How to check the credit on your Suica card when outside Japan

People who frequently travel to Japan often end up with piles of Suica cards, the convenient payment card that is mainly used for local transport, but can also be used at convenience stores, vending machines and other places. I’ve often bought it as part of a bundle for the NEX train from Narita Airport, so I have 4 or 5 of them and I never remember how much credit they have when I leave Japan.

Now there’s an easy way to check your Suica credit even if you’re not in Japan. At least if you own a Japanese Wii U console. Who doesn’t. 🙂

Pay with Suica card on your Nintendo Wii U

1. Choose 電子マネー (“electronic money” – can be Pasmo or similar cards too) as payment option.

Pay with Suica card on your Nintendo Wii U

2. Choose the amount you want to charge your Nintendo account with, and hold the card against the gamepad’s RFID reader.

Pay with Suica card on your Nintendo Wii U

3. As for me, it turned out that one of the two cards I found was empty, and the other one only contained 100 yen. Since the minimum charging amount for my Nintendo account was 500 yen, I couldn’t charge it. But at least I know the credits now.

Playing Mario Kart 8 first in Europe?

Starting up Mario Kart 8

Mario Kart 8 was released on May 29th 2014 in Japan. Now you say, but it’s still only May 28th! Correct, in Europe it is still May 28th. But European time 17.00 it turned May 29th in Japan.

I wrapped up my job for the day, took Feierabend and checked if the game was available in the eshop in my Wii U and if I could buy it with my European credit card. It was and I could! Despite Nintendo’s policy of not letting one region play games released in other regions. I’ve heard they check IP addresses, but apparently I was somehow allowed to give them my money.

Mario Kart 8

After purchasing – a bit over 6,000 yen = around 44 euros – I had to wait from 18.10 to 21.50 for the download, over 4 GB. Then some more minutes for the install. And then I was set to play, at 22.00 on May 28th 2014, the date before the release in Japan! (The English version will be released on May 30th in the West.) I might very well be the first person in Europe who plays Mario Kart 8! How cool isn’t that?

The game? It’s fantastic! I love it! It feels extremely powerful and modern, with very high quality – I’ve seen a documentary about the making of the game, so I know that all the music was recorded with real studio musicians. I look forward to racing against my friends.

Playing Mario Kart 8

Maybe you wonder why I’m so infatuated with Mario Kart 8. The reason is that me and Yusuke saw this game in the game centers in Tokyo last December. It was new then and not available for any console. We did some research and found out that it would be released for the Wii U “in spring”. This was good news for me, since I had just bought a Wii U to be able to play Taiko no Tatsujin. We agreed that I would give Yusuke money so that he could send me the game when it was released.

I went back to Europe, spring came, and then Nintendo revealed the release date: 29th May 2014. So my whole year so far has been a long waiting for Mario Kart 8, and during this whole time I wasn’t sure if it was going to work to purchase it in the e-shop and play it on my Japanese Wii U in Europe. Tonight all that worked out. That’s why I’m so happy!

And let me repeat: I love the game! Everyone who sees it will be shocked at how good it looks! (At least on a 60-inch plasma, just had to mention that again, hihi.)

Ok, now I’m going back to the game!

Learning Japanese with Nintendo 3DS

Last night I unwrapped one of the games I bought for my Japanese Nintendo 3DS LL:

超速変形ジャイロゼッター・アルバロスの翼

(Chousoku Henkei Gyrozetter – Arubarosu no Tsubasa = Super High-Speed Transforming Gyrozetter – the Wings of Arubaros).

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It’s apparently a manga and anime about this:

In 21st century Japan, cars with artificial intelligence for increased safety, known as A.I. Cars, have revolutionized the car industry. Special schools teaching children driving A.I. Cars have been established. One day, Kakeru Todoroki, a fifth grader of Arcadia Academy, is summoned by the school principal and given an A.I. Car to save the humanity. The car, however, is not just a car but also a transforming robot known as Gyrozetter. (Wikipedia)

Of course I didn’t know that at the time I picked up the game at Yodobashi Camera. I just bought it because it was cheap (1480 yen ≈ 10 euro) and seemed interesting. I thought it was some kind of Gundam franchise, but I guess it’s a competitor. Mobile Suits vs Gyrozetters.

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My text books are full of carefully crafted dialogues. They introduce new grammar and vocabulary, and they’re good at that, but they don’t give you the thrill of learning from a real setting.

Which is what I’ll do now – let’s play Chousoku Henkei Gyrozetter Arubarosu no Tsubasa!

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なにか ボタンを おしてください

Push any button.

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タッチでムービーをスキップ

Touch to skip movie.

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カケル って誰だ?

Who is Kakeru?

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なんか変な夢見ちゃったな

I had such a strange dream.

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名前を入力してください

Please enter your name.

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なまえはカールでよろしいですか?

Is it correct that the name is Karl?

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ナオ:カールったら

Nao: Hey Karl!

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ナオ:変な時間に昼寝したからじゃない?

Nao: You took a nap at a strange time, didn’t you?

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カール:フトンが干したてフカフカで気持ちいいんだもん

Karl: The freshly dried (?) futon was fluffy and felt so good.

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ナオ:お掃除するから外で遊んでらっしゃい

Nao: After you have cleaned up you can go out and play.

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ナオ:お父さんもエリカもでかけたわよ

Nao: Dad and Erika have also gone out.

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カール:はあい 母さん

Karl: Yees mum.

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ナオ:あ カール! ちょっと待って

Nao: Oh Karl! Wait a little.

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カール:?

Karl: ?

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ナオ:エリカったら チケット忘れてる映画観るっていってたのに

Nao: Erika forgot the ticket despite she said she was going to see a movie.

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ナオ:悪いけど 可愛い妹に チケットを届けてあげて

Nao: Sorry but could you deliver the ticket to your sweet little sister?

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カール:しょうがないなあ

Karl: I guess I have to.

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「だいじなもの」をあずかった!映画のチケット

You got an “important item”! A movie ticket.

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ナオ:ありがとね

Nao: Thanks!

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ナオ:商店街にある映画館のそばにエリカはいるんじゃないかしら

Nao: I wonder if Erika isn’t close to the movie theater in the shoutengai/shopping arcade.

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ナオ:いってらっしゃい

Nao: Take care (you’re leaving now).

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エリカにチケットを届けよう

Let’s deliver the ticket to Erika.

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(Aha, I can move with the joystick thing.)

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下画面には今いる場所の地図が表示されているぞ

A map of the place where you are now is displayed on the lower screen.

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!マークが目的地だ

The ! symbol is the destination.

目的地まで矢印のガイドが表示されているぞ

The way to the destination is displayed by the arrow guides.

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矢印のガイドに従って!マークのところまで行ってみよう!

So let’s try to go to the ! place that the arrows point to!

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いいクルマだねー!

What a nice car!

(Here I realised that I could stop everyone on the street and press A to have them talk to me. So I did that a lot.)

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え?あのクルマに住んでるの?それはちょっと大変だね

Eh? You live in that car? That must be a bit tough.

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あらカールくん 今日も元気ね!

Oh, little Karl. You are so full of energy today too!

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おばさんカールくんの若さがまぶしいわ

Little Karl’s youth is sparkling over me, your aunt/older lady.

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カール:(映画館は商店街の先だ)

Karl: (The movie theater is in front of the shopping arcade.)

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街の人と会話しよう

Let’s talk to the people in the city.

ここ横浜新都心にはたくさんの人が暮らしている

Lots of people live in the city of New Yokohama.

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街の人に近づいてAボタンを押して会話そしてみよう!

Let’s try to talk to the city’s people by pressing the A button when coming near them!

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頭に「!」吹き出しが出ているのが妹の「エリカ」だ

The head with a “!” balloon coming out of it is your little sister “Erika”.

探してみよう!

Let’s try and find her!

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昔はオトナしか車に乗れなかったんだって!

In the old days only grownups used to ride cars!

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今は子どもだって運転できるのにね

Nowadays children can drive.

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大きくなったらジャイロゼッターに乗るんだ!

When I grow up I’ll ride a gyrozetter!

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パパとママは絶対ダメっていうけどカッコイイんだもん

Papa and Mama say they’re totally against it, but it would be really cool.

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戦争で東京が消えてしまったからね横浜は日本の中心なんだ

Since Tokyo was eradicated in the war, Yokohama is the center of Japan.

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エネルクス社ではメガネの方が出世すると聞いて

At EnelX Inc. you better wear glasses. Get a promotion and listen (?)

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メガネをかけています

I’m wearing glasses.

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レイ:何だお前は?なれなれしい

Rei: What’s up with you? You’re too intimate (?)

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レイ:さては オレのファンか?

Rei: Wait, are you my fan?

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レイ:フッ 握手くらいならしてやらんでもない

Rei: Fu! With such a long handshake … (what?)

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レイ:横浜最強ドライバーの俺様と握手ができたんだ

Rei: You managed to shake hands with Yokohama’s strongest driver, namely Me.

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レイ:当分手を洗うなよ

Rei: Don’t wash your hand for some time.

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レイ:暴走ジャイロゼッターが出たというウワサを聞いてやってきたが

Rei: I heard a rumour about a runaway gyrozetter that got out.

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レイ:どうやらガセネタのようだな

Rei: It was of the Gaseneta kind (?)

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レイ:バカバカしい

Rei: Ridiculous.

帰るとするか

Will it return (?)

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ここは世界最大のエネルギー企業エネルクす本社だ

This is the head quarter of EnelX, the world’s largest energy company.

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エーアイカー燃料のゼタレイトはほとんどエネルクスが独占してるんだ

EnelX almost has a monopoly on Zetareit, the fuel for the A.I. cars.

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他にも警備用のジャイロゼッターやいろいろな物をくってるんだよ

It fuels (?) other things too, like the gyrozetters of the police and other stuff.

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エネルクスにようこそ!お約束はございますか?

Welcome to EnelX! What’s your errand? (? 約束 = promise)

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ご用が無ければお引き取りください

If you don’t have any business, please leave.

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ご用のない方は お通しできません

People without an errand can’t pass.

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昨日ものすごい流れ星を見たのいったい何だったのかしら

Yesterday I saw a fantastic shooting star, I wonder what it really was.

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戦争が始まる前は ジャイロゼッターのバトル大会がバーストコロシアムで開かれていたのよ

Before the war began, gyrozetter battle tournaments opened in the Burst Colosseum.

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またバーストコロシアムでバーストファイトがみたいわ

I wanna watch burst fights in the Burst Colosseum again.

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ゼタレイトが発見される前は空気が悪くて大変だったらしい

Before Zetareit was invented, the air was bad and it was sort of tough.

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エネルギーはクリーンなのが一番だな

Clean energy is most important.

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横浜新都心の中は平和だけど

Within New Yokohama there’s peace, but …

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一歩外に出れば 恐ろしい暴走ゼッターがうようよしてるの

If you go out, the horrible runaway zetter is crawling around.

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暴走ゼッターに怯えずに暮らせる世の中になるといいのにね

I hope the world will become a fearless place to live (thanks to the runaway zetter?)

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ここって ずっと工事中だよね

This is still under construction.

何でかなあ

I wonder what it is.

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マーヤ:エリカちゃんのお兄さんこんにちは!マーヤです

Maya: Erika-chan’s big brother, hello! I am Maya.

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マーヤ:エリカちゃんと二人でこれから映画を観るんです

Maya: Me and Erika-chan will watch a movie now.

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マーヤ:あいるちゃんがジャイロゼッターに乗るお話なんです!

Maya: It’s said that Airu-chan will ride a gyrozetter.

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エリカ:お兄ちゃーん!

Erika: Big brother!

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カール:あっ エリカ!

Karl: Oh, Erika!

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エリカ:えっへっへー

Erika: Ehehee

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エリカ:今から あいるちゃんの映画をみるんだよ~

Erika: We’re gonna see Airu-chan’s movie now.

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エリカ:あいるちゃんが「ジャイロゼッター」で大暴れするストーリーなんだ~

Erika: Airu-chan will have a fierce story in “Gyrozetter”.

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エリカ:ムフーン! ちょう楽しみ!

Erika: Mufun! (?) It will be really fun!

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カール:アイドルはともかく

Karl: Except for the idol …

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カール:「ジャイロゼッター」ってかっこいいよな!

Karl: “Gyrozetter” is cool!

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エリカ:うん!クルマがロボットに変形するんだもん

Erika: Yes! The car will transform into a robot.

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エリカ:うちのトレーラーハウスもジャイロゼッターだったらいいのに

Erika: Wouldn’t it be cool if our trailer house too was a gyrozetter …

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カール:お前は子どもだなあ

Karl: You are such a child.

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エリカ:双子なんだから 同い年でしょ!

Erika: Since we’re twins, we’re the same age!

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カール:それより 忘れ物!ほら 映画のチケット

Karl: Anyway, you forgot something! Hey, the movie tickets!

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「映画のチケット」を渡した

You handed over the movie tickets.

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エリカ:あれっ 何でお兄ちゃんが持ってるの?

Erika: Ah, why do you have them?

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カール:お前が忘れてったからだろ

Karl: Well guess, because you forgot them.

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エリカ:じゃあ あたしが持ってるのは

Erika: Well, I have them …

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エリカ:あっ これパパのカードだ!しっぱいしっぱい

Erika: Oh, this is dad’s card! What a mistake.

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カール:それ 父さんのドライバーズIDだぞ

Karl: Isn’t that dad’s driver’s license.

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カール:クルマの運転に必要だし。今頃さがしてるかも

Karl: It’s necessary for driving a car. He must be searching for it right now.

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エリカ:だって チケットと一緒にテーブルの上にあったんだもん

Erika: It must have been on the table together with the tickets.

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エリカ:映画始まっちゃうからお兄ちゃんパパに返しといて

Erika: Since the movie starts now, why don’t you return it to dad.

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カール:えーっ ぼくが?

Karl: What … me?

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エリカ:あとで すっごいヒミツ教えてあげるから!頼んだよ!

Erika: Afterwards I’ll tell you a great secret! Please!

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「だいじなもの」をあずかった:父のドライバーズID

You got an “important item”: Dad’s driver’s license.

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エリカ:えへへ ありがとね お兄ちゃん!

Erika: Ehehe, thanks big brother!

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エリカ:パパは住宅街に家を見に行くって 言ってたよ

Erika: Dad said he would go to look at a house in the residential area.

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エリカ:じゃあ また あとでね!

Erika: Well, see you later!

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カール:仕方ないなあ

Karl: It can’t be helped.

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中断しているソフト

Suspended software

超速変形ジャイロゼッター アルバロスの翼

Super High-Speed Transforming Gyrozetter – the Wings of Arubaros

HOMEボタンで再開できます

You can resume with the HOME button

Afterword

WELL, that ends my first gaming session! 10 minutes of gaming followed by 5 or 6 hours of transcribing and translating! Much more demanding than I thought.

I had imagined an action game but so far it’s just everyday life – which is a happy surprise for me since I love realism! To get a glimpse of ordinary Japanese people’s (or children’s) life by playing their games.

The game was quite easy to understand. I have a feeling the target audience is quite young since the protagonist is a fifth grader. So the game uses furigana over the kanji and often substitutes kanji for kana altogether.

Gyrozetters, Zetareit and Gaseneta aside, I learned some new and useful words:

  • フカフカ = fluffy
  • 目的地 = destination
  • 矢印 = arrow
  • 新都心 = new city
  • 吹き出し = balloon
  • 出世する = to get ahead, to make a career
  • なれなれしい = too intimate, over-familiar
  • バカバカしい = ridiculous
  • 暴走 = runaway
  • 暴走する = to go out of control
  • 燃料 = fuel
  • 独占 = monopoly
  • 警備用 = police (how does it differ from 警察?)
  • ものすごい = tremendous
  • 流れ星 = shooting star
  • うようよする = to crawl around
  • 怯えず = not scared (research word type!)
  • 工事中 = under construction
  • 大暴れする = to wreck havoc
  • X はともかく = leaving aside X …
  • 変形する = to transform, to deform
  • トレーラーハウス = trailer house
  • 双子 = twins
  • 同い年(おないどし)= of the same age
  • 中断 = interruption
  • 再開 = resumption

Now coffee.

Got myself a Japanese Nintendo 3DS LL

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I had been thinking about getting one, done some research, compared it to Sony’s PS Vita, realised that handheld game devices in general are on the decline because of smartphones with more power and higher resolution, maybe it would be stupid to get one.

Then I checked what the price of 18,900 yen was in Swedish crowns. 1,228 crowns (138 euro). That’s so little! And that’s when I realised that game consoles aren’t made (or priced) for me, but for people twenty years younger than me. Finally I can reap the benefits of being immature! The toys for my age group is cars and boats – I’m glad I’m not into that. (Though my road bike did cost a bit.) So I shopped away!

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Nintendo 3DS LL is the 3DS version with bigger screens. 3DS LL and 3DS XL are the same model; it’s just called XL in the West because that’s the word we have for the size above Large, whereas the Japanese just double the L mark.

Of course it’s half the fun for me to get the Japanese version, especially since all games are region coded and I want to play in Japanese. It also seems that my favorite game at the game centers and the reason why I wanted to get a 3DS in the first place, Taiko no Tatsujin (Taiko Drum Master), only has been released in Japan.

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After reading this post by Danny Choo (while at Freshness Burger, just before going to Yodobashi to shop), I also decided to get the latest Kid Icarus. It’s a very sweet game, and the graphics and sound of modern video games are so impressive!

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The box with Kid Icarus also contained the black stand/holder that you can see on the pictures. A very nice surprise, since I had thought of getting one of those (also after reading Danny Choo’s post), but decided not to since my luggage is already overfull and can’t take even the smallest items that I can as well buy back in Europe.

I also had to get an adapter, since the 3DS’s for some reason don’t come with a power cord. The only positive thing with that was that I could choose my own colour, so I chose blue. Another good thing is that it will work in Europe too (it accepts 100 – 240 V input), unlike the ones for my Japanese Nintendo Wii U.

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Ok, let’s play! I made this little video to show you how fun Taiko no Tatsujin is. Now, this is one of my first plays, so despite it’s the easiest level I’m very bad. And I have yet to find out a good way to hold the sticks. But I plan to become the ultimate TAIKO DRUM MASTER!

☆♥ Sharp Plasmacluster ♥☆

My two main criteria when shopping for Japanese gadgets are:

  1. That they are beautiful.
  2. That they have Japanese text on their buttons.
If they also actually can do something, that’s more of a fun bonus. This little beauty from Sharp is called Plasmacluster. It’s a technology for purifying or ionizing or de-ionizing or whatever the air. I found it at electronics store Labi in Shibuya. And I love it.