Jan 20
Japan PM Kishida gets Biden's "strong" commitment on Senkaku defense

In advance of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s Friday virtual meeting with President Joe Biden, the US-Japan community has issued a letter to the government of Japan urging it to relax its border restrictions in order to allow foreign students and scholars as well as family members abroad to enter Japan.

“Members of the US-Japan Network for the Future initiated this petition to call on the Japanese government to expand the range of foreign visitors allowed to enter Japan subject to vaccine, testing, and quarantine requirements. The petition will be delivered to representatives of the Japanese government in Washington, DC, and in Tokyo. We encourage Japan scholars, experts, and others involved in student exchange, regardless of nationality, to sign the petition.”


Over 100 scholars, educators, policy practitioners, and bridge builders of the US-Japan community have signed the letter, a number of whom are JET alumni:

Paige Cottingham-Streater | JUSFC
  • Paige Cottingham Streater, Executive Director, Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission (Also co-founder and Board Chair of US JETAA, and one of the original founders of the JET Alumni Association back in 1988!)
Jim Gannon (@JimGGannon) / Twitter
  • James Gannon, Senior Fellow, Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE/USA) (Also Vice-Director of US JETAA and a member of the JETAA USA Board of Advisors)
The Asia Group | Michael Green - The Asia Group
  • Michael Green, Director of Asian Studies and Chair in Modern and Contemporary Japanese Politics and Foreign Policy, Georgetown University; Senior Vice President for Asia and Japan Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies (Michael was a Monbusho English Fellow (MEF) which was like the beta version of the JET Program.)
Drake University on Twitter: "Associate Professor of Political Science Mary  McCarthy was in South Korea in June as part of the Bridging the Divide  program. Attendees met with Korean policymakers, politicians, academics,
  • Mary M. McCarthy, Professor of Politics and International Relations, Department of Political Science, Drake University
Anand Rao | SUNY Geneseo
  • Anand Rao, Assistant Professor of Political Science & International Relations, State University of New York at Geneseo
FSI | Shorenstein APARC - Benjamin Self
  • Benjamin Self, Vice President, The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation
  • Note: There may be other JET alumni among the signatories. If you identify one, you can email jetwit@jetwit.com.
Leonard J. Schoppa, Jr. · Conference on Cultural and Educational  Interchange (CULCON)
  • Leonard Schoppa, Professor, Department of Politics, University of Virginia; Senior Advisor, US-Japan Network for the Future
  • Ryan Shaffer, President of Japan-America Society of Washington DC
GAVIN H. WHITELAW | Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies
  • Gavin Whitelaw, Executive Director of the Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, Harvard University
Bahia Simons-Lane - Numata, Gunma (2005-2007)
  • Bahia Simons-Lane, Director, US JETAA and former President of JETAA Florida

Jun 18

Episode 8 of the USLawEssentials Law & Language Podcast an interview with Scott Alprin (Aichi-ken, Kariya-shi, 1992-95) of Alprin Law Office, P.C. Scott is trademark and intellectual property attorney who speaks Japanese and works with many international clients. He discusses his career path and shares insights on law and practicing as an IP attorney.

JET alum Steven Horowitz (Aichi-ken, Kariya-shi, 1992-94), in collaboration with Daniel Edelson of USLawEssentials.com, recently launched “USLawEssentials: Law & Language,” a legal English podcast intended for foreign lawyers, law students, and LLM students as well as other non-native English speakers who want an enjoyable way to improve their legal English. The podcast episodes cover a variety of topics including legal news events and discussions of recent cases as well as interviews with multilingual lawyers. The discussions use accessible language with helpful explanations along the way.

Jun 15

JET alum Steven Horowitz (Aichi-ken, Kariya-shi, 1992-94), in collaboration with Daniel Edelson of USLawEssentials.com, has launched a new legal English podcast titled “USLawEssentials: Law & Language.”

The podcast is intended for foreign lawyers, law students, and LLM students as well as other non-native English speakers who want an enjoyable way to improve their legal English. The podcast episodes cover a variety of topics including legal news events and discussions of recent cases as well as interviews with multilingual lawyers. The discussions use accessible language with helpful explanations along the way.

Notably, the first two multilingual lawyers interviewed are both JET alumni! Brian Hersey (Fukuoka-ken, 1994-96) and Brenda McKinney (Hyogo-ken, 2006-09)

Horowitz, the founder of JETwit.com, is a Professor of Legal English and the Director of Online Legal English Programs at Georgetown Law School. He previously served as Director of Legal English Programs at St. John’s Law School.

Edelson is an Adjunct Professor of Law at St. John’s Law School and a practicing attorney in addition to founding USLawEssentials.com. He has previously taught English in Japan and has taught legal English in Korea.

Horowitz and Edelson encourage readers to share the podcast with students and others they know who are seeking to improve their legal English or simply their English in connection with sophisticated topics.

Feb 19

JET Alum Filmmaker Unveils ‘Nourishing Japan’ Feb. 20 in NYC

Click image to view article

From the February 8 edition of Shukan NY Seikatsu. Join Alexis Thursday, February 20, 7:00 p.m.- 9:00 p.m. at the Museum of Food & Drink (MOFAD), 62 Bayard Street in Brooklyn. General admission $25; purchase tickets here. For more information, visit https://nourishingjapan.com.

Embark on a delicious journey from farmer’s field to school classroom that celebrates how one country has re-imagined school lunch and food education. At the heart of Japan’s 2005 Food Education Law are the incredible people whose daily work nourishes the next generation’s relationship to food, the earth and one another. Join documentary filmmaker Alexis Agliano Sanborn for the public premiere of Nourishing Japan in conversation with Yoriko Okamoto and Susan Miyagi McCormac of JapanCulture•NYC.

Opening remarks will be given by Jennifer L. Pomeranz, Assistant Professor of Public Health Policy and Management at NYU. Reception with light food and beverages to follow. Alexis Agliano Sanborn is an independent researcher, food advocate, nature enthusiast and an award winning artist. With over twenty years’ experience studying Japanese culture, she directed/produced Nourishing Japan, a documentary short which explores food education and the Japanese school lunch system. Alexis also maintains the website Food Education International which monitors developments of food education from around the world.

Alexis previously served as NYC Program Coordinator of the Wa-Shokuiku Project, an after-school culinary exchange program inspired and informed by the educational philosophy, flavors and foods of Japan. She received her Bachelor’s degree in East Asian Studies and Japanese from UC Santa Barbara (2008), a Master’s in Regional Studies of East Asia from Harvard University (2013) and a Masters of Public Administration from New York University Wagner Graduate School of Public Service (2020). She lives in Washington Heights, New York City.

Feb 18

JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York — ‘Ride Your Wave,’ ‘Nourishing Japan,’ ‘Children of the Sea’

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.

Stay warm this winter with some hot local events, from live showcases that will transport you to another time and place, some new anime screenings, and a theatrical performance you won’t want to miss. This month’s highlights include:


Wednesday, Feb. 19, 7:00 p.m.

Ride Your Wave

Various locations and prices

From visionary director Masaaki Yuasa (The Night is Short, Walk on Girl, Devilman Crybaby) comes a deeply emotional new film that applies his trademark visual ingenuity to a tale of romance, grief and self-discovery. Hinako is a surf-loving college student who has just moved to a small seaside town. When a sudden fire breaks out at her apartment building, she is rescued by Minato, a handsome firefighter, and the two soon fall in love. Just as they become inseparable, Minato loses his life in an accident at sea. Hinako is so distraught that she can no longer even look at the ocean, but one day she sings a song that reminds her of their time together, and Minato appears in the water. From then on, she can summon him in any watery surface as soon as she sings their song, but can the two really remain together forever? And what is the real reason for Minato’s sudden reappearance?

Courtesy of Nourishingjapan.com

Thursday, Feb. 20, 7:00 p.m.

Nourishing Japan: Food Education & School Lunch in Japan

MOFAD (Museum of Food and Drink), 62 Bayard Street (Brooklyn)


Embark on a delicious journey from farmer’s field to school classroom that celebrates how one country has re-imagined school lunch and food education. At the heart of Japan’s 2005 Food Education Law are the incredible people whose daily work nourishes the next generation’s relationship to food, the earth, and one another. Join documentary filmmaker (and JET alumna) Alexis Agliano Sanborn (Shimane-ken, 2009-11) for the public premiere of this film. After the screening, Alexis will be joined in conversation with Yoriko Okamoto and Susan McCormac of JapanCultureNYC. Opening remarks will be given by Jennifer L. Pomeranz, Assistant Professor of Public Health Policy and Management at NYU. Reception with sake courtesy of SOTO and bites courtesy of Bessou and Kokoro Care Packages to follow.


Friday, Feb. 21, 6:30 p.m.

Children of the Sea

SVA Theatre, 333 West 23rd Street

New York International Children’s Film Festival

Various locations


East Coast premiere for the New York International Children’s Film Festival! Adapted from the acclaimed manga comes this visually dazzling, mind-bending aquatic mystery. Ruka’s dad is so absorbed in his studies at the aquarium that he hardly notices when she befriends Umi and Sora. Like Ruka, the mysterious duo has the unique ability to hear the call of the sea and its endangered creatures. Together, can they save them?

Read More
Jan 25

Click image to read article

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

Since forming in 1987, the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET) has become one of the world’s largest international exchange programs, with nearly 65,000 people from 65 countries selected to promote English language learning and teaching in Japan. To commemorate its first three decades, the JET Alumni Association of New York (JETAANY) is hosting an equally ambitious event.

“The main purpose of the JETAANY Gala is to celebrate 30 years of the JET Programme and all we hope it will become,” said JETAANY events chair Andy Shartzer. “JET has helped the grassroots community abroad, and our alumni chapters explore how we can continue its message. Our goal is also to establish JETAANY as a greater presence in the U.S.-Japan community.”

The sold-out gala, which will be held at Brooklyn’s Dumbo Loft on February 3rd, will feature multiple generations of JET participants and community members with ties to Japan, along with a taiko performance, an awards ceremony, and a prize drawing. Donations are from local companies and organizations including publisher Vertical, Inc., Kaoru Watanabe Taiko Center, and the venerable Japan Society of New York.

“Since its inception 30 years ago, the JET Programme has been a unique and outstanding facilitator of grassroots exchange between the U.S. and Japan,” said JETAANY president Wendy Ikemoto. “As one of the largest and most active alumni chapters in the U.S., we’re honored by the overwhelming response received.”

According to Shartzer, JETAANY plans to host similar events in the future, and is delighted to form new partnerships. For sponsorship and donation proposals, email Wendy at president@jetaany.org. For more information on JETAANY, visit http://jetaany.org.

Sep 25


Bruce Feiler (Tochigi-ken, 1989-90), author of Learning to Bow  as well as several books on religion including Walking the BibleAbraham and Where God Was Born along with other popular books including The Council of Dads, and, most recently, The Secrets of Happy Family, can now add CNN commentator to his resume. He has been providing religion-related perspectives in live conversations with Anderson CooperWolf Blitzer and others.




















To read prior JETwit posts about Bruce Feiler, please click here

For more regular updates, follow Bruce on Facebook:  www.facebook.com/brucefeilerauthor.

And Twitter:  www.twitter.com/brucefeiler.

Sep 6

Nippon in New York: ‘Attack on Titan,’ Taylor Anderson Memorial, Luckyrice Fest

The live-action film debut of Attack on Titan premieres at Village East Cinema Sept. 30. (Courtesy of FUNimation)

The live-action film debut of Attack on Titan premieres at Village East Cinema Sept. 30. (Courtesy of FUNimation)

By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02) for Examiner.com. Visit his Japanese culture page here for related stories.

As the summer winds fade into fall colors, the weeks ahead are shaping up with these exciting events, ready to be enjoyed after Labor Day.

This month’s highlights include:

Tuesday, Sept. 8, 6:30 p.m.

Japanese Design Today: Unique, Evolving, Borderless

UL105, University Center, The New School, 63 Fifth Ave.

Free (click here to register)

Japanese design has been proven capable of transcending language barriers and fostering communication and understanding between cultures, enthusiastically embracing elements of other cultures while developing and retaining its own unique sense of design aesthetic, which today is recognized and appreciated throughout the world. But as Japanese society has transformed socially, geopolitically, and economically, so has Japanese design transformed to accommodate these changes which has given way to a new era. Hiroshi Kashiwagi, professor at Musashino Art University, and architect/ furniture designer Yoshifumi Nakamura will each discuss the evolution, distinguishing characteristics, and current state of Japanese design today. A Q&A session will follow the presentations.

Friday, Sept. 11, 7:00 p.m.

The Circle Wind Concert

The Concert Hall — New York Society for Ethical Culture, 2 West 64th Street


Celebrating its eighth annual concert, this year Circle Wind will give tribute to Taylor Anderson, an American victim of the the Great East Japan Earthquake/Tsunami on March 11, 2011. Anderson was dispatched to Ishinomaki under The Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program in 2008 and was teaching English to schoolchildren there. The newly formed “Never Give Up Taylor’s Choir” from the Ishinomaki/Higashi-Matsushima area will perform an original piece symbolizing their appreciation for the American people’s support to recover from the devastation in 2011. Maestro Gregory Singer and his Manhattan Symphonie Orchestra also returns to perform some tribute songs for Taylor together with koto soloist Masayo Ishigure and other prominent artists. Hosted by New York’s choral harmony group Tomo.

Saturday, Sept. 12

Double feature: Live Your Dream and Dream Beyond 400 Years

Nippon Club of New York, Rose Room, 145 West 57th Street

$10 per film (at 5:00 p.m. and 6:45 p.m.)

Live Your Dream is a story about the courage and sacrifice of Taylor Anderson and for all the young people who travel the world trying to make a difference. Taylor was an extraordinary American who on the JET Program dedicated herself to teaching Japanese children, living her dream right up to the disaster of March 11, 2011. In the New York premiere of Dream Beyond 400 Years, local choir Tomo took a journey to Coria Del Rio in Spain, representing a journey going beyond 400 years. In this town, they met “Japón-san,” the descendants of Japanese travelers to Spain 400 years ago. The members of Tomo and Japón-san form a lifelong friendship in this touching real-life story. An after-screening reception featuring Circle Wind Concert participants and members of Taylor Anderson’s family will be held at 7:30 p.m. ($40).

For the complete story, click here.

Sep 5

JET alum Richard Fontaine featured in NY Times article on foreign policy of Republican candidates


JET alum Richard Fontaine (1997-98), President at the Center for New American Security, outside advisor to Jeb Bush, and former security advisor to Sen. John McCain

A great article on the foreign policy advisors to several Republican candidates, including JET alum Richard Fontaine–outsider foreign policy advisor to Jeb Bush and former security advisor to Sen. John McCain–who is featured and quoted extensively in the article.

“Between Iraq and a Hawk Base”


Sep 22

Daily Yomiuri: Japanese government announces increase for JET Programme

According to a Daily Yomiuri article, the Japanese government plans to increase JET Programme participants by 2,300 between 2015 and 2019 with an eye towards eventually increasing the program to 20,000.  This seems to be in line with LDP policies announced back in April.

Update 1:32 pm Sep. 22:  Here’s an English version of the article:


ALTs to be placed in all primary schools

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe government has decided to increase the number of Assistant Language Teachers considerably over a five-year period, starting from the next school year, to strengthen English education at primary schools.

Aiming to create a system in which ALTs will be assigned to all public primary schools by the 2019 school year, the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry and the Foreign Ministry plan to increase the number of ALTs by about 2,300 over five years as a national project. Combined with ALTs who are hired independently by municipalities, the ministries intend to expand the total number of ALTs to 20,000, or 1.5 times the current level, by the 2019 school year.

The education ministry has decided to lower the starting age for English education from the current fifth year of primary school to the third year by the 2020 school year, and make it an official subject from the fifth year.

Experts have said it is important to secure a sufficient number of native English speakers, and utilize them to enhance the learning environments for students.

About 800 ALTs first came to Japan in 1987 when the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program was launched as a state international exchange project. As of 2002, the number of ALTs had increased to about 5,600, but it began to decrease after that due to financial problems. The current number is about 4,100.

Besides ALTs on the JET Program, about 8,000 ALTs hired independently by municipalities and other organizations have been dispatched to local primary and middle schools across the nation. In some cases, an ALT teaches at several schools.

According to experts, considerable disparity exists among the nation’s 21,000 public primary schools. While some schools have resident ALTs, some schools are visited by an ALT once about every six months.

The government therefore plans to increase the number of ALTs in the JET Program in stages. From the 2020 school year onward, English lessons will increase from the current once a week to three times a week for fifth-grade and sixth-grade students. Third-grade and fourth-grade students will have English lessons once or twice a week, and the education ministry plans to have ALTs frequently instruct students in English classes.

The budget for English education utilizing ALTs is expected to increase from about ¥30 billion this school year to about ¥50 billion a year eventually. The government also plans to launch a subsidy system for supporting municipalities that independently hire ALTs.


An ALT assists Japanese teachers in teaching foreign languages such as English at primary, middle and high schools. In addition to ALTs who come to Japan on the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program, a state international exchange project, others are directly hired by municipalities or private organizations contracted to dispatch ALTs.

From the 2011 school year, foreign language studies became compulsory for fifth-grade and sixth-grade primary school students. The role of ALTs has expanded to include assisting with pronunciation and listening comprehension.


Here’s the article in Japanese.  Attempted translations or paraphrases are welcome in the comments section:


2014年09月22日 17時27分





2014年09月22日 17時27分

May 13


Very nice article on JET alum and former AJET Chair Matthew Cook (Osaka-fu, 2007-12) that recently appeared in the newspaper of Matt’s hometown, Danville, Virginia and describes his path from the JET Program to becoming a key player in Osaka’s pioneering English education reform efforts.

Danville man appointed to Japanese board of education

Thibodeau reports for the Danville Register & Bee.
May 10, 2014

When Danville native Matthew Cook headed to Osaka, Japan, in 2007 to take a job as an education specialist and trainer in the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program, little did he realize he would end up working for a Japanese government agency to completely reform how English is taught in the city.

CLICK HERE to read the rest of the article:  http://m.godanriver.com/news/danville/danville-man-appointed-to-japanese-board-of-education/article_1b9620f2-d972-11e3-8adc-0017a43b2370.html?mode=jqm#.U3A0DN98uYw.facebook


May 9

Kyodo News “JET Alumni” Series: Eliot Honda (Ehime)

News agency Kyodo News has recently been publishing monthly articles written by JET alumni who were appointed in rural areas of Japan, as part of promotion for the JET Programme. Below is the English version of the column from April 2014. Posted by Celine Castex (Chiba-ken, 2006-11), currently programme coordinator at CLAIR Tokyo.


Eliot Honda (Ehime-ken, Uwajima-shi, 2009-12) was born and raised in Honolulu, HI, and moved to San Francisco where he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Academy of Art University. After graduation he spent nine years in the TV/Multimedia industry mainly working with clients on commercials, corporate videos, and news. He left San Francisco in 2009 for the JET Programme, and stayed in Ehime for the next three years. He used his multimedia skills to work on sister city relationship programs between Honolulu and Uwajima. After the JET Programme, he returned to Hawaii and joined his mother’s business in real estate, and still do multimedia work on the side.

"Without JET I would have never gone to Uwajima and I would have never fallen in love with this city and its people"

“Without JET I would have never gone to Uwajima and I would have never fallen in love with this city and its people”

Uwajima, my second home


It was the little things that made my time in Japan incredible. Waking up to the smell of the ocean, the sound of my shoes squeaking against the tiled floors of Johoku Junior High School, the taste of fresh fried jakoten and my favorite thing, seeing my students smile.

There’s no single moment that can sum up how incredible my time on the JET Programme was, but my wedding party comes pretty close.  Over 200 of our friends and co-workers showed up to celebrate my marriage to a wonderful woman from Uwajima.  It was probably the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.  It wasn’t just because it was my wedding, it was because in the 3 years I had lived in Uwajima, Ehime I had found a home, a community, and a new love. I fell in love with a city that I had never been to, and I had fallen in love with the people of Uwajima.

This is a small city whose money doesn’t come from tourism, and doesn’t have the flash and awe of Tokyo, but it has heart like I’ve never seen in all my life. From mountain to ocean you can find beauty all around you, and the warmest people I have ever met. I had several encounters with elderly men and women who I had asked for assistance and soon found myself engaged in a twenty-minute conversation.  The words “I’m from Hawaii” spawned a whole new conversation.  There were moments in which I had to recall what it was I was looking for simply because we had been talking for so long.

There were moments when I would have to take a breath and ask myself: “Is this really happening?  Am I really here?”  Every day in Uwajima, whether a good day or a bad day, was a gift.  Not only to be in Japan, but just to be a part of the growth of the students, and the community.  There were three Hawaii ALTs in Uwajima and all of us acted as that bridge between Hawaii and Uwajima and were more than happy to share our culture with the students.  I think my favorite time with my students was the free-time between classes and during sports activities.  They would ask me many questions about Hawaii and America, and they’d share their culture with me. It always warmed my heart to see their eyes light up when I’d talk about my hometown. I tried to give these students as much of myself as I could, but they gave me so much more. Read More

Apr 23

Former AJET Chair Matthew Cook (Osaka-fu, 2007-12) has been heavily involved in this cutting edge effort to improve Osaka’s English education system and is quoted in the article.

Osaka embraces English Reformation



While Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto’s controversial political antics have increasingly drawn criticism, little attention has been paid to how his leadership has prompted the most progressive reforms of English-language education in the nation. Hashimoto, who served as Osaka’s governor from 2008-11, made possible the appointment of fellow Waseda Law School graduate Toru Nakahara as superintendent of the Osaka Prefectural Board of Education, charging him with the task of empowering students to compete on a global stage.

Only in Osaka will students in the public school system have the opportunity to start preparing for the TOEFL iBT — an internationally recognized English-language proficiency exam for non-native speakers administered over the Internet that tests reading, writing, speaking and listening skills for entrance to English-speaking university overseas — in grade one of primary school.

With the urging of Mayor Hashimoto, Nakahara — who also graduated from the University of Michigan Law School and was a practicing attorney at a California firm for 10 years — left the private sector and took a substantial pay cut to become the principal of Izumi High School in Osaka in 2010. In 2013, Nakahara became Japan’s youngest-ever superintendent at age 42, overseeing 1,600-plus schools, and he formed what is known as the English Reformation Project Team.

Nakahara’s accomplishments in the United States and at Izumi High School have led him to be recognized as an education innovator.

“One thing I noticed when I was in Ann Arbor (Michigan) Read More

Apr 4

JET alum featured on ABC News for building tsunami-proof ark


Thanks to JETAA DC’s Mac Maloney for alerting JETwit to this:

Fukushima JET alum Chris Robinson, former art director for Facebook who lives in Palo Alto, CA, is featured in this ABC News segment.  It explains how he lived in Fukushima during the tsunami and how a few years later he decided to build an ark in the event of a tsunami.  Notably, he specifically mentions the JET Program in the interview.  Very cool video.  Have a look:



More photos here:  http://architizer.com/blog/tsunami-pod/

Interview with Chris in Wired here:  http://www.wired.com/2014/03/tsunami-lifeboat/

And here’s Chris’ blog, Tsunamiball:  http://tsunamiball.com/

More video, from the Wired interview that explains the details of the ark:

Mar 31

Kyodo News “JET Alumni” Series: Dominic Abordo (Akita)

News agency Kyodo News has recently been publishing monthly articles written by JET alumni who were appointed in rural areas of Japan, as part of promotion for the JET Programme. Below is the English version of the column from February 2014. Posted by Celine Castex (Chiba-ken, 2006-11), currently programme coordinator at CLAIR Tokyo.


Originally from San Francisco, CA, Dominic Abordo (Akita-ken, Kosaka-machi, 2008-11) holds a Bachelors Degree in English Literature with a minor in East Asian Languages from Berkeley University.  He spent three years working as a Coordinator for International Relations (CIR) in rural Akita before enrolling in a Master’s degree in Social Work from Columbia University, NY. He currently works as a Freelance Consultant in Social Work in New York.

A “Big City Boy” in Snow Country


Dominic Abordo

“The one thing that I will continue to share with my friends and family is that the people of the small town of Kosaka-machi have some of the biggest hearts in the world.”

      Akita (əˈkiːtə), noun: 1. one of the northernmost prefectures on the Japanese island of Honshu; 2. the prefecture that I, Dominic Abordo, called “home” for three years.

If you ask the average American about Japan, it is highly unlikely that Akita Prefecture – a gem of the Tohoku Region famous for heavy snowfall, rice, kiritanpo, and sinister mountain demons called namahage – will be included in his or her response. Despite living in Japan for three years prior to the JET Programme, I, too, knew very little about my future home. Thus, I was admittedly nervous when I first arrived in Kosaka-machi, a small town of approximately 6,500 people located in the northeastern corner of Akita. I assumed that my time as a Coordinator for International Relations (CIR) would be full of new adventures, challenges, and opportunities, but I had no idea that the experience would have such a positive and lasting impact on my future.

Although it took almost one year to master the local dialect, Kosaka-machi soon became a second home to me. The natives were eager to introduce me to the natural beauty and hidden treasures of their hometown, including landmarks such as Nanataki Waterfall, Lake Towada, and the Korakukan kabuki theater. They often accompanied me to the best restaurants, bars, and izakaya in the area, sharing personal stories about their families, jobs, and travel experiences over a meal or a few drinks. Elementary school students and adults alike offered warm greetings when we ran into each other around town. Perhaps most importantly, they did everything they could to make sure that I was happy, healthy, and an active part of the community. Little did I know that my love for dance, music, and performing arts would enable me to form lasting connections with so many of them. Read More

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