So. You’re a new JET and you just got your offer. But it’s Fukushima…
Never fear! Once you have 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 (yes, there are cities in Fukushima) or in the inaka (country) I can pretty much guarantee you’ll love it here.
Reasons why you will love it here:
- The people are super friendly. They are naturally friendly people and after the earthquake (I’ll get to that) they are even more appreciative that you didn’t run away because you heard the name “Fukushima”.
- The other JETs are really friendly. My experience coming to Japan last year was made all the greater by my caring sempai JETs who helped me through the dos and don’ts and made me feel like I was lucky to be placed in Fukushima despite everything else I had heard.
- Community! At Tokyo Orientation you won’t be in the largest group, but you will probably be in the loudest. And the awesomest. FuJET is one of the more active branches of AJET as far as getting together and doing stuff goes. We’re also really active on a national level, with FuJETs representing on the national AJET council.
- You ever wanted to go to Hokkaido? Climb Mt. Fuji? Go bungy jumping? See sumo? We’ll hook you up! FuJET organises numerous outings and 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 get out there and help, unsurprisingly Tohoku is the place to be. There is still a lot to be done in the area and if you want to lend a hand there will be no shortage of opportunities. As well as that, FuJET has a section dedicated to volunteer activities and fundraising. Eyes 4 Fukushima is a charity made and run by FuJETs!
Of course, I should probably address the reasons why you’re worried.
- Radiation. Big one, right? I’m not going to encourage complacency in this, and it is 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 we live very normal lives. Huge precautions are taken with radiation monitors positioned at 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! Also, 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 are aware. But earthquakes and tsunami are not limited to Fukushima or even Tohoku. Japan sits on the edge of a tectonic plate (like the west coast of America or New Zealand) so earthquakes happen. Mostly they are small and harmless. The rule is to be prepared, and know that Japan has a good idea of how to deal with disasters when they arise.
Anyway, enough of that dark stuff. Fukushima rocks. The majority of FuJETs re-contract because people don’t want to leave! If you do have any questions, shoot someone an email (I’ll do – email@example.com), check the forums, or join our Facebook page (Fukushima ALTs). We’re all looking forward to meeting you!