Jul 2

JETAA Ottawa charity concert aids Smile Kids Japan and the Tohoku Kids Project efforts

*********** Via JETAA Ottawa

By Ala Ji (Kyoto-fu, 2001-02) for the JETAA Ottawa Newsletter.

On May 24, JETAA Ottawa hosted a charity concert featuring two local bands to help raise money for children affected by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.

While Japan recovers gradually a year after the catastrophe, many children are still struggling with the aftermath and trying to regain a sense of stability in their lives. To help them move past the tragedy and build a brighter future, JETAA Ottawa continues to put in its best effort. With a team of dedicated JET alumni and their supporting family and friends, the charity concert helped raise money for Smile Kids Japan and the Tohoku Kids Project.

The concert was held in the picturesque town of Wakefield, surrounded by Gatineau hills and lakes just 30 minutes outside of Ottawa. The Black Sheep Inn, a well-known local hub with open arms to all musicians and music lovers, generously donated this venue free for the concert. When dusk broke, a yellow school bus full of enthusiastic concert-goers pulled up to this live-music joint of an otherwise tranquil town. These guests consisted of JET alumni, friends and family, Embassy of Japan staff, and followers of the talented musicians who volunteered to provide music for the night.

Read More

Jun 17

Darryl Wharton-Rigby (Fukushima-ken, Kawamata-cho, 2005-07) has set up a Kickstarter fund to support his documentary project about Fukushima, “Don Doko Don: The Yamakiya Taiko Drum Club Project.”  Darryl was also organized a project earlier this year, together with former JETAA DC President Michelle Spezzacatena (Fukushima-ken, Kawamata-cho, 2002-05) that brought the Kawamata taiko group to D.C. for the Cherry Blossom Festival.

Here’s a little info about the project from the Kickstarter page:

Don Doko Don: The Yamakiya Taiko Club Story follows an award winning Japanese Taiko Drum Troop – comprised entirely of kids, teens and 20-year-olds – living in Yamakiya, a small town near the failed Fukushima nuclear power plant.  The group is forced to flee their homes and beloved mountain community after the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster wreaked devastation on them.


Living as refugees and scattered around the countryside outside and within the radiation zone, the brave Taiko troop struggles to stay together and practice; trying to keep alive the spirit of their community – and the hope of returning home one day. And then, after facing daily adversity and at their lowest point, they get invited to Washington D.C. to be the honored performer in D.C.’s 100th Cherry Blossom Festival; headlining a climatic performance at the Kennedy Center!



Jun 8

JETAA Northern California Pacific Bridge : Alumni Spotlight on Ryan Kimura

JETAA Northern California’s Pacific Bridge recently interviewed Ryan Kimura (Shizuoka-ken, 2004-06) who currently serves as the Director of Programs and Community Affairs at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California (JCCCNC).

How did you wind up in this position after JET?

After JET, I opened up a small purikura [Japanese photo booth] business, Pika Pika (www.pikapikasf.com), in Japantown’s Japan Center Kinokuniya Building. I owned, operated, and grew this business for five years before hearing about an opening at the JCCCNC for a Programs Director position. When I was a student at UC Berkeley, I interned at the JCCCNC and formed many strong relationships with the staff there, including Executive Director Paul Osaki. Additionally, managing a Japantown business and staffing a number of Japantown non-profits really motivated me into playing a larger role in the community. I decided to call Paul up, interviewed, and have been serving at the JCCCNC since May of 2011.

Seeing as we have recently passed the first anniversary of the 3/11 earthquake. I know the JCCCNC has been doing so much to support Tohoku and bring awareness to the community. Can you talk about that?
Immediately after news of the earthquake reached state-side, volunteers from all over the Japanese American community staffed an all-day, all-night telethon on NBC in the Bay Area, where we raised over 400,000 dollars. All of this money was soon after transferred to the JCCCNC-led Northern Japan Earthquake Relief Fund. Additionally, we took our efforts online and put up a Causes.com page for the fund. Our page has since received donations from over 25,000 people.

Speaking on the scale of the Japantown community, the JCCCNC has hosted numerous fundraisers for the cause. The 2011 Cherry Blossom Festival, which occurred about a month after the earthquake, had many of our staff and volunteers selling merchandise to generate money. Donation cans were located at every festival booth, and, throughout the year, many Japantown merchants used those same cans in their stores. The JCCCNC has also received money from smaller community charity events, including a lemonade stand run by kids, taiko concerts, and cultural performances.

On the February leading up to the first year anniversary, the JCCCNC flew in six Tohoku students who were studying to enter the hospitality industry at the Sendai YMCA. These students’ lives were devastated by the earthquake—they lost property, loved ones, and so much more. Some of them had not even gotten over the shock. Through the relief fund, we were able to pay for their tuition, show them around famous San Francisco hotels to enlighten them about hospitality in the West, and saturate them with American culture through homestays and preschool volunteer programs. We wanted to show donors how their money was being used, and because of the community’s generous spirit, these six students have the chance to realize their futures—to arise from tragedy and push forward.

Read More

May 13

CLAIR NY report on JET alumni support for Japan post-3/11

CLAIR NY has published and posted to its website a report that attempts to capture some of the efforts of the JET alumni community to support Japan post-3/11.  It is worth noting that it’s difficult to capture all of the wide-ranging efforts of the JET alumni community (over 55,000 and growing every year), and there are likely many efforts that have simply not been reported or captured in other ways.  That said, this report still provides a really great overview and some good details.

English version:  http://www.jlgc.org/TopicList.aspx?topicCategoryID=6&topicID=49&languageTypeID=1&controlType=Display

Japanese version:  http://www.jlgc.org/TopicList.aspx?topicCategoryID=24&topicID=263&languageTypeID=2&controlType=Display

May 9


Via jetaaottawa.ca

JETAA Ottawa will be hosting a charity concert at the Black Sheep Inn on May 24th, 2012 to help raise money for Smile Kids Japan, and the Tohoku Kids Project.

JET Alumnus Jordan Patrick (Aichi-ken, 2009-11) will open the show with his mix of indie and modern folk music. Headlining the event will be the Hornettes who will keep the energy peaked and revive classic Motown, soul and funk sounds that will leave you sweaty and satisfied. The Hornettes formed in Ottawa in 2010, and since then have developed a loyal following of music lovers drawn to their ability to keep the dance floor moving. The band consists of two female front women, Anna and Irina, backed by a hot horn section and the classic trio of guitar, drums and bass.

A shuttle bus will be provided from the corner of York Street and Dalhousie Street at 6:30 p.m. to the Black Sheep Inn, and will return once the concert ends.

Tickets for the show and space on shuttle service are limited!
RSVP: events[at]jetaaottawa[dot]ca

Event: Smile Kids Japan Charity Concert
Date: Thursday, May 24th, 2012
Time: starting at 7:30pm (doors open at 7:00pm)
Location: Black Sheep Inn, 753 Riverside Drive, Wakefield, Quebec
Admission: $15.00 minimum donation (cash or pre-paid donations through JETAA Ottawa or Global Giving only) *bring a printed receipt of all pre-paid donations

Shuttle: $5.00 (cash/pre-purchased tickets only) – leaving at 6:30pm from the corner of York/Dalhousie St.

Hope to see you there!

Apr 26

JETAA Minnesota member Ann Hershberger (Iwate-ken) recently returned to Iwate where she had previously worked as a JET.  Following her trip, she created a video to support earthquake/tsunami relief efforts titled Help Japan:  Donate Now.

To donate, go to http://donate-japan.com.


Apr 10

JETAA Southern California fundraiser aids Smile Kids Japan efforts to support children orphaned by 3/11 disaster

Via JETAA Southern California:

THANKS to everyone who came to the JETAASC fundraiser to benefit orphans of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami!!  Your efforts helped to raise over $800 for Smile Kids Japanthe organization founded by JET alum Mike Maher-King (Fukui-ken, 2006-11).  The support is heartfelt and the cause is completely a result of JET Program Participants’ efforts.  If you wanted to come but could not make it, you can read more about Smile Kids Japan and how to donate here.


Mar 29

Perspectives: “A Glass Half Full: Japan’s Disaster Response at One Year” by James Gannon

The below article by Jim Gannon (Ehime-ken, 1992-94), Executive Director of the Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE/USA), appeared originally on Smart Assets:  The New York Philanthropy Blog

“A Glass Half Full:  Japan’s Disaster Response at One Year”


Here’s an excerpt:

One constant refrain in the disaster zone is the need for more effective mental health interventions. Women who lost family members, men who are ashamed that they can no longer support their families, and children traumatized by the disaster are all grappling with psychological trauma. In response, numerous Japanese nonprofits have established salons and other kokoro no kea (literally, “caring for the heart”) programs to give survivors opportunities to socialize, but these tend be rudimentary in nature, with little input from experienced mental health professionals, and they often fail to engage people at risk who are unlikely to seek out support on their own. Overseas funders can make a difference by encouraging and supporting more specialized and nuanced approaches.

Greater support is also needed for economic revitalization. A number of innovative programs have been launched to jumpstart local economies. In Kamaishi, for instance, the Fuji Social Welfare Council has started renting food trucks to unemployed chefs who lost their restaurants so they can get back on their feet. The trucks also help stimulate economic activity by gathering where new shops are opening in order to attract local residents. Meanwhile, numerous groups are pioneering new methods for small donor support of fisheries and oyster farmers in return for promised portions of future harvests. However, these efforts are only a drop in the bucket, and much greater investment is required.

A third area where funding from the United States and elsewhere can have a particularly significant impact is non-governmental organization (NGO) capacity building. Hundreds of small nonprofits have been established in the wake of the disaster, and while many will eventually fail, others have the potential to prosper and produce the next generation of Japan’s nonprofit leaders. However, the nonprofit sector can only live up to its potential if it becomes more professionalized and if the infrastructure that supports it is strengthened.

Mar 22

JET alum keynotes Japan ICU Foundation Sake Tasting and Japan Relief Fundraiser in New York


By JET alum Mark Flanigan

JET alum Mark Flanigan (center) with colleagues from the Japan ICU Foundation at the March 5 Fundraising event (Photo: Lawrence Tsuyuki)

The Japan ICU Foundation (JICUF) hosted a special Sake Tasting & Fundraiser at the Penn Club in New York City on Monday, March 5 to help raise funds for International Christian University’s (ICU) ongoing relief and rebuilding efforts after the devastating Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011.

Over 100 esteemed guests from the US, Japan and many other countries came for the evening in support of this charitable event, which was organized by JICUF Program Director Tara DeWorsop. JET Alumnus Mark Flanigan, a current ICU Rotary International Peace Fellow, gave a short keynote presentation describing the variety of ways in which ICU has been supporting the recovery efforts. These include a new joint-psychological relief program in Sendai, continuing student volunteer efforts and the Earthquake Tuition Waiver Fund. Read More

Mar 12


“LIVE YOUR DREAM:  The Taylor Anderson Story”is a film project by documentarian Regge Life who is currently seeking support via Kickstarter to help fund the full production of the film.


This film is a story about Taylor Anderson and all the young people who travel the world trying to make a difference. Taylor was an extraordinary American who dedicated herself to teaching Japanese children, living her dream right up to the events of March 11, 2011. The earthquake and tsunami in Japan was a disaster that no one could have expected.  In my 21 years of working on Japan based projects, I had witnessed earthquakes, but never the devastation of a tsunami.

I had just completed REASON TO HOPE, a film about the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, so I understood all of the events related to the aftermath of an earthquake, but what would be the aftermath when an earthquake was followed by a tsunami and in the case of Japan, a possible nuclear disaster.

CLICK HERE to read more on the Kickstarter site and to help support this project

Mar 10


The below interview appeared in PhilanTopic, the Philanthropy News & Digest blog which is part of The Foundation Center. It’s a really terrific explanation of the situation in Japan from a philanthropy/fundraising/non-profit perspective by Jim Gannon (Ehime-ken, 1992-94), Executive Director of the Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE/USA), who has become one of the experts in this field. 

March 09, 2012

James Gannon (Ehime-ken, 1992-94)

One Year Later: Rebuilding After the Great Tōhoku Earthquake

James Gannon is executive director of the Japan Center for International Exchange/USA, which works to strengthen U.S.-Japan cooperation across a range of fields. Recently, Laura Cronin, a regular contributor to PhilanTopic, spoke with Gannon about the progress of rebuilding efforts in the quake- and tsunami-affected Tohoku region of the country.

Philanthropy News Digest: The earthquake and tsunami affected a four hundred-mile region along the northeastern coast of Japan — an area roughly comparable to the BosWash corridor in the United States. What are conditions in the region like now, a year later? And how have people in the affected region, and the country at large, been changed as a result of the disaster?

James Gannon: Even now, some communities are still disposing of rubble, while things appear almost normal in other, less-hard-hit areas. Compared to the scenes of utter devastation we saw a year ago, there has been extraordinary progress. But if you spend any time in these communities, you realize the depth of the wounds. More than three hundred thousand people are still without homes, and that is weakening traditional community ties. Many of the jobs in the fishing industry, agriculture, and small business have not returned, resulting in high unemployment and all the social problems it brings.

Meanwhile, women who lost family members, men who are ashamed that they can no longer support their families, and children traumatized by the disaster are grappling with mental health issues. The stoicism of the people in the Tōhoku region is stunning — even by Japanese standards — but most acknowledge that the road to recovery will be long.

On the other hand,

CLICK HERE to read the full interview on the PhilanTopic blog.

Mar 9

Japan Society Allocates Over Half of Earthquake Relief Fund with 4th Round of Grants

Via Shannon Jowett, Director of Communications for Japan Society of New York:

For Immediate Release

Japan Society Allocates Over Half of Earthquake Relief Fund with 4th Round of Grants

Projects Support Orphan Care, Evacuee Services, Community Building, Child Welfare and More

New York, NY – Japan Society announced today an additional eight grants totaling $1.6 million from its Japan Earthquake Relief Fund(JERF). This latest announcement brings total allocations from the $12.5 million fund to $7.2 million distributed to 19 organizations representing 25 projects that directly serve people affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011.

“As we approach the one-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan, we are pleased with the swift allocations and immediate use of the funds for people in need,” said Motoatsu Sakurai, President of Japan Society. “Over half of the money we’ve received has now been allocated. Moving forward, we will continue to look for opportunities to fund effective projects, including those that serve rebuilding and economic recovery in the region.”

The latest round of allocations supports six new grantees and two previous grantees. Projects range from orphan care, evacuee services and healthcare for people still living in temporary housing, to education workshops throughout Tohoku, promoting creative arts from the region, building a community center, and summer camps for children in Fukushima, which continues to cope with its nuclear crisis.

The organizations receiving grants are:

Read More

Mar 8

ESL To Go: Nashville’s First ESL Mobile Classroom

By Filmore Ha (Ibaraki-ken, 2006-08).  Filmore continues to live and work in the Greater Tokyo Area as an FAE and is also webmaster for JETAA Tokyo.  He is actively seeking new opportunities in the U.S. or Canada.

Thanks to Terry Vo, JET Program and MEXT Coordinator in Nashville, for sharing this awesome initiative by JET alum Leah Hashinger at the Tennessee Foreign Language Institute.

ESL To Go is Nashville’s first ESL mobile classroom. ESL To Go is a community-driven project designed to take English classes to refugees in the communities where they live. They are currently trying to raise $25,000 in order to purchase the ESL To Go truck which will enable them to provide mobile English lessons to refugees that are unable to attend ESL class due to lack of suitable transportation.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Z10iO15iY8&w=420&h=315]

Sounds like a fantastic idea to me! You can learn more about the project and make a contribution to this fantastic idea from their project page over at CrowdRise.

Mar 7

JCIE Special Report: US Giving in Response to Japan’s March 11 Disaster Tops $630 Million

Thanks to  Jim Gannon (Ehime-ken, 1992-94), Executive Director of the Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE/USA), for sharing his organization’s special report, which notes the grassroot efforts of JETAA USA among others.

JCIE Special Report:  US Giving in Response to Japan’s March 11 Disaster Tops $630 Million”

“A JCIE survey of hundreds of American and Japanese organizations estimates that Americans have donated $630.2 million to aid victims of Japan’s massive March 2011 earthquake. This ranks as the largest US philanthropic outpouring ever for a disaster in another developed nation and the third most generous American charitable response in history for any overseas disaster.”

Click here to read the full the report:  http://www.jcie.org/311recovery/usgiving.html

Download Report (PDF)

Feb 21

volunteerAKITA Scholarship Fund Update 02.21.12

JET Paul Yoo, founder of volunteerAKITA, recently shared this update about fundraising for the volunteerAKITA Scholarship Fund which aims to send a boy from one of the orphanages they work with to university (the first boy from the orphanage to ever express interest in going to college):

“Hey everyone! A BIG THANKS for all the support! With all the donations that came in this week we have ¥695,461 left to raise for our scholarship fund. Please help us continue to spread the word and for more information regarding the scholarship fund please check out our website at www.volunteerakita.org or feel free to contact me anytime! (volunteerakita [at] gmail.com).”


Click here to read the previous JETwit post about Paul Yoo and the volunteerAKITA Scholarship Fund.

Page Rank