Long Distance Relationships in Japan – Real Experiences from Real JETs

As new JETs arrive in Japan during the next few weeks, there are bound to be some leaving their significant others behind. Long distance relationships can be a scary thing for couples that have not much time apart.

The internet is chock full of ideas and suggestions in neat, bullet-pointed lists so that you can skim through several articles in a short period of time. But, instead of dealing with issues found in long distance relationships, they list advice that is beneficial to any relationship. The writers give you wiggle room to interpret their words to suit your own relationship, for good or bad. “Be committed,” “Make time for each other,” “Be honest,” and “Stay positive” were the most common suggestions. What does that even mean? On the days you are feeling confident in your relationship; you can imagine things lining up with the criteria. “I called him twice today! We are nailing this long-distance thing!” On rough days, you see things a little differently. “I called him twice today. Should I have called him at lunch time too? What if this isn’t often enough?” How much of the criteria did you fit into today? 8 out of 10? 3 out of 10? How many will it be tomorrow?

Instead of relying on internet lists, I wanted to get advice from real people.  So I asked JETs who have been in (or a currently in) a long distance relationship.  My brief research brought me to one conclusion – our favorite phrase in the JET program.

“Every Situation Is Different (ESID).”

Or, maybe in this case “Every Relationship Is Different (…ERID)?”

Read more

FuJET Mount Fuji Climb 2015 – My Experience and Advice

FuJET Mount Fuji Climb 2015 – My Experience and Advice
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A long way up.

I am no stranger to hiking. I have backpacked through mountains in southern France, hauled myself up cables during the night to watch the sunrise from Yosemite’s Half Dome, climbed dozens of other various sized mountains and tried my hand at other types of long distance hiking. Therefore, I was not worried about Mount Fuji, the mountain that has always been touted as the mountain anyone can climb. I heard the mountain gets so congested with hikers that most of the time taken to go up the mountain is spent waiting in line behind all the other eager hikers looking for a decent view of Japan. I heard there were lodges and bathrooms on the mountain, which is pretty absurd for anyone who has climbed less touristy mountains. How hard could it be?

The view from the bus on the ride up to the Fifth Station was spectacular. I could almost forget that one jerk of the wheel or nudge from an oncoming car would send me and 16 other JETs plummeting to our deaths. The clouds stretched out below us like snow, except for the patches brown and gray of the cities below. I had never been so high up in anything but an airplane. If we were so far up Mount Fuji, how much was really left to climb?

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The lodge-type restaurant and shopping area

The fifth station was a quaint little area. There was a large wooden lodge with the clouds as a backdrop and a cluster of restaurants and gift shops set in a semicircle. By the time we stepped out of the bus after a long ride from Fukushima City, Koriyama and Iwaki, the sun was already beginning to set.

“That’s not what we are climbing, is it?” One friend pointed to a small, brown mountain that rose behind a gift shop opposite of the setting sun. “No, no, that can’t be it. Maybe it’s behind that?” We spent the next several minutes debating whether that was the mountain we would climb or if the real mountain was hidden behind it. The mountain we were discussing looked like we could get up it in an hour or so, not the estimated 5-7 hours. We laughed about it and decided we should get a few bottles of sake as a victory drink for the summit.

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That’s Fuji behind us. Can you see why we were deceived?

We had some time before the hike, so we bought some Fuji walking sticks. I didn’t want one, but my incredible boyfriend luckily insisted on buying me one, which turned out to be a very useful investment. Whether you have your own walking stick or buy a Fuji one (1,000 – 1,300 yen) and get it stamped along the way (200 – 300 yen per stamp at various stations), I highly recommend it! It saved my ass several times going up and down the mountain. Read more

‘This is Fukushima’ Calendar Project Now Accepting Submissions for 2016!

‘This is Fukushima’ Calendar Project Now Accepting Submissions for 2016!

thisisfukushima_coverAnnouncing the opening of photo submissions for the 2016 edition of the annual ‘This is Fukushima’ calendar! The deadline for photo submissions this year will be: Saturday, October 31st. You can read up about the ‘This is Fukushima’ calendar project at their website, facebook page, twitter. This is Fukushima has been nationally recognised in various newspapers and magazines across the world for their hard work in sharing the Lucky Island’s beautiful landscapes with too many people who hear ‘Fukushima’ and think ‘Disaster’.

Message from ‘This is Fukushima’ Calendar project co-founder, Paul Sprigg:

‘Last year, while producing the current calendar, we learned of some misinformation regarding this project. As such, we felt that it would be prudent to clarify a few matters prior to beginning production this year:

The annual This is Fukushima wall calendar is a non-profit project. Its purpose is to help improve Fukushima’s public image across Japan and the rest of the world in the wake of the March 11, 2011 triple-disaster. When completed, the calendars are distributed across Japan and several countries internationally… FREE OF COST. Any fundraising that we manage each year goes entirely towards production and distribution costs. […] We do it each year because Fukushima has given so much to many of us. We see this project as a way to give something back.

Over the years we have produced this calendar, we have been thankful for all of the support received from all those who help make this project possible. All contributions to the calendar are important. Perhaps most of all are the photos. After all, without your photos there can be no calendar.’



  • 300dpi, minimum 4000 x 3000 px
  • Horizontal orientation is preferred but not required
  • Got a good shot on your phone? Send it in! It can still be used!

Photo submissions can be sent via Email to:

Any photos that are selected for use in the 2016 calendar will be printed with your photo credit. You will also receive a few complimentary calendars when they’re produced.

The photo content can be varied, but try to keep with the idea of Interesting People & Places of Fukushima. (If the image shows the faces of people, please get permission from them before submitting!) Try to show something in your images that someone who has never been to our prefecture will find interesting. Ideally, images that would encourage people to travel here. Fukushima is NOT a radioactive wasteland, and the calendar project is meant to show that to the world.