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18.3 JANUARY 2014


From the JET Desk at the Consulate-General of Japan in Vancouver Text: Steve Chevalier, Culture and Information Assistant at the Consulate-General of Japan in Vancouver Happy New Year! We certainly hope you all had a wonderful winter holiday season and have begun your new year off right. December saw the Consulate-General of Japan hold its final major event of the year, the Emperor’s Birthday Reception. Over 500 guests attended the event, including John Duncan, Minister of State for the Government of Canada and Christy Clark, the Premier of British Columbia. Our guests enjoyed sampling Japanese food and sake, while taking in Tea Ceremony, a performance by the NAV Chorus and the koto and shakuhachi musicians. At the JET Desk, we are anxiously anticipating the results of the 2014 JET Programme application screening to come from the Embassy of Japan, in Ottawa. We were encouraged by the potential candidates we spoke with during the fall recruitment period. Following the upcoming interviews in February, we hope to recommend a “genki” group of individuals for consideration as participants for this year’s program.

Our office will be hosting, and collaborating with other organizations on, a wide variety of events over the year. Upcoming highlights include “Ukiyoe Spectacular Exhibition,” an upcoming exhibition of Nikkei internmentrelated paintings, a Noh theatre event and “Wondrous Tales of Old Japan,” at Carousel Theatre on Granville Island in Vancouver. In late August, we intend on joining JETAABC’s Annual Barbecue and Fireworks Event at Nat Bailey Stadium. The anniversary event listings will continue to be updated on our website at www.vancouver. If you have a Japan or Japan-Canada related event or project that you would like to link to the 125th anniversary, you can apply to have it officially recognized and use the anniversary logo to promote your activity. Visit our website ( for further details.

The Consulate-General of Japan in Vancouver was the first Japanese government mission to open its doors in Canada on June 22, 1889. During 2014, we will commemorate the 125th anniversary of the establishment of our offices. Through a series of events showcasing all aspects of the Japan-Canada relationship, we wish to reflect on our past friendship and cooperation, while optimistically looking ahead to the next 125 years. We also hope Canadians will renew their interest in Japan, and in doing so, rediscover today’s Japan, while embracing tomorrow’s.

Steve Chevalier (third from left) at the Emperor’s Birthday Reception with members of the JETAABC Board of Directors. (Report on the Emperor’s Birthday Reception on page 6.)




JETAABC has been one of the most-active JETAA chapters in Canada for more than two decades, and it owes all its success to a continuing stream of JET alumni volunteers. If you had participated in the Pre-Departure Orientation (either as a departing JET or as a speaker), the JETAABC booths at the Sakura Days and Powell Street Festivals, a bonsai class, the Japanese class, the Photohoku camera collection drive, the summer BBQ at the Nat, the Sempai Program, etc., you may not have realized that they were all organized by JETAABC volunteers. The chapter relies on volunteers to do everything, and no matter how much you can contribute, we would be incredibly grateful to have you on board. If you don’t have any experience, we will teach you; if you’ve worked on AJET or your prefectural AJET group before and want to contribute to the JET community, come on in; if you’ve been with us before and now have some free time again, come on back! We’re not trying to be creepy nor overbearing, we would just simply appreciate more support from you. The AGM is your chance to participate in the election of our new Board of Directors and other important JETAABC business. Please consider running for a position! If you would like to run for a position but cannot attend the AGM, please send a platform to by January 24th, 2014. We are also starting off with our shinnenkai just before the AGM! Light food and non-alcoholic beverages will be provided. Come meet and catch up with fellow alumni! We look forward to seeing you there!

DATE AND LOCATION Date: Friday, January 31st, 2014

JETAABC Annual General Meeting and Shinnenkai 2014 All positions on the Board of Directors are up for election. The positions and their roles are as follows: President •  Acts as the official representative of JETAABC. •  Liaises with the Japanese Consulate, CLAIR and JETAA Canada representative. •  Chairs the Board of Directors meetings and facilitates JETAABC activities and communications. •  Advises and coordinates all JETAABC activities in conjunction with the Board of Directors. •  Spearheads JETAABC long-term planning and vision. Treasurer •  Maintains records of JETAABC’s finances (eg. bank deposits, balancing cheque book). •  Reports on the financial activities at the monthly Board of Directors meeting. •  Prepares the application for the CLAIR grant-in-aid, and liaises with CLAIR on related matters. Secretary •  Prepares the agenda for and takes minutes at meetings. •  Facilitates communication between the Board and JETAABC members. •  Maintains the minutes, all files, documents, and correspondence for JETAABC. •  Organizes meetings dates and locations; orders refreshments for meetings.

Time: 6:00 – 9:00 pm Location: YWCA Hotel, 733 Beatty St (Between Robson St and Georgia St) RSVP: Your RSVP is kindly requested by Friday, January 24th, 2014 at




Newsletter Coordinator •  Collects and edits articles, prepares and digitallydistributes triannual JETAABC newsletter. (Graphics assistance will be provided if needed.) Membership Coordinator •  Maintains and updates membership and contact information of all alumni in the JETAABC database. •  Updates and maintains email mailing list. •  Encourages alumni to join JETAABC. Social Media Coordinator •  Maintains JETAABC’s Facebook and Twitter pages. •  Coordinates with Board members to ensure JETAABC events and information is communicated via Facebook/Twitter. External Liaison •  Brings JETAABC members in touch with other JET alumni associations. •  Develops relationships with outside organizations (eg. Mokuyokai, Powell Street Festival Society, Nikkei Place) to allow JETAABC members to maintain their connection to Japan and Japanese culture. •  Sends out JETAABC Messages emails to alumni on the email mailing list.

Social and Cultural Events Coordinator •  Organizes events and RSVPs throughout the year: Japanese cultural activities, ie. cooking, pottery & social gatherings; and provides support for other board members organizing such activities •  Liaises with Mokuyokai to co-host events (Optional) •  Writes up event descriptions Career Development Coordinator •  Develops and organizes career-related and personal development events such as networking events and workshops. •  Organizes the annual Re-Entry & Career Seminar in the autumn for new returnees. Technical Support •  Helps maintain the JETAABC website and archives documents online. •  Programming or complex technical skills are not a requirement. Senior Advisor •  Filled by someone who has previously served on the Board of Directors. •  Offers guidance and input on Board decisions and dialogue.

Volunteer Coordinator •  Solicits and directs volunteers for the pre-departure orientation and other events as needed. •  Serves as the primary contact for alumni interested in getting involved with JETAABC. •  Organizes the annual volunteer appreciation event.


Interested in starting an initiative at JETAABC? Join the Board and lead your project as a Member-At-Large!



JETAABC and Consulate Welcomes Returning JETs with Career Event and Reception Text: Christian Butzek, Photos: Ann Yamashita and Thomas Law JETAABC hosted its annual Career Development seminar and joined the Consulate-General of Japan’s JET Returnees’ Reception on November 8, at the residence of the Consul-General of Japan. It marked the first time that the Career Development seminar and Returnees’ Reception were held consecutively. In all, the event was very well-attended, surpassing previous attendance numbers, with twenty-seven attendees, including several alumni members. The evening was divided into two parts: The Career Development Seminar and the Returnees’ Reception. The Career Seminar serves two purposes: It allows returning JETs to network with one another; secondly, motivational speakers and career counsellors were invited to speak to returnees on maximizing one’s inner potential and sharing successful job hunt strategies. The Returnees’ Reception is meant to welcome participants of the JET Programme back from Japan.

The reception is a “welcome home” ceremony held each year by the Consulate-General of Japan. This portion of the evening featured a series of testimonials from returning JETs. The speeches were heartfelt and emotional as returnees reminisced on their time in Japan and discussed their plans for the future. Consul-General Seiji Okada thanked participating JETs for their contributions and encouraged returning JETs to share their experiences and positive impressions of Japan with British Columbians. JETs were treated to a buffet dinner and complimentary beverages courtesy of the Consulate. Editor’s Note: A news report (in Japanese) of the event was posted on the E-Nikka website at Contents/131114/communitynewsPh_01.php.

The first half of the evening was devoted to Career Development, organized and hosted by Christian Butzek, the Career Development coordinator for JETAABC. Returnees were treated to three superb speeches by Gene Vickers, Cindy Reeves, and Sabine Sasakura. Mr Vickers, a former RCMP officer and retired businessman, delivered an uplifting and moving speech on reaching one’s potential, sharing personal stories on the successes and failures in his own life. Ms Reeves, a career counsellor and educator with Vancouver Community College, shared techniques on how best to sell yourself to prospective employers. Finally, Mrs Sasakura explored goal-setting and had returning JETs engage each other on a variety of topics, with a focus on finding their passion and pursuing their dreams in a stepby-step approach.

Speakers, left to right: Gene Vickers, Cindy Reeves, and Sabine Sasakura


Clockwise from top: This year’s JET returnees, the ConsulGeneral’s residence, and Consul-General Okada.



Happy Birthday! JETAABC at the Birthday Reception of the Emperor of Japan Text: Phil Alma, Photos: Ann Yamashita On December 17, 2013, JETAABC Board members were honoured to attend a reception celebrating the birthday of the Emperor of Japan. The event was organized by the Consulate-General of Japan in Vancouver, and was attended by hundreds of members of the Japanese-Canadian community, numerous community groups, and elected officials, including the Right Honourable Christy Clark, Premier of British Columbia. In addition to celebrating Emperor Akihito’s birthday and his good health, the event was a fantastic opportunity to meet and mingle with our partners in Vancouver, to learn about the important work being done by Japanese Consul-General Seiji Okada, and to appreciate the deep, historical ties that bind British Columbia to Japan. Indeed, in 2014 the Consulate-General of Japan in Vancouver will celebrate its 125th anniversary. A series of events showcasing all aspects of Japan-Canada relationships will be held in 2014, and members of the public are invited to apply to the ConsulateGeneral of Japan in Vancouver with any ideas they might have to mark this important occasion.

Top: Members of the JETAABC Board of Directors at the Birthday Reception. Right: Photos of Their Imperial Majesties Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at the Reception.


What is a reception (especially a Japanese one) without food? On sample were varieties of delectable culinary offerings as well as a variety of difficult to find sake and ume-shu. Guests were able to sample these delicious spirits and toast to the Emperor’s long life. Many also took the time to celebrate the sake and Japanese food itself in light of Japanese cuisine’s very recent addition to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list. On behalf of JETAABC, we thank Consul-General Okada and the consular staff very much for kindly inviting us to this wonderful event, and for their hard work in making the birthday celebration a success. We all had a great time and the event was a great opportunity to reflect on the connections between Japan, British Columbia, and JET Alumni everywhere.



Year-End Summary from JETAABC Vancouver Island Text and Photos: Alison Dacia Brown The Island JETAABC folk had a successful year in 2013 and are very much looking forward to 2014. Last year we met five times in varying capacities to eat, drink, and experience Japanese culture. We started off with an “international” potluck at my place in March, where sushi, vegetarian mapo doufu, spinach gomaae, and onigiri were the order of the night, with 7-layer dip and some European alcohol rounding out the international contribution to the potluck. May saw us visit the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria courtesy of JETAABC, which boasted two Japanese art collections at the time, one on 19th century Japanese photography and the other on landscape prints of Kawase Hasui. We concluded the afternoon with an early dinner and drinks at the nearby Christie’s Carriage House Pub. In July, a few of us met at one of Victoria’s finest Japanese restaurants, SenZushi, for rainbow rolls to celebrate Pride weekend. In August, we met for another potluck at member Suzan Last’s house to stuff our faces, and we concluded with our returner’s reception in December again at SenZushi. Some members made cameos at a couple of other events in the fall. Japanese movie night was hosted by Cinecenta at UVIC in October with movies sponsored by The Japan Foundation and the Consulate-General of Japan. Just a few weeks later, the Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society put on their annual Japanese Cultural Fair with yours truly volunteering at the “All Things Japanese” table. It was a very busy and successful afternoon complete with Victoria’s own taiko drumming group, Uminari Taiko, taking the stage to entertain the crowd. We have a great group of core members, some who come to every event, and I would like to give a special thanks to Kyle Armour, Karen Murphy, Suzan Last, Katrina Barrie, Samantha Lauson, as well as Gil and Rose Oishi. Many alumni may remember Gil being on their panel for their initial JET interview! We would also like to say goodbye to Keith and Yuki Arvisais, who left Victoria for Ottawa in the fall. Their presence will be very much missed at our events and we wish them the best. JETAA Ottawa has gained a couple of great members.

Top: Members of JETAABC Vancouver Island. Middle: Alison at the Japanese Cultural Fair. Bottom: Celebrating Pride Weekend with rainbow rolls.

Research has been done into future events for 2014 and Tsukino Con, an annual Anime and Manga convention held every February, looks to be very promising. The Victoria Whiskey Festival, complete with a master class on Japanese whiskey is an option as well. At present, we host all of our events in Victoria, but it is hopeful that we can make it up island at least once this year to connect with alumni who live far from Victoria. On Vancouver Island? Connect with Alison at Alternatively, join the Facebook group under the name JETAA-Vancouver Island.




Online, On Vacation Text: Greg Joughin, Graphics: Thomas Law Ever been disappointed by the lack of online connectivity while on vacation in Japan? Yeah, me too. Until fairly recently, cell networks in Japan and North America weren’t compatible, and it turns out Japanese businesses are a lot stingier with free WiFi than we’re used to in North America. I got lucky four years ago because I stayed mostly in one place, and a neighbour’s WiFi didn’t need a password (shh, don’t tell them). But I knew that on my most recent trip I’d be travelling within Japan more, and wanted to use email, social media, Google Maps, and Skype, so I knew I’d have to plan ahead. My obvious first thought was to rent or buy a SIM, and use Japan’s solid cell network to provide both voice and mobile data. Japan’s has nearly world-leading “fourth generation” LTE networks, and most coverage maps from the major cell phone companies are gorgeously dense. However, renting a SIM requires an unlocked phone, and if you’re on a typical Canadian three- or two-year plan, yours probably isn’t. My Nexus Android phone was, though, so I looked into this option. For about 10 minutes. It turns out that it’s nearly impossible to get a SIM that gives you both voice and data. Not sure why, although I’ve heard rumors that the government doesn’t want it to be easy for anyone (especially foreign visitors?) to get anonymous, pre-paid cell phones. Who knows what crimes would be committed! No big deal, I thought; I only really want data, anyway. Voice would be handy, but with Skype and data, I’d have voice-over-IP—good enough! The next hurdle was whether to choose Option A (LTE high speed, but 1 or 2 GB limited data) or Option B (256k limited speed, but unlimited data). I hate these sorts of choices. LTE is easily fast enough for Skype, but a lot of Skype or Google Maps navigation might blow the data cap. Unlimited data solves the problem of usage, but then it’s probably marginal for Skype (or loading big photos on Facebook). Like any rational person in 2013, I wanted high speed AND unlimited data! The final type of product offering I came across was Personal WiFi, aka MeFi. These are pager-sized devices that connect to the LTE data network, but then “translate” that into WiFi, allowing you to access the Internet pretty much anywhere. Once you’ve charged it up and typed in the WiFi password, the device works just like a regular hotspot or


Ever been disappointed by the lack of online connectivity while on vacation in Japan? Yeah, me too.

home router—including the ability to connect more than one device, so both you and your fellow travellers can share one Personal WiFi rental. That all sounded pretty great to me, but the best part was that all of the rental plans I could find offered unlimited high-speed data. To sign up for any of the Personal WiFi plans I found looked to be pretty easy: fill in the online form on the rental company’s English website (complete with your flight and payment details) at least a couple of days before arriving in Japan, and your device will be waiting for you when you arrive. I signed up with, and was quoted a flat rate of 6,980 yen for their 15-day plan, which included the device, micro USB cable, wall-charging adapter, and carry pouch. (Bonus: the micro USB plug and AC adapter specs for the MeFi device were the same as for my phone, so I didn’t always have to have both with me if I wanted to travel extra-light.) It costs a little bit extra—around 700 yen—to have the device delivered to you at a luggage pickup/drop-off



counter at the airport, and another small charge—around 500 yen—to drop it off at the same counter on your way home. Doing so means that you have Internet access almost immediately after you step off the plane, right up until moments before you go through security for your return flight, rather than having to find the rental company’s office somewhere in Tokyo. I was able to Skype from the train platform while I waited to catch the Narita Express, and I was able to kill a couple of hours of my Narita layover before heading home, so in my opinion the extra cost was well worth it. There may also be extra costs if your planned rental period starts and finishes in different months (for example, pickup during the last week in one month, and return during the first week of the next month). I’m not sure why that is, exactly, but I’d imagine it’s a function of the contract from the wireless provider, rather than the rental company. With my portable WiFi in hand (well, in my backpack), I was able to Skype friends and family in Japan, email people at


home, post to Facebook from anywhere, get turn-by-turn walking directions in Roppongi and for navigation on the Tokyo trains and subway, back up all the photos I took on my phone and WiFi-enabled camera, check the weather for my next destination, and even use Google Maps for turn-by-turn directions on a two-day driving trip in a cheap rental car without built-in car navi. In short, I used the WiFi device pretty much all day, every day, and it was seamless and reliable. If you were paying attention to the costs above, you’ll recall I was expecting to pay just over 8,000 yen for my rental. However, inexplicably, the total MeFi rental cost for my two-week trip was a mere 6,634 yen (CAD $71.35, even with Visa’s exchange rate), all in. That’s less than 500 yen per day for unlimited high-speed wireless for up to 10 connected devices, which I think is a great deal. I feel like going the portable WiFi route worked out far better than a SIM rental would have, and I guarantee this will be part of my future trips. Unless something even better comes along in the meantime, of course.



December 30 – 10:33am

December 31 – 6:47pm

“So what exactly is it that we’re doing New Year’s Day?” I asked Ryouichi.

Ryouichi, Takeshi and I are elbows deep into empty mugs of Sapporo when Kiku-chan brings over another plate of okonomiyaki and monjayaki. The night of punishing our stomachs and livers is just beginning as we count down another year.

“We’re going to run a marathon at 5:00 in the morning,” he said as a matter of fact. Ryouichi Sasuga was the Adult Education and Volunteer Coordinator at the Board of Education. He was about my age, single and quite worldly so we became fast friends. Ryouichi was the one who introduced me to Kiku-chan and the wondrous world at Ashina.

December 31 – 9:51pm

“It’s not really a full marathon. Takeshi will start, then pass the sash to you midway and then you run and then pass it to me for the last leg.”

“Nama kudasai!”we bellow back as frothy mugs and salty peanuts are passed our way.

“How far do I have to run?” “About 8K.” “And we’re drinking the night before?” “Mochiron! ... and eating!” he answered with a smug grin on his face.

“Hai! Irrashai!”yells the man behind the counter. We stumble into another izakaya.

December 31 – 10:42pm Around the corner, next to the brightly lit sign of a girl frolicking on the beach in a bikini holding a beer, and through the low hanging cloth awning, we enter yet another izakaya. More drinks are poured and greasy food ingested. December 31 – 11:54pm

“And you’ve done this before?” I just had to ask.

I see the crowds of people but I do not recognize the faces.

“Every year!”

“Ah! BU-RA-I-A-N sensei da!” screamed a bunch of elementary school age boys.

Full of Booze and Grease Text: Bryan Chau

“GOOD MORNING CLASS!” I slur out as I gesture wildly with one hand. Ryouichi bursts out laughing as he drags me through the sea of humanity closer to the Shrine’s entrance.

Creative Commons photo by Arvind Thampi (left) and Kris Krüg (right).




“So what exactly is it that we’re doing New Year’s Day?” I asked Ryouichi. “We’re going to run a marathon at 5:00 in the morning.” … “And we’re drinking the night before?” “Mochiron! … and eating!” December 31 – 11:59pm “San… Ni… Ichi!” everyone exclaims. My ear drums burst forth from my ear canal as the loud ringing of Shrine’s bell starts. January 1 – 12:25am We roll down what appears to be a steep embankment and into the loving bosom of another izakaya. Drink, Eat, Repeat. January 1 – 1:17am Ryouichi’s mom comes and picks us up at the corner of Beer and Sake. We head over to his house and try to sleep for the next 4 hours. January 1 – 4:52am BEEP BEEP BEEP!!! Ryouichi’s alarm blares into my dream of sleeping on clouds of okonomiyaki under a blanket of sweet sauce.

I am driven to my starting point. As I pass Takeshi in the car, I do not see the look of determination on his face but the look of exhaustion and he is less than 700 meters into the run. January 1 – 6:11am The Sun is slowly rising and I finally see the bright orange sash appear behind a line of trees. I ready myself at the starting line by leaning against a metal railing. As Takeshi hands over the sash and keels over in one swift motion, something jolts me to life. Maybe it was the Vitamin C or the fresh crisp air or this New Year’s Day marathon that symbolizes a new start for me — the will to run overcomes me. I dart off like a sloth. January 1 – 6:27am My gut is full of booze and grease and the mixture is sloshing around with every stride. My head is pounding harder with every step and I can feel the acid bubbling within my stomach. Pride before Puke; Valour before Vomit; Champions before Chunks. January 1 – 7:10am I finally see Ryouichi standing behind a Stop sign. I try to sprint the last 100 metres but it looks more like a zigzag speed walk. I threw the sash at him and grab the sign to keep me upright. January 1 – 8:23am After some minor celebrations at the Finish Line including more Pocari Sweat and Vitamin C drinks, I make my way home.

I log roll off the futon onto the floor and into the bathroom.

Without disrobing, I pass out on top of my bed. Head buried deep in my pillow, my dream of the okonomiyaki bed returns.

January 1 – 5:16am

January 1 – 12:14pm

Starting Line: Cold, crisp morning. The Sun is barely up and neither am I. Ryouichi’s mom hands me a Pocari Sweat and a little bottle of Vitamin C.

I jump up from my slumber and rush to the bathroom.

Takeshi takes off like a sloth. We clap like sloths.




The Running Bug Text and Photos: Christian Butzek Like most JETs, I went to Japan with eyes wide open, ready to experience everything the island nation had to offer. I immersed myself in the culture, took Japanese lessons at the Kencho, and tried my hand at a number of activities like archery and calligraphy. I became a fan of quintessential Japanese sports like Sumo, and I possessed an uncanny ability to recite win/ loss records for my favourite wrestlers, like the Mongolian Asashoryu. While I couldn’t bring sumo back with me (there is no television coverage in Canada), I developed an affinity with another favourite pastime. Japan was the beginning of my love affair with longdistance running. It wasn’t until one mild, winter day that I decided to try running a few laps of my neighbourhood block after having watched high-schoolers run endless laps around the high school track. Long-distance running carries a special place in the sports soul of Japan. Nothing compares to running a marathon. It is the ultimate test of physical and mental strength. The ability to will yourself to the finish line for 42.195km is a special feat most are too afraid to even contemplate.

Day run, hotly contested by universities from across the country. Families gather around their television sets to watch arch-rivals Keio and Waseda Universities vie for top spot and bragging rights. One look at the running calendar, and you’ll find that there’s a marathon, half-marathon, or some local race open to the public in every corner of the island nation. Fast-forward 12 months from that mild, winter day and picture the writer lining up at the start of the 2008 Arakawa Marathon. In cool, windy conditions, I would need close to five hours to complete my first marathon. The distance humbles every runner, and, in my case, it was three grandmothers passing me on route to the finish line that did the humbling. It was only the beginning. I would try and try again. The next run finished in under 3hrs. 37 min.; then 3hrs and 17 mins.; then 3hrs. and 4mins. You get the picture: practice really does make perfect. I brought the running bug from Japan back with me. It’s part of my daily routine, the centre of my social circle, and the basis for an active, healthy lifestyle. I would never have taken up the sport had I not been immersed in a runningcrazed culture. Dear reader, I hope that you, too, have been left with a favourite new hobby that has changed your life for the better.

Ekidens, long-distance relays, can cover over 200km, run over two days, the most famous of which is the New Year’s

Photos of Christian at a recent race in Surrey.




Gluten-Free Gaijin For sufferers of gluten intolerance and celiac disease, Japanese food is viewed as a safe haven in a sea of wheat. I mean — sushi is just fish and rice, right? This over simplification is an unfortunate trend and is a prevailing ideology for resources aiding the gluten-intolerant who wish to visit Japan. As someone who has celiac disease, my three years in Japan were not the harbor I had expected, but rather a turbulent storm of disappointment, discovery and development.

When the food hangovers and fatigue began to accrue, I questioned the legitimacy of those unknown folk claiming Japanese food to be gluten-free. I thought a visual critique would be enough to decipher edibility, yet my symptoms lead me to believe otherwise. My research began with the ever suspicious monosodium glutamate, and lead me down a dark rabbit hole lined with dead villi. As I ventured further, I soon discovered a plethora of ingredients that I had assumed were safe but actually contain gluten or wheat. As the list of items I could eat began to dwindle, I clung to the aforementioned stronghold of sushi. Those rich rolls of fish and rice were the last man standing in this war of attrition but, sadly, they fell from the list after I realized rice wine vinegar often contains gluten.

If I had arrived in Japan ten years ago, my outlook may have been different — instead I had arrived when Vancouver and much of the West Coast were on the cusp of the gluten-free bandwagon. I was no longer scouring outlandish grocery stores and explaining myself to apathetic restaurant staff whenever I wanted to eat out. In turn, this forged a shield of ignorance as I touched down in Fukui, the heartland of Japanese washoku. The first months were an unabated whirlwind of gluttony: pregnant crabs for school lunch; barbequed squid caught on boats visible from my apartment; boar hunted in the local forest; plate competitions at the local kaitenzushi. All you can eat, all you can drink, all you can fathom.

I was caught in no man’s land — I could not eat processed food and was wary of most restaurants. Fortunately these series of unfortunate events drove me to discover all the fresh local ingredients I could cook with. While my friends were eating saba shio yaki at the local izakaya, I was learning to yaki my own saba. Crab, shallots, shrimp, squash, beef, plums, squid, mushrooms, game meat — I was becoming privy to all the fresh ingredients available in the Hokuriku region. A community of cooking aficionados further pulled me out of the dark abyss I had stumbled into and showered me with recipes and tutorials. The darkness I had experienced enhanced each meal I conjured and rewarded me an experience unique to most.

Text: Thom Gysler

Whether you’re a cunning cook or a culinary klutz, let Let’s Cooking: Japanese Cooking at Home be your go-to guide on the basics of Japanese home cooking. Written by JET alum Hana Dethlefsen, Let’s Cooking teaches you how to cook real Japanese food, from familiar spinach gomaae and agedashi tofu to lesser-known dishes like okonomiyaki, nizakana, and kanten desserts, using ingredients you can really find, and with simple instructions you can really follow. Go to to see how you can buy or reserve a copy. Hana Dethlefsen was a JET in Nara for 3 years. She worked as an ALT for two years in Haibara-cho (now a part of Uda-shi), and a CIR for one year in Tenri. While she was there, she wrote Japanese recipes for the Nara-ken JET newsletter, and continued to teach Japanese language, culture, and cooking to Canadians when she returned. She now teaches Japanese cooking for UBC Continuing Education and hopes to continue writing more cookbooks! The Let’s Cooking book is not affiliated with JETAABC.




Katari Taiko Spring Workshop Learn about taiko history, notation, and basic rhythms at this one-day, hands-on workshop. At the end of the workshop, participants will have learned a taiko piece. No previous experience is necessary. When: Sunday, February 2, 2014, 10:00 am–4:00 pm. Where: Taiko Space, 1254 Frances Street, Vancouver (just west of Clark Drive) Fee: $75 general or $50 for students / seniors / unemployed. Participants must be a minimum of 16 years of age. Please wear loose, comfortable clothing, and bring a lunch. Bring soft-soled indoor athletic footwear, or be prepared to go barefoot — street shoes cannot be worn inside the taiko space. Water and juice will be provided. Registration form available at: upcoming/katari-taiko-spring-workshop. Please call 604–683–8240 before sending the registration form and payment. This event is not affiliated with JETAABC.

Annual BC Japanese Speech Contest 2014 The contest recognizes achievement among British Columbia and Yukon residents learning Japanese as a foreign language. When: The contest will be held on Saturday, March 1, 2014, 10:00am–5:00pm. Where: Halpern Centre, Simon Fraser University. Application Deadline: 12:00pm, January 31, 2014. Admission is free and everyone is welcome to attend the event. For more information, please visit: www.vancouver. Keep an eye on the Consulate-General of Japan’s Events Calendar for many community events celebrating the 125th Anniversary of the Consulate-General of Japan in Vancouver: www.


Carousel Theatre For Young People Presents: Wondrous Tales of Old Japan by David Furumoto Mukashi, mukashi… Long ago, oh so very long ago, Japan was filled with magic and wonder. Wondrous Tales of Old Japan is a collection of traditional Japanese folk tales exploring worlds where ogres clash with heroes who are born from giant peaches, fishermen fall in love with dragon princesses, and magical dogs reincarnate. Ancient Japanese legends are brought to life on stage in a Kabuki-style theatrical production. Join us at the Waterfront Theatre on April 4–20, 2014 and celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Consulate General of Japan in Vancouver. For Ages 7+. When: April 4–20, 2014 Where: The Waterfront Theatre (1412 Cartwright Street on Granville Island) Tickets: Adults $29; Seniors & Students $25; Youth ages 7+ $15. No babes in arms. For more information, please visit or 604–685–6217.

Ukiyoe Spectacular Exhibition: Japanese Woodblock Prints from the 1800s Where: West Vancouver Museum; 680 17th Street, West Vancouver, BC When: January 10 to March 22, 2014 Where: Nikkei National Museum; 6688 Southoaks Crescent, Burnaby, BC When: January 11 to March 23, 2014 Ukiyoe artists from the 1800s Japan demonstrated superb woodblock-carving techniques and created compelling prints that are internationally recognized. Works by master ukiyoe artists that are rarely shown in North America will be on display at the West Vancouver Museum and the Nikkei National Museum in Burnaby. Over a hundred ukiyoe prints have been selected from the private collection of Mr. Shinichi Inagaki in Tokyo, Japan for these exhibitions. For more information, please visit:




This issue’s cover photo was taken by Thomas Law in Vancouver.

Alison Dacia Brown Ann Yamashita Bryan Chau Christian Butzek Greg Joughin Hana Dethlefsen Phil Alma Steve Chevalier Thom Gysler JETAABC Board of Directors Newsletter Designed + Compiled by Thomas Law

125th Anniversary of the Consulate-General of Japan in Vancouver! This kind of longevity must involve that healthy Japanese diet I keep hearing about. — page 2. The JETAABC Board of Directors can be quite the people magnet, like a kotatsu. So come on in! — page 3. “Welcome back, and now, it’s time for you to make a speech!” — page 5. The one time when the Board looks like kids at a party. — page 6. One of the most consistentlyrun JETAA subgroups ever. Thanks Alison! — page 7. Greg told me he’d be interested in writing an article for the newsletter. It took me a couple minutes to pick my jaw up from the floor. — page 8. Where am I gonna find stories about BU-RA-I-A-N from now on? — page 10. Honestly, it was a coincidence this article came after a story about a drunk-marathon. — page 12. And then there’s a photo of soba underneath an article about eating glutenfree? What is this?! Fire that Newsletter Coordinator! — page 13.

The End


This is it! This is my last cycle and last issue as Newsletter Coordinator. I hope you’ve enjoyed the transformation of the JETAABC Newsletter as much as I have over the past three years. Work and life changes have taken me away from Vancouver recently, and so I intend to take a smaller role on the Board of Directors in the next cycle. If you’ve always wanted to contribute to the JET community, please join JETAABC. Your participation is always appreciated. Better yet, be the next Newsletter Coordinator!

Thank you very much for your support.

Thomas Newsletter Coordinator

Keep in touch!

JETAABC 349 West Georgia St PO Box 2462 Vancouver, BC  V6B 3W7



January 2014 Volume 18 Issue 3  

Newsletter of the Japan Exchange and Teaching Alumni Association of British Columbia and Yukon - January 2014: JET Returnees' Reception and...