Oct 7
daneeta at dome 43

“My JET programme experience and my seven years in Japan have had a profound influence on me. It changed me into a more peaceful, communal person.”

News agency Kyodo News has recently been publishing monthly articles written by JET alumni who were appointed in rural areas of Japan, as part of promotion for the JET Programme. Below is the English version of the column from September 2013. Posted by Celine Castex (Chiba-ken, 2006-11), currently programme coordinator at CLAIR Tokyo.

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Daneeta Loretta Jackson (Fukuoka-ken, Buzen-shi, 1993-95) was born and raised in the backwaters of Southeast Louisiana. She was educated at public school where she discovered her love for storytelling. She holds a B.A. in English from Loyola University of the South, an M.A. in English from George Mason University, and an M.A. in the Art and Technique of Filmmaking from the London Film School. Her hobbies are international travel, watching movies, anything having to do with dogs, and sleeping. She works as a writer and filmmaker and is a Creative Producer at the ElekTrik Zoo, an arts partnership she co-founded with her husband, Patrick Jackson. She joined the JET programme in 1993 because she wanted adventure. It had a profound affect on her and changed the course of her life.

 

I was a JET Programme participant from 1993 to 1995 in Buzen-shi, Fukuoka-ken. I never expected to go to Japan. I never dreamed about it when I was a child like so many of my counterparts did. I don’t mean to sound flippant, but the JET Programme for me was a kind of accident. It is too long of a story to recount here. In short, my husband applied for the both of us. He requested a rural post in Fukuoka-ken because a boy from his Japanese baseball team in California was from Fukuoka. When he got word we had been accepted, he told me we were going to Japan. I had about two months to prepare.

Before I knew it, I was on a plane to Tokyo in July of 1993. The first few days were a whirlwind. The orientation in Tokyo and the jet lag made it seem like I was in some sort of dream. I had no idea what awaited me in the countryside, I couldn’t speak much Japanese, and everything seems so strange… so different from my native Louisiana. Read More


Oct 1

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThanks to Taylor’s father Andy Anderson for sharing the below update:

Toho-Towa Company, LTD  (Godzilla, etc.) is promoting Taylor’s film throughout Japan with City halls, other NPO’s, Boards of Education, JETs, etc.   JETs are good candidates to organize screenings as part of their community relations work.  Towa has posted information about this at www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjUvhwX-jDQ.

Part of the proceeds from screenings will go to the Taylor Anderson Memorial Fund which is being set up as a Japanese NPO.    Ambassador Fujisaki has agreed to be on the board and is helping us recruit other board members.  We’re working on a new website for the fund as well.  Towa would also like to have someone (such as JETs, former JETs, those associated with Taylor’s fund)  speak at each screening.

Towa will launch this effort  at the Yamagata film festival on 10/12/2013 www.yidff.jp/2013/program/13p7-e.html (Regge and some Taylor fund people will be there) and in Tokyo October 15th for potential screening hosts. Screening dates will start to be known about that time and we’ll keep them updated on www.thetaylorandersonstory.com and www.facebook.com/LiveYourDreamTheTaylorAndersonStory.


Sep 24

Percival Constantine at the Japan Writers Conference

Percival Constantine (Kagoshima 2008-2013) is a writer for GaijinPot and the Pulp Ark Award nominated author of several New Pulp novellas, including “The Myth Hunter” and “Love & Bullets.” He is also an editor at Pro Se Productions and resides in Kagoshima. At the Japan Writers Conference this year, he’s going to give a presentation titled “Self-Publishing: The Pros and Cons of Bypassing Traditional Publishing.” Here’s the official description.

percivalconstantine1With the advent of new technology such as print-on-demand services and ebooks, the market has opened for authors who wish to go it alone and publish their books without the use of an agent or publisher. There are both positives and negatives to this approach.
In the past, if one wished to publish a book, it required finding an agent and the agent locating a publisher for the product. Thanks to print-on-demand and ebook publishing, self-publishing has become easier than ever for aspiring authors. There are both positive and negative aspects to this. On the plus side, there is no need to write a number of query letters and send out submissions to agents or for the long wait before a book ends up on the market, as well as an increased share of the royalties. On the downside, the self-published author is responsible for all aspects of the production process, from editing the manuscript, laying out the book, creating a cover, and promotion. And though there is a larger share of royalties, the amount of copies sold can be far fewer. This presentation will examine the pros and cons of self-publishing.

To learn more about the Nov. 2-3 Japan Writers Conference, visit the official website HERE.
To learn more about Percival, visit his site HERE.


Sep 20

thisJapaneselifeThanks to AJET Chair Kay Makishi for the heads up on Fukuoka JET alum Eryk Salvaggio who writes the blog “This Japanese Life” and recently published a book by the same name.  You can read more about Eryk in this Japan Times interview with him from 2012.

About the book:  http://thisjapaneselife.org/this-japanese-life-the-book/

Most books about Japan can tell you how to use chopsticks or say “konnichiwa.” Few tackle the real stress of life in a radically different culture.

The author, a three-year resident and the writer and researcher behind one of the best Japan blogs, tackles the thousand tiny uncertainties of life abroad with honesty and wit.

Perfect for anyone about to leave home for Japan or elsewhere, This Japanese Life will deepen any reader’s understanding of Japanese culture as it’s fused into a method of dealing with the hardships of working and living there.

About Eryk:

Eryk Salvaggio was an American newspaper editor in Bangor, Maine before teaching English in Japan with the JET Program. He lived in Fukuoka City from 2010-2013, writing a blog, This Japanese Life, about Japanese culture and the tiny anxieties of being an expatriate.

The site was named one of the best Japan Blogs by Tofugu and was spotlighted by The Japan Times. Salvaggio has written for McSweeney’s, The Japan Times, Tofugu and Kulturaustausch.

His work as a visual artist has been covered in The New York Times and elsewhere.

He currently lives in London.

 


Sep 19

jrm17Thanks to AJET Chair Kay Makishi for passing along info about this interesting new book by Aaron Miller (Ehime-ken, 2002-04).

About the Author (via Amazon.com):

Aaron L. Miller, PhD is Assistant Professor and Hakubi Scholar at Kyoto University, affiliated with the Graduate School of Education, and Visiting Scholar, Stanford University Center on Adolescence. His academic research explores the relationships between education, sports, discipline and culture. His website is www.aaronlmiller.com.

About the Book:

This book is about the many “discourses of discipline” that encircle the issue of “corporal punishment” (taibatsu). These discourses encompass the ways that people discuss discipline and the patterns of rhetoric of what discipline should be, as well as what discipline signifies. By scrutinizing these discourses of discipline, this work disentangles the allegedly intimate ties between culture, discipline, and pedagogy in Japanese schools and sports.

For more information on this monograph, including how to order it,please visit http://ieas.berkeley.edu/publications/jrm17.html

Full IEAS catalogue: http://ieas.berkeley.edu/publications/catalogue.html

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Discourses-Discipline-Anthropology-Punishment-Monograph/dp/1557291055

Reviews (via Amazon)

Corporal punishment of children by teachers and coaches is a widespread practice in many countries, but especially in Japan, where it has become a front-page issue involving Olympic athletes. Miller explores this issue both historically and in contemporary practices and analyzes how various discourses regrading disciplinary actions have shaped Japanese understandings of their ‘educational reality.’ To understand this phenomenon, Miller rejects Ruth Benedict’s culturalist theory and, instead, places physical discipline (taibatsu) in the contect of Michel Foucault’s theory of violence and power, offering an incisive analysis of a complex issue. —Harumi Befu, professor emeritus, Stanford University

An intriguing and well-written analysis on molding character in Japanese schools and sports through the widespread use of corporal punishment. Miller frames his discussion in the contexts of Japanese cultural ideals about discipline, toughness, and self-improvement, as well as in Japanese perceptions of such forms of discipline as something uniquely Japanese. This book is an important contribution to understanding the social and cultural dynamics of core institutions in contemporary Japan. —Theodore C. Bestor, Harvard University

Corporal punishment as a discipline of pain and an abuse of adult authority is a troubling presence in Japanese classrooms and sports fields. This is an insightful and wide-ranging analysis that overturns simple judgments with a nuanced exploration of the historical development, sociocultural locations, and heated national discourse on corporal punishment in modern Japan. It is a significant contribution to our understanding of Japanese education and sports, and it is an original anthropological perspective on how we might theorize power in Japanese society. – —William W. Kelly, Yale University


Sep 17

Life After JET: Food for Thought by James Foley

Recently posted to the JETAA Oceania Facebook group by Eden Law:

The JET Programme has lead to many opportunities and careers, sometimes rather unexpectedly. This is part of a series of articles by former JETs about their lives after participating on the programme, and how it has shaped their careers and paths. We hope that it will prove useful as an insight for potential applicants into what we as ex-JETs got from our experience, and maybe provide some nostalgic memories for others. Please feel free to contact us if you want to write about your own experience!

Our next article in our Life After JET series comes from James A. Foley. A former Iwaki-shi, Fukushima-ken JET (2007-2010), James met his wife (who was also a JET) on the JET Programme and has successfully carved out a career as a reviewer and critic of New York’s Japanese food scene for the famous Village Voice publication. James is also quite handy with the camera, and his blog contains his writing, articles and photography. A little known fact is that he’s totally metal on the shamisen.

This August marks the third year since I finished my time on JET; I have officially been gone from Japan for as long as I was there. Looking back now over my time on JET, the connections between the Japan experience and my work as a professional journalist are abundantly clear.

Prior to packing up life and moving from the middle of America to Iwaki City on the coast of Fukushima, I worked as a news reporter for a daily newspaper in suburban Kansas City, Mo. While I was in Japan I continued to write and hone my journalism skills, but mainly just for a blog I kept for my own records.

Towards the end of my JET tenure I had no life plan or job prospects. Read More


Sep 16

BenjaminMartinBenjamin Martin (Okinawa, 2008-13), author of the award-winning YA fantasy series Samurai Awakening (Tuttle) and blogger at MoreThingsJapanese.com, will be among the presenters at the 2013 Japan Writers Conference to be held Nov. 2-3 in Okinawa. Here’s the official description of his presentation, titled “Getting Published When You Live On An Island”:

This will be an overview of my experience getting published while living on an island with a total population of 550 people, and what I learned along the way that will help perspective authors and those still finding their way while living in Japan.

I will outline my journey into the publishing world while living on Kitadaito and Kumejima Islands in Okinawa, including the successes and pitfalls I found along the way. I will talk about the processes I used to write, the friends and resources that helped me refine my work, and things I wish I had known back then. I will touch on the predatory tactics of companies and resources for avoiding them, and also on the benefits of contests such as the ABNA. I will delve into my experience working without an agent, the pros and cons, and the opportunity I found with Tuttle Publishing, the benefits and trials of working with a smaller press. Finally, I’ll cover marketing from Japan, with ways I found to connect with the writing community. I will end with time for questions and/or discussion.

For details on the Japan Writers Conference, visit http://www.japanwritersconference.org/
To learn more about Benjamin, visit http://samuraiawakening.com/author/


Sep 6

CLAIR Magazine “JET Plaza” series: Ari Kaplan (Hyōgo)

Each month, current and former JET participants are featured in the “JET Plaza” section of the CLAIR Forum magazine. The September 2013 edition includes an article by JET alumn Ari Kaplan. Posted by Celine Castex (Chiba-ken, 2006-11), currently programme coordinator at CLAIR Tokyo.

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AriKaplan_Headshot2013

“I still remember the ceremony […] held for departing JET participants when I left my position as an ALT. […] I distinctly recall advising the audience members that I was leaving so that I could return someday.”

Originally from the US, Ari Kaplan (Hyogo-ken, Suzurandai, 1993-94) came to Japan upon graduating from Boston University. He is now a business consultant in New York City and the author of Reinventing Professional Services: Building Your Business in the Digital Market Place (Wiley, 2011), which Akishobo recently released in Japan as ハスラー――プロフェッショナルたちの革新. Learn more at AriKaplanAdvisors.com.

JET Perspective

 

I still remember the ceremony that the Hyogo Prefectural Board of Education held for departing JET participants when I left my position as an ALT at Kobe Kohoku High School in 1994.  The host asked each of us to line up facing the audience, pass a microphone to one another, and share our reason for leaving. I distinctly recall advising the audience members that I was leaving so that I could return someday.

When Akishobo translated my second book, Reinventing Professional Services: Building Your Business in the Digital Workplace (Wiley 2011), into Japanese and released it in Japan last fall, I felt like I had somehow kept my promise.  I was also excited to have the opportunity to publicly dedicate it to the JET Programme and the Hyogo Prefectural Board of Education.

I was only 20 years old when in July 1993, following my graduation from Boston University, I took that Japan Airlines flight from New York to Tokyo. Jetlagged the day after I arrived, I went on an early-morning walk into the Tokyo Metro to explore and noticed that there were a few homeless individuals living in refrigerator boxes down below.

As a resident of a major metropolitan city, this sight in Shinjuku station did not surprise me. What struck me, however, was that outside of each box sat a pair of shoes, presumably worn by the occupant inside, highlighting the individual’s personal respect and the extraordinary nature of the place to which I had traveled. Read More


Sep 3

JETwit mentioned in Japan Times article “JET Alumni: Advocates for Japan”

A great Return On JET-vestment article that ran today in the Japan Times:

JET alumni: Advocates for Japan

Program lauded for continuing to bear cultural fruit, friendships

BY AYAKO MIE

STAFF WRITER

Here’s the full article:  http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/09/03/national/jet-alumni-advocates-for-japan/#.UiaU_GRATv0

Here’s the quote:

Steven Horowitz, who was a JET in Aichi Prefecture from 1992 to 1994, likened his former colleagues to a global expat community of around 60,000 people in terms of their shared affection for Japan. “I think it is going to pay . . . dividends for years and years to come,” he said.

To consolidate the alumni network, Horowitz runs JETwit.com, a website that accumulates information about alumni and Japan-related jobs.

 


Aug 22

Life After JET: The Write Stuff by Ashley Thompson

Recently posted to the JETAA Oceania Facebook group by Eden Law:

The JET Programme has led to many opportunities and careers, sometimes rather unexpectedly. This is the first in a series of articles by former JETs about their lives after participating on the programme, and how it has shaped their careers and paths. We hope that it will prove useful as an insight for potential applicants into what we as ex-JETs got from our experience, and maybe provide some nostalgic memories for others. Please feel free to contact us if you want to write about your own experience!  

Our article comes to us courtesy of Ashley Thompson, who was a former JET in Shizuoka-ken (2008-10). Since leaving JET she has built up a writing career which includes being an editor of Surviving in Japan, a popular blog for expats in Japan; and as a Community Manager for Nihongo Master,  an online Japanese language learning site.  Many thanks to Ashley for her time and support!

I never expected that going to Japan with JET would launch my writing career or bring about the opportunities it has. And fainting at school was the catalyst. It happened on a cool October day, just over a year after I arrived in Japan. A student had come to the door of the staff room to ask me something, and after standing up from seat my vision started fading and my head was cloudy. I lowered myself to the floor before I lost consciousness. I was rushed to the nurse’s room on a stretcher and sent home for a few days.

The first day back at school I developed a fever and was promptly sent home. The light-headedness returned stronger at that point, followed by motion sickness and constant nausea. I was forced to take a longer sick leave, month after month, as I visited various doctors in an attempt to get a diagnosis. They either found nothing or told me it was “all in my head”. I knew they were wrong, but in Japan a doctor’s word is like God’s. Read More


Aug 7

CLAIR Magazine “JET Plaza” series: Marie-Claire Joyce (Nagasaki)

Each month, current and former JET participants are featured in the “JET Plaza” section of the CLAIR Forum magazine. The August 2013 edition includes an article by JET alumn Marie-Claire Joyce. Posted by Celine Castex (Chiba-ken, 2006-11), currently programme coordinator at CLAIR Tokyo.

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marie-claire joyce

“I may never be the British Ambassador to Tokyo, but I am proud to have been the first British Ambassador to Hasami on the JET Programme”

Marie-Claire Joyce (Nagasaki-ken, Hasami-cho, 1991-93) is from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne (UK). She studied French & Italian at the University of Manchester before joining the JET Programme as an ALT in Nagasaki Prefecture. After two years, she left Japan to follow a postgraduate course in France specialising in International Trade with Asia before entering the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office. Marie-Claire has worked both in London and overseas (Tokyo, Tunis and Jakarta) on a number of areas including trade promotion, protection of British people overseas, crisis management, political and economic work. 22 years since joining the JET Programme and 15 years since her first posting to Tokyo as a diplomat, she has recently returned to the British Embassy in Tokyo where she heads up the Economic and Trade Policy Team.

Rural Diplomat

I stumbled across the JET Programme in the same way as I stumbled across what was to be my future career in the British Diplomatic Service. A friend passed me a brochure and told me I was the ideal kind of person to be on JET and then later the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) : experience travelling and living overseas, teaching experience, keen on learning foreign languages and so on. I applied for both and so the adventure began.

22 years ago this July, 29th to be exact, I boarded a JAL plane at London Heathrow bound for Tokyo, like many more JET participants will be doing this Summer. Little did I know then that it would be the first of many flights to Japan, and that Japan would become a real part of my life. I am quite sure that had I not joined JET, my life would be very different today. I was to be the very first AET at Hasami High School in the pottery town of Hasami in a beautiful rural part of Nagasaki prefecture. I had no future plans, having just graduated from Manchester University. The world was my oyster I had been an assistante d’anglais as part of my French degree and was thrilled at the idea of spending more time overseas discovering a new country through teaching.

I learned more than I bargained for. Not just a new language and culture but also about myself. Resilience, patience and determination became my best friends. I went through all the stages of culture shock :  I loved Japan, I hated Japan, I couldn’t understand the Japanese, I wanted to be Japanese, I wanted to leave (and I packed several times in the first 6 months!), I wanted to spend the rest of my life in Japan. I felt excluded (I got upset being called a “gaijin”). I wrote a letter for the town newsletter to indroduce myself and tell everyone why I had come to Hasami. It was a real challenge to settle and integrate. In fact the same kind of challenge I go through in my career now as I change country every four years.

Read More


Jul 24

dinner

Tara Hohenberger, who first fell in love with saké and the Japanese culinary world as an ALT in Nara (2001-2003) wrote to us about a film project she is helping produce.  The documentary The Birth of Saké profiles the production seasons and lives of the workers at Tedorigawa, a fifth-generation, family-owned sake brewery in Ishikawa, Japan. Tedorigawa has been producing some of the world’s top award winning sakés since 1870 and still utilizes very traditional brewing methods.

Tara is working on the project with filmmaker Erik Shirai, who was a cinematographer on The Travel Channel’s No Reservations’ with Anthony Bourdain.  The crew was first invited to the brewery in August of 2012 and was intrigued by the intense and relatively unknown process (even within Japan) of traditional saké making. Led by Brewmaster Teruyuki Yamamoto, the team of brewers is made up mostly of migrant farmers who grow rice in the summers and return to the brewery in late October to begin an intense six-month period of saké production. They will live under the same roof and eat three meals a day together. At the most intense time, when they brew the ultra-premium Daiginjyo variety they will barely have time to sleep.

cookedIn January 2013, they returned to Ishikawa and were granted permission to spend several weeks living amongst the workers at the brewery. It allowed them a rare window into a cast of vibrant and dynamic characters and fueled their interest in painting a deeper portrait of the people behind the product. Shirai’s film captures this little understood world with his signature lush visual aesthetics in the stillness of winter in northern Japan.

On July 9, they launched a Kickstarter campaign running through September 2, 2013, to complete the project. They hope to raise $50,000, which will allow a visit to film the Brewmaster in his hometown of Noto, Japan to illustrate the contrast of the intense life he leads inside the brewery for six months a year, with that of his land, his rice fields, his wife, children and his grandchildren. The film will also capture the critical moment when the workers return to the brewery to begin the production cycle again. Funding will also cover editing, musical composition, licensing, equipment rentals and other post-production costs.

Group_shot

You can view the trailer on The Birth of Saké’s Kickstarter page at

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1802764272/the-birth-of-sake

The filmmakers greatly appreciate your help in spreading the word about the film.  Follow them at facebook.com/birthofsake + on Twitter: @iamwhatieatTV


Jul 11

USJBF selects JET alum Laurel Lukaszewski for new “Strengthening the JETAA USA Network” initiative

laurel-300x220

Laurel Lukaszewski (Kagoshima-ken, 1990-1992)

Remember the job listing for  the Part-time Project Director with the US-Japan Bridging Foundation (USJBF) to support JETAA USA growth?  The USJBF has announced that it has selected Laurel Lukaszewski (ALT Kagoshima-ken, 1990-92) for the position for its new initiative “Strengthening the JETAA Network and Connecting Next Generation Leaders.”

Shojiki ni itte, it’s hard to imagine anyone better suited for the role.  Laurel has maintained a strong connection with Japan and the Japan-US community since here time on the JET Program by previously serving on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Japan-America Societies (NAJAS), as the Executive Director for the Japan-America Society of Washington, D.C, and as a Program Director of the Japan-America Society in Seattle.  She currently lives in Washington, D.C. where she actively participates on the Board of the National Cherry Blossom Festival and JETAADC.  You can see her in this panel discussion with fellow JET alums Jim Gannon (Ehime-ken, 1992-94) and Anthony Bianchi (Aichi-ken, Inuyama-shi, 1988-89) from the 2011 JETAA National Conference in D.C.

Laurel (who is also a sculptor–see her work here) officially started working Tuesday, July 9.  Here is the official announcement from the USJBF:

July 11, 2013

The U.S.-Japan Bridging Foundation (USJBF), is pleased to announce that Laurel Lukaszewski has been hired as Project Director for its new initiative “Strengthening the JETAA Network and Connecting Next Generation Leaders.” Funded by the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership (CGP), the purpose of the project is to build infrastructure in support of the Japan-Exchange and Teaching Program Alumni Association, United States of America (JETAA USA) and enhance its impact promoting U.S.-Japan relations.

Laurel is an alumna of the JET Programme (Kagoshima-ken, 1990-1992) and has a solid understanding of U.S.-Japan relations, the U.S.-Japan community and how nonprofit and membership organizations are governed and run. After completing the JET Programme and receiving an M.A. in Asian Studies, Laurel embarked on a nine-year career with the Japan-America Societies in Seattle and Washington, D.C.. In 2005, Laurel left her position as ED of the JASW to pursue a career as an artist. She has maintained her ties to the JET Programme and U.S.-Japan community by serving as an active member of the JET Application Review and Interview committees for over thirteen years. Laurel served on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Japan America Societies (NAJAS), and has been on the National Cherry Blossom Festival Board of Directors since 2002. Paige Cottingham-Streater, Executive Director of the U.S.-Japan Bridging Foundation said, “Laurel is a valuable addition to our team and will bring a unique understanding about the JET community and its potential to promote a strong U.S.-Japan relationship.”

The U.S.-Japan Bridging Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, awards scholarships to U.S. undergraduate students to study for one semester or academic year in Japan. The Foundation grows global leaders to help prepare America’s young people to assume future leadership roles in business, education, international and public affairs and other professions.

URL:  http://www.bridgingfoundation.org/news/new-project-director-to-facilitate-jetaa-capacity-building


Jun 23

Each month, current and former JET participants are featured in the “JET Plaza” section of the CLAIR Forum magazine. The July 2013 edition includes an article by JET alumn Mark Flanigan. Posted by Celine Castex (Chiba-ken, 2006-11), currently programme coordinator at CLAIR Tokyo.


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Mark Head Shot

“It was a wonderful feeling to be able to walk the same pathways, both physical and metaphorical, that I had first walked a decade before. Much has changed since then, in Japan and in my own life, but I will always remain incredibly thankful to CLAIR and the JET Programme for this “Twice in a Lifetime” chance.”

A native of Pittsburgh, PA, Mark Flanigan (Nagasaki-ken, Hirado-shi, 2000-04) spent four years in Nagasaki Prefecture as an ALT and PA . He applied for JET as part of his long record of work, study and travel abroad, which has given him a deeper understanding of global affairs and insight into different languages, people and cultures. Mark Flanigan currently serves as Program Director with the Japan ICU Foundation (日本国際基督教大学財団) in New York City and is a first-year Resident of International House of New York. He came to New York after two years in Tokyo, where he earned his MA in Peace Studies as a Rotary International Peace Fellow at International Christian University (ICU). Mark has also been a US Army Officer, Presidential Management Fellow (PMF), and CSIS Young Leader.

Twice in a Lifetime

Like the great majority of JET programme participants, I look back with fond recollections on my time in Japan. Unlike most of them, however, I also had a second chance to come back and live in Japan once again. It was an amazing experience, and one which I never planned on, which allowed me to compare my two very different “Japans.” Although I lived in that same country twice, the differences in time, location and purpose made for a very insightful analysis of how both Japan and I had changed in the intervening years.

My first years in Japan were spent as a new ALT who had never been to Asia, much less lived there. While I had some experience teaching English in the U.S. and Mexico, I was not an Asian Studies major and was not at all familiar with the Japanese language. Nonetheless, I grew to love my new life in Hirado, Nagasaki Prefecture. I immersed myself in the community, getting involved in the local karate dojo as well as participating in the various seasonal festivals and extracurricular activities like speech contests, international days and so on. My original plan to stay just one year changed into multiple re-contracting, and I actually ended up spending a total of four years on JET (teaching both in Hirado as a municipal ALT and then as a Teacher-Trainer at the Prefectural Education Center in Omura City.)

Returning to the U.S. after four years in Japan, I became busily focused on other areas and gradually lost touch with my various connections to JET and Nagasaki. I went to graduate school for Public Policy at George Mason University in the Washington, DC area and started serving with the U.S. Government after graduation. My life continued to progress in this new direction, which was successful enough and still internationally focused, but less-connected to Japan with each passing year. I found myself forgetting more and more nihongo and generally feeling like my JET experience, while a wonderful time, was becoming a kind of closed chapter in my life. Read More


Jun 21

JET alum finds culinary success with Ramen Shop in Oakland, CA

Thanks to JETAA Northern California Vice-President Mark Frey (Kumamoto-ken, 2002-06) for sharing the following:

At our JETAA Northern California Oakland Ramen Nite tonight, I found out that Jerry (“JJ”) Jaksich, one of the owners/chefs of Ramen Shop, was a JET! (possibly Ebestsu, Hokkaido)

Ramen Shop is getting a ton of buzz in the Bay Area because three alumni of the legendary Chez Panisse started the restaurant. Wait times for table are often an hour. Here are some recent articles about Jerry and Ramen Shop:

Review/overview of Ramen Shop:
http://www.sfgate.com/restaurants/diningout/article/Ramen-Shop-a-hot-spot-in-Oakland-4301369.php

Interview with Jerry about his “ramen epiphany” experience in Japan:
http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/blog/2012/09/06/ramen-shop-guys-talk-epic-bowls-japan-experiences-and-local-ramen/

A newsletter with an interview Jerry did with a local izakaya master in 2007, while on JET I assume (scroll down):
http://www.city.ebetsu.hokkaido.jp/kokusai/files/Everyday%20Ebetsu%20No.3.pdf

Blog about the Japanese noodle maker they use:
http://umamimart.com/2012/10/richmen-ramen-shops-noodle-making-machine-from-japan/


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