Sep 8

JETwit’s JET Alum Movers & Shakers: Joe Palermo, Gunma-ken, 1982-1983 (2 years)

JETwit’s JET Alum Movers & Shakers is produced by Ryan Hata (Tottori-ken, 2014-2017), Margie Banin (Kochi-ken, 2005-2007), and Jim Walsh (Fukushima-ken, 2018-2020). Want to be featured next? Submit your information here.

Joe Palermo, Gunma-ken, 1982-1983 (2 years)

Joe Palermo has published a book called “No Pianos, Pets or Foreigners! My Life in Japan in the 80s”. He originally went to Japan as a Mombusho English Fellow (Pre-JET) and lived in Numata City, Gunma for two years, followed by three years in Sakado, Saitama and three years in Narimasu, Tokyo. This book spans across his eight year stay and contains stories which are often humorous, though more serious topics are also featured.

More Information:
After his two year role as an MEF, Joe joined a Japanese company in their export department for three years. Following this, he joined the Nielsen company as a local hire, which turned into a career of 25 years where he worked in several senior global roles (VP, Marketing, VP, Sales, etc.). He capped his career with a seven year stint at Information Resources, Inc. (IRI) in Chicago, where he established several global services. He is now semi-retired and living in the Chicagoland area.

Public Contact Information:

Sep 6

Japan Writers Conference: Todd Jay Leonard discusses the EFL textbook market

Posted by Tom Baker

Textbook author Todd Jay is one of the JET alumni writers who will be giving presentations at the 2020 Japan Writers Conference. Due to the coronavirus, this year’s event is being held online, so you can Zoom in from wherever you are. For details, see Here’s the official description of his presentation:

Todd Jay Leonard
Publishing in the EFL Market in Japan: Four Perspectives on How to Make your Proposal Count
Short lecture with Q & A

This presentation will outline the current publishing market in Japan for EFL/ESL textbooks by reviewing the various points of views of the publishing industry. The presenter has published extensively within the ESL/EFL market in Japan and will offer helpful advice to budding authors who wish to pursue projects geared to Japan’s domestic market.

Most likely, every language teacher in Japan has (at some point during his/her tenure) contemplated writing a textbook to fill a void in the market…in that constant search for the perfect, all encompassing textbook.

In today’s competitive publishing world, getting the proverbial “foot in the door” can seem daunting and nearly impossible. What are publishers looking for in the current market? What appeals to editors who ultimately decide which titles go to production and which ones do not? What are the salespeople on the front lines hearing from their market base? What must an author do in order to get his/her book published?

This presentation focuses on these very questions, offering inside insights from all the various points of view that must be considered when writing a proposal to publish a textbook–the publisher, the editor, the salesperson, and the author. Professor Leonard explains the realities within the publishing industry and addresses some common myths associated with EFL publishing.

Todd Jay Leonard has been actively involved in book publishing for thirty years. He is the author of 22 books. He has published books with a number of different Japanese publishing companies. He lives, writes, and teaches on the southern island of Kyushu, where he is a university professor at University of Teacher Education Fukuoka. He has also published extensively in academic journals, magazines, and newspapers on cross-cultural, historical, and Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) themes.

Sep 6

Japan Writers Conference: Suzanne Kamata speaks on writing about characters with disabilities

Posted by Tom Baker

Prolific author Suzanne Kamata is one of several JET alumni writers who will be giving presentations at the 2020 Japan Writers Conference. Due to the coronavirus, this year’s event is being held online, so you can Zoom in from wherever you are. For details, see Here’s the official description of Suzanne’s presentation:

Suzanne Kamata
Wheelchair User or Wheelchair-bound?: Writing About Disability
Short Lecture with Q&A
Fiction, Nonfiction

In this session, I will discuss positive and problematic representations of persons with disabilities in literature, including my own work, with a view to developing better awareness.

With the approach of the 2021 Tokyo Paralympics (hopefully), people with disabilities in Japan have been given more attention than perhaps ever before. English textbooks for Japanese children now frequently include stories about or representations of people with disabilities. Worldwide, initiatives such as #weneeddiversebooks and the call for #ownvoices have led to an increase of  books featuring characters with disabilities. That said, some of these representations, and the way that they are discussed remain problematic. When do stories about disability become “inspiration porn”? What kind of language should we use when discussing disability? Who has the right to tell these stories? In this session, I will address these questions, using examples from recently published Japanese textbooks and literature featuring children in Japan and other countries, including my own work.

Suzanne Kamata is the award-winning author or editor of twelve published books including Love You to Pieces: Creative Writers on Raising a Child with Special Needs (Beacon Press, 2008), Gadget Girl: The Art of Being Invisible (GemmaMedia, 2013), A Girls’ Guide to the Islands (Gemma Open Door, 2017), Squeaky Wheels: Travels with My Daughter by Train, Plane, Metro, Tuk-tuk and Wheelchair (Wyatt-Mackenzie Publishing, 2019), and Indigo Girl (GemmaMedia, 2019). She is an Associate Professor at Naruto University of Education.

Sep 1

JETwit’s JET Alum Movers & Shakers is produced by Ryan Hata (Tottori-ken, 2014-2017), Margie Banin (Kochi-ken, 2005-2007), and Jim Walsh (Fukushima-ken, 2018-2020). Want to be featured next? Submit your information here.

Jessica Brown, Oita-ken, 2000-2003

After returning to the UK from Japan in 2005 Jess made a promise to herself to maintain, if not improve, her intermediate Japanese language ability. Once settled in Scotland, she attended multiple Japanese courses and one-off lessons in search of what she had experienced when living in Japan. She craved immersion. Unable to find what she was looking for, Jess set up the Japanese language environment that she missed, an immersive Japanese conversation community. Nihongo Connection, started in 2014, now boasts 6 online conversation clubs per week with Japanese speakers based around the world. Jess also runs regular online courses to take Japanese language beginners from listening to chatting with other Japanese speakers in weeks.

More Information:
Just because you can’t find what you are looking for doesn’t mean it will never exist! If you want something badly enough you can create it yourself! What have you always wanted to do but you have been putting off? What has been stopping you? What can you do today to make a start to make it happen for you?

Public Contact Information:
Nihongo Connection on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter

Aug 28

Professional Writer/Interpreter/Translator Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken CIR, 2000-03) presents WIT Life, a periodic series about aspects of Japanese culture such as film, food and language. Stacy starts her day by watching Fujisankei’s newscast in Japanese, and here she offers some interesting tidbits and trends along with her own observations.

In recent days the Japanese news has been buzzing with news of PM Abe’s frequent hospital visits, and he officially resigned his post during today’s press conference. In the midst of the coronavirus crisis, Abe determined that stepping down due to a flareup of ulcerative collitis was the prudent choice. Intense speculation is taking place as to who within the LDP will be named as his successor, to serve out the remainder of his term through next September. Abe holds the record as Japan’s longest serving PM.

If this news brings you to tears consider crying therapy (涙活 or ruikatsu), which I’ve previously introduced in this column. There are a slew of Japanese words that have been coined with the kanji for “activity” as a suffix (活 or katsu). Some examples are trying to get pregnant (妊活 or ninkatsu), job searching (就活 or shuukatsu), and planning for one’s death (終活 or shuukatsu. Incidentally, this has the same pronunciation as the previous one so be careful!). Ruikatsu is the subject of the NYT featured op-doc Tears Teacher. Clocking in at less than 11 minutes, this short film is definitely worth a watch. Enjoy and stay safe out there!

Aug 24

JETwit’s JET Alum Movers & Shakers: Gregory Beck, Hiroshima-ken, 2006-2011

JETwit’s JET Alum Movers & Shakers is produced by Ryan Hata (Tottori-ken, 2014-2017), Margie Banin (Kochi-ken, 2005-2007), and Jim Walsh (Fukushima-ken, 2018-2020). Want to be featured next? Submit your information here.

Gregory Beck, Hiroshima-ken, 2006-2011

New saké education and consulting website and business.

More Information:
While on JET, most of us gained some secondary expertise on Japanese alcohol, but few would argue they were as diligent in this area as Greg. After drinking hundreds of saké at Hiroshima’s annual Saké Matsuri and eventually returning to the restaurant industry, Greg became a saké and shochu specialist at Mutual Trading Company, a certified Saké Sommelier, and Saké Program manager and consultant at various Izakaya around Los Angeles County. Greg has recently settled in Long Beach and founded, an online resource, blog, and consultation business, with a focus on food pairings, using Saké to elevate any culinary experience, and hopes to have a brick-and-mortar retail location by as early as next year.

Public Contact Information:

Aug 17

JETwit’s JET Alum Movers & Shakers: James McKnight, Gunma-ken, 2001-2004

JETwit’s JET Alum Movers & Shakers is produced by Ryan Hata (Tottori-ken, 2014-2017), Margie Banin (Kochi-ken, 2005-2007), and Jim Walsh (Fukushima-ken, 2018-2020). Want to be featured next? Submit your information here.

James McKnight, Gunma-ken, 2001-2004

James McKnight wrote Yellow & Black Fever: Life, Love and Baseball in the Land of the Rising Sun, a memoir of the first three years (2001-2004) out of twelve total that he lived in Japan. Mainly about life as an ALT in a small town, James writes about struggling to fit in, traveling around Japan-Asia, and about a group of Japanese pro baseball fans that took him under their wing and accepted him not as a gaijin, but as an equal. Current and former JETs might enjoy reading James’ memoir as he is certain many of the struggles and successes he experienced are similar to the ones they experienced. This memoir may well bring back good memories for former JETs, and for current JETs it might shed light on what life was like as a JET nearly 20 years ago. As James’ baseball friends lived in Osaka, he had a 500 km journey in order to see them and watch Hanshin Tigers games together. However, he says it well worth it as inside a baseball stadium he could escape the troubles of his everyday life. James’ book is available on and also on Amazon in other countries, including the UK, Canada, Australia, France, and Japan.

More Info:
James is currently working as an Adult Education – Workforce Instructor on a Native American Reservation in Tucson, Arizona, USA, and has found that working on the reservation is almost like being a foreigner in Japan again. He began teaching in 2001 as a JET, worked two years as Gunma Prefectural ALT Advisor in the Board of Education Office (2004-06), then became licensed as a Foreign Instructor in order to teach full-time at Chuo Secondary School, an English Immersion School in Takasaki, Gunma (2006-2013). James taught there for 6 1/2 years and learned exactly how hard it is to be a full-time middle school/high school teacher in Japan. He found it very challenging, but adapted to the long work hours and enjoyed teaching the students and learning from his co-workers.

James returned to the U.S. in 2013, and is certified to teach high school social studies, adult education, and career – technical education. He would be glad to help anyone interested in learning about full-time teaching in Japan or teaching in Arizona as well. Prior to becoming a teacher, James worked as a sports journalist and public relations professional for 11 years. A graduate of the University of Arizona – Class of 1990 with a B.A. in Journalism, James has also earned a Masters in Organizational Management from the University of Phoenix and a Post-Baccalaureate Degree in Secondary Education from Pima College.

Public Contact Information:
James can be reached at He can also be found on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Aug 11

JETwit’s JET Alum Movers & Shakers: JETwit’s JET Alum Movers & Shakers: Valerie Hwang, Hyogo-ken, 2009-2012

JETwit’s JET Alum Movers & Shakers is produced by Ryan Hata (Tottori-ken, 2014-2017), Margie Banin (Kochi-ken, 2005-2007), and Jim Walsh (Fukushima-ken, 2018-2020). Want to be featured next? Submit your information here.

Valerie Hwang, Hyogo-ken, 2009-2012

Founded Intrepid Ayurveda – Ayurvedic Health Counseling business and website.

After years of post-JET soul-searching, adventuring, and creative endeavors, Valerie has launched her career in Ayurvedic medicine as a Health Counselor Intern at the California College of Ayurveda. Her mission is to provide guidance through the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda so that her clients have the path and tools to live their lives to the very fullest.

Public Contact Information:
Website —
Email —

Aug 8

USJETAA Webinars

The School of International Training (SIT) Graduate Institute Scholarship Information Session

Session 1 (Aug 11, 2020 at 5:30 PM Pacific Time / 8:30 PM Eastern Time):
Session 2 (Aug 13, 2020 at 6:00 AM Pacific Time / 9:00 AM Eastern Time):

Are you interested in attending graduate school? The School of International Training (SIT) Graduate Institute has partnered with the USJETAA to offer a scholarship to JET alumni interested in pursuing a master’s degree program at SIT. SIT will commit to providing 30% tuition scholarships for eligible JET alumni. Please join us to learn more about the mater’s programs and scholarship available to JET alumni. JET alumni who have completed their MA at SIT have been invited to join us for this presentation.

SIT offers master’s degree programs in part-time, low-residency and full-time, face-to-face, global formats in the following subjects:

Master of Arts in Climate Change and Global Sustainability
Master of Arts in Development Practice
Master of Arts in Diplomacy & International Relations
Master of Arts in Global Health Policy, Administration & Management
Master of Arts in Humanitarian Assistance and Crisis Management
Master of Arts in Intercultural Service, Leadership & Management (Online with brief residencies in Vermont)
Master of Arts in International Education (Global, Online with brief residencies in Vermont)
Master of Arts in Peace and Justice Leadership (Online with brief residencies in Vermont and abroad)
Master of Arts in Sustainable Development (Online with brief residencies in Vermont and abroad)
Master of Arts in TESOL (Online with brief residencies in Vermont)

Japanese Jobs for JETs

Aug 20, 2020 08:00 PM EDT:

The JET experience is a life-changing one, and when you return home, you may feel confused and/or stressed about the job search, specifically for jobs that allow you to use your Japanese. Join this seminar if you’re still on or already done with the JET Program, and learn some key tips about job searching.

Anne Hooghart (Shiga, 1990-1991) is an instructor, consultant, and parent of bilingual kids. Anne maintains a personal and professional focus on fostering interest in the Japanese language and culture.

Kasia Lynch is the Founder of Ikigai Connections. Kasia aims to be a kakehashi (bridge) between job seekers who want to utilize their Japanese language and/or cultural skills, and the global companies that need them.

Faye Valtadoros (Kagawa, 1998-2000) is a 6-12 grade Japanese teacher. Faye strives to open her students’ eyes to all the amazing things about the Japanese language and culture while talking about her JET days and what she learned while living in Japan.

Aug 6

Obon Classics: Special Lecture & Performance Event

The Japan Foundation will present a special lecture with Isaku Kageyama, Sumie Kaneko, and David Wells on some of the traditional Japanese musical instruments used for the Bon Odori, a summertime folk dance festival which is the highlight of a centuries-old Buddhist custom called Obon. This lecture will be focusing on the history of Japanese music, and will also cover the histories of taikoshamisen, koto, and fue.   

There will be demonstrations of traditional performances by the guest artists, and the various instruments will be played together at the end to showcase how they sound together to create Obon festival music.  

Live chat will be enabled on the YouTube stream, so guests can ask questions, and participate in the Q&A session during the stream.  

I would appreciate it if you could share this free event with your friends in the taiko community.   

Date and time: Saturday, August 15, 5pm EDT  

Facebook event page:

YouTube link:  


Aug 4

GlobalizeDC Events

Thanks to GlobalizeDC for sharing some events that are happening this week that may be of interest to you. 

Online Course: Race in American Life
Application Deadline: Tues, August 4 (today) 
Mya Fisher, recently of the US-Japan Council, is offering a free 4-week sociology mini-course on “How Race and Ethnicity Shape American Life.” Those working in the U.S.-Japan space are encouraged to apply, including TOMODACHI program alumni, so they can gain some context for understanding why what is happening in the US at this time is so important.
For more information and to apply, click here.

Confucius Institute U.S. Center: Virtual Discussion – “Social Justice in the World Language Classroom”
Program Date: Wed, August 5, 6:00 – 7:30 pm
How is the language classroom uniquely suited to challenge bias, stereotypes, and nurture student voices? How can world language educators continue to support justice, equity, and inclusion within our communities? What does social justice education look like in the Chinese language classroom? This free webinar will explore these questions and more with a panel of educators and social justice advocates. For more information and to register, click here.

EngageAsia: “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard” – Turning Horror into Hope
Presented in Partnership with MIT Japan

Program Date: Wed, August 5, 7:00 – 8:00 pm
On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Japan, join EngageAsia for a discussion of the documentary film, Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard, and a ceremony to remember and honor this event.
Register here. Interested persons are encouraged to watch the film for free prior to the program here.

Aug 4

JETwit’s JET Alum Movers & Shakers: Jessica Frey, Fukuoka-ken, 2005-2007

JETwit’s JET Alum Movers & Shakers is produced by Ryan Hata (Tottori-ken, 2014-2017), Margie Banin (Kochi-ken, 2005-2007), and Jim Walsh (Fukushima-ken, 2018-2020). Want to be featured next? Submit your information here.

Jessica Frey, Fukuoka-ken, 2005-2007

Accomplishment: Jessica J.M. Frey is an author, screenwriter, and professional smartypants. With an MA in Communications and Culture, she’s appeared in podcasts, documentaries, and on radio and television to discuss all things geeky through the lens of academia. She also has an addiction to scarves, ‘Doctor Who’, and tea, which may or may not all be related. Her life’s ambition is to have stepped foot on every continent (only 3 left!)

J.M.’s also a professionally trained actor who takes absolute delight in weird stories, over the top performances, and quirky characters. She’s played everything from Marmee to the Red Queen, Jane Eyre to Annie, and dozens of strange creatures and earnest heroines as a voice actor.

Her debut novel “Triptych” (written while in Japan) was nominated for two Lambda Literary Awards, won the San Francisco Book Festival award for SF/F, was nominated for a 2011 CBC Bookie, was named one of The Advocate’s Best Overlooked Books of 2011, and garnered both a starred review and a place among the Best Books of 2011 from Publishers Weekly. Since then, J.M.’s published eight more novels, the most recent being her digital-only queer time-travel novel “The Woman Who Fell Through Time”, which was named a winner of the 2019 WATTY AWARD for Historical Fiction.

J.M. Frey continues to write and hopes that one day to finish the sprawling historical epic she started while touring the hauntingly beautiful Iya Valley. It’s eluded her so far, and she thinks she might just have to travel back to Japan to chase down that inspiration again…

J.M. Frey is currently located in Toronto, Ontario, and welcomes inquiries and mentees looking to get into writing.

Public Contact Information:
Website –
Twitter –
Instagram –

Jul 28

Mystery in the mountains: Piecing together the fate of a downed American aircrew in rural Japan by JET alumnus, David Caprara (Nara-ken, 2012-2014)

JET alumus, David Caprara (Nara-ken, 2012-2014) has been working as a journalist post-JET. He credits his time on the JET Programme to help his career. For three years, he worked in New York City for two Japanese media outlets, NHK, and the Tokyo Shimbun. Before that, he was a freelancer for a wide array of international outlets around the world. He recently wrote an article for the Japan Times surrounding some rumors he heard in Nara that a plane had crashed into the holiest mountain of the Kumano Kodo during WWII and decided to conduct some research into this as a journalist. It sort of puts a highlight on the bond between the US and Japan and on JETs and their placements. 

Interested in reading the full piece? Please click here.

Jul 24

Job: Japanese Client Manager/Paralegal – The Jensen Law Firm, PLLC (Remote)

Posted by Sydney Sparrow. Click here to join the JETwit Jobs Google Group and receive job listings even sooner by email

Position: Japanese Client Manager/Paralegal
Posted by:
The Jensen Law Firm, PLLC
Location: Remote
Contract: Full-Time

Here’s a remote job passed along to us:

Communicate with Japanese speaking clients for an immigration law firm located in midtown Manhattan. Gather information for immigration applications and ensure client satisfaction.

Requirements: Native Japanese speaker; immigration paralegal experience; good communication skills; reliable; attention to detail.

Application Process: Email resume to

About The Jensen Law Firm, PLLC

Established in 1996, the Jensen Law Firm PLLC, “Jensen Law Firm,” has been providing expert legal services on a full range of immigration matters for over twenty years. Our team has particular expertise in navigating the legal system to provide the best solutions for, especially difficult and complex cases. We also specialize in assisting foreign companies seeking to do business in the United States. In addition to the transfer of personnel, we assist these clients with general corporate, employment, and other regulatory matters.


Jul 13

JETwit’s JET Alum Movers & Shakers: Dan Lowe, Chiba-ken, 2011-2013

Daniel Lowe, Chiba-ken, 2011-2013

Accomplishment: New Website & Business in Intercultural Consulting

More Info: After spending six years at Showa Boston Institute as a Japanese intercultural exchange specialist where he developed, managed, and marketed programs for Japanese college students, Dan has decided to build a website to impart his knowledge to you all. His website specifically focuses on strategies to improve your Japanese language ability, increase your intercultural engagement, and ultimately grow more connected with Japan.

Public Contact Information:

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