Japan – 5 Simple Travel Tips – Rugby World Cup 2019 – Olympics 2020

After living in Japan for several years, and visiting the country many times, I thought a simple list of travel tips could be useful for new travelers to Japan. If you plan to visit Japan, take the time to read these top 5 simple travel tips and you will have a much improved experience.

1. “Sumimasen” 

5 Simple Travel Tips For Japan
By using “Sumimasen” you are being polite, and politeness goes a long way in Japan.

Many new visitors to Japan believe that arigato (thank you), konichiwa (hello) or gomenasai (sorry – bit strong in most instances) are the main words for newbies and tourists. In application, I believe the best word you can use is Sumimasen. “Sumimasen” means a casual or formal apology and can be used in various contexts.

The key here is that, if you are a foreigner, this polite word can be used when speaking to show that you are trying to seem polite, sincere or apologetic. I have found that if you use this word when asking for and receiving help, Japanese people always respond well.

2. Speaking English vs Speaking Japanese

Simple Travel Tips For Japan
You will often find that an English speaking Japanese person is closer than you realize

A foreigner in Japan who decides to launch into broken and badly pronounced Japanese, will often be less successful than just choosing to speak plain English slowly. Particularly in large city centres, many locals appreciate the chance to practice and use their English. Most Japanese have some basic English knowledge. English is taught in public schools and lessons even occur on weekly free to air television.

If you need directions try asking a local slowly with animated English, you will often find that an English speaking Japanese person is closer than you realize.

3. Konbini’s and the QQ ( or 100 yen stores)

conbini - Simple Travel Tips For Japan
This “super powered convenience store eco-system” is something that only Japan can offer

In Japan you will find an incredible convenience store eco-system, there are more than 55000 across the country. From Family Mart, to Seven Eleven to Lawson and of course the legendary QQ or 99 yen stores.

These mini-supermarket-type shops are open 24 hours and have any emergency item a traveler may need (within reason). Food, coffee, heated pasta, photocopiers, ATMS, toilets, wifi and rubbish bins. They can all be found within walking distance of most locations.

The QQ’s or 99yen shops are even better. They stock many convenience store items along with random hardware items and basic clothing. Some even have fruit, meat and vegetables. Most Konbinis are clearly marked on Google maps.

4. Train Etiquette 

Tips For Travelling In Japan
Trains in Japan are a modern wonder. There are some rules…

In trains you should never talk on your cell phone. If you do take a call, make it short, speak quietly or even cover your mouth. You can ignore these customs, but cell phone conversations are generally seen as quite rude when travelling on a train.

There are also women-only and elderly-only sections on trains. You can spot these sections by the colorful stickers and signs within the train. Men often mistake their way into female carriages, it is not a crime, but you should calmly leave for obvious reasons.

Try not to stare at folk for too long, this is quite a universal rule. Also give your seat to the elderly or anyone in need, again quite a universal rule. Conversation is acceptable but should be kept to a reasonable volume.

Japan’s trains are a modern wonder. Passenger etiquette is an expectation that gels with the engineering and organisational brilliance of the Japanese transit system. Make an effort to get into the groove and you will soon be dreaming of distant worlds as you watch the neon fly by.

Simple Travel Tips For Japan

5. Yamato or Ta-Q-Bin – relieve your back and transport luggage

Luggage - Simple Travel Tips For Japan
Take a day pack and use it while you send your luggage from Tokyo to Osaka

The trains in Japan are incredible and reliable. However, standing at a terminal and walking through gates and subways with large luggage can be hard work.

If you have large luggage and are trekking across country on trains, you can send your items with a company called Yamato or Ta-Q-Bin. This well known and massive luggage transfer business is a life saver if you have large items that need to go from A to B or to the airport. You can even store items at certain pickup locations at a time. It’s decently priced as well.

So if you have a long Japan trip planned, definitely look into using Yamato, it will save you time, hassle and a sore back. Take a day pack and use it while you send your luggage from Tokyo to Osaka etc…..So much easier and more pleasant when you can travel light. Yamato have English speaking staff and offices at the main airports.

Final Thoughts

I think many folk feel that Japan is slightly strict or overly formal. The truth is that the Japanese go out of their way to be accommodating, and sometimes foreigners take this kindness for granted. The Japanese are very patient, try to return the favor.

Being Gaijin (a foreigner)
No matter how good or bad your Japanese is, you will always be seen as a foreigner. Take solace in knowing that as much as you stand out, you will also be invisible.

Japan’s population density causes it’s cities to swarm. However, there is order. This order comes from a social structure that is 1000’s of years old.  Enjoy participating in the Japanese confucian system. Try to blend in as a wise and polite guest.

Watch the locals closely and learn from their patience. In the quieter moments of your journey you will begin to recognize the hidden secrets of this most unique and welcoming culture. It is one that I have never ceased to learn from, and be humbled by.

Travel Tips In Japan
Artwork depicting Miyamoto Musashi, the legendary Samurai who is regarded as a legend in Japan. This mural is located in Kyoto.


Jared Neems is a Web & I.O.T Application Developer and Language Teacher who lives on the Kapiti Coast of New Zealand.

He has worked as a private contractor in education and technology with Yoobee ACG Auckland & Wellington, REINZ, MClass New Zealand and HMI Technologies. Jared works with several design and dev-development contractors under the Veratech brand.

Fly Drones With Javascript

Node.js, a drone and a momentary escape from the browser

almost outside
almost outside

IOT has been a buzz term within web development circles for the last 24 – 36 months. As web developers find new and innovative ways to make web and native applications, some innovation is progressively funneling from the main river of code advancement to real-world non-browser hardware. Could this movement towards hardware and IOT be a sign of something more profound ? It is a rebellion against a development industry that promotes ill health melded with a society that is almost reaching the point of screen addiction. Some brave souls may be finding ways to escape…Image result for tunnel to the sky

How To Drone With Node.js For Under $100.00 US Dollars:

Nasty little sh1t. Watch out when he's airborne
Nasty little sh1t. Watch out when he’s airborne

Shopping Items:

  • Bluetooth 4.0 capable USB adapter (You computer may have this already) $8.00 NZD
  • Parrot minidrone – $96.00 NZD on special, ordered online
  • Computer

The Software:

  • Node.js 6.0 +
  • Solid text editor
  • Fetherston npm-parrot-minidrone
  • Command line

Let’s fly:

2. Bluetooth 4.0 headaches on Windows 7

The most challenging part of this process was setting up the bluetooth usb dongle on a windows machine.  I  was using windows 7 which required me to use Zadig. I went to options, “list all devices” then selected the relevant usb bluetooth device and selected Replace Driver. I take no responsibility if this destroys your bluetooth hardware or usb environment // Do this at your own risk after researching correctly for your system and requirements




3. NPM-parrot-minidrone, node.js – All we need is the demo code

All props to fetherston and their creation. This node package allows us to code with js to control a drone. The repo has a hello-world ready to go. All code is based on Featherstone’s provided demo code an api:


Fetherston drone library on Node Package Manager – So Cool!!!!

Time for the videos:

4. Take Off & Please Land

5. Integrate the keyboard

Flight with keyboard

Laughter at end of video due to the unseen crash landing

And there we have it. A fairly simple way to interface with a drone via node and js. The first thing I learned was that the stakes are much higher when coding/debugging in the physical world.  Exciting times, what other interesting ways (no blinking LED demos please) can we easily explore IOT node.js development?

Jared Neems is a software developer and Teacher from New Zealand who works for Veratech.

How To Set Effective Goals Part 1

I have been interested in the process of goal setting for over 10 years. For this blog post I have collated the most effective tips to set goals from my research over the last decade. This goal setting process is split into 2 parts:

  • Part 1: Location and Active Imagination – A philosophical guide to preparation and idea generation for goal setting
  • Part 2: Recording, Working and Review Points – A practical application in recording and reviewing your goals

In Part 2 I will provide a free template to assist anyone in categorizing and recording their yearly goals

The Internal Process of Goal Setting:

Part 1 focuses on the physchological and internal process of goal setting. Please endeavour to read through this first section as it lays the correct platform for practical goal setting in part 2. If you want meaningful goals, the following information will provide insights and pathways to finding them.


It is difficult to plan and set goals if you are tired, busy or distracted. It is extremely important to be calm, positive and relaxed when you set your yearly goals. Set aside at least 5 hours, a full day or a weekend.


“Goal setting and location selection needs to be respected and prioritized as one of your most important activities of the calendar year. “

Try to be in an isolated and private space. Go on holiday, visit a calm vista on a sunny day, or plan to set your goals when you will be alone and undisturbed. Your physical environment should be one that makes you feel relaxed and assured. Pick and ideal location, and do not be afraid to spend money if your location requires travel to reach.


Now that you are at your desired location, it is time to dive into your thoughts. The best part about future goals is that they are completely undefined. You decide what your goals will be. There is no Google search for defining your goals, as you are the true author. Before we draw upon the well of information within our mind, lets first take a moment to define 3 key concepts:

  • Languages
  • Things
  • Imagination


 “To set meaningful goals, we need to dream and project beyond what we currently have. This can only happen with imagination”


As adults, we fall prey to materialistic ideals. We often set goals that are confined to finance, investment and career. The truth is that most of our desires cannot be materialized. A new house might be a mask for a new sense of freedom we require in our life. A 20 day vacation in Africa, may spawn from an inner need for more adventure and mystery. It is quite often the case that a lot of your needs can be fulfilled by new ‘languages’, instead of new ‘things’.

‘Languages’ are acquired skills that teach us more about the world and give us improved capability. Spanish is a language, but so is Cooking, Surfing, Knitting and Archery. These ‘Languages’ which could also be called skills or abilities, teach and empower us to move freely within our lives. ‘Languages’ reveal new paths, allow us to meet new people, travel to new places and learn more about ourselves. ‘Languages’ are far more empowering than ‘Things’.


On the flip side, ‘Things’ , like a diamond ring, car, house or bicycle, are simply inanimate possessions that we own. You do not need years of experience, training or capability to purchase new ‘Things’, you only need money. ‘Things’ are fine for goal setting, however we should be careful about setting goals that are dominated by the attainment of more ‘Things’. We need a balance and way of deciding if the ‘Thing’ we want is actually a mask. A mask that conceals a deeper desire that is hidden and may be expressed in another way.

2019-02-25 21_45_08-Mirrored photo by Alex Iby (@alexiby) on Unsplash“‘ The ‘Thing’ we want may actually be a mask that conceals a deeper desire.” 


This takes us back to imagining, the activity we freely engaged in as children, and still do, as adults. In order to paint a picture that will reveal your desires and ultimate goals, you need to imagine what your ideal future would be like.

  • Where would you live?
  • What kind of body would you have?
  • What activities would you participate in?
  • Who would you spend time with?
  • What would you own?

This is a very personal and secretive process. It can also be quite confronting.  As you slowly contemplate the questions above, take your time, write down any thoughts that grab you and make you feel inspired. Please remember to slow down for this process, allow yourself to think deeply about “What would my ideal life be like?”. Imagination is your ticket to go from the “here and now” to a possible future, instantaneously.


 “To set meaningful goals, we need to project ourselves boldly beyond what we currently have by re-engaging in free & private imagination to express your inner desires”

It takes courage to imagine. Many people are afraid of this process, as it seems juvenile or often reveals our current shortcomings. However, the true purpose of imagination in goal setting is to reveal possibilities and write them down. To set meaningful goals, we need to project ourselves boldly beyond what we currently have. This can only happen with imagination, and it takes courage to do it meaningfully.

Thanks for reading, and look out for my next post which will include a free simple goal setting template and conclude the process for ‘How To Set Yearly Goals’.



Jared Neems is a Web & IOT Application Developer, Language Teacher who lives on the Kapiti Coast of New Zealand. 

He has worked as a private contractor in education and technology with Yoobee ACG Auckland & Wellington, REINZ, MClass New Zealand and HMI Technologies. Jared works with several design and dev-development contractors under the Veratech brand.  

How To Set Effective Goals Part 2

A Simple and Effective Way to Set Goals – Part 2

Step 1: Power – Create Meaningful Goals With These 5 Categories:

BeFunky-project (6)
After taking the time to think about your future ambitions and what you want to achieve, you can now record your ideas in a logical format. My suggestion is to separate your goals into these 5 categories:

  1. Spiritual
  2. Financial
  3. Physical
  4. Social
  5. Educational

Most goals will fit within these categories. An example of a spiritual goal would be to attend church consistently or meditate more. Social would be to make new friends or start more social orientated hobbies. Financial would be to save a certain amount of money or expand investments (real estate etc).

If you spread your goals across these 5 categories, you can be assured that they are balanced and will work to provide benefit to all aspects of a healthy life. If you discover a category that has no goals, try to think of a goal for the category to give your yearly goals real balance.

Step 2: Structure – You Need A Template:

We are almost done, we just need to list our goals within a readable template. I have provided a free template that I use to list my goals that you can download below. The key is to make sure your final goal template is tidy and easily accessible for reading.


I write my goals in a word document that I save to the cloud. I then print out 3 copies and keep these in places that I can easily access (back of a diary, bed-side draw, car glove box etc). You can even place the goals on the wall so you won’t miss them during the year.


Step 3: Polish – Proof Read and Review:


Every time I write my goals into the final template, I have to add something or change it before after reading them on paper. You will be surprised how much improvement you can make by proof-reading your goals. Read them off paper and make edits if needed. The above template/goal document will last you for the next 12 months so proof reading is worth it.

Step 4: Confidence – Print A Final Copy For Future Reference:

You now have a real, living, authentic guide to improve your life. Your goals represent your new ability to read and reference your life’s plan at any time. They will remind you, guide you and keep you on track. The only thing left to do is …

Step 4: Work:

There is no magic bullet for success, happiness, fulfillment or peace of mind. Your goals are your map. The work you need to do get to reach your destination is up to you. Read your goals as much as possible, change them if needed, and work hard.


Step 5: More Work – Review / Update / Keep Working:

Constantly review your goal template throughout the year. That is the key. Rest assured knowing that you have taken the time to create a guide to personal success and achievement. You now have a key tool to create real life improvement across a long period of time. Congratulations, good luck and keep working hard.



Jared Neems is a Web & I.O.T Application Developer, Language Teacher who lives on the Kapiti Coast of New Zealand. 

He has worked as a private contractor in education and technology with Yoobee ACG Auckland & Wellington, REINZ, MClass New Zealand and HMI Technologies. Jared works with several design and dev-development contractors under the Veratech brand.