Oct 4

Posted by Tom Baker

JET alum Todd Jay Leonard will lead a poetry workshop at the Oct. 15-17 Japan Writers Conference, a free event that is happening online. The official description of his talk appears below.

Todd Jay Leonard
So you want to publish a book? 10 Basic Points to Keep in Mind!
Short Lecture with Q&A


Professor Leonard has published extensively over the past 30 years and is willing to share his experiences of both Japanese traditional publishing houses and POD formats to assist budding authors in their quests to get published.
This lecture will cover ten primary points that “potential” authors need to keep in mind when submitting a proposal to a publishing company or when self-publishing a book. He will outline the basic process from the book’s initial concept to getting the book into print to marketing it. His extensive experience in publishing as an author in Japan will serve to assist budding authors with the basics in the overall process that need to be considered when pursuing a publishing contract or when self-publishing. This is a short lecture with a Q & A format.
Todd Jay Leonard lives, writes, and teaches on the southern island of Kyushu, where he is a university professor at the University of Teacher Education Fukuoka. He has published extensively in academic journals, magazines, and newspapers on cross-cultural, historical, and Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) themes. He is the author of 25 books.


Sep 26

Author Suzanne Kamata to host panel discussion on identity at Japan Writers Conference

Posted by Tom Baker

JET alum Suzanne Kamata will lead a panel discussion on “Writing Identity” at the Oct. 15-17 Japan Writers Conference, a free event that is happening online. Suzanne is the author of multiple novels and nonfiction books, which you can read about at www.suzannekamata.com. The official descriptions of her talk appears below.

Suzanne Kamata
with Clara Kiyoko Kumagain, Kristin Osani, Clarissa Goenawan, Sara Fujimura
Writing Identity, From Inside and Outside
Panel Discussion
Fiction


Identity politics play a large part in determining which stories are published and how they are currently received in the English-speaking market. Generation Z readers — the audience for YA and New Adult titles — are especially aware of issues surrounding diversity, appropriation, and ownership. In this session, to be moderated by Suzanne Kamata, four authors of different backgrounds, writing about Japan from inside and out of their lanes, will discuss diversity, identity, inclusivity, and their own experiences and approaches to writing these in their own work.
In this era of #ownvoices and a heightened awareness of identity politics, what stories should be told, who should be allowed to write them, and how they should be presented are often contentious issues. In this moderated session, five authors of different backgrounds, writing inside and out of their lanes, will discuss diversity, identity, inclusivity, and their own experiences and approaches to writing these in their own work.
Award-winning author Suzanne Kamata was born and raised in the United States, but has lived in Japan for more than half of her life. She is the author or editor of 15 published books including, most recently, The Baseball Widow (Wyatt-Mackenzie Publishing, 2021) and Pop Flies, Robo-pets and Other Disasters (One Elm Books, 2020).
Clara Kiyoko Kumagai is from Canada, Japan and Ireland. She writes fiction and non-fiction for children and adults, and has had work published in Banshee, Room, Event, and Cicada. She currently lives in Tokyo.
Kristin Osani @KristinOsani is a freelance Japanese to English translator, writer, and editor
Her previous projects include Left Alive, Oninaki, Code Shifter, Dragalia Lost, and many more. Her short fiction is forthcoming in Flash Point SF.
Clarissa Goenawan is an Indonesian-born Singaporean writer. Her award-winning short fiction has appeared in literary magazines and anthologies in Singapore, Australia, Japan, Indonesia, the UK, and the US. Rainbirds, her first novel, has been published in eleven different languages.
Sara Fujimura @SaraFujimura is an award-winning young adult author and creative writing teacher. She is the American half of her Japanese-American family, and has written about Japanese culture and raising bicultural children for such magazines as Appleseeds, Learning Through History, East West, and Mothering, as well as travel-related articles for To Japan With Love. Her young adult novels include Tanabata Wish, Breathe, Every Reason We Shouldn’t (Tor Teen, 2020) and Faking Reality (Tor Teen, 2021). She lives in Phoenix with her husband and children.


Sep 24

Joe Palermo to speak about self-publishing his memoir at Japan Writers Conference

Posted by Tom Baker

Joe Palermo, who came to Japan on the pre-JET MEF program in the 1980s, has written a memoir about what life in Japan was like back then. Next month, he will give a presentation at the Japan Writers Conference (a free event that is happening online this year) on how he went about self-publishing it – a topic sure to be of interest to anyone who has written about their own Japan experiences. The official descriptions of his talk appears below.

Joe Palermo
No Pianos, Pets or Foreigners! Self Publishing a Memoir in eBook, Paperback and Audiobook Format at Minimal Cost
Short Lecture with Q&A
Nonfiction

A young Japanese woman was running through Tokyo station screaming “Save me! Save me!” There was a Japanese man chasing her and closing in. He grabbed her wrist and caught her about 10 feet in front of me. The woman was still yelling “Save me! Save Me!” but the Japanese people in the crowded station ignored her, not wanting to get involved.
This is the beginning of one of the stories from my experience living in Japan in the 1980’s, where I had moved right after graduating university. It was still rare to see an American who could speak Japanese fluently. This book guides the reader though my many adventures navigating through Japanese culture while living in the outskirts of Tokyo, as well as Tokyo proper.
I will detail my experience writing and publishing a book and audiobook about my life in Japan, using Amazon KDP and Amazon ACX. I will talk about what I learned through the process and what I would do differently.
Joe Palermo has retired after 30+ years as a corporate executive at the Nielsen Company and Information Resources, Inc. (IRI). He lived and worked in Japan for eight years and is the author of “No Pianos, Pets or Foreigners! My Life in Japan in the 80’s”.


Sep 21

Gift-Giving Practices in Japan – 10/6/2021 at 1 PM ET

REGISTER

During this lunch seminar, Dr. Mary J. Eberhardinger will briefly present her latest research on gift-giving practices in Japan from her new book followed by an opportunity for questions and discussion on attendees’ personal experiences with gift-giving in Japan. Depending on the number of registrants, this event may use breakout rooms. Dr. Eberhardinger’s book “A Rhetoric and Philosophy of Gifts” examines the relationship between gifts and rhetoric, with particular attention given to Japan where she lived as a JET Program assistant language teacher in Hyogo from 2008-2010. Her book includes a review of related literature, analysis, examples, and personal anecdotes of overseas experiences. Eberhardinger concludes the book by offering implications and opportunities for interpreting gifts, thereby addressing why the question concerning the relationship between gifts and rhetoric matters for the larger landscape of international relations, intercultural friendship, and peace-making. Registrants will receive a discount code for purchasing her book.

Partially supported by funding from the Japan Local Government Center CLAIR and the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership.


Jul 12

USJETAA The Same Moon: Reading and Q&A with Author Sarah Coomber

JET alumna Sarah Coomber (Yamaguchi, 1994-1996) wrote The Same Moon about her adventures after moving to Japan! Sarah will read a short passage from her book and then we will take questions from the audience. You do not need to have read the book to enjoy this event. We hope you’ll join us. Two copies of Sarah’s book will be given away via random draw to those attending live.

Date: July 22, 2021

Time: 8 PM ET / 5 PM PT

Join: REGISTER

About The Same Moon

Recently wed—and quickly divorced—twenty-four-year-old Sarah Coomber escapes the disappointments of her Minnesota life for a job teaching English in Japan. Her plan is to use the year to reflect, heal and figure out what to do with her wrecked life while enjoying the culture of the country where she had previously spent a life-changing summer that included a romance with a young baseball player.

About the Author

Ever since she turned seventeen, Sarah Coomber has held two homes in her heart: Minnesota, where she grew up, and Yamaguchi, where she spent a summer with the Maeda family, who welcomed her like a third daughter and introduced her to what became an on-again, off-again Japanese life.

That life has included teaching English in Yamaguchi on the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (1994-96); teaching Japanese language and dance to children at an immersion camp in Minnesota; and studying the koto—Japanese zither—in Yamaguchi and Portland, Oregon, where she achieved her level four Seiha School certification.

Sarah has worked as a public relations professional, reporter, science writer and college English teacher, and her stories and essays on Japan have appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, the Japan Times, the Star Tribune, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Memoir Journal, the Font: A Literary Journal for Language Teachers and elsewhere.

She now works as a communications/writing consultant and coach, and teaches Holy Yoga, exploring the nexus of yoga and the Christian faith. She lives … and tries to remember to breathe deeply … with her family in Minnesota. More about here at https://sarahcoomber.com/.


Apr 27

JFNY Literary Series Episode #3

JFNY Literary Series invites notable writers in Japanese literature and their translators to discuss their work, speak on the art of translation, and touch upon the current literary scene in Japan. 

This session features Kanako Nishi and her translator Allison Markin Powell, moderated by writer Kyoko NakajimaGinny Tapley Takemori from the collective Strong Women, Soft Power and interpreter Bethan Jones also joins the session. Nishi is an award-winning writer who has published more than two dozen books in Japan. Several of her writings are available in English online, all of which were translated by Powell: 

Merry Christmas

In the Age of Endless Scrolling, Jun’ichiro Tanizaki Helps Us Stand Still

On Beauty, Sexual Violence, and Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye

VIO 

The event is now available to watch on our YouTube channel! Watch the event here: 


Apr 1

Krewe of Japan Podcast E09 – The Life & Legacy of Lafcadio Hearn ft. Bon & Shoko Koizumi

Posted by: Doug Tassin (Fukushima-Ken ALT, 2007-2010 & Krewe of Japan Podcast Co-Host)

This week on the Krewe of Japan Podcast

Nigel, Doug & special JSNO guest host (and professor of English at Tulane University) Matthew Smith explore the life & legacy of esteemed journalist/author/folklorist Lafcadio Hearn, also known as Koizumi Yakumo. Hearn’s interest in the occult took him all over the world, including the cities of New Orleans & Matsue. In fact, his books on Japanese culture, folklore & ghost stories played a pivotal role in introducing Japan to the Western world during the late 19th century. Joined by Hearn’s great-grandson Bon Koizumi & his wife Shoko, the Krewe takes an in-depth look into all things Lafcadio Hearn and his impact on the world then and now.

The Krewe of Japan Podcast is a weekly episodic podcast sponsored by the Japan Society of New Orleans. Check them out every Friday afternoon around noon CST on Apple, Google, Spotify, Amazon, and Stitcher.  Want to share your experiences with the Krewe? Or perhaps you have ideas for episodes, feedback, comments, or questions? Let the Krewe know by e-mail at kreweofjapanpodcast@gmail.com or on social media (Twitter: @kreweofjapan, Instagram: @kreweofjapanpodcast, & the Krewe of Japan Youtube Channel). Until next time, enjoy!


Mar 7

Posted by Tom Baker (Chiba 1989-91)

The 15th annual Japan Writers Conference will be held in October this year. The organizers are now looking for writers, editors and publishers to give presentations on the art, craft and business of writing. If you are a writer, now is a good time to think about taking part.

The conference is a free event, held in English. It covers publishable writing of all types: poetry, fiction, journalism, memoir, translation and more.

Past presenters have included best-selling thriller author Barry Eisler, Edgar-winning mystery novelist Naomi Hirahara and “Slumdog Millionaire” creator Vikas Swarup. There have also been presentations by many JET writers over the years, including poets Warren Decker and Michael Frazier, novelists Percival Constantine and Benjamin Martin, journalists Elaine Lies and Tom Baker, textbook author Todd Jay Leonard, and writing renaissance woman Suzanne Kamata. This year’s event will be cohosted by JET alum and novelist Charles Kowalski, together with nonfiction writer Joan Bailey.

Here are the official details:

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The 2021 Japan Writers Conference will be at Tokai University, Shonan Campus in Hiratsuka, Kanagawa, on Saturday, October 16th and Sunday, October 17th, 2020. Hiratsuka is on Sagami Bay, not far from Odawara. As in the past, the conference will be free and open to all who wish to attend. Please mark your calendars and plan to join in. As the COVID-19 pandemic is still with us, there is a possibility we’ll have to move online again this year, or it may be a hybrid, with some sessions held live, some online.

All published writers, translators, editors, agents and publishers are welcome to submit presentation proposals for the 2021 Japan Writers Conference. The deadline for your proposal is Tuesday, June 1, 2021.

Please send your proposals via this page on the JWC website: http://japanwritersconference.org/submit-proposal/

We especially encourage proposals from new submitters. One of our strengths has been variety, and the best way to foster variety is to have new presenters each year.

When planning your JWC proposal, keep your audience in mind. Your listeners will be writers and others (translators, editors, publishers, and agents) concerned with creating publishable writing. While teaching, literary studies and private self-expression are all worthy activities, they are not the focus of this conference.

Standard conference sessions are fifty minutes long, but if you have something longer in mind, please let us know and we will accommodate if possible.

To submit a proposal for a conference presentation, send the following information, using the form here to submit: http://japanwritersconference.org/submit-proposal/

1. Your name (or names)
2. Title of presentation (20 words or less)
3. Type of presentation (short lecture with Q&A, craft workshop, panel discussion, reading with Q&A, etc.)
4. Genre (Fiction, Poetry, Nonfiction, Translation, Instructional, Career)
5. Short summary (50 words or less)
6. Abstract (150 words or less)
7. Personal and professional biography (50 words or less. Mention your publications, as this will be part of the Conference program)
8. Your publications (Need not be complete, but give names of journals and genre for short pieces; title, publisher and date for books; venues and dates for plays, and so on)
9. Are you available on both days?
10. Any special needs?
11. Contact information (email address, telephone number) These remain confidential. Please include everyone who will be part of the presentation.

If you are unable to use the website form, or
have questions concerning your idea or the conference in general, you may use this email address: japanwritersconference@gmail.com

Novelist and JET alum Charles Kowalski will be one of the hosts of the 2021 Japan Writers Conference.


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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Nov 30

JQ Magazine: Book Review — ‘The View from Breast Pocket Mountain’


“Finding one’s home is often an experience. If told correctly, its story can be thrilling. The View from Breast Pocket Mountain will captivate those eager to learn more about gaikokujin who have made a home in Japan.” (Senyume Press)

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

There are gaikokujin whose journey to Japan is quite an adventure. One of them is Karen Hill Anton. She takes readers on a tour of her unconventional life in The View from Breast Pocket Mountain: A Memoir (the mountain is the translated name of the area home of her and her husband’s farmhouse). This is a life that sees her become a columnist for two Japanese newspapers as part of a 45-year (and counting) history with her adoptive country.

Anton’s story starts in New York City, where she grew up in a tenement apartment. The author spends most of the early chapters telling stories of life in the city. Her father often struggled to find work (but did so occasionally as a presser) while her mother was institutionalized. View really takes off when Anton details the period when she traveled outside the United States for the first time. Her adventures took her around Europe (often getting around the Old Continent by sticking her thumb out), where she hung out with a cast of colorful characters, including Swedish painter and textile artist Moki Karlsson, the mother of Swedish music star Neneh Cherry.

The European portion of the book includes more than anecdotes involving interesting figures she met. Anton adroitly captures the vibe of not just a bygone era, but apparently a different planet from the United States—writing that it’s “common sense” in Denmark (where she gave birth to her first child) to put babies outside. You get the sense that she’s completely in tune with her surroundings there as she includes other fascinating tidbits about the Scandinavian country. Through her writing, she comes across as someone who can feel at home almost anywhere.

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Nov 17

JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York — Home (Media) for the Holidays

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 fall turns to winter, some spiffed up favorites, holiday hits and new discoveries are coming your way to close out the year.

This season’s highlights include:

VIZ Media

Available Nov. 17

Mermaid Saga Collector’s Edition, Vol. 1

392 pp, $24.99

From Will Eisner Comic Awards Hall of Fame inductee Rumiko Takahashi, the legendary creator of Ranma 1/2 and Inuyasha! Yuta became immortal when he unwittingly ate mermaid flesh, and now he seeks a way to become human again. Hundreds of years later, he encounters a volatile and determined young lady named Mana while searching for a mermaid. Could this mysterious woman hold the key to saving Yuta’s humanity?

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Oct 27

JQ Magazine: Book Review — ‘The Japanese Sake Bible’

“While reading The Japanese Sake Bible, you’ll probably feel overwhelmed. But you’ll leave amazed at the journey of ‘Japan’s gift to the world of drinks.'” (Tuttle Publishing)

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.

Maybe it’s a bit too strong for your liking. Or maybe it contributed to an unpleasant hangover. But it’s quite possible it was a part of your JET experience.

I’m talking about sake. Anyone curious about what they might have been sipping at an enkai would do well to pick up The Japanese Sake Bible. Compiled by Kotaku Senior Contributing Editor Brian Ashcraft, this comprehensive work examines the world of sake—most notably its origins, its rise to becoming “Japan’s National bBeverage” (coincidentally the title of the first chapter), and tips on how to make the drink yourself. 

True to its name, Ashcraft creates a book heavy on history. It’s clear upon looking at the first page of the aforementioned first chapter that this Bible will be more or less Sake 101 (oddly enough, the origins of sake were addressed not at the beginning of the book, but in chapter five). Although the author presents a lot of facts that will probably go over readers’ heads, he excels at thoroughly explaining in detail topics like the definition of sake, which is legally defined as being filtered from fermented rice, koji and water, and the differences between sake, wine and beer.

Although the book is in large part an introduction to the drink, it also serves as a guide for aspiring, if not full-fledged, sake connoisseurs. Ashcraft (also the author of Japanese Whisky) presents to readers more categories of sake than one might have thought actually existed: there’s well-polished sake, sparkling sake, and raw and unprocessed sake. Also, niche sake that might not be easy to find. 

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Oct 12

JQ Magazine: Book Review — ‘Pure Invention’

How did Japanese pop culture become such a dominant force across the globe? Matt Alt answers that question and more in Pure Invention: How Japan’s Pop Culture Conquered the World. (Crown)

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.

Nintendo, karaoke, Miyazaki, manga, Pokémon. Those names resonate with so many people all over the world as Japanese pop culture, which has become a significant tool in promoting the country. After all, many people feel like they know Japan through what they’ve seen on TV, in the movies, etc. They can also enrich and add joy to our lives.

But how did Japanese pop culture become such a dominant force across the globe? Tokyo-based writer, translator and reporter Matt Alt answers that question and more in Pure Invention: How Japan’s Pop Culture Conquered the World by illuminating brands and names that have seemingly made Japan an epicenter of coolness.

Of course, seemingly everything in Japan has a long history, so why would various forms of pop culture be any different? Unsurprisingly, chapter one of Pure Invention is devoted to the very first manufactured item to emerge from the ashes of World War II, which was a toy jeep. It’s fascinating to read about the backstory of the toy’s creator (Matsuzo Kosuge) and creation, as “jeep” was one of the first English words that Japanese kids mastered in the postwar years. Despite this influence, it is the story of a product that, in Alt’s words, was largely forgotten. 

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Oct 12

JQ Magazine: Book Review — ‘Healing Labor’

Healing Labor reveals that there’s more than meets the eye for those who have spent a night out in a seedy Japanese neighborhood.” (Stanford University Press)

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.

Modern Japan is a huge market for sex.

That statement probably isn’t surprising to those who have spent a night out in certain parts of Tokyo. But this is a reality for people who devote a lot of time to sex work.

Gabriele Koch tackles that statement and more in her examination of Japanese sex workers in Healing Labor: Japanese Sex Work in the Gendered Economy. Koch, an assistant professor of anthropology at Yale-NUS College, conducted 21 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Tokyo from 2008 to 2013 (she also gathered information from additional trips to the metropolis in 2016 and 2017). During her fieldwork, the author explored sites connected to the sex industry as well as diverse groups of people involved in it. Koch would seemingly have had plenty of opportunities to do so: according to research she cited in the book, roughly 22,000 legal sex industry businesses are in operation in Japan.  

The information in Healing Labor (a term used to illustrate the view many sex workers have of the reparative aspects of their care since it’s ostensibly vital to any success in the male-gendered economy) is largely qualitative, so Koch doesn’t heavily rely on statistics. But she does use numbers to illustrate the risks for sex workers at Tokyo deriheru (an escort business in which a sex worker is sent to a hotel, rental room or private residence): mainly, in that instance, the relatively low condom use by male patrons.

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Sep 13

JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York — Fall Reading Roundup

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.

With live events still on hold, the weeks ahead are serving up some solid post-summer reading, ready to be enjoyed at home or on the go.

This month’s highlights include:

VIZ Media

Available Sept. 15

A Rumiko Takahashi Classic Returns

Maison Ikkoku Collector’s Edition, Vol. 1

344 pp, $24.99

For the first time in more than a decade comes a new expanded edition of the fan favorite romantic comedy about finding your path in life from Rumiko Takahashi, the legendary creator of Ranma 1/2 and Inuyasha! Twenty-year-old Yusaku Godai didn’t get accepted into college on the first try, so he’s studying to retake the entrance exams. However, living in a dilapidated building full of eccentric and noisy (to put it mildly) tenants is making it hard for him to achieve his goals. Now that the beautiful Kyoko Otonashi has moved in to become the new resident manager, Godai is driven to distraction!

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