The Microsoft Excel Artist – Tatsuo Horiuchi

When Tatsuo Horiuchi retired, he decided to try his hand at art. But instead of spending money on paints and brushes, Horiuchi used what he already had pre-installed on his computer—Microsoft Excel. Now, the 77-year-old artist is creating remarkably intricate digital masterpieces of the Japanese landscape, all on the free graphing software.

Source – Great Big Story

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I watched the Fullmetal Alchemist live-action movie in Japan

Fullmetal Alchemist (Hagane no renkinjutsushi) is one of my favourite manga series at the true-to-story Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood might just be my favourite anime series. I live in Japan now and all my previous movie outings have been to see western movies; however the FMA fan in me sprung to see the Fullmetal Alchemist live-action movie on opening night.

Fullmetal Alchemist live-action movie: Two alchemist brothers go on a quest for the Philosopher’s Stone after an attempt to revive their dead mother goes horribly wrong.

Forbidden Alchemy

My Japanese language ability is still quite crappy, but I approached this film primarily as a fun 2 hour Japanese lesson. I already understood the story so I should at least be able to follow the plot. The film opens with the definitive story-point of the FMA series; the Elric brothers trying to revive their dead mother with alchemy. I honestly believe these opening scenes were the best part of the movie and it at least showed great respect for the source material.

As the movie goes on though it got less and less interesting with cliché scenes, underwhelming villains and straight up comedic special effects in some scenes. The movie is definitely worth the price of admission at the theater or a later release or viewing opportunity. It’s not the best but far from the worst manga/anime movie adaptation to come in recent memory. Please watch it.

[pics coming soon]

Fullmetal Alchemist live-action movie LOOT!

I also scored some merchandise while at the theatre. A special manga that was free with the movie ticket and I ponied up 1200 yen for a sweet Hagane no renkinjutsushi metal teacup that called to me from across the foyer. I see myself going to more movies in Japan as my quest to learn Japanese continues.

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Japan Scene 4: Attacked by Rice Worshipers

It was supposed to be a normal lunch session at my junior high school. I’m not someone who eats a lot of food at once; I eat small portions often. Needless to say the speed eating coupled with large portions of food served for lunch is an almost daily struggle. Thankfully it is very tasty (most days), and the kids and teachers understand my hatred of natto and devour it for me when its served one or twice per month. Though I have slayed the natto demon its the rice god and its worshipers that strike fear into my heart daily.

Nurse: *looks at my rice bowl with a few rice grains left after eating*; Oh ma gersh you didn’t eat all your rice!
Me: sure I did, see *holds up “empty” bowl*. There is nothing left!
Nurse: there is enough there to feed a small army!

I laughed if off and thought I had escaped, but she pounced on me and requested that I eat all the grains. Of course I’ve never seen her so militant and at this point I was literally in my second week of regular school so I obliged. Then there was that kid who entered the conversation while I was fighting with my chopsticks to grab every last grain of rice for fear of being piledrived by a 5 foot tall butterfly.

3rd Year Kid: Yea sensei – eat rice, ebery one is Japanese spirit
Nurse: Also people cleaning plates will be bery angry!
Me: I’m sorry, please don’t sacrifice me to the rice gods

I dont mean to make fun of the interaction but that one kid almost never talks in my classes but was so animated, giggling and SPEAKING ENGLISH while defending the rice gods. I also never seen my school nurse so passionate; she insisted in teaching me a lesson and I wasn’t going to resist! Needless to say by the time I got back to the staff room every staff member had heard of the exchange.

Typical middle school lunch (きゅうしょく) served at my school

About a week later after perfecting my chopstick no jitsu and rice god worship/murder, I knelt before the school nurse after finishing my meal, held my bowl up and said in Japanese “I finished eating nurse-sama, every single grain!“. Bad idea, two months later I am still trying to repair our work relationship.

There is an awesome Facebook page that is updated daily with the school lunch served on my island – Check it out

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Ghost of Tsushima announced for PS4

Paris Games Week is a lesser known video game event (at least by me) but has dropped some gaming news bombs recently. There are many but the one that has floated to the very top for me is Ghost of Tsushima – an open-world game set in medieval Japan during the first Mongol Invasion. Check out the trailer below.

It goes without saying with my obvious Japan biases that I am VERY EXCITED to play this game which will be released exclusively for the PS4. A brand new IP, open-world, samurai, ninjas and a dark gritty look? Yes please! I’ll be following this one like a hawk in the coming months and will definitely be streaming it on my gaming channel.

Were there any games you say and got excited about at PGW 2017? If yes leave a comment below or tweet me @Jamaipanse

via Playstation Blog

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Astro A10 Gaming Headset

The last gaming headset I bought and blogged about was the Kotion Each G4000 – a $25 dollar powerhouse that I was very satisfied with. Fast forward almost 2 years and my poor G4000 is becoming battle worn. My move from Jamaica to Japan and the difficulties it endured in my luggage caused me to look to replace it at least for my console gaming needs. I am still without a PC and I really wanted to do a video about the Astro A10 Gaming Headset with this post as I did with the Kotion Each G4000 but cant so sadly just a post will have to do.

My changing design tastes

The move from a $25 to a $60 gaming headset is significant in terms of design, build and sound quality. Where for former headsets have been loud with various markings and lights my new Astro A10 is sleek and refined. Maybe its my age so my tastes are changing but I really love the design of the Astro A10. The durability is what sold me on this headset though and after my own testing I know it can survive the punishment.

A10 is Better in every way

Overall the mic is better, the sound is better, it’s more durable with a better design – I would have rather I spent less but I am very satisfied with what I got for the price. My PS4 gaming sessions just got a lot better with me now having the ability to party chat and comment when streaming on my gaming channel.


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Japan Scene 3: A multi-ethnic moment

The Jamaican national motto is ‘Out of Many One People‘, based on the population’s multiracial roots. Although there are exceptions the reality is that there is very little mixing of these “races”, most stay in their own little enclaves and the majority of us are of African descent.

Living in Japan now, there are lessons and experiences almost daily that allow personal growth, development and exposure to new things and ways of doing things. Not many people will openly admit that their views on the world are limited as these days many internet warriors live their life through Google and the fake lens of social media.

Between Lunch and Dinner

So here I was having a meal in that wasn’t quite lunch but not dinner either. Seated around the table was 5 people including myself representing a variety of ethnicities; Mexico, China, Europe, Japan, Jamaica, America, Africa. All of us with different skin shades, speaking 2-3 languages each. Here we were, sitting in an Italian restaurant on a small rural island, in Japan after working at, participating in and/or watching a sports festival for kids.

ethnicity – the fact or state of belonging to a social group that has a common national or cultural tradition.

I couldn’t help but reflect on all the divisive occurrences all around the world now from North America, to Korea, to Myanmar, to Spain. In the end we really and truly are all the same but there are certain powers who would stand to lose a lot if we dare realized that.


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Unicorn Gundam arrives in Tokyo’s Odaiba waterfront district

Its hard to believe that the life-sized RX-78 Gundam started to be built in Odaiba, Tokyo and was eventually completed 8 years ago. It stood for a while and was even upgraded with a light-saber and returning briefly for charity and seeing a counterfeit cousin setup in China. However, there is a new 19.7-meter TRANSFORMING Gundam in town – The Unicorn Gundam.

“I know that many people were waiting so long for this day to arrive. I was one of them,” Toshinobu Maeda, managing director of Tokyo Port Terminal Corp., which is in charge of the project, said at the media preview Saturday evening.

“The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics are coming up in three years, and the waterfront area has been chosen as one of the sites for the games,” he said. “I expect this Unicorn Gundam . . . to become the source of further revitalization for the waterfront area.”

I own a Unicorn Gundam figure and loved the anime. I now live in Japan (albeit quite the distance from Tokyo) but you best believe a pilgrimage to this glorious statue is on the cards and when I do you will hear from screams anywhere you are in the world. Stay turned for my visit. If Japan’s engineers can make such a contraption can you imagine if they “really” tried to make a weaponized robot?

via – Japan Times

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Life without a Computer

Ok, I know, my phone is technically a computer, so is my PlayStation 4 but the “computer” I am been living without in a sense for the past few months is a personal computer. No more PC gaming, no more uploading videos to my youtube channel even though I have hours of footage stacking up and so much to share and say. No more podcast updates as I somehow left my mic back in Jamaica (my PS4 was apparently more important).

First World Problems?

I’ve been writing blog posts from my phone and checking then publishing in my free time at work. All this would have been avoided if that cheap laptop I tried to buy before moving to Japan didn’t arrive with a messed up screen. Having a faulty laptop arrive days before you move to the other side of the planet, might have been my first experience with “first world problems“. I paid taxes to import that mofo from America but now I’ll have to send the bastard back to Dell (I shouldn’t have bought a Dell) by first getting back to America! Kinda hard when you had a million and one things to do before the big move.

I also brought my First Order Tie Fighter to Japan but sadly not my cat

In the end, I left it in Jamaica and thanks to my bestest friend in the world got it back to Amazon via New York weeks after it was due to be returned but Amazon redeemed themselves by allowing me an extra month to return in. The refund arrived a week later and here I am now, PC-less in Japan (for 2 months and counting). I keep going from wanting to pick up a cheap PC tomorrow or waiting until December and get myself what I would never have imagined getting back in Jamaica – a gaming laptop.

Cheap Laptop or Gaming Laptop?

The small spaces and change in lifestyle that Japan has brought have given me a new understanding of multifunctional items that save space. I miss having a PC, I want to edit and share videos, I want to record more podcast episodes and most importantly stay up late at night browsing the web on something other than my Samsung Galaxy S7. What do you think I should do? Wait til December and buy a sick gaming laptop or spring for a cheap laptop naow! vote in the poll below – onegaishimasu!


Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.

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Samus Edition 3DS and Metroid: Samus Returns

Rewarding yourself for achieving things/goals is one of my favourite ways to motivate myself. My last reward to myself was a trip to New York when I finished undergrad studies. Fast forward almost a year and throw a list of things too numerous to mention I now live in Japan!

Samus looking fine on the cover of her special edition Nintendo 3DS

Samus looking fine on the cover of her special edition Nintendo 3DS

Moving to Japan was one thing but surviving the first few months is something else! So on the topic of rewards I took it upon myself to buy a Samus Edition New 3DS XL AND the new Metroid: Samus returns video game. I literally just unboxed the beast minutes before typing this blog post but I intend to do another post and maybe a video later about the game and the system so please look out for that.

Metroid: Samus Returns + Samus Edition Nintendo 3DS

I also wanted to share more deal meaningful info about the importance of self-love and rewards but I think if you read this far you should understand why it’s important to buy yourself nice things when you deserve it.

Metroid X Star Wars

Metroid X Star Wars – Samus could teach bounty hunters in Star Wars a thing or two

Metroid: Samus Returns

Metroid: Samus Returns is for the Nintendo 3DS/2DS

The back of the Samus Edition Nintendo 3DS is gold

First time booting her up!

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Japan Scene 2: Futsal x English Master

It was supposed to be a regular Thursday night futsal session. I’ve never been much of a football/soccer player outside of my inter-school league in high school but I willingly got connected to the futsal club on my island. Futsal now served two purposes for me. 1. To get exercise and 2. to socialize with the locals; on this small island everybody knows everybody and the futsal team was a mixture of teachers, construction workers, housewives, ferry workers and more.

So I arrive at the artificially lit multipurpose park arounf 7:25pm to see a much bigger crowd than usual. There was an aura of excitement in the air; I had no idea why at this point. I saw the usual faces but maybe 5 or so I was seeing for the first time. As usual I stood out like a raison in vanilla ice cream but by this time I was comfortable with my adopted futsal family. A cirlcle was then formed with a well-kitted out stranger in the middle.

kitted-out Stranger: hjgdjhdaf futsal fdgjhhg A-town adhjdf so happy to be here jhgdajh thank you hjsgdsjsg beautiful
Ben-san: The A-town futsal club welcomes you to dsjhdg dhdga jhgsd. Thank you for coming
kitted-out Stranger: Japan dsdhjg community sajhag ghjsdg poei ahdgf fuyt hjfgs fsdjhg fdsfhkj dadhgf life…

Struggling to understand

Of course I understood very few words and my brain was spazzing out trying to translate with my limited Japanese as by the time I figured one word I could almost never connect the context and as usual was struggling to understand. The way I would describe it is like I’m in a race with and in my brain and I am struggling to keep up and frustrated til I eventually give up and allow the words to wash over me as I smile and nob and clap/laugh when everyone else does.

English Master: Hey Kirk! I heard all about you at the office. I know you do not understand Japanese yet.
Me: eeehhhh?!?!?!?

English Master: Dont worry I will translate for you
Me: Wow your english is great. Thank you

A Jamaican, a Mexican and a Japanese share a hotel room and…

It was like a miniature version of my Todai-ji experience. Out of nowhere spouting from the face of your typical Japanese middle-aged man was the best English I have heard on the island so far. Needless to say I became stuck to him for most of the night. Through him I learnt that the captain of Japan`s futsal team was here on my small island playing futsal with our team! The English master who became my new friend was unbeleivable a JICA emplyee working in my town and responsible for various projects including getting such a high profile “star” to visit this far-flung island. I took some of the downtime to explain how JICA has done and continues to do great work in Jamaica.

As the night went on and futsal came to an end I was invited to a gettogether after where we packed 20+ people in a small room eating and drinking. I declined the drinking part as I had work the next day but the boys (and a few of the girls) went crazy including the futsal star. Over the hours I learned so much about the English Master, his family and how he loves Jamaica and Bob Marley because many years ago he shared a room with a mexican and a Jamaican while on a business training trip. Who would have thought that such a connection would be made ramdomly. Now I`ve been invited to 2 upcoming high profile events on my island featuring a delegation from Bhutan and another with a NHK executive. Even though I rode home in the cold darkness at 2am I went to bed quite excited about those upcoming experiences while dreading that I had to wake up for work in a few hours!

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