FuJET Monthly Photo Contest- Contrast!

FuJET Monthly Photo Contest- Contrast!

Hey, Fuku!

Do you have a camera? Does it take pictures? If your answer to both of these questions is “yes,” then read on! This June marks the start of a new monthly photography competition.

Think you can match this?
Think you can match this?
Join our photo contest today!

A different theme will be announced every month, at the end of which you will be able to hop over to the FuJET website(here!) to vote for your favourites. Winners will not only have their photos featured on the website, but will also receive a small prize and eternal glory.

Because the FuJET newsletter is still in its infancy, the themes will also be announced on our website until it gets going. They will, however, be eventually moved over completely, so if you want to be kept up to date, sign up to receive the newsletter now! You can do so by clicking here!

June’s theme is: Contrast. (Of course, you are welcome to interpret that as freely as you wish.) Please send in your best shots to <fujet.photo.contest@gmail.com>, along with your name and the title of your picture (if it has one.) We’re looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

The deadline for submissions is: Wednesday, June 19, 2013. Have fun, and good luck!


Event Information for JUNE

Approaching FuJET Events

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!

June 8: Let’s Climbing Mt Bandai. A climb organised in preparation for those who are inclined to go on the Fuji trip this year (though you can come even if you’re not planning on climbing Fuji!). This event is STRONGLY suggested for anyone planning on joining the Fuji Climb in July. If you’re planning on coming along to this event, please click “Attending” on the Facebook page. http://www.facebook.com/events/122210464639210/

June 15: Oze National Park, otherwise known as the Middle of Nowhere. This hike is another event organised in preparation for the Fuji Climb, but but you’re welcome whether you’re going to Fuji or not. Oze is an out-of-the-way bit of Fukushima, buried in the depths of the Miz, but it’s a beautiful area and we definitely recommend grabbing some fresh air there. The hike through Oze will be a longer, steeper, more difficult hike than the hike to the summit of Mt. Bandai. If you’re planning on coming along to this event, please click “Attending” on the Facebook page. http://www.facebook.com/events/519351101455962/

July 5: Casino Leavers Party! @ Agato, Fukushima-shi, from 8pm. This event will follow the Leavers Conference and will have a Casino theme. Money will be raised on the night for Karina and Hannah’s book drive for Jimmy’s Village School in Cambodia as well as for FuJET. There will be games, DJs, a silent auction, costumes, prizes and of course an all-you-can-drink bar! To reserve a spot you will need to email us at fujetcouncil@gmail.com . For more information, check out the Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/485683428163714/

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To the Newbies

So. You’re a new JET, and you just got your offer. But it’s Fukushima… Never fear! Once you’ve read this article (read the whole thing, now, no skimming!), you will feel a lot better and will start counting the days until your plane leaves. Seriously. Fukushima is an awesome place to work and live. I came here in July 2012, and I have loved every minute of it. Whether your post is in one of the cities or in the inaka (country), I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll love it here.

First off, I should probably address some of the reasons why you’re worried.

  • Radiation. This is the big one, right? I’m not going to encourage complacency in this, and it’s up to you to decide how you feel about this complex and controversial issue. But please, do your research. The news in many countries is very one-sided in the information it gives out, so it pays to check all the theories. I can reassure you, though, that we live very normal lives. Huge precautions have already been and continue to be taken with radiation monitors positioned in every school and in many other public places. The food is constantly being tested and is safe to eat – none of us have turned green or grown any extra limbs! And something else to keep in mind: if you look at the actual radiation counts, there is actually less background radiation in Fukushima than in many of the world’s major cities.
  • Earthquakes and tsunami. The most recent big one hit Tohoku, as I’m sure you’re aware. But earthquakes and tsunami are not limited to Fukushima, or even to Tohoku. Japan sits on the edge of a tectonic plate (like New Zealand or the west coast of America), so earthquakes happen. Mostly they are small and harmless. The rule is to be prepared, and to know that Japan has a good idea of how to deal with disasters when they occur.

And here are the reasons why you will love it here:

  • The people here are super friendly. I know people will say that about any place, but they really are really kind here. I feel so much more at home here because of that.
  • The other JETs are really awesome. My experience of coming to Japan last year was made all the greater by my caring sempai JETs who helped me through the dos and don’ts of life in Japan. They made me realize how lucky I was to be placed in Fukushima despite everything that I had heard.
  • Community! At Tokyo Orientation you probably won’t be in the largest group – but you will probably be in the loudest! And the greatest! FuJET is one of the most active local chapters of AJET as far as getting together and doing stuff. We’re also really active on the national level, with Fukushima JETs on the national AJET council.
  • Have you ever wanted to go to Hokkaido? Climb Mt. Fuji? Go bungy jumping? See sumo? We’ll hook you up! FuJET organizes numerous trips throughout the year, so if you’re the type who likes to get out and do stuff, Fukushima is the place to be.
  • Volunteering. If you want to help, unsurprisingly Tohoku (the northern region of Japan’s main island, Honshu) is the place to be. There is still a lot to be done in the area, so if you want to lend a hand there will be no shortage of opportunities. Moreover, FuJET has a section specifically dedicated to volunteer activities and fundraising. We even have our own Fukushima JET charity called Eyes 4 Fukushima!

Fukushima rocks. We have a high rate of recontracting because people just don’t want to leave! If you have any questions, shoot someone an email, check the forums or the Wiki, or join our Facebook page – we’ll be happy to help you!

We’re all looking forward to meeting you!

Suwa Shrine Festival in Yotsukura 2013

Suwa Shrine Festival in Yotsukura 2013
The 2013 Mikoshi Team
The 2013 Mikoshi Team

On May 4, I and some other Fukushima JETs and friends participated in a festival where we helped to carry an omikoshi (portable shrine) around the streets of Yotsukura, Iwaki.

We met up at a community hall and got changed into our festival clothes, most important of which was the happi, a jacket that is fastened at the waist with an obi or cloth belt. We then headed to the shrine and bowed our heads before beginning the fantastic ordeal of carrying the omikoshi. Some of our team were seasoned omikoshi carriers but many of us, including me, were completely new to the experience. By golly, it was heavy! But it was a lot of fun to be join the locals in this traditional festival. We marched and stamped around town while locals threw coins wrapped in cloth or tissue at the shrine we carried. We also got traditionally unsober as we went along!

At the end of the day, sunburnt and sore, we went back to the community hall for a good old-fashioned Japanese nomikai. A great experience all round, I reckon I’ll give it another go! You should try it sometime!

//this article originally appeared in the June 2013 issue of the Lucky Island newsletter//

The Power of the Suffix

an editorial by Elie Vogel

Elie-kun, Elie-san, Elie-sensei. There is no equivalent in English to the difference in intent between the three. Sure, I can address a friend as Dr. Ekers in relation to their extensive Agatha Christie knowledge or call an adult Mr. Last Name as a sign of respect or an indication of unfamiliarity, but there is no way to replicate the subtleties of this Japanese suffix system.

That said I love being called Elie-sensei. I will miss the connotation of respect that is (misguidedly) attached to my name when I return home and return to being just Elie. Having a professionally trained teacher with 10 years’ experience refer to me with the same honorific suffix is, to say the least, flattering. Having professionals, some twice my age but who happen to attend my village Eikaiwa, refer to me as Elie-sensei is both humbling and empowering. I shall live up to these expectations brought upon by my suffix!

And then, I somehow became Elie-chan. I don’t know how it happened, but little by little the same children who sat in awe at my English proficiency now motion me over when they have vocabulary questions, “Elie-chan!” with the wave of their hand and a slight giggle. In my experience, I have often heard the boys referred to as Name-kun and the girls as Nameko-chan. So then, what was I to gather from my new suffix? Had I gone from being their teacher to being a female classmate? According to Wikipedia, -chan “expresses that the speaker finds a person endearing”. Oh, I guess I can live with that.

//this article originally appeared in the June 2013 issue of the Lucky Island newsletter//