Sunday, April 16, 2017

Opening Hours for the Working Class of Japan

Looking at openings hours as a whole in Japan makes you wonder if the country was made for housewives. A colleague once said that it was always the women who handled the household finances because they're better at it. But really, at a time when more husbands worked than wives, what working adult in Japan could make it to the bank between 9 am and 5 pm on a weekday? Shopping malls close at 8pm, which is way too early for most of the working class. Parcels almost always gets delivered in the middle of the day when a working adult can in no way be at home.

Japan is not really convenient for people working here. Do they really think that everyone has a housewife to rely on? Does Japan really believe that the people who have money or who are actually earning money don't deserve to enjoy the convenient services they have?

I say, either open way earlier than 10 am or close way later. Think of your services and who needs them.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Phone Upgrade

It turns out all my problems with the iPhone was quickly solved by an upgrade to iPhone 7.

Lack of storage? It got increased to 256 GB. No more storage problems. No more clutter. Perfect for a pack rat like me.

Monday, September 19, 2016

An... other Android vs. iPhone Comparison

Thanks to iOS 10 I was finally able to declutter my iPhone 5. But I still have a lot of miscellaneous items taking up space that I have no idea what they are. Deleting apps did not help solve this problem. How do you get rid of these mysterious files???

It always amazes me that my Android has music, photos, videos, and over 150 apps but still maintain a good 3gb of free space but iPhone can hardly spare me 1gb without any multimedia files downloaded, and with only 62 apps. (After deleting all the apps I don't use, Apple tells me my phone capacity is 13.15gb instead of 11.2gb but my available storage is still 1.6gb with 0 songs, 0 videos, and 12 photos (recent screenshots; so very lightweight compared to jpg files. I was trying to make space for the update so all my photos were completely removed.).) Both phones are supposed to have 16gb storage capacity.

On a side note, iOS 10 is basically the result of iPhone taking a peek at Android's success and finally realizing what works! I was delighted to find out that the new homepage widgets lets me use iPhone like how I use Google Now (well... Android in general).

Saturday, September 17, 2016

How I learn new Japanese vocabulary

Learning new vocabulary is not only essential but necessary if you intend to master a new language. Whether you are a beginner or if you're an advance level student, there will always be new vocabulary to learn.

I divide my learning stages into 7 days in order to ensure that I am able to retain the new vocabulary. I've learned that SRS apps such as Memrise and Mnemosyne are great if you want to learn to recognize 漢字 (or read) but if you want to be able to write, the classic pen and paper technique is the only thing that works best.

Learning Schedule:

Day 1
Select article / learning material.
Try reading the article with the help of a dictionary.
Create list of about 25-50 new vocabulary. (100 if you are ambitious.)
Learn (memorize) up to 50 new vocabulary words on Day 1.

Day 2
Review 25 words.
Use SRS app to decide which word to review.
Otherwise, read the list you've made.

Day 3
Review 25 words.
Learn up to 50 new words.

Day 4
Review 25 words.

Day 5
Review 25 words.
Finish learning remaining new words, if any.

Day 6
Review remaining words.
Try reading selected article / learning material without help.
Review words you were unsure of.

Day 7
Try reading selected article / learning material without help.
Review any word you are still unsure of.

Repeat with new learning material or continue reviewing for another 7 days.
Try to get new learning material every 1-2 weeks.

If you're ambitious and you chose to learn 100 new vocabulary a week, review 50 words at a time instead of 25.

If you are even more ambitious you could try a 4-day regime:

Day 1
Select article / learning material.
Create new vocabulary list.
Learn all new vocabulary words.

Day 2
Review all new vocabulary words.

Day 3
Try reading selected article / learning material.
Review words you are unsure of.

Day 4
Try reading selected article / learning material without help.
Review words you are still unsure of.

Repeat with new material.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Thoughts on Malaysia

I was back in Malaysia for about a month and have just returned to Japan this week. It was truly a time for relaxing and slowly enjoying my days in Malaysia.

I have not returned home for 3 years since I came to Japan. My excuses were always that I had not enough cash or time but really I think I wanted to explore Japan more. I was just checking out my history and was pleasantly surprised to see that I have visited 30 out of the 47 prefectures in Japan and that the total number of districts I have visited was an astounding 1,741. (It's astounding at least to me).

But I digress.

I had intended to share about my feelings on returning to Malaysia after being in Japan for so long.

I've always said that the public transport system and Japanese manners were top notch when asked about Japan. There is so many more things I wish to experience in Japan and places I want to go. Because of that, I have very little room to think about Malaysia or the things I might have left behind. I talk to my family and friends every day through various software and applications so that even when I meet them back home it felt like all I was doing was to continue our conversations. I do however enjoy them.

The one thing that I wanted to do in Japan that I couldn't do was actually to drive. I miss driving so much. In Malaysia, if you can't drive, you didn't go anywhere. It was a country where driving a car was cheaper to maintain than using public transport. Which was why I made it a point to apply for an international driver's permit. I recently drove up to Wakayama from Osaka and enjoyed the breathtaking view from Mt Koya. I truly felt how convenient it was to be able to drive and wondered if I would still think of trains and buses the same way. I'll be moving to Chiba when I start work next month so I think I will definitely be leasing a car.

I love Malaysian food. If it's one thing I love it's food. I had so many favorites that I could never be sick of eating Malaysian food. I made sure that I sampled all my favorites before returning to Japan so I have no regrets.

People-wise, I might be missing the way my country is so easy-going and somewhat lackadaisical nature when it comes to rule-keeping and manners. (Although I would never agree it's a good thing.)

Driving, food, and attitude... I think I've covered everything.

Where should I go to next?

Friday, June 17, 2016

Kit Kat 大人の甘さシリーズ

Kit Kat has a strong presence here in Japan. They have this 大人の甘さシリーズ (roughly translated: mature sweetness series) that introduces flavors more appealing to adults or those with a "more mature" palate.

This thing here is the raspberry flavored KitKat. It's pink like the strawberry and Sakura flavored KitKats. But I think I prefer the citrus flavored one I got from Ehime. Maybe I should stop by one of the specialty stores at Shinjuku to see wht else they've got.

Friday, June 10, 2016

George Carlin

“Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.”

I laughed when I first heard this quote. It sounded so ridiculous! The idea that the fact that there are people stupider than you are should affect you somehow was incredulous. It also assumes that you live in a perfect world where perfect bell curves exist and that outliers or skewed graphs do not exist.

Assuming this fact is in some way true, how would this affect you?

Or is it human nature to look for people with similar minds? Who gets what you say or what you want to say or why you said what you said? Someone who can figure you out?

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Feature Request: Copy Text to Clipboard

Looking through my past feature request post I found a solution to one of them. I found a keyboard shortcut that works with rikai-kun (for chrome) that lets me copy the words that pop up. Here's a list of all the keyboard shortcuts for rikai-kun. The copied entries are tab-separated so you can paste it directly into Excel or a text-based file to export to flash card software or applications.

Keyboard shortcuts when popup is visible
AAlternate popup location
YMove popup location down
CCopy to clipboard
DHide/show definitions
Shift/EnterSwitch dictionaries
BPrevious character
MNext character
NNext word

Japanese Dictionary

I was using Weblio for translations but it has a lot of advertisements so loading the page takes too long. is a simpler site that loads faster. Kanji characters have furigana so you can read the example sentences or words you are looking up. The site also uses hash tags to help narrow down searches. You can even use them to call up specific word lists for studying.

Japanese to English Translations

Linguee comes up with common translations for words and this site also gives example paragraphs of how the words are used. You get the context in which the words are used.

New link for Jim Breen's WWWJDIC EDict
wwwjdic word search

Sunday, May 22, 2016

No one reads anymore!

It finally occurred to me that no one reads anymore. They skim, scan, or glance over articles, posts, or tweets but they don't read. No one reads anymore!

Is there anything sadder than this?

You read all sorts of comments after reading an article and realize, no one reads the actual content.

(Fine, it might not be a new concept and I might have been in denial all this while believing in the human race but my bubble has finally burst.)

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Vocabulary Grabber

As an English tutor, it's sometimes difficult to juggle between preparing for a class and my day job so I rely on many, many online resources to generate instantaneous materials. I love flash cards and quizzes but I don't have the time to make either of them. Here's a few links to flash card/quiz resources that may be helpful to you.

Vocabulary Grabber
Copy any text from any reading material you plan to use and paste it into this lovely vocabulary grabber. It grabs all the words in your text based on frequency and difficulty. And it gives you the option of choosing to list only the top 10 words (most used? most difficult?) or you could scan through the list and choose which words you'd want to help your students with. Or just choose everything.

Otherwise, is a great place to look for word lists that you think your students should know.

Exam English
I was recently required to sit for TOEIC. An English test for listening and reading that most people in Japan would have to sit for. Especially when applying for a job. They also have a speaking and writing test but that costs almost twice the fee it costs for the listening and reading test. I'm not even sure if I should consider taking that.

I digress.

This website has quizzes for major English proficiency tests. Have fun using it. They have a level check too, which should be fairly accurate.

English Grammar
English Grammar is a grammar guide with grammar rules and online exercises. Perfect for reviewing your language ability.

Edufind English Grammar Guide
More English grammar guide! Always good to have more than one reference point for accuracy.

Previous Post: ESL Learning Materials

Sunday, May 1, 2016

JLPT N1 Preparation Course (Memrise!)

Once you've passed JLPT N2, you're ready to speak to Japanese people, read signs, and be able to live a normal student life in Japan as a foreigner. Your Japanese isn't perfect but you get the gist of most conversations and you are able to build your own lexicon of Japanese vocabulary used only by you and those around you.

So, if you think you're ready to take on JLPT N1, you might have to think twice. I found out the hard way that the leap from N2 to N1 was massive! First of all, you will need to know 2000 漢字(かんじ・Chinese characters). That's twice the amount you were required to know in N2! Next is a list of advanced grammar patterns that you've never seen or heard of. It's almost impossible to learn them on your own without someone to explain them to you. Especially if you don't have a good grammar book.


The test consists of the following sections as far as I'm concerned: Vocabulary, Grammar, Reading Comprehension, and Listening. Since it's Japanese, vocabulary comes in two parts: recognition and recollection. Or being able to read the 漢字 and being able to recall the 漢字. The following online resources listed are what I intend to use to prepare myself for the JLPT N1 in July. The list I have compiled includes flash cards made with Memrise; an excellent SRS app that does what I expect flash cards to do. (I've vetted each deck to suit my learning style.) I'm using a drill book concurrently to keep track of my progress weekly.


Phase I (Must complete to pass, at least)
JLPT N1 2000 Vocabulary Words

Tanos N1 Vocabulary (non-cumulative list; alphabetical order)
Tanos N1 Vocabulary (non-cumulative, random order)

(Drill Book Supplement)
Verbs, Na-Adj, Nouns
Wago Verbs
Combined Verbs
Combined Words
Difficult Readings


Phase II (To get a better grade)
JLPT N1 Comprehensive
JLPT N1 Kanji
JLPT N1 Revision
JLPT N1 Vocabulary (1)
JLPT N1 Vocabulary (2)

Phase III (If you have the time)
JLPT N1 Vocab and Readings
N1 Vocabulary
完全マスター漢字N1 (1)
完全マスター漢字N1 (2)

Phase IV (After you're done with JLPT) - not so much for preparation but if you have the time why not? xD
日本語の小説 料理に用語辞典

Japan's Prefectures
Complete Japanese Keigo
Japanese Cooking and Ingredients

JLPT N1 Resources
JLPT N1 Grammar Usage
Old JLPT Level 1 Grammar Guide

Free N1 Quizzes
Fun Reading Materials
Reading Practice

JLPT Practice Test (free trial)

JLPT Official Practice Workbook
Shadowing Practice (Core Sentences)
Shadowing Practice (Full List)

A Guide to Japanese Grammar - Tae Kim

This is just something extra if you're interested in learning Japanese. This flash card deck should be used with the source website (Tae Kim's Japanese Grammar Guide), which is an excellent starting point for learning Japanese as a beginner.

Thursday, December 31, 2015


It just occurred to me that it's the end of 2015. Today is the last day of the year 2015. 

All I knew about today was that it is the only day I planned nothing on my itinerary and it's the only day rain was expected all day. It didn't occur to me that this was the last day of the year. 

Perhaps I thought I would be washed over by a wave of nostalgia or that I would be reflecting on my year this very day. But nope. I'm too preoccupied with my winter trip to notice. 

Overall it was an okay year. It was more of a roller coaster ride. I've been to more places this year than any other year. I keep forgetting that I've now been to at least 4 countries instead of 3. In 2016, I hope to visit one more country. 

This year I forgot myself. Forgot who I was and what I can do. Forgot why I am who I am. I sought to appease an inner conscience that had no care for my future or my life. An inner conscience that could take over my entire being without difficulty and wreck my life. 

In 2016, I hope to remember how to be myself again. To find joy in the pleasures I enjoyed. To find peace in the comforts I seek. To find stability in the rolling waves that come my way. 

I wish that remembering was a choice I could make instead of something I can only hope for. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Freelance Jobs

This post is for those wishing to make extra pocket money for themselves. If you have a full-time job but want to moonlight,and if you want to do this all in the comfort of your own home, you may want to consider becoming a freelancer.

Many years ago, as a teenager, my impression of a freelancer was someone who took random pictures for newspapers and magazines. I had no idea what does it mean to be a freelancer until I came across this option as a young working adult. It turns out that the Internet houses a network of people who wishes to hire anyone who can do some of the most menial tasks to complicated tasks that require certain expertise and experience. These are the people who want you to build websites for them, write articles, design logos or even be their virtual assistant.

You could land a full-time free-lance job as a virtual assistant. I am reiterating this because I had no idea you could have a full-time job being someone else's personal assistant without actually being there with them. All you need to do is be available to them by phone or email and be sure to do your job.

Everything, however, comes down to how well you sell yourself and how cheap is your labor. Look around at other proposals by your peers to find out what sort of skills or requirements that those you intend to work for are looking for. While providing cheap labor may be a good way of starting out, you still want to make sure you are getting your dues. If you sell yourself short, the quality of your work may come into question.

Anyway, if you are interested in becoming a freelancer, these are the two sites I have been using that I think are great. Both websites are up-to-date and jobs are constantly being added by the minute. Both sites provide a desktop app that tracks your working hours. This lets potential employers to know how much freelance work you have been doing.

Upwork (formerly Elance or oDesk)

Formerly known as Elance or oDesk, the two freelancing websites have merged to give us Upwork. You could still login through the old oDesk or Elance site but I recommend going through the oDesk platform for new freelancers. People hiring on oDesk are more forgiving of newcomers and they are generally more likely to hire you if you do not have any experience.

I like that the website allows you to indicate your availability, your previous freelancing experience (even if it was accepted on another site), and your average rate per hour. You are given 60 connect points as a free or basic user. These connect points are used to make bids or submit proposals for jobs; each proposal uses between 1 to 5 points. This means you do not have an unlimited amount of bids to make. The points however are renewed at the start of every billing cycle (monthly); so you will get 60 connect points per month. If you wish to pay for their services, you will be able to bid for more projects. It is not a bad idea if you plan to be a full-time freelancer.

They also have free tests you can take to let people know the level of your skill. You can upload other certifications you may have gotten in order to indicate your level of proficiency at your said skill.


Freelancer literally has new job postings every other minute. They have a pop-up notification at the bottom left of the window to tell you when new jobs are posted. You are allowed to make up to 100 bids per month with the Plus membership. Otherwise, the free membership allows only 8 bids per month.

The way Freelancer works is basically the same as Upwork with the exception that you need to be able to link a payment account (usually PayPal) in order to start using it. The tests they provide cost USD 5 per test. So if you want to use this website, you might have to consider investing in it to get more jobs. It will cost you nothing to use their bare minimum services. However, if you are serious about freelancing, you might want to invest a little in their services to be able to promote or sell yourself better.

Happy job-hunting. :)

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Japanese and Debates

I've noticed that ever since I came to Japan, the Japanese have been very accommodating and polite when it came to differences in opinions. They rarely say what they dislike or like openly without being sure they're not insulting anyone by just saying their preferences. In Malaysia or Australia, a difference in opinion often results in a lively debate that I miss so much. My conversations in Japan have mellowed down to mostly explanations, descriptions, and asking about current events. There are no debates here. Lively, healthy or otherwise. I miss having to reason out my opinions.

A healthy discussion helps work your brain. It keeps the cogs and wheels turning when you have to keep thinking of reasons to back up your opinion. I like open discussions because of that. It's rare to find people who are not stubborn about their opinion and is open to challenge or is accepting of differences in opinions.

It doesn't even matter if something isn't well thought out. When you start talking about it, you start reasoning it out and it helps you see their perspectives and your own. It's how you get to know if a person is just shallow or if they know what they're on about. It lets you know more about the person you're talking to.

I think I just figured out why I'm so irritated. The people I don't understand have no opinions of their own or are simply too shallow to have a conversation with. They won't argue with you or persuade you. They won't try to see your perspective or even think that there may be more than one way to do something.

Facets. It's what's so fascinating about our 3D world. There is always a side we can't see. It's something you can only see with the help of someone else. Or a mirror. But still, you need help to see every side of an object. Much more a person. If you can't hold a conversation with someone, how are you going to see them for who they are?

That is why I think it's very important to be with someone you can hold a conversation with. If you can't even talk to each other, what's the point?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Streaks of Blue

There are only certain periods in your life when certain behaviors are acceptable. Wailing and fussing in public as a babe. Throwing tantrums as a toddler. Being friends with anyone and everyone as a child.

When is it ever acceptable to dye your hair blue? 

The way we dress is somewhat dictated by our age group in that we try to be as appropriate as possible while being unique.

Workplace ethics would require a working adult to appear conventional, trustworthy and conforming to the social norm. Blue hair does not portray such a person.

The most logical time of your life to have blue hair would therefore be in college. Right? That and when you're retired.