Jan 29

Click here to join the new JET Alumni Culinary Group on LinkedIn.


L.M. Zoller (CIR Ishikawa-ken, Anamizu, 2009-11) is the editor of The Ishikawa JET Kitchen: Cooking in Japan Without a Fight and creator of the JET Alumni Culinary Group on LinkedIn. A writer and web administrator for The Art of Travel, ze also writes I’ll Make It Myself!, a blog about food culture in Japan, and curates The Rice Cooker Chronicles, a series of essays by JETs and JET alumni on the theme of cooking/eating and being alone in Japan. New Rice Cooker Chronicles submissions always welcome. Just e-mail it to jetwit [at] jetwit.com.

Photo by Leah Zoller

Photo by Leah Zoller

JET Alums pursue work and hobbies in diverse fields after their time on JET. While we have alum groups like JETWit for writers, interpreters, and translators, and JETs with JDs for lawyers and those in the legal field, we wanted a place for JETs and JET alums in the culinary world connect to and interact with each other beyond of JETWit’s food and drink category.

In creating this group, we aim not only to highlight alums who work as sake experts, food bloggers, writers, restaurant owners, and food-related-non-profit workers, but to provide space for those who just enjoy food to share and discuss the latest in the Japanese food world. Learn more about other alums like sake experts John Gautner and Chris Johnson; read about trends about the Japanese food world; share relevant blogs; check out the latest from JQs food articles and the Rice Cooker Chronicles, and find Japanese-food-related events wherever you are.

Please feel free to join the JET Alumni Culinary Group on LinkedIn. We encourage you to share relevant articles, resources, reviews, events, and more.




May 2

Eric Baker (Fukuoka-ken, 2006-08) will be writing the Baker’s Dozen column as he  approaches the end of a year of travel and reconnecting. He will discuss his thoughts and experiences as he transitions back to working in the States after two years on JET.

Like many folks, I discovered JetWit through a JET friend. Joining the Facebook group, I began exchanging messages with Steven, our prescient leader, who suggested I start writing a few posts about my life as I, too, join the increasingly anxious fray of those looking for work. michigan-hand-ma

You may wonder how it came to pass that I’m starting these posts now, in May. I’m either ahead of the game for an ’09 JET or way behind for the group who finished in the summer of ’08. As you may have guessed, I’m the latter–I took a scenic western route returning from Japan to round out 2008. This year I’ve balanced my time between reading and fitness binges at “home” in Detroit, and with a number of week or two-long stints on the road, reconnecting with my diaspora of American friends, seeing how they live.

So far I’ve found value through the ups and downs of my deliberately gradual reentry. But while my old friends are well on their varied roads to success, evidenced in their shapely Apple and Ikea products and the flatscreen TV pandemic (when did that happen?), I turn 25 tomorrow, am living with my parents, and am increasingly in need of that pension refund. I check my account most days for that deposit, and in the meantime my 0% American Express keeps me afloat. But with my Nokia prepaid phone, goodwill cutlery and non-HD compatible 27″ JVC, I’m clinging to the fringes of social acceptance.

In fits and starts, I’m making the inevitable transition to commence thinking about and searching for my next job. I’ve missed most grad school deadlines, so that is eliminated for now. But most everything else is up in the air. Like my friends, I’m happy to move since—my pride in the Great Lakes (五大湖, anyone?) and ability to use my right hand as a map of my state aside—finding work in Michigan isn’t realistic right now. And for better or worse, I sometimes feel more socially isolated being temporarily back “home” than I did in my inaka hamlet.  I’m becoming antsy to really Read More

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