1 pixel fragments


I attended an event called ichi pixel. This is actually the second time I’ve been to this event. The first time was sometime in January. It happens to be the event’s first anniversary.

The event officially starts at 19:30 but after an hour or so, presentations by people involved with video games start. I actually wanted to try to give one too about the simple game I made but I missed the deadline. I’ll try again next time. I managed to talk to one of the people giving a presentation, and it was apparently his first time giving one. I got to try out a game he made himself called 海のカケラ (Fragment of Marine). He’ll be showing it off at the Tokyo Game Show this year, which I thought was pretty amazing considering he’s still a student.

The presentations were interesting and it’s nice to learn about what people are working on and their thought process in making a game.

After the presentations, I talked to a group of people who were actually university students learning about game development. After some chit-chat, I showed them the simple game I made, which was more like a demo. The person tried it and eventually made it to the goal. (I had to give a hint though). Before I let them try it though, I asked to give me feedback if they could. It was actually very enlightening to hear what they said, which involved some advice in level design elements. I then tried a game one of the programmers made and it was actually quite fun, I couldn’t beat the boss though. He was actually thankful that he showed it to me because he too learned about what he could improve too.

This experience helped motivate me in making a better game and think of new ideas (which I am currently experimenting with now). I’m glad I went and I’ll go again if I can.

 

 

Riverside fireworks

The Yodogawa fireworks display. (Disclaimer: I just took a pic of the TV screen.)
The Yodogawa fireworks festival is one of the largest fireworks festivals in Osaka. This year it was held on August 5th.

Funny story, I actually wanted to go see the fireworks back in 2014 so I bought (rather expensive) tickets for good seats near the river to go with my then-girlfriend-now wife, but because of a heavy rain forecast, it was cancelled. I was luckily able to get a refund. I then learned that it was possible to see the fireworks from my in-laws’ house’s veranda. It wasn’t the best view, but it was decent enough. So since then, we just watch the fireworks from there. The fireworks display is actually broadcast on TV as well so what we actually do is watch the fireworks and then sometimes glance at the TV to see the fireworks clearer albeit with a slight delay. I personally think it’s a great experience because I don’t have to deal with crowds and it’s FREE! The fireworks themeselves are pretty to look at with some nice designs and colors and it lasts for around an hour or so. 

I’ve talked with friends that have actually went out and gotten good seats and said it was worth it so I may try going again in the future and if you’re reading this and you like fireworks and/or rivers you should check it out too.

2017 New Year’s Resolutions and Where to Find Them

Another year has passed and I consider it one of the hardest I had to go through in my lifetime. Quite a few things happened and despite it not being all bad, it still was a rough trek.

I’d rather not call them “resolutions”, but instead I will refer to them as “tasks” because that is what I’m used to and when I call it that, it usually (but not always) gets done.

In order of priority:

Get a full-time job or something stable

I actually work as an assistant language teacher as my main job and work part-time on weekday evenings but I would like to someday (this year) just have one job, where I don’t have to worry about income.

One thing that I have is noticed is that I have gotten better in teaching and have more confidence in teaching, I also feel I’ve learned and honed techniques that I could possibly use in other professions/jobs such as speaking in front of people, giving presentations and working with a computer. Of course, as long as the job I find is stable, I could still continue teaching.

Even if I say I want to get a new job, I actually enjoy what I do in my current job, the people I work with are really easy to get along with and I have had no problems in the workplace. The students are some of the smartest I have taught and most of them have very interesting personalities.

Well finding a full-time job has been a difficult task, I’ve been joining career fairs and sending resumes here and there since last year. I even managed to get a few interviews, which I am thankful for but feel bad since I didn’t manage to pass them. Only thing I can think of at the moment is push forward and step up my game. Maximum Effort!

Improve my Japanese even more

My Japanese has definitely improved since I first got here in 2010 but the goal is to be able to speak legit business level Japanese, so that I can use it in my (future) full-time job, personal satisfaction, so I can fit in more, and communicate with my wife better.

Most of my Japanese learning has been from my wife, JLPT books, Japanese TV, daily life interactions and listening to other Japanese people speak. While these things have helped tremendously, I still feel I’m not at the level I should be. Learning a language is a continuous process so I’ll be steadily improving my Japanese throughout the year.

Be more organized

I’ve slowly made different systems for organizing things like clothes, files, data, cables, the refrigerator, trash and various other things thanks to the internet, books, and experience. I’ve always wanted to be an organized person, someone who knows exactly what to do, knows where to get things, keeps things in order, and isn’t a mess. Again, even though I feel I’m more organized than I was before, there’s still things to improve, systems to refine and habits to change.

The other things…
There’s actually quite a few more tasks I want to get done this year such as playing the guitar more, finishing more video games, exercise more, eat healthy and some others but these are of less priority or things that I have some control over. Writing about them would just make this longer that it should. Anyway, 2017, here we go!

Living in Japan for almost 6 years

I find it hard to believe that I’ve been in Japan for this long. It’s also hard to say exactly how I feel. If I asked myself I were happy, I would probably say yes. There are so many things I feel I’ve yet to do or accomplish, though.

もうすぐ6年に日本に住んでるなんて信じられない。今の気持ちははっきり言えないけど...「嬉しいですか」聞かれたら「はい、嬉しいよ。」で答えると思う。でも日本でいろいろなことはまだやらなければならない。

When I arrived in Japan in 2010, I had almost no knowledge of the Japanese language. But to be honest I had initially thought that I had enough to get by…I was wrong. I knew this when I took a placement exam for Japanese classes, that I couldn’t communicate what I wanted to say at all. Daily tasks were a challenge too, finding things at the supermarket, going to the bank, sending mail, getting a phone, and making Japanese friends. Even now, there are still things I have difficulty in, like making a phone call in Japanese, finding the right words to explain something, reading kanji (writing is even worse), and keigo (polite Japanese).

Other than language, hurdles I had to face were

  • renewing my visa, so that I could continue to stay in Japan. There were no major problems, just the time and effort it took to get all documents needed
  • countless rejections from girls and friends
  • missed job opportunities
  • finding an affordable apartment

On the bright side, I do know I’ve become a better person.

  • I have confidence in getting around in Japan, using the train, buses and biking.
  • I have more confidence in speaking Japanese
  • I can understand most Japanese TV programs
  • I have passed the N2 JLPT (before coming to Japan I had failed N4)
  • I am more decisive now
  • I can do many things independently, without help from others
  • Interestingly, my skill with computers has increased too. I have a way better PC now, too
  • I feel more comfortable with a Japanese (JIS) keyboard
  • I can navigate most Japanese websites
  • I am more organized now: my room, the money I spend and save, my work area, etc.
  • I am responsible in sorting and taking out trash, this was something I had always cared about though since arriving. So much better than other countries I’ve lived in.
  • I know most Japanese culture, rules and holidays
  • I am more up-to-date with news now
  • I have a lovely wife that gets my jokes most of the time or at least puts up with them. I also get along well with her family too

Things I hope to get done are:

  • Pass the N1 test this July
  • Find a stable job for 2017
  • Save more money
  • Improve my confidence in speaking Japanese even more
  • Learn and improve Japanese-English translation skill
  • Keep my wife happy
  • Get into practicing the guitar again
  • Finishing the video games in my queue
  • Getting better sleep and thus waking up earlier in the morning
  • Keeping fit
  • Get work done faster and more efficiently
  • Learn about teaching English grammar

OK this post is getting long. I’ll end it here for now.

Whopper Fools

So it’s April Fools’ today, and I’m kind of surprised Japan actually participates in this event. I’ve read about a few today including one from Capcom about an Ace Attorney (逆転裁判) game with a dog as the protagonist, something I’d actually want to play.

But I’m also surprised that Burger King Japan had something that should be an April Fools’ joke but actually isn’t. They had a campaign where they sold Burger King perfume only on this day but they also had this one where you could buy a card and eat a Whopper meal a day from April 1 to 30 for 5000 yen. I actually went to my nearest Buger King and got one around 4PM and found that there weren’t much people.  Thought it was worth it since I actually like Whoppers, so I could see myself going at least 6 times this month to make up for the cost.

Waiting for my Whopper meal, which didn't take too long.
Waiting for my Whopper meal, which didn’t take too long.

Punkspring 2015

I love listening to music and punk rock is one of my favorite genres to listen to. I also like going to live concerts or music festivals when I can. So every year, there’s this punk rock music festival that’s held in Tokyo, Kobe, and Nagoya called Punkspring. I actually went to the one in 2012 since the lineup was pretty good.

It started around 12:00 but I got there around 13:00. Here’s a quick rundown of the bands I saw and my impressions of their performance.

13:35 My First Story – Very One Ok Rock-esque imo, and apparently related to the band Another Story who played as the opening act but I didn’t get to see them. 7/10

14:30 Knock Out Monkey – Pretty good, and loud. I enjoyed listening to their performance. 8/10

15:15 SiM – They’re reggae punk it seems. Interesting mix, I think I’ve seen some like it before. 7/10

16:10 Rise Against – I started listening to their stuff in 2013 because of Rocksmith 2014 and like some of their songs. I actually thought they gave a solid performance. 7/10

17:10 Man With a Mission – Good music. I got comments in Facebook about how good they were and I have to agree. Solid 8/10

18:05 Zebrahead – Pretty good, they had a collaboration with a Man with a Mission, crude humor reminded me of Blink 182. Not a huge fan of their stuff but they did entertain. 7/10

19:05 Fear, Loathing in Las Vegas – Weird band for me because of use of vocalization software. Could not get into their music, just not my thing. 4/10

20:00 Rancid – Plain good, despite me not being a big fan. This is what punk rock should sound like to me. 9/10

21:15 Fall Out Boy – I love this band, and I really like the way Patrick Stump sings. I knew all the songs they played and sang along to them. They even played “Immortals” from the Disney movie “Big Hero 6”. 10/10

I left around 22:00 because I was worried about making it back home on time while avoiding crowds. I probably won’t be going to another concert anytime soon because I want to save money but I’m glad I went to Punkspring this year.

Tokyo Disney Land and Sea

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I finally got to go to both Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea. I was looking forward to going since I booked the hotel in March of this year. I went there with my girlfriend and came back with my fiancee, so it was quite magical for me.

I enjoyed Tokyo Disneyland more than Disney Sea but both were worth going to. As long as you plan like we did, you can get to most of the rides you want. Both days were quite tiring, with all the walking (and running sometimes) and standing in line. Speaking of lines, it wasn’t as bad as I thought, well except maybe Disney Sea’s Toy Story Mania Fast Pass line, that was unbelievable! It was really like it said online, you really have to line up early and basically run to the line or else you won’t be able to get a Fast Pass. Well, we were able to get a Fast Pass but it was at a late time, so we wouldn’t be able to make it back home on time if we rode, so we…passed (sorry, had to).

We stayed at the Sunroute Plaza Hotel, which I thought was a good deal compared to the other Tokyo Disney Resort Official Hotels, although next time I aim to stay at one of the Hotels within the resort like Hotel Miracosta.

Well, my favorite part of this trip was winning seats via lottery to the Once Upon a Time show at Tokyo Disneyland, and pretty good seats at that! The show itself was worth it, which was basically a mapping of different Disney movies on to the castle, but since we were up close you could feel the flames coming out the sides of the castle.

All in all, a very fun weekend spent! Looking forward to next Disney theme park adventures.

Okinawa Tacos

Okinawa
The building you see on the left is the hotel we stayed at.

 

Okinawa has been one of the places I wanted to go in Japan and I finally was given the chance to this year. It was really worth it too. The views were really nice, the image I had in my head of Okinawa totally matched what I saw in person.

Thanks to a nicely laid out itinerary I was able to:

IMG_9199
eat Okinawa Soba
Osaka Churaumi Aquarium
see the 甚平鮫 (whale shark) at the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium
umi
hang out at a beautiful beach
eat taco rice, Okinawan cuisine, which has been added to one of my favorite foods
eat taco rice, Okinawan cuisine, which has been added to one of my favorite foods

and a bunch of other things all in a span of 3 days (May 9 to 11). I would definitely consider coming back here in the future.

Japan Work Visa Renewal

I went to the immigration to pick up my work visa today. My emotions are mixed because the good news is, I get to stay in Japan, the bad news is, I was only given a length of stay of 1 year. I’ve always wondered how the length of stay of a visa is decided. I still don’t know exactly how.

As a resident in Japan, I’ve payed for my taxes, have health insurance, applied for pension and am currently employed. The only things I think that could have hindered me is that I don’t speak fluent Japanese yet, haven’t been volunteering in enough activities that benefit Japan, or maybe I didn’t smile enough at Immigration. I honestly don’t know.

What I do know, is that I will do everything I can to get permanent residence in Japan, and live a stable and healthy life here. It’s always been my dream since high school and I don’t intend on giving up now.

I am thankful for my current employer who was very helpful and prompt in getting through the renewal process. It’s been 3 years since I had to go to Immigration for this so I had to recall and make sure I was doing everything correctly.

Anyway, to anyone reading who is interested in how the process went. Here’s what I did.

Around 2 months before the expiration of my previous work visa, I contacted my employer about my situation. They asked for a copy of my gaijin card and my address, then they sent me the documents I needed by mail. I then brought those documents to Osaka Immigration on a weekday, since it’s closed on weekends, which I don’t exactly understand why. So I had to tell the school I was working at that I had to leave a little earlier than usual to make it in time.

The documents I had with me were my:
1. Passport
2. Passport size photos
3. Filled out applications
4. Gaijin card 外国人登録書
5. Current work contract
6. Diploma
7. Company info documents

After consulting at the Information desk. I was told to only hand my passport, gaijin card, and the application papers with my photo pasted on front page. After that, I was given a post card and was told to write my current address. I then went home.

Around a week later, I received a letter requiring additional documents: a photocopy of my work contract, tax form proof(納税証明書), and income tax proof(所得税証明書). I had the first one hand, the other two I needed to get from city hall. The next day, I went to my local city hall and asked for these documents and they told me since I stayed in Nagoya(名古屋) the previous year. I had to get it from the city hall there. I didn’t want to have to go all the way to Nagoya for them. Luckily, I found out that you can get them by post on the Nagoya City hall website. I printed out and filled out the request forms and sent those along with a payment slip and a self-addressed envelope so that I would receive it in the mail. It arrived around a week later, I then sent the tax forms and contract to Osaka Immigration. I waited around 1 more week and got the postcard in the mail saying that I go to immigration with my passport, gaijin card, and a 4000 yen stamp (which you could purchase at Immigration). I went there and waited less than hour and got my passport with the new work visa. I thanked the Immigration officer and went home. All in all, the process took around a month.