Japanese Lesson from Games: たまげた

The Nintendo Switch is region free, and many (not all) games, including Octopath Traveler, have the full Japanese text and audio available in the U.S. release of the game. No need to import from Japan! This is an amazing resource for gamers who are learning Japanese. Here’s my latest grab!

Octopath Traveler Screenshot - Tamageta
tamageta… koitsu wa shourai, oomono ni naru zo

Kanji: 魂消た (The kanji doesn’t seem to be that commonly used, and it wasn’t in the game.)

Hiragana: たまげた

Romaji: tamageta

English: To be astonished, startled.

I don’t think I had learned the phrase たまげた before… It’s funny. I like it. The Kanji doesn’t seem to be commonly used, but it literally means that your spirit vanished or disappeared.

The Japanese website GOGEN explains that the expression has been around since the Meiji Era and means to have such a surprising experience that your spirit disappears. It also says that now there is also another expression, 魂切る (tamagiru), which currently has the same meaning, but wasn’t always that way.

I tweeted this as well! Check my Twitter account @Japannewbie for more occasional Japanese language tidbits from games.


Traditional Soba at Yamatoan on Mount Yoshino in Nara (Yoshinoyama)

Yoshinoyama (吉野山 or Mount Yoshino) in Nara prefecture is mainly famous for it’s beautiful cherry tree blossoms in the spring. However, I was in the area in the summer as part of another trip, and Google Maps led us to a wonderful soba shop, Yamatoan.

Inaka Soba at Soba restaurant Yamatoan on Mt. Yoshino
Inaka Soba set at Yamatoan (circa. 2020)

The staff are very friendly. Maybe it’s because we went on off-season and they weren’t very busy, but they took some extra time to tell us the difference in “inaka soba” (country-style old-fashioned soba) and regular soba. They also serve “soba yu” at the end of your meal, which the left over warm water that is left over from when the soba noodles were prepared. You’re meant to pour this warm broth into your soba dipping sauce (tsuyu) and drink it like tea.

The shop also had a big jambe drum from Mali… The staff told us that he used to play in a drum circle. I’m saying staff, but, he actually might be the owner, or manager, not sure. The shop also sells high-end hemp backpacks from Nepal. It’s that kind of natural place with a hipster vibe.

Soba restaurant Yamatoan
Yamatoan on Mount Yoshino in Nara (Yoshinoyama)

We cheated and came to Yamatoan by car. If you decide to walk up the mountain to get here, you’ll be sure to work up an appetite and you’ll enjoy passing by the other rustic shops along the way.

Good times! Good food! If you’re in the area be sure to check it out, might be fun.

Soba restaurant Yamatoan
They also have a soba-making workshop!


Yamatoan Official Website

Nara Sightseeing – Yamatoan

Address: 2296, Yoshinoyama, Yoshino-cho, Yoshino-gun, Nara Pref.


Japanese Lesson from Games: 取捨選択

The Nintendo Switch is region free, and many (not all) games, including Octopath Traveler, have the full Japanese text and audio available in the U.S. release of the game. No need to import from Japan! This is an amazing resource for gamers who are learning Japanese. Here’s my latest grab!

Octopath Traveler Screenshot - Decision to accept or reject
jinsei wa shusha sentaku no renzoku da

Kanji: 取捨選択

Hiragana: しゅしゃせんたく

Romaji: Shusha Sentaku

English: Choices. Decision to accept or reject.

Rough literal translation: Life is a continuous string of decisions on what to accept and what to reject. I suspect the actual in game translation is something like, “Life is nothing but a series of choices…”

The phrase that I didn’t know until encountering it in this game is 取捨選択 shusha sentaku. This is one of those phrases where if you know the individual characters, you can pretty much guess the meaning of the phrase.

The first character 取 means “to take,” and the second character 捨 means to “throw away” and is common in the verb 捨てる. The next two characters make up a common vocabulary of 選択 which means to chose, make a selection, or choice.

All together 取捨選択 means to make a decision as to whether to accept or reject something.

I tweeted this as well! Check my Twitter account @Japannewbie for more occasional Japanese language tidbits from games.

How-to Transfer Nintendo Switch data to a larger microSD Card on MacOSX – It can be a Nightmare!

My Nintendo Switch microSD card filled up and I needed to move to a larger card. This would all be so much easier in Windows (see Nintendo’s official guidance). But I have Macs.

This method worked for me when moving data from a 128 GB microSD card to a 256 GB microSD card on Nintendo Switch Firmware 10.2 0.

Get the Old microSD Card Out of your Switch

Power off your Nintendo Switch. Not sleep, power it off.

Remove the microSD card. (The microSD card is located under the kickstand on the standard Nintendo Switch.)

Copy the contents of your old microSD card onto your Mac

Insert the microSD card into your Mac using whatever means works for you.

Launch the Terminal App and enter the following commands. A description of what the commands do follows.

mkdir ~/Desktop/MyOldSwitchMicroSDCard
cp -r /Volumes/Untitled/Nintendo ~/Desktop/MyOldSwitchMicroSDCard

The mkdir command is Make Directory, and it will create a directory on your desktop called MyOldSwitchMicroSDCard. You can change this directory name to whatever you want.

The cp -r command is Copy Recursively. This will copy everything from the Nintendo directory and its subdirectories on the old SD card, which by default mounts as /Volumes/Untitled/, to the MyOldSwitchMicroSDCard directory on your desktop.

Depending on the amount of data to be transferred and the speed of your gear this cp command may take hours to complete. Sit tight.

Setup the New microSD Card
You can perform this step while copying the old microSD card to your Mac.

Here’s how to format a microSD card with your Switch.
Ensure your Switch is powered off.
Insert the microSD card into your Switch.
Power on your Switch.
Select “Settings” form the home screen.
Select “System” from the settings menu.
Select Formatting Options.
Select Format microSD Card. Be careful to chose the right option here!

This will wipe the microSD card and make it ready for use in the Nintendo Switch.

Now that your new microSD card is ready, it’s time to copy the content from your old microSD card on to it.

Copy the contents of your old microSD card from the Desktop onto your New microSD Card

Launch the Terminal App and enter the following commands to copy the content from your Desktop back to the microSD card.

cp -r ~/Desktop/MyOldSwitchMicroSDCard/Nintendo/* /Volumes/Untitled/Nintendo

Eject the card.

Put it in the new switch. Cross your fingers.

Press power.

After going through these steps, I noticed that all my games and save data seemed to be in tact. However, I was missing a bunch of photos and videos from the Album. No!!!! Not my Monster Hunter Ultimate kills screens and beautiful Zelda Breath of the Wild selfies!

To get the Album back, I tried running the the following commands from the reddit post in the Terminal App .

    sudo chflags -R arch /Volumes/Untitled/
    sudo chflags -R noarch /Volumes/Untitled/Nintendo/
    sudo mdutil -i off /Volumes/Untitled/
    sudo mdutil -E /Volumes/Untitled/
    dot_clean -m /Volumes/Untitled/

Not all of the commands executed successfully.

The first command failed with “.Spotlight-V100: Operation not permitted”.

The second command ran cleanly with no feedback.

The third command ran and returned with feedback finally saying “Indexing disabled.”

The fourth command also returned “Indexing disabled.” The final command failed saying, “Failed trying to change dir to .Spotlight-V100 Bad Pathname: Operation not permitted.

After running these commands, I could see everything I remember from my Album, however, now none of my non-cartridge games would launch. I would get an error message telling me to return Home and to try launching again.

Reading around I learned that one of the issues with Mac and Nintendo is that the Nintendo Switch does not play nicely with hidden directories and files that MacOS tends to put in its file structures. The hidden directories and files always have a dot at the beginning of the name. Like “.Spotlight-V100”.

Browsing the microSD card with Finder, and then hitting the Command+Shift+. keys together shows any hidden folders or files. Sure enough, I could now see the .Spotlight-V100 folder that was mentioned in the error messages above. I deleted that and emptied the recycle bin.

I reinserted the memory card into the Nintendo Switch, and now everything finally seems to be working!

Good luck! If you can avoid it, just do this on a Windows machine. I have also heard that if you don’t care about your Album contents, it may just be easier to swap memory cards and download everything again from the Nintendo eShop.

Whatever you decide to do, I hope it goes smoothly and that it doesn’t cost you much game time!

These tutorials were helpful!
FlynsArmy.com – https://www.flynsarmy.com/2019/07/how-to-transfer-data-between-nintendo-switch-microsd-cards-with-os-x/

Reddit.com How to transfer SD card data using MacOSX.

Reddit.com mentions using Command+Shift+. to show hidden files in Finder.

MacWorld on what those hidden folders are all about.

Japanese Shochu – Chihonokura

I’m no shochu connoisseur, but I’ve had a lot of shochu. My relatives drink a ton of the potato-based Kirishima, so I am using Kirishima as the basis of comparison for every shochu I have had recently.

I recently picked up a carton of potato-based Chihonokura from the Shirakawa Suigen area in Kyushu.

Chinokura Shochu Carton
Chihonokura Shochu

Compared to Kirishima this shochu has a much stronger potato flavor. Many people describe the potato flavor of potato-based shochu as stinky, and I think it’s not unfair to use that to describe this shochu. It’s not the stinkiest or most difficult to drink, but when you try Chihonokura there will be no doubt that you’re drinking a potato shochu!

I normally drink shochu with lots of ice. I couldn’t imagine drinking this one any other way, I’m sure I would have personally found it to be too strong.

Personally I won’t be seeking this one out again, but if you’re into the more powerful potato shochu’s it’s worth a try. I was able to easily find this at a regular grocery store in Japan.

Chihonokura Carton Details
Shirakawa Suigen in Kyushu is famous for pristine water, essential for shochu.

Fancy White Bread in Japan at Nogami Bread

Need a fancy loaf of bread? Sure you do! Try Noagmi Bread.

Nogami Bread Display

This double sized loaf on display costs 864 yen, or about $8.50 USD. A smaller loaf is 432 yen. I have had this bread on several occasions, and it’s delicious for sure, but it’s not something I would plan on eating every day.

Apparently Nogami is the first Japanese company to start selling high-end white bread in Japan. Now there are many similar specialty bakeries. Nogami has branches all over Japan. See if there is one in your location so you can find out what the hype is all about!

Famous Signatures at Nogami in Osaka
Famous people shopped here! One of the Nogami Bread shops in Osaka


Not my video. A Japanese guy from 2016 showing off his bread.
Can you handle this?

Takoyaki Parties Never Get Old

Yet another Takoyaki party! But is it TENKASU or AGEDAMA?

Many Japanese people from the Kansai area in western Japan have a Takoyaki kit as part of their kitchenware items. If there’s a home gathering of Japanese expats takoyaki will probably make an appearance before long.

Takoyaki - cut octopus
Cut up octopus to insert into the center of each Takoyaki ball. “Tako” means Octopus.
Takoyaki - ingredients
Tenkasu, green onions, shouga (ginger), and, rare, but ok, cabbage.

The rice crispies looking thing you see above is called Tenkasu in Kansai-dialect. Until recently, I thought tenkasu was the regular name.

天かす てんかす “Tenkasu” Used in Kansai. The name comes from the left over stuff when you make Tenpura. The “ten” from “tenpura” and “kasu” basically means trash or residue.

揚げ玉 あげだま “Agedama” Used in the rest of Japan, it seems. Age means to “fry up,” and “dama” is a ball.

Takoyaki - ingredients
The batter should spill out of the depressions, no problem. It’ll roll together in the end.
Takoyaki - Cooking
Turn them as they cook to get this shape. All done!
Add Takoyaki sauce, seaweed (aonori), fish flakes (katsuobushi), and mayo if you like!

If you’ve never heard of Takoyaki, google it up. There are countless explanations!

A Visit to Awajishima Circa 2004

In 2002 I took a trip from Osaka to Awajishima. The trip was awesome and was suggested by a reader of my blog at the time. I was lucky enough to be hosted by an exchange student friend who was living on Awajishima, so I had a local host of sorts. The trip was a few hours one way. First we took a train to Sannomiya, and then grabbed a long distance bus for about an hour and a half. The last stop on the bus is a town called Fukura, which is where my friend was living. I’m not sure if that’s still the best way to get there, so check the Awajishima Access link below to plan your trip.

A picture of one of Awajishima's famous whirlpools
One of Awajishima’s famous whirlpools called Uzuoshi うず潮

We arrived late Friday night so we would have Saturday and Sunday to enjoy. Due to the unbelievable whirlwind of activities that we did on Saturday, I think I can say that we did almost all of the main attractions that Awajishima has to offer. Here’s a summary of our tour.

#1 Nushima (Nu Island)

Nushima (沼島) is a small island about a 10 minute ferry ride from Nandan-cho, Nada. Nushima has a famous rock called Kamitate Gami Iwa 上立神岩。

Kamitate Gamiiwa Rock
Kamitate Gamiiwa Rock 上立神岩

It also has this cool area with hundreds of continuous Torii gates. Sort of like Fushimi Inari in Kyoto but with fewer tourists and a different style of torii gate. Apparently they give luck to the many fishermen in the area.

Torii Gates on Awajishima
Torii Gates on Awajishima

Also, here’s some trivia. Apparently in Nushima there is a story that explains how the island, and the rest of Japan were created. When god was creating Japan, he jabbed a sword into the earth. When he was pulling up the sword some of the stuff that was clinging to it dripped off. That first drip is Nushima. Kamitate Gami Iwa is the spot where the sword stuck. The other drips were Awajishima and the rest of Japan… So Nushima came first. Apparently there is a similar story in Awajishima with the names reversed. The ferry’s don’t leave Nushima back to Awajishima so often, so be sure to track the schedule carefully. If not, you might have to run up and down the hills of the island at break neck speeds to avoid screwing up the rest of your day. Then your muscles will be sore… Not that… it… happened to us or anything… Ha Ha Ha!(恥)

#2 Awajishima Monkey Center (モンキーセンター)

After Nushima we went to Awajishima Monkey Center. Awajishima Monkey Center was probably the second most famous thing in Awajishima next to the Uzushio (渦潮) at the time.

Awajishima Monkey Center
Awajishima Monkey Center (2004)

The monkey center was nice because the monkeys were just kind of walking around freely. There is a designated spot for feeding where the customers go behind a fence and give them peanuts. This is so the monkeys understand that random people are only going to give them food when they are behind the fence so they don’t ask for food other times.

Monkeys at Awajishima Monkey Center
Monkeys at Awajishima Monkey Center

#3 Nazo no Paradise (ナゾのパラダイス)

Nazo no Paradise is this erotic museum with other random mystery stuff like UFOs. It was freakin’ strange. Apparently the place tries to remain reasonably legit by keeping old school Japanese erotic prints. You know what I mean. They also though had strange statues…

Statue from Nazo no Paradise
Statue from Nazo no Paradise

#4 Awaji Ningyou Jyoururi (人形浄瑠璃)

That Kanji is difficult. It wouldn’t even come up on my cell phone on first try.

Awajishima Doll
Awajishima Doll

These dolls are famous and the performance is an art. It takes three people to control one doll. The right arm and head are controlled by one person, the left arm by another, and the feet by the last person. The doll’s hands can move, eyes can blink, head can turn, and all of the arm joints move freely.

During the performance there were two Japanese ladies on the side, one playing the shamisen, and one singing and reading the lyrics. It’s amazing how they all work together to bring the dolls to life. Pictures were not allowed during the performance. The men controlling the dolls wore all black and black hoods as to not distract from the action of the dolls. 

#5 Awaji Farm Park England Hill (England no Oka, イングランドの丘)

Farm park was a sort of nature and farm inspired theme park. There is something similar in Osaka called Mother Farm. Check their website for some of the possible activities. I wouldn’t recommend a trip to Awajishima just to visit Farm Park, but if you’re already in Awajishima and have kids it can be a nice healthy diversion.

On our final day we went to do shiohigari, which is “clamming.” You go down to the beach when the tide is back, and dig for clams. Then you take them home and eat them up. Fun for the whole family!

Shiohigari in Awaji
Clamming on Awajishima
Shiohigari in Awaji
Clamming on Awajishima – BYOB (Bring your Own Bucket)


Links around the web


Octopath Traveler Final Boss – Galdera

(This article contains mild Octopath Traveler spoilers including images of the true final boss, and tips to defeat him.)

The true final boss in Octopath Traveler will not be easy for the casual, or even mildly fanatic, gamer. In fact, if you find it easy, you’re truly something and I am in awe at your gaming skillz.

It took me about 42 million tries to win, and I have bene playing turn-based RPGs since the original Final Fantasy on the NES. You don’t have to fight this hidden true final boss. If you can suppress your desire to do all there is to do in this game — just quit! Save your sanity! However, if you’re like me and just can’t stop, then I hope these tips help.

Galdera Wins
Galdera Wins! (Again!)

Thankfully, Octopath Traveler has such an interesting job and ability system that I didn’t mind the countless party reconfigurations and trial and error (and… OK… internet research…) that it took to finally win. I’m normally not a completionist… but I 100 percented this game. My tips on how to survive the final fight may not be optimal, but they worked for me.

Galdera Phase 2
Smashing that disgusting eye is not enough… Galdera phase 2!

Don’t Leave Home Without these Passive Skills
Saving Grace / 回復限界突破
BP Eater / BPイーター
Divine Aura / 天使の加減
Fortitude / 火事場の馬鹿力
Surpassing Power / ダメージ限界突破
Second Serving / おかわり
Patience / ラストアクト
Eye for an Eye / 反撃

Saving Grace allows your characters to be healed beyond their limits and have up to 9,999 HP. Everybody needs this. When a party member goes down revive them with an Olive of Life and they will pop back up with 9999 HP ready to go!

BP Eater will make your boosted BP attacks do extra damage. By extra I mean thousands of points of extra damage. Give this to whoever you plan to have use their divine skills to dish it out. For me, this was my Warmaster (Haaint), Thief (Therion), and Fighter (Olberic). I probably should have also given it to my Sorcerer, but I mainly used their magic for multiple hits to “break” the boss.

Divine Aura will give you a 25% chance to take no damage from an enemy’s attack. Since the boss is going to hit you a million times spread across four characters, that 1 in 4 chance will add up — no matter how unlucky you are in real life. Give it to as many characters as you can.

Fortitude will allow you deal more damage the lower your HP gets. If you can manage to line up your Warmaster with 1 HP, full BP, BP Eater, Fortitude, and Surpassing Power, you’re going to deal a ton of damage. This was my key to consistently defeating Galdera phase 1.

Surpassing Power allows you to deal more than 9999 damage. It should be paired with BP Eater like peanut butter and jelly, and you should put it on any character you expect to be dishing out heavy damage.

Second Serving will cause your character to attack twice 50% of the time when performing a regular attack. This should be on your characters that have the Double Hatchet. (There are two Double Hatchets to be found in the game.) If your BP is maxed out and you unleash with the Double Hatchet and Second Serving, there is a chance you’ll hit the enemy something like 12 times! Break that armor!

Patience will allow your character to act again at the end of the turn 25% of the time. Bonus round! Put this on as many characters as possible. You can use that extra turn to slip in that final attack to break, or to do housekeeping things like apply BP or SP potions.

Eye for an Eye let’s you counter attack when damaged by a physical attack 50% of the time, and pairs well with your characters that have the Double Hatchet. Sometimes those unplanned extra hits can trigger a “break” and get you out of a pinch.

See the Fandom Octopath Traveler page for a full list of all the support skills.

Take the Time, Set it Up
If you can get your WarMaster down to 1 HP, full BP, the Fortitude passive skill, and the enemy is broken, and you have reduced the enemies armor, then you’ve set yourself up for a big hit. All this may seem like chasing a unicorn, but getting the setup right will be the difference between a 10,000 damage attack and a 40,000 damage attack. Most of the time you’ll be able to get some mix or resemblance of this set up. Work for it, even if it means defending sometimes to delay your attackers turn until the time is right.

Break him with FIRE!
Break him with FIRE!!!

Attack when Broken for Maximum Damage
When possible, save your big divine skill attacks for when the boss is broken. You’ll do much more damage than when they are not broken.

Double Hatchet
The double hatchet hits twice with each attack. This is useful for quickly breaking enemies. The eye on phase 1 is weak to axe. Considering giving the Eye for an Eye ability and the Second Serving ability to the characters who have this equipped for some extra damage.

How should I split up my party?
This is the set up that worked for me, but there can be many variations. Notes on effective passive skills are at the beginning of this article.

Galdera Phase 1:
Main Strategy: Massive Area DamageReflective Veil to survive Galdera’s lightning attack

In this phase you need to destroy all of the souls at once to expose the eye, and then focus on keeping the eye broken as long as possible while dealing as much damage as possible. In this phase the boss has 500,000 hit points, versus only 150,000 in phase 2.

It will take a while to wear him down. If you unleash a big attack and one of those souls happens to survive, and god forbid if one regenerates, be sure to wear the healthy one down so you can finally wreck them all at the same time. The eyeball can unleash a lightning attack that will hit all of your characters at the same time. If you have a chance, apply Reflective Veil to bounce that crap back.

This is how I set up my party and what their main roles were:

H’aanit / Warmaster: Used the Warmaster’s divine skill to wreck everything.

Alfyn / Warrior: Used Double Tomahawk to break the eye. Used his concoctions to give everyone BP — this is hugely important. Used warrior divine skill to dish mega targeted damage to a single soul in case one got out of sync.

Ophelia / Thief: Used the thief divine skill for dealing damage to all of the souls simultaneously. Using cleric’s divine skill on the sorcerer was useful for repeating her magic to increase hits to make her breaks even more effective. Thief’s Armor Corrosive was also helpful, but the Full Enfeeblement NPC from Noblecourt duplicates that.

Primrose / Scholar: Her job was mainly buffing allies by boosting physical and magic attack power. The scholar’s magic was useful to help break. She also brought the NPC named Ogen who can heal your entire party for 9999 HP. Bring him!

Galdera Phase 2:
Main Strategy: Just destroy everything and survive. The parts do not regenerate. Damage! Deal Damage! Survive to fight another day!

Therion / Cleric: His thief divine skill is powerful if you build him for speed. When you need, heal the party up and cast reflective veil.

Olberic / Allpoc: Fighting and healing. Nothing fancy. I gave him the Double Tomahawk to help break.

Cyrus / Runelord: Positive status effects can get canceled during this fight, but if you can slip in a hit with a rune boost every now and then it will help. Second Serving and rune magic go well together.

Teresa / Sorcerer: Magic to break! BP Passer to give Therion the juice he needs to use his divine skill.

That’s all I got! Good luck! If you need to level up near the end of the game you can do so in the Forest of Purgation.

Geesh that fight was rough… Might be fun though. Give it a shot!


Harajuku Circa 2002

When I was relatively new to Tokyo I visited Harajuku summer 2002. Here’s some photos and memories from that time.

Harajuku is just about a 20 minute stroll from Shibuya. If you plan to visit, just get to Shibuya and you can walk to Harajuku and through Omotesando as well on the same trip.

Takeshita Doori 2002
Takeshita Street (2002)

Harajuku used to be famous for clothing shops, crepe, and the extreme fashions of the people who hang out there. The vibe has changed a bit since 2002. Nearby Omotesando is a clean fancy street filled with high end shops and fancy restaurants. Harajuku station itself is scheduled to be remodeled and expanded and will no longer be a cute little station resembling a cabin of sorts. I haven’t been in a while, but I’m pretty sure that Takeshita street still gets super crowded. Some things will never change. Probably a much higher percentage of out of foreign tourists now though.

Back in 2002, as soon as I got to the station area I noticed the crazy fashion statements that were mentioned in every Tokyo guide book at the time. The pictures speak for themselves. The locals welcomed the photos, and posed and looked directly into the camera for me.

Harajuku Fashion 2002
Harajuku Fashion 2002
Harajuku Fashion 2002
Harajuku Fashion 2002
Harajuku Fashion 2002 - Two girls
Harajuku Fashion 2002
Harajuku Fashion 2002
Harajuku Fashion 2002

The gathering was organized and set around a specific time. Was it Sunday mornings? Local photographers came out to take pictures, and everyone came out with their suitcases filled with gear for their outfits.

Harajuku Station Area 2002
Harajuku Station Area 2002
Harajuku Station Area 2002 Photographer
Harajuku Station Area 2002 Photographer

Have you been to Harajuku recently? What’s changed? Is the vibe around the station area and entrance to the park generally the same? Now when I go to Japan I generally go to Osaka, so it’s been a while since I’ve been to Harajuku too see if these folks still come out!

I can’t believe it’s been almost 20 years…

Harajuku Fashion 2002
Harajuku Fashion 2002