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

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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Pokemon Go Launched in Japan / Ten Things I Wish I Knew When I Started 'Pokémon GO'

Ok I have joined the band wagon.

After seeing the hype on TV 2 weeks ago, I went ahead and downloaded the app, only to realize it wasn't released in Japan yet.

The Japanese Government had to issue a warning when Pokemon Go launched last Friday, July 22 .....

Helpful tips for not dying while playing Pokemon Go

Pokémon Go can get you killed, and the Japanese government wants players to protect themselves from the worst-case scenario. When the game launched in Japan on Friday, the government’s National Center of Incident Readiness and Strategy for Cybersecurity (NISC) issued public safety tips to keep people from dying or getting into other trouble while playing the popular smartphone game.

As soon as it was released ...... My office and everywhere else apparently, went nuts. When I went for lunch, almost every single person walking, was looking down on their phones playing pokemon Go. By the end of work on Friday, the PokemonGo servers in Japan crashed!!!

If you are into it, here is a pretty interesting article.

Ten Things I Wish I Knew When I Started 'Pokémon GO'

 Paul Tassi - Forbes


1. You Can Pick Pikachu As Your Starter

Seriously. I thought this was a joke too, a kind of “Mew under the truck” urban legend that had already sprung forth on day one, but it’s actually true. Right at the beginning of the game when you are given the usual Charmander, Bulbasaur, Squirtle choice, pick none of them. As in, physically run away from them. The game will jump them over to try and follow you, but by the fourth time you do this, it gets the message you don’t want any of them, and surprise! There’s Pikachu, joining the party. Now, as anyone knows who has played, your “starter” is ultimately not terribly important (in two days I have all three original starters from eggs/wild captures), but this is a fun little trick you can tell your friends about regardless.

2. Catching Higher Level Pokémon Requires Some Actual Strategy

At first, Pokémon GO seems like it’s simplified the capture system to the point of stupidity, as you just lob Pokéballs at the faces of wild Pokémon until they relent. But, once you start seeing 100+ CP Pokémon in the wild, they will start breaking out. And ones that are 300+? They will prove mighty difficult to catch unless you understand that there are a few finer points to the system. First, there’s an entire aspect to capturing most people will miss. If you press and hold the Pokéball, a ring around the Pokémon will start shrinking. When it reaches its smallest circumference, that’s when you should throw, as they are the easiest to capture at that point. Also, the color of the circle matters. Green shouldn’t be a problem, yellow will be tougher, red will be very hard. You eventually get treats you can lob at Pokémon to reduce this level, and make capturing easier. Combine these two tactics, and you should have a better shot at capturing stuff, and later you will unlock more secure types of Pokéballs as well. Oh, and one more thing. Turning off AR is probably the best way to help capture Pokémon, because as fun as it is to see them in the real world, turning off the camera will stabilize them in the center of your screen and make them much, much easier to hit. I still do not know exactly what makes Pokémon flee. Sometimes it seems like they get bored after too many breakouts, other times they flee immediately, so it’s not quite clear how this system works.

Update: Alright, further clarification about the rings. Ideally, you want to get it in the ring, no matter which size. I think the smaller the ring is, the higher the chance you’ll catch the Pokémon if your throw lands inside the inner ring. But waiting until the ring is large enough to be a bigger target also seems to help, but not as much. So for instance, hitting inside a big ring might get you a “nice!” while a small ring is an “excellent!” and probably the most likely to catch something high level. But if you hit in between the outer stationary ring and the inner expanding/shrinking ring, that’s when higher level stuff is almost guaranteed to escape. I’ve found going for medium size rings that are still relatively easy to hit is your best bet.

3. Battling Is Also Slightly More Complicated Than It Looks

The first thing you might realize about battling is that in addition to mashing an opponent’s face, you can also swipe to dodge attacks, though it seems hard to use this tactically. But more importantly, I think a lot of people may not realize that each Pokémon essentially has a “special” meter that builds as you attack, and you can use filled bars to unleash a more powerful attack, that you launch by holding down a finger on your enemy. The system is pretty chaotic despite this, but some of these moves can do some serious damage, and they can singlehandedly win you fights if you actually remember to use them. Battling is still pretty lame, but it’s a tiny bit more complicated than it initially appears.
Update: I thought I should comment on the “immortal boss glitch,” something that seems to happen when you’re trying to win a gym fight, but the clearly dead enemy Pokémon just won’t faint, and the whole battle seems to freeze. This is a server thing that will hopefully get fixed when they’re more stable, but one active way I’ve seen to prevent it is NOT to button-mash, and tap at a more normal rate after each of your strikes land. This way, the server doesn’t have to receive like 50 tap commands, only maybe 10-20, and it helps it not to glitch out. This does not always work, but it seems to help. This is one of the most annoying glitches in the game, however, and I’ve missed out on a maddening amount of gym wins because of it.

4. You Can’t Cheat Egg-Walking Easily

One of the more “go” aspects of Pokémon GO is the fact that you have to walk around to hatch incubated eggs that will turn into Pokémon that probably are not in your area. The game tracks your movement using GPS, not a pedometer, so walking on a treadmill does nothing to hatch eggs. Similarly, trains or buses or cars do not seem to work either, as there’s some sort of speed limitation that knows just how mobile you are. I’m not sure about biking. Biking slow may work, but quickly, almost certainly not. So prepare to walk around your subdivision or block quite a bit if you want those eggs to hatch. Buy a few incubators to reduce the grind, but those will cost you a couple real-life bucks. Honestly, they’re the best item sold in the store though, in my opinion.

5. Almost Nothing Tracks When the App Is Closed

This is one aspect of Pokémon GO that really seems to be a problem, and a huge cause of battery woes. The game will not alert you when Pokémon or PokéStops are near unless the app is open. It will not count your steps. It will pretty much not do anything except drain the timer of your consumables (which is BS, and Niantic owes me like $10 for servers destroying my incense parties). So you will literally have to be that guy or girl walking around with your phone in hand, or at least paying really close attention to sounds via headphones or buzzes while you have the app open in your pocket. I really hope this is addressed in the future, at least for the step part. This may be them trying to sell those $35 wristbands that buzz when Pokémon are around.

6. You Have To Beat A Rival Team Into The Ground Repeatedly To Take Over A Gym

The gym system is a little confusing at first. First I didn’t understand I was fighting other players (I thought I was fighting NPCs like in the original game). Then I didn’t understand why I wasn’t kicking them out once I beat them. As it turns out, you have to lower the “gym rep” all the way to zero in order to make it “neutral” and then you can station one of your Pokémon there. This involves beating a gym two, three or more times, unless you have some team members around to back you up. If you can heal after each fight, this is actually pretty easy to do depending on your CP levels, but the system is not terribly well explained in the game itself.

7. Holding Gyms Gives You Free Stuff

You may wonder what the point of holding gyms is other than bragging rights, and there is actually a tangible benefit to it. For every gym you either lead (as top CP badass) or support (also note: you can station Pokémon at friendly gyms as “back-up”) you will get a daily package of a pretty significant amount of currency. I think you also get it the firsttime you take over a gym each day, but otherwise, you have to control a gym for a full 24 hours. Right now, things near me are crazy and I don’t think I’ve seen anyone have a gym for a full day. I lead one gym and supported another yesterday, but I lost both of them in about six hours. Ingress players tell me this happens often, and not to get attached to “your” gym because you will be losing it all time. That’s most of the fun of the competitive aspect of games like this.

8. Evolve Non-Primary Duplicates For XP

You quickly learn that you will be shoving lots of extra Pokémon into the meat grinder for candy, once you start amassing a lot of low level duplicates. Once you have a max evolution version of a Pokémon, it seems like you’d want to just upgrade that and not look back. But, for some of the most common Pokémon near you, they can be a bonus source of significant XP. Say you evolved your Rattata into a Raticate but you keep finding eight zillion Rattatas. Well, save a few, and use all that candy (and zero stardust) to evolve them for 500 XP a pop. There are probably only a handful of Pokémon that you will find this often, but trust me, this is a great use of extra candy which costs you nothing of significance and will really help with leveling. Bonus trick: Save up a number of these XP evolutions to pair them with a lucky egg which will get you 1000 XP for even a 12 candy Pidgey evolution.

9. It’s Tough To Know When To Invest In Pokémon, And When To Hold Off

Pokémon GO’s leveling system sort of sucks. You’re encouraged to pump up Pokémon with expensive stardust infusions, but you will quickly learn that you can easily find another Pokémon at a higher level, and you’ve essentially wasted your resources. For example, I pumped up a 60 CP Drowzee from the start to 120, but later found a 140 one, so everything I invested was pointless. Usually, it seems like the smart play to keep your highest level base Pokémon and transfer the others. Either wait until you have the candy to evolve them, or until you find their evolved form in the wild, then once they reach their second or third stage, really begin to invest. For single-stage Pokemon, it’s hard to tell. I tried to pump up what I thought was a decent 250 Jynx, and lo and behold after spending a ton of stardust, I found a 380 one a few hours later. This aspect of the game can be really frustrating.

Update: Here’s another hint about leveling/evolving. If you want to evolve something to stage three, do not evolve it to stage two as soon as you’re able. Save up 125/75 candies instead to do both evolutions at once. In the time it takes you to get all those candies, you will level up and start finding higher stage one Pokémon that in turn can be evolved into higher second and third stage.
For example, you have a 200 Dratini, and finally get 25 candy to make it a ~400 Dragonair that may someday turn into a ~800 Dragonite. But, by the time it takes you to get to 100 candies for a Dragonite, you will probably have found a 400 Dratini, which could be an 800 Dragonair and then a 1600 Dragonite. I have wasted lots of candy learning this the hard way with a number of second stage evolutions.

10. Tracking Is Super Unreliable Right Now

I think I have most of the game’s systems down right now, but “tracking” is one that still eludes me. I have heard so many conflicting reports about tracking, I don’t know what to believe, and I’ve never done it effectively myself. Right now, the rumors are that if you select a Pokémon from the “nearby” list, it will pulse as you get close. I’ve also heard the footprint symbols are 100 meter intervals, and you have wander around until they shrink from three to two to one, and then Pokémon will be somewhere near you. I have also heard that people have tried all these things and had zero luck doing it. This aspect of the game is so perplexing, yet obviously hugely important, I literally contacted Niantic directly to ask them how exactly this tracking system is supposed to work, but I haven’t heard back yet. For now, don’t drive yourself crazy over those “nearby” silhouettes.
Update: After four days of play and consulting with dozens of players, I have finally figured out how the “nearby” tracking system works, and most Pokémon are closer than you think. It’s too long to explain here, so go to my new article that explains the tracking system in detail.
That’s all I’ve got for now, but there’s still plenty to learn. Feel free to share your own tips in the comments.


Monday, July 11, 2016

6 types of Japanese people / 18 Friends in my Apartment / Back-to-Back Performances

Guess who is here again? 
Yeah your one and only, recently none consistent blogger.

Again my apologies, life has been particularly busy. That and I'm wondering if I'm losing interest in blogging.

Here are some recent highlights since I last blogged.

Day 2991 ( FM Radio Station Project )
Tuesday, May 31, 2016

I started working on a new project at work now. I'm doing a radio program for elementary school kids, along with one of my co-workers. So we have to be preparing scripts and recording our voices on an iphone hahahaha. It's a lot of fun tho. Wish I could actually do something similar to this for a full time job.


Day 2997 ( Started Teaching Again )
Monday, June 6, 2016

I realized that after being in the office for a year, I really missed teaching and interacting with Japanese students and teachers. So today, I started teaching at a junior high school in Harajuku. This is in addition to my trainer responsibilities in the office. If it wasn't for my career and well.... money, I would probably still be teaching. In terms of enjoyment, I enjoy this farrrrr more than being in the office. Unfortunately, teaching for the rest of my life doesn't really sit well with me either.

Another of my students decided to draw me.


Day 3009 ( Yes I'm past day 3000 / Friends from Church at my Apartment )
Saturday, June 18, 2016

Since around March, people from the church I have been going to for the past year, have been asking me and Takako, when we are going to have a house/apartment warming party. I'm a big fan of this, so we decided on a date and .....

Invited a few of my other friends as well but I guess Saturday is a busy day for many people. 18 people showed up and it was a reallly really great time.


Day 3023 ( Company Meeting & Another Prize / Riddim and Rime Event 2 - Summer Night Open Mic )
Saturday, July 2, 2016

Was heading to my company meeting today in Shibuya, but somehow ended up at the wrong building. Both buildings have the name.... Shibuya Bellesalle. Only thing is one has the name "Garden" attached to it, the other has the name "First" and they are 30 mins away from the each other !!!! Me and my direction issues !!!

Anyway, the good news is that I received a prize for working on the radio station project along with the others who are actually in charge of the project.


After the meeting, I had another event that I was planning with my friends Pernais the poet and Toni. Check out our fan page on facebook.


Look at me promoting the event after its gone
I must say the event was a success. Great performances and great food with great people.


Day 3024 ( Performance at Oasis 2016 ) 
Sunday, July 3, 2016

And just like that after not performing for like 3 months, I had 2 back-to-back performances. This one was on the beach of Morito Kaigan, where they have the yearly Oasis event on the beach side. Always a nice vibe. I have been going here since I moved to Yokohama in 2011. But this is the second year I'm performing there.



Day 3031 ( Mother-in-law Visit )
Sunday, July 10, 2016

Takako's mom came over for a visit since yesterday and we went to church this morning. She is a really pleasant lady and a great conversationalist too. Even though I can't understand everything she says, we still communicate pretty well I think.



6 types of Japanese people you’ll meet while living in Japan

By Evie Lund, RocketNews24

A while back, we had some fun talking about five of the more noteworthy types of foreignersyou’ll meet in Japan, based upon observations drawn from our time spent working and living here in the Land of the Rising Sun. Whether you’re a Plastic Sensei, Hateimus Japanicus, Secret Ninja, Bubble Dweller or Kid in a Candy Store (or indeed, all of these at different times), we reckon there’s probably quite a lot foreign residents can find to nod their heads at when considering each of those five extreme types.
But what about the flip side of the coin? Spend enough time as a foreigner in a country like Japan—a place that’s 98.5% ethnically Japanese — and you’ll be sure to notice that Japanese people will approach you, the foreigner, in a number of different ways. Today we’d like to share our thoughts on six kinds of Japanese people foreigners might meet during their time in Japan. See how many of them you’ve come across during your time traveling or living in the country.
Let’s start off with one of the first types of people foreigners encounter when they come to Japan. You’re a lot more likely to spot and appreciate these folks while you’re deep in your Kid in the Candy Store phase, i.e. when you find everything amazing and worthy of a photo. Tourists and exchange students usually have plenty of tales to tell about these folks, and they truly are the salt of the earth. We’re talking, of course, about…
The Helpful Hito
“Hito” means person in Japanese, and the Helpful Hito always has one eye open looking for foreigners in distress. They’ll swoop in, desperate to assist you somehow and ensure that your impressions of Japan are positive. In fact, long-time foreigners are wary of spending too much time standing still and spacing out in public in case a Helpful Hito mistakes them for a traveller in need and asks them if they need directions (it can get embarrassing if you were just contemplating what to have for dinner, or killing time until a friend arrives).
The Helpful Hito is basically a tourist’s best friend, since they can help you out in a pinch and point you towards the right train station platform, bus stop, or simply bat your incompetent paws away from the breakfast buffet at your hotel when you accidentally try to put salt in your coffee before you’ve learned the kanji for sugar (Wasn’t me, I swear). Part of the reason behind the Helpful Hito’s existence is that a lot of folks in Japan just tend to be downright nice anyway, not just to foreigners but to each other. If you drop something, they’ll chase you down to return it. If you’re dripping water from your umbrella onto your shoes and the nice department store floor, they’ll show you how to use the umbrella condom machine (I’m so sorry for that mental image, but it’s the best way I can think of to explain those contraptions which dispense polythene sheathes for your umbrella).
The Gaijin Hunter
I think we all knew this one was coming at some point. The phenomenon of the Gaijin Hunter is one that almost every foreigner who has lived in Japan will be familiar with. In fact, quite a lot of people who have spent an extended period of time here will attest to having met, and possibly having even been ensnared by, at least one Gaijin Hunter. They can be difficult to spot at first — you might just think you’re on really good form or are having a run of good hair days. Eventually, though, you might start to get the icky feeling that the person lavishing you with attention probably wouldn’t be quite so interested if you were just another regular Joe nihonjin.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being interested in foreigners and foreign culture, or finding foreign guys or gals especially attractive. No, the problem arises when the Gaijin Hunter in question really doesn’t care about the actual person they’re with — their personality, likes and dislikes, even their looks to a degree — so long as they’re a foreigner. On the arm of or with your arm around a GH, you become nothing more than gaijin arm candy to be shown off in public. Once you’ve been here a while, your spidey senses will quickly become attuned to sussing out when someone sees you as nothing more than a rare and exotic accessory to show off, and you’ll be able to dodge them quite easily. Unless, of course, you’re completely fine with the arrangement, in which case, the hunter might become the hunted.
The International Ninja
Imagine you’ve known someone for quite a while, working with or around them on a near daily basis, and have come to be quite friendly. They don’t talk that much about themselves, and in general they seem as Japanese as miso soup. Then, one night at a work night out, they open their mouth and a torrent of grammatically perfect, flawlessly pronounced English gushes forth. Surprise! Your work buddy, who has patiently sat through months of your garbled attempts to not totally butcher the Japanese language, is actually fluent in English and once spent a few years living overseas!
These International Ninjas conceal their worldly knowledge often for a variety of reasons, which might include not wanting to stand out or wanting to avoid looking like a show-off. Some English teachers who work as ALTs in Japanese schools notice this phenomenon when they have kikokushijo (returnee) students in their classes. Despite having lived abroad with their parents and subsequently learning to speak fluent English, these kids tend to hide their abilities or goof off in English lessons to avoid standing out in front of their classmates (which is kind of a shame, when you think about it). Whatever their motivation, the International Ninja will usually reveal themselves at some point, although it might take a bucket of beer or the forging of a close friendship to get them to drop their ninja disguise and talk American TV shows with you.
The Wannabe Westerner
We love it when Japanese people are interested in foreign countries and cultures, especially if they happen to be interested in our specific country and culture. Learning a second language, travelling, and expanding one’s cultural horizons are amazing things for any human being on planet Earth to be doing, and the last thing we’d ever want to do is cut down someone trying to do just that. Unfortunately, every now and then you might come across someone in Japan who’s a bit of a bore on the whole issue. They think Japan sucks and can’t wait to move overseas. They frequent gaijin bars (and sometimes morph into Gaijin Hunters), and frequently talk about how Japanese society is rigid and unyielding. They’ll refuse to speak to you in Japanese, or talk about Japan at all. All they wanna talk about is the place you’ve just come from. Occasionally, their bubbling enthusiasm for foreign cultures can lead to insensitive gaffes like loudly repeating explicit profanity they’ve picked up from some of the more colourful TV and movie exports. Sometimes, however, some people just find that they fit better into a culture other than the one they were born into, and that’s totally okay, too.
The English Vampire
The English Vampire tends to be a subset of the Wannabe Westerner. This one might seem a little out there, but we’ve come across many tales of this type of person, as well as encountering a few ourselves, so we know this one does happen. The English Vampire is a person who cold-approaches foreigners they spot out and about for impromptu English practice. Their intentions are benign enough – they simply want an opportunity to test out their English, and you are the lucky foreigner selected for the task. Unfortunately, English Vampires can be a little blind to the fact that not every foreigner walking around is dying to stop and chat in English. Sure, we’ll say hi and how are you if we’re not in a rush, but often the English Vampire isn’t actually that interested in knowing anything about their foreign prey, or having an actual conversation — they’d simply like to talk about themselves (their age, their hobbies, experiences abroad, and so on) and you, as temporary selected English sensei, must be quiet and listen. After all, how often does the English Vampire manage to capture a real live foreigner (remember, Japan has a population that’s 98.5 percent ethnically Japanese) to be the sounding board for their English skills?
Uncouple this from the fact that being bugged by random people in the street isn’t something that many people, foreign or otherwise, enjoy, and the other issue is that you’re basically using people for your own ends. After all, Japan is positively bursting with English conversation schools, at which thousands of foreigners make their living, so there’s really no need to be approaching complete strangers when you could just sign yourself up for classes or join an online language-exchange.
While some might think that any foreigner who rejects a Japanese person’s request for a street lesson is nothing more than a stingy old meanie, we do think there’s something a little presumptuous about the supposition that any visibly non-Asian person walking down the street is just dying to give you English lessons for free. There’s also something a little presumptuous about the supposition that any visibly non-Asian person speaks fluent English, but I digress.
The Gaijin Reminder
Perhaps this one is just an inevitable result of being a very visible minority in a very homogeneous nation. The Gaijin Reminder is someone who, for whatever reason, really needs to keep foreigners in a box marked ‘other’. While it’s pretty futile to think you’ll ever become Japanese (you won’t) or that you’ll ever be able to move about undetected as a foreigner (you won’t) or that Japanese people might stop thinking of you as a foreigner after they get to know you (they probably won’t, at least not completely), it still sucks sometimes to be constantly reminded that you are forever gaijin. Yes, we’re talking about those people who insist on responding to you in English when you try to talk to them in Japanese, even if you’ve lived here 10 years and are functionally fluent and they barely paid attention in high school English classes. The people who immediately hand you a knife and fork and whip away your chopsticks in a restaurant. You’re a foreigner, so you must not know how to use traditional Japanese utensils, right?
Some of this, admittedly, is perfectly innocent and goes back to the Helpful Hito, who would rather accommodate you in your foreign language than subject you to the struggle of trying to speak Japanese. The problem is that this mindset ignores the fact that many foreigners can, in fact, speak Japanese and understand the intricacies of Japanese society. By-and-large, the reverse is often true (especially for tourists passing through), but treating everyone as a clueless tourist does a disservice to those who have actually studied hard and attempted to integrate into society. It’s demoralising to hear people loudly proclaim how “strange” it is that you are able to have a “normal” conversation with them in Japanese, and while it’s meant as a compliment, it stings of damning with faint praise, especially if the other person knows you’ve studied Japanese/lived here for years and years.
Again, though, we do have to consider the social situation as a whole—we can’t expect others to immediately think of us as special snowflakes who aren’t like the rest of the gaijin masses (and nothing is more obnoxious than the fluent foreigner who is snide to Japanese shop staff who politely try to speak to them in English). Perhaps we should try to appreciate the sentiment behind this over-accommodating behaviour rather than taking it as a personal affront and source of irritation.