Nancy Kikuchi Memorial Fund

Los Angeles
Saturday, 20 September 2014 18:04
It is with great sorrow that we announce the passing of a JETAASC legend, Nancy Kikuchi. Nancy was one of the founding members of JETAASC, and one of the first ever JETs -- back when it was called the Mombusho English Fellowship. She was a tireless advocate for the better of the relationship between Japan and America. She was our heart, our soul, our guiding light, and she is missed beyond words.

JETAASC is collecting donations in Nancy's name for the following non-profits: Little Tokyo Koban, Little Tokyo Service Center, and Japan American Cultural & Community Center. A portion of the funds will be for a funeral wreath.

Welcome to JETAA Southern California


The JET Alumni Association of Southern California is an organization composed of former JET Program participants and people who have shown a vital interest in the JET Program. It was established to promote mutual understanding and international exchanges between Japan and the United States through the members' experiences of living, working and carrying out local activities in Japan and to promote fellowship among JET Programme alumni.

Although we call ourselves JETAA of Southern California, our formal area of responsibility covers the Southwestern US, including Arizona.

JETAASC not only supports the Consulate in JET related activities including recruitment, candidate selection, and orientation, but also organizes activities that provide JET alumni with opportunities for entertainment, friendship and employment.

Pre-Departure Orientation 2014
Los Angeles
Wednesday, 04 June 2014 17:57

It's that time again! Pre Departure 2014 will take place June 21 (Saturday) at the Four Points LAX 11:30am-6:00pm; reception 7:00pm-9:00pm. Alumni are encourgaed to attend. The Japan Consulate are now looking for talented JET Alumni to make presentations on various topics. If you are interested, please reply to Keri DiYorio for details. 宜しくお願いいたします!

JET for Life
Los Angeles
Tuesday, 01 November 2011 18:44

By Audrey Shiomi, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Once you’re a JET, you’re always a JET. That’s what I’ve come to realize these past few months. Along with the rest of the world on March 11, I sat in front of my TV, watching the horrible scene of houses being swept away by the tsunami and feeling utterly helpless. But unlike most, I was a JET, so I knew there were ways to help aside from donating money to the Red Cross.


Within days, JETs old and new were seeking each other out on Facebook, starting networks, and brainstorming ideas to help the Tohoku region. Worried parents began contacting our network in search of missing JETs, so we collectively scoured Google’s Person Finder for information. I personally offered to interpret for anyone wanting to contact people in the Tohoku region. Another JET friend took to Twitter to send out “Looking for…” messages in Japanese.


Months later, my local JETAA chapter here in Southern California participated in the Socks for Japan drive for those evacuees who had so little time to grab enough clothing before the tsunami hit. Our chapter contributed to a worldwide collection of 175,115 pairs of socks, and counting.


More recently, I heard about an opportunity by Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to return to my host institution in Sendai and help promote the city. Japan’s tourism industry was hit hard by the March 11 disaster, and it compelled the government to take unconventional measures—offering free tickets to Japan—to help bring tourists back. So in September, I flew to Sendai City, met up with friends, traveled to East Matsushima to survey the devastation, and then went home to write articles and blogs about it in the local paper. (You can find some of them on Just keyword search “Audrey Shiomi.”)


It didn’t end there: While I was in Sendai, workers at my former office told me about an event to be held at its Sister City—Riverside, California—in the coming weeks. They were planning to promote Sendai with a cultural booth and needed a few bamboo trees for their display. (Sendai is famous for its Tanabata Festival where people decorate bamboo branches with messages written on strips of colored paper.) They had no idea where to buy bamboo in the U.S., so I offered to contact my neighborhood Japanese nursery and personally deliver them to Riverside. They were extremely grateful that I’d take time to help on such short notice. For me, it was a no-brainer; it was my way of giving back.


I thought my JET career ended when I left Sendai City. Ten years later, they’re calling me back. In fact, they’re calling all of us back. Just think, Japan experienced one of the worst disasters in modern history that took a tremendous toll on their economy. How could they not need our help?


During our time as JETs, we made friends, traveled Japan, studied the culture, experienced how the Japanese people work; some of us even picked up the language. Now is our chance to continue our ambassadorial duties back home.  Here are some suggestions for doing so:


1) Join a Japanese prefecture association in here in Southern California.

Prefecture associations, aka, kenjinkai, won’t be around much longer if younger generations don’t help revive them. Most were founded over 100 years ago by first-generation Japanese Americans, but the remaining Nisei members are well into their 70s (if not 80s) and most of their children and grandchildren are not active participants. Many of the organizations stay in solid communication with their prefectures, so there’s much that could be done—homestays, school visits, cultural exchanges, etc.—if people were willing to put in the effort to plan. The organization I’m a member of, Hiroken, is to taking a group of first-time Japan visitors to Hiroshima next year. It’ll be our inaugural trip and I’m both excited and nervous. Contact me if you’d like to help us.


2) Become an active member of JETAA.

We could always use the help promoting the JET Programme.


3) Stay in contact with your coworkers/BOE representative in Japan.

Government workers get shuffled every few years, so the next time you visit your old office don’t expect to see any familiar faces. Yes, it’s a sad thought, but you never know when you’ll need their help. When MOFA announced the Tohoku trip, they required us to directly contact our host institutions for approval. Luckily, a good friend still worked at my old office  and put in a good word for me.


4) Contact your host city’s Sister City association in the U.S.

Many cities throughout Japan actively engage in Sister City/Friendship City activities via official delegations, international conferences, exchange visits, and more. Volunteers are integral in helping to make things run smoothly. Even if your host city doesn’t have a Sister City in Southern California, you can try contacting other Sister Cities linked to Japan. Here are a few: Mito/Anaheim, Ota/Burbank, Kaizuka/Culver City, Ichikawa/Gardena, Tsukuba/Irvine, Fujinomiya/Santa Monica, Mishima/Pasadena, Okazaki/Newport Beach.


5) Continue studying Japanese.

It especially comes in handy when ordering sushi, so keep on studying whether it be through community college, Meetup groups, language exchange partners found on, or by Skyping above mentioned coworkers from time to time. The Japan Foundation will be holding language classes in downtown LA starting in January. Check their site for details:

Responses to March 11th: The Taylor Anderson Memorial Fund, Photoji Project and ToBetterUs
Los Angeles
Tuesday, 09 August 2011 18:58
Taylor Anderson Memorial Gift Fund
by Maria Valenzuela
The tragedy of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan earlier this year touched both current JET participants and JET alums who all have strong emotional ties to Japan.  JETs and the JET community have responded in various ways to help. Some have started up their own charities to benefit the Tohoku area. The two articles below are about organizations started by members of our own JETAASC community working in creative ways to aid Japan. Another way JETs have reached out to Japan and those who have been lost are through memorials. Two JET Program participants Taylor Anderson and Monty Dickson were sadly lost during those tragic events. AJET is running a memorial site where condolence cards are posted to an online blog. The memorial site is Taylor's family is running a memorial gift fund towards projects they feel Taylor would have wanted to see through in Japan.

I had the special privilege to hear Taylor Anderson's father, Andy Anderson, address all the JETAA USA chapter representatives at the JETAA National Conference in Washington, D.C. Primarily he wanted to thank the JET community for their heartfelt response in response to Taylor's passing and the earthquake/tsunami devastation in Tohoku. Secondly, he wanted to inform the JET alumni community about the Taylor Anderson Memorial Gift Fund. The purpose of the Taylor Anderson Gift Fund is "To help schools, families and students in the Ishinomaki area recover from the earthquake and tsunami. The fund's website is . Some of the projects the fund goes toward are: The Taylor Anderson Reading Corner; Smile Kids Japan - Tohoku Kids' Japan; The Fruit Tree Project; Japan YMCA. Mr. Anderson hopes to channel the outpouring of support by JET alums in order to empower current JETs who are over there now.  He sees the JET alum community as a font of what we calls "Community Service Team Leaders - JETs who have been there and can inspire others." He also want to bring to our attention the changing needs on the ground in Tohoku where current JETs serve as "the eyes and ears in the schools and communities." In this regard the Taylor Anderson Memorial Fund also aims to help JETs cover the expenses they personally incur volunteering (gas, tires, meals). He asks that we help these JETs who are spending their non-work hours attending to the affected area on their own dime. He told us, "What I'm seeing is passion over there" and "passion for service comes from helping from personal connections." The Taylor Anderson Memorial Fund and other charities spurred on by the JET community area testament to the passion, service and person-to-person connections occurring in the JET worldwide community.

Photoji Project
by Gabriel Della Vecchia

During the summer of 2010, the members of Photoji Project spent three weeks documenting, through photographs and interviews, the historically important onsen hot spring town of Naruko in the Tohoku region of Japan. We focused our explorations on the concept of toji : a traditional method of healing by bathing in the medicinal waters of the hot springs multiple times a day over the course of a number of weeks.

Then came the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11th, 2011. Over the course of one terrible, bitterly cold winter afternoon, everything in this region of the world changed. In a strange twist of fate, fading Naruko, home to hundreds of usually empty hotel rooms, became a refuge for 1000 tsunami victims, relocated there by the prefectural government. The ritual of toji, staying in an onsen town for an extended period in order to heal, has taken on an entirely new meaning.

Photoji Project returned to Naruko in May and June 2011, nearly one year after our original visit, to document how a place that was written off has now become safe haven for hundreds of families.

We will share these stories in California in an exhibit we have named "Vanishing Point." We will be showing at the Little Tokyo Koban and Visitors' Center in Los Angeles in mid-August to coincide with Nisei Week, the largest Japanese-American Festival in the US. For the month of September, to commemorate the 6th month anniversary of the disasters, we will be showing at the wonderful Elsewhere Gallery in Fairfax, just outside of San Francisco.

The people of rural Japan were already facing steep challenges before the disasters, and now with added hurdles, we want to ensure their efforts towards recovery are seen as broadly as the images of destruction. At both locations, we will be collecting donations, selling prints, and holding a silent auction to raise funds for the Naruko community. We are looking forward to seeing you at exhibit!

Photo Exhibit “Vanishing Point” in Los Angeles

Location: Little Tokyo Koban and Visitor’s Center, 307 E. 1st Street, Los Angeles, CA
Dates: Friday, August 12th – Sunday August 21st
Admission: Free, donations appreciated.
Closing Party and Talk Session will be held on Saturday, August 20th
Doors at 5:30pm, Event at 6pm
Hours: 9am – 6pm

Photo Exhibit “Vanishing Point” in San Francisco

Location: Elsewhere Gallery, 1828 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard,Fairfax, CA
Dates: Friday, September 2nd – Tuesday September 20th
Admission: Free, donations appreciated.
Opening Reception and Talk Session will be held on Tuesday, September 6th
Doors at 6:30pm, Event at 7pm
Hours: 11am – 6pm

Contact : Photoji Project
E-mail : This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Artwork to Aid Japan: ToBetterUs
by Raymond Gonzalez
ToBetterUs Co-Founder, Graphic Artist
JET Alumni, Miyazaki-ken 06-07

If a drawing or a song could help the tsunami survivors in Japan, would you pick up a pencil and start doodling, or a mic and start singing? If you could make a donation towards the tsunami relief without giving any money, just a bit of your time, would you?

ToBetterUs gives you the opportunity to do exactly that. ToBetterUs is a soon-to-be-launched webservice utilizing artwork and social networks to generate donations for the Japanese tsunami relief effort. The aim of ToBetterUs is to change the way we help those in need through a little creativity and time, without a penny from your pocket. We hope to affect positive by taking advantage of the internet and the digital age. Here’s how it works:

Creative people, like you, post their artwork on This can be anything from movies, music, posters, photography, or anything creative. It can be Japan related, or simply a piece of art you’ve created. Once on ToBetter.Us, invite your friends and other art admirers to see your work on the website. Then, those friends would spread the word on their social networks, driving more friends to admire your art. With every page visit to your artwork, revenue is generated through the ads on the page. Then, we donate the money generated to a charity helping in tsunami relief!

If you are interested in participating, check us out at and start uploading your artwork! If you have any questions, we’re more than happy to answer anything you may have. You can send any questions or concerns to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . You can also contact us through our social networking pages:
Tohoku Quake Relief Charity Picnic
Los Angeles
Thursday, 12 May 2011 00:10
We're throwing a Tohoku Quake Relief Charity Picnic and we hope to see you there! Join JETAASC on Saturday, May 14 at Wilson Park from 11am - 3pm and bring your own food (enough to share for 10 people). We'll be collecting donations on site to give to the Koban to aid the relief effort in Japan.

Who: JETAASC - JET Alumni Association of Southern California
What: Tohoku Quake Relief Charity Picnic
When: 11am - 3pm
Where: Wilson Park in Torrance: 2400 Jefferson St, 90510
Why: Because we love Japan!
For questions and to RSVP, email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Socks for Japan - We Need New Socks!
Los Angeles
Tuesday, 03 May 2011 22:22
Socksforjapan-ad270The JET Alumni Association of Southern California (JETAASC) is supporting a ‘Socks for Japan’ campaign.  Mr. Jason Kelly is American living in Tochigi.  He started a campaign to take clean, new socks to the refugee centers in the Tohoku area.  If you would like to learn more about Mr. Kelly’s efforts, please visit: (English) or

n/japanese/ (Japanese).

JETAASC would like to invite you to join us in sending socks to those individuals in Japan that need them the most.  If you would like to donate socks, we will be collecting socks at all our May JETAASC events. Please follow Mr. Kelly's guidelines:


  • Donate only new socks. All human beings are comforted by a fresh, clean pair of socks. Other advantages socks offer this operation: they’re light, their sizes are easy, they don’t break, people need lots of them in disastrous times away from home, and people can keep them forever to remember that somebody from far away cared. Please do not send any other items of clothing, food, etc. Just socks, but go ahead and choose nice ones that will brighten somebody’s day. You might receive a discount by showing our letter to your local store manager.
  • Put each pair in a sealed plastic bag. Want your socks to find needy feet asap? So do we! Please speed up our processing by taking socks out of bulk packaging, removing clasps or ties binding them together, and putting each pair in its own sealed clear plastic bag. Waterproof bags, such as Ziploc brand, are useful to people without homes. They serve a dual purpose: delivering socks in good shape, and providing a way for people to keep items dry.
  • Enclose a care letter. Japanese people treasure letters, especially ones from foreigners. Survivors of the 1995 Hanshin quake in Kobe said that care letters were among the most uplifting items they received. So, please enclose a copy of your letter with each pair of socks in a plastic bag. For help composing and translating your letter, see our care letter creation page. If you can't make it to the events, some of our socks need letters to accompany them. Please submit a care letter by email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it !
  • Label, compress, and seal. You should now have a pair of socks and your care letter in each plastic bag. One more helpful item: a label. Either write on the outside of the bag or insert into each bag a piece of paper identifying one of these categories: man or woman. (Please note that they do not need any more socks for babies or children.) Once that’s done, squeeze out excess air to make the bag as small as possible, then seal it shut. This preparation will make our inventory management and distribution a cinch!
  • Write your email address noticeably on the package. The most efficient way for us to keep in touch with you, and track the status of your package once we receive it, is via your email address. Please write it on the outside of your package so we can communicate with you without opening the package.
You don’t have to worry about writing “Urgent: Relief Supplies” boldly on the package because we, JETAASC, will be mailing the package.  These guidelines are also on the Japanese website, if you’d prefer.  Also, please note that they do not need any more socks for babies or children.

The JETAASC is really excited about this campaign and are encouraging everyone in the JETAASC community to join us in helping the refugees in the Tohoku area.
JETAASC Fundraising Event - Make Origami Cranes for Japan!
Los Angeles
Wednesday, 06 April 2011 02:40
Make Cranes for Japan - JETAASC Fundraising Event
Sunday, April 10

Event Name: Northern Japan Earthquake Charity Fundraiser
Location: Torrance Cultural Arts Center, 3350 Civic Center Drive, Torrance CA 90503
Date: Sunday, April 10
Time: 10 am - 3 pm

Come visit our booth for some fun activities at the Northern Japan Earthquake Charity Fundraiser and help Japan! Besides collecting donations that will go to the Japanese Red Cross, we will have two activities at our booth. The first activity is to teach people how to fold origami cranes. We're raising funds by charging people to make the cranes - $1/crane.  The cranes will either be kept by the donor or would be collected by JETAASC to be hung at the Japanese Consulate.  The second activity will be writing messages of hope/comfort that will be sent to Japan as well through our Consulate connections. We've got volunteers but we need more! If you would like to volunteer, would like more information, or can't attend but would like to make a donation please contact Elvira at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Want to volunteer for other events?

Thank you to the JET alums and Friends of JETs (FOJs) that have contacted us and donated their time and/or money! For everyone else, if you've been thinking you'd like to help we want to hear from you! Please contact us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  Our first official JETAASC fundraising event is the Northern Japan Earthquake Charity Fundraiser this Sunday, April 10. We've got many more events in the works. If you would like to be on our volunteer mailing list or have a great idea or would simply like to donate funds to help Japan please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Call to JETAASC Community to Help Japan
Los Angeles
Thursday, 17 March 2011 23:59
Dear JETAASC Community,

The outpouring of love and concern from JET alums and friends of JETs (FOJs) in response to the Japan earthquake and tsunami has been tremendous, thank you! JETAASC is forming a committee to specifically deal with our efforts to assist in earthquake and tsunami relief in Japan.

If you:
a) would like to join this committee, or
b) have suggestions for possible fundraisers, or
c) would like to help out - either monetarily or with manpower - at one of our fundraising events, or
d) would like notification about fundraising events so you can attend,
please e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , and please be specific about how you can help. We will be compiling a list of volunteers to call upon once the fundraising events have been scheduled, and will notify those who have requested event details.

Also, we have received a high volume of messages from the JETAASC community. If you have already contacted us and have not yet received a response, please do send your message again to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Thank you for your understanding.

JETAASC's goals with regards to our relief efforts are to work in collaboration with other local Japanese organizations, as we all want to assist our family and friends, brothers and sisters in our beloved Nippon.

JETAASC Officers 2010-2011

JETAASC Initiatives TBA
Los Angeles
Wednesday, 16 March 2011 03:23
Dear JETAASC Community,

So many of you have been asking us if you can help Japan in any way. Our answer is Yes! Your outpouring of love and support for Japan is amazing. We're going to be directing initiatives to aid Japan in various ways. To do so efficaciously, we are still in the midst of formulating a directed plan. Please continue to check this website, facebook and our twitter feed for updates. Gambaru Nihon!

JETAASC Officers 2010-2011
Drive-through Events for Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief
Los Angeles
Monday, 14 March 2011 00:34

Drive-through events for Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief

Monday, March 14 5:00am - 6:30pm

The American Red Cross and ABC Channel 7 will host two "drive-through" disaster relief fundraisers at ANGEL STADIUM in Anaheim and the ROSE BOWL in Pasadena

Cash and checks will be accepted.  Checks should be made out to the "American Red Cross," with "Japan Earthquake" written in the memo line.

Members of the ABC 7 Eyewitness News team will be accepting the donations along with many volunteers.

Please visit ABC7.COM for more details.

Tuesday, March 15 5:00am - 7:00pm

The American Red Cross and NBC Channel 4 will host a "drive-through" disaster relief fundraiser at DODGER STADIUM.

Dodger Stadium Parking Lot 1 -- accessible through Sunset Gate A, located at 1000 Elysian Park Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012  MAP

Cash and checks will be accepted.  Checks should be made out to the "American Red Cross," with "Japan Tsunami Fund" written in the memo line.

NBC news casters, Dodger Alumni, and NBC Universal employee volunteers invite everyone to stop by Dodger Stadium to support Japan earthquake relief.

Please visit NBCLA.COM for more details.
Earthquake in Japan
Los Angeles
Friday, 11 March 2011 22:10
Our thoughts go out to those affected by the earthquake in Japan. If you have heard from friends from your old prefecture please share the news with your fellow JET alums and Friends of JETs (FOJs), feel free to post info on our JETAASC facebook wall We will be sharing more information and resources on our website If you have a resource you would like to add please email Maria at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

AT&T, Verizon, Sprint have announced free phone calls and text messages to Japan through the end of March:

Resources to look for someone in Japan:
Japan Local Government Center List of those who have checked in safe
Google Crises Response Page
Red Cross
By prefecture Jetwit has updates
There are also several LinkedIn JET alum groups that are dedicated to prefectures. Depending on the group settings you may or may not have to open a linkedin account.
List of cellphone company links

For news coverage in Japanese:

Fuji TV -
Cable Channel TV Japan is temporarily free and broadcasting NHK news. For more info -

For news coverage in English:

Complete list of streaming sites:
Guardian -

To donate money or ways to assist:

Los Angeles
Friday, 04 February 2011 02:25
We have a lot of fabulous events this February and March. Please click on the "Events" tab for more information.

Super Bowl Sunday Hike - February 6

NIhongo Dake Dinner - February 19

Career Networking Mixer - February 24

Habitat for Humanity Build - March 5

JETAASC Santa Barbara Event - March 5

Nihongo Dake Hike - March 12
You are invited to the JETAASC Shinenkai!
Los Angeles
Saturday, 25 December 2010 06:04
Ring in the New Year with fellow JET alums, JET friends, and yummy Japanese food at the JETAASC Shinenkai ! Lunch with us at Gonpachi in Torrance!

Date: Sunday, January 9
Time: 11:00 am
Location: Gonpachi
21381 South Western Avenue, Torrance CA 90501, (310) 320-6700
Free parking on the west side of the building
Price: $11 for JETs / $12 for Friends of JETs
RSVP: by January 5
to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Select 1 from the following entree options (Includes Refillable Drink: Soda or Hoji-cha):
Kinoko Mushroom Soba, Kamo Seiro Soba, Tempura Soba, Kimoko Mushroom Udon, Kamo Zaru Udon, Tempura Udon, Pork Katsu Teishoku, Fried Shrimp Katsu Teishoku, Teriyaki Chicken Teikshoku, Teriyaki Salmon Teishoku, Chirashi Rice Bowl, Pork Katsu Don, Spicy Tuna Rice Bowl, Ebisu Tem Don, Caterpillar Roll and Kobe Beef Hamburger.
For menu descriptions click here:

Please include the following information in your RSVP:
1) Your full name & chosen entree in Subject line of your email
2) Where you are currently residing
3) What years you were on JET and where you were located (ken/shi)
4) Names of any guests you will bring
5) Please be sure to select your entree and indicate your selection in your RSVP

JETAASC's Annual Bonenkai December 11
Los Angeles
Thursday, 25 November 2010 01:21
The JETAASC Bonenkai is coming soon! Come out and celebrate the end of 2010 with your fellow JET alums and friends at the JETAASC Bonenkai in Rowland Heights. Enjoy great company, food, games and more. JET alums and Friends of JETs (FOJs) please RSVP soon, seating is limited.

Date: Saturday, December 11
Time: 6:00 pm
Location: Coconut Bay

18922 Gale Avenue, Rowland Heights CA 91748, (626) 913-9933
Price: $15 for JETs / $17 for Friends of JETs
RSVP by November 30
to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Please include the following information in your RSVP:
1) Your name
2) Where you are currently residing
3) What years you were on JET and where you were located (ken/shi)
4) Names of any guests you will bring
5) Dietary needs: vegetarian or other

White Elephant Gift Exchange
Similar to last year, we'll be having our "Secret Santa" gift exchange. If you would like to participate, please bring a wrapped gift (value $10-15). Bring something awesome, unusual, and most importantly, something we will want to "steal" from each other!

Vocabulary Lessons
Los Angeles
Thursday, 25 November 2010 01:15
By Sarah Dzida, ALT Oita City 2004-2006

In Oita City, I taught at a high school and education center for two years. Here are two of my favorite memories:

1) Funatsu-sensei is one of the kindest non-English speakers I know. If he sees me, he doesn't run away; he says, "Hi!" We always try to converse in our broken second languages to each other, and we're very enthusiastic about it. So when his desk gets moved closer to mine in the teachers' office, we start exchanging gifts. Funatsu-sensei gives me candy. I give him candy back, and etc. One day, Funatsu-sensei puts a tangerine on my desk. With great pride, he tells me in English that this tangerine is very, "healthy and unhygienic."

"Thanks?" I say. I'm anxious because I can tell he expects me to eat it, but Funatsu-sensei sees my unease. Undaunted, he goes back to his desk and grabs his Japanese-English dictionary, but his dictionary reassures him that "unhygienic" is the word he wants. We ask our colleague, the English teacher Mariko, for help. Funatsu-sensei and she discuss how to explain the Japanese word to me in English. Finally, Mariko tells me it's a scientific term that she's not sure how to say in English.

"Tell it to me in Japanese," I say. "Maybe I'll understand it."
Funatsu-sensei and she exchange nervous but hopeful looks.
"Organikku," she says, and I start laughing.

2) At the education center, my students are teachers from all grade levels. Because teachers make the brightest students, I give them challenging but engaging lessons. One day, I pass out a sheet of paper with idioms like "get on with it" or "up the creek without a paddle." There are multiple-choice answers for each one. Along the way, my teachers need some words defined. In particular, they are flustered by the words "indecisive" and "unpredictable," which are two of the multiple-choice answers for the idiom "flighty."

Of course, they use their dictionaries, but a dictionary doesn't always promise a definite answer. Fortunately, "indecisive" isn't problematic; the teachers easily translate it, but "unpredictable" proves more difficult. I hear them tossing around Japanese words, then some teachers try explaining their thoughts to me in English. From this, I gather they think "unpredictable" is a negative word with connotations of anger or meanness.

Sometimes, you just need to show people to get the meaning across. I challenge any of them to do something unpredictable at the moment. I realize they think I want someone to be violent, to throw a punch. Then I say, "Watch."

I walk over to Kumi, who is a friendly high school teacher with a good sense of humor. She also understands English rather well. I taker her face in my hands and give her a good, friendly kiss on her cheek.

"EH!" the entire class gasps.
I walk back to the front of the classroom.
"That was unpredictable," I say.
As one body, the entire class says, "AH!"
We need writers! If you would like to share and publish your JET experiences for Sushi and Sake magazine contact Audrey at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for more information.
Five Ways to Market Your Skills and Experience Gained from Abroad
Los Angeles
Thursday, 28 October 2010 19:31
by Kevin Chan

Communicate your transferable skills. Teaching exposes you to many skills that can be transferable
to different jobs. For example, you could talk about how you are a great presenter and good at
communicating an idea with structure if you want a sales or consulting job. Having to teach, evaluate,
progress, and even discipline someone’s performance is very valuable in operations roles that seek
improvement through performance management. And energy spent creating lesson plans that students
would find captivating would be a transferable skill to marketing roles which seek to match a product or
service with a consumer’s needs. Think about the skills that the jobs you are applying for requires and
how you have learned something similar as a teacher abroad. Don’t let requirements such as major or
years of experience prevent you from applying for a job that you’re really interested in and think you
could do, and address any uncertainties in the cover letter and interview.

Highlight the qualities of being a teacher. Being a successful teacher requires many qualities that are
valued in the professional arena. Teachers need to have attention to detail, be patient, be organized,
work with different people and different learning styles, communicate instructions clearly, understand
what it takes to help others be successful, etc. These characteristics are good to mention in the cover
letter or interview. Also, having to learn how to become a teacher in a short period of time shows off
your ability as a quick learner; being able to demonstrate your experience as a quick learner will give
recruiters confidence that you can learn a job quickly even if you are not fully qualified for it.

Describe instances of situational leadership. Most recruiters do not expect young professionals to
have had professional leadership positions, but they do want to know how you would lead if you were
given certain situations or problems. Think about different situations in the classroom and while living
and traveling abroad that you encountered and had to step up to resolve. These situational leadership
instances make for good stories during the interview and can help a recruiter understand your potential
to take initiative, solve problems, be resourceful, handle difficult people, adapt to a new environment,
work under pressure or imperfect information, convince others of your idea, etc.

Emphasize your cross-cultural awareness. Many companies and organizations recognize the need to
hire people with strong cross-cultural awareness skills (as well as language skills) to strengthen their
competitive edge and ability to interact with diverse teams or clients in an increasingly globalized
economy. Use this to your advantage to differentiate yourself against others who may just be familiar
with working locally or have not had the unique experiences from living and working abroad.

Be curious like you were when you were abroad. You were probably curious about different people,
cultures, history, etc. and asked many questions to get to know the people and country better while
abroad. It’s a similar process when looking for a job; you want to ask recruiters thoughtful questions
about the job, company, and industry, and you want to ask networking contacts about what they do,
what makes one successful at their job, how they got there, how they like it, and who else they know
that you should talk to. Showing genuine interest and having a meaningful conversation will help open
doors to other opportunities and networking contacts, much like how doing so opened doors to new
experiences while abroad. Start with your peer network, untapped network (e.g. parents/relatives
and their co-workers), and college alumni association. A great way to break the ice is by sharing your
interesting experiences while living abroad.

Kevin Felix Chan has worked as a manager in marketing, operations, sales, and event planning. After
studying abroad in China, he now travels abroad frequently and has visited over 20 countries so far.
Kevin blogs about his experiences at
Welcome Back / Meishi Exchange
Los Angeles
Friday, 01 October 2010 22:22
Meishi (Business Card) Exchange Networking Event - Now Open to JET Alums AND Friends of JETs!

Looking for a job or thinking about grad school? Want your resume evaluated? Come to the Meishi Exchange! It's not too late to RSVP! We've got a great networking and social event for returning JETs, veteran JET alumni and friends of JETs. Companies, recruiters and universities will all be on tap at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott this October 15.

Date: October 15
Time: 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Place: LAX Marriott
Hotel, 5855 West Century Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045

To RSVP fill out the online form by October 12 by 12 pm here:

Detailed Description:
Looking for some great networking or job opportunities? Interested in graduate school options? Need some tips on revamping your resume by an HR professional? Come to JETAASC's Welcome Back Ceremony and Meishi Exchange! We're opening up spaces for lucky JET alumni and friends of JETs to go to this event in addition to this year's returning JETs. Have you just come back from JET and haven't registered for JETAASC? Let us know. Any questions please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Resumes, business cards, $10 for parking (this is the validated rate, remember to get your parking ticket validated!)

Professional/business attire

6:30 - 7:30 p.m. Welcome Back Reception for Returning JETs (Front Patio "Pavilion")
7:45 - 9:00 p.m. Meishi Exchange (Career and Grad School Fair - Imperial Ballroom)
9:30ish Nijikai

*We are in need of 1-2 volunteers to help with check-in. Volunteers please plan to arrive by 5:30 p.m. at the Imperial Ballroom. Email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with your name, JET placement and contact information if you're interested.

Volunteer for JRA Japanese Food Festival!
Los Angeles
Monday, 23 August 2010 03:43
It’s that time of year again for the Japanese Restaurant Association ("JRA") to hold its wildly popular Japanese Food Festival at the Kyoto Grand Hotel.  The JET  Alumni Association has provided volunteers for this event since its inception 11 years ago.  This year, we’ve been asked to send 70 volunteers.


Date and Time:  Sunday, November 7, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
(Festival time is 11 to 4). 
Place:  Kyoto Grand Hotel in Little Tokyo

RSVPs taken until 5pm on November 3, 2010, but as this is a very popular event, please be sure to rsvp as soon as possible.

For more information, please visit: JRA 2010

Summer Picnic in July
Los Angeles
Thursday, 24 June 2010 22:42
Now that summer has officially started, it's time to get our bbq on! 
Join JETAASC for an afternoon of fun & food at our annual summer picnic.


: Saturday July 10th, 11am – 3pm
Location: Wilson Park, 2200 Jefferson St, Torrance, CA 90501

TorranceSummer2.gif image by harpcab

Departing JETs: Come meet other departing JETs and JET alumni. Come with your questions
about Japan and JET program. Parents welcomed.

JET Alumni: Come mingle with departing JETs and parents; help address any questions or
concerns they may have. Help our new JETS prepare for their upcoming journey.

JETAASC will be providing some of the food, but please bring a small dish or drink to share.
BBQ grills will be available, bring something to grill if you would like.

Please RSVP by July 9, 12pm to Lora Lu at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with:
1) Your Name
2) How many people in your party
The Harimaya Bridge
Los Angeles
Tuesday, 16 February 2010 21:31

March 26, 2010
The Harimaya Bridge
Written & Directed by Aaron Woolfolk
Starring Ben Guillory, Danny Glover, Saki Takaoka and Misa Shimizu



The JET Alumni Association of Southern California is proud to announce that fellow Alum Aaron Woolfolk's film, The Harimaya Bridge, will be shown at the Laemmle Music Hall 3.

The movie synopsis, in Aaron's own words:
"I am writing to you about my feature film THE HARIMAYA BRIDGE. For those of you who might not know, the movie is a drama about an American man who, after the sudden death of his estranged son in rural Japan, must go there to claim some important family items. While there, he discovers some secrets his son left behind. The movie was filmed primarily in Kochi Prefecture, and was inspired by my experience as a JET in Kochi and my enduring relationship with Japan since then. In fact, one of the central characters in the movie is a JET.  The film had a nationwide theatrical release in Japan last summer, and it was met by a lot of enthusiasm from both JETs currently serving on the program and alumni still living there (which made me very happy!). I traveled all over Japan to promote the film, and I met a LOT of us. In fact, I was tickled by how the JETs there started referring to THE HARIMAYA BRIDGE as "The JET movie."

In honor of the upcoming release of former JET Aaron Woolfolk’s Harimaya Bridge, JETAASC is planning an event to watch the film on opening night, March 26th.  Please join us in support of Aaron and his film.

Date: Friday, March 26th
:  8:15 pm
Laemmle's Music Hall 3
9036 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, 90211

You can look for a parking lot on Doheny with a $3 flat rate, or parking is possible on Wilshire after 7pm.

Google Maps link

Price: JETAASC is sponsoring discounted tickets for only $5!!!

RSVP:  To RSVP & reserve your discounted tickets, please email  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it as soon as possible, but by Wednesday, March 24, 2010 @ 5:00 pm


If you would like to grab a round of drinks and a bite to eat before the 8:15 pm showing, please join us for our pre-show mixer from 6:30pm to 8:00pm at Palomino in Westwood.  (Happy Hour 5:00pm~)


Palomino Westwood

10877 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90024
Phone/Fax: 310-208-1960,+Los+Angeles,+CA+90024&sll=34.061495,-118.442831&sspn=0.007111,0.013872&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=10877+Wilshire+Blvd,+Los+Angeles,+California+90024&ll=34.059335,-118.44252&spn=0.007111,0.013872&z=17


There is a three-story structure on Broxton Ave. that is a moderate walk from Palamino (Go north on Westwood Blvd. toward UCLA, turn left on Weyburn Ave., then turn left on Broxton Ave. Structure will be on left). Free for 2 hours if you park before 6 PM; $3 flat rate after 6 PM. Street parking is another good option but can be tough to find. The most convenient is the valet at the restaurant for $6.


You can follow the film via it's official website:
Facebook page at:
or on Twitter at:
and you can look it up on Wikipedia, IMDB, and watch the trailer at the iTunes store online.



Page 1 of 2