How to Live in Japan .... Comfortably

Japanese sentence of the week - Anata no shumi wa nandesuka? あなたの趣味はなんですか。What are your hobbies?

Days 1915 - 1928
Sunday, June 16 - 29, 2013 (2 weeks)

I am getting increasingly busy and lazy at the same time. Which is why my blog hasn't been updated for 2 weeks.

Week 1

Day 1915 ( Japanese Language Proficiency Practice Test )
Sunday, June 16, 2013

So for some time now I have been back and forth about attempting this Japanese examination, that tests your proficiency. It is totally voluntary, but if you are at a certain level, you can land a "normal job" in Japan. There are 5 levels:

Level 5 - Beginner

Level 4 - Basic

Level 3 - Low Intermediate 

Level 2 - High Intermediate

Level 1 - Advanced / Business Level

In terms of speaking and reading, I'm about at a level 3. But because they don't test you on speaking, that maybe a little problem. So I will attempt the level 4 to just to check where I am.... I was motivated to do this exam by a couple of things. The main thing was that my friend who came to Japan 2 years after me, passed the level 3 test recently. I felt now that I have no excuses whatsoever as to why I can't try this too. Also a co-worker of mine who is here in Japan about the same length as me, is already at level 2 and is now attempting the level 1.

This proves that I really hate tests and studying. Anyway, there was a practice test today in Tokyo, at a place called Shin-Koiwa. I wasn't going to take the practice test, but my level 2 friend said I should try it out to get a feel of what it would be like. Hey, plus they are paying us 2000 yen to take the test.... The strange thing is that, we won't know the result of this practice test until sometime after the real test which is on July 7.

So yeah I did the test, which was a bit nerve racking but not so difficult. Maybe I can pass it. I see where I made a few mistakes though. When we had a break, I went to to bathroom and saw this......

Don't worry about flushing the toilet, you should "FLASH" it instead.
But don't we "FLASH"the toilet every time we use it???

After the exam, I went to the Jamaican restaurant in Shibuya, had dinner and collected some money. I also met another Jamaican there. I met her before at the One Love Festival.



Day 1916 ( US $3000 Watermelon )
Monday, June 17, 2013

Did my usual class at the YMCA near to me with the rotten kids. But I figured out how to get them to participate now. I simply run around with them for about 5 mins before I start teaching, then they will be fine. That was all I needed to do!!!


Toma watermelon fetches ¥300,000

A black-rind watermelon grown in Hokkaido drew a ¥300,000 bid Monday in the year’s first watermelon auction.

The bid for one of the 110 premium Densuke watermelons, a signature product of the town of Toma, matched the top bids fetched in both 2011 and 2012.

The successful bidder at the Asahikawa market was Shunichi Anzai, 33, who operates a supermarket chain.

“I placed the ¥300,000 bid as this year marks the 30th anniversary of Densuke production. After displaying the watermelon at one of my outlets, I will invite my customers to bid for it,” Anzai said.

A farming cooperative in Toma said it plans to ship 67,000 Densuke melons this year, with each expected to retail for about ¥5,000.



Day 1917 ( My Once Ago Love For the NBA )
Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I notice now that high schools in Japan have tests constantly. So there will be lots of instances where I will go to work, sit down for 4 hours doing nothing. Like today.

I then went to teach Business English at the Komatsu Company. The classes are really getting smaller and smaller. A student told me that their motivation to study English is getting low. Mainly because they have a lot of work to do. But the annoying part is I have to wait for a while for the second class to begin. My boss said I have to wait for 1 hour before I can leave. So while waiting for the hour to come, a student will pop in at say 45 mins or 50 mins. I sometime wonder if they do this purposely.

So only 1 advance student came, and we spoke mostly about basket ball. He plays for a basketball team and goes to training most Sunday. It brought back memories of when I once knew almost every single player on all the NBA basketball teams, between 1995  and 2001. Since my cable network at the time took away TNT and TBS, I have never fully regained my love for watching basketball. I still remember many of those NBA players from back then. Like Alonzo Morning (Hornets then Heats), Shawn Kemp (Sonics), David Robinson (Spurs). I know some of the big names now but not too many.



Day 1918 ( Health Check )
Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Did my yearly company medical check up today at a dodgy hospital in an area called Hon-Atsugi. The directions the company gave me were terrible. Initially, I ended up going in the wrong directions for a good 5 - 10 mins. Then a taxi guy told me I was on the wrong side. So I had to go back to the station and ask again. Then I had to go to a police station. They gave some good directions. I eventually got to an old looking building which was actually the hospital. I did an x-ray, breathing check, heart check, and after 10 mins I was out.



Day 1919 ( How to Live in Japan .... Comfortably )
Thursday, June 20, 2013 (5 Years 3 Months)

Stayed in all day today and blogged. Started playing Uncharted 3 on Playstation 3. Geez, I don't even have the motivation to play games anymore, it feels strange.



How to Live in Japan .... Comfortably

- Make Japanese Friends

It maybe hard, but try to befriend some Japanese. Some of them are not so friendly, just leave those ones alone and focus on the ones who are interested in you. A few will be. You will learn quite a bit from them and they will help you with loads of stuff. Some are nicer than you can imagine.

- Be Very Open Minded

While in Japan, you will meet lots of people from all over the world no doubt. Everyone will have different opinions about certain things. Including the Japanese who like to express themselves, most don't however so don't worry. Some of the opinions may anger you and/or challenge stuff that you grew up believing ... But try to keep your cool and you will be fine. If you are a very strict Christian, Muslim, Hindu etc. You are going to have a hard time in Japan guaranteed.

- Find a regular enough fun activity to do

Be it soccer, basketball, table tennis or even a simple English conversation, try to do something regularly enough. Especially if you are in rural areas where nothing is happening, you have to do this to keep your sanity.

- Try to ignore the stares

You will be stared at. So the sooner you get used to it, the better.

- Stay out of trouble

This goes with out saying but yeah many foreigners come here and get in some serious problem.

Stay away from drugs (my company sees to it by conducting random tests). Don't get in fights, you can get deported for something as simple as this. Don't get too drunk...The Japanese will invite you out to drink.... But be careful of how much you consume. And just in general, don't be stupid!!! Because from what I heard, you don't want to go to a Japanese prison.

- At least try to enjoy the food

When I just got here, I had some trouble with the food but it grew on me. So I'm fine with many of the Japanese food that was once taboo to me. I still can't get into natto, tofu or raw fish yet though.

- Exercise Patience

Some things are definitely going to annoy you here. Whether it be stupid foreigners (many are here) or stupid Japanese (many are here too). But try to be patient and maybe even avoid them if possible. Once I was in a 100 yen shop and an old lady saw me there cashing my stuff. The lady stepped in front of me and placed her stuff on the counter, went away and came back in front of me again ... While I was cashing!!! My anger started boiling because I really hate when people are just being rude for reasons unknown to me. I kept my cool. I finished cashing my stuff but now this old lady was full on in front of me blocking me from getting my groceries!!!! The cashier was saying nothing...... So I said a strong SUMIMASEN (excuse me). And collected my stuff, slightly shoving her out of my way... Yes so still try to remain calm!!! Even in cases like this.

Also no matter how long you are here, you will constantly hear stuff like "nihongo Jyouzu", "Ohashi ga jyouzu" ... Your Japanese is good, you can use chop sticks very well....You will hear this over and over... Get used to it....

- Learn Japanese

I'm still farrrrr away from being fluent and I am disappointed with my current level of Japanese. But I can get around with the little I know. The more you know, the better your life becomes in Japan. I'm going to attempt the Japanese test next week to check my current level. I should be studying more but I guess my laziness and busyness doesn't allow me to.

- Don't be envious

Japan is a rich country with some seriously wealthy people around. Just look at them and wish them well, try not to wonder why is it you are a teacher (or whatever you do here) and they are so madd wealthy. You will also clearly see that some people will get preferential treatment over you for whatever reason. Just wish them well too. Some people may envy you as well, but that's their business right?

- Party every once in a while

Enjoy a party sometime. Well that's if you can. Rural areas normally do house parties. But major cities have them fairly regular. Tokyo! Maybe every night. Don't over do it unless you are a party animal. But every now and again I think it should be fine

- Travel within and outside of Japan

If you are able to, travel to some other parts of Japan. And also go to some nearby countries. Actually depending on where the place is, it is cheaper to travel to a nearby country than within Japan.



Day 1920 ( You Made A Grammar Error In English )
Friday, June 21, 2013

An English teacher at my main school corrected me today after I taught her class. I gave the student a question to answer. I said, "If you had a billion dollars, what will you do?" I didn't even notice it until the teacher told me after class. She said I need to be careful because errors like those will confuse the students. I accepted her correction and told her that I will be more careful next time.

Afterwards, I had an open class at the YMCA with my junior high students. Surprisingly a few of them were misbehaving in front of their parents. This wasn't the norm. I'm not sure what went wrong.



Day 1921 ( Reggae Cafe and Dinner with Japanese Rappers and DJs )
Saturday, June 22, 2013

Did 3 classes at YMCA today then went to a reggae kinda cafe owned by a Japanese couple. They only do light food there and nothing Jamaican but they have all sort of Bob Marley posters and reggae stuff in the cafe.

While coming out of the cafe, I heard "Hey Dave" I saw this Japanese guy and recognized his face but couldn't quite say where I knew him from. Then he said "I'm habu I-scream" ... A Japanese rapper I met at the Jamaican restaurant in Shibuya. This is one of his singles...

So he asked me if I wanted to eat yaki niku with him and his friends then go to a Mighty Crown (Japanese reggae sound system) concert. I thought about it for a while then decided to go.

Hab I Scream (dude in the black and white T-shirt) introduced me to his Japanese Reggae artist friend Yoyo-C ... Who is not only an artist but also a producer has well. He has a studio in Ishikawa-cho, Yokohama, upstairs from the reggae cafe I went to earlier. That's him in the front with the black head gear. He went to Jamaica twice, including once when he performed at Reggae Sumfest maybe in 2005.

After the yakiniku, we went to his studio and listened to some of his music and rhythms that he made. We also did some free style stuff there.

This is one of his songs... again in Japanese...But with a familiar reggae rhythm.

We then went to the party hosted by the famous Japanese sound system called Mighty Crown. It was held at Bayhall in Yokohama.





Week 2

Day 1922 ( Sky Tree and Friends From Okayama )
Sunday, June 23, 2013

Went to church for the first time since I started this high school thing. I started in April, so that makes it a little over 2 months. I saw some one from my high school training at the church. But unfortunately no Jamaicans. A missionary guy who I met some time ago wanted us to talk some theological stuff but he had to leave quickly.

I then went to the sky tree tower (Tallest Tower in the world) for the first time since it was officially opened to the public, last year May I think. Or was it 2 years ago?

After going to the sky tree, I met up with some friends from Okayama. Darren, the first friend I had in Okayama. The last time I saw him and is wife was at their wedding in 2010.We met up at the Jamaican restaurant in Harajuku where I normally do my poems, Jam Rock.

Back then


Day 1923 ( Surprise....Drugs Test )
Monday, June 24, 2013

The high school trainer in my company sent out an email last week saying we should have a meeting soon. Actually, high school English teachers for my company don't have meetings, because we are all part-time workers. The trainer said he is trying to organize a meeting on a Saturday, for us to "sign some papers"   ... I couldn't go because I work on Saturdays. So the trainer said we should try to come into the office to sign the papers.... ha .... I went to the office and the trainer and I was chatting for a long time. He asked me if I was interested in becoming a head teacher or a trainer. I told him that I'm not sure and I would think about it.   I ended up signing a paper basically saying that if I am caught using illegal drugs, I would probably be fired and possibly go to prison. Then .... I was surprised with a drug test..... They really are trying to catch someone. I wonder if all of them had to do this drug test? Or only us teachers lower down the ranks?? What about the Japanese staff? Did they do the drugs test too?

After the drugs test I went to YMCA to teach one class.



Day 1924 ( Chinese Official Jailed For Sex Tape )
Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Did 2 classes at my other High school. Then ran to Komatsu to do 2 classes. And again, a few of the advance class students are playing a little trick. A student came exactly 50 mins after the class started.... If he came just 10 mins later, I would have left...


China sex-tape official jailed for 13 years for graft (The use of political authority for personal gain)

The look of guilt

A former Chinese official at the center of a sex-tape scandal was sentenced to 13 years in prison Friday for taking more than 3.1 million yuan ($500,000) in bribes at a time when China’s new generation of leaders has vowed to crack down on graft.

Lei Zhengfu, former party chief of a district in Chongqing, did not say whether he would appeal the verdict.

The case has riveted the public since video clips went viral of the portly 55-year-old Lei having sex with a 25-year-old woman hired by property developers, allegedly in an elaborate extortion scheme. The scandal has exposed the shady intertwining of sex, money and power in Chongqing. The sex extortion scheme has ensnared at least 20 other Communist Party cadres.



Day 1925 ( Obama in Africa... But No Great Plans To Help its Development )
Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Had 2 classes at my main high school then 2 at YMCA. My high school will have tests soon so I won't have any more classes until about September. didn't have my private student so that's all for today folks.


Obama yet to craft African legacy like predecessors

U.S. President Barack Obama is receiving the embrace you might expect for a long-lost son on his return to his father’s home continent, even as he has yet to leave a lasting policy legacy for Africa on the scale of his two predecessors.

Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush passed innovative Africa initiatives while in the White House and passionately continue their development work in the region in their presidential afterlife. Obama’s efforts here have not been so ambitious, despite his personal ties to the continent.

His first major tour of Africa as president is coming just now, in his fifth year, while Bush and Clinton are frequent fliers to Africa. Bush even will be in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, this week at the same time as Obama, although they have no plans to meet. Instead, their wives plan to appear together at a summit on empowering African women organized by the George W. Bush Institute, with the former president in attendance.



Day 1926 ( Bluetooth ear piece )
Thursday, June 27, 2013

Bought a bluetooth ear piece today for my iphone. But it was cheap, so the reception is kinda poor sometimes.



Day 1927 ( High School Goodbye / Welcome Party )
Friday, June 28, 2013

Went to my main school today then went back to my apartment to get ready for the welcome/goodbye party at my other school. It was held near the Yokohama station and I had to give a speech. Almost all the teachers, except the usual English teachers who have to speak to me weekly, were surprised that I could speak some Japanese. And the usual bull shit that I'm sooooo tired of started all over again "Nihongo umai ne" (Your Japanese is awesome ne)... annoying annoying annoying..... But again I exercised patience as I mentioned on the list wayyy up top of this page in how to live in Japan comfortably.

Outside of that annoying, uncontrollable feat of almost any Japanese, the party was pretty good. I enjoyed it.



Day 1928 ( Another Drinking Party? )
Saturday, June 29, 2013

Did 3 classes at the YMCA then in the evening, one of the English teachers from yesterdays welcome/goodbye party, invited me out with his friends from elementary school. It is amazing how people in Japan still keep in touch with elementary school friends. I can hardly keep in touch with my friends from high school...Actually outside of a very few friends from University, I hardly keep in touch with the vast majority of them.

Anyway, I met with him and 4 of his other friends. One of them loves reggae and plays soccer so we have some stuff in common. One of the girls is a professional ballerina and she speaks perfect English so we communicated well. Another girl is studying nursing and speaks only a little English so we didn't communicate too much. It was a good time though.

We did darts afterwards then karaoke. It was really good... This is how I ended the week.............


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