Feb 6



JetWit just received the official press release from WNYC’s Studio 360 regarding their exclusive Studio 360 Goes to Japan program, featuring a segment written and hosted by Roland Kelts (Osaka, 1998-99), which will air this Saturday on NPR stations nationwide. Content, including video, will go live on the Studio 360 web site (http://www.studio360.org/) starting at 6 p.m. today  (See the full press release below.)

The segment Roland wrote and hosted is focused on Japan’s Youth Culture and its various pathologies, especially the struggles of haken, or temporary workers, amid the imploding global economy.

Additionally, JetWit has learned that Roland is booked for an interview tomorrow afternoon with Nippon Television for their nightly news and entertainment program, News Zero.  He will be interviewed by pop idol and actor Sho Sakurai of the band Arashi, and director Takashi Miike, both of whom are in town to promote the latter’s forthcoming live action film version of the 70s anime series, Yatterman.  The interview will be about the Japanese pop culture juggernaut. Read More

Feb 3


Roland Kelts (Osaka, 1998-99), author of Japanamerica, will be at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston on Wednesday, February 11 for a screening + discussion of the animated film Grave of the Fireflies.  More details here.  (Side noteLyle Sylvander (Yokohama-shi, 2001-02) wrote an excellent and succinct review of Grave of the Fireflies for the Spring 2008 JETAAA NY Newsletter.)

BONUS:  Roland’s story on Japanese Youth Pathologies for WNYC’s Studio 360 will air on NPR nationwide as part of this coming weekend’s special Japan edition of the show.  (See the recent JetWit post on last week’s Studio360 Japan feature.)

Correction:  This post previously listed the date of the MFA event as February 9, but it has now been corrected to February 11.  Apologies for any confusion.

Jan 31

NPR’s Studio 360 has a Japan fetish this morning with three separate and excellent stories on different aspects of Japan collectively titled “High Finance & Old Japan.”  Definitely worth visiting their site to listen to the stories and watch accompanying video slide shows as well.

Below are the summaries taken from the Studio 360 website:

Pico Iyer: Outside Man

Travel writer Pico Iyer has lived in Japan for 20 years. And while he knows the locals still see him as an outsider, he told Kurt that this status helps him pay attention to his surroundings. Iyer says Japan is like a “2000-year-old person wearing a micro-skirt, with an artificial tan and carrying a surfboard.” Special thanks to Matthew Cavnar.

No Time for Tea

The tea ceremony is a 400-year-old ritual for making and presenting green tea. But in Japan’s fast-paced techno-centric society – one increasingly fueled by coffee – we wondered how the tea ceremony can survive. Studio 360’s Jenny Lawton talked with tea masters, old and young, to find out.

Suicide Forest

Aokigahara is the name of the forest at the foot of Mount Fuji. It’s been mythologized in Japanese literature as a sacred place for people to end their lives – and every year close to a hundred suicides are committed there. Studio 360’s Pejk Malinovski went to the forest to uncover its haunting allure and how the place lingers in the Japanese psyche.

Jan 19

The Order of Odd-Fish: The Mix Tape

James Kennedy (Nara-ken, 2004-06), author of The Order of Odd-Fish, was asked to do a fun feature on the music blog Largehearted Boy a couple weeks ago. They have a feature called “Book Notes” in which an author is invited to compile a mixtape appropriate for their book, and explain it. So he put together a kind of movie soundtrack for “The Order of Odd-Fish.” You can listen to his “Odd-Fish” mixtape, and read the explanations for his choices, here:


Jan 17
******Roland Kelts (Osaka, 1998-99), author of Japanamerica and frequent lecturer on the topic of Japanese pop culture, was interviewed recently on Tokyo FM. Below is the link to the post on his blog (japanamerica.blogspot.com) as well as links to the interview clips.

Interviewed in New York, Aired in Tokyo, on Tokyo FM

The interview is in English, but the DJ translates in Japanese over Roland’s voice when he speaks and then expounds on her own at times.  (I think it’s a little easier to hear the English in Part 2.)

It would be great if someone out there would post an English-version summary of the interview in the comments section below.  Or perhaps one person could do a small portion and then others could add to it.

Click here for Part 1

And here for Part 2

Dec 19

Listen to Roland Kelts (Osaka, 1998-99) being interviewed on NPR’s “The World.”  http://www.theworld.org/?q=node/23341 Summary below:

As a global power, Japan is fading, but increasing numbers of people outside the country are opting to learn Japanese. What’s fueling the new interest is a growing obsession with Japanese Manga comics and Japanese animation. The World’s Patrick Cox has the story.

Nov 19

Adren Hart has started a new Google Group for JET alumni (and Friends of JET) who are interested in or have any connection to music, musical events, etc.  The group is called JETAA Ongaku Connection and it’s goal is to help connect JET alums who are interested in going to music events, following Japanese bands, playing music and anything esle having to do with music.  A great way to stay connected with the JET alumni network.


Go to the link above to sign up.  (FYI, you’ll need to have (or create) a google or gmail account to sign up for a google group.)

Nov 18

JETAA NY Newsletter: ALL POLITICS IS LOCAL – A discussion with Inuyama City Councilman Anthony Bianchi (Aichi-ken, 1987-91)

Interview by Michael Glazer (Chiba-ken, 1995-97)

Want to hear the full interview?  Click here to get the podcast.

Bensonhurst, Brooklyn native Anthony Bianchi (Aichi-ken, 1987-91), the first-ever North American to hold an elected position in Japan, is still going strong in his role as a city councilman in Inuyama-shi, Aichi-ken. Michael Glazer (Chiba-ken, 1995-97) recently did a recorded interview with Anthony to  discuss the hot local topics, learn more about politics in Japan and get a sense of how things look across the pond.  A podcast of the interview is available at http://jetaany.org/documents/JETAA-Bianchi-Interview.mp3.  Below are select excerpts from the interview.

Michael Glazer: You have a very interesting background. How does a JET program teacher become a city council member?

Anthony Bianchi: Well, I’ll try to make the story as short as possible. I studied filmmaking at New York University and I was interested in Kurasawa films and whatnot, and I was out in L.A. for a while. I came back to New York. I was working for New York City and I saw an ad in the paper about the Expo that was held in Gifu about 20 years ago. So I went over to Japan on a homestay program and decided it would be nice to try to live there for a year or so.  I joined the JET program, stayed for a couple years, and decided I wanted to stay longer.

I was teaching, working for the Board of Education in Inuyama, and I kind of got involved in the administrative aspects of it. I was banging my head against a lot of brick walls and finding that I had to get in touch with the mayor and the city council people to help back up what we were doing.  I finally got to a point where I got tired of complaining about things and needing other people’s help, so I decided to try and do something myself.  I ran in the election and somehow I got elected, believe it or not.

MG: Once you were elected into office, were there any things early on that struck you as unexpected? Read More

Nov 6

La-la-la-la-la O-ba-ma & Japanese Songwriting

Obama-shi, Japan is so happy about the US election, they’ve come up with a song and video about it.  Meanwhile, have you ever written a song in Japanese (or partly in Japanese)? Let me know and I’ll post it, or perhaps we can collaborate with other JET alums to come up with a tune and/or record it.  Just email me at stevenwaseda at-mark jetwit dotto com.

Oct 31

Roland Kelts (Osaka, 1998-99) just got back to Tokyo and shared this NPR clip about Haruki Murakami which includes some comments from Roland.  Have a listen.

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