JET Leaver’s Survey Results

The leavers have spoken! We asked some of our dearly departing JETs some questions about their experience in Fukushima, and they have delivered! Here is what they had to say:


1. Describe your fuku-perience in one word. (Yes, only one. We’re mean.):

“Inconceivable!” –Pavel Koulaev, first-year JET in Fukushima City

“Revelationary” –Max Holtz, first-year JET in Kawamata

“Galvanising” –Suzanne Fish, first-year JET in Nihonmatsu

“Humbling” –Natalie Donohue, second-year JET in Soma and Minamisoma

“Maturing” –David Tacoronte, second-year JET in Minamisoma

“Unexpected” –Tony Villa, first year JET in Shinchi

“Amazing” –Naomi Sloan, second-year JET in Iwaki

“Enduring” –Ashley Berry, third-year JET in Shirakawa


2. What do you wish you had known before coming to Fukushima?

“I wish I had known how easy it is to get things via Amazon in Japan. I also wish I had known how a fish oven worked.” –Pavel Koulaev

“Japanese. In my town you won’t survive without it, so the more you can speak the better off you will be. I also wish I had known more about the specifics of my job so that I could have adapted faster.” –Max Holtz

“Exactly how hot and cold it gets. My clothes from England needed a lot heat tech as an under layer during the winter!” –Suzanne Fish

“There is no central heating, so it gets really really cold indoors during winter –literally freezing sometimes!” –Natalie Donohue

“I wish I had known about the transport situation. I would have gotten a car much earlier.” –David Tacoronte

“Having zero knowledge of Japanese in a small town like mine. If it can’t be a language, then I’d say how radiation is really not a factor and I didn’t have to worry about it!”–Tony Villa

“The first thing you should buy when it starts getting chilly is an electric blanket.” –Naomi Sloan


3. What’s the weirdest/strangest food you ate here?

Shirako. No question.” –Pavel Koulaev

“I had chicken/mayo sushi last week from my local little super market. It was pretty amazing.” –Max Holtz

“Crickets that had been stewed in maple syrup. I had to eat them as a whole class of san-nensei stared at me with trepidation.” –Suzanne Fish

“I ate turtle at a drinking party one time -I was the ‘Guest of Honour’ and it would have been rude to refuse… tasted like tender chicken.” –Natalie Donohue

Inago — stewed grasshoppers in ice cream.” –David Tacoronte

“Other then natto, not really! I have had most things back at home!” –Tony Villa

“Raw horse or a whole dead sparrow.” –Naomi Sloan

Horse Meat.” –Ashley Berry


4. What is your favourite festival, event, or site in Fukushima?

Azuma-kofuji and the Bandai-Azuma skyline.” –Pavel Koulaev

“I’m biased, but my town has an awesome festival that you will find no where else in Japan. It’s called Cos e Quin, and it’s a traditional Latin folk music festival. Don’t ask why. Just go to Kawamata in October and enjoy the free live music and fantastic Latin American food vendors.” –Max Holtz

“It has to be Nihonmatsu’s Lantern Festival. To see our little town come alive and attract so many people was a delight. The lanterns were beautiful and the atmosphere was great. Plus festival food on my doorstep? Yes please.” –Suzanne Fish

Soma Nomaoi!” –Natalie Donohue & David Tacoronte

Goshiki-numa” –Tony Villa

The fire festival.” –Naomi Sloan

“Sukagawa’s Taimatsu Akashi is my favourite festival, while Hokkaido (Niseko) and Okinawa the most memorable places I visited.” –Ashley Berry


5. What do you wish you had brought with you when you first arrived?

“An English language Asian cookbook.” –Pavel Koulaev

“One of those little hand towels you use to dry your hands/wipe sweat off your brow. I resisted for a long time, writing it off as a silly Japanese querky item. I was a fool. I wish I got on the personal hand towel bandwagon a long time ago.” –Max Holtz

“Can I say my boyfriend?” –Suzanne Fish

“More winter clothes — I wasn’t prepared for how cold it can be indoors in Japan.” –Natalie Donohue

“An iron, cans of beans, PEANUT BUTTER, Cuban spices, better omiyage, pictures of my family and friends.” –David Tacoronte

“More snow boarding gear, it’s cheaper at home.” –Tony Villa

“More money, the figure I was given by folks back home was far off, since I had to purchase a car.” –Ashley Berry


6. What do you wish you had left out of your suitcase?

“English language issues of Shonen Jump.” –Pavel Koulaev

“Stationery. There was already so much of it in my apartment and at all of my desks at my schools. Plus I didn’t know it would be so cheap in Japan. Or cute. I don’t need cat shaped paperclips but I have them.” –Suzanne Fish

“I was told to bring bedsheets and towels for some reason, but they’re so easy to buy here that I wish I hadn’t bothered!” –Natalie Donohue

“Some clothes, my omiyage (they sucked), my Nintendo 64.” –David Tacoronte

“The extra formal wear. I brought ties etc., but it just depends on your working situation. With mine nice-casual was OK.” –Tony Villa


7. Besides family and friends, what did you miss the most from home?

“Breakfast restaurants.” –Pavel Koulaev

“Call me ethnocentric, but no country in the world does comfort food better than America. That’s just a fact. So, comfort food.” –Max Holtz

“My cats, good reasonably priced cheese, roast dinners and being able to bake cakes in a proper oven.” –Suzanne Fish

“I miss hearing other Scottish or British accents -and British food!” –Natalie Donohue

“Food. Access to food. Access to spices. Access to everything western. Being a vegan is hard when you have to order everything online at a high price. A good gym. My cat.” –David Tacoronte

“Real Mexican Food!” –Tony Villa

“Insulation.” Naomi Sloan

“Being able to read the newspaper.” –Ashley Berry


8. Besides family and friends, what will you miss the most about Fukushima?

“The mountains.” –Pavel Koulaev

“The people for sure. Being all alone in an isolated little town, the only social life you have is your co-workers and your students. I’ve been lucky to have awesome co-workers and awesome students, and I will miss all of them. I will also miss the beautiful scenery and being able to take casual bike rides in the valleys of Fukushima.” –Max Holtz

“The persistence, friendliness and determination of the people in Fukushima.” –Suzanne Fish

“Japanese food -especially curry, wasabi crackers, and delicious fresh sushi!” –Natalie Donohue

“I’ll miss my students. I love them so much, it’s like having hundreds of little brothers and sisters.” –David Tacoronte

“My Students and Combinies!” –Tony Villa

“All the green plants, universal health care, delicious fish, and indoor fishing.” –Naomi Sloan

“The surroundings — i.e. nature — which provided opportunities to enjoy nature and the outdoors, regardless of the season and weather.” –Ashley Berry


9. Alright– we’re not that mean. Describe your fuku-perience in one sentence.

“On ONE of my weekends, I cycled over a scenic mountain route past a 1700m tall volcano to go party with awesome people from all over the world at a castle left over from samurai times while looking at cherry blossoms and eating delicious foods, after which we went to karaoke.” –Pavel Koulaev

“I’m not eloquent enough to put it all in a sentence, so the following words attempt to collectively describe my experience: magical, challenging, solitary, liberating, rewarding, cold, hot, confusing, frustrating, peaceful, roller-coaster, funny, heartwarming, and absolutely necessary.” –Max Holtz

“A whirlwind of trying to find my feet in a country where I didn’t speak the language, where everything seemed to be a challenge but that’s what made the experience so special and enlightening for me and I made some excellent friends!” –Suzanne Fish

“Spending two years living, working and volunteering in an area badly affected by the March 11th 2011 triple disaster has shown me how incredibly strong and resilient people can be if they work together as a community.” –Natalie Donohue

“When you see what it’s like to live with out, you’ll figure out what’s really important, and you’ll be happier than you’ve ever been before!” –David Tacoronte

“Good, Great, Grand, no sarcasm what so ever fell in love, Home away from Home!” –Tony Villa

“I’m so happy I was lucky enough to be able to be a Fuku-jet!” –Naomi Sloan

“One crazy, fun, everlasting, frustrating at times, memorable and potentially defining experiences of my life.” –Ashley Berry


10. Any last comments/titbits you’d like to share?

“Sorry Fukushima, it’s not you, it’s me :( I’ll never forget my experience here and will definitely come back for a visit.” –Pavel Koulaev

“I will always look back at Fukushima as being one of the most important experiences of my life.” –Max Holtz

“I’ll definitely be back.” –Suzanne Fish

“Fukushima has changed me in a way I never thought possible and it will always have a place in my heart.” –Natalie Donohue

“I just really hated when people would tell me that one year was not enough. I had the best experience of my life. Did everything I wanted to do and more! I probably experienced more in this year then some people will in three. Get out of your house/town/prefecture/Japan people! :)” –Tony Villa

“For whatever reason you come to Japan stay true to yourself and what you believe in. With that in mind try to experience as much as possible in your allotted time here while cultivating your skills and building relationships. Step out of your comfort zone and embrace the opportunity.” –Ashley Berry

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“ふくしまに ふくしまに ふくしまに
置いてきたんだ 僕は 本当の自分を
ふくしまで ふくしまで ふくしまで
愛したいんだ 僕は 本当の君を
明日から 何かがはじまるよ ステキな事だよ
明日から 何かがはじまるよ 君のことだよ
I love you baby ふくしま
I need you baby ふくしま
I want you baby 僕らは
ふくしまが好き
I love you baby ふくしま
I need you baby ふくしま
I want you baby 僕らは
ふくしまが好き
ふくしまで ふくしまで ふくしまで
君が すばらしいってこと 確かめさせて
ふくしまで ふくしまで ふくしまで
夢みたいな 日々と 美しい君
明日から 何かがはじまるよ ステキな事だよ
明日から 何かがはじまるよ 君のことだよ
I love you baby ふくしま
I need you baby ふくしま
I want you baby 僕らは
ふくしまが好き
I love you baby ふくしま
I need you baby ふくしま
I want you baby 僕らは
ふくしまが好き
明日から 全てがはじまるよ 君の日々だよ
明日から 新しい日々だよ 君の日々だよ
I love you baby ふくしま
I need you baby ふくしま
I want you baby 僕らは
ふくしまが好き
I love you baby 浜通り
I need you baby 中通り
I want you baby 会津地方
ふくしまが好き
I love you baby 野馬追い
I need you baby 赤べこ
I want you baby 鶴ヶ城
ふくしまが好き
I love you baby ふくしま
I need you baby ふくしま
I want you baby 僕らは
ふくしまが
I love you baby ふくしま
I need you baby ふくしま
I want you baby 僕らは
ふくしまが ふくしまが 好き!” –David Tacoronte

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