Jan 25

JETwit’s JET Alum Movers & Shakers: Todd Wassel, Shiga-ken (1999-2001)

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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.

Todd Wassel, Shiga-ken (1999-2001)

Accomplishment:
New Book on Japan
Walking in Circles: Finding Happiness in Lost Japan

Book Description Guided by a wandering ascetic hiding from the Freemasons; naked Yakuza; a scam artist pilgrim; and a vengeful monk, Walking in Circles is a fun, inspirational travel memoir set in a Japan few outsiders ever get to see.

Award-winning writer Todd Wassel draws on over twenty years in Japan to retell his epic journey through the contradictions of a contemporary yet traditional Japan while trying to overcome the barriers to happiness modern life throws up.

Over half a decade after first landing in Japan Todd is lost, unable to go home, or move forward. Convinced there is more to life, he risks everything to return to the one place he found answers years before: the ancient Shikoku Henro pilgrimage. Walking the 750-mile henro path, sleeping outside each night, Todd is armed with only a Japanese map and the people he meets along the way.

Can he find what he’s looking for before the path, or his new friends, break him?

More Information:
After the JET program I continued living and teaching for 5 years. From there I switched professions to international development working in and visiting over 45 countries. I’m now the Country Representative for The Asia Foundation in Laos. I still get back to Japan at least once a year to visit my wife’s family, and explore the mountains with my family.

Public Information:
Buy the Book: mybook.to/WalkingInCircles-AJET
Website: https://toddwassel.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/toddwasselauthor
Email: todd@toddwassel.com


Jan 22

By Jack McDonough, 2021 prospective JET

It’s all a Conspiracy! (Sato and Misaki) Art by Grace McDonough. You can find Grace’s art here!

Most anime feature protagonists who are special: characters who are brave, strong, or brilliant; think Light Yagami from Death Note or Goku from Dragon Ball. These characters either inspire you or have incredibly enviable traits.  Welcome to the N.H.K. does not have a special character: no knight in shining armor, no undefeatable hero.  This anime’s main character is lazy, pathetic, and cringy: Tatsuhiro Sato, a man who thinks he is being controlled through his TV by the Nihon Hikikomori Kyokai, the Japanese Hikikomori Organization, a play on the real-life Nippon Hoso Kyokai, the Japanese Broadcasting Corporation. 

Welcome to the N.H.K. is an anime adaptation of the light novel N.H.K. ni Yōkoso! by Tasuhiko Takimoto, featuring Tatsuhiro Sato, a self-proclaimed hikikomori, meaning recluse: hikikomori do not work or attend school, do not have a diagnosed mental disorder, and have been at home for six months or longer without interacting with people other than their family. Sato also calls himself a NEET: “Not in Education, Employment, or Training.” He moved to Tokyo from Hokkaido to attend university, but experienced a panic attack and dropped out of school. He binges television all day, receiving an allowance from his parents; however, the allowance shrinks throughout the show due to his father being fired from work.

Sato is surrounded by a cast of characters who all have issues: Kaoru Yamazaki, an otaku who shirks his responsibilities in Hokkaido to create video games in Tokyo; Hitomi Kashiwa, a female office worker who is depressed and obsessed with conspiracies; and Misaki Nakahara, a broken girl who is searching for someone more pathetic than herself to cling on to. 

The relationships between Sato and the rest of the cast are dysfunctional and self-serving. Hitomi uses Sato to talk about her conspiracy theories in hopes that he will care about her and alleviate her depression, while Sato tries to rekindle the physical relationship he had with her in high school. Kaoru uses Sato to help him create a video game so that he can prove his escape to Tokyo was not in vain, while Sato plans to show their game to Misaki so that he can prove he isn’t a total loser. Misaki needs Sato to prove to herself that there is someone more pathetic than she is, while Sato relies on a bevy of services Misaki provides him, e.g. buying groceries, preparing his meals, cleaning his apartment: essentially keeping him alive. Welcome to the N.H.K. is adept at portraying the complexity of its characters and relationships, and you’ll find yourself alternately rooting for and cursing at the cast in between scenes.  

Welcome to the N.H.K. will make you laugh and feel empty at the same time; you’ll find Sato’s inability to function hilarious and cringy, all while a creeping sadness envelopes you throughout the show. The emotion of the show is bolstered by the soundtrack which oscillates between screamo tracks when Sato is having a breakdown and slow, smooth guitar and synth tracks when Hitomi or Misaki are reaching out to Sato for comfort. Every element of this show just works to create a unique experience that you won’t get from any other anime: you just have to go watch and discover it for yourself. 

Writing this recommendation has been extremely difficult and I finally realize why: Welcome to the N.H.K. isn’t a TV show, it’s a sleight of hand trick. It’s a trick done right in front of your eyes, in slow-motion, and you still can’t tell how the trick is done. N.H.K. is a depressing show about hope: the hope to persevere even in the face of hopelessness. What you’ll find is that Hitomi, Kaoru, Misaki, and even Sato, are regular people: they’ve just experienced one too many little tragedies and need help to get back on their feet. At its conclusion, N.H.K. will give you the hope that you need to continue on: not the hope that things will get better, but that things can get better if you treat yourself and others with dignity and compassion. Protagonists in other anime either have god-like powers or unhealthy habits that are excused because they are the main character, but not Sato. Sato is a great protagonist because he has no powers; he doesn’t have a free pass to be a misanthrope; he is forced to live a life with consequences, just like you and me. Welcome to the N.H.K is a show that will bring you back down to earth: once you’re down there, sulk for a moment, then get back up again. 


Jan 22

Japan Insights—Experiencing Edo Culture Near Tokyo

By Makoto Shirai, secretary, Japan-Insights Research Institute (Non-profit organization in Tokyo)

Woodblock print depicting tattooed Kabuki actors purifying themselves in a waterfall before completing the pilgrimage to Mt. Oyama. 1863, by Kunisada (Utagawa Tokyouni III) © Isehara city, Board of Education

Dear Friends,

Are you interested in Edo Culture?

Let me introduce an essay from Japan-Insights archives.

The seventh one is on Mt. Oyama Pilgrimage by Mrs. Alice Gordenker.

https://topics.japan-insights.jp/Public/pdf/japan-insights_jp/topics/JIN_OyamaPilgrimage.pdf

Please share this expert’s experience!

Japan-Insights is a nonprofit open database compiled by leading experts in Japanese studies. The posts present a broad range of historical and contemporary topics that encourage visitors to engage with the real Japan through immersive experiences. Follow the Facebook page and website to learn about and share these insights from around the country!”

#japan #japaneseculture


Jan 19

Job: Resident Director – Critical Language Scholarship Summer (Okayama, Japan)

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


Position: Resident Director
Posted by:
Critical Language Scholarship Summer
Location: Okayama, Japan
Contract: Full-Time

Here’s a job passed along to us directly from the American Councils for International Education, which manages the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program:

American Councils for International Education is currently hiring 2021 summer Resident Director for Japanese immersion program of the Critical Language Scholarship Program (CLS Program, see www.clscholarship.org  for more information about the program).

Resident Directors are the first-level of support for CLS students for the duration of the program. The Resident Director supports student success by ensuring the health and safety of the participants, helping them to maintain a Japanese-only language policy, and helping to acclimate them to life in Japan.

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Jan 12

Sailor Moon: How These Magical Girls Transformed Our World

Sailor Moon: How These Magical Girls Transformed Our World

Thursday, January 28, 8PM (EST)

About this Event 

Can you believe that it’s been almost 30 years since Sailor Moon was first published in the weekly girl’s manga magazine Nakayoshi in 1992?! The manga and its animation adaptation quickly broke records and became a milestone of ’90s girls’ manga and anime. Sailor Moon next turned into a social phenomenon by reaching far beyond the boundaries of its genre, gaining widespread popularity among adults as well as children, and appealing to all genders and sexual orientations. Then, as it started being exported to other parts of the world, it became many people’s first introduction to Japanese pop culture. 

Why was Sailor Moon such a hit when it first appeared, and why is it still so popular today? What led to Sailor Moon‘s rise outside of Japan, and what impact did it have on the generation that grew up with it? 

Come join our panel discussion with Kumiko SaitoMari MorimotoSamantha Close and Kathryn Hemmann as they explore the history and legacy of Sailor Moon, as well as the fandom and fan culture it helped create in the U.S. 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JF_NewYork/status/1348738956381151234 

Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ep5-sailor-moon-how-these-magical-girls-transformed-our-world-tickets-133786919277 


Jan 11

JETwit’s JET Alum Movers & Shakers: Dr. Mary J. Eberhardinger, Hyogo-ken (2008-2010)

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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.

Dr. Mary J. Eberhardinger, Hyogo-ken (2008-2010)

Accomplishment:
Book

More Information:
https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781793639325/A-Rhetoric-and-Philosophy-of-Gifts

https://usjetaa.org/jets-on-japan-forum-issue-no-1/

I’ve lived in Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Greensboro, Osaka, Pittsburgh, Singapore, Slippery Rock, and Tanba. I am passionate about having conversations with aspiring JETs, those who wish to pursue graduate or doctoral study, or otherwise. Let’s connect!

Public Information:
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mary-j-eberhardinger-ph-d-91968527/


Jan 9

Japan Insights—Enjoy Sites and Sights in Edo Period

By Makoto Shirai, secretary, Japan-Insights Research Institute (Non-profit organization in Tokyo)

Illustrated Screen of Edo, Edo Zu Byobu, 17th Century
Courtesy of National Museum of Japanese History

Dear Friends,

Have you looked at Japan from Edo period?

Let me introduce an essay from Japan-Insights archives.

The sixth one is on Samurai Art of Edo period (1603-1867) by Dr. Timon Screech.

https://topics.japan-insights.jp/Public/pdf/japan-insights_jp/topics/JIN_EdoArtAndCulture.pdf

Please share this expert’s experience!

Japan-Insights is a nonprofit open database compiled by leading experts in Japanese studies. The posts present a broad range of historical and contemporary topics that encourage visitors to engage with the real Japan through immersive experiences. Follow the Facebook page and website to learn about and share these insights from around the country!”

#japan #japaneseculture


Jan 7

Job: Youth & Outreach Program Coordinator – Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens (Delray Beach, Florida, USA)

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


Position: Youth & Outreach Program Coordinator
Posted by:
Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens
Location: Delray Beach, Florida, USA
Contract: Full-Time

Thanks to JET alumna Wendy Lo (Toyama-ken, 2002-2005) for passing along the following job opening at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens where she works:

I would like to inform you of a job opening at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, for a Youth & Outreach Program Coordinator. This is a full-time position. 

Application Process: Job description and details on how to apply can be found here: https://morikami.org/job-opportunities/


Jan 6

The Heritage Series: Mouth of the Ocean

by Communications Specialist Bianca Sánchez (Hiroshima-ken ALT, 2016-2018). Bianca is an artist and writer whose creative works reflect mankind’s deep-rooted connection with the natural world. Visit her full portfolio here.

Mouth of the Ocean (2019)
Blue ink on paper, 9″ x 12″
Instagram: @artseabianca
Email: artseabianca@gmail.com

Mouth of the Ocean

by Bianca Berenice Sánchez on January 6, 2021

Over a century before my 15th birthday, a young Japanese boy had fled a leper colony that stood on the small island of Ōshima outside Kagawa, Japan. He was about my age when he escaped what would have been a terrible fate at the Ōshima Seishoen Sanatorium, an infirmary for leprosy patients established in 1909. Over the next four decades, Japan believed in ridding its society of “impurities”, sending officers to locate and exile anyone with the disease and their close relatives. Patients were treated like prisoners, disinfected with ice water, experimented on, and underwent unethical surgeries while isolated from society. Life on the small island was worse than death.

Knowing this, Casimiro sailed east into open waters without knowing if he would even survive, but that didn’t matter. Whatever was out there had to be better than Ōshima. The young man eventually found himself in México where he settled in the port town of Guaymas. This was his opportunity to reinvent himself, find work, and begin a new life. He first changed his name, erasing what he could of his Japanese identity and embracing México as his home. Over the years, he found work mining silver, constructing railroads, and growing little green chiles in his garden. He later married and started a family: three sons and a daughter named Blanca.

Blanca was my grandmother, and her father, my great-grandfather, was named Casimiro Ortiz. I was fifteen or so when my dad first told me this story. He only had bits and pieces of information, but I was astounded nonetheless. Up until then, I thought that I was nothing more than Mexican-American, my roots buried somewhere in the hot Sonoran Desert and prickly mountains of Chihuahua, México. I grew to appreciate my newfound roots and wanted to unravel them further.

Mouth of the Ocean (2019) is adapted from a photo I took in 2018 in Yamaguchi, Japan. I was with my colleague and friend, Nakamura-san, as we drove to the island of Suo-Oshima outside Yamaguchi, but not the one from my great-grandfather’s story. “Oshima” translates to “island”, and Japan has a lot of those. Nakamura-san knew about my family’s past, and before our trip, she revealed to me that many years ago, thousands of residents sailed east from Suo-Oshima to settle in Hawaii. There they prospered and built new lives for themselves – a story all too familiar. The small island now has a museum dedicated to those who left with an archive of family names and ages documented before leaving. There we hoped to discover Casimiro’s real name, but the trip proved unsuccessful.

In my drawing, I took creative license by adding the vines and flowers. I enjoy creating tiny details like these – they hypnotize me as I draw them. They also breathe some life and motion into the original image. You can see the breeze lifting some petals. You can almost taste the salty and sweet brine it carries.

Mouth of the Ocean represents an entry point to a strange yet familiar world. The firm stance of the Japanese torii gate reassures the viewer that whatever place sits beyond the sea, many have survived the journey there before just as many will survive it there after. Casimiro’s life remains shrouded in mystery, but the pieces of his story that I have push me to learn more about who he was and who I am. I may never find all the answers, but I will find myself.


Jan 2

Job: CBTC Systems Engineer I – Mitsubishi Electric Power Products, Inc. (Pittsburgh, PA, USA)

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


Position: CBTC Systems Engineer I
Posted by:
Mitsubishi Electric Power Products, Inc. (MEEPI)
Location: Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Contract: Full-Time

Thanks to Susan Garvan, Staffing Specialist with Mitsubishi Electric Power Products, Inc. (MEEPI) for passing along the attached job opening with her company.

Are you a recent or soon to graduate Electrical Engineer or Computer Science Engineer who is “business fluent” in Japanese?   If so, we have an opportunity to use your degree and Japanese language skills while learning the newest technology in the rail transportation industry for the USA. 

In this newly created role the Engineer will learn Communication Based Train Control (CBTC) technology provided to you by Mitsubishi Electric Power Products, Inc. (MEPPI).   You will have the opportunity to visit our parent company, Mitsubishi Electric (MELCO) in Japan for up to a year, gaining valuable training on the CBTC Systems.   Upon completion of your training you would return to the USA and will be based at our Pittsburgh, PA headquarters in the CBTC Systems Engineer I role with MEPPI’s Transportation Systems Division.   

As the CBTC Systems Engineer I you will:

  • Participate in an initial 6-12 month assignment in Japan learning CBTC technology by working with MELCO engineers.
  • Assist with application engineering activities for system design in support of proposals and projects including: requirement specification, architecture and interface description, system integration and development planning, design reviews, development of requirements traceability, software validation and verification, and creation/maintenance of track database.

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Dec 28

WIT Life #349: 今年の漢字

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.

2020年の漢字

We have come to the end of this crazy Covid year, and that means it’s time for 今年の漢字 (kotoshi no kanji, or kanji of the year). 密 (mitsu, or close, dense and crowded) was selected, reflecting Japan’s initial response to the virus by promoting avoidance of 三つの密 (mitsu no mitsu or sanmitsu). These are also known as the 3Cs, and refer to 密閉 (mippei, or confined, poorly ventilated spaces), 密集 (misshuu, or crowds of people) and 密接 (missetsu, or close-contact settings). Japan was able to control infection rates to an extent this way, but as in the U.S. there are worries of a surge early next year as a result of gathering during the 年末年始 (nenmatsu nenshi, or year-end holidays). Runners-up to 密 included 禍 (ka, or damage, as in コロナ禍) and 病 (byou or yamai, or disease and illness).

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Dec 23

Job: Youth and Outreach Program Coordinator – Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens (Delray Beach, FL, USA)

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


Position: Youth and Outreach Program Coordinator
Posted by:
Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens
Location: Delray Beach, FL, USA
Contract: Full-Time

Thanks to JET alumna, Wendy Lo (Toyama, 2002-2005), who works for the Morikamai Museum for passing along the following job opening:

The Youth and Outreach Program Coordinator will be responsible for the creation and implementation of educational programming for children (K-12) activities and off-site outreach programs (children and adults). This includes children’s activities at our annual festivals, special events, teacher development workshops, Family Fun Days, and our MORY and Summer Tour Plus programs. 

The position requires a creative, dynamic and hands-on individual.  The person must be able to work weekends and evening events. This position reports to the Curator of Education.

More information and to apply: https://morikami.org/job-opportunities/


Dec 22

Job: Adjunct Assistant Professor, Japanese Language – Johnson County Community College (Overland Park, KS, USA)

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


Position: Adjunct Assistant Professor, Japanese Language
Posted by:
Johnson County Community College
Location: Overland Park, KS, USA
Contract: Full-Time

Thanks to former JETAA USA Country Rep, Dustin Henrich (Osaka, 2012-2014) for sharing this opportunity with the JETwit community:

The Foreign Language Department at Johnson County Community College is seeking a Japanese adjunct professor to teach Elementary and Intermediate level Japanese language courses on Zoom and/or on the JCCC campus. JCCC is located in Overland Park, KS, the second largest city in the state of Kansas and part of the greater Kansas City Metro. The Kansas City Metro is known for its museums, restaurants, and music and art scenes. JCCC is similarly dedicated to creating and maintaining a rich cultural community, with an award-winning contemporary art museum and center for the performing arts located on campus.

For more information and to apply: https://www.aatj.org/jobs/johnson-county-community-college-ks/adjunct-assistant-professor-japanese-language?fbclid=IwAR2xUTM4wQ5grCMLup1myRB_QdoG3-rNdZM00RrtUuR00mPXQWDCaZcECEo


Dec 18

USJETAA Webinar – Making your Own Luck after JET

On Tuesday, December 15th, USJETAA hosted its last webinar of 2020 and it featured JETwit’s own, Steven Horowitz (Aichi-ken, 1992-1994) along with Mya Fisher (Kanagawa-ken, 2000-2002), and Kristy Ishii (Gunma-ken, 2016-2018). Each JET alumni spoke about building connections, networking, being proactive, trying something new, and ultimately “making your own luck after JET.” If you missed the webinar, you can view it here.

For other fantastic webinars, sign up for USJETAA here. It’s free to JET alumni!


Dec 17

JQ Magazine: Book Review — ‘No Pianos, Pets or Foreigners!: My Life in Japan in the ’80s’

“If you spend enough time in Japan, or any place for that matter, there are interesting stories to be told; some of which can be educational. No Pianos, Pets or Foreigners does inform and amuse.”

By Rashaad Jorden (Yamagataken, 2008-10; Kochi-ken, 2018-2020) for JQ magazine. A former head of JETAA Philadelphia’s SubChapter, Rashaad is a graduate of Leeds Beckett University with a masters degree in responsible tourism management. For more on his life abroad and enthusiasm for taiko drumming, visit his blog at www.gettingpounded.wordpress.com.

Before the advent of the JET Program, there were Westerners who taught English in Japan. Joe Palermo was one of them, and he tells his story in No Pianos, Pets or Foreigners!: My Life in Japan in the ’80s.

Palermo arrived in Gunma Prefecture in 1982 as a Mombusho English Fellow (a precursor to modern-day JETs) and his bookwhose title was inspired by a phrase he often saw in ads while looking for an apartmentis obviously a walk down memory lane, as well as a collection of “what I did in Japan” stories.

The book could best be described as a score of tales best told over a beer or two (like when he realized he left his shoes in a supermarket parking lot during heavy rain). Some of the anecdotes Palermo shares are products of their time, such as his self-introduction to students, “I am E.T.: English Teacher.” Much of No Pianos, Pets or Foreigners contains tidbits that might really only interest Palermo’s close friends (like the appearance of his house). However, the author excels with his observations of life in Japan, such as illuminating things you may not have been aware of or had totally forgotten, like the tendency of Japanese to rarely go to the dentist.

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