May 21

【RocketNews24】The demise of traditional Japanese tatami flooring?

Posted by Michelle Lynn Dinh (Shimane-ken, Chibu-mura, 2010–13), editor and writer for RocketNews24The following article was written by Angelina Lucienne, a writer and translator for RocketNews24, a Japan-based site dedicated to bringing fun and quirky news from Asia to English speaking audiences.


If you imagine a Japanese room, chances are you think of something like the picture above: a simply furnished room with sliding shōji doors, a tokonoma with a hanging scroll, and a tatami mat floor. These are examples of the virtues of traditional Japan that many foreigners often hear extolled (along with futon, sushi and judo). When they occupy such an important part of Japanese identity, you wouldn’t think they would be in danger of disappearing anytime soon.

However, the demand for tatami mats has gone down by one third in the last 20 years and many artisans are worried the trade will soon be lost, as more and more of them find themselves rapidly aging with no successors to continue the business. Why is it that tatami floors are becoming rare now, after enduring for so long?

Read More

Jan 15

【RocketNews24】Five of Japan’s best locations to ski and snowboard

Posted by Michelle Lynn Dinh (Shimane-ken, Chibu-mura, 2010–13), editor and writer for RocketNews24The following article was written by Philip Kendall (Fukushima-ken, Shirakawa-shi, 2006–11), senior editor and writer for RocketNews24, a Japan-based site dedicated to bringing fun and quirky news from Asia to English speaking audiences.

Five of Japan’s best locations to ski and snowboard

For those of us up in the northern hemisphere, winter is already in full swing. And for skiers and snowboarders, that can mean only one thing: the snow-covered mountains are calling and it’s a race against the clock to get the most out of them.

Treated to generous snow dumps each winter and coupled with the fact that so much of the country is mountainous, Japan is one of the best locations in the world for ski and snowboarding fun, not to mention some of the best powder snow in the world. But which resorts should you be sure to visit before the powder turns to slush? Check out this list of five of Japan’s greatest, and our favourite, places to ski and snowboard!

Read More

Dec 15

Around Japan in 47 Curries: Mrs. Matsui’s Ishikawa Slugger Sauce


Tom Baker (Chiba, 1989-91) is writing a 47-part series of posts on his Tokyo Tom Baker blog, in which he samples and comments on a curry from a different prefecture each time. Here’s an excerpt from his 16th installment, in which he tastes a facsimile of the home cooking that the most famous person from Ishikawa Prefecture grew up on.

Professional baseball player Hideki “Godzilla” Matsui was born in 1974 in the town of Negari, in Ishikawa Prefecture. Most mothers want their sons to grow up to be big and strong, but few succeed as dramatically Mrs. Matsui did. As a kid, he was already such a powerful right-handed hitter that the other boys wouldn’t play with him unless he switched to batting left-handed. He did – and still went on to become one of the top batters in the world.

There must have been something in his mom’s cooking. Maybe it was her curry…

Matsui curry 0011

Now that Godzilla is retired, he has taken to hawking a brand of curry called “Matsui-ke Hiden no Kare,” or the Matsui family’s secret curry. In a clever bit of marketing, there is garlic-free “renshu-chu” curry for “during training” and also “shiai-mae” curry, which is loaded with garlic, for “before the game.”

Read the full entry here.


Apr 28

Job: ZeroChaos, Inc.- Ads Quality Rater, Japanese Language

Thanks to JET alum Amy Kawabata. Posted by Kay Monroe (Miyazaki-shi, 1995 -97). Click here to join the JETwit Jobs Google Group and receive job listings even sooner by email.
**Note: If you apply, please indicate you learned of the job through JETwit.**

Position: Ads Quality Rater, Japanese Language
Posted by: ZeroChaos, Inc.
Type: Temporary, Part-time telecommuting position
Location: N/A
Salary: $15 per hour
Start Date: N/A

Company Information:
ZeroChaos, Inc. is recruiting temporary part-time telecommuters with fluency in Japanese and an in-depth knowledge of current Japanese culture to help with Quality Evaluation for websites for our client, a leading Silicon Valley search engine company.  Do you have an eye for spotting awkward language in web ads or ads that are poorly matched with your search results?  Have you spent twelve months living abroad in Japan in the past eight years or do you visit there fairly frequently?  We are looking for average internet users to help improve the accuracy/relevancy of the ads that are placed with search results and on websites.  All work is performed from home, on your computer. Read More

Feb 28

A request from Lachlan Tranter (Fukushima-ken, 2011-present), CIR-PA at the Fukushima Prefecture Office. Posted by Celine Castex (Chiba-ken 2006-11), currently programme coordinator at CLAIR Tokyo.


It is approaching 2 years since the 3.11 disaster and the prefecture has moved forward in many ways, but still faces a number of challenges. Many JETs around the country and JET alumni fukushimafrom all around the world assisted in the immediate recovery of the three prefectures most affected by the disaster, and I know many of you want to help more. Today I am offering a chance to do so and it is as easier as clicking you mouse!

In fact it is, we in Fukushima want your help spreading the word and interest in the prefecture and its strong and “genki” citizens. We want the world to know about a side of Fukushima people in our prefecture all know about, a Fukushima of beauty, of produce, of nature, of fun, of shy but brave and warmhearted people; not just a power plant.

We want people to learn that life continues on here and to set each person a challenge to learn something new about Fukushima. So here is how to help support Fukushima Prefecture, you don’t even have to get up out of your chair or Kotatsu!

Like our Facebook page and read the Japanese or English translations about Fukushima!

Head to the Prefectural YouTube channel and watch short videos about the revitalization from the disaster!

Head to our English blog and read about events, food and life in Fukushima including stories from fellow JETs!

Share these resources with friends and family back home and show that the world is still thinking about and supporting people in Fukushima!

Thank you so much for your time and support! 心より感謝申し上げます。

Sep 22

JQ Magazine: JQ&A with The Inaka Founder Chris Allison

“Japan’s inaka offers something completely different. In the inaka you can find nature restaurants, shops, and people that will do a much better job representing a different culture and a different experience—an experience you can only get in Japan.”

By Sarah Rogers-Tanner (Kyoto-fu, 2009-11) for JQ magazine. Sarah hails from Afton, Minnesota and learned a thing or two about the inaka in her small town of Ujitawara, located in the mountains outside of Kyoto City. While there, Sarah taught students ages 2-15 and is now pursuing her masters degree in elementary inclusive education at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Chris Allison (Oita-ken, 2009-12) is a recent JET returnee who spent three years teaching at both an academic high school, as well as a rural, agricultural school. Originally from a small town in Indiana, Chris studied international business and Chinese at Bethel College and began studying Japanese while on JET. Though he is in the U.S. for the time being, Chris hopes to soon be back in Asia again, this time teaching English in Beijing.

Over the past few years, Chris noticed the need for a website that, as opposed to focusing on the prefecture as a whole, exhibits what each town in Japan has to offer. Chris founded The Inaka so that foreigners living in Japan can share pictures and information about their towns for future generations of ALTs and tourists alike. Chris hopes to bring tourism not only to the larger cities but also to the small towns that many of us JET alumni came to love.

Chris says that by increasing the tourism to these towns and cities, we also increase the breadth of knowledge that the world has about Japan, allowing us to give something back to our second home abroad. Now, The Inaka needs your help. The upload process is very easy, so take a look at your prefecture and see what you can contribute!

What made you fall in love with the inaka?

This is slightly off topic a bit, but I often get asked, “What is there to see in Japan?” Up until recently, I didn’t really know how to answer this question. For most countries it is a fairly simple question. For China, “Great Wall.” For France, “Eiffel Tower.” Japan doesn’t really have that one thing that makes it stand out. Sure you could say something like Tokyo or Kyoto, but those are cities and not single attractions.

There was never one thing that I could say that I felt gave a fair representation of Japan. Then it hit me. I could not think of one specific place or attraction, because the entire country is filled with them. No matter what town you go to, you will find heaps of history and sights that will amaze you. The inaka is what makes Japan stand out as a country; it is where you will find the history, nature and culture of what I have come to know as the real Japan. I think it makes the country worth traveling to.

That is why I love the inaka!

Read More

Aug 20

Follow-up: JETAA USA National Conference info and docs

Via Jessyca Wilcox, one of JETAA USA’s three Country Representatives, sent to JETAA USA chapter delegates:

Hello Everyone!

I wanted to let you all know that between JETAA DC President Maurice “Mac” Maloney (mostly Mac!) and myself, we’ve managed to collect and post all the presentations and handouts that are available from the conference on the website. If we could get our hands on it, it’s posted up there!

We’ve basically posted the schedule/ agenda from the conference and then linked uploaded files to each agenda topic appropriately. We hope this will aid delegates’ abilities to share the content of the US Conference with their members and will also help chapter officers that were not able to attend see what was discussed, covered and presented on. You’ll find it under 2011 National Conference > Presentations & Handouts

I also encourage you all to subscribe to the JETAA USA website. You can do this by subscribing with your email address (meaning you will get updates in your email inbox) or via RSS feed if you use an RSS reader of some sort. This will keep you apprised of all national efforts AND it will keep you all up to date on progress and deadlines in regards to the 2012 Regional Conference in CO.

Once again- a HUGE thank you and otsukaresama to the JETAA DC crew for putting on an excellent conference!

(Read the rest of this post for the conference agenda with links to relevant info and docs.)

Read More

Apr 1

2:46 Quakebook project

Via a recent article in the Wall Street Journal:

The 2:46 Quakebook Project is  “a Twitter-sourced collection of personal accounts of the quake and its aftermath….one group’s response to the disaster initiated by the local blogging community that aims to raise money for relief efforts (the title refers to the time at which the magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck on March 11).”

Note:  All proceeds will go to the Japanese Red Cross.


Mar 21

How bloggers can help Japan through the tough times

It’s amazing to see how everybody in America is thinking of unique ways to help Japan in this time of crisis. People are taking to the streets asking for donations (myself included), there are communities doing translations for towns and villages across the region, and now wibiya, an app for bloggers, has developed a tool that can be placed on the bottom of your blog/website.

Bloggers can download this free application and have a bar underneath their site that informs people about how to donate to the red cross and help the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. This is what innovation is all about. Using technology to help people in need. It is in times like this that I am proud to say that I’m an American. Thank you again to everybody helping Japan.

Click Here to download the application

Posted by Sam Frank, an ALT who taught English in Hiraizumi-Cho, Iwate Prefecture from 2002-2004 and worked in Shirahama-cho, Wakayama Prefecture as a JET from 2004-2006. He currently manages the New York Division of UnRated Magazine ( and works as a Project Manager at Arrow Root Media (

Feb 8

JETAA UK just shot out an email announcing its new website.  And it is super-sweet and sexy!

Up-to-date job listings.  An easy to find calendar.  A “member counter” graphic front and center.  And a friend-finder….by prefecture!

And we especially love the link to… ehhh, chotto matte… link ha doko deshou ka?

Well, a minor oversight that we’re sure will soon be remedied.  Whoever put the site together (and it looks like a group effort) clearly did their homework and put a lot of good thought into it.  So go and have a look around and enjoy the fruits of their hard work.

O-tsukare sama deshita, JETAA UK!

Oct 29

JETAA Northern California launches its new website!


Update: Turns out that JETAA Southern California has also recently updated its website: (can’t tell if it’s Joomla, WordPress or something else)  (Thanks to JETAA SC Prez Jason Porath for the update.)

This just in from JETAA Northern California:

Hey everyone,

After talking about it at the national conference for I don’t know how long, our new website is finally up (! Check it out and let us know what you think.

Rod McLeod
JETAANC President

jetaascMeanwhile, JetWit has checked out the new JETAA Northern California website and thinks it’s cho-beri kakkou ii.  We also voted for “Easier Navigation” as our favorite thing about the new site.  But feel free to vote as you see fit.

On the website topic, you may notice that JETAA Northern California is using Joomla (an open source Content Management System) for its website.  Several other JETAA chapters use Joomla as well.  Meanwhile, JETAA NY and a few other chapter sites use WordPress (a blog program which is also a Content Management System for all intent and purpose).  Together, Joomla and WordPress do seem to be the most popular choices among chapters.  The primary reason being that they have nice layouts and, once set up, multiple users can easily participate in adding content rather than having to rely on one webmaster to add content each time.

The issue of websites and content management systems will be further discussed at the end of January at the Regional Conference being hosted by JETAA Portland (which I just noticed doesn’t use either Joomla or WordPress).  JETAA NY and JetWit webmaster Lee-Sean Huang will be there to contribute to the conversation along with several other knowledgeable and tech-savvy JET alums.

What does your chapter use?  How do you feel about it?  Do you have a preference between Joomla and WordPress, or something else altogether?  Share your comments below.  There’s no one right answer, so the more feedback provided, the better we’ll all be served in the long run.

Aug 18

New JET Program page on Miami Consulate website


Future JETs?

Thanks to the hard work of JET alum Abigail MacBain, current JET Program Coordinator for the Consulate General of Japan in Miami (and former JETAA DC Newsletter Editor), the Miami Consulate has a wonderfully updated JET Program page.

Have a look at Abigail’s handiwork at

Abigail also reports two big JET Program policy changes as of Monday, August 17:

1. JET alumni can now reapply for JET after 3 years instead of 10

2. The previous requirement used to be that you couldn’t have lived 3 or more years in Japan in the past 8 years. Now it’s 6 or more years years in the past 10.

Aug 11


Great article from the Isshoni London website run by JET alum Vanessa Villalobos (who is also the Communications Officer for JETAA UK).


There’s a welcome lull in frenetic London life over August… time to enjoy some of the finer things in life: food, music and the great outdoors.

If you, like I am, are counting down the days to the Japan Matsuri at Spitalfields this September 19th, you should indulge in a little Japanese cultural exploration over the summer!


I know! I couldn’t believe it either! Simply book your table in advance at Tokyo City Japanese Restaurant near Bank on any Tuesday in August, anytime from 11.30am to 10pm at night. A tasty offer too good to miss, you simply pay a £2.50 service charge and the cost of drinks you order.

City workers can feast for free on everything from handmade sushi and sashimi to bento boxes filled with Japanese classics, plus other traditional Japanese dishes, and help Tokyo City celebrate their 10th birthday and the launch of their new August menu.

Tokyo City is at 46 Gresham Street, London, EC2V 7AY

Call 020 7726 0308 and quote the Tokyo City offer when you book.


new music from Japan.gif

You’ll be pleased to hear Tsuru Sushi plays host to new Japanese music the last Wednesday of every month! Their 100% Genki events showcase Japanese musical and performance talent.

The events have been running for one year on the last Wednesday of each month, and attract a diverse crowd from the Japanese and local communities. Performers are also diverse, ranging from Wataru Kousaka, a sanshin player, to contemporary electronic composer Anchorsong and many others.

CLICK HERE to read the rest of this article

Aug 10


JetWit webmaster Lee-Sean Huang (Oita-ken, 2003-06) comments after the jump on The Cove, a new documentary about dolphin hunting in Japan.  Please feel free to share your own thoughts regarding this controversial film in the comments section of this post.

Read More

Aug 1

JET alums in the art world

zandraJetWit has become increasingly aware of JET alum artists doing interesting work and making names for themselves in the art world.  Below is a little background on a few of them (though there are many more out there).  Click here for more JetWit posts on art and JET alumni.  You can also see a more complete list of JET alums in the art world in the Art section of the Library.

Zandra Ellis (Nagasaki-ken, 2005-09) – Bronx, NY

Born in the Bronx to Jamaican immigrants, Zandra Ellis cut her milkteeth on Marley, manga and museums; 17 years later, she emerged blinking in the sunlight, from LaGuardia High School with a diploma stamped “Art.”  Somehow she ended up studying English Literature in college. Nagasaki Prefecture’s Emukae Town (pop. 6,700,) warmly embraced Zandra as an ALT who loved drawing on the board and attending the local pottery class (’05-’09).  Currently working on: freelance gigs/portraits for hire.

Manya Tessler (Wakayama-ken, 1998-2000) – Brooklyn, NY

Manya’s children’s book “Yuki’s Ride Home” was published by Bloomsbury in 2008. (Read more)  She received an Honorable mention in Category 1 of the Women’s Jewelry Association 2009 DIVA Design Competition. (Read more) She and her husband, Rouman, received the Mort Abelson New Designer of the Year Award at the JA NY Summer Show. (Read more)  And the independent film “Adam” being shown at the 2009 Sundance Festival features several of Manya’s illustrations. (Read more)

Lee-Sean Huang (Oita-ken, 2003-06) – New York, NY

Lee-Sean Huang is New York-base multimedia artist who explores the creative and social possibilities found in the junction of technology, design and art.  Recent works include:

  • A computer-generated portrait of Mao constructed from the text of the Little Red Book
  • An interactive music installation consisting of headphones that create a unique listening experience based on the wearer’s movements
  • And a Japan-inspired animation and performance piece based on a poem by Catullus

Lee-Sean is a co-founder of Hepnova Multimedia, an interdisciplinary design collective and genre-defying band, and is currently a masters student at ITP, the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU Tisch School of the Arts.  Catch up with Lee-Sean at  (JetWit Editor’s Note: Lee-Sean is also the JETAA NY webmaster, helped me get the JetWit site set up and is the one I call whenever there’s a “JetWit emergency.”)

Page Rank