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

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Some Differences Between Jamaica and Japan

Days 1509 - 1515
Sunday, May 6 - Saturday, May 12, 2012  

Day 1509 (Tornado Hits Ibarki and Tochigi, Japan )
Sunday, May 6, 2012

Went to a Home depot kind of store today to purchase a curtain and some other stuff for my apartment. I haven't removed my present curtains in over a year : p


Japan seem to be attracting all sorts of natural disasters. The most recent being this.....

 A teenage boy died, around 40 people were injured and up to 500 houses were damaged Sunday after apparent tornadoes hit Ibaraki and Tochigi prefectures, north of Tokyo, prompting Ibaraki Gov. Masaru Hashimoto to ask the Self-Defense Forces to be deployed for disaster relief.

The apparent twister in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, which occurred at around 1 p.m., shattered windows and blew away the roofs of 150 to 200 homes leaving two people seriously wounded, one of whom, 14-year-old Keisuke Suzuki, died after being taken to hospital. The city is located around 50 km northeast of Tokyo.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said local observatories had warned the Tokai, Kanto and Tohoku regions of central, eastern and northeastern Japan to brace for possible tornadoes intermittently from Sunday morning as atmospheric conditions were unstable.

Sunday's devastating tornadoes in Ibaraki and Tochigi prefectures were caused by a rare situation attributed in part to a winter that went on for some weeks longer than normal, and a recent sharp rise in surface temperatures, experts said.




Day 1510 ( Some Differences Between Jamaica and Japan )
Monday, May 7, 2012

Left work a little early today then went home to prepare for my US visa interview, which will be this Wednesday. My US visa expired today.

It was while setting up my interview date I realized that I traveled to a few countries in a 5 year space. There was a space that I should fill out all these countries that I traveled to between 2007 - 2012. Here are those countries:

USA (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010)
Panama (2007)
Grenada (2007) 
Jamaica ( 2009, 2010)
Japan (2008, 2009, 2010, 2012)
Germany (2008)
South Korea (2009, 2010)
Bahamas (2009)
Philippines (2009-2010)
Malaysia (2012)
Singapore (2012)


These are some of the major differences I have noticed over the years between Jamaica and Japan.


The approximate population of Jamaica is over 2, 800, 000. While the population of Japan is approximately a little over 126, 000, 000. However, Japan's population is facing a sharp decline, while Jamaica's population is on the rise.

Over 98% of people living in Japan are native Japanese. Over 1% is either Korean, Chinese or Brazilians. While the remaining 0.6 % or so is actually people like me and the other identifiable foreigners around.

In Jamaica over 90% of the population is black. Then there are some Chinese here, some Indians there and some mixed people here and there etc. So you can see some different faces and hair everywhere, just mostly black.

I told a friend of mine that if Japan needs a population boost, simply get 100 of the average Jamaican men, and drop them in the middle of Tokyo. The population would double in less than 5 years.


The rural Japanese people are very helpful and extremely kind. The same can be said about rural Jamaicans as well. But being very general, Japanese people are more helpful than Jamaicans. Japanese people tend to always be on the move, while Jamaicans tend to be more relaxed.

The average Japanese male (especially recently) tend to be shy and don't really have females as a priority. The average Jamaican male? (oh Lord). It is almost like their duty to get involved with a female. The more the merrier. Just listen to any of those popular dance hall songs. And generally speaking, Jamaican men are farrrr from shy.

The average Japanese female also tend to be shy. So how does a shy Japanese male and a shy Japanese female hook up? Its either at some sort of drinking party with many persons, or some high school / college sweet heart. This is of course not always the case. Also Japanese females (again generally speaking) seem to have a 3 month clock in their heads when a relationship starts. The first 3 months are wonderful but after that, their true colours start to show.

The average Jamaican female is not shy and not afraid to tell you anything from the get go of the relationship until the very end, if there is a end.

Japanese in a general sense tend to be perfectionists, may complain about the simplest of things and may get depressed easily. Jamaicans are generally not normally keen on detail, complain a bit but not for so many things, and generally don't get depressed that easily.

Time / Urgency

Japan is 14 hours ahead of Jamaica and decades ahead in technological advancement. But that aside, Japanese are usually extremely punctual (with a few exceptions like Chiyoko) but Jamaicans tend to be extremely late. Tell a Japanese to come to party at 7pm, they will be there 6:45pm. Tell a Jamaican, they will be there anywhere from 8pm - 9pm, sometimes later.

Outlook on life

Japanese tend to be generally negative in how they view stuff. Jamaicans tend to be more or less positive. An example would be raising a child. A Jamaica on a low salary would be more than willing to raise a child even if they are not making a lot of money. The average Japanese on the other hand would not even make this cross their minds. As a matter of fact they would possibly avoid getting in a relationship all together.

Education system

Japan being a first world country, has some top notch universities. Each prefecture has at least 2 universities. With Tokyo having more than 120. The tuition fees for anyone of these universities are out of this world. Japanese students generally go from elementary (6 yrs) to Jr. high (3 yrs) to high school ( 3 yrs) then to university ( 4 yrs). The average Japanese graduate at say 22 or 23 years old from university.

Jamaica has only 6 universities the last time I checked. But there are several colleges and training institutions. The university school fees in Jamaica are a walk in the park if compared to that of Japan's. In Jamaica we generally go to primary school (6 yrs) then to high school (5-7 yrs) then on to college or university (3-4 yrs).

There is however this kind of stigma in Japan where if you don't go straight through to university in one shot, then the possibly exist that you won't go. In Jamaica, there are quite a few persons who are working and choose to go university in the evenings while being 30 and over. This is almost almost unheard of in Japan.

Transportation System

Again, Japan being first world, has a world class transportation system. Trains everywhere, highway buses and whatever it maybe, even horses with a carriage. You name it and its here. Plus the trains and buses are ALWAYS on time. Unless there is some sort of emergency.

Jamaica??? The best way to put it is that, having your personal transportation is probably the best thing. The taxi drivers are usually nuts. The bus drivers are crazy (but better than the taxis). And there are no commercial train services. There was some time ago but that stopped maybe more than 20 years ago. To the best of my knowledge, there is no time schedule monitoring the buses.

There is a famous taxi/bus route in Jamaica running from Spanish town (An old capital), St. Catherine to Ochorios (A tourist resort), St. Ann. If you go to Jamaica, DO NOT use these taxis. The buses are fine and may get you there in about 2 hours or a little less. But the taxis??? Maybe an hour or less..... with your life at risk. These men are seriously crazy.

In rural Japan, its better and more convenient to own a vehicle. But in the city, forget it, unless you are making a lot of money. Parking fee is ridiculous in the city. In Jamaica, its just better to own a vehicle. Rural or city.


Japan is a Shinto / Buddhist country. And has been that way for hundreds of years, with no immediate sign of change. Japanese and other east Asians in a general sense, tend to be unforgiving with certain things, and will write you off for life for things that we in Jamaica and the west would see as more or less petty. For example, A female Japanese friend of mine told me that if she got pregnant out of wedlock (remember this is not a Christian country) her parents would want nothing to do with her again. Some Japanese parents will also call it quits on their children if they chose to date outside of their race.

It is also expected for the older sibling to stay with the parents and take care of them when they are old. This is of course not always the case. A Japanese friend of mine told me that her parents are still upset with her eldest brother for leaving the house to go live with his wife, even after 15 years.

Japan has quite a few festivals, and seem to prefer slower music. Japanese also tend to be workaholics.

Jamaica is supposed to be a Christian country. We have the most churches per square mile of any other country in the world. But the culture is generally not so much of a Christian one. Dances, basically clubs/parties in any open space, even in the streets, can be found almost anywhere. There is ALWAYS some party/dance going on somewhere near you in Jamaica. Even next to the churches. Jamaicans are generally forgiving, but in the inner-city areas, just try not to make anyone get upset. If a female got pregnant before marriage (which is a normal thing in Jamaica), there might be some initial surprise and talks but after like a year or even less, things are usually back to normal. There is also no general big issue if a Jamaican should marry outside of their ethnicity. Many Jamaicans are already mixed with some other race. Usually African and something else. We just can't quite figure out what else most of the time.

In Jamaica, children generally try to leave from their parents to go on their own eventually. Only a few stay with their parents, and it is generally seen as non-progressive.

Jamaicans tend to prefer faster music and tend to be more relaxed when it comes to work. There are of course some workaholics around.

Cost of living

Things in Japan are expensive. Usually double the price of stuff in Jamaica. However I was told recently that stuff in Jamaica are getting as expensive as Japan.


Japan has 4 clear seasons. And different types of food normally go with the season. The winters are very cold, the summers are very hot. And almost every natural disaster you can think of hits Japan. Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Volcanoes, Tornadoes, Typhoons, Blizzards... Just name it and its probably here.

Jamaica is generally warm all year round. Just a little hotter at summer time, and a little chilly around December - February. We have earthquakes every now and again but not so often, and we have hurricanes. That's probably about it.


Crime is not so much of a major issue in Japan. It is here but not so much, even with a population of over 126,000,000. There are some weird crimes committed here though. Jamaica on the other hand, crime is possibly the biggest problem we have hands down. However, on the flip side, the suicide rate in Japan is unbelievable. Over 30, 000 every single year. Even though there is suicide in Jamaica, it is nothing like this. It is almost unusual to hear about it actually. We love life.





Day 1511 ( Received My Masters Degree / Woman Bites off Thief's Finger )
Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Left work a little early today again, then went home to further prepare myself for the US visa interview. I also received my Masters Degree today :D


Woman bites off mugger's finger in Sapporo attack

A mugger who attacked a woman in Sapporo fled empty-handed — and with part of his pinkie chomped off by his intended victim

The 59-year-old woman fought back after the man snatched her bag as she arrived at her apartment in the city, police said Tuesday.
The woman gave chase as her attacker made his getaway on a bike, wrenching the stolen tote from his grasp and biting down firmly on his little finger.
"The victim retrieved her bag in a scuffle and the suspect had one of his fingers partially bitten off before getting away on his bicycle," a local police spokesman said.




Day 1512 ( US Visa Renewal / Suicide Forest)
Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Took a day off from work today to go renew my visa at the US embassy in Akasaka, Tokyo. My interview was at 10:30 am and I got to the embassy at exactly 10:30 am. But just like in Jamaica, I had to join a long line for security check. Well the line is not as long as the one in Jamaica but long enough. No electronic devices are allowed inside the building and we had to go through that security check thing similar to what is at the airports.

After the security check I had to walk to another building to submit my documents. The lady who collected my documents asked me if I had more stuff to build my case, like a bank statement etc. I had none, except for my work contracts since 2008. So I submitted all of those.

Then it was time for the interview. The guy asked me these exact questions:

1) What's your name?

2) How long have you been living in Japan?

3) What's your occupation?

4) What company do you work for?

5) How many times have you been to the US? .. To which I said I don't know, its too many to count.

6) When was the last time you visited the US?

When I answered all these, he said, "Ok, your visa is approved" .... I was still standing there looking confused. The guy then said, "You can go home now, you will get back your documents in a week". Then I said "Thanks and have a good day".

The last time I did this interview was in Jamaica back in 2002. That time they asked only about 4 questions.

After the interview I had lunch at a Chinese restaurant. The lady who served me the Chinese food kept looking at me. Then she started whispering to another person in the kitchen who then peeked out, looked at me then burst out in laughter. Then continued to speak some stuff in Chinese. Its times like these I wish my friend Norman in China was here, to tell me what the heck they were saying.

In the evening I had my Wednesday night student, and we spoke about Japan and his opinion on the shutting down of the nuclear plants.


'Suicide forest' helps skew Yamanashi's statistics

Suicides nationwide topped 30,000 last year for the 14th consecutive year, but by prefecture Yamanashi has had the worst rate for the past five years, according to statistics by the National Police Agency.

Yamanashi had 36.1 suicides per 100,000 people in 2011, compared with 23.7 for Tokyo and 21.7 for Osaka, the agency figures show.
The dubious distinction may be in part because of the Aokigahara Jukai (Sea of Trees) forest area that stretches northwest of Mount Fuji, which straddles Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures.
The thick virgin forest on solidified lava is notorious for being a magnet for people wishing to end their lives anonymously — and presumably they are not just citizens of Yamanashi.
Local residents have posted signs urging people not to commit suicide and even talk to people who may seem suicidal, but to little apparent avail, as the 4,000-hectare forest is easily accessible.


Suicides among young people who fail to land jobs after college have soared 2.5-fold in the past five years as companies pared hiring amid the recession, underlining the difficulty of launching a career if not hired straight out of school.

According to statistics by the National Police Agency, 150 people under 30 committed suicide for this reason last year, nine fewer than in 2010. The figure in 2007 was 60.
Since the Lehman shock of 2008, an increasing number of universities have set up counseling services to address the problem of depression among students, who typically must start their job search as early as their junior year. Amid the recession, being rejected by more than 100 companies is not uncommon among job applicants.
"Many college students are winners in 'juken jigoku' (entrance exam hell) and have never experienced failure," said Yasunori Nonogaki, president of job-search firm Catalysis Co. "Unlike entrance exams for colleges, there are no test scores to refer to in predicting the likelihood of being accepted by companies, and if they fail to get even an interview offer, they feel powerless."
Of the college students who graduated in March 2011 and looked for work, 91 percent managed to land a job, which is a record low. The high mark was set by graduates in March 2008, at 96.9 percent.




Day 1513 ( Japan's Population Reducing Uncontrollably )
Thursday, May 10, 2012

Took a break from Modern Warfare a bit and started playing God of War Origins Collection. These were originally PSP titles that were re-done for the PS3.

'Population clock' forecasts no children after year 3011

Japan will no longer have children under the age of 15 in 999 years, a group of researchers at Tohoku University Graduate School has estimated.

The team, led by professor Hiroshi Yoshida, developed a child population clock that displays an estimated number of children at any moment based on past percentages of decline. The clock was made available on the university's website Thursday.
The team used a 2011-2012 percentage change in the number of children that was released by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications on April 1. The number of children aged under 15 fell to 16.6 million in 2012 from 16.9 million in 2011.
The clock calculates the estimated number of children at present and counts down to the last child, based on the assumption that the number of children is expected to continue falling.
Japan's child population drops by one every 100 seconds, according to the clock. As a result, there will be no kids on May 18, 3011.


By this time we can probably take a train to the moon.



Day 1514 (  )
Friday, May 11, 2012

The English coordinator told me today that I should try to hunt down the other teachers to plan for the next lesson. If I don't do this, they will not realize that they have English class until the time that class begins.



Day 1515 (  )
Saturday, May 12, 2012

Went to the YMCA today. I had 4 classes. 3 of them went well, but 1 class (2 and 3 year olds) was a bit difficult. The 2 year old child is especially active and difficult to manage.


zRö TöLéRàNçE said...

JUTC has a Bus Schedule - it not updated on their website (http://www.jutc.com/timetables.php) but you can call and they tell you.

They have Transport Authority people who stay at the major bus stops and ensure that the buses move on schedule. This doesn't happen as often as it should nowadays.

Dave said...

Thanks for the info Richard. I thought I saw something like this before but I wasn't so sure.

Patricia Dickenson said...

thank you dave for the imformation you save my life