May 11


Last night was Japan Society of New York’s Anual Sake Tasting:  Back to Basics event with a lecture by JET alum John Gauntner (Kanagawa-ken) (aka “The Sake Guy”), now the leading sake educator in the world, followed by a sake tasting (and mingling) with about 20 sake exporters from all over Japan.  I attended with professional Writer/Interpreter/Translator Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken CIR, 2000-03) (who writes the WIT Life posts on JETwit) and we had a terrific time, learning the basics of sake, running into Tomoko Okuno of Japan Society as well as Alma Jennings (Fukushima-ken, 2008-10) who was volunteering at the event, and of course finally getting to meet John in person.

John will be lecturing at similar events over the next few days in Boston, Toronto and several other cities in North America.  So keep your eyes out and, if you attend, make sure to say hi and let him know you’re a JET alum as well.

Thanks to Japan Society for putting on a great event!


Stacy Smith (CIR Kumamoto, 2000-03) and John Gauntner (Kanagawa)



Sake tasting: JET alums Stacy Smith, Alma Jennings and Steven Horowitz sample sake with Kensuke Shichida, President of Saga Prefecture-based Tenzan Sake Brewery

May 9

Sake World e-Newsletter by John Gauntner (May 2011)

The May 2011 issue of the Sake World e-newsletter by JET alum and the leading non-Japanese sake expert in the world, John Gauntner (a.k.a. “The Sake Guy”), is now available online.

Note: John will be lecturing tomorrow night at the Japan Society in New York.

In this issue:

May 4

JET alum sake expert John Gauntner to lecture at Japan Society Sake Tasting next Tuesday

JET alum John Gauntner (aka “The Sake Guy”) will be lecturing on “Hot or cold?” at Japan Society of New York’s Annual Sake Tasting next Tuesday, May 10 at 6:30pm.  John is considered the leading non-Japanese expert on sake in the world.

Annual Sake Tasting: Back to Basics! 

Tuesday, May 10, 6:30 PM

Sake-image-for-calendar_430_2.jpg © George Hirose.

Premium sake has certainly established its place in New York and other international metropolitan areas. More and more Americans now understand its flavor, depth and taste. Over the past 13 years, sake expert John Gauntner has educated a great number of New Yorkers on sake, from the importance of water and rice to the bacteria that play a crucial part in sake-making. This year, Gauntner talks about the most basic points of sake: “Hot or cold?”; the different types of sake; and how most to enjoy them.

Followed by a sake tasting.

Co-sponsored by Sake Export Association.

$35/$30 Japan Society members, seniors & students.
Must be 21 years of age.

Buy Tickets Online or call the Japan Society Box Office at (212) 715-1258, Mon. – Fri. 11 am – 6 pm, Weekends 11 am – 5 pm.

Japan Society
333 East 47th Street, New York, NY 10017 (at First Avenue)

Apr 6


Via Roland Kelts (Osaka-shi, 1998-99), author of Japanamerica and the contributing editor for MONKEY BUSINESS:  New Voices from Japan:

A Letter from A Public Space (Brooklyn-based literary publication):

A Public Space Literary Projects announces the debut issue of MONKEY BUSINESS: New Voices from Japan, with April/May launch events in New York City.

New York City, New York, April 4, 2011—A Public Space (APS) announces publication of the first annual English language edition of Monkey Business: New Voices from Japan (MB), supported by a generous grant from the Nippon Foundation. Three launch programs in New York City in late April and early May will bring together authors, translators and editors from Japan and the US for this first-of-its-kind trans-cultural literary event. Twenty-five percent of all MB sales will go toward the Nippon Foundation/CANPAN Northeastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund.

Monkey Business is a Tokyo-based Japanese literary magazine founded in 2008 by award-winning translator, scholar, editor and author Motoyuki Shibata. One of Japan’s best known and most highly regarded translators of American fiction, Shibata has won numerous accolades, most recently the 2010 Japan Translation Cultural Prize for his translation of Thomas Pynchon’s Mason & Dixon, and has introduced to Japanese readers works by Paul Auster, Steven Millhauser, Rebecca Brown, Stuart Dybek and Steve Erickson, among others.

Shibata, who was interviewed in the first issue of APS, modeled MB in part on the Brooklyn literary journal. Founded in 2006 by editor Brigid Hughes, A Public Space is devoted to cutting-edge literature—not just from American contributors, but by writers and artists spanning the globe. Each issue presents a portfolio that explores an international literary scene. The debut issue of APS featured a portfolio from Japan, curated and edited by author Roland Kelts (Japanamerica) and MB founder Shibata, and featuring contributions from Haruki Murakami, Yoko Ogawa, Kazushige Abe and others. Issue 1 was praised by readers in the US and Japan and has long been sold out.”
Read More

Apr 4


Attention JETAA UK! Join Roland Kelts (Osaka-shi, 1998-99), author of Japanamerica, at The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation in London on Thursday, April 14 for a talk on “Pop culture from a Multipolar Japan.”  Talk is 4-5 pm followed by drinks reception to 6pm.

Note:  If you plan on attending, please register for the event at


Mar 31

Anthony Bianchi back in Brooklyn for “Xaverian High School Japan Benefit Concert” tonight

Just heard from JET alum, Brooklyn native and current Inuyama City Councilman Anthony Bianchi (Aichi-ken, Inuyama-shi) that he’s back in New York for a very short stay in order to attend his alma mater Xaverian High School‘s “Japan Benefit Concert” tonight (Thursday, March 31).

Anthony notes that any JET alums around are welcome to come.  [Ed. Note:  Sorry for the short notice.  I wasn’t able to post this until 4:21 pm and it starts at 7:00 pm.]

Start time:  7:00 pm

Location:  Xaverian High School, 71st St & Shore Road in Brooklyn

Cost:  $10

Mar 22

Sake Dictionary iPhone app unveiled by JET alum John Gauntner (“The Sake Guy”)

Via JET alum John Gauntner (a.k.a. “The Sake Guy”):

Get your copy of The Sake Dictionary iPhone app for $0.99: sakedictionary

In John’s words:

“The Sake Dictionary is a concise little package of all the terms you might ever come across when dealing with sake. Almost 200 of them – including sake grades, rice variety names, seasonal sake terms, special varieties, rare types, post-brewing processing words and the myriad terms used in sake production – many of which are not even familiar to the average Japanese person on the street – are listed up here with concise, useful and clear definitions and the written Japanese version as well. And now, with the new audio component, you can listen and learn just how to pronounce those terms properly. Start to toss around Japanese sake terms like you were raised knowing them! Gain a level of familiarity hitherto unimaginable! Avoid frustrating paralysis when faced with a sake-related purchase!”

Mar 4

NYT Column: Take Back the Trash by JET alum Bruce Feiler

Take Back the Trash is a thoughtful column on whether to throw out food in your refrigerator by JET alum Bruce Feiler, author of Learning to Bow, Walking the Bible and several other best-sellers including his recent book The Council of Dads:

Feb 7

JET alum and 'Tonoharu' creator Lars Martinson.


JET alum/cartoonist Lars Martinson (Fukuoka-ken 2003-2006), author of the graphic novels Tonoharu: Part Two and Tonoharu:  Part 1, is the focus (along with Adam Pasion, author of the Sundogs anthologies) of a thoughtful Japan Times article by Gianni Simone on comics about Japan “that tell it like it is.”

Here’s the link to the article:

And below are a few excerpts about Martinson from the article:

The comic life of expats in Japan

Americans Lars Martinson and Adam Pasion tell it like it is with cutting-edge manga

By GIANNI SIMONE Special to The Japan Times

Tales of expat life in Japan all too often get blown out of proportion and quickly become picaresque adventures that little resemble real life.


Luckily for us, many comic artists who have lived here seem to be more level-headed and have tackled the subject with a more realistic, no-nonsense approach.


As the title suggests, “Tonoharu: Part Two” is not Martinson’s first foray in the field of expat comics: He self-published the first volume of this four-part saga in 2008 thanks to a grant from the prestigious Xeric Foundation.

Martinson, 33, first arrived in Japan in 2003 to work as an assistant language teacher, and spent the next three years working at a junior high school in a small town in Fukuoka Prefecture. His second stint in this country was in 2008 when he studied East Asian calligraphy under the auspices of a two-year research scholarship from the Japanese government.

Travel had played a pivotal role in his life (he had lived in Thailand and Norway as well), so when he came up with the idea of producing a graphic novel, he decided to make foreign travel a central theme.

“I planned from the start to turn my Japanese experience into a comic,” Martinson says, “even though I didn’t want it to be a mere autobiographical story. So I chose a 20-something American like me as the protagonist, but added a fictional group of eccentric expatriates living in the same rural Japanese town.”

At times living in the middle of nowhere was a challenge. Still, Martinson has no regrets about those three years spent in Kyushu.

“I’m actually a city slicker,” confesses Martinson, “and would love to live in a huge city in Japan at some point. Also, I’m sure that expat communities are awesome, but they can also separate you from the native population. When you live out in the country, you don’t have the option to just hang out with other Westerners, and this can force you to get involved in the host culture in ways you probably wouldn’t otherwise.”

Click here to read the full article:

Click here to read more JetWit posts about Lars Martinson:

Click here for Lars Martinson’s official blog/website:

Feb 3

NYTimes column: “Dominating the Man Cave” by JET alum Bruce Feiler

A thoughtful column in today’s New York Times on the topic of ESPN and man culture by JET alum Bruce Feiler, author of Learning to Bow, Walking the Bible and several other best-sellers including his recent book The Council of Dads:

Jan 28

JET alum Bruce Feiler’s TED talk on The Council of Dads (video)

JET alum Bruce Feiler, author of Learning to Bow, Walking the Bible and several other best-sellers including his recent book The Council of Dads, recently spoke in connection with the TED lecture series:

Jan 12

JET Alum Anthony Bianchi to run for Lower House seat in upcoming Japan elections

Here’s the link to the article (which is in Japanese):

Below is text from the article:

衆院愛知6区補選 民主、犬山市議のアンソニー氏擁立へ

民主党の石田芳弘衆院議員(65)の名古屋市長選立候補に伴い、4月に予定される衆院愛知6区補選に、同党が愛知県犬山市議のビアンキ・アンソニー 氏(52)を擁立する方向となった。同党愛知6区総支部が11日午前に開いた選挙対策会議で、候補として県連に提案することを決めた。




Jan 7

Sake World e-newsletter by John Gauntner (January 2011)

The January 2011 issue of the Sake World e-newsletter by JET alum and the leading non-Japanese sake expert in the world, John Gauntner (a.k.a. “The Sake Guy”), is now available online. In this issue:

1. Greetings
2. The Suffix “-shu”
3. Announcements and Events: Sake professional course in Japan
4. Sake Education Central

Additional links:

Dec 13

Justin’s Japan: Michael Jackson Covers J-pop Classic on New Album

'Michael' hits stores Dec. 14. (Sony Music)

By JQ magazine’s Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02) for Visit his NY Japanese Culture page here to subscribe for free alerts on newly published stories. 

J-pop and MJ fans have reason to rejoice this week.

According to Billboard, Yellow Magic Orchestra’s 1979 electropop smash “Behind the Mask” will appear on Michael, the first posthumous album from the late recording megastar Michael Jackson.

Penned by YMO’s Oscar-winning composer Ryuichi Sakamoto with Chris Mosdell, “Behind the Mask” was first brought to Jackson’s attention by legendary producer Quincy Jones during the Thriller sessions in the early ’80s. The King of Pop cut the Japanese group’s song, adding an extra melody line and additional lyrics. Legal battles barred it from making the album, and the tune languished in the vaults until now.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Dec 6

Sake World e-Newsletter by John Gauntner (December 2010)

The December 2010 issue of the Sake World E-mail Newsletter by JET alum and the leading non-Japanese sake expert in the world, John Gauntner (aka “The Sake Guy”), is now available online. In this issue:

1. Greetings
2. Rice to Sake:  How Much?
3. Did You Know?
5.  Sake Basics
6. Announcements and Events: Sake Professional Course in Japan
7. Sake Education Central

Additional Links:

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