today. I think this has been the best day so far with the 3 year olds. The kid that was always crying wasn't crying that much today, because his mom was there again. Almost as if she is a teacher as well. The "always running around" 2 year old was absent today so I am guessing that is why it went well.  But the other kids kept talking about breasts and feces almost entirely throughout my lesson. I was trying to teach them body parts, and every thing I held up was either breasts or excretion.

Body Parts lesson

ME: (held up picture of an eye) Whats this?
kids: oppai (breasts)
ME: No no this is an eye, please say EYE
kids: OPPAI !!!
ME: o.O

Monday, May 21, 2012

One Love Jamaica Festival in Tokyo 2012 Part 1 / Microaggression or Unconscious Racism in Japan

Days 1516 - 1522
Sunday, May 13 - Saturday, May 19, 2012  

Day 1516 ( Mistaken Order / 49 million yen Ring Stolen )
Sunday, May 13, 2012

Went to church today. The first time since I came back from Malaysia on April 9.

Today I ordered a paella (A Spanish dish with fried rice, beef and some other good stuff). I intended to order a small sized one based on what I saw on the flyer. However, beside the small size one on the flyer, there is an "M". So I told the person on the phone that I wanted a "M-size". Only to realize when the delivery dude came, he said my bill was over 3000 yen (3 times the price I budgeted for). And the Paella box was 4 times the size I thought I ordered. I was about to protest, but I really like this paella thing so I paid the over 3000 yen and enjoyed a big paella.


¥49 million ring stolen from store

Police are hunting two men suspected of stealing a diamond ring worth ¥49 million from a jewelry store in Nagoya. 

The police said  that the two men allegedly stole the ring from a De Beers jewelry store at the Matsuzakaya department store after asking a female worker to show them the ring among other items shortly before closing time at 8 p.m.
The store determined that the ring, which was the most expensive item in stock, was missing from the box only after the two had left, police said, adding security camera footage showed one of the two men reaching out for the box on a table as they sat opposite the staffer.




Day 1517 ( Article Critique - Microaggression or Unconscious Racism in Japan )
Monday, May 14, 2012

This an interesting article I read recently. Both my fellow blogger friends Kelroy and Baye aka Loco shared this article. I will tell you what I think afterwards.

Yes, I can use chopsticks: the everyday 'microaggressions' that grind us down

Have you ever noticed how many interpersonal interactions in Japan are like "speed dates" of set questions?
For example, the taxi drivers who have the odd fascination about where you're from, whether you're married, how much you like Japan, and how hard you think the Japanese language is?
The barkeeps and clientele who try to slot you into their hackneyed preconceptions of some country and nationality, what you can and cannot eat, and (as things get drunker) how much you enjoy having physical liaisons with Japanese?

In the beginning, these were dismissible as just acts of awkward friendliness by people who didn't know how else to approach you. It at least made you really good in certain areas of Japanese conversation.
But after years of repeat games, boredom sets in, and you begin to realize two things: 1) that you can sleepwalk through most conversations, and 2) that, if you stay awake, you see there is a larger issue at play here: social control — something increasingly recognized by social psychologists as "microaggressions."

Microagressions, particularly those of a racialized nature, are, according to Dr. Derald Wing Sue in Psychology Today (Oct. 5, 2010), "the brief and everyday slights, insults, indignities, and denigrating messages sent to (visible minorities) by well-intentioned (members of an ethnic majority in a society) who are unaware of the hidden messages being communicated."
They include, in Japan's case, verbal cues (such as "You speak such good Japanese!" — after saying only a sentence or two — or "How long will you be in Japan?" regardless of whether a non-Japanese (NJ) might have lived the preponderance of their life here), nonverbal cues (people espying NJ and clutching their purse more tightly, or leaving the only empty train seat next to them), or environmental cues.

Usually these are unconscious acts grounded in established discourses of interactions. Nobody "means" to make you feel alienated, different, out of place, or stereotyped.
It's a powerful analytical tool. Now we have a word to describe why it gets discomfiting when people keep asking if you can use chopsticks (the assumption being that manual dexterity is linked to phenotype), or if you can eatnattō (same with taste buds), or if you'll be going "home" soon (meaning Japan is just a temporary stop in your life and you don't belong here).

Now let's consider microaggression's effects. Dr. Sue's research suggests that subtle "microinsults and microinvalidations are potentially more harmful (than overt, conscious acts of racism) because of their invisibility, which puts (visible minorities) in a psychological bind."
For example, indicate that you dislike being treated this way and the aggressor will be confused; after all, the latter meant no harm, so therefore the NJ must just be overly "sensitive" — and therefore also "troublesome" to deal with. Resistance is not futile; it is in fact counterproductive.
Yet do nothing and research suggests that "aggressees" become psychologically drained over time by having to constantly question the validity of their position and devote energy to dealing with this normalized (and after a while, predictable) "othering" that nobody else (except — shudder — the alienated NJ barflies) seems to understand.
Therein lies the rub: Microaggressions have such power because they are invisible, the result of hegemonic social shorthand that sees people only at face value. But your being unable to protest them without coming off as paranoid means that the aggressor will never see that what they say might be taken as prejudiced or discriminatory.


The article is a little longer but you can get the point. I definitely agree that some of these recurring questions and comments from Japanese are extremely annoying. Especially these 2:

1) Your Japanese is good.

2) You use chop sticks very well

I hear this almost every single time I meet a new Japanese. And it is annoying multiplied by 20. That 20 goes up the longer you live in Japan. As recent as 3 days ago a lady at the YMCA said this chop stick thing to me. What ?? are my hands handicapped? I didn't say it but I surely was on edge to just say something that would surely offend her. But to be polite I said "Any foreigner who has been living in Japan for over 1 year, it is quite normal to use a chop stick". IT.. IS... NOT... DIFFICULT!!!

Ok so yes, Japan does have a lot of racist undertones and overtones. But is there a country in the world that is racism free? I think there is some form of racism in every single country on earth. If you are a minority in any country, there is a very strong possibility that you will face some form of racism. Some countries worse than others. The exception might be if a country was conquered in some way or another, and the minorities are the ones controlling the country. This minority may not experience so much racism. Possible revenge but not necessarily racism.

I personally believe that many Caucasians have never experienced racism towards them. But Japan!!! as much as they tend to have a general preference for Asians and Caucasians, they still do act a little funny around ANY foreigner. So I think when a Caucasian comes to Japan and experience some form of racism, its a big shock to most of them. Well actually a shock to any of us who are not generally used to being in the minority.

As humans, if something doesn't bother us directly, its not a problem. In other words if we are in the majority and racism is happening all around us, we are less likely to complain about it. But as soon as we find ourselves being affected directly, that's when we complain. Which is a normal human reaction I think.

The problem is that, in Japan, if you are being discriminated against, there is absolutely no one to turn to. The police won't help. The government doesn't care so, all foreigners here have to fend for ourselves.



Day 1518 ( Toshiba Stops Making TV in Japan )
Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Work started at 10:30 am for me this morning. I wish all my classes started at that time. When I got home, I played a bit of God of War.


Ending an era, Toshiba pulls the plug on making televisions in Japan

Toshiba Corp. has terminated domestic production of televisions while continuing manufacturing overseas as part of its efforts to restructure its loss-making TV business, company officials said Thursday.

The producer of Regza-brand TV sets has stopped operations at its sole domestic TV manufacturing plant in Fukaya, Saitama Prefecture, the officials said.
The company incurred a loss of about ¥50 billion in the TV business in the business year that ended in March as sales were hammered by a plunge in demand in Japan after the transition to digital terrestrial broadcasting was completed last year.




Day 1519 ( I like Dave Sensei )
Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I did an exercise in class where students are to create 4 name cards and draw something that they liked on it. They should then say their names and whatever it is they liked, whether it be soccer, pineapple, chicken, movies or whatever it is that they liked. They should then walk around in the class and exchange their cards with each other. A little girl came to me and said she liked me, and drew a picture of me on it... Awwww...

In the evening I had my adult student and we basically spoke about my last job in Jamaica.



Day 1520 ( Small Research )
Thursday, May 17, 2012

This coming Saturday and Sunday is the annual One Love Jamaica Festival in Tokyo. A Jamaican guy on the organizing committee asked me if I could prepare a dub poem and a patois (Jamaican Dialect) lesson. In addition to do some research on the history of Jamaican music. I used today to prepare most of that after work. Well he did warn me that the area where I should do the poem and the patois lesson wasn't really organized well so pretty much anything is possible. Meaning I may do it or may not. There is no set schedule or anything, just sort of go with the flow kind of thing. So I prepared though just in case. I will share those patois words in a future blog post.



Day 1521 ( 73 Year Old Lady Climb Mount Everest )
Friday, May 18, 2012

Usual  day at work. After work, did a little further research for the one love festival thing.


Japanese woman, 73, again oldest atop Everest

A Japanese woman stunned the mountaineering world by successfully climbing the world's tallest mountain at the age of 73, setting a formidable record that could stay unchallenged for decades.

Tamae Watanabe launched her final assault on the treacherous upper slopes of Mount Everest from an altitude of 8,300 meters Friday night, reaching the top of the 8,848-meter peak eventually. 




Day 1522 ( One Love Jamaica Festival in Tokyo 2012 Part 1 )
Saturday, May 19, 2012

I had to wake up early again this morning. Again something I detest doing on a Saturday morning, but hey I got bills to pay...So I went to the YMCA from 10:30 am - 4:20 pm. All the classes went well again except for the kids group (2 and 3 year olds). 2 kids were absent but the other 2 that were present, are actually the 2 trouble making ones. One kept running all over the place, the other kept crying for his mom. How do I teach??? It almost feels like taking care of kids for pay. Only its 50 mins. Too long actually. But I guess I need to learn for when I am ready to have my own.

After my class ended, I rushed to Tokyo to get to the One Love Jamaica Festival. I saw some friends who went to the Spring Ting camp



as well as met some other Jamaicans that I didn't know before. Some of them I have on facebook for like 2-3 years and finally met them in person. I got there a bit late but it was still fun, and worth the sacrifice.  

My friend baked these Jamaican Cookies