Nov 25

 

Eden Law (Fukushima-ken ALT 2010-2011) reviews My Little Sweet Pea, a film of the haha-mono genre, or “mother stories”. Guaranteed to make you call your mum and if not, you’re either an orphan or dead inside.

My Little Sweet Pea

Why haven’t you called your mother yet?

“My Little Sweet Pea” is a genre film, one that is quite an old trope in Asian cinema, that of the self-sacrificing maternal figure who patiently bears all the insults and trials (usually originating from her family or ungrateful children), until finally her passing or fatal illness causes her former tormentors to repent their evil ways and express remorse in a climax of tears and self-blame. In Japan, it’s known as haha-mono or “mother stories”, and it’s an enduringly popular style of melodrama (my mother loves them to the point of identifying with the main character, and I don’t know what that says about me).

In this particular entry however, the mother character is not the main focus, but one of her children – her daughter Mugiko. Mugiko and her brother Norio have lived together since their father died, until one day their absent parental unit, Ayako, suddenly shows up, asking to move in, after having being missing for almost all of their lives. Begrudgingly, they allow her in, although Norio disgustedly moves out, leaving his sister alone with their mother. Mugiko subjects her mother to all sorts of nasty, unfilial treatment, before Ayako suddenly passes away from an unrevealed terminal cancer. As per custom, Mugiko has to travel to her mother’s home town to bury her ashes, which sparks a journey of discovery, of herself and the mother that she had never known.

Western tastes might find this kind of movie to be a tad over the top, as the mother character is by necessity, almost a caricature in how inhumanly compassionate and submissive she is – obviously she’s meant to elicit as much sympathy from the audience as possible while at the same time whipping up the accompanying feelings of indignation to such a frenzy that only an appropriately melodramatic or tear-soaked climax would suffice. But while “My Little Sweet Pea” ends the way you’d expect, it’s luckily a little more subtle in its emotional manipulation. As the audience explores Ayako’s past alongside with Mugiko, and as Mugiko gradually comes to realise and empathise with her mother, we also come to sympathise with the errant prodigal child, so that her emotional realisation and remorse is all the more touching and moving than it would have been, had we just simply hated her for being a bitch instead. Horikita Maki does very well in this regard in conveying a character that the audience could have disliked intensely, and she also does double duty in playing both the daughter and the mother (in her younger years).

“My Sweet Little Pea” still has its over the top moments, but it is also unexpectedly humourous in parts, allowing a deeper level of emotional complexity beyond “angry” and “crying”. A tear-jerker, it is nonetheless enjoyable and will make you feel the urge to call up your mum or hug her to apologise for being the brat that you most certainly were.

My Little Sweet Pea (Mugiko-san to) by Yoshida Keisuke, released December 21 2013 in Japan, starring Horikita Maki, Matsuda Ryuhei, Yo Kimiko, Nukumizu Yoichi, Asou Yumi.


Nov 25

Thanks to JET alum Renay Loper for sharing this great opening, which is the position that she has held for several years and will be leaving soon. 

Posted by Jayme Tsutsuse (Kyoto-fu, 2013-2014), Community Manager for Be Social Change, the largest social impact community and professional development hub in New York City..  Click here to join the JETwit Jobs Google Group and receive job listings even sooner by email.


Position: Associate Program Officer
Posted by: The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership
Location: New York, NY
Type: Full-time

Overview:

Established in 1972, the Japan Foundation seeks to promote international cultural exchange and mutual understanding between Japan and other countries. The Foundation awards grants in the areas of Arts & Cultural Exchange, Japanese-Language Education Overseas and Japanese Studies and Intellectual Exchange and operates fellowship programs to foster individual research and the development of human resources. The Center for Global Partnership (CGP) was founded within the Foundation in 1991 and seeks to promote exchange and collaboration between the United States and Japan with the goal of fulfilling shared global responsibilities and contributing to the improvements in the world’s welfare.

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Nov 25

See below, received directly from the US-Japan Council. They mentioned that the position has been open for a couple weeks, but they’d like to see someone with an interest in Japan as well as a background in technology and communications (e.g., a JET alum!)

Posted by Jayme Tsutsuse (Kyoto-fu, 2013-2014), Community Manager for Be Social Change, the largest social impact community and professional development hub in New York City..  Click here to join the JETwit Jobs Google Group and receive job listings even sooner by email.


Position: Digital Commuications
Posted by: U.S.-Japan Council
Location: Washington, D.C.
Type: Full-time

Responsibilities
  • Write and create engaging content including short videos interviews, motion-graphic pieces, topical articles and more for the website and bi-monthly e-newsletters.
  • Improving web presence through engaging visuals and layout, supported by tools like Google Analytics to assess and improve user experience.
  • Manage the back-end of the Council’s public website including the Content Management System (CMS), domain names, CSS, etc.
  • Manage the back-end of salesforce.com.
  • Develop and execute a social media marketing strategy across the Council’s Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts and carefully monitor analytics to measure results. Read More

Nov 25

Via Idealist. Posted by Jayme Tsutsuse (Kyoto-fu, 2013-2014), Community Manager for Be Social Change, the largest social impact community and professional development hub in New York City..  Click here to join the JETwit Jobs Google Group and receive job listings even sooner by email.


Position: Manager, Alumni Initaitve
Posted by: Institute for International Education
Location: New York, NY
Type: Full-time

Overview:

The Institute of International Education (IIE) works with over 35,000 participants annually on more than 250 programs around the world. IIE is developing a comprehensive, Institute-wide strategy for engaging alumni, with an emphasis on measuring the impact and results of our work.

Purpose of Position: The Manager, IIE Alumni Initiative will support IIE’s strategy for alumni engagement, research, and outreach activities. This position will contribute to developing our alumni strategy and be the focal person for executing the various components of our Institute–wide alumni initiative. Work is carried out independently under general supervision. Read More


Nov 22

Posted by Sean Pavlik (Fukui-ken, 2010-12), International Programs Officer for the DC-based Congressional Study Group on Japan. Click here to join the JETwit Jobs Google Group and receive job listings even sooner by email.


The University of Northern Colorado is searching for a Study Abroad & Exchange Director. This position exists to manage current education abroad programs; create and develop new international partnerships, provide policies and procedures to manage risk and liability in international programs; oversee recruitment and advising of UNCo students on international education opportunities; facilitate transfer of credit for students studying or interning abroad; provide pre-departure and re-entry programming; promote international education opportunities on campus; liaise with faculty and departments to identify and develop stronger international academic programs/opportunities for UNC students; supervise CIE study abroad staff.

The Director of Education Abroad should be knowledgeable about best practices and current issues in education abroad. The position requires at least 3 years of proven experience at an academic institution or institution of comparable breadth and complexity within the field of international education. A Master’s degree is required in a relevant field (comparative international education/international education).

For a full description and application see: https://careers.unco.edu/postings/167.


Nov 22

Posted by Sean Pavlik (Fukui-ken, 2010-12), International Programs Officer for the DC-based Congressional Study Group on Japan. Click here to join the JETwit Jobs Google Group and receive job listings even sooner by email.


The Center for International and Intercultural Studies (CIIS) at St. Lawrence University invites applications for the position of Assistant Director of Off-Campus Programs. The Assistant Director will work closely with the staff of the CIIS to advise students and the wider campus community about off-campus study and intercultural education. S/he will be the primary manager of the St. Lawrence international studies website and the Terra Dotta/Studio Abroad online application management system. S/he will work to expand the use of blogs, video, social media, and teleconferencing, to promote diversity education and enhance students’ learning experience before, during, and after study abroad.

The Assistant Director will take the lead in specific study abroad program areas and will provide general and program-specific study abroad advising, as well as promoting diversity and intercultural learning both on and off-campus, including off-campus study as an integral component of a St. Lawrence University education. S/he will be involved in producing informational materials about off-campus programs, most specifically on the web but also in brochures and other printed materials such as campus announcements, the campus events calendar, and other publications; will advise students considering or preparing to study abroad; will assist with information and orientation sessions for off-campus study programs; will coordinate information on student enrichment/research grants and travel arrangements for students going abroad; will collect and maintain statistical data related to off-campus programs; will promote St. Lawrence programs including the recruitment of students from other colleges; will assist with international and intercultural programming on campus; and will be responsible for other duties as assigned.

For more information and to apply, please visit the University’s website at https://employment.stlawu.edu/postings/202


Nov 22

Posted by Sean Pavlik (Fukui-ken, 2010-12), International Programs Officer for the DC-based Congressional Study Group on Japan. Click here to join the JETwit Jobs Google Group and receive job listings even sooner by email.


Intrax is seeking a Program Advisor, which is a great entry-level opportunity for anyone seeking enrollment + recruitment experience in international and experiential education. The Program Advisor will work out of a home office in IL, MI, IN, MO, MN, TN, TX, FL, GA or VA.
More information about this position can be found below. To apply, please send resume + cover letter to mgr…@intraxinc.com<mailto:mgrant@intraxinc.com>.

___________________________
Company: Intrax (International Training & Exchange)
Job Title: Program Advisor, Intrax Global Internships
Reports to: Regional Internship Director – Southeast + Midwest

Company Description
Intrax is a globally-oriented company that provides a lifetime of high quality educational, work, intern, and volunteer programs that connect people and cultures. Intrax has operations in more than 100 countries worldwide and offers diverse educational and cultural programs including: high school exchange, international au pairs, language classes, volunteer opportunities, leadership programs, and work and internship placements.

Position Summary
The Program Advisor position is responsible for promoting and closing the sale of our outbound programs by working with students, student organizations, universities, and faculty. In this role, the successful candidate will support students through the program application process with the goal of increasing enrollment numbers. This position requires a highly energetic and personable individual who can consistently reach out to the prospective customers and build relationships.
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Nov 22

Posted by Sean Pavlik (Fukui-ken, 2010-12), International Programs Officer for the DC-based Congressional Study Group on Japan. Click here to join the JETwit Jobs Google Group and receive job listings even sooner by email.


The Washington-Ireland Program for Service and Leadership (WIP) is a fifteen-month program of personal and professional development that brings outstanding university students from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to Washington, DC for summer work placements and leadership training. The program begins and ends with practical service in Northern Ireland and Ireland.

In Washington, participants gain first-hand experience of a mature political process and are exposed to a culture of diversity. Through an intense eight-week schedule, WIP participants are formed into a team and challenged to develop their vision for the future of post-conflict Ireland. Students gain invaluable practical experience by completing internships in US government, media, business and non-profit organizations. At the end of the summer, participants return to the island of Ireland with enhanced professional and interpersonal skills, as well as a new confidence in their ability to work together to make a difference. A new component of the 2015 program includes participants completing a substantial service project between August of 2015 and April of 2016. Participants will complete 80 hours of service on a part-time basis, while completing their education or pursuing full-time employment.
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Nov 22
"The simplicity of the storyline and illustrations makes it easy for young readers, and also invites parents and children to dive deeper and create their own dialogue and inquisitions." (Museyon Inc.)

“The simplicity of the storyline and illustrations makes it easy for young readers, and also invites parents and children to dive deeper and create their own dialogue and inquisitions.” (Museyon Inc.)

 

By Heather Wilson Tomoyasu (Ibaraki-ken, 2004-06) for JQ magazine. Heather is a blogger on her site US-Japan Fam, owner of Miny Moe (multi-brand variety packs that allow parents to find the best brand for their baby), founder of Tunes 4 Bay Ridge Tots, and mommy to her yummy toddler, Kenzo! You can follow and connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.

I’m a sucker for the word chan. Seriously. I don’t know what it is; chan is just so endearing and cute and, well, Japanese!! If you’re a chan-aholic like me, get excited, because there is a new children’s book coming your way that is all about the chan!

The beloved children’s book, Kuma-Kuma Chan, the Little Bear, originally written by Kazue Takahashi and published in Japan in 2001, has just been translated into English, republished by Museyon, and will be available in stores and online Dec. 1 (just in time for those stocking stuffer purchases—hoorah!!). This hardcover book is small, about 5” x 7”, with 52 pages of simple-yet-adorable illustrations and minimal text. The story is short and sweet, with Takahashi describing what she imagines Kuma-Kuma Chan to do every day. With each turn of the page, you are greeted with an illustration and a single sentence describing a different chore or activity, such as shopping, gardening (and sometimes hurting his back), and personal hygiene such as, “He trims the nails of his paws. Then he lines up the cut nails and gazes at them.” I mean, come on, that is kind of hilarious.

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Nov 20

 

Eden Law (Fukushima-ken 2010-2014) reviews one of the smaller films of the 18th Japanese Film Festival, “The Piano in the Shed”. The producer Yuto Kitsunai, made a surprise appearance at the screening of this film in Sydney. Created by the people of Kori, Fukushima, this is truly a labour of love.

The Piano in the Shed

The Piano in the Shed

“The Piano in the Shed” is a coming-of-age story, centred around Haruka, a final-year senior high school student in the town of Kori, a rural town in Fukushima, in her last summer break during the final years of her senior high school years. Quiet and withdrawn, she is happiest only when playing the family piano in the shed, her place to escape from life and its troubles, which includes the loss of a younger brother, whose death still continues to affect the family, but especially her grandfather, who blames himself for the tragedy. Into all this two further pivotal events occur: her older sister, Akiha, comes back from Tokyo to stay for the summer, stirring up Haruka’s long-held resentment of the attention-seeking, prettier and more popular sibling. The other, far more happier, is the promise of a first romance with Kosuke, recently relocated from the contaminated zone.

There will perhaps be very few other films about Fukushima post 3-11 that wears its heart on its sleeve so openly and earnestly. Like the other film related to Fukushima in this festival, “Homeland”, “The Piano in the Shed” is more focused on telling an emotional story rather than making a critique of the prevailing political and social issues. For the film’s scriptwriter, Hara Misaho, this is clearly a very personal project – both her and the director, Natanai Chiaki, hail from Kori, where the film is set. And by choosing to tell the story from young Haruka’s point of view, they show how the youth can be emotionally affected, just like their elders, forced to cope with the ever present feelings of anxiety and worry that are now an unfortunate part of everyday life. Haruka’s uncertainty about her future after graduation reflects the broader, general uncertainty – for young people like herself from Fukushima, for evacuees like Kosuke and his father, constantly on the move for jobs and shelter, and for the future of farming communities that cannot sell their produce to a frightened and paranoid public, as Tokyo forgets and continues the status quo, while frustrated local councils continue to hold meetings about “reconstruction”, a sloganistic message that seems increasingly pointless and empty.

The human story here, from the aspect how the young are coping with the new reality in the wake of the disaster, is certainly a very compelling one. Other subplots such as Haruka’s family tragedy, and her rivalry with her sister, are less successful or not as well-developed by comparison, and could probably have been dropped in order to make the film feel more cohesive and less derivative. But the young actors are lovely to watch (though at the expense of the adults, who, with the exception of the grandfather, are rather less developed). Yoshine Kyoko is the same age as the character she plays, giving Haruka a level of convincing authenticity to her shyness, and her touching selflessness and unexpected strength for someone so young.

As mentioned, there is no denying the amount of emotional heart and soul poured into this film by its creators. Often included are footage of slice-of-life scenes of the town and its people, whether participating in their annual summer festivals, or going about their daily lives. The film’s ultimate positive note conveys the filmmakers’ message: Kori, and places like it, and the people who live there, should not be forgotten, and they will find a way to endure and survive.

The Piano in the Shed (Monooki no Piano) by Natanai Chiaki, released February 9 2014 in Japan, starring Yoshine Kyoko, Koshino Ena, Hirata Mitsuru, Akama Mariko, Hasegawa Hatsunori, Imai Yuto, Kanda Kaori, Orimoto Junkichi.


Nov 19

Via Idealist. Posted by Jayme Tsutsuse (Kyoto-fu, 2013-2014), Community Manager for Be Social Change, the largest social impact community and professional development hub in New York City..  Click here to join the JETwit Jobs Google Group and receive job listings even sooner by email.


Position: Director positions
Posted by: Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation
Location: Santa Ana, CA
Type: Full-time

Overview:

The Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation (SPJA) is a non-profit organization (501 c 6) actively seeking to fill 2 Director level positions. This SPJA is ideal for someone seeking to make a difference in a fan-based community, providing not only operational support to the organization but help promote a positive work environment for both employees and volunteers. Read More


Nov 19

 

By Rafael Villadiego (Nagasaki-ken 2010-2013), also available on Green Tea Grafitti.

Lady Maiko

Maiko wa Laaaaady

A comedic, Broadway-musical reworking of Audrey Hepburn’s classic My Fair Lady, wrapped in the traditional trappings of geisha and maiko regalia. Set amidst a backdrop of a contemporary Kyoto transitioning between the golden recollections of the past and the everyday realities of the present.

Taking place in the unobtrusive little corner of Shimohachiken – that was once an illustrious geisha district in its heyday, but has since fallen on hard times – it still seeks to uphold the old tea house traditions by maintaining at least one maiko in their district. Unfortunately, that maiko, Momoharu (Tabata Tomoko) is pushing 30 and longs to be released from her unfair restrictions and graduate into a true geisha.

Enter Haruko (Kamishiraishi Mone), a naive young country girl with her head full of dreams of becoming a geisha. After discovering a photograph of her late mother dressed as a maiko in her youth and reading Momoharu’s hapless blog, she eventually decides to leave her adoptive grandparents behind and make the journey to Bansuraku Teahouse in Kyoto. But, having no formal introduction or letters of recommendation, and plagued with a backward north-south country bumpkin accent, the odds seem stacked against her.

However, she is taken under the wing of local college linguistic specialist, Professor Kyono (Hasegawa Hiroki) who makes a friendly wager with another regular tea house patron Kitano (Kishibe Ittoku) that he can transform Haruko into a top notch maiko.

What follows is a singing and dancing extravaganza as a colorful cast of characters unfold all the pomp and circumstance of a Broadway musical, with a decidedly Japanese twist.

Veteran director Suo Masayuki of Shall we dance? fame returns to the fore with this whimsical musical confection that is sure to delight fans of musical theater. It is also a fine diversion for linguists of regional Japanese dialects or scholars of traditional geisha culture. In fact, Suo is a dedicated auteur of authenticity who offers delightfully disguised lessons in language, culture and tradition. Approaching his subject matter with gusto and treating it with the utmost reverence and respect – he also shows that he is more than willing to have some fun along the way.

Offering an exuberant display of traditional Japanese dance fused with western Broadway musical sensibilities, the film feels almost like an oxymoron, with its improbable mix of genres and styles. But somehow this unique juxtaposition just seems to work, as it sweeps audiences along on sheer energy and exuberance.

There is one particular musical number which plays perfectly on the classic lines of “The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain”, but with a Japanese slant that more than makes it its own.

At the heart of this film is a classic underdog story, where if you are willing to try your best and weather the odds, you can overcome whatever comes your way and ultimately succeed. This is Haruko’s story, and we are invited along to share in her journey of discovery as we take a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the rarefied world of geisha and maiko culture.

In this regard, director Suo was fortunate to secure the services of newcomer Kamishiraishi Mone. Beating out 800 other applicants in the Toho Cinderella Contest, 16-year-old Kamishiraishi is quite a find and more than holds her own amongst the veteran cast in the demanding song and dance routines. We glimpse this world for the first time through her bedazzled eyes, with all the characters poised to perfection, the costumes colorfully coiffed and the sets exquisitely appointed.

But despite these elaborate production values, soaring songs and dazzling dance routines, there was just something missing that stopped the film from coming entirely together for me. It is hard to put my finger on exactly what was lacking. I am usually a sucker for a good song and dance, yet something prevented me from being swept off my feet completely. Perhaps the narrative around the musical was not as strong or believable as I would have hoped, to live up to the sheer exuberance on show. A fantastical confection, light as a feather, that possibly lacked the necessary substance to keep it grounded. The eventual low after the high.

Like a dream on waking.

Lady Maiko (Maiko wa Lady) by Suo Masayuki, released September 13 2014 in Japan, starring Kamishiraishi Mone, Hasegawa Hiroki, Fuji Sumiko, Tabata Tomoko, Kusakari Tamiyo.


Nov 18

moshimosh2Lucy Gibson (Fukuoka, 2007-10) is a co-founder of MoshiMosh, an exciting new language exchange website. Lucy and her husband Kenzo live and run MoshiMosh in London, UK. Any spare time they have, outside of juggling work, study, and entrepreneurial ventures, is spent spoiling their dog Maggie, playing taiko, volunteering, and getting out and about in London.The Creation of MoshiMosh

JET Alumni pop up in the most unexpected of places. In 2010, my husband Kenzo started work in a London-based NGO providing health services to developing countries in Africa and Asia. Though the
work and the organization had nothing at all to do with Japan, he soon discov  ered that the colleague sitting next to him had spent three years on JET and, by complete coincidence, so had his new boss, and a friend in another department.

lucytaiko

Lucy taking taiko to the streets of London

Little did he realize that the JET coincidences were far from over. Within a few months of having returned to London, he would attend a charity karaoke event, organized by, yes you guessed it, another JET. At this lovely and slightly raucous ‘charioke’ event, he would meet me – a Kiwi girl newly arrived in London, his soon-to-be-wife and another ex-JET.

Although JETs come in all shapes and sizes, and from all walks of life, what links JETs together is Read More


Nov 17

A JET-relevant opening received directly from the company. Posted by Jayme Tsutsuse (Kyoto-fu, 2013-2014), organizer of Cross-Cultural Kansai.  Click here to join the JETwit Jobs Google Group and receive job listings even sooner by email.


Position: Junior Software Developer
Posted by: HTM Corporation
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Type: Full-time

Overview:

HTM is a growing firm based in central Tokyo providing finance and administration services to foreign companies in Japan. HTM is a learning organization where people develop their personal skills and learn international business practices. With many projects run by teams, there are many opportunities to practice leadership skills. In addition an hour is set aside every day for team learning. HTM provides an excellent opportunity to start your career and develop your personal and business skills in a friendly and international environment. Read More


Nov 17

Originally posted by Sarah Parsons to the JETAA UK LinkedIn group.  Here’s the direct link to the British government website with position descriptions:  https://www.gov.uk/government/world/organisations/british-embassy-tokyo/about/recruitment 

Posted by Jayme Tsutsuse (Kyoto-fu, 2013-2014), organizer of Cross-Cultural Kansai.  Click here to join the JETwit Jobs Google Group and receive job listings even sooner by email.


Position: Internships & Jobs
Posted by: British Embassy in Tokyo & Consulate in Osaka
Location: Tokyo & Osaka
Type: Full-time & Internship

Overview:

The British Embassy Tokyo and the British Consulate-General in Osaka are equal opportunities employers and welcome applications from any qualified candidates to fill our current job vacancies. As vacancies become available, they are posted here on this page. Please be sure to refer to the appropriate position in your cover letter when you submit your application. Read More


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