Nov 15

WIT Life #330: Japan’s 2018 Buzzwords


Written by professional Writer/Interpreter/Translator Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken CIR, 2000-03), WIT Life is 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 shares some interesting tidbits and trends along with her own observations.

It’s hard to believe but 2019 is just around the corner, the time when Best of 2018 lists begin to emerge. From Japan, the nominees for this year’s buzzwords have been compiled. The 30 candidates will be whittled down to the top 10 as well as an overall winner, to be announced on December 3 (you can vote for your favorite at the bottom of the link!).

Unsurprisingly, many relate to Prime Minister Abe’s work-style reform initiatives (働き方改革 or hatarakikata kaikaku). I hadn’t heard of short-time harassment (ジタハラ・ 時短ハラスメント or jitahara・jitan-harasumento), the pressure employers put on their workers to reduce overtime and maximize productivity, but I was familiar with the high-level professional system (⾼プロ・⾼度プロフェッショナル制度 or kōdo puro・kōdo purofesshonaru seido). This allows specialists like financial dealers or analysts with ¥10.75 million plus in annual income to be paid based on work performance, rather than hours worked. They won’t receive overtime pay as a result of being exempt from typical regulations, something the opposition party said would lead to longer working hours. It managed to pass and will go into effect for large companies at the start of the next fiscal year.

In the sports category, I liked the selection of buzzword Naomi-esque (なおみ節 or Naomi-bushi). It refers to the gentle and polite way Japanese-Haitian tennis player Naomi Osaka speaks, in contrast to her on-court tenacity. As reported in this blog, she Read More

Oct 26

WIT Life #329: Japan-Related Films for Your Weekend


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

This week the Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI) hosted the premiere of the 2018 documentary 3100: Run and Become from director Sanjay Rawal. It showcases the Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race which takes place in Queens every summer. This elite competition requires participants to run this unbelievable distance within 52 days, which means averaging at least 60 miles per day. Competitors come from all over the world, and some have run it as many as 14 times. Rawal also intersperses stories of other amazing distance challenges, such as a member of the Navaho Nation running 110 miles across the desert in memory of his father’s struggles when young, the Gaolo-San Bushmen running in pursuit of their prey and as part of their lifestyle, and the Tendai-shu monks of Mt. Hiei in Japan who carry out a practice of walking to attain enlightenment.

Spiritual training via walking is called 回峰行 (kaihōgyō), and the monks on Mt. Hiei carry out a version that takes place over 1000 days during a seven-year retreat period, called 千日回峰行 (sennichi kaihōgyō). During this time, the monk must remove himself from all family ties and other worldly distractions. Since this tradition began in 1885, only 50 plus monks have finished this quest, most in their 30s and the oldest in his 60s. The film tells the story of the monk Gyoman-san who is midway through his journey, and examines his mental state as he attempts to accomplish this major feat. He describes a point where you no longer Read More

Oct 13

Special Request: Long-time JETAA officer needs help saving his home

Kansas City, Missour-based JET alum Warren McAllen (Fukuoka-ken, 1988-92), who served for over 10 years as the JETAA Heartland chapter president, has set up a GoFundMe page to try to raise funds to save his home following his mother’s passing. Those of us who have known Warren over the years know what an amazing contributor he has been to JETAA and what a good guy he is as well as what he’s been through over the past few years. Here’s a chance to help someone who has given so much of his time and energy to the JET alumni community over the years.


Oct 11

Japanese American Community Coalition (JACC)’s August 23rd Japan Flood Relief Benefit

On Thursday, August 23rd, JETAANY took part in a special fundraiser for flood relief efforts in Japan, featuring tastings of Japanese food and spirits. One hundred percent of net proceeds from this event went towards aid for those in western Japan who have been suffering from historic rainfalls and landslides this past summer. 

Japanese-inspired hors d’oeuvres as well as premium sake, wine, and beer provided by Chef John McCarthy of OKA were available, as well as special prizes. This was a collaborative effort of many Japanese/Japanese American and Japan-related organizations in NYC with the support of the Consulate General of Japan in New York. 

This was the first collaborative effort amongst the Japanese American Community Coalition’s (JACC) member organizations:

Net proceeds went to JAA’s Japan Flood Relief Fund to be distributed to the appropriate NPOs/NGOs on the ground and we will provide updates about the organizations selected. JAA, the Japanese American Association of New York, is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. This event raised over $7,000 in net proceeds, which will help Japanese survivors recover and rebuild after the July floods that took 169 lives and resulted in the evacuation of over a million people (especially in the hardest hit areas of Hiroshima, Okayama, and Ehime Prefectures).

Additional support included endorsement from the Consulate General of Japan in New York, the hospitality and cooking skills of Chef John McCarthy, donations from ITO EN TeaWorld Sake ImportsSkurnik Wines, and the wonderful contributors to our raffle: Japan SocietyAsia Society, The Yagi family for the Sakagura restaurant gift certificate, Hiro SakeSanrioSake Man, Simon Chiew and Yasushi Sasaki, among other generous donors.

Also, a special thank you to our amazing volunteers and Kim Hyacinthe of JETAANY for her beautiful poster design.      

JETAANY was very grateful to be a key organizer of this joint fundraising effort and many thanks again for coming together as a community of New Yorkers to help communities in need in Japan and for your compassionate support! Until next time!

Oct 1

Kokoro Care Packages – Kickstarter Campaign

Lillian Rowlatt (Niigata-ken, 2003-2005) is starting a Kickstarter campaign that many JET alums might be interested in!

Kokoro Care Packages – Kickstarter campaign
Miss the incredible foods and flavors from Japan? Looking for a way to stay connected to Japan and share the food and culture with others? As a former JET ALT, I know I do and my passion for Japanese food lead me to launch a business which will be delivering those amazing foods we miss and love from Japan.
Kokoro Care Packages creates specially curated boxes of high-quality and delicious Japanese foods and will be delivering straight from Japan to your door. Each item in our Care Package is carefully selected for its purity, ease of use and incredible taste. Many of these foods can’t be found outside of Japan and all of them represent the amazing foods we miss from Japan.

We can’t wait to send you our first ever Care Packages and have launched a Kickstarter campaign to help get our business of the ground and running. We would greatly appreciate your support as we hope you’ll love our idea and products as much as we do!
Link to Kickstarter campaign:

Sep 24

Using your JET Experience to find a Great Job

Emily Frank (Hokkaido, 1993-1996) is a professional career counselor and coach who has worked with and helped JET alumni all over the world. Her website is

JETwit: Hi Emily. So, we know you’re a JET alum and a career counselor. What do other alumni most need to know about finding a job after JET?
Emily Frank: First of all, people have more potential than they probably know. For instance, I started my career when I got fired.

JW: Really? Tell us more! And how does this tie in with your JET experience?
EF: Absolutely! Right after JET, I found a job translating documents on rubber patent infringement, but just I couldn’t have been unhappier. I hated the work and the people, and then, to add insult to injury, the jerks fired me! It took me a while to figure out what I wanted, so now it’s my mission to help people not make those same mistakes. I help creative professionals and international workers returning home figure out how to find careers they love so they can flourish, both personally and financially.

As for how I got connected with JET, I have always loved Japan, so after I finished my East Asian Studies major, JET was the obvious choice. I spent three fabulous years living in a small Hokkaido town and mostly I learned I didn’t want to teach. When I got back to the US, I had no idea what to do or who could help me. I tried translation and working for a travel agency, but I didn’t care for those. So now I help people navigate those decisions.

JW: Who do you help, and what does that look like?
EF: I help people with experience living and working overseas, including lots of JET alumni, and people who are quirky and creative. International and artistic people often get stuck and confused when looking for work after they return to the US, or when they’re trying to change careers. They often don’t know what their options are, let alone how to move forward. This is very frustrating and scary. Who will pay the bills? How do I find something I enjoy? How do I apply if I can even find something? People keep telling me I have transferable skills, but what are they and how do I put them on a resume? How can I find something that fits me?

These are exactly the questions we answer in sessions. I take people through guided conversations about values, needs, skills, and goals. We identify things like work values, and then a few job titles the client would like to have. Only after we’ve done that do we work through the nitty-gritty stuff like resumes, cover letters, and interviews.

JW: Explain more about transferable skills. What does that mean and how can people emphasize them?
EF: Sure. Transferrable skills are abilities that you gain in one place that you can easily use in multiple places. They may not even be things you see as skills because they’re so much a part of what you do. For example, by learning to adapt to daily life in another country, JET alums have demonstrated skills in things like cross-cultural communications and creative problem-solving. But since these were things we just did routinely, they don’t really come up as unique talents when we’re writing our resumes. I help people quantify these skills

JW: How have you helped JET alumni?
EF: I am uniquely suited to work with this particular population because I am also part of this population! I get it. I know all about reverse culture shock and having to move back in with the parents and having friends get tired of your stories about Japan. I’ve been where you are, and I can help you make decisions that will make you happy. In fact, some alumni I’ve worked with have even gotten jobs in Japan!

JW: What’s your background, and how are you qualified to do this work?
EF: After I got fired from that translation job, I eventually found my way to grad school, where I got my M.A. in counseling. After that, I worked in higher ed as a career counselor and coach for over 10 years. In January, I moved into private practice so that I can devote more of my time to my ideal clients. In the past year, I’ve been working a lot with JET alumni, helping them define

JW: How do you locate JET alumni to work with?
EF: I have fabulous JETAA allies! With the help of people like JETAA Rocky Mountain president Adam Lisbon and JETAA USA’s Bahia Simons-Lane, I’ve gotten grants through CLAIR and Sasakawa USA, so a lot of the work I’ve done has been free to participants. I’ve also worked with other chapters to provide services to their alumni. I did a webinar for the Northern California chapter. I also went to Florida (through another Sasakawa USA grant) for their first ever career development workshop, where I presented on a number of career topics. And I gave another webinar for JETAA USA on life after JET, and am slated to be on a panel for another in October.

JW: What are the common mistakes people make when they’re looking for work?
EF: There are a few that I’ve noticed over the years. The biggest one is that people don’t spend time really getting to understand what they want. They focus too much on skills and previous experience, which locks them into jobs that are probably not fulfilling. And when a job starts off not being fulfilling, things only get worse! I don’t want people to get stuck doing things they hate doing. The other mistakes I see are people not using their existing contacts or making new ones, not tailoring the documents for the positions, and feeling like insta-applying to 50 jobs a day is the way to get things done.

JW: What should people do instead?
EF: I’m so glad you asked! I advise people to spend time figuring out what they like to do, even if this means taking a “gap job” in something like retail or food service. There are values quizzes available online, and most career counselors have their own versions, as well. (I do!) Once your values are clear, think about what you’ve enjoyed doing before, including hobbies. From there, the next step is to figure out who pays people to do those things. After that, tailor your resume and cover letter so they reflect the skills of the jobs you want, and then submit!

JW: You make it sound simple but that’s actually pretty hard to do.
EF: It is. I try to simplify it so that people understand what the steps are, but the reality is that this is a lot of work. I encourage people who are really struggling with this to reach out and get help. It’s a source of unending frustration to me that this stuff isn’t something we learn in high school, but since it isn’t, most of us have to spend some time and money figuring it out as adults.

JW: Well since you mention it, how do you recommend JET alumni go about this process?
EF: I’m glad you asked that, too! First of all, get involved with your region’s JETAA. As I mentioned, a couple of chapters have already found ways to fund some career development work, and yours may have something planned. Second, follow those chapters on social media, or subscribe to their newsletters. We’re hoping to get another round of grants (mostly these grants follow Japan’s fiscal year, so pay attention in April!), too, and that info will get posted by the various chapters. Finally, if you want to work with me privately and right dang now, reach out to me at Tell me you’re a JET alum or that you read about me on JETwit and I’ll give you a special discount!

If you’ve benefited from Emily’s career counseling service, we’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to share your experiences to

Aug 29

JETAA Singapore YOLO Experience Series-2 Karyn

JETAA Singapore recently asked their members to share their craziest, most epic, YOLO stories. In this three-part series, you will read about these adventures from members of JETAA Singapore as they traveled around Japan. Next is Karyn’s experience as she talks about visiting a variety of festivals on a week-long trip to Tohoku:

What was your YOLO trip like? What inspired it?

Visiting all 47 prefectures was always on my ‘To-do’ list when I started living in Japan. My BOE gave all of the ALTs a very generous 5-day summer leave allowance during the summer holidays, so every summer, I would plan a massive trip that covers as many prefectures as I could fit in a region I hadn’t yet visited.

One year, I read an article about the Tohoku Rokkon Festival – an event where 6 of the region’s summer festivals are celebrated. I was intrigued, since I had always been under the impression that there were only the 3 big ones in Tohoku – the Nebuta Matsuri in Aomori, the Kanto Matsuri in Akita and the Tanabata Matsuri in Sendai. Well, now that I knew there were 6 of them and at least 2 of them were in prefectures I hadn’t yet visited, I had to plan a major trip to see all of them at least once while I was in Japan.

So the thing about these festivals is that they are held at around the same time every year – late July to early August – and as the festival dates overlap slightly, it is definitely possible to do a big runabout to see all of them IF you plan well in advance, especially for the Big 3. I started planning in March, and even then, I had already fallen behind in booking my hotel rooms in Aomori and Akita, so I had to resort to some creative manipulation to ensure that I had a roof over my head every night while not falling behind on my schedule.

You see, that’s the next part of my epic tale. Besides putting myself on a strict schedule to make every festival in the region, I also put myself on a strict travel and accommodation budget. Instead of shinkansen rides or flights, I would be using the ‘poor ALT’s best friends’ – the Seishun 18 ticket and the Hokkaido-East Japan Pass. Both passes (which are available to residents of Japan unlike JR passes) allow unlimited JR rides for 5/7 days, but users are limited to only local, express and some limited express trains. Since local trains can be very infrequent, I was committing myself to hours and hours on the rail. (Note: I am a minor train otaku so it wasn’t a real problem for me, but it’s definitely not something that the average traveller would want to do. Plus I had a portable Wi-Fi router with unlimited usage which was awesome for the long train rides.)


How did you plan for the trip?

As I noted before, I started planning the trip in March for the same summer. I looked up all the festival websites to get the exact dates of each festival and planned an itinerary that would bring me to each prefecture on the event dates. With the dates in hand, I looked for cheap accommodation within each city where the festival was being held. It was relatively easy to find hotels for the smaller festivals but near impossible for the 2 big ones in Akita and Aomori. So, I looked for affordable accommodation in nearby cities that was preferably one train ride away. The best option for Akita was in a small city about 1.5 hours away and meant that I would arrive after the festival at about 11pm at night, but hey, it’s Japan. It would be fine.

Karyn 12
Enjoying the beautiful scenery from the train.

To book my accommodation, I used It was by-far my favourite site for booking hotels and hostels my entire time in Japan and I rarely used any other sites. They would almost always have the cheapest rates and the most options, and I could accumulate points to be used for my next trip.

P.S. The Japanese version of the site was superior to the English version.

With the accommodation booked, I planned my travelling timetable with the help of Hyperdia. Most people would have used it at some point to plan their schedules on their trips to Japan. I love it because it allows you to look up JR trains only as well as restrict your choices to non-shinkansen trains. I wrote them all down in my travelling diary, with one ‘time-efficient’ choice and at least one ‘in-case-I-miss-a-train’ choice. With everything safely written down in case of bad Wi-Fi, I was ready for my epic trip.

P.S. Again, the Japanese version of the site was more accurate than the English version.

So your entire trip was based in Tohoku?

Actually, I’ve missed out an important part of my epic summer trip. Before I planned this epic Tohoku trip, I had actually decided that 2015 was going to be the year I was going to climb Mt Fuji and had already gotten 2 climbing buddies, both of whom flaked out on me. So, for the two days before my trip, I travelled to Tokyo from Kobe, took a bus to Mt Fuji, climbed it, stayed one night on the mountain, saw the sunrise at the summit, came back down, took a bus back to Tokyo and arranged for a kind fellow SG JET who lived in Tokyo to hold my climbing things for me before I headed up North to Sendai. Before I had even started on my trip, I was already exhausted. But onwards!

Wow, so how did your trip turn out?

Day 1 [Sendai-Fukushima]

The trip started out in Fukushima with the Fukushima Waraji Festival. Basically, it was a festival where groups of people ran down the street carrying massive traditional straw sandals. It was quite hilarious to watch, and was a relatively tame start to the trip.

Karyn 14

Day 2 – [Fukushima-Morioka; Iwate]

Next day, I headed up north again towards Morioka, home of the wanko soba, in Iwate. (Sidenote: The Zipangu Hiraizumi is a really cool train to ride if you can get on it.) The Morioka Sansa Odori is listed as the biggest taiko drum festival in the world and consists of parades of thousands of drummers from different school and community groups. At the end of it, everyone was invited to dance in the middle of the road. I brought my yukata with me just to be able to participate in the fun.

Karyn 10

Day 3- [Morioka-Hachinohe; Aomori]

I did a stopover in Hachinohe to watch the Hachinohe Sansha Taisai, which isn’t one of the 6 but was very spectacular nonetheless. The floats here have mechanism to expand upwards and sideways like a giant pop-up book.

Karyn 9

Day 4 – [Hachinohe-Aomori]

Finally, the massive Nebuta Matsuri! There is really nothing like seeing it for yourself. Forget pictures, forget Youtube videos. The only way to experience it is to be there and watch as the massive man-powered floats transverse down the street, often at high speed. It’s quite a sight to see how dozens and dozens of people manage to manoeuvre the floats without any accidents.

Karyn 8Karyn 7

Day 5- [Aomori-Akita]

Dokkoisho, dokkoisho! Unlike Nebuta, the Kanto Matsuri is a test of skill of each individual performer – one man/boy against a heavy stick of lanterns and the wind. The lanterns lit up the night sky and was a glorious sight.


Day 6- [Akita-Yamagata]

Almost done! The Hanagasa Matsuri is a dance parade where performers danced with big straw hats decorated with flowers. The funniest group I saw was the group of young men in army fatigue (probably JSDF recruits?) holding paper hats and dancing with them while having a senior officer shouting at them. I imagined him shouting something like “my grandmother can dance better than you!”

Karyn 4

Day 7- [Yamagata-Sendai]

Last day! Compared to the other festivals, the Tanabata Matsuri was just an exhibition of giant decorations hung everywhere in the city. People were all out in full force, taking pictures of whichever one they liked best. Even Starbucks had their own!


Any post-trip thoughts?

It was honestly a crazy epic trip, but I enjoyed it tremendously. One thing I honestly felt about all these festivals were that they all have a huge community and history behind each of them. In these festivals, the schools, community groups, ward groups, even corporate groups got involved. You can feel how proud they are to be a part of this annual cultural event, and how it was so much a part of them. I got a little wistful at that thought.

Total damage?

3 days paid leave plus 3 days of summer leave from my 14/15 allocation and 3 days from my 15/16 allocation

~90,000 yen not including my Fuji climb.

(~30,000 yen in total for my 2 train passes, ~30,000 for accommodation, ~30,000 for food and omiyage)

Advice for those planning this trip?

Start early. Consider splitting it into 2 trips unless you’re crazy like me. If you are lucky to find someone who’s willing to do this trip with you, it’ll be probably be a lot more fun. Go to a Daiso and buy a cushion, a ground sheet, a sweat towel and a bag to hold all of that. Drink lots of water and sunscreen/a hat is an absolute MUST for when you find a spot hours before the festival start.

Aug 20

JETAA Singapore YOLO Experience Series-1 Claire and Kay

JETAA Singapore recently asked their members to share their craziest, most epic, YOLO stories. In this three-part series, you will read about these adventures from members of JETAA Singapore as they traveled around Japan. First up are Claire and Kay as they explored Yakushima:


Why Yakushima?

Kay: We wanted to hike in this old forest which was famously known as The Forest of Princess Mononoke among Studio Ghibli fans.

Claire: We decided to take a short 2d1n trip to the island for the hike. Upon arrival via the morning ferry, we went to the tourist information centre and managed to catch the last bus that went to the forest. I was pretty hyped for the hike. I didn’t watch Princess Mononoke but the pictures I saw online were beautiful!


Everyone was talking about the beautiful moss covered rocks.


How was the hike through the forest?

Kay: We decided to do the 4 hour hike that will lead us to taiko no iwa (太鼓の岩)  and finish in time for the last bus back to the central area. The hike did not disappoint and we saw the moss rocks and streams so often featured on blogs. We could see how this location inspired the anime for Princess Mononoke. We came for the pretty forest but what we saw at the peak of the rock was a wonderful surprise!

Feeling accomplished 

Claire: However, our victory was short-lived as we had to rush back down for the last bus leaving the forest! Descending was always more difficult for me than ascending due to a previous knee injury. Our legs were aching by then but it was unimaginable to miss the bus! It was a pity we couldn’t take the time to enjoy the forest but we made it to the bus.








Kay: We also decided then, that we wanted to stop being at the mercy of sparse buses, and on impulse, we rented a car for the next 24h of our trip. Good thinking there, as we could visit an onsen to soak our tired muscles plus we got to try flying fish tempura! Claire’s JTE only told her that Yakushima was famous for flying fish and Google supplemented the rest of the info.

Claire: It was sooooo delicious! We also had a lovely chat with the restaurant owner.


Did you manage to explore other parts of the island?

Claire: It was great that we finished the hike on the first day so we had some time the following day before taking the ferry back to Kagoshima city. Initially we were tempted to do the hike to see the oldest tree in Japan, Jōmon Sugi (縄文杉), but the hike would take 10 hours so we gave up on that idea.


Kay: We went on a mini road trip around the island for the other sights, including the waterfall, which our hostel reception advised us to visit. But the highlight came in the form of an open air onsen. It was an onsen in the middle of the sea, and one could only soak in the onsen when the tide recedes and exposes the onsen. There was no men’s or women’s bath, nor were there even changing rooms! But well, yolo! We had a soak anyway. Apparently, females were allowed to enter with a towel wrapped around them unlike private onsens.

The open air onsen- it appears only in low tide.

Claire: We had to strip in the public beside the onsen pools. An old man was literally standing near me and waiting for me to strip. >.< I have never changed so fast in my life lol. I wrapped a bath towel around me as fast as possible and entered the onsens. I quickly forgot about my discomfort. It was “interesting” being in a mixed public onsen though. Whenever I saw Japanese mixed baths on TV, I’d always marvelled at how at ease the women were and never thought I’d be in that kind of situation one day. Well, now I know lol.







Anything else you would recommend for Yakushima?

Scenic views along the drive 

Kay: Despite hearing about the narrow and winding roads on the west side of the island and the locals cautioning us against driving in that area, we still made a small gamble and drove that way as we heard we could see interesting wildlife there. It was a good detour though, and we got to see the

Yakushika! Yakushima’s own roaming deer

Yakusaru aka Yakushima’s monkeys and Yakushika aka Yakushima’s deers, and of course beautiful sea views, and most of it really wasn’t THAT dangerous. We knew the risks we’d be taking and were prepared to backtrack if we noticed the road getting more and more narrow.





What made this trip YOLO?

Claire: The trip was just full of spontaneous and impromptu decisions. We didn’t have any concrete plan going into the island but the trip was just so rewarding and full of surprises. You get a mix of sea and mountain views in many places and the whole island was just magical. I love it!

Kay: We also took a lot of advice (guidebooks, tour centre volunteer, JTE, hostel receptionist, friends) for various sources and just went with the flow when we were there, thus making it more YOLO.

Jul 26

Western Japan Flood Relief Efforts

USJETAA Responds to the Western Japan Flooding

Dear Steven,

Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by the flooding disaster in western Japan. Many JET alumni have deep-rooted connections in these regions and with the members of the affected communities. Current JETs are still in these areas dealing with the aftermath of the disaster, while those of us here in the U.S. are closely following the news and recovery efforts.

The Japan Times reports that more than 200 people have died due to the record rainfall and resulting flooding, with the death toll climbing higher every day. Rescue crews are now searching for dozens of people still missing. While the flood waters have receded in most areas, there are still advisories in many parts of Japan. Thousands of people have evacuated from the affected areas, with Okayama, Ehime, Kyoto, Hyogo, and Kochi prefectures being hit hardest. Transportation in affected areas is still disrupted due to landslides, mudslides, extreme flooding, and infrastructure damage.

In response to the damage caused by the heavy rain, USJETAA is mobilizing JET alumni and friends of JET to raise funds for those in the affected areas. Once tax deductible funds are collected, USJETAA will allocate half the funds to the Japan Platform, which is a central association for humanitarian response NGOs. Japan Platform is a cooperative initiative between 43 key NGOs involved in humanitarian responses, the Japanese government, and the business community. They are able to very quickly get the funds to the NGOs on the ground in the disaster zone.

The remaining half of the funds will be reserved while we monitor the situation and determine the areas of long-term need and evaluate the best way to allocate funding to those areas.

Please click here to donate. If you prefer to donate by check, you can also send a check by mail to:

1201 15th ST NW STE 330
Washington, DC 20005

Please make checks out to USJETAA and write in the memo line that the funds are designated for “western Japan flood relief.” USJETAA will not retain any funds for administrative costs, except those that cover the associated direct fees related to collecting and remitting the payment.


Bahia Simons-Lane
Executive Director of USJETAA

Jul 12

JETAA Chapter Beats July 2018

Chapter Beats July, 2018

JETAA Chapter Beat is a periodic mosaic of events taking place in the JETAA sphere. Compiled by AJET‘s Director of Alumni Relations Megan Buhagiar (Ishikawa Prefecture, 2017- Present)



The 60th Zenshuji Obon Carnival – July 7 & 8, 2018, 11:00AM – 8:00PM

Obon Service, July 7, 8 at 1:30PM

Zenshuji Soto Mission
123 South Hewitt Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 624-8658

Zenshuji Obon Carnival is coming soon. This is the temple’s biggest fundraiser of the year. Programs will include:

Bon Odori, Tea Ceremony, Flower Arrangement

Farmer’s Market, Produce/Flowers, Food & Drinks, White Elephant, Raffle & Prizes

Children’s Games, Taiko Drumming, Folk Dance & Music, Shorinji Kempo

Metro Gold Line: Little Tokyo/Arts District Station
Check for updated parking information in Little Tokyo

Zenshuji Schedule
June 24 – Chochin Hanging/Garden Cleaning/Omigaki  – 9 am
July 1   –  Container Cleanup   – 9 am
July 5   –  Booth Construction   – 5 pm
July 6   –  Preparation   – all day
July 7 & 8 Zenshuji Obon Carnival   – all day
July 10  – Carnival Clean up   – 5 pm

No Zazen on June 24, July 1, July 7 & 8 due to the Obon and the preparation.123 South Hewitt Street, Los Angeles, CA




JETAA NSW Mascot Design Contest



Win tickets to any 2 JETAA NSW events!
JETAA are looking to adopt a cute and versatile mascot to join our team, and we’re looking to you to help us find one.

If you have an idea for a character that represents us as a link between Australia and Japan we would love to see it!

Submission guidelines:

  • Email a .jpeg or .png of your design to JETAA NSW by August 1st.
  • Image must be at least 500 pixels squared.
    (adding a watermark that still allows us to see your mascot is ok)
  • Mascot must be a character that encapsulates the spirit of JETAA.

The winner will be announced on August 8th and receive free admission to any 2 JETAA NSW events as well as credit on JETAA publications.*

So get those creative juices flowing and have fun!




Becoming a Japanese Teacher after JET: Free Webinar

This newly launched FREE webinar series is intended to provide guidance and instruction to JET alumni across the country on a variety of careers, professional development topics, and unique challenges and how to navigate them. This webinar is on how to become a Japanese teacher after JET. Current JETs and JET alumni are both welcome to join.

Although it has already passed, you can now view the recording.



Carnival of Cultures


Main St Cupertino is having a festival  with music, dances, food and merchandise from all the cultures represented in the Bay Area. Come check it out!  Also, if you’re interested in presenting a variety of Japanese music and dance forms at the festival, you can contact Lalita from Eventscoop!

WHEN: Saturday, July 21, 2018

TIME:  11:00 AM – 6:00 PM

WHERE: Main St Cupertino: 19419 Stevens Creek Blvd, Cupertino, CA 95014
(Free entry and parking)



Hyper Japan Festival

Hyper Japan is the UK’s biggest annual J-culture event, celebrating all aspects of contemporary Japanese culture, from fashion to food, crafts to cosplay.

Get tickets here:

Date:  13th – 15th July

Time: 12:00 – 20:00

Price: From £17


  1. JETAA Ottawa

14th Annual Natsu Matsuri

Come join us for the 14th annual Natsu-Matsuri: Celebrating Japanese Culture! It will be a great day filled with martial arts demonstrations, traditional Japanese music, dancing and drumming, and booths from local Japanese businesses and cultural groups. Also, returning from last year by popular demand is a forging demonstration by a blacksmith from Japan (thanks to KnifeWear Ottawa)!

Date: Sunday, July 22nd
Time: 11am-4pm
Location: Marion Dewar Plaza (Ottawa City Hall), 110 Laurier Ave., West, ON K1P 1J1

Come meet some of Ottawa’s Japanese community and explore local groups specializing in different aspects of Japanese culture.

For a full list of current participants, please keep an eye on our website:

We will be updating it with the schedule of events and links to participants websites over the coming weeks.


  1. JETAA Aukland

NZIFF – Shoplifters / Manbiki Kazoku

Saturday 21 July at 6:30pm
NZ International Film Festival – Shoplifters / Manbiki kazoku

Come and join JETAA at the NZIFF to watch the winner of the Cannes Palme d’Or from Kore-eda Hirokazu.

Somewhere in Tokyo, Osamu Shibata and his wife Nobuyo live in poverty. While Osamu receives occasional employment and Nobuyo has a low-paying job, the family relies in large part on the grandmother’s pension. As he is shoplifting for groceries with his son, Shota, they discover Yuri, a homeless girl. Osamu takes her home, where the family observes evidence of abuse. Despite their strained finances, they informally adopt her.

JETAA will be subsidising tickets for attendees who RSVP and make payment to us by Friday 13 July. So our ticket price for JETAA members is $12 (tickets usually $18.50). After the film we will probably go for a bite to eat and/or a drink somewhere close by (at your own cost).

To reserve your seat, transfer $12 to the JETAA Auckland bank account 06-0287-0494588-00, with your name as a reference on the transfer. Please also click ‘going’ on the event when you have transferred the money, so we know who to expect payments from (in case someone forgets to put their name in the reference).

Please note that tickets are subject to availability; we do expect this screening to sell out so if you want to be assured of a seat, make your payment sooner rather than later.

If you miss our deadline but still want to attend, you can buy tickets to the movie yourself through Ticketmaster.

Read more about the film here:

Date:  July 21st

Time: 18:30

Place:            The Civic Theatre, Queen Street

Tickets:         $12.00 (Subsidised by JETAA AUCKLAND, IF you register)



  1. JETAA Toronto

Tanabata Trails

When was the last time you celebrated Tanabata? For many of us it may have been years ago, but the memory is still fresh in our minds. While it is tough to find a bamboo tree to tie a tag onto, we can still find our own ways to celebrate Tanabata here in Canada.

While our little hike might not be a true Tanabata tradition, maybe it will become our Toronto Tanabata tradition?

Our hike is has two points to it. You can come along for a 10 km hike or join us midway at lunch for a wak around Crawford Lake and the shorter Escarpment Trail from Crawford Lake.

Those of us doing the full hike, will meet up at 10:00 am at the Rattlesnake Point parking lot. We will hike the 4.7 km Nassagaweya Canyon Trail to Crawford Lake, where we will have lunch (please pack and bring your own) and meet up with anyone looking to join us at 12:00 pm.

After lunch, and once everyone has met up, the group has a few options and we will play things a bit by ear. Either we can all stick together on an agreed upon course or we can split into a few groups as we see fit.

For those feeling a shorter hike, the Escarpment Trail is a fairly easy 2.4 km. Hikers who departed at 10:00 am can arrange a carpool back to the Rattlesnake Point parking lot with those who meet up with us at 12:00 pm. Otherwise, those who wish to head back on foot can take the Nassagaweya Canyon Trail back to Starting Point A. Furthermore, those who are super genki can combine the Escarpment Trail with the return hike along the Nassagaweya Canyon Trail.

For trail maps and HOW TO GET THERE see Halton’s Hiking website here (

Event Details:

When: Saturday, July 7th, 2018

Starting Point A: 10:00 am start time from Rattlesnake Point parking lot

Starting Point B: 12:00 pm starting time from Crawford Lake Visitor Centre

Finish Time and Place: Variable, depending on your start location and the route you choose to take following lunch.

Please keep in mind, we are going to take a flexible approach to this one in an attempt to cater to hikers of all levels.

Who can attend: Anyone, JETAA members, friends, family and friendly strangers.

Halton Park Admission Fee:

Adults (15 – 64) $7.75

Senior (65+) $6.75

Child (5 – 14) $5.50

4 & under *FREE

What to Bring:

Comfortable Hiking Boots or Running Shoes

Water Bottle (Between 1 and 2 litres recommended)

Packed lunch


Sunscreen/Raincoat (weather dependant)

RSVP: email JETAA Events at

**Please RSVP – otherwise we might depart from Point A or B without you!**


  1. JETAA Singapore

[Calling out to all JETAA Singapore Members]

Farewell Reception for JETs of 2018
This year’s Farewell Reception for 2018 JETs will be on 12 July. Come join us as we send off over 30 JETs from SG embarking their journey to Japan.
Date: 12th July 2017 (Thursday)
Time: 7:00pm to 8:45pm
Venue: The Japanese Association (Ballroom 1), 120 Adam Road, Singapore 289899
Dress code: Smart Casual
Sign up here:

  1. JETAA Florida

Tanabata Party

Celebrate the Star Festival with Florida JETAA at Ushio Sushi in Davie! Wear your Yukata or Japan-inspired summer clothes, and come ready to reminisce and write wishes – Lauren will tie them to her bamboo at home for you!
Ushio is a restaurant with KAITEN ZUSHI (conveyer belt sushi!) that is sure to make us feel なつかしい~ (Natsukashii!)


Date:    July 7th

Time:   12:00 – 14:00 EDT

Place:  Ushio Sushi

2211 University Drive

Davie, Florida 33324

Jul 10

Fellowship Opportunity: Mike Mansfield Fellow – Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation (Japan)

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

Job Title: Mike Mansfield Fellow
Posted by:
Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation
Contract: Full-Time

Thanks to Stephanie Sanders (Akita-ken) for the following fellowship program that is open to all U.S. federal government employees, which she manages:


The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation is now recruiting for the 24th Class of the Mike Mansfield Fellowship Program

Applications due October 31, 2018

This program provides up to ten federal employees with one year of professional development and networking opportunities in Japan. It was established by the U.S. Congress in 1994 to build a corps of U.S. federal government employees with proficiency in the Japanese language and practical, firsthand knowledge about Japan and its government.

The Mansfield Fellowship Program includes seven weeks of language training in Ishikawa Prefecture and ten months of professional assignments in the Government of Japan. During the one-year program, Fellows will develop an in-depth understanding of Japan’s government and its policy-making process and create networks of contacts with their counterparts in the Japanese government, business, professional, and academic communities.

These placements give Fellows unparalleled access and opportunities to learn about Japan and its government from the inside through working side-by-side with their Japanese counterparts, participating in office activities, meetings, and business travel.

Read More

Jul 5

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

Job Title: Director, Corporate Relations
Posted by:
Japan Society
New York, NY, USA
Contract: Full-Time

Here’s another job sent to us directly from the organization:

The Director of Corporate Relations will oversee and advance all aspects of corporate giving, including maintenance of existing accounts, identifying prospects, and recruiting new corporate members and sponsors. The Director will collaborate with senior management to design and implement effective strategies to increase corporate giving by Japanese corporations in the US, as well as American corporations conducting business in Japan and with Japanese corporations. The Director, Corporate Relations will be an integral part of the Development team, working hands-on with program areas and Special Events on cultivation events, as well as fundraising campaigns and the annual dinner.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Develop the strategy and execute a plan to increase overall corporate support for Japan Society;
  • Serve as the front-line for corporate membership, overseeing monthly renewals, upgrade and solicitation materials, telephone and email inquiries, and providing customer service/troubleshooting;
  • Research and identify corporate member prospects; create and implement cultivation strategies to increase overall corporate membership revenues through upgrades, new memberships and cross- selling opportunities such as rentals, Webcast services, and program sponsorships;
  • In coordination with program areas, research and identify potential corporate sponsors for gallery exhibitions, film, performing arts, education, corporate, policy and other program areas as appropriate;
  • Work with the Media & Marketing Department on corporate membership-related collateral materials, including membership-related aspects of Japan Society’s website and online presence;
  • Collaborate with program areas and Special Events on cultivation events, fundraising campaigns and the annual dinner;
  • Conduct cultivation visits with existing and potential donors, and cultivate members at Japan Society programs on a regular basis throughout the year; Read More

Jun 24

Just Teaching: Tests are standard, Learning is not

Kevin Stein (Ishikawa-ken, 2000-03) has been an English teacher in Japan for 18 years.  He has taught at the university, high school, junior high school, and elementary school levels. He has trained public junior high school teachers, served as a mentor through International Teacher Development Institute, and occasionally blogs at The Other Things Matter.

Kevin is currently seeking new work opportunities at the university level as well as outside of education. Please feel free to contact him directly at His CV is available online at:

This year, I am training the teachers in my school system on how to use the standardized test prep curriculum developed for the International Course at my high school in Osaka, Japan. 

While I am not a huge fan of standardized tests as the primary measure of students language ability or for evaluating the effectiveness of a language program, I do think that they have a role to play within English language learning. Perhaps most importantly, students are often highly motivated to take and pass (or attain a high score) on standardized tests. So these tests can be an excellent vehicle for helping develop students’ autonomous study skills or for rapid vocabulary acquisition.

In the program at my school, standardized test prep classes focus on: how to make effective vocabulary lists and word/phrase cards with Quizlet; micro-listening activities to develop decoding abilities around connected speech; and metacognitive skills to help students develop a higher awareness of how they read and correct any habits which inhibit comprehension. A thoughtful test prep program—in conjunction with an extensive reading program and a fluency focused speaking class—has led to an average 3rd year students’ final TOEIC score average of 640 points and has helped over 40% of our 3rd year students to pass the EIKEN pre-1 test.  

While I do believe there are real benefits to including a formal system—whether in the form of specific classes or mandatory language lab time—for helping students prepare for standardized tests, I also think that it is important to remember that just because you have a system, doesn’t mean that students will be able to make use of it effectively.  Pressure around standardized testing goals can also result in high levels of student anxiety, anxiety which can inhibit students ability to concentrate on test materials…or occasionally even process basic instructions. Read More

Jun 19

Job: Director, Education & Community Partnerships – Japan Society (New York, NY, USA)

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

Job Title: Director, Education & Community Partnerships
Posted by:
Japan Society
New York, NY, USA
Contract: Full-Time

Here’s a job received directly from the organization:

Japan Society seeks an innovative educator and/or non-profit leader to spearhead new initiatives in global education, and raise the profile and impact of Japan Society’s education programs locally, nationally and internationally. The Director will be responsible to:

  • Lead strategic planning efforts to evaluate Japan Society’s current education programs, and identify opportunities for new program initiatives;
  • Implement new education programs aimed at K-12 schools, colleges and universities, and adult life-long learners;
  • Promote the study of Japan as a focus of global education curriculums in K-12 schools as well as on the college and graduate school level in New York City and nationally;
  • Initiate partnership arrangements with K-12 schools, colleges, universities, other education institutions, and relevant organizations;
  • Promote global education through study-travel tours to Japan for American students and teachers, and to the US for Japanese students and teachers;
  • Develop dynamic experiential programs for families with young children to participate in cross-cultural experiences highlighting major Japanese holidays;
  • Capitalize on the interest of teenagers, young adults and others in Japanese popular culture to engage these groups with Japan Society’s broader programming, and to expand their interest in Japan’s traditional and modern history, art and culture;
  • Identify ways to utilize digital technologies to provide curriculum materials and other educational information on Japan to a wider audience;
  • Actively participate in fundraising efforts, and partner with the development staff on raising funds for new and existing education initiatives;
  • Recruit, hire and supervise staff;
  • Manage departmental budget.

Read More

May 31

JETAA Chapter Beats June 2018

JETAA Chapter Beats June 2018

JETAA Chapter Beat is a periodic mosaic of events taking place in the JETAA sphere. Compiled by AJET‘s Director of Alumni Relations Megan Buhagiar (Ishikawa Prefecture, 2017- Present).




Pre-Departure Seminar – Volunteers Needed!

It’s that time of year when we prepare a new batch of JETs to start their journey in Japan! We are calling upon our recent alumni to teach and share their experiences to hopefully prevent some surprises or embarrassing moment

s and make their time in Japan something they will never forget.

We are looking for presenters on the following topics.

  • JET Job Skills- Elementary, Junior High, High School
  • Being a Minority-Asian, African American, Latinx, LGBT
  • Gender Issues
  • What to Expect Your First Few Weeks
  • Money Management
  • Studying Japanese
  • Being Vegetarian or Dietary Restrictions
  • Community Involvement
  • Japanese Social and Business Etiquette
  • How to Prepare for Your Departure

When: Saturday, June 23 from 10am–3:30pm (seminar), followed by a nearby happy hour open to all!
Where: Nippon Club [145 W. 57th St., 2nd Floor (between 6th Ave. and 7th Ave.)]
RSVP: Sign up here to volunteer by Wednesday, May 23 at 5pm
Questions? Feel free to contact Ryan Hata at membership-at-jetaany-dot-org.


Read More

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