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

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Monday, September 24, 2012

The Japanese Family shit eimasuka? {Re-post}

Days 1635 - 1641
Sunday, September 9 - Saturday, September 15, 2012    

I was sort of busy all of last week so I didn't get a chance to sit down properly and do my blog. So this post will be for 2 weeks

Day 1635 (  )
Sunday, September 9, 2012

Went to church today. Haven't been here since late July because of my summer travelling around everywhere.


Day 1636 ( The Japanese Family shit eimasuka? {Re-post} )
Monday, September 10, 2012

Took a day from work today because I woke up with a headache and I was just feeling extremely tired. But All I did was mostly update the last blog about the Jamaica and Japan paradox.

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I posted about this topic before in 2008. But I think it's worth a re-post. Since then, I have learnt a lot more about the average Japanese family, and now from a rural and an urban perspective.

Back in 2008 when I was living in Niimi, Okayama, my Jamaican friend Derrian asked (via my blog) why doesn't my 
landlord invite his wife out with us (my land lord would invite me out for dinner every now and again). I told her, well its simple, Japanese wives generally stay home at nights. That's of course if they don't have a 18 hour job that most Japanese in general has. Its just an understanding in Japanese culture that the husband go out and chill, get drunk and do silly things with the guys, while the wives stay in, look after the kids and house stuff. Not all the time, but it is very popular. 

However, If the wives have a 18 hour job, then they stay at work all day while the kids and house stuff are left up to the Grand parents. The husband will still do the same, get drunk with the guys thing. I must also mention that many Japanese, especially the rural ones, don't depart from their parent's home.... Its either both parties in the marriage agree to stay with the husbands' parents or with the parents of the wife. It is usually the eldest son's responsibility to go back to the parent's home to take care of them. If there are no sons then the eldest daughter. I know of a family where the eldest son moved out to go live with his wife's parents, and even 10 years after this, his parents are still upset with him. Again this is popular in the country side areas. In urban areas, many tend to live in apartments. 

So a normal Japanese house hold usually consists of husband, wife, kids, plus mother and father of either the husband or the wife. You have a minor few of the wives who go out occationally and as soon as it touches a certain time, they have to rush home. Now it leaves me to wonder, how much time the husband and their wives spend together here????? Not a lot it seems. But looking on, most foreigners deduce that the Japanese wives hardly get any love from their husbands. 

The Japanese society is extremely honest and has a high morale to a point! ... I use the word honest loosely. When I say honest, I mean in terms of work ethics and family stuff etc... But many will give especially foreigners a load of bull when it comes on to other things. Like you will hardly ever hear anything bad about you, even if they think you are the worst of the worst.... You may get some strange behaviors though. Most will never tell you that they are offended about something... Its always some polite bull... Confrontation is almost always avoided.... Especially in the country side... In the city ... just expect anything. 

There are people who will tell you that you are nice and they like you and all manner of things, even if they don't. Some do mean it, but when they don't, you may never know. In the city, you can usually sense it. But there are many Japanese out there that will tell you no bounds of bull...

Even the Japanese language is full of bull. For example, here are a few Japanese words loaded with bull:

SHITeimaska - Do you know?
wakarimaSHITa - I understand
aSHITa - Tomorrow

Actually, adding maSHITa to most of the Japanese verbs, is the polite form of saying stuff in the past tense (That is a whole lot of bull shiteimaska?)... For example

untenshimaSHITa - Drove

kikimaSHITa - Asked

hanashimaSHITa - Spoke (now you can literally tell someone that they are speaking ______, without being offensive)

With all of that said though, if you met a really nice Japanese person that accepts you, you can be friends with them for life.


Day 1637 ( Jamaican Towels)
Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Had a full day of classes today. Trust me, next year I promise you I won't be teaching elementary school kids full time. 

Today I received some Jamaican towels that I ordered last month. But they were shipped in a very dirty box. Check out the box that they were shipped in. 

I instantly emailed the person who I got the shipment from, complaining about the dirty box. She apologized saying she hired some random dude to deal with the packaging. At least the towels were fine.

After work, I sent back the MID android tablet that I bought from China and got refunded for the purchase. It had too many faults plus it was really slow. I however ordered another tablet PC via Amazon Japan. 

I wanted to go to soccer training today, but I assumed that since none of the teachers called me, that means there is no training. Then they wonder why the lose most of their matches by some huge margins. 

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Late but the entry I made 2 weeks ago about Samsung paying Apple billions of dollars in coins was a hoax.


Day 1638 ( Japan Bought Controversial Islands 
Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Went to the school today that I was absent from on Monday. For some strange reason, I always get the feeling that the teachers whose class I miss when I take a sick day (which I am entitled to) give me this strange "why did you miss my class" look. It could be my mind though.

Had evening lesson today where we spoke mostly about my student's trip to Alaska. He along with some other scientists went there to cut down some trees in order to measure their length, mass etc.

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A potential war is brewing between Japan and China over some disputed islands. Taiwan is also claiming the islands as well. So now Japan has land disputes with China, Russia and South Korea. All having something to do with world war 2.

China enraged, sends ships

¥2 billion deal nationalizes the Senkaku Islands

The Japanese government signed a ¥2.05 billion contract with the owner of three of the five Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, effectively nationalizing the territory and immediately drawing a strong protest from Beijing, which sent surveillance ships to the area.

The government also officially approved a ¥2.05 billion reserve fund budget for the deal to buy the Senkaku islets of Uotsuri, Kitakojima and Minamikojimaku from Kunioki Kurihara, a businessman from Saitama Prefecture.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry was quick to blast the nationalization as "totally illegal and invalid" and "a gross violation of China's sovereignty over its own territory."
It warned Japan's action could have "serious consequences" and vowed that China would take unspecified "necessary measures to protect its territorial sovereignty." China claims the islets, which it calls Diaoyu.


Day 1639 (Stop Following Me !!! )
Thursday, September 13, 2012

Some of these kids are still taking me for a big toy and I hate it. I wonder if I should start actually showing when I am angry and make the kids scared of me, while risk losing my job? Naah not worth it.

At my Wednesday and Thursday schools, before I exit the school premises, I always scout the area for kids. Unfortunately, they tend to leave the same time as I do!!! Today was no different. I was scouting the area and saw some kids heading towards the direction of the station. I was trying to sneak to another route but failed. Some 2nd grade kids saw me as soon as I was about to turn the corner. And instead of continuing on their journey, they ran back towards me, grabbed my hands and proceeded to walk to the station while holding my hands. 

2nd grade kids love to talk. And they prefer talking loud while doing all sorts of mischievous stuff and shouting my name in the middle of the street. This to the surprise of many random Japanese people who can't help but stare. The kids followed me for 10 mins straight to the bank that I was heading for. They even entered the bank as well but finally stopped at the door while I headed towards the ATM machine. Some how they figured that they should not follow me to the ATM. 

I walked to the ATM without looking back, but they weren't through embarrassing me yet. One of the two kids gave a final "DAVE SENSEI" so loud, gaining the attention of everyone in the quiet Japanese bank. I kept my focus on the ATM and of course acted as if I didn't know them. Just another day in the life of Dave I guess. I am thinking about writing another book probably entitled:

"The Empty Seat
- Pros and Cons of Foreigners living in Japan


Day 1640 (New Ainol Tablet PC / Renaissance Sound In Japan )
Friday, September 14, 2012

Went to work as usual but it ended early today because of some disaster drill thing to see how quickly the parents would come for their kids in the event of a disaster. 

Received a Tablet PC that I ordered on Amazon Japan. Ebay is dangerous. Amazon is much safer. The tablet PC is called the Ainol Novo 7 Elf II. It also uses Android OS.  

This thing is brand new and it actually smells new, unlike the previous one I bought. It is much fast and fancier than the previous one. But I had to order a 32mb memory card for it. I really like it though. The cost is about US$100. 

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Renaissance Sound In Japan 

In Jamaica back in the days when reggae started to get popular. Some guys would come together and start keeping parties with sound/boom boxes. They started calling these guys along with their boom boxes, "Sounds" for short. "Sounds" came along with 1 or several DJs/Selectors. All they do really is go around Jamaica, keep parties and play music pretty much. Soon, many "sounds" started spring up. Each sound having several guys in it like a crew or band of sorts. When many "sounds" started forming, they started having " sound clashes " and that is exactly what you think it is. One sound would go up against another using music, words and/or dub plates. Dub plates are normally voiced by original artist/singers. And what these singers/artists do is basically sing over one of their songs while including the name of the "sound" or members in the sound group. Or they simply just say a few good words about the "sound". These artists/singers are then paid handsomely just by speaking for about 2 mins. 

The sound system with the best music, dub plates and whatever offensive tactics used against the competing sound, would be declared the winner. Some of the more famous sound systems back in the day in Jamaica are:

- Stone Love
- Metro Media
- Renaissance
- Travelers
- Super T
- Super Saint
- Silver Hawk
- Copper Shot   
- Adonai
- Exodus

And quite a few others. Many of them already disbanded but some are still around. The most popular one hands down is "Stone Love" and they have been around for over 37 years. This sound system clash thing even got to Japan. With Japan now having quite a few sound systems as well in the reggae arena. The most famous one now is "Mighty Crown". 

Anyway one of the more famous sound system groups called "Renaissance" came to Japan this month as a part of their tour. Living in Japan, I try to go to anything that reminds me of Jamaica. So they had an event tonight and I went with a couple of my other Jamaican friends. It wasn't all that fun but it was good linking up with more Jamaicans. 

This guy also owns a small sound system

The Owner of the Jamaican Restaurant in Shibuya
called Good Wood Terrace 

Delano from  Renaissance

Day 1641 ( Chinese Protesters )
Saturday, September 15, 2012

I was tired today so I stayed in for most of the day. 

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Anti-Japan protests spread across China, turn violent

Senkaku row sparks largest rallies since ties normalized

 Chinese paramilitary police try to prevent demonstrators from breaking
through a fence set up outside the Japanese Embassy
in Beijing during an anti-Japan protest Saturday.

More than 70,000 Chinese staged rallies Saturday in at least 28 cities to protest Japan's nationalization of a group of disputed islets, with Japanese businesses in some areas broken into, ransacked and torched.
The sheer scale of the protests was the largest since China and Japan normalized diplomatic ties in 1972.
This round of protests were triggered by Japan's announcement Tuesday that it bought privately owned land in the disputed Senkaku Islands, which China calls Diaoyu and Taiwan calls Tiaoyutai, to bring them under state control.
The largest demonstration, in Qingdao, Shandong Province, attracted as many as 30,000 people and evolved into rioting as protestors torched as many as 10 Japanese enterprises, including a Panasonic factory that suffered damage to a production line, Japanese sources said.

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Days 1642 - 1648
Sunday, September 16 - Saturday, September 22, 2012    

Tired of reading? Well I didn't get to blog all of last week so this is the 2nd part. 

Day 1642 (  )
Sunday, September 16, 2012

Stayed in for most of the day again then went to a thing called "Caribbean Sundays" in Shibuya where Caribbean people can enter for free. Renaissance from Jamaica was playing again. A couple of us Jamaicans went there. 

Jamaicans Heading out to Caribbean Sundays


Day 1643 ( Over 50,000 in Japan Over 100 Years Old  )
Monday, September 17, 2012

I could stay out late last night because today was a public holiday in Japan. The day to mark the beginning of Autumn. So guess what? Its going to get cold again soon :( very soon. I slept at my friend's house this morning after the Caribbean Sundays thing because I was too tired to go back to my apartment. I ended up getting back to my apartment at 3pm. 

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A first: Centenarians top 50,000

The number of people in Japan aged 100 or older is expected to again set a record this year and top 50,000 for the first time, the health ministry said ahead of Respect for the Aged Day on Monday.
A survey released Friday by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry shows that centenarians are projected to total 51,376 as of this weekend, up 3,620 from a year earlier, marking the 42nd consecutive year of increase.
Women accounted for a record 87.3 percent of all centenarians this year. They numbered 44,842, up 3,248 from a year earlier. Male centenarians totaled 6,534, up 372. It was the 42nd straight year of rise for women and 32nd consecutive year of increase for men.
The nation's oldest person is Jiroemon Kimura, 115, from Kyotango, Kyoto Prefecture. He was born April 19, 1897. He is currently recognized as the world's oldest male by Guinness World Records. The oldest woman is Koto Okubo, a 114-year-old in Kawasaki. She was born Dec. 24, 1897.


Day 1644 ( )
Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Had only 2 classes plus lunch today at my main school, then I was done for the day. The vice principal told me that a Head teacher (The closest thing to our supervisor) got married to a staff member at the school she was previously teaching at. I can remember hearing at an orientation that we should not mess around with the teachers. The person the guy got married to was the nutritionist so technically not a teacher. 


Day 1645 ( Birthday #5 In Japan )
Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Happy Birthday To Me !!!

Rain was falling this morning on my special day. And I didn't have my umbrella because I forgot it at the Jamaican restaurant in Shibuya, Tokyo. I had to go buy a flimsy one at the convenient store.

One of the classes gave me a birthday card today while the teachers sang Happy Birthday for me in the staff room.  

My friend took me to a restaurant not far from my apartment. I knew some restaurants were around but I never knew about this one. We had yaki niku (Do it yourself BBQ Beef). It was soooo good. One of my all time favourite foods in Japan.

Thanks to all those who sent me birthday messages, calls and told me in person. Thanks also to all the 278 persons who said Happy Birthday via my wall on facebook. I think I responded to all of them individually. It took me about 2 nights.  


Day 1646 ( Another Birthday Dinner )
Thursday, September 20, 2012

Saw this poster at one of my schools today. The school that don't care about English. Or better yet, the school that care the least about English among my 3 schools.

All these schools that knew absolutely nothing about Jamaica are now displaying stuff in the school with Jamaican flags. Not American flags but Jamaican flags.

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On Fridays while heading for the YMCA, I usually see a student from my main school along with his grand mother. His grand mother speaks a little English and she is always happy to see me, because she wants to practice her English. She is very nice though and always wants to speak about anything. So she invited me to dinner with her husband at their house which is about 10 mins from my apartment on foot.

I went there today and saw that they had a really nice house. They are originally from another prefecture, which probably explains why they are so nice. Normally people from this area are not so nice. Anyway they filled me up with food and we chatted and laughed for over 5 hours. It was a great night.


Day 1647 (  )
Friday, September 21, 2012

Today was one of those extremely busy work days where I teach 6 classes between 8:40 - 3:00 then rush to  the YMCA to teach 2 classes between 5:15 - 8:00. Then finally I can head home.


Day 1648 ( Yet Even More Birthday Dinner )
Saturday, September 22, 2012

Planned a birthday dinner with another Jamaican friend of mine. Her birthday was September 7. We had the dinner at the usual Jamaican Restaurant "Good Wood Terrace" in Shinuya, Tokyo. 16 of my friends ended up coming, although I told the restaurant owner that it would be between 10 and 12 persons.

For the third time in my life a group of persons told me that they thought I went to KC (Kingston College), an all boys high/secondary school in Jamaica. The guys who attend this school are almost like a group of cult members. They always look out for each other and they have something about them, thinking they are the best at everything. And always seem to be walking on cloud 9. I am not sure how that matches with me. Or maybe is it my love for purple? Do I act like I am a boss of sorts?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Two Countries Of Paradox - Japan and Jamaica

Days 1628 - 1634
Sunday, September 2 - September 8, 2012   

Day 1628 ( Two Countries of Paradox - Jamaica and Japan )
Sunday, September 2, 2012

Stayed in all day with a slight stomach ache and head ache.


I couldn't help but notice the many paradoxes about Jamaica and Japan. The only two countries that I've ever lived in. Lets start with Japan.

The Japan Paradox 

Low Crime / High Suicide Rate

Japan is one of the most peaceful countries in the world with an extremely low crime rate. But on the flip side, for over 14 years now, the suicide rate has been steady at over 30,000 suicides per year.  

Hi Technology / Ancient Buildings

When you are talking about technology, you are talking about Japan. Many name brand electronic/technology companies are right here (Toshiba, Sharp, Panasonic, Nintendo, Sony - which are all having trouble by the way). BUT, try going into a bank to set up an account and you will notice the amount of paper work involved. You would think that because of the hi-technology, paper would be minimized. Nope, more papers. Also, 2 steps away from any modern looking sky scraper, you can find a castle, shrine or temple that has been around since the ancient Egyptians were searching for the stones to build the sphinx.

Sky tree in the background of an ancient building in Tokyo

Shy / but not so shy

Japanese tend to be terribly shy about speaking of love and stuff like that. But love hotels (places to go and have sex secretly at a price) are quite abundant. Especially in the Tokyo area. And No I've never been to one.

Shy Japanese 

Love Hotels - Who are using them???
Love foreigners / Hate foreigners

There is a big love/hate thing going on with Japan and other foreign countries, especially the US. Some Japanese are really excited to see and talk with a foreigners. While on the flip side, some hate our guts. Leave it to Japan to put your self-esteem in check. The hyper xenophobia is everywhere. Just step out of your apartment and you will see stares in abundance. Most times not friendly stares. If you don't have a strong mind and will, this alone can drive you nuts.

The Jamaica Paradox

Most Churches per Square Mile / Most bars per square mile

Stand anywhere in Jamaica, and you can be sure that a church is not too far away. But at the same time there is always a bar not too far away either. We have the most churches per square mile in the world, as well as the most bars per square mile.

With that type of coverage -- an estimated 2.75 churches for every square mile of Jamaica, according to The Guiness Book of World Records -- you would think we would be a country that vibrated on a high moral frequency, where respect and love for our fellow man were the order of the day.
Sadly, that is not the case, for we are also #87 out of 180 on Transparency International's Corruption Index of 2010, a ranking of countries according to the degree to which politicians and public officials are perceived to be corrupt.


Out of many one people / Black, Green and Gold Flag

We have a motto in Jamaica which is also written on our coat of arms, saying "Out of many one people"

It means basically that we have many races of people living in Jamaica, but we are all one. We have Chinese, Africans, Syrians, Jews, Indians,Whites and any other race you probably can think of. But the vast majority of us are of African decent and mostly dark skinned or black!!. Hence the black in the Jamaican flag. Why did they use only black in the flag if the motto is "out of many one people"?

Christian Country/ High Murder rate

Jamaica is said to be a Christian country. Well when compared to other religions, Christianity is indeed the dominant religion. If there are so many churches, then why is the crime in Jamaica so high? Even though the crime is concentrated in certain "hot" areas, it is still too much for comfort. There are 2 possible takes on this:

1) The church is not doing enough (which is the stance most people looking on has taken)

2) If the church wasn't around, then the crime would be 10 times worse. (This I don't want to imagine)

The Poor buys the most expensive stuff

Some persons living in the most poverty stricken areas in Jamaica, wear the most expensive, name brand clothes etc. Then at times, these same guys/girls are asking for money.



Day 1629 ( MID Tablet Computer / Jamaica on Japanese TV)
Monday, September 3, 2012

Received my MID Tablet computer from China today. I bought it off ebay and it took about a week and a half to get here from China. It looks neat and seem very handy but its definitely not new as was described on ebay. Its also extremely slow. But its only US$56 so quite cheap and it uses android OS.


Jamaica on Japanese TV

For the past 4 weeks, Jamaica had been featured on a Japanese TV station (Fuji Terebi) several times on Monday nights. Ever since 2008 Jamaica, has been getting increasingly popular in Japan because of Usain Bolt. Some of my students are just realizing that I am from Jamaica!!!! Japan is a strange place I tell you.

I videoed this one last week.  

Part 1 of episode 3

Part 2 of episode 3

I videoed the first episode as well but I was talking quite a bit in the background so it is not youtube worthy. They had either 4 or 5 episodes in all.



Day 1630 ( Finally!!! A Japanese Credit Card / Kids Almost Sophocate in a BMW )
Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Went to a relatively famous Japanese Department store today name Marui (oioi) to try to get a visa credit card with a friend of mine from the US. My friend speaks Japanese very well, so she translated the difficult stuff for me. She and another US girl that works at the same company as I, successfully got their visa credit cards, so I decided to take a shot at it. Its one of the most difficult things to get in Japan, a credit card. I got turned down about 5 times already.

After about 45 minutes of questions and difficult paper filling out, I finally got approved. It felt like a million dollars. The card shown below is not the actual thing. I wish.

Japanese Credit Cards - Getting one is like winning the lottery


Scary moments as 2 toddlers rescued from locked BMW X6

A near half-hour attempt to rescue two toddlers accidentally locked inside a BMW X6 created nervous moments for the female driver of the high-end vehicle and a crowd that quickly gathered as news of the incident spread inside the Winchester Business Centre on Hope Road in Kingston yesterday.
Fearing that the scorching mid-afternoon sun was making the inside of the vehicle uncomfortable and life-threatening for the toddlers, people in the crowd — having learnt that the key to the X6 were inside the driver's handbag, which was also locked inside — urged that something be used to smash one of the windows.
One man tried, using a large wrench. But the tool merely bounced off the glass on the front passenger side with each attempt.
Accepting that the wrench would not do the trick, another man, armed with a pick axe, walked up and swung the tool's pointed end into the window. It barely marked the glass. He gave up after two more swings.
By now, police and men dressed in white shirts branded BMW were on the scene as concern for the lives of the children grew among the very vocal crowd.
Just before firefighters arrived, two of the men in the branded white shirts startled some in the crowd when they started using the pick axe to pry open the door on the driver's side.
The strategy didn't work. However, enough space was created between the door and the cabin, allowing one of the men in the branded shirt to use a wire to hook the handbag and pull it up, giving the driver the opportunity to reach into her bag and get the key.
She quickly opened the doors and the toddlers were rushed to a doctor in the complex.



Day 1631 ( Mount Fuji May Well Erupt  )
Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Every morning recently, its really hard to wake up early and go to work. Then afterwards I'm tired. I am still in holiday mode.

Had evening class and sold my student a T-shirt.


Quakes added to eruption risk on Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji's magma chamber came under so much pressure from the Great East Japan Earthquake and one of its aftershocks last year that it could very well erupt, researchers said.

However, the jump in pressure is not the only factor that could cause the volcano to blow, and no signs of a pending eruption have been detected, the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention said.
Mount Fuji most recently erupted in 1707 but under the same circumstances. At the time, the rise in pressure caused by the preceding quake, which hit right before the eruption, was weaker than that caused by last year's quakes, the group said.
Based on the tectonic movements caused by the magnitude 9.0 quake that struck off the coast of the Tohoku region in March 2011 and the magnitude 6.4 quake that followed four days later, the researchers estimate that about 1.6 megapascals of pressure were placed on the magma chamber, which is thought to be some 15 km underground. That's equivalent to an atmospheric pressure of some 15.8 kg per sq. cm.




Day 1632 ( Sending Back The MID / Japan Blog Contributor )
Thursday, September 6, 2012

Stayed in after work then filed a complaint to the person on ebay who I bought the MID tablet from. They claimed that its new and got scratched during shipment. However :

1) It isn't new - apparently these Chinese people think I am an idiot

2) There are some scratches on the back and on the face plus a slight dent on the top.

3) The screen seem to already be lifting

4) The volume suddenly goes up for no reason and its a fight to get it down.

So I am going to send it back to them.


I contributed these 2 blogs to a Japanese tourist website. You can check them out:

1) Photo Blog about an amusement park


2) Descriptive blog about a summer festival




Day 1633 (  )
Friday, September 7, 2012

After work, I had 2 classes at the YMCA, then I ran to Shibuya to speak to my Jamaican friend. I am planning a birthday party next Friday for me and another Jamaican friend Viviana. Her birthday is today actually (September 7)!!! So yeah I went to the Jamaican restaurant to check if I could do the event there. I met some other Japanese who visited Jamaica there.



Day 1634 ( English Only!! )
Saturday, September 8, 2012

Had my usual 3 classes at the YMCA today then bought some groceries. My YMCA boss got slightly angry with me today when she heard me speaking Japanese to a child. She said,
"Dave sensei (in a relatively quiet tone. Followed by)...... ENGLISH ONLY!!!"... I've known this lady for 5 months now and this is the strongest I've ever heard her spoken to me. But I accepted my correction with grace and spoke no more Japanese, even when the kid is looking at me as if he has no clue what I am saying.