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08  driven to help 10  5tosurvive in vancouver 11  5tosurvive around the world 11  japan is well worth a walk 12  mima: helping people and animals


02  from the president of jetaabc 02  news from the consulate 03  2011 jet pre-departure orientation seminar


04  05 


2011 jetaabc board of directors

a new identity

feature: the tohoku earthquake + tsunami

06  07  07  08 

rikuzentakata life after the b.o.e. jetaabc alumni support meeting western aomori from a jet’s perspective


in japan

jet life

13  14  15  15  16 

cooking up zen through shojin ryori jet reunion movie reviews do you like… gyozas? upcoming events

f r om t h e pr e s i de nt of j e taab c A s all of you are well aware, Japan faced great devastation on March 11, 2011, with the earthquake and the tsunami following shortly after. Most of us cannot imagine the level of devastation of not only losing a loved one, but losing everything else at the same time. There are still many who cannot even return to their home. My heart goes out to everyone affected and my deepest condolences to those who have lost loved ones. And to all those who are trying to rebuild their lives, all I can say is “がんばってください (ganbattekudasai).” I have no doubt in my mind that Japan will recover from this situation no matter how long it takes.

BC is no stranger to earthquakes itself. We are expecting an earthquake sometime in the near future and it is a matter of “when,” not “if.” Although BC’s Earthquake Preparedness week has just passed, that does not mean that we should put the topic in the back of our minds. If you have not had the chance to put an earthquake kit together, please do so soon. There are several online resources available on preparing your own emergency kit such as: www.pep.

text by

Since the disaster, many JETAA chapters across the world have been putting on several fundraising events to help all those affected. JETAABC has also been working hard with other community groups to organize/support fundraisers such as 5toSurvive. Most, if not all, of our events this year will have proceeds going to help all those in need in the aftermath of the earthquake/tsunami. Please keep an eye out for an event that interests you and take part. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support and I hope to see you at an event this year! Until then, please keep in touch via our website, Twitter, Facebook, or mailing list! Take care, Ann Yamashita JETAABC President

n e w s f r om t h e c on s ul at e

Steve Chevalier, Assistant to the Consul (Cultural Affairs)


ver the past couple of months, the Consulate has been very busy in responding to the disaster situation that struck Japan. Certainly, many alumni were deeply affected by the situation due to their close ties with Japan. We very much appreciate the condolences, donations and offers of assistance, received from alumni, as well as the disaster relief initiatives, such as 5toSurvive, that alumni have undertaken. We would like to thank the members of JETAABC for their support.

On a brighter note, the countdown to departure is on for the participants of the 25th JET Programme. Forty-four shortlisted candidates, all ALTs, were selected in Vancouver to depart for Japan, this upcoming Canada Day long weekend. In all, 198 participants (193 ALTs, 5 CIRs) were selected from across Canada. Once again, JETAABC members were an important part of our interview process through 2 

evaluating candidates, as interview panel members, as well as answering questions and directing candidates to their interview rooms, as reception desk volunteers. Thank you for your efforts and support. Were you anxious, excited or simply wondering what the next year held for you, just prior to departing for Japan with JET? To help prepare the new participants, we will be holding the JET Pre-Departure Seminar with the assistance of JETAABC. The seminar is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, June 25 at BCIT’s downtown Vancouver location. We will also likely require a few members to sit on a panel for the Teaching English in Japan seminar to be held on Sunday, June 26 at the same location. If you would like to volunteer to speak or provide other support for the seminars, contact the JETAABC volunteer coordinator:

2011 j e t pr e - departur e or i en tat ion s e m i n ar text by

Lucky Herath, Volunteer Coordinator


t’s that time of year again! JETAABC is currently recruiting speakers/facilitators and other volunteers for the 2011 JET PreDeparture Seminar and the Teaching English in Japan Seminar. This is a great opportunity to give back to the JET program! You can relive your experience in Japan with other alumni and the new JETs. Volunteers in attendance will have the opportunity to attend the annual JETAABC volunteer appreciation event.

pre-departure orientation

date: saturday, june 25 (tentative) location: bcit — 555 seymour street (tentative) time: 09:00 – 17:00

Morning Presentations: Ice Breaker / From Now Until Tokyo Orientation / Your First Month in Japan / Money & Taxes. Afternoon Presentations: Culture Shock / Living in Japan & Working in Japan Workshops* / CIR Discussion / Re-entry/JETAABC / Q&A Panel Other volunteer duties: Registration (morning) / Food Coordination (morning till after lunch) / MC (1 “set” in the morning and 1 “set” in the afternoon) / AV (all day or 1 volunteer AM and 1 volunteer PM) / Clean Up (late afternoon) *afternoon workshop facilitators will need to attend a 2-hour evening training session at the Consulate — date to be confirmed — and prepare a case study

teaching english in japan seminar

date: sunday, june 26 (tentative) location: bcit — 555 seymour street (tentative) time: approx. 45mins in the afternoon, exact time tba

Volunteer duties: Four panel members required (At least one each of junior high school, senior high School and elementary schools) to give a 2–3 minute introduction of their teaching experience on the JET Programme and then answer questions from participants. To volunteer please contact Lucky Herath at with the following information by June 4 (workshop facilitators deadline May 30): •  First and Last Name

•  Preferred volunteer hours (see above)

•  Email

•  Preferred duties/panels, if applicable (please list them in order, first = most preferred)

•  JET location (city & prefecture) •  Type of location (rural, suburban, urban) •  Which years on JET •  ALT/CIR •  School level taught (SHS, JHS, ES) •  Previous Presentation/Workshop Facilitation Experience

•  Other preferred duties •  Additional comments We will do our best to accommodate all volunteers’ preferred times/duties, however, we thank you in advance for your flexibility.



e had a great turnout at the JETAABC Annual General Meeting held earlier this year in January. A few members volunteered their time to take on their first Board of Director roles, with many “sempai” Board members returning as well. We have a large Board with 17 directors and coordinators. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu! Ann Yamashita President Shizuoka ALT + CIR 2002–2005

design student, toiling away everyday in windowless rooms making PDFs, including the one you’re reading right now.

Rei Kitano Membership Coordinator Wakayama ALT 2005–2008 Rei was a JET in the Umeboshi- and Mikan- producing prefecture south of Osaka for 3 years. She stayed on in Japan for another 2, working for private companies in Kanagawa until the past year. Her passion for organizing data led her to

Shizuoka from 2002 – 2004 and a CIR in

join the JETAABC board for the first time.

Shizuoka City from 2004 – 2005. She has

Yoroshiku onegai shimasu!

t he 2 0 11 j e ta ab c boar d of di r e c t or s

Ann Yamashita was an ALT in Izu-City,

been a member of the board since 2007 as Secretary and Treasurer. This is her first year as President and hopes it’ll be an excellent year!

Joseph Luk Treasurer Tochigi ALT 2002–2003

Lucky was a JET in Kyushu inaka, which she often thinks of and misses very much. She spontaneously ran for Volunteer Coordinator a couple years ago and en-

As the Treasurer of JETAABC, Joseph has

joyed it so much she is back for a second

access to and control of all our money.

term. She loves meeting new people and

Literally, all of it.

then coordinating them.

Dinah Linsangan Secretary Aomori 2004–2008

Emi Do Social Coordinator Saitama ALT 2007–2008

When Dinah came back to Vancouver from

Emi spent a beautiful year in Kasukabe

Aomori, she joined the board as newslet-

(home of Kureoshin-chan) in 2007/2008.

ter editor for two years and this is her first

She traveled for two years on her JET

year as secretary. Being part of JETAABC

savings (mostly on bicycle) and is very ex-

has really helped her maintain her ties to

cited to bring the ‘social’ to the JETAABC

Japan and the JET community. It’s been

community with the 2011 JETAABC board.

really great, so come on out and join us for Japan and JET-related events throughout the year. よろしくおねがいします!


Lucky Herath Volunteer Coordinator Kagoshima ALT 2006–2008

Thomas Law Newsletter Coordinator Hokkaido ALT 2007–2009

Hiromi Mikasa External Liaison Fukuoka ALT 1999–2002 Hiromi was an ALT in Kita-Kyushu, Fukuoka from 1999–2002. She has always volunteered at several events since she’s been

Thomas lived in a northern Hokkaido town

back, but this is her first time being on the

that doesn’t show up on most maps. After

organizing side of things. She is also the

needing close to a year to get used to the

captain of the alumni dragonboat team,

Japan-homesickness, he is now a graphic

Ready JET Go!.

Karly Pinch Career & Personal Development Miyagi ALT 2005–2007 Karly was a JET in Sendai, Miyagi, from 2005–2007. Since then, she has worked in

in 2006, Greg is coordinating the JETAA Canada National Conference.

Megumi Johns Senior Advisor Miyagi ALT 2005–2007

organizational development in Cameroon,

Chris Bailey Associate Director Aichi ALT 2002–2005 Bailey was an ALT in Aichi-ken, Kasugai from 2002-2005 which is not far from Nagoya; the host of the 2005 World

West Africa, and is currently working as

Megumi was an ALT in Sendai, Miyagi

Bampaku (Expo). He has been a member

a Program Coordinator at UBC Career

from 2005-2007. She is happy to be on

of the JETAABC board since his return in

Services. Her current role as a career advi-

the board for a second term and is look-

2005 and has held the posts of Treasurer

sor for UBC students is what brings her to

ing forward to organizing more Japanese

and Senior Advisor. He is looking forward

join the JETAABC board for the first time in

classes and cultural workshops!

to another successful year and to getting

2011 as Career and Personal Development representative.

Eric Chan Technical Coordinator Aomori ALT 2006–2008

Sabine Sasakura Director-At-Large Hyogo ALT 2001–2004 Sabine is a clinical counsellor who is using her past JET experience currently by work-

Eric spent two wonderful years in Aomori-

ing with at-risk youth. She loves hiking,

ken from 2006-2008. Upon returning

camping, traveling, and hanging with

to Canada, he dusted off his Computer

her toddler, who is re-introducing her to

Systems Engineering degree to provide

loving the simple things in life. She is cur-

technical and IT support to keep JETAABC’s

rently planning a JET alumni/Mokuyokai

technical infrastructure up and running.

Family Day with the hopes of meeting

Wanda Yee Social Media Coordinator Fukui ALT 2001–2007 Wanda spent 6 awesome years as an ALT

new Alumni out to the awesome events that JETAABC hosts.

a ne w ident i t y

more friends with both a connection to Japan and with kids.

Mark Montgomery Director-At-Large Aomori ALT 2005–2008

in Fukui Prefecture and is now back in

As part of ongoing major IT improvements, we have decided to have a new logo designed as well. JETAABC has

Vancouver pining away over her lovely

Mark was an ALT in beautiful Aomori for

always used a “contemporary” logo for

inaka. She is responsible for 90% of

three years. He has returned to the JET

day-to-day business (our “Orca” logo

the material that goes up on JETAABC’s

community by way of the U.K. and likes

— launched in 1998 and redesigned by

Facebook and Twitter page. The other 10%

living in Canada.

Yasushi Baba in 2002, below; please cor-

of posts magically write and post themselves. Really.

Greg Joughin Canada Conference Coordinator Ishikawa ALT 1996–1999

Siobhan Smeets Associate Director Aichi ALT 2003–2006

rect me if I’m wrong, JETAABC history tends to be passed orally), and a “formal” logo mandated by JETAA Canada for official business (below left). After hundreds of sketches, we come back to an orca and

Siobhan was an ALT for three years in

sun theme, both as an homage to the

Okazaki, which is a medium sized town

old design and for practicality purposes.

Greg was a JET in Kanazawa, Ishikawa,

not far from Nagoya, host city for the

This logo is designed by Thomas Law,

back when some of you more recent re-

2005 World Expo. She returned to Canada

with great help from Carolina and Jessica

turnees were in elementary school. He’s

in 2006, and is now working in Human

Wong. Please look forward to continuing

been a fixture on the JETAABC Board of

Resources in Surrey, BC. She is very ex-

changes as we incorporate our new iden-

Directors since 2002, most recently fin-

cited to be working with JETAABC this

tity into our online and offline materials.

ishing a four-year stint as President (or,

year as an Associate Director and is look-

as Thomas put it, “ruling JETAABC for

ing forward to reconnecting with fellow

decades with an iron fist.”) This year, as

JET Alumni in this capacity.


Clockwise from left: Alison with Kie; with her neighbour Yuko, who lost her son when he and fellow volunteer firefighters rushed to manually close the habour gates; view from Takata Beach


ikuzentakata in Iwate prefecture is the best little town that you’ve never been to. I think I can safely assume that. I think Vancouverites in particular would have appreciated it because to me, Rikuzentakata as of March 10, 2011, was Vancouver in miniature, complete with a beach and mountains in the background. It made me feel like I was just across the pond from Canada. I actually requested Iwate on my JET application, which hardly anyone does. I was more than lucky to be placed where I was, and not just in terms of geography. It had a quaint little sake factory called Suisen that held hanami parties during the cherry blossom season. It had a gorgeous, sandy beach lined with thousands of slender, yet majestic pine trees. It had the best neighbours a foreigner could ever have when she is away from home. Neighbours who fed her when she was sick with a stomach infection. It had an amazing Japanese woman, who translated all of her farewell speeches from Japanese into English. It had a hardworking Board of Education. It had an amazing ALT from Alaska. Suisen is gone but I was told that in the days after the tsunami, the smell of sake permeated the area. I’m sure it was hiding more insidious smells. All of the trees which lined the beach 6 

r ikuzentak ata text by and photos from

Alison Dacia Brown Rikuzentakata, Iwate, 2005–2008 ALT are gone except for one. This tree is now called “The Miracle Tree” and it’s giving hope to tsunami survivors. Unfortunately, it’s become a tourist destination and it’s making transportation into Rikuzentakata difficult. The neighbour who fed her when she was sick, sometimes 3 times a day, lost her house which also housed the family’s tatami business. Her son was a volunteer firefighter and went directly to the beach to close the tsunami wall. His body was found 4 days ago and he has been cremated. The woman who translated her farewell speeches into English, Mutsuko Ozawa, is alive but has lost her mother, sister, nephew and cousins to the tsunami. Only her sister was found. Her house is gone and she has sent her children to central Japan while she and her husband fix up a new house to live in. 21 out of the 26 people who worked at her

I desperately want to return to my adopted city… to let them know that they have not been forgotten.

Alison at BoE farewell party.

Board of Education are dead. It was an emergency meeting point, but unfortunately, the building which housed the Board of Education, was only 3 stories high. The tsunami went over it. My good friend, Kie Murakami, was still working at the Board of Education when the tsunami hit. I was hoping she wasn’t, as people change jobs every 3 years, as many of you know. I prayed she was somewhere else, away from the shore. She was found two weeks ago, and she has left behind a daughter and a husband who will miss her immensely. Kie was with Monty Dickson, who was the current JET ALT. He had taken over my position a year after I left Japan, and I know he loved the place as much as I did. I have a picture of Kie and Monty on the top of the local mountain, and it’s very hard to look at, knowing what has happened to them. I hope to return someday to help. I think many of the former Iwate JETs feel this way. Right now, the only way I can help is by donating money, which we have all been doing. I have given hugs to Japanese people on Granville street in exchange for money. I have bought t-shirts. I have done a charity walk for Japan to raise money through JETAABC. I have donated money directly. But of course it is not enough. I desperately want to return to my adopted city which took care of me for 3 years to let them know that they have not been forgotten.

Life After the B.O.E. is a monthly comic series by former Aomori CIR David Namisato. Visit his website at

je taabc al u mn i supp ort m e e t i ng text and photos by


Thomas Law

ne week after the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami disasters, JETAABC Director-At-Large Sabine Sasakura spearheaded a support meeting in Burnaby for alumni and friends to reflect upon the tragedy. A clinical counsellor by profession, Sabine led an informal meeting attended my many alumni and discussed ways to deal with the stresses caused by diaster-reporting and alumni’s contacts with those in Japan who may have been affected by the disaster. The latter half of the meeting consisted of a brainstorming session for fundraising events that JETAABC could organize to support disaster relief and post-disaster reconstruction. Much thanks goes to Sabine for organizing the meeting in a short time, and to the alumni who took the time to attend the event.

Wooded area leading to Takata Beach.


w e st er n aomor i f r om a je t ’s per spect iv e

text by

Kelly Isom Current JET in Goshogawara, Aomori


felt the great Tohoku earthquake on Thursday afternoon while I was finishing my day at junior high. The quake lasted longer and felt stronger than the one earlier in the week, but none of us at the time realized its magnitude until much later. It wasn’t until we checked the news on our phones that the school was evacuated and I sought shelter with friends. All places of business closed with the exception of the convenient stores, which operated by flashlight and calculator-rung check-outs. The power was out all Thursday night but fortunately it returned by 7:30am Friday morning. Although western Aomori received very little in terms of damage, the area had definitely changed. Once fullystocked convenient stores had bare shelves, gas stations closed, all grocery stores sold out of eggs, bread, milk, and if you can believe it, rice and dried ramen noodles. Bottled water, tissue and toilet paper were also some of the first items to disappear and despite pleas from the government, people continued to hoard until supplies slowly restocked. The Fukushima situation meant scheduled black-outs, resulting in ever-changing school schedules. While food and water returned to the shelves, the reports of increasing radiation continued throughout the week. Panicked

parents of JETs called their children home and CLAIR emailed all JETs, informing them they could break their contract and return home early, no questions asked. Yet, Japanese people were unusually calm, or rather resigned, to the fact that this place was their home and that this was their reality. There were reports from the hardest-hit areas that no looting took place, a serious problem in the US post-Hurricane Katrina. People were panicked and frustrated with the information wire from the government and Fukushima Power Plant officials, but as a nation, they were united in their regard for their fellow countrymen. For example, multiple times western Aomori cancelled their scheduled black-outs because people had conserved enough energy the night before. When I received worried emails and phone calls, I was surprised to hear the difference in reactions between foreigners and Japanese. My American family and friends back home were more panicked than my Japanese neighbours. In my opinion, despite shortcomings from those at the top in reporting the news in a timely and accurate manner, the Japanese people have responded incredibly well and in a calm and organized manner. In all, life resumed as normal almost the week after the earthquake. Western Aomori was lucky that it did not receive too much damage, but much help is still needed. Please check online what is most in need (usually it’s money) and donate accordingly. All help will be greatly appreciated. Please help rebuild this great nation and friend.

dr iv en to help T he disaster that has devastated large swathes of Japan is still here. Whilst the Western media cycle is locked into the Nuclear Crisis here which is potentially a massive disaster, it has forgotten the bigger disaster that has already happened along the 350km of coast in Tohoku. Smile Kids Japan and Living Dreams travelled up there with supplies and toys for an orphanage and an elementary school, both being used as a shelter and I didn’t meet 8 

anyone across the area that was talking about the nuclear problem. I don’t mean to diminish that, in any other time I think it should be front page news, but whilst 300,000 people are in shelters and kids and adults alike have serious needs, both immediate and long term — counselling etc., the nuclear issue isn’t concerning me. We travelled to Kesennuma, Ishinomaki, Rikuzentakata, and many other small towns and the first thing

text by and photos from

Michael Maher-King

There is no epicentre with a dissipation of damage spreading out; the whole coast is damaged.

that blew me away was the scale. You could travel to a town, come out to the newly repaired but still bumpy highway, travel north for a couple of hours, head back to the coast and the picture was the same. There is no epicentre with a dissipation of damage spreading out; the whole coast is damaged. Some towns were ravaged by the Earthquake, Tsunami, Fire, and Snow blizzards. I looked out from a hill over a town of 17,000 people, of whom over half are still missing or dead, watching the military helicopter pan over the sea looking for bodies, I was invited to a mass burial by a family member who wanted me to see what was really happening, where ten people were buried in 5 large graves waiting to be dug up in a few years and cremated and properly interned. I spoke to a lady who was happy because her husband had been lucky enough to get a cremation. I spoke to kids that still had missing parents, kids volunteering to play with other kids to

help keep their spirits up. In talking to people, and seeing their courage and resolve and positivity in this time I knew that the work Living Dreams and Smile Kids Japan are doing together is making a difference but can achieve so much more. We are in contact with the 18 orphanages in Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima about their immediate and long term needs. You can see more about what we are doing together here: www. and livingdreams. jp. You can also donate directly and tax deductible here: www.globalgiving. org/projects/help-orphans-in-japanrebuild-lives-post-tsunami.

ground with orphanages for 3 years, and we are already talking to the most affected homes about their needs. We are not turning up with unwanted gifts in hand and taking photos, smiling and leaving. We are in this for the long haul and are going to make amazing change for the most vulnerable kids in the most vulnerable area of Japan. Your support is so important and your donations will effect real change on the ground. Please mail any questions to Many thanks, yoroshiku onegaishimasu Mike

Both Living Dreams and Smile Kids Japan have been working on the Michael Maher-King, from England, is currently a 5th Year JET ALT in Fukui Prefecture. He is the founder and chairman of Smile Kids Japan — a non-profit volunteer organization that organizes regular visits to orphanages by the foreign community living in Japan. 9 

in vanco uv er… text by

photos by

Wanda Yee

Thomas Law, Alison Brown, JETAABC Facebook Album


n Sunday, April 10th, JETAABC and Mokuyokai took part in 5toSurvive — a 5 km run/walk charity campaign initiated by JET participants living in Japan to raise money for Tohoku Earthquake relief. While the run took place on the same day in numerous prefectures across Japan and various JETAA Chapters throughout the States, the UK, Singapore, and here in Canada, we were the only chapter to do it in the pouring rain…because us West-Coasters are hardcore like that. As hard as Mother Nature tried to prevent our event from going forward as planned, 39 JETAABC and Mokuyokai members/friends and supporters in addition to 8 amazing volunteers braved the chilly downpour, rocked the 5 km soaked to the bone, and raised a whopping $904 for the Red Cross Japan Earthquake/Tsunami Relief in (let’s say it again) the POURING RAIN! Highlights of the event included the cold rain (of course), the impressive participant turnout, the subarashii Radio Taisou warm-up exercises, the sheer amount of money raised, and warming our bellies with hot tea and dimsum at the Floata afterwards.

We were the only chapter to do it in the pouring rain… because us West-Coasters are hardcore like that.

At the time this article was written, the amount of funds raised by 5toSurvive events worldwide totaled 2,142,079 yen, with a few more totals yet to be added. Many thanks to everyone who participated, donated, and supported 5toSurvive from near and far. Please know that our continued efforts, great or small, monetary or not, are appreciated by those living in the earthquake/ tsunami-hit areas in Japan. A very special shout-out goes out to everyone who volunteered their time and helped make this event possible (in no particular order): Thomas Law, Nina Inaoka Lee, Sabine Sasakura, Amanda Chura, Marc Ronnie, Rei Kitano, Russell Aquino, Megumi Johns, Dinah Linsangan, Linda Yee, Kevin Low, and Mark and Siobhan Smeets. Otsukare-sama deshita! (Left to right): participants at the starting point; Radio Taisou warm-up, powered by a YouTube video clip from an iPhone; participants Alison Brown, Monica Gomez, Jose Maria Roman Garzon, and Erin Kourelis


…and ar o und t h e wor l d text by and photos from

Avalyn Beare


toSurvive ( was a 5km walk/run held on April 11th, organized by Tom Cole — an ALT in Ishikawa Prefecture. With the help of friends, AJET, Smile Kids Japan, JetWit and the JETAA’s of the world, the event went international, with over 15 runs happening in 5 countries. Through online donations (www.justgiving. com/teams/5tosurvive) alone, the event raised £17,231.15 (CAD$27,267) and a lot more was donated offline. Money is still being collected by the runners and will be for the next two months.

In Japan, the day was perfect with warm, sunny weather meeting the runners. However, the race organized by Wanda Lee in Vancouver was accompanied by terrible rain. The runners braved the weather though; adding to the great feeling of comradeship for all that took part. The charities supported were the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund ( and the Smile Kids Japan and Living Dreams’ Tohoku Kids’ Project ( Another 5toSurvive run is in the works, so keep an eye on the website if you would like to be part of it! Avalyn Beare is an ALT in Fukui Prefecture, and the current National AJET Block 5 Representative.

Participants from the 5toSurvive event in Fukui (left), “ninja runners” from the 5toSurvive event in Edinburgh, UK (right).

japan is w el l wort h a wal k text by

Jose Maria Roman Garzon apan is well worth a walk. When I heard about the earthquake, I felt scared; I felt sad; I was overwhelmed because of the magnitude of the event; I felt... I felt scared, of course, about my friends who are living in Japan and my Japanese friends who are living here in Canada, for their families… I think that everyone felt the same.


It was when I arrived at my school. Immediately, I searched for the fear in the faces of my Japanese classmates but I didn’t find it. If any nation can take on a problem like this one, it is Japan. They are accustomed to these kinds of problems.

But I think that they have a problem because they don’t like asking for help. Of course, no country likes to ask for help but in the case of Japan I think it is worse; For them it is a dishonour. Spain, my country, is so different. Ok, ok… the media is alarmist, I know, but it was one of the biggest earthquakes in history and the tsunami was sweeping away cities. I didn’t know what to do.

people felt the same as me. We walked 5 kilometers only. Some people ran. Others only walked. But everyone was together for Japan. In this way, I could say “I’m sorry” to Japan.

So, when days later our teacher asked us to go for a walk for Japan I thought that it could be a good way to demonstrate my sadness and my respect. And it was. When we arrived at Science World I experienced that other

Jose Maria Roman Garzon is a student from Seville, Spain, currently studying at GEOS Vancouver. He and his classmates were participants at the Vancouver 5toSurvive event with their instructor/JET alumni Alison Brown.

It was raining that morning and we were drenched to the bone. I felt like the sky was crying with us and the drops were like “tears in heaven.” It was great.


text by

Dinah Linsangan


longside international aid agencies like the Red Cross and local associations helping the human victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, there are also groups working to help its animal victims, such as the American Humane Association, World Vets and Animal Refuge Kansai. Here in Vancouver, the Red Cross and other agencies have been working to raise funds for the disaster victims as well. But what about local groups dedicated to helping both the people and their pets? Enter MIMA, a Vancouver-based organization that is fundraising locally to support the human and animal victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Tohoku. Members of JETAABC met one of MIMA’s co-founders, Azumi Takegawa, who participated in the JETAABC/Mokuyokai 5toSurvive Japan Earthquake/Tsunami Relief Fundraiser on April 10th, which led us to contact her friend and co-founder, Maiko Miyauchi. Here she talks about MIMA with JETAABC.

m i m a : h e l pi ng pe opl e an d an i m al s i n japan J: Please tell us about your organization, MIMA.

M: Our team is made up of three people: Azumi Takegawa, our designer Graham Oatman and myself. Azumi is my roommate; we have lived together for a long time, and we are also from the same city in Japan, Kumamoto. All of us are very good friends and we consider each other family. We all love animals very much. Mima was actually my nickname through childhood. I’m a professional dancer, and when I was creating my own website, I wanted to make it something unique and original. So I told Graham about it and he made this amazing logo for me. I didn’t intend on MIMA being a charity program at first. That was just my logo for fun, and when I decided to do this project, it kind of came together naturally. J: What is the purpose of MIMA? What made you decide to help animals in Japan? M: I’ve been living in Vancouver for about 12 years. When the earthquake happened in March, I was in Vancouver, far away from Japan and I was thinking about how I can help in my own way. I have loved animals since I was little; animals have given me a positive and happy energy throughout my life. So it became my goal to find a way that I can help people in Japan as well as their animals.


My goal for this project is to keep raising money for as long as possible because it’s going to take a lot to help Japan recover. The reason why I decided to make products instead of sending what I could afford was because I want people to remember this and be strong together. Even though $10 is a small amount of money, it’s already adding up and making a difference. :) J: Through this fundraising project MIMA is supporting the Japan Pet Care Association ( How did you come to find out about them? M: My mother is a professional dog groomer in Japan and she is a member of the Japan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. I was looking at their website, and that’s where I found the Japan Pet Care Association. I did some research and I found that the Japan Pet Care Association’s purpose suited MIMA’s goals: they are helping both people and pets, which matches perfectly with what MIMA wants to do as well. J: You are currently selling tote bags as your first project fundraiser. How much money you have raised so far? M: Well, as of now, we are about to sell out of our first test run of 144 tote bags. The test run went amazingly, and we plan on making a video to address the exact amount and show us mailing the money off. Once this

run is over, we are confident that we can achieve bigger numbers in the future, and expand to different types of products.

the cute side. And through this amazing printing company in Vancouver, Proper Design, we found a good opportunity to make the project real :)

M: Yes, Totoro belongs to Azumi and me. :) We bought him together. He is almost 3 years old and he is currently looking for a girlfriend. :)

J: Who designed your cute tote bags? Who made them? What other items do you have planned for the future?

We would also love to make T-shirts and tank tops. I would also love to make tuques.

M: Awww, thank you so much! I told Graham about my ideas based off of my MIMA logo, and we came up with this design. We felt it embodies the strength and determination of Japan, while still maintaining a little bit of

You can find more of Graham’s work at his portfolio website,

Toto is such a funny guy. He makes everyone smile and laugh, lol. And even though he cares about helping Japan, he couldn’t care less about his newfound fame!

J: Please tell us about your adorable model, Totoro. Is he your dog?

c o ok ing up z en t hr o ug h sho j i n ryor i text by

To find out more about MIMA and for details on how to order their cute tote bag, please visit their website at

Kimiko of Kimiko’s Kitchen will be holding a non-profit Shojin ryori class with JETAABC on May 28 (details in Events section on page 17) at the Nikkei Centre to fundraise for the earthquake victims in Japan. Come cook Shojin ryori with us using spring vegetables such as asparagus and snow peas! LET’S COOKING!

Rei Kitano


hile in Japan, did you ever have the opportunity to stay overnight at a Buddhist temple to see the rising sun or do a temple stay? If you did, perhaps you had the opportunity to have a Buddhist meal, a type of cuisine called Shojin ryori —「精進料 理」the food that the monks at the temple have. So, what exactly does the word “Shojin” (精進) in “Shojin ryori” mean? The devotion of a monk to lead a Buddhist way of life — pursuing a perfect state of mind, a life devoid of worldly thought. A time of self-restraint — of cleansing. The avoidance of all meat — consuming only vegetables and vegetarian products thereof. Focusing whole heartedly and spiritually on one thing. To do one’s best. All of the above.

The answer is: お — all of the above — which encompasses a Buddhist way of life. But, you’ll find that it’s commonly defined as Vegetarianism. Introduced from Zen monks who returned from studying in China during the Kamakura period (鎌倉時代) or the 13th Century, they adopted the “thou shall not kill” way of living, avoiding all animal-based food products. This parallels the Macrobiotic way of living, focussed on living a balanced and harmonious and healthy lifestyle where nothing is wasted. Food preparation and consumption was an integral part of a monk’s daily discipline in leading a life of zen.

The humble nature of the food extends to respecting the unique flavour of the ingredients and pungent items such as garlic, onion, strong herbs or spices are frowned upon. Here’s a link to an interesting article written by a Zen Buddhist: The Sho in shojin literally means “to concentrate.” Jin means “to go forward” or “to advance/make progress.”

The modestly portioned but balanced diet consists of items such as rice, vegetables including legumes, mushrooms, various seaweed and nuts, as well as various types of soy including miso and tofu. Depending on when the main ingredients are in season, different types of dishes are served. 13 

j e t r eunion text by and photos from

Karly Pinch


endai, 2005-2007 – I spent my time on JET in Sendai, a small city in Northern Japan, famous in Japan for gyuu-tan, beef tongue, remembered by me for the beautiful surrounding countryside, with plentiful onsen and beautiful fall colours, where, as a Sendai City JET, I often hosted rural JETs on the weekends. Sendai, of course, is also the centre of the recent earthquake and devastating tsunami. Karaoke is an enduring memory of Japan, something that although I know I could find in Vancouver, I have never sought out. Finding the Canadian equivalent would never have quite the same feel of staying out until 2am, 10 gaijin crowded in to a room, ordering pitchers of Sapporo and singing our hearts out to hits of the ‘80s and ‘90s. They were nights of very little sleep, cultural mishaps, and late-night ramen. This defined my early-twenties, just out of university, living on my own, aware that I could sneak through my work week even if I spent the weekends tired and hung-over. Flash forward to 2011: Miyagi JET reunion in San Francisco, California. These kinds of reunions remind you of a lot of things. It brings back memories, and everyone discusses the lives and gossip of people we once all knew. Who is married now, where are they living, is anyone still in Japan? We talk about places we have all been, things we remember. Remember meeting at the Disney store every Saturday night before going out? Remember how soand-so was always late? Remember that restaurant, what was it called, 14 

where we used to always go? And so on. Of course, the conversation did occasionally turn to the current state of affairs in our part of Japan now. For me, thinking about the tsunami makes me think of the elementary schools I used to teach at that were under the flood line, and of all the teachers, friends and students that I knew that I’ve now lost touch with. Many of my other JET friends, though, were in areas that were completely devastated by the disaster. Although talk of the disaster was not frequent, I know, for me at least, a JET reunion right now brings up a lot of memories of a place that we know is not the same anymore. In San Francisco, while our daytime activities centred on the touristy, – Napa, Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Warf – our evening activities reminisced of Japan. Ramen, puri kura, karaoke. My vegetarian ramen didn’t quite live up to my memories of the real porkbased version I remember, but the puri kura was the same. Then on to karaoke, where I could have sworn we were actually transported back to Japan, right down to the confusion of being the only gaijin around and

Finding the Canadian equivalent [of karaoke] would never have quite the same feel of staying out until 2am, 10 gaijin crowded in to a room having communication difficulties. Our room, table covered with pitchers of Sapporo, quickly filled with tunes that we all knew – Bon Jovi, S Club 7, Madonna. But there were some key lessons to be learned from this reunion experience. The first being that I am not 23 anymore. I can no longer stay up until 2a.m without consequence, and I don’t feel bad about that! Reunions are great fun, and I am so happy that a few of us have managed to stay in contact enough to do something like this every once in a while. There are a lot of times when it is great to relive your youth. Acting like kids in a puri kura booth, singing our heads off in karaoke, teasing each other about love and responsibility. Thanks to all my JET people across the world. Whether we’re still in touch or not, I know you’re out there, and we share some unforgettable experiences. Many of us came together online in support and grief of events in Northern Japan, and I hope that many of us will continue to get together for these reunions around the world. No matter where we’ve gone since, we all carry some of Japan with us in our lives.

Grave of the Fireflies 火垂るの墓 (1988) You may start to notice my trend towards slightly depressing films, so if you’re looking for a light hearted animation, this is definitely not for you. As far as World War II movies go, Grave of the Fireflies is as heart wrenching as it gets, depicting a story of two orphaned children struggling to survive on their own. I saw this film when I was a kid, and I don’t think I fully understood it then, but I’ve always been haunted by the ドロ ップ candies.

photos by

Thomas Law

text by

Rei Kitano

d o yo u l ik e… g yo z as ?


Departures おくりびと (2008) Another heavy film but with moments of comic relief, Departures looks at prejudice towards those who work with the deceased. For a side of Japanese culture that one rarely sees, this film portrays the dignity and beauty of Japanese funereal ceremonies.

After Life ワンダフルライフ (1998) If you had to choose one memory from your life to keep for eternity, what would it be? In After Life, the recently deceased are asked to choose a single memory to keep and are assisted by staff to recreate this memory. This film is a touching and inspiring story about memory and life that will stay with you for days.

mov ie r e v ie w s text by

Megumi Johns

n Saturday, February 19th, a cooking class led by Kimiko Suzuki of Kimiko’s Kitchen, took place at Nikkei Place.

Previously featured on the Northshore News (http://, she helped participants cook up healthy and nutritious Takikomi gohan and two types of gyoza. Using organic vegetables and preprepared soup stock, she gave participants tips and hints for cooking up the dishes. One such tip: Microwaving cabbage before cutting can make it softer and easier to cut! Sponsored by Kokuho Rose, each participant also took home a small present in addition to the dishes that were made. Her acquaintance was personally affected when the Tohoku disaster struck and decided to do something about it — through her passion of cooking. She’ll be leading a non-profit cooking class on May 28 to fundraise for Earthquake relief. For more details, check the Events section on page 17! You can see her website at:


up com ing e v e n t s may


2012 MEXT Research Scholarship

Guidelines and application forms for the 2012 MEXT Research Student Scholarship are now available. The scholarship is open to university graduates, born on or after April 2, 1977, who wish to study as research students at a university in Japan. The term of the scholarship is 18 months to two years (including 6 months of Japanese language training) starting in April or October 2012. Allowance is 150,000 yen per month. Terms subject to change. The deadline to apply for the scholarship is May 20, 2011. Applicants who successfully pass the written application screening are required to undertake an interview and examination (English and Japanese language) to be held in late June/early July. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Steve at 604–684–5868, Ext. 391, or by email at


24– july 26

JETAABC Intermediate-Advanced Japanese Classes We are pleased to present another session of Intermediate-Advanced Japanese classes to JETAABC alumni! Last year we piloted two 10-week session and we will be offering another session starting this spring. This class is geared towards individuals who are at the level of taking the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) N2/N3 this year. We strongly encourage students to take the JLPT exam in December, however it is not a requirement for the class. As the class has a limited number of seats available, we are writing to provide you with details about the (tentative) setup of the class, and to request your interest in signing up for the class. Please let us know as soon as possible or by Monday, May 23rd.


If you are interested and available to take the course as outlined above, please send an e-mail to Megumi at senioradvisor@jetaabc. ca to let us know. Please provide the following application details in your email: 1) Name 2) Email address 3) Phone number 4) Years on JET (eg. 2005-2008) 5) Location on JET 6) Japanese courses taken, JLPT level, etc. Dates: (TBC – may start later…stay tuned!) Tuesdays, May 24, 2011 – July 26, 2011 (once a week, every Tuesday; total number of classes: 10) Time: 6:30 pm–8:30 pm Location: Consulate General of Japan in Vancouver, 800–1177 West Hastings St, Vancouver Fee: $150 (deposit*) + course materials * The fee for the course will act as a deposit. It will be returned to individuals who complete 80% or more of the course. For those who attend less than 80% of classes, $20 will be deducted from the deposit per missed class. In addition, the costs for course materials used in class are approximately $20. On the first day of class, please bring your deposit cheque payable to JETAABC. Note: Based on the number of responses that we receive, there may be more people interested in taking classes than there are seats available in the session. If so, we will create a waitlist for students based on a first-come first-serve basis, their application, and payment of deposit.



tofu and lotus root, garnished with snow peas), Goma-ae (Blanched green beans with sesame sauce), Miso asparagus (Blanched seasonal asparagus with tasty miso)

Unique and beautiful Kimono and Japanese gift Sale Time: 11:00am–4:00pm Location: National Nikkei Heritage Centre, 6688 Southoaks Crescent, Burnaby

Sign-up: Email Rei at membership@jetaabc. ca by May 23. In your email please include your name, email, JET year/prefecture, and phone number (if applicable). JETs and non-JET friends are welcome. Limited to 10 participants.

Vintage kimono, haori coat, yukata, geta sandals, kimono fabric purses, original clothes, gifts, jewelry, cell phone charms, tabi socks, scarves, hair accessories, washi paper lamps, etc. Many sample sale and clearance items as well.

Please remember to bring an apron and a tupperware/bento box for the dishes and to bring home leftovers!

Joined by Mari Yasuda who will be selling her original clothing and doggy clothing. 5% of net sales will be donated towards Japan Tsunami relief through World Vision. If you need more info, email or call 604–736–0966 (This is not organized by NNHC) http://wa.pacwestie. com/event



Japan Earthquake/Tsunami Relief Fundraiser Cooking Class with Kimiko-sensei Time: 1:00pm–3:30pm Location: National Nikkei Heritage Centre, 6688 Southoaks Crescent, Burnaby (2nd Fl. Cooking & Crafts Room) Cost: $25/person includes recipes, all cooking supplies and ingredients. Please bring cash or cheque payable to JETAABC to the class on Saturday. Support the survivors of the Japan Quake and Tsunami! With the full backing-up of JETAABC, Kimiko-sensei is leading a nonprofit cooking class with proceeds going to the Red Cross. (The goal is to raise at least $200.00 — with $20 of your participation cost going directly to the organization!) Aid the victims of the Earthquake and Tsunami while learning how to cook up three vegetarian, shojin ryori dishes! Menu: Chirashi zushi (a spring themed bowl of sushi rice with freeze dried Koya

Disclaimer: As this is a charity event with limited spots available, we kindly request that participants check their availability before RSVPing. Thank you.


3– 5 june 12

JETAA Canada National Conference 2011 Location: Vancouver Please keep an eye on the JETAABC website ( for volunteering opportunities. Japanese Film Show for Kids Time: 1:30 pm Location: Vancouver Japanese Language School, 475 Alexander St., Vancouver (Japanese Hall) Film Title: The Fourteenth Target (Japanese withe English Subtitles) The second film in the Case Closed series, known as Meitantei Conan (lit. Great Detective Conan). The story follows the adventures of Jimmy Kudo (aka Conan Edogawa), a young detective who was inadvertently transformed into a child after being poisoned. The film follows Conan as he attempts to stop a murderer killing people in an unknown order. This event is open to the public.


up com ing e v e n t s june


Career Transitions Workshop Time: 6:00–8:00pm

Location: The Network Hub, 422 Richards St., Vancouver Are you now, or soon to be, job searching? Thinking about a career change? Need help with your resume or have questions about networking? Come join us for the Career Transitions workshop! Work in a small group with the JETAABC Career Development Rep to address the job searching problems and questions that you have, and come up with solutions that work for you. RSVP to Karly Pinch at Please include in your RSVP the kinds of questions you would like to bring to the session. Maximum 10 participants, so RSVP early!



JETAABC / Mokuyojai Family Fun Potluck Picnic Time: 11:30am–2:30pm Location: Cameron Community Centre, 9523 Cameron Street, Burnaby Join us for our 1st annual JETAABC/ Mokuyokai Family Fun Potluck Picnic! Bring your spouse and kids and a potluck dish and meet other families for some fun times! There will be traditional Japanese arts and crafts, songs and undokai-like games to play for the whole family. Please RSVP to by June 20 so that we know how many supplies to buy! See you there!


30– 31 18 

Powell Street Festival Location: Oppenheimer Park, Vancouver JETAABC / JET Program will be hosting a booth at the Festival on July 30. Please keep an eye on the JETAABC website ( for volunteering opportunities.

jetaabc dragonboat team

ready jet go We’re back for season 8 of Ready JET Go, the JET Alumni dragonboat team. Come out and cheer them on! Race Dates: May 14 (Sat) — FCRCC Regatta (False Creek) May 29 (Sun PM) — ALCAN Regatta (False Creek) June 11 – 12 (Sat & Sun) — Rio Tinto ALCAN Dragonboat Festival Aug 13 – 14 (Sat & Sun) — Victoria Dragonboat Festival Sep 10 – 11 (Sat & Sun) — Penticton Dragonboat Festival

w rappi ng up text by

Thomas Law


with data from

Zackary Bass, Current Aomori Prefectural Advisor

Our cover photo was graciously offered by current Aomori JET Jemima Sherpa. Titled “Crossing”, it was taken in the tsunami-hit port town of Hachinohe, Aomori. The bridge was damaged by boats as they were pushed up the river by the tsunami.

elcome to the 14th volume of the JETAABC newsletter. It is shaping up to be a big year for JETAABC already: We voted in

one of the biggest Boards of Directors in a while, we are in the process of refreshing our identity, and we are hosting the JETAA Canada National Conference in downtown Vancouver in a few weeks. All the while — as with most of you — we carry thoughts of those affected by the recent Tohoku Earthquake with us. Taylor Anderson of Ishinomaki and Richmond, Virginia, and Monty Dickson of Rikuzentakata and Anchorage, Alaska, were two JETs who lost their lives along with many others as they tried to secure the safety of their students. (You can read about ex-Rikuzentakata ALT Alison’s account of her lovable town on page 6.) It is heartbreaking to imagine so much loss and suffering of so many people in a

a l i s o n dac i a b r ow n

megumi johns

a n n ya m a s h i ta

michael maher-king

ava ly n b e a r e

l u c k y h e r at h

dav i d n a m i s ato

r e i k i ta n o

dinah linsangan

s t e v e c h e va l i e r

j e m i m a s h e r pa

w a n da y e e

jose maria roman garzon

z ac h a r y b a s s

country most of us have come to know and love.

j e ta a b c b oa r d k a r ly p i n c h

Thanks to Board members Dinah and Wanda, we were able to get primary accounts of the situation in

k e l ly i s o m

newsletter designed c o m p i l e d by


t ho m as l aw

the areas affected by the Earthquake for this newsletter. Even prefectures as far as Aomori sustained considerable damages of around USD$585 million, with 1300 homes either partially or completely destroyed. The tsunami was estimated to have reached

stay in touch!

6.2 metres high over there, causing extensive damage

to its ports. It is surreal and unimaginable to try to extrapolate that kind of data to the even harder-hit areas to the south.

@jetaabc In recent, extraordinary times, we’ve seen new faces come out to our Support Meeting (page 7) and fundraising events (page 10), and we hope to see even

more alumni come to our future events. I am a kindof recent returnee from the JET Program. No matter when you came back from JET, you are always welcome at JETAABC. Come out to our events, say hi, or stay in touch through our newsletters and social media avenues.

j eta a b c newsletter

See you soon!

m ay

2 0 11 19 

May 2011 Volume 16 Issue 1  

Newsletter of the Japan Exchange and Teaching Alumni Association of British Columbia and Yukon - May 2011: 2011 JET Pre-Departure Orientatio...

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