JET Streams – Summer 2023

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JET Streams


Issue #54 (Summer 2023)


Beyond JET

Welcome to the Summer Edition of JET Streams!

Department of JET Programme Management, CLAIR

Welcome to the 2023 Summer edition of JET Streams!

We at the Department of JET Progamme Management have been trying our best to stay cool in the mid-summer heat through a combination of kakigōri shaved ice and desperate fan waving.

In this edition, we present reports from the Post-Arrival Orientation for summer arrival JET Programme Participants, as well as the new promotional video ‘JET Programme Experiences,’ which showcases the daily lives of three JETs and their roles on the JET Programme. We are also delighted to announce that we will be holding a video contest for both current and former JETs, which will begin accepting submissions this fall.

From the JET Programme Alumni, we are happy to share with you an article from a former Hiroshima JET on how his current career as a published author was made possible by his time on JET, as well as a poignant piece by a Nagasaki JET from the UK, on what the JET Programme has taught her about the importance of connection. Finally, we present to you an article by a co-chair of the Western Japan branch of JETAA, on how the network he created through JET has helped him in his current career in business events and LGBTQ+ tourism at the Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau.

As always, we hope that you will find these articles informative and interesting. If you, too, would like to share your experiences on JET, please click here for how to submit your article to JET Streams! The deadline for submissions for the Autumn/Winter edition is 30 October, 2023.

Wishing you all a wonderful end of your summer and a fabulous beginning to your autumn!

JET Programme Post-Arrival Orientation

31 July–1 August and 7–8 August in Tokyo

We at CLAIR are happy to announce the successful completion of our first full-size summer Post-Arrival Orientation since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Over two orientation periods, running 31 July–1 August and 7–8 August, more than 1800 new JET Programme participants from 36 different countries joined us at the Keio Plaza Hotel in Tokyo for two days of orientation and a chance to make connections with new JET arrivals headed to placements all over Japan.

The opening ceremony held on day 1.
■ The opening ceremony held on day 1.

The 2022–2023 summer Post Arrival Orientation period saw staggered groups of new arrivals arriving to Japan in smaller numbers throughout July and August. Returning to larger, collective orientation periods allowed participants to not only interact with more of their future peers throughout the country, but also immediately meet with their new intrapreferctural co-JETs and prefectural advisors, talk with more alumni speakers and visitors who attended the event and receptions, and arrive to their prefectures in groups with other members of their cohort.

After opening remarks from the Chairman of CLAIR, Mr Okamoto and CLAIR’s Executive Advisor Mr Kitano, respectively, across the two orientation periods, all new JET Programme participants in attendance were treated to statements from former JET CLAIR staff members about their time in on the programme, and a new PR video showcasing the life and activities of a current ALT, CIR and SEA.

From there, ALTs, CIRs and SEAs split into different groups, hearing keynote speeches from JET Programme alumni about their time during and beyond JET, and receiving foundational information about life in Japan, including disaster preparedness, workplace policies, and how to utilize JET Programme support. In addition, each group attended workshops for topics specific to their upcoming roles, such as team-teaching at various levels—led by both members of MEXT (the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) and the British Council—for ALTs; interpretation and translation, Japanese business manners, and event hosting for CIRs; and Japanese sports education and first-aid response for SEAs.

On the first night of both orientations, participants were able to attend an optional evening reception and dinner attended by various embassy staff and meet with alumni and other JET Programme participants in their local regions. On the second night of orientation, participants met with other members of their local placements for pre-departure meetings, before taking off to their placements on 2 August and 9 August, respectively.

New JETs mingling at the welcome reception.
■ New JETs mingling at the welcome reception.

It was a busy series of days for our new participants, but we look forward to the great experiences they will have in Japan as they grow as members of the programme and share their knowledge and culture as new members of their local communities! We hope that they will look back on the lessons of orientation and the connections made there as they navigate the new adventures before them.

Although we were happy to return to our traditional orientation format, we continue look forward to implementing improvements to provide a smoother and more instructive experience to participants moving forward.

We wish our 2023–2024 summer arrivals all the best, and eagerly await the arrival of JET Programme participants yet to come!

JET Programme Experiences

New Video Showcases the Daily Life and Work of Three JET Programme Participants

The Department of Jet Programme Management is delighted to present JET Programme Experiences, a video showcasing the daily lives and work of three JET Programme Participants, representing the three roles available through the JET Programme.

In this film, Shanisa, an experienced Niigata ALT from Trinidad and Tobago, leads games in one of her high-school classes against a backdrop of rice fields. Alice, CIR for Ichinomiya City, talks about the historical culture of her placement, as well as the experience of bridging the cultural gap between Ichinomiya and her native New Zealand. Finally, Alexander, an SEA (Sports Exchange Advisor) and football instructor from Denmark, describes the love the children of Higashikawa-cho have for sports.

We at the Department of JET Programme Management would like to thank all parties concerned in the making of this film, and we hope that you find it an interesting and enjoyable answer to the question, ‘so, what do JETs do?’

JET Video Contest

JET Video Contest Logo

CLAIR is very happy to announce the long-awaited return of the JET Video Contest, which will be held for the first time in 7 years starting this fall! All JET Programme alumni as well as current participants are invited to submit self-made short movies with a length of up to 5 minutes. All videos should be related to your experiences in Japan, as well as align with one of the following famous Japanese idioms.

(Ichigo Ichie)
‘Once-in-a-lifetime chance’ ‘Trying as hard as one can’ ‘The beauties of nature’

The application period will start on October 1st, 2023. The creators of exceptional videos will be invited on a trip to Tokyo for an award ceremony in early summer 2024, with their flight and accommodation paid for, and have the chance to receive a reward for their work.

More details about the JET Video Contest will be announced on the JET Programme website as well as on our official SNS, so please stay tuned for future updates!

A woman taking a video with her smartphone.

Writing Japan

On becoming an author, thanks to the JET Programme

As far back as I can remember, ever since I was a young child, I’ve always known I wanted to become an author. It was my dream, you could say. For a long time, I didn’t know what kind of author I wanted to be. Having completed a master’s in English literature in the UK, I felt a little lost. And so, I listened to my heart – I decided to go somewhere I’d never been, to learn about a new culture, and a new language. I knew nothing about Japan, other than what I’d seen in Kurosawa films, but I decided to go on an adventure. I wanted to travel, to experience new things, and to meet new people.

I knew I’d be teaching English in Junior High Schools in a small town in Hiroshima called Mihara city, but at that time, there were no photos of the town on the Internet at all.

I went to Hiroshima to teach English, but now I think about it – I learned a great deal about writing from my students. Every year, the town held a speech contest, and I would take my students’ speeches, and translate their Japanese into English. Usually, the topic was something like “My Dream”. Reading the wonderful speeches my students composed inspired me. The way they talked about pursuing their dreams gave me confidence to pursue my own.

Nick holding a student's portrait of himself
■ Nick, as drawn by one of his students

The cover of Four Seasons in Japan
■ The cover of Nick’s new novel Four Seasons in Japan, which is set in Onomichi, Hiroshima Prefecture

JET gave me friendships. Particularly one teacher of Japanese. We would sit in the staffroom and talk about Japanese literature at length – she would recommend me titles like Sasameyuki by Tanizaki Jun’ichiro, and I would go away and research the books, finding out the English title (The Makioka Sisters), and I would consume Japanese literature in English translation so that I might chat with my colleague about the novels she’d recommended. Over time, I began to read those works in Japanese, and I would practice translating them into English. It was this process of translation that informed my own writing style, when I wrote my first two novels: The Cat and The City (2020) and Four Seasons in Japan (2023). Stylistically, I was inspired by all the great Japanese writers my friend recommended to me. Reading the works of writers like Natsume Soseki, Kawabata Yasunari, Akutagawa Ryunosuke fundamentally changed the way I approached my own writing.

My time living and working in Tokyo after JET informed the setting of my first novel, but for my second, I drew direct inspiration from my time on JET in Hiroshima to write the setting of Onomichi (Hiroshima prefecture) for my second novel. Hiroshima is so very dear to my heart – it’s where I learned Japanese, it’s where I first tried okonomiyaki, where I danced in the Yassa festival in Mihara. It’s where I fell in love with Japan.

I know for sure I never could never have achieved what I have with my own writing, were it not for the JET Programme. I am forever grateful.

■ Onomichi
Nick Bradley

About the Author

Nick Bradley
Former ALT
Mihara City, Hiroshima Prefecture

Nick Bradley holds a PhD from UEA focusing on the figure of the cat in Japanese literature. He lived in Japan for many years where he worked as a translator, and currently teaches on the Creative Writing master’s programme at the University of Cambridge. His debut novel, The Cat and The City, was published in 2020. His second, Four Seasons in Japan was published in June 2023.

Reflections from JET

The power of connection

If you had asked me ten years ago if I would ever live in another country, if I would ever work in a different industry or if I would move to Japan, I probably would have said no. Now as I sit here writing this article approaching my last few weeks on the JET programme I am filled with joy, gratitude and fondness for my time here. I’m filled with reflections about how Japan might have changed me and what I have learnt during my time here. I’m sure this feeling is something many former JET programme participants can relate to.

I’m perhaps somewhat of an unusual JET participant as I didn’t know a lot about JET when I applied, it hadn’t always been my life’s dream to live in Japan, and being on JET didn’t necessarily relate to my previous work. However the four years that I have spent here have nourished me, changed me and provided me with endless opportunities that I wouldn’t have otherwise had. I’d like to write about some of those opportunities here and explain what I have learnt from them and how that might connect to my life after JET.

Feeling connected has been a theme that has run through my time on JET. Especially during the three years of the coronavirus pandemic that we experienced in Japan. I have come to realise the power of feeling connected to others and the power of a lack of connection.

There are many things that I enjoy about my work but one of the things I really love is building relationships with my students and witnessing the connection between my colleagues and students. Relative to the UK I feel that teachers in Japan have closer relationships with their students. It’s been an honour to be a small part of that during my time here. Through doing the English club at my school I have been able to connect with my students. It’s been a joy to have fun with them, play games and celebrate various cultural events. Watching them improve their English ability and increase their knowledge and curiosity of other cultures and countries has been profound. I’ve also loved getting to know them and finding out what they are interested in.

Elizabeth doing 添え (Kaizoe) on stage the 1st time
■ 介添え (Kaizoe) 1st time

I’m very fortunate in that my school is very good at using the ALT, within and outside of English lessons. For two years I was asked to be 介添え (kaizoe, passing the graduation certificate to the principle) during the graduation ceremony for my school. This was a very moving experience for me, it was the first time my school asked someone who was not Japanese or a qualified teacher to take this role. Being able to watch my students progress during three years of school and then graduate was very rewarding. Taking a role in the ceremony felt special as I knew the students well and it was nice to do this for them. These experiences for me happened during the pandemic. I spent three years living in Japan without being able to go back to visit my friends and family. Feeling connected in this way with my colleagues and students helped to make the difficult times during the pandemic much easier.

Elizabeth doing 添え (Kaizoe) on stage the 2nd time
■ 介添え (Kaizoe) 2nd time

I have also done some voluntary work during my time on JET. I volunteer for the AJET Peer Support Group (PSG) and also for a local group (Sasebo Intercultural Project) run by the city hall. Although distinct, both of these organisations enable people to feel more connected. PSG is an anonymous, confidential listening service for JETs run by JETs. The Sasebo Intercultural Project aims to connect Japanese people and people from other cultures, and increase international cultural exchange through fun events. Volunteering for PSG has taught me the power of being listened to and the power of connection and isolation. My work with the Sasebo Intercultural Project has taught me about communication, exchange and the importance of fun. Volunteering for both of these organisations has helped me to feel more connected to something bigger than myself and my day-to-day life.

The 5th International Friendship Sports Day (Sasebo Intercultural Project)
■ The 5th International Friendship Sports Day (Sasebo Intercultural Project)

Additionally, as part of my work on JET, I am one of the Prefectural Advisors (PAs) for Nagasaki prefecture. Part of my role includes organising and running training conferences for all the JET ALTs in Nagasaki. The conferences provide training for ALTs but they also provide a space for ALTs to feel connected to others. Nagasaki prefecture has a high number of JETs (approx. 200) and JETs are spread out across a wide geographical area. Planning these conferences, especially in an online format during the pandemic, made me think carefully about how people feel connected and barriers to this. Reading feedback from conference participants about how much they valued having a space to connect, again made me realise how important a sense of connection is.

From these experiences I have come to understand how important feeling connected to others is and how much it could affect someone if they felt disconnected. As I approach the end of my time on JET I’m looking towards my future. My background before JET was in psychology and mental health. I worked in UK mental health services for five years before moving to Japan. Part of the reason as to why I decided to do JET was to give myself some time and space to think about whether I wanted to work in psychology long term. Thanks to my experiences on JET, and the time and space JET has given me I now know that I want to become a therapist.

Additionally on JET I’ve been able to learn new skills and discover things about myself that I otherwise wouldn’t have discovered. I’m sure many former JET participants can relate to this. I hope to use these skills and experiences in my future career. Connection is very important in the therapeutic relationship, JET has helped me learn just how important it can be.

Elizabeth Barlow

About the Author

Elizabeth Barlow
Former ALT
Sasebo City, Nagasaki Prefecture

Elizabeth is originally from the UK and has spent the past four years living in Sasebo City in Nagasaki Prefecture. She worked as an ALT at a senior high school from 2019 – 2023. She also worked as a Prefectural Advisor (PA) at the Nagasaki Prefectural Government from 2021 – 2023. Elizabeth studied psychology at university and her background is in mental health work. During her time in Japan she enjoyed learning about Japanese culture, studying Japanese and hiking Sasebo’s various mountains.

JET, MICE, LGBTQ+ and How Other Acronyms Relate

Capitalizing on the JET Alumni Network for Economic Growth

I am continuously surprised by the number of people I meet in the MICE and tourism industry who are fellow JET alumni. The JET program develops an extensive network of working professionals who move on into a wide range of industries, meaning that JETs instantly have an invaluable professional network they can capitalize on once they finish the JET Program. While the usefulness of having this professional network extends across countries and industries, it is particularly visible in the travel and MICE industries, where this international network directly contributes to the economic development of local destinations.

MICE is an acronym meaning meetings, incentive tours, conventions, and exhibitions/events which refers to the business events segment of the travel industry. The goal of the industry is to not only encourage meeting and event organizers to choose a certain city to host their event, but to help the event be as successful as possible and attract more attendees. The industry itself is complex and far-reaching, with jobs and services coming from local tourism offices (such as in my case), hotels, event management companies, and many more. Everyone in the MICE industry has the same goal: to develop successful meetings and events that “wow” both event planners and attendees, encouraging them to stay longer and thus contribute to the local area’s economic growth. JET alumni both across Japan and in their home countries occupy roles in all these places of work and share this goal of contributing back to their local economies.

Jonathan on stage at the MICE Business Alliance seminar
■ Jonathan speaking on LGBTQ+ tourism at the June 2023 Osaka MICE Business Alliance seminar, attended by fellow JET alumni

In Japan, JET alumni (and in rare cases, current JETs) at local tourism offices in Sendai, Kobe, Fukuoka, and more are using the JET network to engage in dialogue with each other and learn new ways to boost their destination. The sharing of these ideas and experiences via the JET network injects new perspectives into local cities, directly contributing back into the economic development of these travel destinations. I have shared Osaka’s methods and strategies in the MICE industry with JETs at tourism offices across Japan, who have used this information to help their local industry partners boost their international appeal and have conversely inspired me implement new ideas based on their local experiences.

To give an example of the JET network being valuable on a local scale, Osaka has long been a popular meetings and events destination, with meeting planners worldwide consistently choosing Osaka to host their events. In fact, Osaka was recently named the host destination for the 2024 edition of the IGLTA (International LGBTQ+ Travel Association) Global Convention, a massive event that brings hundreds of travel and marketing professionals worldwide to a particular city to discuss best practices in the LGBTQ+ travel industry. The Osaka convention will be IGLTA’s first in Asia, a reflection on Osaka and Japan’s progress in becoming more welcoming to LGBTQ+ travellers. This is the realization of a long-term goal of the Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau, which joined the IGLTA in 2018 and has since attended every IGLTA global convention.

Japan’s LGBTQ+ tourism team
■ Japan’s LGBTQ+ tourism team, including Osaka, at the 2022 IGLTA Global Convention in Milan

In the leadup to the IGLTA convention, Osaka is continuing to work on making sure that Japan is ready for the influx of LGBTQ+ travelers. Part of my role is to engage with our partners in the industry to discuss the importance of LGBTQ+ travel marketing and encourage them to incorporate educational seminars and sensitivity training provided through the Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau. The JET network has been an incredible asset in this goal, with Osaka and Kansai JETs immediately recognizing the importance of these LGBTQ+ initiatives, helping spread the word at their local places of work, and connecting them with our services at the Bureau. While I have maintained personal connections with these JETs over time, the Western Japan branch of the JET Alumni Association, for which I currently serve as co-chair, has been equally helpful.

The JET network has been advantageous for the MICE and tourism industry, but many other industries can similarly take advantage of this far-reaching network. JETs and JET alumni are deeply integrated into their local economies and industries, providing a grassroots source of rapid information exchange and business development opportunities. Organizations in any industry greatly benefit from having a JET alum, and I encourage currently employed JET alumni to connect with their local Alumni Association to make connections that could further their professional goals and provide surprising opportunities.

Jonathan Lucas

About the Author

Jonathan Lucas
Former ALT
Shizuoka City, Shizuoka Prefecture

Jonathan is from Virginia, USA where he graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in physics. After a short time working in federal government marketing, Jonathan joined the JET Program for 3 years where he taught Science Communication English as an ALT at a municipal high school in Shizuoka. After the JET Program, Jonathan joined the Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau where he currently works in MICE (a.k.a. business tourism) as well as LGBTQ+ tourism. Jonathan is also one of the co-chairs of the Western Japan branch of the JET Alumni Association (JETAAWJ.)

Contact Jonathan from his LinkedIn profile:

Write for JET Streams

Department of JET Programme Management, CLAIR

The online magazine for former JET participants, JET Streams publishes stories of life on the JET Programme and the impact which that experience has continued to have even after time on the programme has finished. CLAIR, JETAA International (JETAA-I) and JETAA chapters around the world also publish information on their activities through JET Streams.

Submissions from former JET Programme participants include personal essays, articles, photography and helpful advice on themes such as job-hunting and capitalising on the JET experience. Any former JET Programme participant can write for JET Streams, and we welcome variety in the submissions. Staff at the Department of JET Programme Management will provide editorial advice and translate your submission. See the guidelines for submission and read articles by former participants stretching back to 1991, here

The deadline to submit for the winter edition of JET Streams is 30 October 2023 (Monday).

Copyright 2015 by the Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR)