Feb 10

Below are approximately 150 comments received so far as a result of the JET-Tourist Tally Project.  First the Top 10 Comments followed by all comments organized according to prefecture(Click here for the latest totals from the JET-Tourist Tally Project.)

Important: If you have not yet responded, please help out by entering your JET Tourist-Tally information in the Google Form we’ve set up.  And of course feel free to share any comments or stories!  Every response matters.  CLAIR, MOFA, JNTO and the prefecture governments are all paying attention to the results.

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The Top 10 Comments from the JET-Tourist Tally Project

(FYI, the comments were evaluated on the basis of “omoshiroi” plus effectiveness at demonstrating the value of JET.)

I took my parents up through Tohoku to experience a part of Japan tourists typically don’t see. We hiked Yamadera, shot over to Sendai and Matsushima, went to Hiraizumi, traveled through Aomori up to Sapporo, went over to Onuma Park, down to Hakonodate, and then down to Aomori for a few more days. They loved all of our experiences, from using an onsen and sleeping in a ryokan to learning how to order their own food. My father particularly loves to tell the story about a tiny yakiniku restaurant we stumbled into in Hiraizumi. The owner couldn’t speak English, but he did know at least one word. He came over to my father, put a beer down and said “suds.” From that point on, they were friends. A Buddhist monk sitting a few tables over joined us and invited us to visit his temple the next day. It was an amazing intercultural experience in an ancient town usually overlooked by tourists.

-Abigail McBain (Aomori-ken, Ajigasawa-machi, 2004-06)

My family said they never would’ve thought to visit Japan before I did JET, and since visiting twice couldn’t believe they ever said that because they had the most amazing time. Especially memorable was the opportunity to see village life in Japan and experience Japanese hospitality, something regular tourists rarely get to experience.

-Kirsten Jones (Tokushima-ken, Tsurugi-cho, 2005-07)

My parents still talk about the experiences they had visiting me in Japan.  My father in particular.  As a result he still maintains links to Japan and often buys tea directly from a Japanese seller near Uji named Hibiki-an. I myself have returned to Japan as a tourist three times since I finished the JET Programme, one time with a fellow JET alumna, staying 10 days each time. I plan to visit Japan again. I also often encourage my American friends who are interested in visiting Japan to go. One of my co-workers recently went there on vacation, again for about 10 days, and had a wonderful time.

-Rose de Fremery (Shizuoka-ken, Hamaoka-cho, 1998-2001)

Being able to share a country that I love (Japan) with people that I love (my family) was one of the best experiences of my life. My mother still talks about coming to visit me for those two weeks. We were able to explore my town (Hamamatsu) and also Tokyo, Hiroshima and Kyoto. In addition, this was the first time my mother had ever left the United States; she is amazingly proud to say she became a world-traveler when she was in her 50s! This would not have happened if I had not been a JET participant and could confidently share parts of Japan with my family.

-Jennifer Butler (Shizuoka-ken, Hamamatsu-shi, 2001-04)

Both of my visitors were and still are keen practitioners of aikido. They continue to teach the martial art and will be regular visitors to Japan, also inspiring others to travel there. Without my JET experience I wouldn’t have been able to take them to Japan.  Also, I am now a British Airways pilot flying regularly to Tokyo so I could perhaps list a figure of several thousand visitors!

-Darren Tostevin (Fukuoka-ken, Omuta-shi, 1990-91)

Prior to my becoming an ALT, my fiance had never had any interest whatsoever in visiting Japan. It was only once I went there and started to tell her about the people I had met that she began to read more and educate herself about the country. When she finally came to visit me, she was constantly amazed at how genuinely welcoming and helpful everyone was as well as how easy it was to get around and experience everything that Japan has to offer.  To this day she still tells everyone about her experiences there and how Japan went from the bottom of her “Places to Visit” list to become her favorite country that she’s ever visited. Not only did the JET Programme give my family and friends an amazing opportunity to see what Japan has to offer but it also converted someone who never had given the country a second thought into a vocal volunteer tourism spokeswoman.

-Gregory Blair (Nagasaki-ken, Saikai-shi, 2007-08)

I made sure to show two of my guests around Niigata, which is not your typical tourist destination–and they loved it even more than Kyoto! Having JETs in locations off the beaten track surely helps those areas.

-Maureen O’Brien (Niigata-ken, Niigata-shi, 2006-08)

Several of these visitors (at least 5) had previously stated absolutely no interest in visiting Japan…it took quite a bit of convincing on my part to get these individuals to come. In the case of one, a senior citizen friend from England, it just seemed so un-knowable and far beyond her comfort zone. But she loved it once she arrived. The other four, a Philippine-American family who are friends here in the US, were previously very anti-Japanese due to experiences their grandparents’ generation suffered during WWII. They couldn’t understand how I would possibly want to move to Japan on JET. But they kept in touch the entire two years, and finally – just one month before I returned – they agreed to come for a visit. They fell in love with the people and the country, their prejudices were totally erased. Even now, three years later, they are still talking about Japan…only now it is in terms of how wonderful and warm the people are and how we should all live up to these standards of hospitality. A total about-face!

-Margie Banin (Kochi-ken, Motoyama-cho, 2005-07)

My parents would never have dreamed of visiting Japan had I not been there. Now they are complete Japan enthusiasts and are really interested in the country and culture. My friends who came to visit still talk about it now and pass this on to other people, encouraging others to visit Japan.  Also, thanks to my stories, pictures and news from the two years I spent in Japan, my whole network of friends and family have shared my interest in the country. I also organised letter exchanges with my old high school, and at least 20 students has direct contact with Japanese students at my school in Yakage-cho, and have become Japan enthusiasts.

-Annie Barber (Okayama-ken, Yakage-cho, 2007-09)

I had heard about all sorts of difficulties vegetarian ALTs had settling in to Japan, so I was a little worried when a vegetarian friend of mine came to visit.  After five days of my drilling her with phrases that would help her order meat-free food, she and her companion ventured off to Kyoto, Osaka and Hiroshima for a week. They had no problems and were really impressed with how the restaurants were able to cater for her special dietary requests. They were also really impressed with the variety of food offered (tofu, seasonal / mountain veggies, tempura, etc.) that were appropriate for vegetarians. Another example of excellent service in Japan, going that extra mile to satisfy the customer! (On another side note, I’ve been pining for a visit back to Japan since I left and have managed to persuade my family to come with me after Golden Week this year. Assuming everyone can make it, that will be another 4 people spending a total of 48 days tourist travel in Japan!)

-Martin McCloud (Niigata-ken, Tokamachi-shi, 2004-09)

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Stories from the JET-Tourist Tally Project

(Organized by Prefecture)

Aichi

All of my visitors had a great time in Japan. As my knowledge of Japan and Japanese increased, it was interesting to see how guiding my visitors changed. My family visited in my first year. I was greatly lacking in my ability to read any kanji. Luckily, my parents are fluent in Chinese (reading, speaking, and writing), so they would sometimes tell me what some kanji might mean based on Chinese. In turn, I would speak in Japanese if we were at a restaurant, shop, or if my parents had a question for someone who spoke limited English. By my last year, I had improved significantly, so I was able to be a more effective guide. For all of the visits from my family and friends, it was a lot of fun for them and me. Of course, I traveled around Japan with other JETs or alone at times, so there’s countless more tourism from that too!

-Justin Moy (Aichi-ken, Tokyokawa-shi, Mito-cho, 2007-10)

My parents came as well as my two brothers and a friend. We traveled all around, to Beppu, to a snowy onsen in Gifu and even stayed in a capsule hotel in Tokyo one night just for the experience. After JET I arranged to spend a semester of law school studying at Waseda University which created an ongoing relationship between Duke and Waseda that continues sending students back and forth today. (I also created and run the JetWit.com site.)  I can safely say that I would have never had an interest in Japan had it not been for the JET Program.

-Steven Horowitz (Aichi-ken, Kariya-shi, 1992-94)

Akita

My brother is not a traveler. He’s not a risk taker. He is always working. But he found the time to come visit me in my little inaka town, which meant the world to me. He was 43 when he came to visit, and that trip constituted his first trip out of his home country. After spending about a week with me, he took off to see the rest of the country by himself, with no Japanese language skills, and very little world travel experience to draw upon. I was impressed with his new found intrepid nature, just as I was thankful that Japan gave him a wonderful first experience traveling abroad.

-Stephanie Boegeman (Akita-ken, Noshiro-shi, 2006-09)

Aomori

I took my parents up through Tohoku to experience a part of Japan tourists typically don’t see. We hiked Yamadera, shot over to Sendai and Matsushima, went to Hiraizumi, traveled through Aomori up to Sapporo, went over to Onuma Park, down to Hakonodate, and then down to Aomori for a few more days. They loved all of our experiences, from using an onsen and sleeping in a ryokan to learning how to order their own food. My father particularly loves to tell the story about a tiny yakiniku restaurant we stumbled into in Hiraizumi. The owner couldn’t speak English, but he did know at least one word. He came over to my father, put a beer down and said “suds.” From that point on, they were friends. A Buddhist monk sitting a few tables over joined us and invited us to visit his temple the next day. It was an amazing intercultural experience in an ancient town usually overlooked by tourists.

-Abigail McBain (Aomori-ken, Ajigasawa-machi, 2004-06)

All visitors had an amazing visit to Japan. We did lots of traveling and they were able to experience many sights and eat lots of new food! Lots of photos were taken of their time there and we share many happy memories.

-Tania Krikorian (Aomori-ken, Misawa-shi, 2001-03)

All of my guests had a fantastic time exploring a region of Japan that they (nor I) would never have even given a second glance otherwise.

-Aly Woolfrey (Aomori-ken, Tsugaru-shi, 2005-08)

Because of JET I found my wife.

-John Marshall (Aomori-ken, Nanbu-shi, 2000-03)

My town has had an exchange program between middle schools with Bath, Maine for many years. I actually believe that this exchange may have brought about the JET program in my town, and not the other way around. The program usually brings about 19 kids, and about 6 adults (some are political figures). I’m not sure if the program is still continuing as it used to due to gappei (merge) of towns into a city and various budget cuts. As for myself, I have had a friend visit from the USA for about 2 weeks.

-Barbara Trevor (Aomori-ken, Shariki/Tsugaru-shi, 2002-05)

Chiba

Yes, all of my visitors would never probably have visited Japan were I not there for the JET Programme. They had a fantastic experience with my Japanese friends and in their small way I am sure did much for Anglo-Japanese relations! Long live the JET Programme!

-Jennifer Okubo (Chiba-ken, Inzai-shi, 2000-01)

The visitors listed below for Chiba Prefecture are the only ones I had WHILE I was on the JET Program. But as a direct result of my JET experience, I eventually wound up living in Japan, where I am now officially a permanent resident and have been a Japanese taxpayer for many years. The other visitors came during my subsequent periods of residence in Saitama and Tokyo. Moreover, I have worked as a staff writer for The Daily Yomiuri from 2001 to the present, where my assignments have included visting and writing travel articles about places in Hyogo, Okayama, Nagano and Aichi prefectures. As a freelancer, I also wrote a travel article about Tochigi Prefecture for the St. Petersburg (Florida) times, a travel article about Tokyo for the Continental Airlines inflight magazine, and a cover article about locations across Japan related to Yukio Mishima for The Out Traveler magazine. On top of that, I cowrote the luxury travel guidebook Tokyo Chic and contributed sections to three different editions of the Time Out Tokyo guidebook. I doubt very much that anyone ever decided to visit Japan based solely on something I have written, but on the other hand I assume that my writing — which would never have happened if not for JET — must have at least contributed to some people’s travel plans. So I assume that I have had a much larger total impact on Japanese tourism than the numbers below would indicate.

-Tom Baker (Chiba-ken, 1989-99)

Ehime

After my best friend and her boyfriend visited for two weeks, she applied and was accepted to the JET Programme. She lived in Miyazaki-ken for one year.

-Sara Davidson (Ehime-ken, Matsuno-shi, 2004-06)

My parents and two brothers came for ten days during their winter break. And my mom just told me last night that she doesn’t want to go more than two-and-a-half months at a time without seeing me. She is going to be spending a lot of money over the next few years in Japan.

-Ian Prince (Ehime-ken, Imabari-shi, 2010-11)

All enjoyed it. Food and climate were the two biggest problems. The language barrier was also more pronounced away from Honshu. Also, obviously a lot of the prices were a little difficult for people to swallow. General helpfulness on Honshu especially (though they only went to Shikoku and Honshu) was a big positive for them.

-Mark Boyle (Ehime-ken, Imabari-shi, 2010-2011)

I might never have traveled in Japan had I not come on JET.  And my family members definitely wouldn’t have. It’s very far from South Africa and expensive because our currency is weak, so this has been a unique chance for all of us to see Japan.

-Ingrid Strasheim (Ehime-ken, Uchiko-jo, 2008-11)

They loved Tokyo. Two additional friends may be visiting japan this year, something they likely wouldn’t have considered had it not been for me being here.

-Safiyya Goga (Ehime-ken, Matsuyama-shi, 2009-11)

It made a big impression on my parents – mainly in terms of the people. They came twice and plan to go again. One other friend was also particularly inspired by it and says that she and her now husband will go there together to see more. She was more inspired by the culture and the sights.

-Rebecca Budd (Ehime-ken, Saijo-shi, 1997-2000)

My sister was THRILLED my friends drove her to another prefecture to see cherry blossoms and have hanami. She also LOVED Kyoto despite thinking she’d like Osaka much more. It was an AMAZING, unforgettable trip for us both!

-Stacy Yanagawa (Ehime-ken, Komatsu-cho, 2003-06)

My father came to Japan as a direct result of me living here. Before I became a JET my family knew Japan was famous for its automotive industry and sushi. They had a vague association of Japan having cheap technology as well. Since I`ve started living in Japan, my entire family has become more interested in Japanese culture through Ikebana, films, environmental innovation and music. For example, my father has a background in music and when he came to visit my school he began an impromptu jazz session with two of our teachers using trumpet, cello, and piano. Everyone loved it!!

-Rachel Monnin (Ehime-ken, Uwajima-shi, 2009-11)

Fukui

All of my visitors loved Japan and would visit again. They especially liked their time in Fukui, a place they never would have visited had I not been there.

-Amiena Mahsoob (Fukui-ken, Fukui-shi, 2005-08)

Other prefectures to which my guests traveled while in Japan: Hiroshima-ken, Kagawa-ken, Tokushima-ken, Kyoto-fu, Osaka-fu, Tokyo-to, Ishikawa-ken, Ibaraki-ken

-Kristi Jamrisko (Fukui-ken, Ono-shi, 2002-05)

One of the people who originally came to Japan to visit me ended up deciding to stay and work as an English teacher. She worked here for three years.

-Jody Godoy (Fukui-ken, Fukui-shi)

I had my daughter in Japan so that brings my parents across almost every year. They came once before her birth, then at the birth and then they come over on her birthdays, each time for about 3 weeks in total. Even though they don’t speak Japanese (though they are picking up the baby talk), they are really comfortable travelling around Japan by themselves. My father has even started talking about possibly buying an apartment in Japan after retirement and living part of the year here (if my husband and I are able to make our lives here permanent) so they can spend more time with their grand-daughter.

-Bronwen MacDonald (Fukui-ken)

Something that has really surprised me is the amount of interest my family and friends have in Japanese cultural events in the States. So even the people who didn’t have a chance to actually go to Japan still make the effort to go to Japanese festivals, special exhibits at the museums, etc. because I lived in Japan.  Right after Japan I went to graduate school and have been working in higher education (Career Services, more specifically) ever since. I always speak of my time in Japan very fondly and, although I don’t have a quantifiable number, I know my stories of Japan have had significant influence on my students.

-Helen Godfrey (Fukui-ken, Fukui-shi – 1996-98)

Fukuoka

Four people visited Japan specifically because of me while I was a JET, but at least a dozen more were encouraged to apply to the JET program, travel to Japan, or study Japanese and/or Japanese culture after hearing about my experiences. This secondary effect is potentially much more extensive than the effects of the direct visits because it will continue to have an impact through the rest of the JET participants’ lives upon return.  It fulfills the intent of the JET Program, and it should certainly be included inconsideration of  the future of the JET Program.

-Frank Luo (Fukuoka-ken, Iizuka-shi, 1997-99)

As a Japanese teacher, I have taken a total of 85 students and parents to Japan on two separate trips. I have also advised another student who went on his own with a companion after he graduated high school. Additionally, through a JET participant at the time, I coordinated a pen pal exchange between the ALTs students studying English and my students studying Japanese.

-Catherine Miller-Fisco (Fukuoka-ken, Fukuoka-shi, 1993-95)

All of the people who visited me probably wouldn’t have visited Japan had I not been there. They all had a fantastic time when there were in Japan.

-Chris Woodward (Fukuoka-ken, Iizuka-shi, 2005-08)

Both of my visitors were and still are keen practitioners of aikido. They continue to teach the martial art and will be regular visitors to Japan, also inspiring others to travel there. Without my JET experience I wouldn’t have been able to take them to Japan. I am now a British Airways pilot flying regularly to Tokyo so I could perhaps write a figure of several thousand visitors in box 1!

-Darren Tostevin (Fukuoka-ken, Omuta-shi, 1990-91)

My cousin enjoyed his study abroad trip immensely. He started to study Japanese in high school while I was on the JET program and hope to return to Japan for further study.

-Melissa Fabros (Fukuoka-ken, Kurume-shi, 2004-06)

Fukushima

From an economic point of view, the JET Programme has helped give language and cultural training to many of the professionals I see in local branches of Japanese banks, companies in London and no doubt throughout the world. Looking at the immediate economic impact, my guests spent a lot of money touring the major sites, but spent a majority of their budget where I was locally based on meals, tours, souvenirs, etc. Not only that, but I would say that that 97% of my wages went back into the Japanese economy in the form of taxes, living expenses and upon leaving JET towards study at university in Tokyo. I brought very little yen back with me!

-Douglas Williams (Fukushima-ken, Yugawa-shi, 2000-03)

While they were here we traveled all over the place. They flew into Tokyo, we stayed there a few days, visited Disney Sea, climbed Fuji and then they came up to Iwaki and spent the other half of the trip there.

-Jessica Kling (Fukushima-ken, Iwaki-shi – 2007-10)

I have often thought about the economic impact of JET on Japanese tourism. Countless relatives and friends visited every JET I knew during my time there!

-Shawn McCarthy (Fukushima-ken, Iwaki-shi – 2003-06)

Gifu

Because of my time as a JET, I have returned as a tourist to Japan twice, bringing friends and family with me each time. I will continue to return to Japan to visit the very dear friends I made in my community.

-Kathy Crutcher (Gifu-ken, Mizuho-shi, 2000-01)

Now a teacher, in a British Secondary School I am already running a Japan Club and seeking to create links between my school and schools in Japan. In the medium-term I hope to arrange a summer trip to Japan for my students.

-Edward Tothill (Gifu-ken, 2006-08)

Gumma

I don’t know the best way to do this, but I would love to also be able to measure JET travel within Japan. For example, I traveled from Gunma to Kyoto twice, once with visiting friends and once on my own and I know a lot of other JETs when I was there traveled pretty extensively, not to mention day or weekend trips to onsen towns and ski resorts. Maybe a way to capture this type of thing would be to create a survey for JET participants and send it out twice a year. You could try to get a random sampling of JETs across Japan and from there you could calculate the total impact. I would also love to track how often alumni recommend the JET Program and travel to Japan. At my holiday party last night I recommended both travel to Japan and the JET program specifically. I wonder if we could get a sampling of volunteer alumni to over the course of a year track the number of times they make these types of recommendations.

-Bahia Simons-Lane (Gunma-ken, Numata-shi – 2005-07)

Hiroshima

They were very impressed with how helpful the Japanese airports were. They had many problems in America which caused them to arrive late and miss their flight to Hiroshima. And their luggage was left in America! The staff at Narita airport really helped them, so they were able to enjoy a night at a hotel in Tokyo and a morning flight from Haneda, with luggage delivery to my apartment arranged. They enjoyed the public transportation and opportunities to visit Osaka, Kyoto, and Hiroshima. They also really liked getting to see my island, the surrounding towns, and one of my schools. They enjoyed seeing what life was like for me, and I know that my brother’s friend is seriously considering applying for JET.

-Monica Gilbert (Hiroshima-ken, Onomichi-shi, 2008-10)

My visitors included a former co-worker of mine and her husband. Because we were able to serve as tour guides in a sense during their stay in Hiroshima, they were able to have a much richer experience in the city than they would have otherwise, visiting places and dining at eateries off the beaten path. I loved that we were able to share this more intimate parts of Japan with them. They had a wonderful impression of Japan, and my friend blogged about their trip to share with all her friends, family and other readers. Visitors were Joe’s sister and work colleague. Both are teachers in Indiana. Joe’s sister was so determined to come visit us in Japan that she secured some grants and professional development funding through her school board to make a trip to China, Japan and Saipan. Their goal ultimately is to share these international experiences with their students and bring a more multi-cultural flair to some of their lessons. During our stay in Japan Gail coordinated with Jenny to do a pen pal exchange between our students. This really helped to enrich their classroom experience. Definitely an exciting opportunity for all our students that they might not have had otherwise.

-Gail Meadows (Hiroshima-ken, Hiroshima-shi, 2007-10)

Hokkaido

Two friends who visited me loved it so much, that they returned again. Let’s not forget as well all the revenue that is generated from us traveling with our friends and our own individual travels. Much of the money we are paid goes right back into the Japanese economy.

-Jennifer Lindberg (Hokkaido, Sunagawa-shi, 2005-10)

My parents visited me individually at different points during my career in Hokkaido. I also invited several Japanese and non-Japanese friends from Honshu up to Hokkaido on many an occasion. During the Sapporo Yuki Matsuri each year, Hokkaido AJET (HAJET) organizes a Yuki Matsuri hosting program for friends and family of JETs who come to visit from Honshu and overseas. HAJET books clubs and restaurants, hosts organized tours, and generally helps these guests (who number in the dozens or more) have a great experience during the Festival.

-Caroline Cronshaw (Hokkaido, Iwamimaza-shi, 2006-09)

I had visitors both years I was there during Golden Week. We not only toured Hokkaido, but took the ferry down to Honshu and toured all over Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Hiroshima. My parents said Japan was a place they never thought about visiting until their daughter moved there and they left with a decidedly positive view of the country.

-Megan McKnight (Hokkaido, Kutchan, 2003-05)

My fiance and I have already gone back to Japan for a two week vacation. We love Japan and will continue to visit it periodically for the rest of our lives. We enjoy our trips to Japan because we feel like we have an insider perspective-we know a few tricks of traveling-all because of my time in the JET program.

-Cori Hallock (Hokkaido, Toyako-shi, 2007-08)

I think there is also an indirect tourist effect- since I’ve left Japan I’ve had at least 4 friends who have gone to visit based on my experiences. I also know that as soon as I have enough money and vacation days I will be going back!

-Carrie Bradish (Hokkaido, Sapporo-shi, 2005-07)

Half of the people who came to Japan would have never ever ever come if it had not been for the personal connection of myself being posted there on JET. This was their introduction to Asia as a whole and they were able to get very personal experiences due to my living there and my community connections. JET essentially allowed 5 of my friends to experience Japan in a very personal light that encouraged those same five people to spread the word on what a wonderful country it is.

-Jessyca Wilcox (Hokkaido, Urahoro-cho, 2003-06)

My parents visited me in July this year, despite having been to Japan three times before. They told me that they never would have travelled to Hokkaido had I not been posted there. It is much cheaper to simply visit Honshu (it seemingly has everything Hokkaido has!) The same was said by the friends (both Japanese and foreign) who visited me – that North-East Hokkaido was just too far out of the way to travel unless there was someone to visit and show (read: drive) them around. North-Eastern Hokkaido has no train lines and a very expensive, infrequent bus “service” – so knowing someone with a car and knowledge of the area is a huge draw for potential tourists. They loved the food, scenery and (those that came during winter) the snow. They all said that they would love to return, but wouldn’t because I have since left JET and it would be very difficult to travel around and have the same experiences (through my connections, language abilities, money saved on accommodation/transport etc). People in my town loved meeting my parents and friends (at schools, festivals and my eikaiwa), and for many (including two of my JTEs), they were the first non-ALT foreigners that they had ever met. As my parents have zero Japanese ability, it was interesting to see my students attempt to communicate with them. Too often, my students relied on my understanding of Japanese to be understood. Having real tourists to communicate with taught them that they can`t fall back on their Japanese when faced with communication problems.

-James Stewart (Hokkaido, Shibetsu-shi, 2009-10)

Hyogo

My father and his wife would have never come to Japan had I not been there. Although my dad had an interest in Japan’s role in WWII, primarily due to the History Channel, he never had an interest in the country and its people. This changed when I began JET and he found himself following news about Japan as well as talking to Japanese people near his work about his son working and living in Japan. He told me that he was grateful that I lived in Japan, because even if he had a prior interest, he would have never come. The thought of a “personal tour guide” with a vested interest in Japan was the reason he chose to visit.

-Scott Dixon (Hyogo-ken, Sasayama-shi, 2007-10)

All of my visitors were impressed with Japanese hospitality and wanted to return. Some have returned for tourist trips even after I left Japan.

-Omoladun Tyehimba (Hyogo-ken, Takarazuka-shi, 2005-08)

As a JET I had several opportunities to have friends and family visit Japan, but more importantly, since returning from the program and in my position as an educator, I have had many opportunities to both visit Japan as a researcher and tourist, and to encourage others to do the same. My estimate of 75 people at 20 days of visiting is approximate, but probably fairly conservative. Each year my family of four spends the summers in Japan, so that alone counts for considerable time for foreign travel and tourist dollars.

-David Rands (Hyogo-ken, Himeji-shi, 1996-2003)

Ishikawa

I inspired two friends to visit Japan, and they both loved it so much they moved there, where they stayed for 3 years each (although they worked in Tokyo and Osaka, not in Ishikawa-prefecture). Of course, they, in turn, had many more friends and family visit. I have returned to Japan twice after JET because it is a country and culture I truly love. And I continue to remain involved in JETAA activities, in the Japan-America Society, and in speaking highly of Japan and the JET experience wherever I go! I serve as a resource for those who are curious about Japan, and I always tell everyone who asks that they should definitely go to Japan!

-Carmel Morgan (Ishikawa-ken, Tatsuruhama-machi, 1993-95)

Iwate

My parents participated in the local annual festival. A year later, my brother did the same thing. My sister made two trips to visit me while I was in Japan, and on one trip met up with me and my Board of Education workmates for a trip in Tokyo where she enjoyed a dinner on a Sumida-gawa river boat. A friend I’ve known since Junior high visited and tried karaoke, sake and many Japanese foods for the first time. She never would have visited Japan if it were not for my being there, and the trip opened her eyes to new experiences and she says she’d like to go back sometime. An avid Disney fan, the trip to Tokyo Disneyland was one of the highlights. My cousin and her boyfriend who visited also enjoyed Tokyo Disneyland as well as a relaxing visit in inaka. One Austrian couple (photographer and flight attendant) would have visited Japan anyway (so I did not count them in my total above), but were only bold enough to rent a car to travel from Tokyo up to Iwate at my suggestion and reassurance that Japan is a very safe place to travel and that many road signs are written in romaji (i.e., English lettering). They were eager to experience many things and the photographer took many photos back to his country including beautiful photos of Japan’s landscape, architecture and people. It is important to understand the value to Japan’s tourism of having JET hosts who will encourage tourists to stay long and explore deeper into Japan than they might if they traveled to Japan on their own. JETs are ambassadors of Japan even while still living there. Lastly, since I left Japan in 1999, I have returned twice as a tourist to reconnect with friends and also to travel to places I had not reached while on the JET program. I plan to return again this Spring and have no doubt I will return again. I am currently a member of a local taiko group in Philadelphia, and one of our group’s goals is to travel to Japan someday on a taiko learning trip.

-Therese Stephen (Iwate-ken, Esashi-shi/Oshu-shi, 1996-99)

Kagoshima

I was very fortunate that so many of my friends and family were able to visit me in Japan. They all had a fantastic time, and we received wonderful hospitality from the Japanese friends that I had made in Kagoshima. We were treated to the most amazing home-cooked meals, encouraged to help pick oranges in my neighbour’s orchard, try calligraphy for the first time, go sea kayaking, try taiko drumming (on the second largest drum in Kagoshima prefecture!), and visit a local nursery school. With one exception, I don’t think any of my friends or family would have had the confidence to visit Japan had I not been living there, but now that they have been there at least once, I think they would all be confident enough to travel there independently. It certainly seems that Japan has a very special place in all of their hearts, thanks to their many positive experiences there.

-Kim Woodruff (Kagoshima-ken, Kagoshima-shi, 2003-06)

My godparents came to visit. They said that they would never have visited Japan without me being there.

-Ian Robinson (Kagoshima-ken, Aira-shi/Yoshimatsu-shi, 1996-2000)

My mom was impressed by the amount of greenery even in the cities and how everyone kept everything so clean. FYI, I can add 5 people to this tally if you include my non-JET time in Japan.:)

-Joel Dechant (Kagoshima-ken, Makizono-cho, 2001-04)

Three of those visitors bought JR passes. Had two additional visitors who were in Japan for another reason, but used transportation to come down from Tokyo to Kagoshima via plane or shinkansen. With all of these visitors combined a total of more than 10 prefectures were visited.

-Sarah Lyons (Kagoshima-ken, Kajiki-cho, 2007-09)

Kanagawa

My best friend came to Japan to visit me and also visited other cities in Japan where she had friends and acquaintances.

-Ilonka Oszvald (Kanagawa-ken, Yokohama-shi, 1996-98)

Kochi

I think Japan is a country not many British people know much about beyond stereotypes of sushi and high-tech electronics and not really seen as a natural destination for most tourists so I think it needs to do everything it can to promote itself. I know my mum has encouraged some of her more adventurous friends to visit since she came to visit me and the ones that have been have really enjoyed it and commented that it was not like they expected.

-Peter Sutcliffe (Kochi-ken, Monobe-shi, 2001-03)

My family got to experience a part of Japan they never would have been able to had I not been on the JET program. I introduced my family to my students and coworkers at school, they were able to participate in local festivals and get to know people at the grass roots level. They were able to get a glimpse of the myriad experiences available to JET participants in their time in Japan. It is something worth sharing!

-Sasha Bleus (Kochi-ken, Tosa-cho, 2010-11)

Several of these visitors (at least 5) had previously stated absolutely no interest in visiting Japan…it took quite a bit of convincing on my part to get these individuals to come. In the case of one, a senior citizen friend from England, it just seemed so un-knowable and far beyond her comfort zone. But she loved it once she arrived. The other four, a Philippine-American family who are friends here in the US, were previously very anti-Japanese due to experiences their grandparents’ generation suffered during WWII. They couldn’t understand how I would possibly want to move to Japan on JET. But they kept in touch the entire two years, and finally – just one month before I returned – they agreed to come for a visit. They fell in love with the people and the country, their prejudices were totally erased. Even now, three years later, they are still talking about Japan…only now it is in terms of how wonderful and warm the people are and how we should all live up to these standards of hospitality. A total about-face!

-Margie Banin (Kochi-ken, Motoyama-cho, 2005-07)

Visiting my rural prefecture was my Dad’s favourite part of his trip. The two people who came to visit me probably would never have visited Japan if I hadn’t been there to visit. I came back after a year breaking even financially having spent my whole wage travelling around Japan. The money the Japanese government is spending on JET often goes straight back into their economy. And not just touristy places but everyday places like supermarkets, etc. too.

-Rachel Stempien (Kochi-ken, Susaki-shi, 2009-10)

All of my visitors said that they enjoyed touring around Kochi the most because that was where I lived and I had the opportunity to give them an insider’s view.

-Anne Gayner (Kochi-ken, Nankoku-shi, 2007-10)

I think I was responsible for a lot of domestic tourism too – I managed to attract a few people down to Kochi – not enough though, unfortunately. I think everyone should visit Kochi!

-Louis Bravos (Kochi-ken, Tosashimizu-shi – 2007-10)

Kumamoto

My parents’ dining room is now decorated in a Japanese style, influenced by their visit and the beautiful artworks. My parents, not well-travelled people, felt comfortable and welcome traveling unaccompanied in Japan, and they loved the punctual, reliable trains. My friends loved the whole onsen experience as well as the hot sands in Beppu.

-Claire Pogue (Kumamoto-ken, Yamaga-shi, 1997-99)

Since I have spent time in Japan I regularly recommend places others can go in Japan. I have re visited Japan and Kumamoto two times since for my holidays.

-Liz Saunders (Kumamoto-ken, Matsuri-machi, 1995-97)

Some gray area answers: I host “couchsurfers.” These are low budget travelers. This may not be a benefit to the hotel industry, but they do go to tourist attractions and events, buy souvenirs, and eat at restaurants. If I were not hosting them, they would probably move on more quickly in their travels, and often without my suggestions, they might not go to famous sites. I have taken at least seven people to Kumamoto Castle alone. I have hosted a lot of couchsurfers, maybe around 20. I can’t say that I brought these people to Japan, but I can with some certainty claim that I have increased the duration of their stays. Similarly, on couchsurfing.com, and similar travel sites, JET program members, among others, are likely to answer questions about travel in Japan that help people to formulate plans that increase their likelihood of coming to Japan. I have answered questions about transportation, festivals, local specialties, customs, and more. A whole lot of people love yuzu goshou because of me! Notably, I have helped vegetarians, vegans, people with allergies, Hindus, and Muslims to be able to communicate their dietary restrictions in a polite and effective way. Next, I have helped a lot of JETs and foreigners with interprefectural travel, especially between Kumamoto Prefecture and Nagasaki Prefecture, where I used to live before I became a JET. While perhaps beyond the scope of this questionnaire, certainly a weekend in Kagoshima, as one fellow arranged with my help, creates a greater amount of tourist revenue than a weekend he might have spent in his pajamas with his Playstation 3. Finally, I married and had a baby here, so that’s one little person who wasn’t in Japan before and is in Japan now because of me! (^-^)v

-Eric Kaulfuss (Kumamoto-ken, Kumamoto-shi, 2008-13)

Kyoto

My parents’ visit to Japan was my father’s first ever trip outside the US. It was especially memorable for him because he had never experienced another culture first-hand. It was also particularly memorable for my mother because the visit was the first time she had returned to Japan after studying there for one year as a university student in the early 1970s. She was pleasantly surprised to find that she could remember quite a bit of the language despite having not used it for over 30 years.

-Brooke Paul (Kyoto-fu, Mizuho-cho, 2003-06)

My Japanese friends and “parents” (locals who generously took me into their lives) treated my visiting boyfriend, relatives, and friends as well as they treated me. When I was at school teaching, they would drive them around to the local sights, treat them to onsen sessions, and often invited us into their homes for meals. My students would run into them in the city (they obviously did not look Japanese) and try to speak English with them.  At one point they even got a soccer game going. Their generosity and friendliness definitely left a significant impression, and even years later, we still talk about it. I am still writing New Years postcards to many people I met in Japan and continually send photos and presents to stay in touch.

-Laurie Cheung (Kyoto-fu, Miyazu-shi, 2006-07)

My mother had a wonderful experience in Japan as she had never been outside Europe before. I asked my adult English students to take my mum out for the day while I was at work as a way to improve their English and for my mum to hang out with Japanese ladies who were her age too. This was a great way to help my students build their confidence with speaking English and I could build lessons and activities around this. As my mum is a teacher of the deaf, my school were happy to let me and my mother to teach a lesson together which really helped the students to learn more about sign language, deaf culture, the UK and have a mother and daughter teaching combo! Every visit for my friends was a memorable one and they all commented on how magical it was to visit Japan, especially as they had someone who lived there and could be their personal guide. I think the JET Programme is also important to domestic tourism as many JETs travel all over Japan during their stay to meet other JET’s and see the country.

-Ilona Brannen (Kyoto-fu, Kyoto-shi, 2006-08)

All of my visitors had a wonderful experience in Japan. They still talk about their trips to this day. Several of them have become more interested in Japanese culture since visiting, and they say they’d love to travel there again. I think that the JET Program has a HUGE impact on the tourism industry in Japan. Every other JET I knew had multiple friends and family members visit during their stay in Japan.

-Sarah Tillotson (Kyoto-fu, Kyotanabe-shi, 2006-08)

Not only did my parents enjoy seeing Japan, but so did I. I visited major cities, but living in Japan also allowed me to take time to travel to more out of the way/lesser known places! I think being on the JET Programme helps foreigners, i.e,. AETs and CIRs, bring tourism to places all over Japan and not just the main tourist sites!

-Christine Skodon (Kyoto-fu, Kyoto-shi, 2008-10)

Mie

JET was a fantastic experience. Have been back to Japan many times since (going skiing there later this month), so am still contributing to the Japanese economy – very unlikely I would have done this if I hadn’t done JET.

-Peter Horton (Mie-ken, Daio-machi, 1997-99)

Every person that came to Japan to visit me absolutely loved the experience. I took family members and friends all over Honshu, and everyone loved it so much that each person expressed an interest in going back to Japan even if I wasn’t there.

-Anthony Waldman (Mie-ken, Yokkaichi-shi, 2005-09)

My dad visited school and took part in some classes, thanks to coordination with the principal and staff. We also traveled around Kansai and spent loads of cash (if that is relevant).

-Dan Traylor (Mie-ken, Ise-shi, 2007-12)

My friend would not have come to Japan if I wasn’t here to guide her. She is afraid of travelling internationally, but knowing someone could show her around made her comfortable enough to come to Japan. She loved it and plans to return again in 2011.

-Jenn Languay (Mie-ken, Kuwana-shi, 2009-11)

They came to visit me when I studied in Nagoya and we did all the big cities (Kyoto, Tokyo etc) and hated it. This time we rented a car and stayed in the local area. They had a much more positive view of Japan after the trip this time. My brother in particular loved his time so much that I think that he is aiming to be on JET when he graduates.

-Charlotte Steggall (Mie-ken, Ise-shi, 2009-11)

Miyagi

Everyone I knew had a great time in Japan. I was practically a tour guide for my friends when they came to visit me when I was working as a JET. Even after I returned to my home country, I still provide valuable travel tips for my friends who were planning their trips to Japan. I booked hotels and emailed detailed maps for them and also provided information on sightseeing spots and useful Japanese phrases they needed to get by.

-Jacquelyn Pang (Miyagi-ken, Tome-shi, 2003-07)

One friend credits this Japan trip for his later success as a small business owner with a new Japanese client. He leveraged his experiences in japan to create a better connection with the customer, leading to a better business relationship.

-David Fusco (Miyagi-ken, Shiogama-shi, 2003-05)

They loved their time here and were happy that they had someone to show them around (me)… They plan to come back.

-Jeremy Berg (Miyazaki-ken, Gokase-shi, 2007-12)

Nagano

All of my friends and family have been favorably impressed by the courtesy, quality of food, the well-organized traffic, and the fact that infrastructure and pollution are well-managed despite high population density in Tokyo and surroundings. Fashion, food and the music scene in Tokyo offered exciting alternatives for my family and friends coming from New York and Warsaw.

-Christopher Kossowski (Nagano-ken, Saku-shi, 1996-99)

My mother and brother loved Japan. We are planning to come back within the next year.

-Julia Higashio (Nagano-ken, Nakano-shi, 2005-08)

My visitors are people who would not normally have chosen to visit Japan. The only reason they came was to visit me. Now some of them have returned to Japan without me. Another example of how I have brought tourists to Japan: I met my husband when he was traveling the world in 2002. He had many misconceptions about Japan (too expensive, food stereotypes) and did not want to visit. In 2007, he visited Japan, hiked the Japan Alps and now LOVES the country. He tells all of our friends how amazed he was at what a wonderful country Japan is.

-Madeline Stapel (formerly Schmidt) (Nagano-ken, Horigane-mura, 1998-2001)

JET was a wonderful program that really deepened my interest in Japan. I am glad I did it, and that I made lots of Japanese friends in Nagano and elsewhere that I can visit when I go to Japan. I have traveled back to Japan three times to visit Japanese friends I met while on JET. I stayed for 2 months, 2 months and 10 days.

-Ravi Kumar (Nagano-ken, Nagano-shi – 1998-2001)

Nagasaki

I started off all my guests’ trips in Kyoto/Osaka so that they could visit some of Japan’s most famous sites. But they enjoyed visiting my “hometowns” of Nagasaki City, Shimabara, and Unzen even more since this seemed like “real Japan.” Even if they returned to Japan, they would probably never be able to replicate those special experiences, since it’s not easy for tourists to stray from the major tourist areas without a guide. I also took my brother, studying to be an epidemiologist, to visit Minamata. He was able to go back to grad school with a unique report of his visit to the Minamata Disease Museum.

-Christy Jones (Nagasaki-ken, Shimabara-shi, 1995-98)

My time in Japan has absolutely had an impact on others interest in Japan.  Several friends with whom I taught with in Korea after I left Japan eventually visited Japan on my recommendation. I would say that I also encouraged domestic travel as well. I had several friends from “the mainland,” both Nihonjin and gaijin, travel to Tsushima to visit me and explore the island. JET’s influence and impact goes far beyond the classroom.

-Joey Joyce (Nagasaki-ken, Tsushima-shi, 2007-09)

Prior to my becoming an ALT, my fiance had never had any interest whatsoever in visiting Japan. It was only once I went there and started to tell her about the people I had met that she began to read more and educate herself about the country. When she finally came to visit me, she was constantly amazed at how genuinely welcoming and helpful everyone was as well as how easy it was to get around and experience everything that Japan has to offer.

To this day she still tells everyone about her experiences there and how Japan went from the bottom of her “Places to Visit” list to become her favorite country that she’s ever visited. Not only did the JET Programme give my family and friends an amazing opportunity to see what Japan has to offer but it also converted someone who never had given the country a second thought into a vocal volunteer tourism spokeswoman.

-Gregory Blair (Nagasaki-ken, Saikai-shi, 2007-08)

Everyone had a great time. Particularly in Kyoto and riding the Shinkansen. JR rail-pass for tourists is great. Lack of English in more remote places was a problem (Unzen-shi, Nagasaki-ken) for my parents. My father ordered coffee and got spaghetti…not sure how that happened. Good luck with the project and hopefully you can demonstrate the hidden values of JET.

-Benjamin Cole (Nagasaki-ken, Nagasaki-shi, 2006-2011)

My mother and sister visited on one trip. And a friend visited on another. I would say that the overall experience for each of them was great! Of course, the usual complaints about the level of English, and expense of travel came up. But aside from that I think it went over really well. In fact, my mother and sister had never even left North America before that trip, and they were able to make the Narita to Haneda trip all by themselves. I think that is pretty impressive to be honest. One other comment I have is about flights. It seems like there are very very few internal flights from Narita. I understand this is a question of supply/demand, but it seems like more people would be inclined to use Narita (rather than Seoul) if there were more direct flights.

-Dustin Brewer (Nagasaki-ken, Isahaya-shi, 2003-05)

All my visitors loved Kyoto and Nagasaki city the most. I think Nagasaki should promote itself more as a tourist place (not so much as an atomic bomb site) since it has a lot more to offer! The atmosphere, small shops and friendly people were what my visitors remembered the most!

-Sierra Sroka (Nagasaki-ken, Saza-shi, 2008-11)

Through my experience on the JET program, I have influenced many to come and visit, but probably more to get jobs dealing with Japan. Their perceptions of the Japanese people greatly changed and as a result sought either companies in Japan, or companies that deal directly with Japan. I can think of about 20 people that have sought careers dealing with Japan directly due to interaction with me and my experiences on the JET program.

-Jeff Albright (Nagasaki-ken, Nagasaki-shi,1995-98)

I returned to Japan four years later on vacation with a friend to show him how wonderful Japan was and to meet some of my Japanese friends. Japan has left a lasting smile and I”m currently looking to move back and even thinking of making it my home.

-Carlos Venegas (Nagasaki-ken, Futsu-cho – 1997-2000)

Three friends at different times.  Friend #1 stayed for thirty days.  Friends #2 and #3 stayed for 14 days.  One friend met his future wife getting soup in a restaurant.

-Thomas Fernandez (Nagasaki-ken, Katsumoto-cho/Nagayo-cho, 2007-09)

Nara

One of the best things about my time as a JET was showing friends and family around Japan. However in addition to the people who visited directly, I think I had more impact introducing my experiences to a wide range of people via Facebook/e-mails. I wrote extensive e-mails about my travels, the events we ran in Nara prefecture, matsuri, etc. and sent them to a list of around 100 people. The majority of the people who read those e-mails did not know anything about Japan, but quite a few of them have since been to visit. Lots of people have asked for my advice since I have been back in London, to help them plan their trips to Japan. Several people have not yet visited Japan, but they have told me that they plan to go one day after hearing all of my stories or seeing photos. Being part of the JET Programme meant I spent time in less obvious tourist destinations. I am really glad that I could guide people to some of southern Nara’s beautiful mountains, onsen and temples It has worked the other way as well! Several of my Japanese friends have been to visit me in the UK. They always bring beautiful Japanese-y gifts, so in a way their trips also help the Japanese economy.

-Josy Audigier (Nara-ken, Nara-shi, 2006-08)

My time in Japan was pre-JET. I spent two years working in the Prefectural Board of Education in Nara-ken as a Monbusho English Fellow (MEF) beginning in 1979. During my two years in Nara, both of my parents visited me as did my sister plus a friend. Later, after returning to my home in California, marrying, having children, etc., two of my daughters visited Japan and stayed with friends in Nara as well as in other regions of Japan. Several of my Nara friends have visited my home in northern California over the years, most recently this past August. I organized homestay experiences for over 75 Japanese junior through college age students in El Dorado County, California, then several of my American host families visited the Japanese students they had hosted. When my eldest daughter, Olivia Luna, spent a year in Nara as a JET ALT, I returned to Japan to visit her in 2009 and to see dearest friends I hadn’t seen in nearly 30 years, when I had been an MEF. So I think the estimated number of tourists just my stay in Nara generated is very modest (10) as well as the number of tourist days these tourists stayed in Japan (150). While I understand that the financial bottom line is very important in justifying future support for the current JET program, the ripple affect of the interpersonal impact is far greater and more profound, I think. The two most meaningful and defining experiences of my life thus far have been the two years I lived and worked in Nara and raising my four children. I wonder if anyone has an idea of how many second generation JET ALT (such as my daughter) there have been? I have many stories and insights post-JET/MEF I could to share if needed. Feel free to contact me if interested in further input. Thanks and good luck!

-Shane Taber (MEF Nara-ken, Nara-shi, 1979-81)

I met my husband in Japan and now we return every year to visit family. I have a large network JET of friends in the UK all of whom were my friends in Japan. We regularly get together and take part in JET alumni events, continuing to promote Japan and Japanese culture. The JET programme changed my life in so many ways and I will always have a connection with Japan. I am a primary school teacher and I often teach the children in school about Japan. I know at least one of my ex-pupils has visited Japan with her family, and two of my ex-pupils keep in touch with pen friends I arranged for them while I was there. Most children I have taught haven’t finished school yet, so I know there is still huge potential for them to visit Japan. I’m sure I sparked interest in many of them! This is just the start… The JET programme has a butterfly effect. It should never end.

-Hannah Yates (Nara-ken, Gojo-shi, 2004-07)

Niigata

I had heard about all sorts of difficulties vegetarian ALTs had settling in to Japan, so I was a little worried when a vegetarian friend of mine came to visit.  After five days of my drilling her with phrases that would help her order meat-free food, she and her companion ventured off to Kyoto, Osaka and Hiroshima for a week. They had no problems and were really impressed with how the restaurants were able to cater for her special dietary requests. They were also really impressed with the variety of food offered (tofu, seasonal / mountain veggies, tempura, etc.) that were appropriate for vegetarians. Another example of excellent service in Japan, going that extra mile to satisfy the customer! (On another side note, I’ve been pining for a visit back to Japan since I left and have managed to persuade my family to come with me after Golden Week this year. Assuming everyone can make it, that will be another 4 people spending a total of 48 days tourist travel in Japan!)

-Martin McCloud (Niigata-ken, Tokamachi-shi, 2004-09)

With every visit from my friends and family that came from the US, we toured Nagaoka, Niigata-shi, Kyoto, Nara and Osaka and Tokyo together especially during festival time. I took one very memorable trip with family to Hiroshima and Miya-jima. Kyoto because it is so big, very cultural and appealed to a wide variety of people with its food, festivals, landscape, shrines, temples, and its main tourist attractions were accessible via a range of transportation (bike rental, bus, train, subway, etc) was always a favorite!

-Denise Escurel (Niigata-ken, Nagaoka-shi, 2002-04)

I made sure to show two of my guests around Niigata, which is not your typical tourist destination–and they loved it even more than Kyoto! Having JETs in locations off the beaten track surely helps those areas.

-Maureen O’Brien (Niigata-ken, Niigata-shi, 2006-08)

Okayama

My parents would never have dreamed of visiting Japan had I not been there. Now they are complete Japan enthusiasts and are really interested in the country and culture. My friends who came to visit still talk about it now and pass this on to other people, encouraging others to visit Japan. Also, thanks to my stories, pictures and news from the 2 years i spent in Japan, my whole network of friends and family have shared my interest in the country. I also organised letter exchanges with my old high school, and at least 20 students has direct contact with Japanese students at my school in Yakage-cho, and have become Japan enthusiasts.

-Annie Barber (Okayama-ken, Yakage-cho, 2007-09)

All visitors particularly enjoyed visiting Kyoto. I recommended accommodations (http://www.shunkoin.com/) at a buddist zen temple with traditional Japanese rooms where you can take tour and meditation class with Reverand Taka Kawakami who is fluent in English having studied in America.  (A fascinating man to talk with!)  All visitors made use of facilities including day-bike-hire and city tours. Top sites: Kinkakuji Goldern Pavilion, Ryoanji Temple with its famous zen rock garden, Nijo Castle and grounds and Shosei-en Garden which is walking distance from Kyoto Station.  The train station is a rather great in itself offering views over the entire city if you make it to the top. Very helpful tourist information was available in Kyoto station with all the maps you need.

-Laura Turner (Okayama-ken, Kumenan-shi, 2007-08)

Friends and family who visited me in Japan made full use of the JR passes I recommended they purchase. Generally they took in most of the usual tourist locals plus areas of Japan that I had visited and found welcoming or entertaining far off the beaten path. In a typical 10 day visit they may have traveled anywhere between Kyushu and Niigata.

-ToShun Campbell (Okayama-ken, Okayama-shi, 1996-99)

Okinawa

My visitors loved Japan and I’ve often heard them refer to it as one of their best holidays. Indeed, they enjoyed their time so much that as a result they now indulge in Japan related activities in this country and  several are considering returning to Japan on holiday.

-Aysha Johnson (Okinawa-ken, Chinen-son, 2002-04)

For all three of [my visitors] it was their first visit to Japan, and they very much enjoyed it. In addition to the three people who visited me from abroad, I’d add that I have recommended Okinawa in the strongest terms to everyone who asks, and I’m sure I’ve caused numerous extra people (at least 5, by my count) to visit Okinawa from mainland Japan who otherwise would not have done so.

-Nick Fraenkel (Okinawa-ken, Izena-son, 2003-05)

My father and brother both got their passports made for this trip. Because I was in Japan, my family knew it was the best opportunity for them to go to a place that they’d probably never visit. They reached out of their comfort zone and found they really loved it! They did touristy things like Tokyo, Kyoto, and the shinkansen, but I think what they liked most was visiting with my junior high students (my mom taught them the words to Edelweiss, which was the class-change bell!) and going out to eat and karaoke with friends from my BOE.

-Amy Boots (Okinawa-ken, Nago-shi, 2008-09)

Saga

Ex-JETs are also great ambassadors for Japan when they return and I personally have encouraged many friends to visit Japan – helped them with booking shikansen passes, planning travel routes, finding places to stay etc. Also have helped friends to find good quality Japanese shops and restaurants in London which are small businesses owned by Japanese people living in the UK – if it wasn’t for me doing this most of them would go to Wagamamas and think they had had an authentic Japanese experience!!! I think this has an indirect beneficial effect for Japan in terms of encouraging interest in visiting the real thing as well as increasing imports.

-Penny Cygan (Saga-ken, Hamatama-cho, 2000-02)

When my parents came to visit – they saw the area where I lived – but we also booked a holiday (flights and hotel) through a Japanese travel-agent – for all of us to go to Okinawa. When other people came to visit – they didn’t just visit me – they also saw other areas of Japan – taking internal flights and staying in hotels along the way.

-Maria Bosco (Saga-ken, Takeo Onsen, 2002-04)

Saitama

My visitors also mingled with both school students and community board English students in cultural exchanges.

-Meredith Torres (Saitama-ken, Hasuda-shi, 2000-02)

One visit involved transportation to and from Kyoto, and all the hotels and food purchase that included. One of the people came half for work, half for pleasure; because I was here and we were able to visit, they extended their trip and I took them to other areas of Japan they never would have gone if I hadn’t been there to show them around.

-Denise Schlickbernd (Saitama-ken, Saitama-shi, 2008-12)

I had nearly 40 friends from college visit me while I lived in Japan from 1988-1993. Additionally more than 15 family members (many for multiple visits).  As a teacher now in the U.S., I know that around 30 of my former students have visited Japan. I also worked with JTB for a two year period which I think moves the numbers way up. Without JET, none of this would have happened.

-Matt Jungblut (Saitam-ken, Oi-machi/Fujimino, 1988-91)

My family and my friend absolutely enjoyed every aspect of Japan. I have more friends from New Orleans coming in July and I am trying to get more to come.

-Jean Perrilliat (Saitama-ken, Ina-machi, 2009-11)

It was for my wedding ceremony. So you can add another 3,000,000 yen spent in the country by my wife and me.

-Robin Singh (Saitama-ken, Ina-machi, 2007-11)

Everyone who has visited me loved Japan. Some came twice, and almost everyone has plans to come back. All but two said they would never have come to Japan if it weren’t for me.

-Bryan Darr (Saitama-ken, Tokorozawa-shi, 2008-13)

Since leaving Japan, I have given two people information and tips for their trips to Japan. One person was inspired by my and my friends’ stories about Japan and decided to make the trip to see for themselves! And, since leaving, I have been back to visit twice in two years.

-Kendall Murano (Saitama-ken, Kawaguchi-shi, 2004-08)

My family of 4 came to visit for two weeks – they would never have come to Japan otherwise. My friend also came and said she never would have come on her own and my boyfriend came over 3 times to see me!

-Catherine Haigh (Saitama-ken, Fukaya-shi, 2001-02)

When I left for Japan I had an open invitation to everyone I knew and told them they were welcome to come to Japan at any time. I know many would have never thought about going to Japan, especially my friends.

-Peter Weber (Saitama-ken, Gyoda-shi, 2005-07)

Days in Japan by friends and relatives are not only limited to the time period during which we worked on the JET Program. In the years after, depending on circumstances, the experiences in Japan through the JET time can inspire us to encourage others to visit…including ourselves.

-Benjamin Rosenbloom (Saitama-ken, Kasukabe-shi – 1993-95)

Sendai

Aside from family I planned a honeymoon for a colleague and wife, and an anniversary trip for friends’ parents to Japan. Both involved visiting a few cities and staying in good hotels/ryokans. I am aware that the people whose trips I helped plan have also passed on recommendations to friends who have visited but have no idea of how many, how long etc…

-Frank Dobson (Sendai-ken, Sendai-shi, 1996-99)

Shiga

I’m not sure if this is relevant, but in addition to the three relatives/friends who visited me while I was in Japan, my brother moved to an army base there with his family for two years due to my encouragement. Several of my friends are also interested in visiting there with me as a guide at some point. Also, during my mother’s visit to Japan, she was so impressed with the experience that she expressed a strong desire to return whenever possible. My sister has visited twice and although my brother has since been stationed elsewhere, he fully intends to take his family back in the future.

-M. Erin Tagg (Shiga-ken, Higashiomi-shi, 2006-10)

My guests visited my schools to do a lesson with me when they came. It was a really exciting chance for the students to speak with new people that weren’t just ALTs. I have also known about 7 or 8 JETs through out my time here who have returned to Japan for a vacation with stays ranging from a week or two all the way to three months. It is very hard to track those statistics but they are certainly important.

-Brian Stafford (Shiga-ken, Otsu-shi, 2006-11)

My parents and brother came for my weddding in 2007.We were able to visit lots of places in the two weeks they were in Japan. My younger brother enjoyed it so much he came back to visit a second time.

-Mark Baczynski (Shiga-ken, Omihachiman/Otsu-cho, 2005-10)

Out of the 9 people who came to visit me, 8 of them had never been to Japan before and visiting me was the reason why they decided to finally make the trip. Six people have told me (numerous times) that they definitely plan to go back. (One person already has made a return visit.) Also, if I stayed for an additional year, I’m sure at least a few more people would have come to visit. Two of my friends work for a magazine that has since then featured Japanese places in New York multiple times (coincidence? probably, but still! haha). Not to mention the fact that I plan to visit again- I still have to go to Hokkaido! :)

-Pam Kavalam (Shiga-ken, Nagahama-shi, 2007-09)

I had a friend visit, as well as my father, step-mother and 2 step-brothers during my first year on JET. my one step brother had been to Japan in middle school on a week long exchange program 10 years ago, but really didn’t remember anything. They all had a really good time. My family also all used the JR Rail pass, my friend did not.

-Joanna Blatchly (Shiga-ken, Tsuchiyama-cho, 2009-11)

My dad got a job in Japan in the summer after I had been accepted to JET (just before I left). The reason he went ahead and tried for the position was because I was here. He lives in Kanto by the way. He got here a month after me (August 2009), my mother some months later, and they’ll be here at least until next winter (2011). My brother stayed here for a few months (114 days) and my sister has been between my parents and I since the summer (she’ll be here a year – June 2010 to summer 2011). Though I never would’ve imagined it a year and a half ago, they all ultimately came as a result of me fulfilling my dream to live in Japan and learn Japanese. Now, in addition to myself, Japan will also be a part of their lives forever. My four family members have been here for a combined total of 1283 days (but since my parents live here, and are not on travel as tourists, despite the fact that it was because of JET, I left them and their 882 days out).

-Marcus Hershey (Shiga-ken, Koka-shi, 2009-10)

Two of my visitors came from the U.S., my home country, and they had both been to Japan previously. But my other visitor came from Belgium, and he would never have visited Japan if it weren’t for the fact I’m here!

-Katie Jardine (Shiga-ken, Nagahama-shi, 2007-11)

Every single family member left Japan with a hugely positive opinion of the place, and they are just as connected to the place as I am.

-Mike Brinkman (Shiga-ken, Kinomoto-cho, 2004-07)

Shimane

We had lots of fun traveling around my prefecture (Shimane), to Hiroshima, Osaka, and Tokyo, respectively. I have one visitor right now staying for 25 days, and we will probably hit up Fukuoka. None of my visitors have spent the entire time traveling, so I am not sure that I can count the $100/day estimate, especially since the area I live in has nothing touristy to do, unless you count hiking, which is free. Activities which include traveling only took up about 2/3 of the time.

-Jennifer Kennedy (Shimane-ken, Iinan-shi, 2009-11)

I am an energetic and enthusiastic tour guide, and I majored in Japanese history. As such, I crammed in as much sightseeing as I possibly could in these two trips, especially in Kyoto. My parents and girlfriend actually complained that it was too much for them.We  traveled to: Kyoto, Nara, Kobe, Himeiji, Matsue, Yonago, Fukuoka, Nagasaki, Nikko, Kamakura, Tokyo, Fuji Go-ko and Ise, as well as a few small towns in the Kansai region. My family were all able to use JR passes, but I, living in Japan, had to pay train fares, and to maximize the use of the passes, this meant buying reserved tickets on many a shinkansen or express train, for two very long trips with family.

-Andrew Hill (Shimane-ken, Ama-cho, 2009-11)

Every visitor I’ve had has really enjoyed rural Japan and has been very happy that they made the trek to Masuda. I am also involved in the couch surfing project, and I’ve had several visitors through that. My destination is not as popular as the more urban areas, but once again they are not disappointed when they arrive in Shimane.

-Caroline Ideus (Shimane-ken, Masuda-shi, 2007-2011)

Shizuoka

My parents still talk about the experiences they had visiting me in Japan.  My father in particular.  As a result he still maintains links to Japan and often buys tea directly from a Japanese seller near Uji named Hibiki-an. I myself have returned to Japan as a tourist three times since I finished the JET Programme, one time with a fellow JET alumna, staying 10 days each time. I plan to visit Japan again. I also often encourage my American friends who are interested in visiting Japan to go. One of my co-workers recently went there on vacation, again for about 10 days, and had a wonderful time.

-Rose de Fremery (Shizuoka-ken, Hamaoka-cho, 1998-2001)

Because of the JET Program I fell in love with the culture, language and people of Japan. After returning to the U.S. I became a Japanese teacher. In addition to having my parents visit me twice while in Japan, I have led three trips to Japan with my students. I will be bringing another student group to Japan in June, so the above number will continue to increase.

-Tim Cornell (Shizuoka-ken, Hamakita-shi, 1990-93)

I know my mother, who visited me while I was on the JET program, would never have visited Japan in her life had I not been there. And how she loved it! She has the fondest memories of the trip.

-Leanna Frankland (Shizuoka-ken, Kambara-cho, 2001-02)

Being able to share a country that I love (Japan) with people that I love (my family) was one of the best experiences of my life. My mother still talks about coming to visit me for those two weeks. We were able to explore my town (Hamamatsu) and also Tokyo, Hiroshima and Kyoto. In addition, this was the first time my mother had ever left the United States; she is amazingly proud to say she became a world-traveler when she was in her 50s! This would not have happened if I had not been a JET participant and could confidently share parts of Japan with my family.

-Jennifer Butler (Shizuoka-ken, Hamamatsu-shi, 2001-04)

Tochigi

Seeing my enthusiasm for my JET program experience has indirectly influenced several more friends to come to Japan from the U.S. and other countries. I have even been able to introduce my wonderful “hometown” of Ashikaga to in-laws and friends in Tokyo who would never have gone there otherwise.

-Beth Yamamuro (Tochigi-ken, Ashikaga-shi, 1987-89)

Tokushima

I think JET has a very strong impact on tourism, not only for friends and family members visiting but also in terms of encouraging others to go. Just from incidental conversations during and after my tenure on the program my experience and stories from JET definitely encouraged acquaintances and others to go for it. Also, I’m an elementary school teacher (was qualified prior to JET) and my students all get to hear about my experiences and take part in exchanges that are beneficial to both American and Japanese young people. I think it is immenselt worthwhile for everyone involved!

-Christine Boyle (Tokushima-ken, Anabuki-shi, 2005-07)

My family said they never would’ve thought to visit Japan before I did JET, and since visiting twice couldn’t believe they ever said that because they had the most amazing time. Especially memorable was the opportunity to see village life in Japan and experience Japanese hospitality, something regular tourists rarely get to experience.

-Kirsten Jones (Tokushima-ken, Tsurugi-cho, 2005-07)

All my friends and relatives had a great time and especially enjoyed meeting my students and colleagues and touring the countryside.

-Sara Auffret (Tokushima-ken, Naruto-shi, 2007-10)

There is no way my friends and family would have visited Japan if I hadn’t been there on JET. They fell in love with the country and were eager to explore. We traveled together, seeing Tokyo, Kyoto, Wakayama, Hiroshima, and some islands in the Seto-Inland Sea. They also got a chance to experience small-town Japanese life while staying with me in Tokushima. My brother and sister even danced in Tokushima’s annual O-bon festival, Awa Odori.

-Olivia Nilsson (Tokushima-ken, Tokushima-shi, 2006-08)

Tokyo

My family said they would have never visited Japan if I wasn’t there. They were very impressed with the food, culture and Japanese people, and they still share this view with friends and family today.

-Devon Brown (Tokyo-to, Musashimurayama-cho, 2002-04)

Tottori

For one of my friends, her visit to me in Japan was her first time leaving the US (almost her first time leaving New York), which was pretty amazing. My dad got the royal treatment, a visit to my house from the Mayor, and a welcome party in his honor.

-Clara Solomon (Tottori-ken, Nichinan-cho, 1999-2001)

My parents spent 10 days in Japan during my second year on JET. As a direct result of their visit, they have developed an interest in Japanese culture and already they are planning their next visit to take place during the summer of 2011.

-Thomas McCormack (Tottori-ken, Tottori-shi, 2008-13)

The number I provided, 18 people, is until now. My marriage in Japan next year will bring another 15-20 people to the country, and my permanent living in Japan, thanks to these opportunities provided by the JET Programme, will bring many more. Thank you!

-William Blakely (Tottori-ken, Kurayoshi-shi, 2006-11)

I have returned to Japan five times in the 3.5 years since I left. I spent anywhere from 10 days to 7.5 weeks on each trip and travel from Kyushu to Sendai. It is because of my time as a JET which leads me to return to see friends in Tottori Prefecture and also allowed me to make connections back in the States which has allowed me to make more friends from all over Japan to visit. JETs are the best connection that foreigners have to get the inside info and LOVE for the country. Many people are afraid to go visit Japan because of the language and culture….JETs enable people to get over that fear and have the “courage” to travel there. And I will be returning in the summer with another friend to help him be introduced to the country. Once people can get to Japan they get to meet the wonderful Japanese people and always take home stories of the generosity and beauty they encountered. One of these trips then led to another friend studying in Kyoto and then coming to live in Okayama and continuing the cycle! Also, my home school district started an exchange with a small town in Aichi Prefecture. Administrators, teachers, and middle school students from our district go visit Aichi and Kyoto once a year, and their 3rd year chugakko (i.e., junior high school) students (who use Japanese airline companies, I believe) come to our Chicago suburban town once a year. And it was my cultural connections and knowledge from JET that helped start these trips and help my district understand the process and payoffs of an exchange like this.

-Amy Pinski (Tottori-ken, Tottori-shi, 2005-07)

My parents came every year, bringing my sister along the third time! Plus, friends who took the chance to come visit me while I was on JET.

-Virginie Pinon (Tottori-ken, Misasa-cho, 2005-08)

Toyama

All the people who visited me in Japan said that they never would have if I wasn’t living there. I am constantly promoting Japan as a great tourist destination because I was able to experience real life in Japan through JET. I tell people not only to visit Tokyo and Osaka but less well known areas like Kanazawa, Toyama, and Gifu.

-Awurabena Kessie (Toyama-ken, Osawano-machi, 2005-06)

Wakayama

My mother and her friend visited me for about a week at my home in Nakatsu-mura near Gobo-shi in Wakayama-ken and then traveled by themselves throughout Japan for two weeks after. They went up north to Takayama and down south to Karatsu-shi. They had a wonderful time. They would not have visited Japan if I had not been living there.  My fellow ALTs and I traveled through Japan pretty extensively also. We went to Hiroshima, Kyoto, Osaka, and Kyushu. I would not have traveled to any of those cities if it weren’t for the JET Program.

-Kristy Carter (Wakayama-ken, Nakatsu-mura, 1999-2001)

We went to see Christmas lights at the one house within 100 miles with a lot of lights. The family inside sent out obaa-san to bring us inside so they could practice their English. We ended up spending the next day with two of the people we randomly met that night. It was a wonderful surprise.

-Andy Ernst (Wakayama-ken, Yura-shi, 2009-11)

Many of our friends and my sister flew into Kansai Airport in Osaka. All of them were thrilled with the ease of signs and the convenience of the trains. They were especially happy that so many people helped them even though none of them spoke Japanese. A particularly wonderful story was in Kyoto when some University students asked if our group would like an English tour of Kyomizu Dera. It made the impression of the culture that much more rich.

-Cynthia White (Wakayama-ken, Tanabe-shi, 2009-11)

It’s very interesting to travel around as a JET. For one thing, Japanese people’s surprise at your Japanese level never fades. Even if all you say is “ありがとう”, they think your Japanese is amazing. For me, it’s even more fun to say where I live in Japan. I went to Hokkaido for an intensive Japanese course. I was practicing kanji and wrote my town’s name, “高野山”. The teacher asked if I was a history-buff. When I replied, “no, I live there”, she was shocked and couldn’t get over it!

Also, I constantly run into other JETs from other prefectures or cities while I travel. Many JETs come to my town and I usually run into them at a cafe and we chat about our experiences. Or, you meet them on your way home for the holidays. Currently, there is a former JET living in my town. That was probably the most surprising encounter for me. She moved here to study at the University after I arrived in town. (FYI – I am the only JET/ALT in my town…)

The best part about JET tourism is seeing different places and realizing how far the reach of the JET Programme is. We are spread throughout the country, but we can always find each other!

-Katherine Slupski (Wakayama-ken, Koyasan-shi, 2009-11)

Please don’t get rid of the JET program!  It’s such an amazing thing (despite any  pitfalls and frustrations) and was responsible for so many positive changes in my life and my students’ lives. Throughout my two years in Japan I had the most wonderful experiences and met the kindest people. I went to Japan not knowing a thing about it or a word of Japanese, and left full of so much love (and fairly conversational in Japanese!) for an incredible country with a unique culture.  I think about Japan everyday and cannot wait to go back.

-Kate Clute (Wakayama-ken, Nachikatsura-cho)

Yamagata

My ex-girlfriend stayed with me for the full 90 days of a tourist visa. I counted those days b/c she was in the country and spending money . If that’s not legit, you can pull 90 days off the count. (She stayed for a separate 14 days as a “real” tourist, so you should keep the person count at 5)

-Ian K. (Yamagata-ken, Tsuruoka-shi, 2008-10)

Yamaguchi

All of my friends and family came to Japan because they knew I was there. They were too intimidated by the language and the whole foreignness of Japan to western culture.

-Mark Brandstetter (Yamaguchi-ken, Shuto-cho, 2005-07)

Yamanashi

They LOVED the hot springs and enjoyed checking out the culture each sightseeing spot offered. We all plan to return to Japan again to check out other places. What’s more, their positive experiences have been shared with their coworkers and now those people want to visit Japan too!

-Shirley Dang (Yamanashi-ken, Koshu-shi, 2009-10)


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