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he countdown to the JET adventure is on for the participants of the 26th JET Programme, most of whom will leave Canada on the B.C. Day long weekend. In all, 154 participants, 149 ALTs, 5 CIRs, were selected from across Canada. An even 50 short-listed candidates, 47 ALTs and 3 CIRs, were selected in Vancouver, making it the largest departure group in Canada, this year.

Alumni evaluated candidates, as interview panel members, and answered questions and directed candidates to their interview rooms, as reception desk volunteers. Thank you for your efforts and support.

New this year to the JET Programme is the possibility of a limited number of early departures. Candidates could apply to leave as early as mid-April providing there were positions available to them in Japan. Already, two of our candidates have been sent off and another one will leave in early May.

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 23 at BCIT’s downtown Vancouver location. We will also likely require a few alumni to sit on a panel for the Teaching English in Japan seminar to be held on Sunday, June 24 at the same location. If you would like to volunteer to speak or provide other support for the seminars, contact the JETAABC volunteer coordinator:

Once again, JETAABC members were an important part of selection process.

The Consulate has been very busy over the past while with a number of unique

from the president


elcome to another year of JETAABC’s newsletter! This year six new genki members were elected, as well as a bunch of returning members on our Board of Directors, all of who are ready to organize events for you throughout the year. This is my second year as president and I’m looking forward to another great year. The Tohoku earthquake / tsunami of 2011 had affected many members of the Japanese and the JET community. After the disaster many community organizations including JETAABC, came together to organize relief efforts throughout the year. JETAABC’s board of directors have also worked tirelessly over the past year putting together several fundraisers especially our largest fundraiser, Changing Tides. Thanks to the support from the JET community and other community members throughout the year, we have raised over $3500.

Unfortunately, it took a tragedy to bring the Japanese community together. But now that the community came together, the community ties are stronger than ever. I hope all organizations continue to maintain the ties as well as continue to promote not only the recovery efforts of the 2011 disaster, but the joys and beauty of Japan and Japanese culture to the general public. As with last year, JETAABC will be continuing our efforts to strengthen community ties and are looking forward to another year of working with other community groups in organizing events. We already have plans to organize events with Mokuyokai and Tonari Gumi as well as hosting booths as the Sakura Festival and Powell Street Festival. Please keep an eye out for eventing listings or check out our website for more information. We hope to see you soon at one of the events! Take care. Ann Yamashita JETAABC President



and interesting, Japan-related, cultural events around B.C., and there are more to come. Be sure to check out the event listings in this newsletter, keep an eye on our website: or sign up for email notification of Consulate events: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced that entries for the Sixth International MANGA Award are now being accepted. Guidelines for application and entry forms are available at www. The International MANGA Award was established to share Japanese pop culture and to help promote understanding of Japan. It was created to honor MANGA artists who have contributed to the promotion of MANGA overseas. Steve Chevalier Assistant to the Consul, Cultural Affairs

c o n g r a ts JETAABC congratulates the successful election of our very own Greg Joughin to the position of JETAA Canada Representative. Greg takes over from Toronto’s Jamie Shah after her two terms in the position. As the Canada Representative of JETAA, Greg will communicate information between all seven Canadian chapters and CLAIR as well as JETAAi. Otsukaresamadeshita to Ms Shah, and ganbattekudasai to Greg. Thank you as well to everyone who facilitated the election. Greg and two other members from the JETAABC Board of Directors will be in Calgary this June for the JETAA Canada Conference. (Ed. note: Looking forward to the report already!)

call for volunteers !


t’s that time of the year again! JETAABC is currently recruiting speakers / facilitators and other volunteers for the 2012 JET Pre-Departure Seminar and the Teaching English in Japan Seminar the weekend of June 23 / 24. This is a great opportunity to give back to the JET program! You can get the chance to re-live your experience in Japan and to get to see the excitement on the new JETs’ faces! Volunteers in attendance will have the opportunity to attend the annual JETAABC volunteer appreciation event as well.

If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Sabine at . Please include your full name, where you were on JET, the years you were there, whether or not you were ES, JHS, or SHS, and what you would be interested in presenting / facilitating. The topics include: From now until Tokyo Orientation, Your first month in Japan, Money and taxes, Culture shock, and we need facilitators for the Living in Japan and Working in Japan afternoon workshops. Please note, afternoon workshop facilitators will also

need to attend a 2 hour evening training session at a date and time TBA. Other presenters will need to submit their content outlines and / or power point presentations at least one week before the seminar. Other volunteer positions required will be for registration, food co-ordination, and set up and clean up. Thank you! Sabine

be a jetaabc sempai !


s a pilot project running alongside the Pre-Departure Seminar this year, JETAABC is trying to set up a mentorship program that would match a departing JET with a JETAABC alum. Contracting cities sometimes ask for ALTs / CIRs from a particular part of the country, so chances are high that the town a departing JET is going to is a town that an alum may be familiar with, or even lived in. The JETAABC Sempai Project tries to match new JETs with alumni who have direct knowledge of the destination region.

The amount of communication between the new JET and alum is completely up to the new JET and the alum volunteer. To register, we simply ask for your email address, JET location, and years of stay. If a new JET is going to a city close to your old town, we will ask if you would let us give the new JET your contact info. This project is complementary to the PreDeparture Seminars. Sometimes there is just too much info to digest in those two days, and when the questions come days

later, there is no one to ask. This project aims to fill that gap with accurate, local information so the new JET can spend more time preparing for their journey instead of worrying. By the time their JET predecessor contacts them, they will already be knowledgable about their new home to the point that they can ask questions that really matter. If you are interested in registering for this project, or if you want more information, please contact Thomas at

mext scholarships The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) of the Government of Japan is currently accepting applications for its 2013 Research Student and 2013 Undergraduate Scholarships for foreign students who wish to study at Japanese universities.

scholarship is 18 months to two years (including 6 months of Japanese language training) starting in April or October 2013. Application forms are usually available in late March or early April, each year. Deadline for the 2013 scholarship year: May 18, 2012.

The Research Student Scholarship is aimed at university graduates, born on or after April 2, 1978 (for the 2013 scholarship year) who wish to study as research students. The research study area should be the same field that the applicant has studied or a related field. The term of the

If you have friends or family looking to do an undergraduate degree in Japan, they may want to consider applying for the Undergraduate Scholarship. Applicants should be: A) High school graduates or graduated from a school


equivalent to an upper secondary school in Japan. Students should have graduated by March 2013. B) Born between April 2, 1991 and April 1, 1996 (for the 2013 scholarship year). The term is five years, from April 2013 to March 2018, including one year of preparatory Japanese language education. Application forms are usually available in late March or early April, each year. All application guides and forms are available on the Consulate General of Japan’s website:


Ann Yamashita President Shizuoka ALT + CIR 2002–2005

Ann Yamashita was an ALT in Izu-City, Shizuoka from 2002 – 2004 and a CIR in Shizuoka City from 2004 – 2005. She has been a member of the board since 2007 as Secretary and Treasurer. This is her second year as President.

Louis brings in his experience as the AJET Block 2 Rep, and now has control over alllll of our finances.

Reyn Nakamoto Secretary Aomori ALT 2003–2005

Reyn was an ALT in Fujisaki, Aomori from 2003 to 2005. After finishing JET, Reyn continued his studies in Nara, Japan. Upon graduating, he moved to Tokyo to experience “salary-man” life. After eight wonder years in Japan, he forwent his tropical paradise home of Hawaii and instead moved to his new adopted home of Vancouver.

Thomas spent two life-changing years in rural Hokkaido as an ALT. To remedy his inaka-withdrawl, he aims to visit his old town every 1.5 – 2 years until his Japanese completely fades away. As Newsletter Coordinator, Thomas spends two months begging people for articles, then he compiles them into this newsletter you’re reading. Kim McNelly Membership Coordinator Nagasaki ALT 2008–2011

Thomas Law Newsletter Coordinator Hokkaido ALT 2007–2009

Kim is a recent JET returnee from Tsushima Island in Nagasaki. Originally hailing from rural Maine, USA, she is now an MA student at UBC in Asian Studies. When not translating 14th-century diaries, she likes drinking tea with friends, running, and catching up on sci-fi shows. Kim looks forward to meeting more of you at our events and getting your local sushi and ramen-shop recommendations.

Sabine is a clinical counsellor who is using her past JET experience currently by working with at-risk youth. She loves hiking, camping, traveling, and hanging with her toddler, who is re-introducing her to loving the simple things in life.

Lucky Herath Social Coordinator Kagoshima ALT 2006–2008

Louis Chung Treasurer Sendai ALT 2007–2011

Sabine Sasakura Volunteer Coordinator Hyogo ALT 2001–2004

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 enjoyed it so much she went for a second term. This is her first year as Social Coordinator. She loves meeting new people and then coordinating them.

introduction to the jetaabc

in the NEWS Text by Thomas Law Compiled with help from Steve Chevalier and

that other popular movie about teens killing each other… With the explosive popularity of The Hunger Games movie, many people are just starting to get acquainted with Japanese cult favourite Battle Royale from 2000. Both movies share a similar theme of a ruthless fight-for-survival between young people in a world where one’s humanity is put into question. Though Battle Royale’s ultra-violence may not be appealing to The Hunger Games’ audience, there’s a pretty heated debate online about which is the better movie. Source link (clickable): The Province, Mar 22, 2012

look who’s at the pne these days! The PNE is now open every weekend until mid-June, and this time there will be a familiar face among this year’s prize stuffed toys: NHK’s mascot Domo. Source link (clickable): The Province, Apr 27, 2012



Nicholas was a Fukui JET and recently finished his work with Peace Boat.

Yumiko Hayashi Career Development Aomori 2005–2007

Nicholas Sutton External Liaison Fukui ALT 2007–2009

Yumiko is a graphic designer and marketing consultant based in Vancouver.

Mark was an ALT in beautiful Aomori for three years. He has returned to the JET community by way of the U.K. and likes living in Canada.

Wanda Yee Social Media Coordinator Fukui ALT 2001–2007

Mark Montgomery Technical Coordinator Aomori ALT 2005–2008

Wanda spent 6 AMAZING years as a JHS/Elementary ALT in Fukui and is still pining away over her lovely inaka. When she’s not updating the JETAABC Facebook or Twitter page, she’s getting hit by balls on our alumni dodgeball team, “Ready JET Throw”. With your help, she hopes to collect and send a lot of used cameras to Tohoku via PHOTOHOKU.

Greg was a JET in Kanazawa, Ishikawa, back when some of you more recent returnees were in elementary school. He’s been a fixture on the JETAABC Board of Directors since 2002, most recently finishing a four-year stint as President. This year, Greg is also the Canada Rep for JETAA Canada. Alison Brown Vancouver Island Rep Iwate ALT 2005–2008

Greg Joughin Senior Advisor Ishikawa ALT 1996–1999

Alison was a JET in Rikuzentakata, Iwate. As Rikuzentakata was severely affected by the tsunami in March 2011, the city remains close to Alison’s heart. This is her first year on the board of directors and as the representative for Vancouver Island, she hopes to increase the presence of JETTAABC on the island. She doesn’t want to let Vancouver have all the fun!

Megumi was an ALT in Sendai, Miyagi from 2005-2007. She is happy to be on the board for a third term and is looking forward to organizing more Japanese classes and cultural workshops!

Megumi Johns Director-At-Large Miyagi ALT 2005–2007

board of directors for 2 0 1 2 NHK Creates Japan Recovery Website NHK has set up a website called Japan Beyond 3.11: Stories of Recovery to document all aspects of the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011. Visitors to the website can read about the accounts of those who were affected by the disaster, updates on recovery efforts, news about the ongoing nuclear situation in Fukushima, as well as tourism information about Japan. Source link (clickable): Japan Beyond 3.11

Taking the Eiken for Monty In the city of Rikuzentakata, Iwate, a city devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake, around 80% of its middle school students have applied to take the national English proficiency exam (Eiken) in memory of their JET ALT Monty Dickson of Alaska, who lost his life in the disaster. With the support of a JETAA USA fund which also benefited Ishinomaki, where JET ALT Taylor Anderson also lost her life to the disaster, the enrollment rate to the Eiken was three times higher than usual. Source link (clickable):, Jan 20, 2012


JETAA 2012 Regional Tech Conference Excerpt from JETAA Toronto Website, by Alex Svetlovsky

The JETAA 2012 Regional Tech Conference took place from Jan 27–29. Alumni from Canada and the US gathered in Denver to discuss tech issues and helped chapters with their tech issues. This year, Mark Montgomery (JETAABC), Alex Svetlovsky (JETAA Ottawa), and Jamiena Shah (JETAA Canada Rep) attended the conference from Canada.

The conference sessions ranged from hands-on work for developing websites with Joomla and WordPress, to using MailChimp and the development of an international database for JET alumni to help support smaller chapters, and allow JET alumni to easily transfer from one chapter to the next if they move.


Sakura Days

a w e e k e n d at

Helen McLauchlan Mark Montgomery at Majomo Photography text by

photos by


he sunny weekend of April 7th and 8th saw the return of the annual Sakura Days Japan Fair held in the beautiful VanDusen Botanical Gardens. Over 11,000 people took the opportunity to soak in the Japanese festival atmosphere and enjoy cultural performances, arts and crafts and delicious food and sake. Visitors were able to enjoy performances of taiko drumming, koto and dance and participate in tea ceremony or try getting dressed in a traditional yukata. Of course JETAABC were there to enjoy the celebration of Japanese culture and provide visitors with information about the JET Programme. The fair also created the opportunity to talk to visitors about the Photohoku appeal. Photohoku is a project to rebuild and restart family photo albums of those affected by the devastating tsunami in Japan. Cherry blossom season is an important part of Japanese culture where families and friends come together on blue tarps to eat and drink under the flowers. Unwanted digital cameras can help affected families rebuild the memories



of these happy times. Several visitors pledged their unwanted digital cameras to the cause. (Ed. note: more about Photohoku on page 14.) Similar to a Japanese matsuri the food was the highlight for many visitors. With many local authentic Japanese restaurants represented you could taste a variety of delicious foods including yakitori, onigiri, ramen, oden, gyoza and the extremely popular takoyaki. In true Japan style the lines were long, but the wait was worth it! Being a new Vancouverite I had only heard of Japadog by reputation and was yet to sample their unique brand of hotdogs with a Japanese twist. Like any Japanese foodie I was keen to sample Japadog’s signature hotdog, the Terimayo. The combination of hotdog, teriyaki sauce and seaweed was unusual but delicious and I’m curious to try more creations around downtown Vancouver. Vancouver’s unique blend of East and West could be seen throughout the festival. From Japadog to shakuhachi accompanied by a DJ, the celebration of Japanese culture in Canada was a great success. Helped by a sunny Vancouver weekend, everyone who came left with a smile and a free JET pen!

the karaoke classroom Michael Dalley, Yosano-cho, Kyoto CIR, 2004–2006 photos by Mark Montgomery at Majomo Photography text by


ike a kid picking their favourite coloured jellybean out of a jar, we have all cherry picked our favourite aspects of Japanese culture. Mine is Karaoke. The first time I heard Japanese Karaoke was about 15 years ago in the Karaoke box that used to be above Konbini-ya on Robson Street. It was about the same time I had decided to study the language, and I instantly knew I had found my preferred learning tool. In what other classroom can you drink, sing and have this much fun? Since that day, Karaoke has been the pillar of my Japanese self and the foundation of my language learning.

I always felt that if Japanese was to be my second language, I wanted to make it a good one. I would rather write like Miyazawa Kenji than Mitsuru Adachi, I would rather speak like a polite salary man than Crayon Shin-Chan, and I would rather sing like The Yellow Monkey than The Beatles. With this vision, I moulded my language to something my own. The benefits of learning to read and write are obvious; but Karaoke defines the best practices of learning to speak a new language — memorization, repetition and emulation of pronunciation. Learning songs makes learning fun. When I was on JET, I had the opportunity to create a weekly adult evening class. I themed the 10 week sessions on things like “English for cooking”, “English for travelling” and “English for shopping” for my students aged 20 to 70. Who was I trying to kid? I knew they would never cook, travel or shop in English — so what’s the point of teaching useless English? After class one night, singing, I had an epiphany… the “Karaoke Kouza” (Karaoke Classroom) that resulted was famous. My students each selected a song, learned the words, practiced singing it, and performed it for an audience on the last day. Remember, no matter how inaka, Karaoke bars in Japan will have The Beatles or The Carpenters in their machines. After 70 years, my oldest student finally realized he can use his English daily if so inspired. Now that is practical English for rural Japan.

I instantly knew I had found my preferred learning tool. In what other classroom can you drink, sing and have this much fun?

At the Sakura Days Japan Fair, Mike sang by by The Boom, by , and by SMAP.


When I was a JTB tour guide, I needed to learn full-day tour commentaries in Japanese. I did it the same way I had learned Karaoke; by listening to recorded commentaries of my Sempai veteran tour guides and mimicking their voices with mine. They may have found it creepy to know I listened to them so much, but I sounded just like them when I did my tours. Do this with anything; a Japanese TV show or suitable podcast, by letting the words flow in your ear and out your mouth simultaneously. Take it to the next level with a



Japanese Karaoke Classroom and you learn culture, kanji, vocabulary, pronunciation, conversation and improve by repetition while screaming at the top of your lungs with beer! Need I say more? What I am actually trying to do here is justify the vast amount of time and money I have invested at our local Japanese Karaoke “snack” lounge in Vancouver. I have been a regular there for over a decade now, and have a list of about 40 songs that I sing ranging from X-Japan to Princess Mononoke. If you have never been to Hollywood North, it is where the Japanese business community in Vancouver goes for ni-jikai. Yes, there are hostesses, and no, nothing funny happens. Now that my secret is out, let me know when you would like to join me in my own Karaoke Classroom. Sakura Days Festival was an excellent opportunity for me, and I am grateful to those of you who were involved in it. Karaoke has always been my “secret” stage but singing at the Sakura Days festival felt great, even if it did set an intimidating precedent. I encourage anybody who wants to improve his or her Japanese language while screaming with beer to cherry pick this piece of Japanese culture, and see what stage it leads to.

dinner with vancouver island jet alumni text by and photos from

Alison Dacia Brown Rikuzentakata, Iwate ALT, 2005–2008


ince I joined the Board of Directors of JETAABC in January as the island representative, I had been eager to get together with the island ex-JETs. Gil Oishi, JET alumnus Kyle Armour, and I met in early February to discuss the first night out of the year and to talk about other JET-related information. After some mass emailing, March 2nd saw Victoria-area JETs enjoy a night out at a local sushi restaurant. In total, we had 13 people come out for the night including JET alumnus, Peggy Belle, who currently lives in Japan and was home to visit her

Mike was a CIR in Kyoto Prefecture. To check out Mike’s performances at Sakura Days, go to his YouTube channel at

parents. It was also a nice surprise to get an email from a couple who had recently moved to Victoria, both ex-JETs, who wanted to join us. Sake, beer and wine was consumed in moderate quantities with appetizers being generously provided by JETAABC. Some of the topics of discussion of the evening included earthquakes, teaching English, and Japanese food; all topics that are worthy of JET alumni. We hope that the success of the first event will continue for the rest of the year. If anyone is interested in being made aware of future island events, feel free to request to join the JETAA-Vancouver Island Facebook group.

where did the “jets on location” conclusion go? Good question! How should I explain it? While compiling the lineup for this issue of the newsletter, I realized that I had somehow forgotten to ask the JETs to send their updates in. As it was a week before the deadline, it wouldn’t be fair to the JETs to get them to scribble something out on such short notice. So instead of concluding the series this issue, we will do it in our August issue. Sorry! Thomas Law Newsletter (Un)Coordinator




t seemed longer than it really is but it was only 7 years ago when I boarded a plane from Narita for Vancouver. I lived and worked as an AET in Kawaguchikomachi, Yamanashi Prefecture for 5 years from 2000 to 2005 (the last 2 years, I negotiated a private contract with the Board of Education). When I made the difficult decision to pack it in and come home, I made a list of things I wanted to do with my future once I settled back into Vancouver. I didn’t want to put my years of Japanese language and cultural experience straight down the proverbial drain so I dropped off my resume at several local based Japanese companies. With its head office in Japan, JTB International, a Canadian inbound tourism company that caters to Japanese tourists, took a chance on a fresh-off-the-plane former Assistant English Teacher.

I think when we all decide to come back home from Japan, we all hope that there is a colourful rainbow of opportunities awaiting us — and maybe there are for some people, but for others like myself, it is what I make it.

g o i n g p o s ta l a f t e r j e t

Fujikyu Line’s Kawaguchiko station. (Creative Commons/Flickr)

text by

Bryan Chau

I had vivid aspirations to lead and enchant groups of wide-eyed Japanese tourists through Whistler and Banff with my fervour and oyagi-gags. But alas, a small cubicle is where I sat everyday and a phone was the only object I was enchanting with my fervour. I was a Coordinator for the Purchasing and Reservations Department and despite that mouthful; all I did was check room availabilities at hotels for potential Japanese clients. It wasn’t really what I had in mind originally but I made the best of it by practicing my Japanese on my colleagues (a mix of working holiday interns and Nikkei). They always found my knowledge of recent Japanese TV shows and humour quite amusing and endearing if not sometimes inappropriate for an office environment. After two years and one interoffice move at JTBI, I decided that a career change was in my cards. I went with a secure government public servant job at Canada Post; I thought outside of the box (a parcel, if you may). I think when we all decide to come back home from Japan, we all hope that there is a colourful rainbow of opportunities awaiting us — and maybe there are for some people, but for others like myself, it is what I make it. Letter Carrier may be the farthest end of the spectrum from AET but it’s those little moments of Japan inspired opportunities that turn any rainfilled, dog-ridden day into a wave of nostalgia and longing for a little town across the Pacific. Usually I’ll be walking along to a house and look down at a registered letter for a Japanese person and once they answer the door, I usually try to break out my Japanese. First comes a look of surprise, then a shy smile and then “Nihonjin desu ka?” I usually then answer with a silly smile, “Ah… Chigaimasu… Canada Post desu.”



to g e t h e r text by Thomas

Law Mark Montgomery at Majomo Photography photos by

Kozue Matsumoto, born in the Tohoku region, performs on the koto.


arlier this year, JETAABC hosted its biggest event in many years with the Changing Tides Photography Exhibition and Silent Auction. The event culminated in the Silent Auction Gala on February 18th, where more than 100 guests gathered at the Nikkei Centre for an evening of Japanese cultural performances by many distinguished artists as well as the photography exhibition itself, which ran until March 9th. Thanks to the support of many members of the community around Metro Vancouver, the event was very successful. The 10 framed photographs from the exhibit that were taken by JET alumni of the beautiful Tohoku region were sold along with more than 30 various items from our sponsors ranging from jewellery to gift cards, and hotel stays to boat cruises. From that evening alone, we were able to raise close to $2000. The proceeds of the evening will be donated directly to Living Dreams/Smile Kids Japan and Peace Boat. On behalf of JETAABC, we would like to thank all of our sponsors, our performers, our bidders, and everyone who came to the exhibition in its 2-month run. We had very few resources to work with, and we tried our very best with what we had. We sincerely thank you for your support of our event, and especially your support of the Tohoku region.



one more thing…

The evening’s performers included (from top left to top right): Colleen Lanki, Yayoi Hirano, Alcvin Ryuzen Ramos, and Chieko Konishi Louie.

The evening’s proceedings left one very big item unbidden. Thanks to a very generous donor, we have one professionally framed Vancouver Canucks (team signed) hockey jersey from the 2007–08 season. Our donor read about our event through one of our promotional materials, and decided to donate this to our cause. The entire set-up is in pristine condition, the size of the frame is 49" x 43". If you or someone you know is interested in buying the jersey, please contact us. We would be able to help delivery to any location in the Lower Mainland. Please spread the word for us. All proceeds go to the donation total for Changing Tides, which goes straight to the Tohoku region. Your help is much appreciated. Please contact Thomas at

Clockwise from left: Consul General Mr Hideki Ito addresses the evening’s audience, visitors to the Gala read the anecdotes of the JET alumni who were affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake, JETAABC Board Members Nicholas Sutton and Megumi Johns hosted the night’s proceedings.



j e ta a b c wo u l d l i k e to t h a n k t h e f o l l ow i n g p e o p l e a n d o r g a n i z at i o n s f o r t h e i r s u p p o r t o f changing tides

Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre Consulate-General of Japan in Vancouver Peace Boat

The Bulletin

Alison Dacia Brown

Megumi Johns

Fraser Monthly

Greg Henkel

Michael Maher-King

Oops! Japanese Magazine

Jemima Sherpa

Naomi Toyoda

Vancouver Shinpo

Kalie Bredo

Tanya Gardecky

Kelvin Po

Tracey Taylor & Dee Green

Lisa Rie Hansen

Yoshinori Ueno

Smile Kids Japan Living Dreams

Mark Montgomery

Gil Oishi

Alcvin Ryuzen Ramos

Akabana Designs

Hapa Izakaya

Metropolis at Metrotown

Chieko Konishi Louie

Angel Seafoods

Harbour Cruises & Events

Mink Chocolates

Colleen Lanki

Avery Yackel Shiatsu

HiDé Ceramic Works

Mount Seymour

Kozue Matsumoto

Christine Williams Photography

Himawari Designs

Pac West Import Export

Humphrey Tam

Ricepaper Magazine

The Daiso

Japan Bonsai

Terra Breads

Escents Aromatherapy

Tak Arikushi Yayoi Hirano


Kristin Streebel Birdzell Designs

The Vancouver Aquarium

The Fairmont Waterfront Hotel

The Listel Hotel Vancouver

Gino’s Restaurant

Thé Very Jewellery

The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra


The Vancouver Canucks



the long road text and photos by

Ann Yamashita

recently had the opportunity to visit several disaster sites in Miyagi and Iwate prefecture during my personal trip to Japan. Even a year after the disaster, the sites are still devastating and I was a mixed bag of emotions. In all five towns I visited, all of them had the same landscape: the flat land of nothingness with piles and piles of debris stacked up. The

rebuilding process is slow and currently the demolition of the standing, but uninhabitable, structures are just getting underway. The 300,000 residents still living in temporary shelters are waiting to return to what they soon hope to call “home�.

Kesennuma Businesses in temporary units to generate local economy





J: What is Photohoku and how (and why) did you become involved with this project? P: Photohoku is a family photo-album building project for those affected by the events of March 11th. It’s a portmanteau blending of the words Photo and Tohoku. It was officially started on September 11th of 2011 by myself (Brian Scott Peterson) and our co-founder, Yuko Yoshikawa. We became involved in the project having collaborated on another Tokyo-based project called Tokyo Kids Photo. Basically we go to the earthquake and tsunami affected areas of Tohoku, armed with instant cameras and instant film and find families who lost all their photos in the disaster and make new photos for them. We put those photos in a new family album for them and present that newly started album to the families. If the families don’t have a camera, we also give them a retired digital camera we’ve collected as donations from our friends and families. Finally, on subsequent trips, we print the photos from the cameras we have given and add those photos to the albums as well so they can continue them. Basically help them start their photographic lives over. J: How did Photohoku evolve from being just an idea to becoming a full-on reality? P: We basically wanted to repeat our Tokyo Kids Photo portraiture project in Tohoku by simply traveling to the affected areas to make some nice new photos for the affected families. We would have to take the photos, return to Tokyo to print them and send them back to the families, which seemed straightforward enough but then we got the idea to use instant film and © Yoko Goto Hirose instant cameras. Coincidentally we were working with Fujifilm on an unrelated project at the time, so we asked them if they would consider supporting our project with some of their instant film. We were hoping they’d supply us with a few packs of film but they ended up essentially offering us more than we could possibly shoot ourselves in an entire year, which enabled


an interview with

Ishinomaki © Brian Scott Peterson

text by

photos from

Wanda Yee


us to start taking other photographers with us. J: How frequently does the Photohoku team travel to Tohoku and, on average, how many families do you photograph and make albums for on each trip? P: We travel to Tohoku about once a month, twice if we are lucky, and we are willing to go more if our supporters afford us the chance. Since September of 2011, we have been 9 times and gifted well over 100 new family photo albums and given countless photos.

Ishinomaki © Brian Scott Peterson

J: What was the response like from the families who have been photographed and given new photo albums and/or donated digital cameras? P: The response is unanimously positive. As the situation has been understandably mined for photos, people are occasionally at first leery, however once they understand we are giving them a photo that is just for them, everybody warms up to the idea, and when they see the magic of instant film, they are thrilled to have their photo taken and receive a new album. It’s not uncommon for the recipients to shed a tear or two, nor is it uncommon for us to share one with them. It gets pretty emotional at times. J: Are there any families in particular that stood out and/or left an impression on you? P: There are just too many to mention. Off the top of my head, there was the couple whose granddaughter


© Photohoku © Brian Scott Peterson

survived her mother (their daughter). The grandparents told us how sad they were knowing they wouldn’t be able to see the granddaughter grow up, much less give her the care she needed, and was so uncertain about what the future held. The grandmother told us she cried everyday and that she was more miserable than anyone around her. When the she saw herself smiling in the photo we took of her, she told us she hadn’t expected to ever see herself smiling again. She was so happy to have our album.

homes, been fed, been boozed, been sheltered, been given gifts, been bombarded by children (who know us by name), had songs sung to us, even asked for autographs. Every moment stands out as being THE moment of the project. In all of this, we have learned that even if we take a team of 6 people, it’s freezing cold, and we have few opportunities to connect, that even reaching just one family can have an impact on them for the rest of their lives, maybe even after they’re gone. In that, it’s fully worthwhile and unforgettable every time.

Then there was the family who escaped from their car through a shattered back window — who managed to crawl on the roof of the car (a mother and 4 kids), to then be rescued by others from atop a roof of a home. Stories beyond belief and certainly beyond words.

P: Basically we use any camera that takes instant film. Some of the cameras have included the Konica Instant Press, the Polaroid 195, the Mamiya Universal Press, a Linhof Master Technika, among others.

J: So far, what has been some of your most memorable Photohoku moments? P: Every experience is truly special and unforgettable. We’ve met some amazingly kind people, heard unbelievable stories of both heroism and loss. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve been invited into

J: A question from our camera s living here: What kind of equipment do you use for your Photohoku trips?

One fun camera we have is a homemade 3D (Stereoscopic) instant camera made from two Fuji Cheki cameras which takes two instant photos at the same time which when looked at through a special 3D viewer, which we make with the kids during a workshop, becomes a completely other experience in itself. J: Looking forward, what do you want to see happen with Photohoku? P: To be frank, we want to see Photohoku blow up. Our ambitious pipe-dream goal is to give every single last family in Japan

Ishinomaki © Tim Rudder

who lost their photos in the earthquake and tsunami a start on a new album if they want one. To do that, it may take years, it may take a lifetime. But this is what we know how to do and we intend to continue it as best as we can for as long as we can. For the time being, we will keep going to Tohoku once a month and reaching out to as many families as we can. J: For those of us living in Canada and other parts of the world, what are some ways that we can help/ contribute to Photohoku? P: Please consider helping by making a donation though our website. Our main expense is getting there and back. Any donation you consider making will likely be put towards getting a photographer and an assistant from Tokyo to a temporary housing area in the affected areas of Tohoku where they can use their talent to realize our goals which can be distilled down to giving the lasting smile of a photograph. If you can’t make a financial contribution, please consider sending a retired digital camera to us so we can find it a new home in Tohoku. If you can’t do either of those, please share about Photohoku with your family and friends. Eventually, it will find itself under the right nose and we can all work together to bring smiles to those who really need them most. J: Last question: What makes you smile?

Ishinomaki © Maria Golomidova

P: We’re photographers. Smiles make us smile, naturally. SAY CHEESE!



p h oto h o k u

M © Satoshi Narita Photohoku CoFounder Yuko Yoshikawa teaching a family how to use their donated camera.

ore than likely you’ve seen my numerous posts on Facebook and Twitter about JETAABC’s on-going, used, digital camera drive for PHOTOHOKU. Maybe you have read about it in one of our email blasts, picked up information pamphlets at Sakura Days Japan Fair, or perhaps you’ve seen or heard me talk about the project (I tend to do that a lot). In any case, we’re still collecting used (but functional) digital cameras and their chargers that will be given new homes in Tohoku via the great folks at PHOTOHOKU ( Instead of having it collect dust in your closet, a family in Tohoku could be using your used camera to create new and


j e ta a b c

happy memories to replace the ones that were destroyed and/or washed away by the earthquake and tsunami of 3.11. If you have a camera to donate to this incredibly worthwhile cause, please contact me at Want to start a workplace camera collection, or just want to help spread the word? Fantastic!! I have PDF materials available for you to share. Let’s help bring smiles back to Tohoku… one camera at a time! Wanda Social Media Coordinator

events Noh Meets Canada May 7 — 7:30pm The CULTCH (Vancouver East Cultural Centre) 1895 Venables St, Vancouver, BC Tickets: Free Admission—Reservations Advised, or call 604–684–5868 ext 370

Shamisen & Odori: the Music and Dance of Kabuki May 12 — 8 pm, May 13 — 2 pm Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Centre, SFU Woodward’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts 149 West Hastings St, Vancouver, BC Tickets: or call 604–607–5978

Lecture & Demonstration Featuring: Tsunao Yamai, Shinobu Takahashi, Yoshiki Honda, Masahiro Nakamura, Yoshiaki Inoue Tsunao Yamai, a lead player of the Konparu School along with an ensemble, will present a talk and a short performance of the elegant and refined traditional art of noh theatre of Japan. The talk will explain the movements, the masks, and costumes of the noh world. This is a rare opportunity to learn first-hand from one of the most respected players and leaders of an ancient and profound form of theatrical expression.


Featuring: Shogo Fujima, Mozibei Tokiwazu V, Sayu Fujima ALSO: Free Lecture-Demonstration: May 11 — 6:30pm Join Shogo Fujima and Mozibei Tokiwazu V at The David Mowafaghian World Art Centre for a free talk on music and dance in kabuki. Kabuki Dance Workshop with Shogo Fujima: May 12 — 1pm Master dancer Shogo Fujima will lead a 1 hour workshop in kabuki dance for dancers, actors and anyone interested in stylized movement.


© Mark Montgomery Photohoku section at JET Programme/ JETAABC booth at Sakura Days Japan Fair.

backtrack After all these years as JETAABC President, we’ve come to know him as “The Quiet One”. — page 2. K, now it’s your turn to tell the newbies what a kancho actually is. — page 3. Wait a minute, you’re telling me these jokers are running the show now? — page 4-5. First instance of Thomas leeching content off of JETAA Toronto’s newsletter… — page 5. Name one event where you can eat yakitori, sing karaoke, and donate cameras. — page 6–7. It looks like innocent, friendly fun, but I bet they were making plans over dinner to take over the Vancouver chapter. The plan probably involves lots of slow-moving ferries. — page 8. That horrible question we all ask when we come back home from JET: “Now what?” — page 9. The answer to the question of whether we can run a large charity event on a shoestring budget: yes. (requires a ridiculous amount of volunteer hours and a lottttttt of begging though) — page 10–11. This article of clothing was touched by almost every member of the Canucks five years ago, and we haven’t washed it since. No, it’s not that. Come on. — page 11. Neat freaks with bulldozers, come help. — page 13. If Santa gave out memories instead of presents, he’d look like these folks. — page 14–15. Now’s the time to catch up on some of that traditional culture you never really got a chance to see while on JET because you were cooped up in your inaka home playing PS3. — page 16.

This issue’s cover photo was taken by our awesome Tech Coordinator (and my personal saviour) Mark Montgomery. He ran into these girls at the Sakura Days Japan Fair. To check out more of Mark’s work, please visit or search for his Flickr account at majomo-photography.

stay in touch!


Alex Svetlovsky

Helen McLauchlan

Wanda Yee

Alison Dacia Brown

Michael Dalley


Ann Yamashita

Sabine Sasakura

newsletter designed + compiled by

Brian Scott Peterson

Steve Chevalier

thomas law

Bryan Chau

JETAA Toronto

Consulate-General of Japan in Vancouver



May 2012 Volume 17 Issue 1  

Newsletter of the Japan Exchange and Teaching Alumni Association of British Columbia and Yukon - May 2012: Sakura Days Japan Fair | Changing...

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