In the July issue: FuJET Casino Night, Stonewall Japan, World Cafe, More than what Japan has to offer, from the Editor, Photo Competition information, Fuku Book Club information, Food, and events information.
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Welcome, New and Old!!

A huge welcome to the JETs who have joined us in Fukushima in 2013, and also to all of you hanging around for another year! The second semester has started back and hopefully you are all (re)adjusting well. 

In the spirit of the new JET year, I asked a couple of new JETs to write about their first few weeks in Japan.

Huw Evans


This was my third time arriving in Japan but any sense of nostalgia or sentimentality was immediately substituted with the optimism (anxiety) of beginning a new job. My memories of the Tokyo Orientation that began only 18 jet lagged hours are somewhat hazy as it feels like a long time ago but I do remember the excitement of meeting so many new people. But if the Tokyo orientation did one thing to prepare me for the JET programme it was to set the precedent for the cycle of orientation/meetings/nomikai that dominated the three weeks between arrival in Japan and first proper day at work.

Despite the fact that I really did enjoy the orientation in Tokyo, it was a huge relief to finally arrive in Fukushima, meet my supervisors and move in to my apartment. Of course, everybody’s situation with their living arrangements is slightly different but I found that my apartment was well equipped and larger than I expected. Conveniently, I arrived in my host city a few days before the week-long o-bon festivities began, allowing me to recuperate and get to know my neighbourhood as well as make myself known around town by checking out some of the festivities.

However, no sooner had the o-bon holidays finished than the orientation in Fukushima had begun. I personally felt that this orientation was more useful than the one in Tokyo, perhaps due to the fact everyone was more familiar to each other and the workshops were more specific to our situations. I felt that the current JETs who took time out to help out in both the Tokyo and Fukushima orientations did a really great job of welcoming all the newbies like me. I’d also like to mention here that while the various audiences with various public officials that are conducted throughout the first few weeks do just seem like formalities, it is definitely encouraging to know how seriously the JET programme is considered in Japan.

And so, with the first few weeks over there is little else to do but finally get down to work. Of course, the orientations can only prepare you so much and I personally am ready to meet the students and get teaching. After all, that is why I’m here.どうもありがとうto everyone who has helped me so far. Looking forward to seeing you all at future events!

 Tiffany Haraguchi 


Hello!  I am one of the five (for now, five) newbie JETs in Iwaki City.  Exactly 20 days have passed since my arrival in Fukushima, and school finally started this week in my town.  20 days ago when we first arrived, we were all quite nervous about teaching.  There are only three new ALT’s hired by the Iwaki BOE, and we shared our concerns on our long bus ride to Iwaki, Fukushima.   
My first night in Iwaki, I was surprised at how nice everyone is.  Not only did our sempais treat us to an awesome yakitori dinner, they had prepared a welcome-care-package, which included a hand soap, toilet papers, ramen, and stickers.  At our first orientation at the Iwaki BOE, the BOE supervisors and all 19 ALT sempais were really kind to us.  They took us to local festivals and restaurants, helped us get our phones and internet, and helped us through our orientations.  At the welcome enkai in Iwaki last week, each of us received a gift, and I was really touched.  I met many non-Iwaki Fukushima JETs at the prefectural orientation as well, and they were all very kind to us kohais.    

Although I am still nervous at the start of school, I feel extremely lucky that I am surrounded by so many kind-hearted individuals, and I know that I can count on the support of this community when I need the help.  (Even this week, I’ve received so many text messages from sempais checking up on us on our first lessons.)  On behalf of the Fukushima JET kohais, I want to say thank you to our wonderful sempais for their warm support!

A message from API AJET...


Your first question might be, “What is API AJET?” API AJET stands for the Asian Pacific Islander Association for Japan Exchange and Teaching. Our mission is to provide peer support for the Asian Pacific Islander (API) community in Japan, as well as to raise local and global awareness about the diverse range of issues that face this community. API AJET is open to any and all who wish to share experiences and/or promote cross-cultural understanding through discussions, events, and activities.
My name is Erika Ehren, and I am the Block 2 Representative for API AJET, which covers Fukushima, Miyagi, Niigata, and Yamagata. First of all, let me just say welcome to Japan! I hope you have a fantastic upcoming year. JETs of Asian descent have a very different experience from JETs who are more visibly foreign, and it can sometimes be difficult. If you ever need someone to talk to, I’m here to chat. Feel free to send me an email, and I’m happy to help in any way that I can!  
I would also like to take this opportunity to invite you to contribute to the API AJET newsletter called @API. Whether you write creative pieces, have someone you would like to interview, would like to write an op-ed piece, or would even like to showcase your photography, we’re always looking for new voices to feature in our monthly publication. You can contact @API by emailing us at <>.
If you want to learn more about API AJET, we have a Facebook group called API AJET where you can talk with other JETs about your experiences in Japan and ideas for how to improve understanding and awareness about the API community. If you would like to receive information about API AJET events close to home in Block 2 or in the rest of Japan, you can sign up for the API AJET newsletter by following this link.

Erika Ehren
Block 2 Representative
Aizumisato, Fukushima


by Cat Dinh

As a new JET, I was really excited to get involved in some of the unique festivals in Japan. Higashiyama Onsen is one of the most popular onsen villages in Tohoku for its outdoor hot springs by the riverside and waterfall. お湯かけ祭り means "water tossing festival" where a mikoshi (portable shrine) is carried around all the onsen lodges, and hotel guests are encouraged to splash buckets of their hotel's onsen water on the mikoshi. Standing on the mikoshi are two girls throwing 5 yen coins, threaded with different colored yarn, representing luck in love, health, and fortune. The girls and mikoshi are carried by a bunch of drunk people, including JETs tall enough carry the bars. Being short, I was only able to touch the mikoshi carrier for maybe 2 minutes before feeling almost trampled. For non-mikoshi handlers, the other option was follow the mikoshi and respond to "Seiya!" (or was it "Shoya"? or maybe "Sorya"?) with the same. Whatever the call and response was, it was a great opportunity to shout at the top of your lungs and let out that genki spirit. Before heading out, everyone is offered a can of beer. This is so you enjoy the moment rather than getting annoyed by all the hotel guests who splash buckets of water at you because they missed the mikoshi. Or because they just want to splash the gaijin. You can even break rank and throw a couple buckets of hot water on the mikoshi (or your fellow JETs) yourself! With the humid summer heat, it was great getting soaked and cooling off on the way to the next onsen.

This event was arranged by the Aizu Wakamatsu International Association

Iwaki Odori

By Felicity Kerkham

On August 8th, the culmination to the Iwaki Tanabata Festival, the Iwaki Odori, was held in Taira. Last year, I watched the groups dance in the loop wishing I could join in - this year I got my wish.

The Iwaki International Association dances every year and so this time I joined in. About a week ahead we had a practice evening where we learnt the moves which I was very glad of (they make look simple but they're a real challenge for the uncoordinated!).

On the day, we met up and changed into our costumes - I (akabeko) Fukushima T-shirts with Hawaiian shirts over the top (you may be wondering about the Hawaiian shirt - it's actually the uniform for city officials in Iwaki as Iwaki has strong ties to Hawaii). After another quick practice on the sidewalk, we headed to the dance. We would dance for forty minutes, with a short break in the middle. It was great fun! but of course really tiring in the summer heat. People cheered encouragement from the sidelines, and many of my students and ex-students yelled out my name when they saw me! A brilliant experience - if you ever get the chance to join in in any events like this, make sure to raise your hand!

Upcoming Events

Aizu Festival

by Erika Ehren

Aizuwakamatsu is a fascinating place steeped in Japanese history. Also known as the Samurai City, Aizuwakamatsu brings out the big guns (literally!) for the Aizu Samurai Festival (会津祭り) held every year around September 21-23. The people of Aizu will take you back in time to the Shinsengumi, the White Tiger Brigade, and Niijima Yae, giving you a glimpse into what it was like to watch Japanese warriors ride down the roads on horses, proud and ready for battle.
The main event, the Aizu Clan Parade, takes place on Monday Sept. 23 (a public holiday), but there are many other events leading up to the big parade. Saturday, Sept. 21 will be the lantern parade down Shinmeidori (the main street of Aizuwakamatsu) starting at 6pm, followed by the Aizu Bandai Bon Dance. On Sunday Sept. 22, there will be a Drum and Fife Parade/Nisshinkan Children’s Parade from 10am – 12:30pm, with more Bon Dancing in the evening at 7pm. The main parade will begin Monday around 9:30am and festivities will last until 4pm.
The festival is centered around Tsuruga-jo, the local castle and one of the biggest castles in Tohoku. I’m sure many of you have seen pictures of this famous castle, or you might have even walked the grounds and gone inside, but the Aizu Festival offers a rare opportunity!  You can get a tour of Tsuruga-jo COMPLETELY IN ENGLISH! Volunteers from the Aizuwakamatsu International Association (including local ALTs!) will be giving tours of the castle in English for those who want to know more about the history that surrounds Tsuruga-jo and Aizu. If you’re interested, stop by the AWIA booth on the castle grounds on Monday to sign up. It’s a wonderful opportunity, and one that you shouldn’t pass up!
Aizu isn’t just limited to Tsuruga-jo though. Come and see Iimoriyama, Doctor Noguchi Street, Aizumura, and more! (I can go on and on, but I won’t.) So come out to Aizu and enjoy the samurai atmosphere that the locals are so proud of. Can’t you hear the delicious festival food already calling out to you?

Frankly FuJET

from the Presidents

Let me first give a huge, warm welcome to all the group A, B and C JETs that have recently arrived in our lovely prefecture. I am sure that over the past weeks, you have experienced many new and exciting things, as well as being bombarded with information! But how genki and excited you all are is really awesome to see, and I look forward to getting to know you all over this coming year.

As we all start our first week back at school, doing countless self-introductions, and finding our way around, you may feel like it is getting on top of you. This is natural, and can be quite scary. The term they use is 'culture shock', but at times, it feels more like bomb has gone off! The way they do things in Japan at times can be so different and frustrating. But you need to remember that it is these things that make Japan amazing and special. Try everything at least once and be open to new things and enjoy everything that makes Japan crazy, weird and unique!

If you are feeling frustrated or upset and need someone to talk to, Fukushima has an amazing support system. The people around you, your ASLs and FuJET are willing to help you and listen to your problems. Please do not be afraid to ask for help!

I hope everyone enjoyed the summer break, and are excited about getting back to work again....But fear not! We can still enjoy the spirit of summer with all the upcoming events and festivals (check out our Facebook page 'FuJET' or our news site to keep in the loop!), so I hope to see all your genki faces there! Let's enjoying! 


from the Editor

Here it is, the September Lucky Island! I hope you enjoy all the great stuff we've got in here for you. If you are new to the prefecture, welcome! Through this newsletter, I hope to keep you all up to date with events going on in the prefecture as well as great articles and useful information.

August was crazy busy with festivals, leavers, new arrivals and holidays for many. I myself went to South Korea and Taiwan - well recommended if you haven't been!

This month we we settle in to the longest term of the school year. Never fear though, there is still always plenty to do! There are two long weekends this month, as well as the Beach Bomb and the canyoning trip (sign up NOW if you want to go).

As always, I need your help to keep the Lucky Island awesome: articles, tips, event information, restaurant recommendations, recipes, crazy things teachers/students have said... I'm always looking for stuff so be sure to send me an email! And suggestions are always welcome - how can we make the newsletter better?

I hope you all settle in quickly for the new term, whether you are new or just back from summer vacation. Enjoy!


The second sitting for the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) for the year will be held on Sunday, December 1st. You can sign up online from Monday, September 2 until Wednesday, October 2 at 5pm by clicking this link. If you wish to sign up via mail rather than online, contact your local international association. Mail applications cost an additional 500yen.
Fuku Book Club

The next Fuku Book Club will be held on September 8 at Don Jalopeno's Mexican restaurant in Koriyama. The book up for discussion is "Shades of Grey" by Jasper Fforde (NOT to be confused with "50 Shades of Gray" which is a whole other kettle of fish). For more information, check out the event page on Facebook for more information, and come along if you're interested; we'd love to hear what you think and enjoy your company on a hopefully sunny Sunday afternoon with like-minded book clubbers.


A year in the life...

by Erica Grainger

Erica writes about her first year on JET...

“Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: that is the ideal life” (Mark Twain).  Those words ring true when I reflect on my JET experience so far. 
Looking back, it was only a year ago, but I can still remember arriving in the scorching hot summer of late July 2012 for Tokyo Orientation at Keio Plaza.  I was feeling a little hot and sticky (from the heat and humidity, don’t get the wrong idea) and was joined by hundreds of other new JETs, who were fresh off the plane and a little jet-lagged.  I think we were all feeling eager, nervous, excited, and overwhelmed to various degrees. There were no doubts or fears in my mind, just a sheer feeling of amazement, “Is this all really happening to little ol’ me?”  Indeed, I was one of “the chosen ones” as Xan once told me.
Those early months were full of new and exciting events in Fukushima and it was a whirlwind of constant self-introductions at my schools. I can’t remember how many times I uttered the words, “I’m Erica-sensei, I’m from Australia,” and the amount of times I got asked if I was Michael’s girlfriend.  “No,” we both groaned. We just happened to arrive together in Group A and teach at the same schools and live around the corner from each other...I suppose looking back it does sound a bit suspicious to those innocent young minds (not so innocent trust me).  
From the very beginning I knew I loved JET and the JET community….well, they would grow to love me too (hopefully). One of the reasons was due to FuJET.  They ran so many fantastic events and encouraged everyone to get involved and socialize, forming close friendships and a sense of belonging and identity within Fukushima.  For example, who could forget such misadventures as: the Iwaki Beach Bomb and the rite of passage for new JETs (especially Iwaki JETs) – skinny-dipping at midnight.  Other events include the Nagano Soccer Tournament, where I probably befriended half of the opposing teams and met the infamous “growler/grabber”, she was a little scary I must admit!
My first Christmas in Japan, without my family was a very special time and non-traditional in everyway possible.  Firstly, Christmas eve involved a group sleepover (not how it sounds, trust me) and a ‘Cards against Humanity’ evening with lots of laughs and evil giggles with all my new Iwaki friends and Caveman, an honorary Iwaki JET!  Secondly, Christmas Day was celebrated at Baba’s, which meant a huge Indian dinner banquet with curry and chai tea.  My first Indian Christmas dinner in Japan!  It certainly was unforgettable for all the right reasons.
Throughout the year, there have been many amazing events and celebrations like Christmas that capture the essence of being a JET and the importance of friendship.  For instance, I was extremely touched and humbled when my closest JET friends and many other wonderful JETs joined me at Baba’s to celebrate my birthday in February.  Some of them even drove from Aizu and returned home that night! That night was one of the highlights of my JET experience, just being surrounded by some of the most extraordinary people I’ve ever met.  Thank you all for coming and celebrating with me.  I would love to do it again next year with you and the new JETs! 
Finally, what I’ve really grown to value during my time on JET is not just the friendships you make and the experiences you have, but what you learn through JET and the importance of being resilient to change.  I’ve lived overseas before, but never on my own and my initial plan was to stay for 1 year and return to Melbourne.  However over the course of my first year on JET, through thick and thin and trips to Hokkaido with Xan, Hong Kong, Kyoto, etc.  I’ve grown to realise that my new home away from home is Japan!  I simply know that Fukushima will always be in my heart.  There are far too many marvellous and special people to thank for making my first JET year such an incredible experience, but you all know who you are.  So, thank you all and welcome new JETs – you are all unique!
FuJET events, as I'm sure you're aware, are awesome fun. However, there is a lot of planning and organising involved, so most events require you to sign up and plan in advance. To make sure you mark them all down in your calendar and sign up in time, here is a list of all of the known upcoming events!

August 31~September 1: Aizu Riverside Camping @ Riverside near Route 59, Aizu Wakamatsu. From 3pm~9am. Not strictly a FuJET event, but it's an event organised by FuJETs. BBQ, campfires, DJs and tents - what's not to like? Bring your own food, drink and bedding. If you have a tent, bring that too - if not, contact Danielle Markewicz via email or Facebook as soon as possible. For more information, check out the Facebook event page.

September 7~8: Yotsukura Beach Bomb @ Yotsukura Beach, Iwaki. From 12noon~8am. Have you ever wanted to hang out on a beach in the sun, drink a few beers, swim and have a BBQ with your fellow JETs at the SAME TIME, and party all night long? Then Beach Bomb is for you! You can camp on the beach, which is what we intend to do. So if you want to do this, bring a tent of some such. FuJET has a few tents which anyone can use, but sadly, they only hold a finite number of people so if you have a tent please bring it along. For more information, check out the Facebook event page.

September 8: Fuku Book Club @ Don Jalapenos, Koriyama. From 2pm. Not strictly a FuJET event either, but it's an event organised by FuJETs. This is the third meeting of the Fuku Book Club and everyone is welcome. THe book up for discussion this time is "Shades of Grey" by Jasper Fforde (do not confuse this with "50 Shades of Grey". That's a very different kind of club). More information is available on the Facebook event page.

September 13~15: FuJET Canyoning Trip @ Canyons, Gunma. From 6pm Friday~8pm Sunday. This is a yearly FuJET trip, whereby people get a bus to Canyons resort and go canyoning, plus one activity of your choice: Paragliding, Bungy Jumping, or Rafting. This is followed up by a BBQ dinner and a visit to a mixed onsen the next day (bring a towel). There are only a couple of places left, so send an email NOW to with your name, preferred pick-up point (Fukushima, Koriyama or Aizu-Wakamatsu) and preferred activity (beware, spaces are limited so you may not get your activity of choice). More information is available from the Facebook event page.
August 31~September 1: Kawamata Shamo Festival @ Kawamata Community Centre, Kawamata, Date area. From 10am~9pm Saturday and 10am~4pm Sunday. This event will be cancelled in the event of bad weather. Kawamata is known for its Shamo, a small bird similar to a chicken, and at this event you can taste Shamo used in a variety of dishes including whole roasted shamo, yakitori, ramen and karaage. For more information please visit the website.

September 1: Oku Rock Festival @ Kinosato Yurari, Tadami, Minami-Aizu. From 11am~6pm. The name Oku Rock comes from "o'clock" and represents the time lost after everyone's clocks stopped after the 2011 disaster. Using the music inside our hearts, we want to get everyone's clocks moving again. Performers include Shigeru Izumiya, notice it, LIFriends and Yano Junko. For more information visit the website.

September 4~15: "To Fukushima" Exhibition @ Art Space Elicona, Omachi (Taira), Iwaki. From 10:30am~6:00pm (the building will be closed all of Monday, and will close at 5pm on the final Sunday). This art exhibition features works by over 20 youths reflecting on the Tohoku earthquake. For more information and inquiries please contact Art Space Elicona: TEL: 0246-24-0004.

September 7: Furudono Sumo Tournament @ Furudono. From 1pm. Men can join the bouts, women can watch as the men compete in actual sumo bouts in little more than their underwear. A car is needed to access this mountainous spot. If you wish to fight, contact John Loynes asap via the Facebook event page.

September 8: Alios Park Festival @ Taira Central Park (in front of Alios), Iwaki. The event will be cancelled in rainy weather. There will be stalls selling works of art, handicrafts, food and drinks. There will also be music played by local DJs, a live stage and dance performances. From 11am~4pm. For more information and inquiries please contact Alios: TEL: 0246-22-5800. E-mail:

September 8: Bousasara Traditional Performance Art @ Riverside terrace next to Iwaki La La Mew, Onahama, Iwaki. Bousasara is a stick musical instrument used in this traditional performance art which was first used to pray for a bountiful harvest. This event will also feature Boujutsu (martial art using a staff) and the Three Lion Dance. From 1:30pm. For more information and inquiries please contact Iwaki La La Mew: TEL: 0246-43-1001.
September 14~15: Fukushima Soba Festival @ Iwaki City Regional Exchange Center, Iwaki. From 10:30am~3:30pm.. Free entry (on Sunday you can try making your own soba for 500yen). For more information and inquiries please contact the Fukushima Soba Festival Executive Committee Office: TEL: 0246-44-6545.

September 14~16: Endo Falls Autumn Festival @ statue of Fudou-myouou (Acala) in Endo Falls by the Soma temple, Otama-mura, Aidachi. Participants will have the opportunity to join in the firewalking. For more information and inquiries please contact Otama-mura Tourism Association: TEL: 0243-24-8136.

September 22: La La Mew Yosakoi Dance festival @ Iwaki La Lam Mew, the plaza on the southern side (and other locations), Onahama, Iwaki. Featuring 500 dances in teams from inside and outside Fukushima Prefecture. From 10:30am~4:30pm. Free event. For more information and inquiries please contact Iwaki La La Mew: TEL: 0246-92-3701.

September 21~23: Aizu Festival @ Tsurugajo as well as other locations throughout Aizu-Wakamatsu City. There is a different procession held each day of the festival, as well as other events. For more information and inquiries please contact the Aizuwakamatsu Tourism and Local Products Association: TEL: 0242-24-3000. Website See also the Facebook event page for information and a schedule of events.
September 29: Iwaki Kite Flying Festival @ Yotsukura Beach, Iwaki. From 9am~2pm. Free event. For more information and inquiries please contact the Community Services Division of Iwaki City Office Yotsukura Branch: TEL: 0246-32-2111.

A big thanks to Andrew in Aizu-Wakamatsu and our new CIRs, Sebastian in Iwaki and William in Fukushima for all of the events information. 
Right-click to save and print this calendar for your reference. The events are coloured according to the area of Fukushima where they are happening for quick reference - more information is available in the body of the newsletter. Also check the website for our Google calendar.
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Iwaki, Fukushima 970-8026