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Koshi Hikari Rice beer from Niigata

Not just any rice. Koshi Hikari!

Koshi Hikari itself is known as one of the highest quality rice brands in Japan. Despite the unmistakable quality and brand recognition of the rice, I wouldn’t have guessed this beer was made with rice if it wasn’t on the label. It had a light smooth taste and was refreshing and easy to drink, as they say in Japanese. I didn’t find it particularly amazing, but it wasn’t bad. It is certainly unique. I would recommend giving it a shot if you’re looking for something uniquely Japanese to try. For what it’s worth, the bottle is also wrapped in paper, as if it were a bag of rice.

I later tried Swan Lake Beer’s Porter, which, in my opinion, was a much more interesting beer.

Swan Lake Beer - Koshihikari
Swan Lake Beer – Koshi Hikari
Swan Lake Beer - Koshihikari - Label
Swan Lake Beer – Koshi Hikari Back Label
Swan Lake Beer - Koshihikari Front Label
Swan Lake Beer. Made in Niigata.

Links:

Swan Lake Beer: https://www.swanlake.co.jp/main/beer/en/

Review on Beer Tengoku (these guys know their beer): https://beertengoku.com/2015/09/03/swan-lake-koshihikari-lager/

Nintendo Switch Setup Tip – Opt out of Google Analytics

By default the Nintendo Switch eShop shares your data with Google Analytics. If you don’t want to feed your activity to “Big Data” you can change your settings with a few easy steps.

On your Switch go to the eShop.

Select your profile icon that is on the top right.

In your profile section you’ll see Available Funds and whatnot. From there, scroll all the way down to the bottom and you will see the Google Analytics Preferences.

Just click the Button that says Change, and on the next screen select the Radio Button that says “Don’t Share.”

That’s it! Note, if you are also on the Japanese eShop, the option is there too.

Here’s some other news on the same topic:

PSA: By Default, Nintendo Now Collects Data Through Google Analytics On Switch eShop (North America) [Nintendo Life] https://www.nintendolife.com/news/2020/12/psa_by_default_nintendo_now_collects_data_through_google_analytics_on_switch_eshop_north_america

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Dajyare. Japanese Jokes. Oyaji-gag. Learn them, but use with caution.

That’s right. Japanese jokes. Japanese jokes are pretty interesting. There is a whole category of them that is entirely based on word play. Dajyare are made mainly of words that can have multiple meanings when pronounced..

The jokes don’t always involve two ‘words’ that can have double meanings, they occasionally use the grammar in the middle of a sentence can sound like a word as well. The closest cultural translation is probably “dad jokes,” however dad jokes to not always include the same wordplay as Japanese dajyare.

Dajyare is 駄洒落。駄、which is the ‘da’ used in ‘dame 駄目’, which means, bad, more or less. 洒落 (しゃれ)、means joke. So, together dajyare is a type of bad, or failed joke. Sometimes they are also called oyajigyagu. Where oyaji is old man, and gyagu, is… gag. The proper response when you hear a bad joke in Japan is to say ‘samui’ 寒い, which means cold.

Warning: Though they can be clever, dajyare, or oyaji gags, are universally considered to be groaners. They are so horrible that if used incorrectly the joke teller may be shunned by their peers. The younger generation will undoubtedly label the frequent wielder of oyaji gags to be someone who is awkward and completely out of touch. This is because the true dajyare master can work the jokes into any serious conversation without missing a beat. The dajyare master is always listening. Listening to every word in a conversation while simultaneously searching their expansive database of dajyare to retrieve and execute one at the appropriate time. Timing is everything. The best dajyare isn’t lazily delivered out of nowhere as a standalone gag, it is stealthily worked into innocuous conversation, forcing the listeners to acknowledge the joke, while suppressing their disgust.

Here’s a famous example.

Japanese: monoreru mo noreru. モノレールも乗れる。
English: You can also ride the monorail.
Humor: Try saying the Japanese aloud. You say monoreru twice, the first monoreru is ‘monorail’, the second ‘mo’ is also, and ‘noreru’, is can ride.

If you can manage to work that into a regular sentence… you’ll be the talk of the town!

For example:

A: Hey, getting to Tokyo Disney Land is easy! You can just take the train!
A: 東京ディズニーランドは行きやすいよ。電車で行ける!

B: You can even take the monorail!
B: モノレールも乗れる!

A: So… So cold…
A: さ、さむい。

Here is my personal dajyare creation.

A: How do you say sidewalk in Japanese?
B: hodou (歩道)
A: naruhodo! (なるほど!)

Now that’s comedy.

Want more? Here’s 100 Japanese Oyaji Gags you can use… Who are these kids? I want to hang out with them.

100 Dajyare in Rapid Succession!!! Oh the Humanity!

Need help? Here’s an explanation of the first five jokes to get your mind in the right space so that you can work out the rest.

赤色はあかん aka wa akan

赤色はあかん。

赤色 (akairo) means “red.” あかん (akan) is kansai dialect for “that’s won’t do” or “that’s bad,” it’s basically the same as だめ in standard Japanese. So, this is funny because they are saying “Red is no good!” but, the あか sound repeats.

イカいかすねぇ ika ikasu ne!

イカ(ika) means squid. いかす (ikasu) is slang for “cool.” so this is just the squid is cool. Forms of this joke appear frequently in the awesome game, Splatoon and Splatoon 2.

牛を飼う ushi wo kau

牛を飼う (ushi wo kau) simply means to keep a cow as a pet. This joke is absolutely bonkers hilarious (in an oyaji gag way) because the verb 飼うis pronounced (kau) and sounds just like “cow.” And, “cow,” is 牛 (ushi) in Japanese!

エイでえいっ!ei de ei!

エイでえいっ!An エイis a stingray. The kind that swims in the ocean. えい! Is something you might shout when you would say “Yeah!” or “Let’s goooooo!” in English. So you can kinda imagine someone riding on the back of a ray shouting yeah! Maybe it’s Aquaman.

女が立ちあがーる onnna ga tachi agaaru

女が立ちあがーる (onna ga tachiagaaru) means the girl stands up. The “a” sound in “tachi agaru” has been artificially lengthened to make the joke work. The joke, is that tachi a gaaru sounds like “girl” ガール in romanized Japanese. Get it?

Learn all 100 of these dajyare and then start writing your own. Might be fun!

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Japanese Lesson from Games: 損切り

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 - Songiri
songiri tte yatsu yo. shitteru yone?

Kanji: 損切り

Hiragana: そんぎり

Romaji: songiri

English: To cut your losses.

Teresa scolds, 「損切りってやつよ、知ってるよね?」songiri tte yatsu yo. shitteru yone? This phrase means, “It’s about cutting your loses, you know that right?”

They key phrase itself should be somewhat easy to internalize, even though I don’t think I had heard it before seeing it in this game. The first character means 損 (そん) “loss.” 損する is the verb form and literally means to “lose” in the sense of profit and loss, not to lose a competition (負ける) and not in the sense of misplacing and object (なくす). The second character means “cut,” so the characters point to the “cut loss” meaning directly.

The grammar immediately following is very informal, as is the entire speech bubble. Our hero says, 損切りってやつよ.

ってやつ is a very informal way of saying ということ. She’s saying, that she’s talking about the thing called “cutting your losses.” She then follows by saying, 知ってるよね, you know that right? It should be a snarky tone, translated something like… “It’s called ‘cutting your losses.’ You have heard of that concept… right?” So sassy!

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

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.

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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!

Links:

Yamatoan Official Website

Nara Sightseeing – Yamatoan

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

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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!
Continue.

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

Links:

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