Iris Gakuen International Day

by David Tacoronte

Iris Gakuen in Fukushima has over 30 to 40 orphaned children who they house, feed, and provide basic services, education, and activities for on a daily basis. On November 17th, “Eyes for Fukushima”, along with several ALTs, hosted a cultural festival at the local orphanage.

Different countries and activities were displayed along with games and crafts that the children could participate in. Countries that were represented included: Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.  Activities included: school yard hand ball, face painting, Aboriginal dot art boomerang painting, hockey shooting, quizzes, and Maori traditional stick games.

After all the international activities were over, a delicious Japanese nabe style lunch was had! ALTs were set at different tables to help cook, and to speak with all the children at the orphanage.

The second half of the day was filled with a Christmas themed arts and craft time, where the children created either laminated ornaments or Christmas-theme cards. Lots of Christmas fun was had by all!

Finally, everyone lent in a helping hand into creating a custom Christmas-theme purikura background. Costumed up, pictures were taken in front of the background and smiles were present everywhere.

“Eyes for Fukushima” continues to invite ALTs and friends from all around the Tohoku area to come to events hosted by the organization and to help those around the prefecture.  E4F will continue to work closely with local orphanages to provide activities and close interactions between the international community and the children in need.

FuJET- An Inside Look to the 2014 Hokkaido Trip, Part 3- Dressing for the Cold

FuJET- An Inside Look to the 2014 Hokkaido Trip, Part 3- Dressing for the Cold

One of the nifty things about working in Fukushima is that you get to meet people from all over the world. All of use have different experiences and different climates back home. Some people grew up in the land of ice and snow (hello, Canadian friends!) and some folks have never seen snow in real life. As such, how to dress for snowy weather not be something everyone is familiar with. In our third entry of FuJET’s Inside Look to the Hokkaido 2014 trip, we’ll be taking a quick gander at what to wear/how to dress/what to pack to stay warm in Hokkaido!


Synthetic Fabrics
Synthetic Fabrics
Wool-synthetic blends come from robot sheep.
Wool-synthetic blends come from robot sheep.






When packing for winter weather, remember to take into account the fabric and materials of the clothing you’re packing. Your top picks of materials for staying warm would be wool(ウール (uuru)), wool-synthetic blends, and synthetics(acrylic アクリル (akuriru) and ナイロン (nairon)). Try and avoid cotton(綿 (men)) (especially for socks!) wherever possible. Why? Wool and synthetics will keep you warm, even if they get wet. Cotton will sap away your heat when wet and make you even colder. Down and fleece are also great clothing choices! Read more

Taimatsu Akashi Fire Festival: Burn your fears down

Taimatsu Akashi Fire Festival:  Burn your fears down

By Erica Grainger

 “I did mostly good things, except light things on fire” (Mark Hoppus, Blink-182) 

When: Saturday night, 9th November
Where: Sukagawa

I have a confession to make. I have always, always been afraid of fire. When I say afraid, I don’t mean the small fear that’s inside most of us. I mean really terrified, irrationally so, to the point where I can’t even light a match or a gas lighter! Yes, it sounds a little funny, but I have
‘pyrophobia’ (fear of fire). As I told my parents when I was young, “Don’t worry, I’ll never become a smoker because I can’t light the cigarette.”

So, you’re probably wondering why on earth did I go to a fire festival? Well, firstly, it was time to battle this ridiculous fear, once and for all. Secondly, I was told by virtually everyone that I simply must go. So, I found myself that Saturday night on a train to Sukagawa with Katherine. She reassured me that there was nothing to fear and I discovered she was right. I had an amazing time and stayed on the right side of the barriers. It was great to see all my good chums at the festival, and we were kept warm by the towers of blazing fire and glory that burned brightly, only a few meters away. It was truly a spectacular sight to see and I would recommend it highly for anyone who’s never been. Although I must warn you, if you have pyrophobia, like me, don’t expect to be cured of it. I am still terrified of fire and I haven’t conquered this yet, but I’m working on it….one flame at a time!

FuJET Midyear Conference Beer Hall Dinner Recap

FuJET Midyear Conference Beer Hall Dinner Recap

by Tiffany Thiessen

On November 5th the Fukushima JET community met in Fukushima-shi for the Mid-Year Skill Development Conference. Although we learned a lot at the conference, the highlight of the gathering came that evening at the Asahi Beer Hall. Many JETs and even some JTEs gathered at the Asahi Beer Hall and feasted on trays filled with meat and veggies, and who can forget the beer? There were many smiles and laughs had throughout the evening. There were even a few people pushing to raise money for Movember.
The night didn’t end there for the majority of the group. Fukushima JETs were invited to attend and after party at NEO where there was dancing, socializing, and more drinks to be had. Other JETs headed off to Yattai to top off the night. There was good conversation and a few more beers. Overall the Mid-Year Conference was a success both during and after hours!

JET Study Tour: Iwaki

JET Study Tour: Iwaki

The JET Study Tour to Iwaki took place on November 16th to 17th, and it was a very worthwhile experience. Although I have lived in Iwaki for over a year now, it made the severity of the disaster and the power and resilience of the Iwaki people so much more real for me.

Our first stop on Saturday morning was the Fukushima Agricultural Technology Centre in Koriyama, where we learned about how meat, rice, fruit and vegetables are tested for radiation in Fukushima, as well as about research into new strains of rice, fruit and vegetables. Hearing our guide’s talk and seeing the facilities reinforced my belief in the safety of Fukushima produce – it’s perhaps even safer than some of the food back home! Did you know that the permitted radiation reading for food in Japan is ten times stricter than those of the EU and the USA?

Our first stop in Iwaki was Tomato Land. Tomatoes are less affected by harmful rumours as they are grown in glasshouses, so sales have apparently returned to normal. And the tomatoes – delicious! We were given a bag and told to fill both them and our stomachs. I took them at their word!!

The shopping street in Hisanohama was a real eye-opener for me. I had visited the devastated area before, but I had never spoken to anyone about their experience for fear of seeming tactless. At the shopping street, I heard first-hand of how one lady ran from the tsunami. It is amazing to me to hear the stories of these people, and see how their resilience is so great that, when people began returning but had no place to shop, these shopkeepers set up temporary stores in front of the local school. Their desire to keep going despite their experiences was really inspiring. If ever you have the chance, go and visit these people – you won’t be the same.

On the second day, we visited the Organic Cotton Project in Onahama. This project leases abandoned farmland to grow brown cotton, a crop that is relatively unaffected by rumours. The project has created jobs for displaced people, and the profits go to charity projects. They hope in the future to make cotton a thriving industry in Fukushima. At the project, we experienced cotton picking and got the chance to make cute little dolls using raw cotton which are usually made by housewives living in temporary housing. It was a lot of fun!
At the Kisen Kamaboko Factory, we learned about the efforts of the small company to revitalise their business after the disaster. There, they regard the disaster as an opportunity to realise and correct problems that were not visible before, and to make unique products to draw visitors to Fukushima.

Shiramizu Amidado, a designated National Treasure and Historic Site, provided a picturesque ending to the tour. Apparently we had great timing as locals told us the autumn colours were at their very best.
Overall, a great tour was enjoyed by all. Now, I have greater knowledge of my city and the efforts of people living here. I can’t properly express my feelings of gratitude, appreciation and amazement, except to say how proud I am to live here, in Iwaki, in Fukushima. がんばっぺ、福島!

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