Where were you in Japan as a JET and when?
Nishiaizu, Fukushima Prefecture. 2005-2008.
What sparked your interest in applying for the JET program?
I majored in Japanese literature in college, and when I finished, I wanted an extended period of time to live in Japan to solidify my language skills and experience the culture.
What are some of the things your prefecture is known for? Ex. food, hotspots, etc.
Fukushima has become synonymous with the Dai-ichi nuclear reactor, unfortunately, but there’s so much more. It’s divided by mountains into three different areas – Hama-dori (the area along the coast), Naka-dori (the middle), and Aizu (western part). I was in Aizu, which has beautiful Mt. Bandai with its great hiking and skiing. Lake Inawashiro is at the foot of the mountain and is the third largest lake in Japan. Aizu is also famous for Kitakata ramen, a delicious shoyu style ramen. There’s also a rich samurai history in Aizu-Wakamatsu.
Did you pick up any of the regional dialects? What are some of your favorite words or phrases?
I did not pick up too much, I don’t think, but I do still remember “Sasukene!” which is the local way to say “Daijoubu – no problem!”
If you were to return to live in Japan, would you choose to live in that same prefecture?
I think I would probably opt to live in Tokyo or somewhere more urban. If I was going to go back to the countryside, I’d definitely choose Kyushu. I was able to travel there a couple times while on JET and fell in love with the whole island.
How has your connection in relation to Japan changed since living in Japan?
I’ve managed to find Japan-related work since returning home, which has been very nice. I also try to read as much Japanese as I can. It’s a great way to stay connected to the culture. And recently I’ve been listening to NHK Radio News (https://www.nhk.or.jp/radionews/) to stay up to date on the latest news.
This interview is part of a partnership between the Japan Society Boston (JSB) and the United States Japan Exchange & Teaching Programme Alumni Association (USJETAA) in which JET alumni contribute short interviews about their experiences in Japan in each prefecture.