Apr 26

JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York — Miike’s Latest, Miku Expo, ‘Katsura Sunshine’s Rakugo’

By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02). Justin has written about Japanese arts and entertainment for JETAA since 2005. For more of his articles, click here.

As spring continues and the weather continues to warm, New Yorkers can enjoy activities all over the city both indoors and out. 

This month’s highlights include:

Courtesy of Sideshow/Janus Films

April 26-30 and May 3-16

Hamaguchi I & II and Evil Does Not Exist

Walter Reade Theater, 165 West 65th Street

Elinor Bunim Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street


Evil Does Not Exist: Deep in the forest of the small rural village Harasawa, single parent Takumi lives with his young daughter, Hana, and takes care of odd jobs for locals, chopping wood and hauling pristine well water. The overpowering serenity of this untouched land of mountains and lakes, where deer peacefully roam free, is about to be disrupted by the imminent arrival of the Tokyo company Playmode, which is ready to start construction on a glamping site for city tourists—a plan, which Takumi and his neighbors discover, that will have dire consequences for the ecological health and cleanliness of their community. The potent and foreboding new film from Oscar-winning director Ryûsuke Hamaguchi (Drive My Car and Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, both NYFF59) is a haunting, entirely unexpected cinematic experience that reconstitutes the boundaries of the ecopolitical thriller. Intensified by a rapturous, ominous score by Eiko Ishibashi, this mesmeric journey diverges from country-vs-city themes to straddle the line between the earthy and the metaphysical. Presented in Japanese with English subtitles. Q&A with Ryûsuke Hamaguchi and Eiko Ishibashi on May 3 at 6 p.m. screening. Don’t miss Hamaguchi I & II, a selected retrospective of Ryûsuke Hamaguchi’s films to be presented at FLC from April 26–30.

© 1983 Argos Films

Wednesday, May 1, 7:00 p.m.

The Film Desk Presents: Sans Soleil

Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street


Imported 35mm print! Driven by a desire to “capture life in the process of becoming history,” the enigmatic and influential French filmmaker Chris Marker travelled the globe and made a sprawling body of hybrid work that ruminates on the nature of memory and time. Of the several films he made in Japan (where, among the crowded drinking holes of Shinjuku’s “Golden Gai” district, there is a bar named after one of his early masterpieces), this singular essay film remains the late director’s greatest achievement. An unnamed woman narrates the poetic letters and philosophical reflections of an invisible world traveler accompanied by footage of Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, Iceland, Paris, San Francisco and, most significantly, Tokyo—a city whose people, streets, malls and temples inspire the traveler’s richest observations.

Courtesy of Eventbrite

Saturday, May 4, 7:30 p.m.

Marimba Extraordinaire Makoto Nakura at 60 – A Retrospective

The Church-in-the-Gardens, 50 Ascan Avenue (Queens)

$10 students, $20 general admission/adult

Makoto Nakura started building his distinctive career as a marimbist as soon as he arrived in NYC from Japan 30 years ago. This concert shows his journey through the works which he has commissioned along the way. Featuring Barbara Podgurski on piano, these works from today’s leading composers showcase the expressive possibilities of the marimba…expressive possibilities that keep expanding under Makoto’s ever-growing collection of mallets! You are sure to have a great time not only hearing extraordinary music, but also meeting this extraordinary artist and human being who always gives his audience an incredible show. Don’t forget to wish him a happy 60th birthday if you attend!

Read More
Jul 30

JQ Magazine: The Joy of Sake Returns to NYC

Courtesy of Michi Kurisaki

By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobeshi, 2001-02). Justin has written about Japanese arts and entertainment for JETAA since 2005. For more of his articles, click here.

A beverage that can be paired with foods as diverse as sushi, chocolate and even pizza, American sake lovers are eagerly awaiting the return of The Joy of Sake, the world’s largest sake tasting outside Japan, which returns to New York’s Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea on August 4 with the biggest sake celebration in the city’s history.

After a hiatus due to the pandemic, this year’s event will feature a record 576 competition-level sakes (up from 513 in 2019) and top restaurants serving sake-inspired appetizers.

Now in its 21st year, The Joy of Sake celebrates the ancient art of sake-brewing. It features hundreds of premium daiginjo, ginjo and junmai labels from every sake-brewing region in Japan, including over 300 sakes not available in the U.S. “After such a challenging time for everyone,” said Joy of Sake founder Chris Pearce, “we wanted to bring this celebration back better than ever and support both the sake makers and New York’s resilient restaurant scene.”

Read more at JQ magazine.

May 19

Event: Becoming a Life Coach – May 24, 2021 at 4 pm PT / 7 pm ET (Japan Time: May 25th at 8 am)

Join the U.S. JET Programme Alumni Association (USJETAA) and JETAA Western Japan for this upcoming event.

Becoming a Life Coach
May 24, 2021 at 4 pm PT / 7 pm ET
Japan Time: May 25th at 8 am

Register: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0rcu-spjMvG9E9FEycUK1GkZWy5-SLd6U

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/24691713708797

Life coach? That’s a profession? Really?!? I’ve never heard of it! Perhaps you’ve heard of a life coach but aren’t quite sure exactly what it entails. Or maybe this is truly your first time. Join USJETAA and JET alum Jeff Singal who will kick off this event with a brief background on his journey from being a JET in Mie (1995-1997) to how he learned about life coaching as a profession and why and how he decided to enter this profession. We’ll cover how to become a life coach and what a life coach does, and much, much more. This event is brought to you by USJETAA and JETAA Western Japan.

The webinar is partially supported by CLAIR and the Japan Foundation CGP.

Oct 9

JET Prefecture Round up! 10.09.17

By Suzanne Bhagan (Tottori Prefecture)

Hey, everyone! There’s another national holiday this week (Health and Sports Day) so who’s ready for some hiking, kiritanpo, kayaking, parades, beef, and screaming? Read on to find out more!


rice stick

Kiritanpo, an Akita specialty

Kiritanpo Festival

When: 7-9 October

Where: Odate, Akita Prefecture

Enjoy live performances and kiritanpo (rice grilled stick and specialty of Akita prefecture) at this unique festival.


29th Yufuin Eat Beef and Scream Tournament

When: 9 October

Where: Yufuin, Oita Prefecture

I scream, you scream, we all scream for beef (literally)! Head to Mount Yufu for this unusual event that combines beef eating and screaming into a stratovolcano.


Yufuin Eat Beef and Scream Tournament


Jumangoku Festival

When: 9 October

Where: Ogaki, Gifu Prefecture

Help carry the mikoshi and be part of one of Ogaki’s biggest events for the year!



Yokai parade

Yokai Parade

When: 14 October

Where: Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture

Celebrate Halloween early by hitting the street with Kyoto’s very own yokai parade.


Biwa Kayaking 2017

When: 14 October

Where: Lake Biwa, Shiga Prefecture

Pack a bento and come kayak Japan’s largest freshwater lake with a professional instructor!



Mount Miune

Mt Miune Hike

When: 15 October

Where: Miyoshi, Tokushima Prefecture

Strap on those hiking boots to climb Shikoku’s third tallest peak.




Oct 2

JET Prefecture Round up! 10.02.17

By Suzanne Bhagan (Tottori Prefecture)

Put away that cool biz. October is here! Before you snuggle under that kotatsu, here are some events to get you nice and toasty!


Otsu Matsuri

2017 Otsu Festival

When: 8 October

Where: Otsu, Shiga Prefecture

Get ready to work it. Shiga AJET invites volunteers to flex those muscles to pull festival floats at the famous Otsu Matsuri.

Block 6 PicnicKai 2.0

When: 7 October

Where: Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture

This fall, Block 6 kicks off their welcome undoukai/picnic in the park for all Block 6 JETs, new and old.


Cruising in Hita

Hita Riverboat Dinner

When: 8 October

Where: Hita, Oita Prefecture

Oita AJET welcomes all JETs and friends to hop on a pleasure boat, drink, eat, and relax on Hita’s Mikuma river.

Hyogo AJET Rafting

When: 7 October

Where: Nagaoka, Kochi Prefecture

It’s time for HAJET’s annual rafting trip down south. Grab a paddle pronto!




Mar 18

JETAA Chapter Beat 18th March 2013

Welcome to JETAA Chapter Beat. Theodore Genba Bigby (Yamagata 2008-12) walks you through some of the highlights from JET alumni associations across the globe.  Genba currently serves as the JETAA UK Webmaster and on the JETAA Midlands committee.

Although JETAA Chapter Beat has been absent recently, the hearts of JET alumni have been going strong. Let’s take a look at some highlights for the next four weeks.


2012-2013 JETAA Tokyo Mentor Program

JETAA Tokyo have announced that they intended to run a mentor programme with the aim of developing the careers of local alumni. As part of the programme, which is currently under way, alumni are offered the opportunity to be mentored by experienced alumni who have successfully established themselves as working professionals in the Tokyo area. It is hoped that this personal advice and insight will prove valuable to the development of their careers.

Mentees can expect the following resources:

  • Monthly contact with their mentor through face-to-face meetings, telephone, Skype, Facebook or email (although mentees are responsible for initiating contact).
  • Advice and suggestions on researching career opportunities in the Tokyo area.
  • Feedback on job search materials (résumé, rirekisho, letters of recommendation, etc).
  • If possible, attendance to the JETAA Tokyo Mentor Program Kick-off and the Program Finale.

Although internships are not officially offered as a part of the initiative, there is an opportunity for mentors and mentees to discuss future opportunities on a personal basis. This is an extremely interesting project and if it proves to be successful, it may be replicated by other chapters across the globe.

JETAA Music City

Middle Tennessee Anime Convention (MTAC)
Friday 29th March 2013, 12am – Monday 1st April, 12am
Nashville, Tennessee

During this year’s MTAC, the JET Programme will be hosting its own table! People wishing to volunteer are urged to contact John Gale, JET Program Coordinator at the Consulate-General of Japan, jet@nv.mofa.go.jp or 615-340-4300. It would be a great opportunity to connect with the many university students who are expected to attend who have a strong interest in Japan. Why not come down and tell them about your experiences in Japan whilst enjoying the largest anime convention in Tennessee?

Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival
23rd March 2013, 10 am
Nashville, Tennessee
See here for more information: http://nashvillecherryblossomfestival.org/

Why not get down to the 2013 Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival? JETAAMC are also looking for volunteers to staff the table and speak to the public about their JET experience. To volunteer, please contact John Gale at jet@nv.mofa.go.jp. It must be noted that this event is imminent, so even if you can’t volunteer, please show some support!

JETAA New York

Spring Hike to Breakneck Ridge
14th April 2013
Beacon, New York

JETAANY Breakneck Ridge

JETAA NY at Breakneck Ridge.

 If you’re tired of being cooped up all winter, why not have a nice relaxing walk along Breakneck Ridge? Reliably reported to be the best hike in the Tristate area, you’ll be rewarded with amazing views of New York state.

“While no advanced hiking skill is needed, please note that the first part of this hike is strenuous with some rock scrambling. Please wear shoes with a good tread and comfortable clothing. We will be going very slowly and spotting each other.”

See the link above for details.

April Book Club: The Hare with the Amber Eyes
16th April 2013 – 7 pm – 9 pm
Flatiron Building, New York, New York

Written by Edmund de Waal, April’s book will be The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance. Meeting on the 14th floor of the iconic Flatiron building, this is a must.

Registration is required in order to attend this event, so please click on the link above and follow the instructions.

JETAA Midlands

Midlands Meetup
13th April 2013 12:30pm
Woktastic, Birmingham, Midlands

JETAA Midlands is now in the process of re-invigorating the group. Starting with this initial meeting, they are inviting not only alumni, but friends of Japan with a view to starting regular meetings and establishing a new committee.

JETAA Minnesota

March Networking Mixer
27th March, 5:00pm – 7:30pm
St. Paul, Minnesota

Be sure not to miss this great chance to network with other alumni. This session will be held at Barrio Tequila Bar. Don’t forget to bring your meishi !

JETAA Scotland

Social Evening
5th April 2013 7:30pm
The Basement Bar, Edinburgh, Scotland

JETAA Scotland is starts its monthly social meetings again this April and continue on the first Friday of every month. All comers are welcome!

Feb 26

2013 Tokamachi Snow Festival

Posted by Benjamin Martin, a 5th year JET on Kume Island in Okinawa, publisher of the blog MoreThingsJapanese.com and author of the YA fantasy series Samurai Awakening (Tuttle).

IMG_6916With its tall mountains and island geography, Japan has areas with heavy rain throughout the year and snowfall in the winter.  Over the years, in many areas the snow has been changed from a hardship to benefit.  The first place in Japan to create a snow festival is Tokamachi in Niigata prefecture.

Tokamachi (十日町市) City is located in eastern Niigata prefecture.  The names of that area are interesting in that they refer to the days it used to take to travel to them by foot.  When we went there from the Echigo-Yuzawa station we passed several towns with these similar names such as Muikamachi (six-day town).  The area has many small towns and is primarily full of rice farms.  Niigata is famous for the delicious rice that the large amounts of snowfall help create.

This year’s snow festival took place between February 15 and 17th with the main stage events taking place on the 16th at the local Tokamachi Elementary School sports ground.  As with all the nearby farms, the fields were topped with over two and a half meters of snow.  While the snow is difficult to live with, the locals have found some ingenious ways to not only make it work for them, but to enjoy it as well.

IMG_6899One of the major attractions of the Tokamachi snow festival are the snow sculptures.  From small igloos to towering designs the sculptures turn all the excess snow into art.  Local artists and teams transform piles of snow into everything from popular manga characters to full size replicas of buildings and ships.  These  are so popular that they have spread to other snow festivals such as the more famous one in Hokkaido.

Every year the main stage for the event is constructed of snow.  This year the design was a towering ship and compass.  The portals were lighted and throughout the main event fireworks were lighted around it.  It was a surprisingly long and steep walk from the lower town to the event but as guests of the local town government we had great tickets that put me 5 people back from the stage and only three from the walkway.

Originally, the focus of the festival was to highlight the beautiful kimonos created in Niigata.  The main event after the opening speeches is still a fashion show of kimonos which are especially striking against the pure white of the snowy stage. Following the show were performances by artists Junichi Inagaki, Becky, and LG Monkees.  As well as appearances by the local school children singing along with Tetsu and Tomo who helped to MC.

IMG_6998Despite the cold weather and snow falling throughout much of the show, huge numbers of people came out to see the show and it was well worth a few cold toes.  The entire event was well-organized with crowd control built into the area with snow dividers.  While we weren’t allowed to take photos or video of the performers, we were allowed to take pictures of the stage and fashion show.  We didn’t have time to see every sculpture but I did catch a few on our way out.  I hope you enjoy a little look at a wonderful town and event.  I’ll share more on the trip soon.

For more photos from the event visit MoreThingsJapanese.com

**Don’t forget to enter the TWO free giveaways for signed copies of my book plus extras.  Enter on morethingswriting.com and/or Goodreads!**

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