The YOKA, Winter Edition

It's HERE!  This YOKA features:
  • Nagasaki by Erik Smith
  • Hiking Kumamoto: Mount Gankai by Lander Sims
  • An Adventure in Immobility by Jon Hughes
  • Baby's First Oharai & A Chat with the Smiling Girl by Valeria Reyes
  • Japan's #1 Mascot & Kumamoto Governor Visit Boston & NY by Mark Frey
  • Photos submissions from Laura McGhee
This YOKA was designed by Valeria Reyes.
Tax Packet for American JETs REVISIONS
There were a few errors in the original tax packet that we sent out.  Sorry!  Here are the revised tax packets.
 Tax packet for 1st yr American JETs REVISED (Jan. 23, 2014)
2nd-5th year guide 
Page 3, Part I, line 2b
The dates listed were January 1, 2013 through Dec. 31 2014. The correct dates are January 1, 2013 through December 31, 2013. 

1st year guide AND 2nd-5th year guide
Page 5 Part IV, line 16
The amount shown on line 16 should be 94,379.20.


             Happy New Year!!!
Become a MONbassador!
The PR Division of the Kumamoto Prefectural Government is looking for people to help Kumamon promote Kumamoto.  They've begun a new program to recruit MONbassadors.  A MONbassador acts like a bridge between Kumamoto and Asia by providing information about Kumamoto's attractions on Facebook, blogs, homepages, and other social media.
You do not have to reside in Kumamoto or Japan to become a MONbassador, so all current and former Kumamoto JETs quality. This is not a paid position, but you will get a certificate of appointment and a special pin badge (Ohhhh!), and you will be invited to a free party and tour of Kumamoto exclusively for MONbassadors (Ahhhhh!).
KUMAMON's Kumamoto Diary
In other Kumamon-related news, Kumamon has a new, English facebook page.  You can follow him on his adventures in Kumamoto and the rest of the world.
Jett and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Illegal Day
Did you know you could be fined up to 5 man for riding a bike without a light at night?  Or that cycling with a passenger over age six could set you back 2 man? These and other fascinating laws and their punishments can be found in this fun but informative powerpoint about Japanese laws put together by the PAs in Shiga Prefecture!!!
A Few Thoughts on Culture Fatigue
For some of us winter is a welcome relief from the hot, humid summer weather that is a dominant feature of life in Kumamoto.  For others it’s a challenging time and keeping warm and in good spirits is more difficult that it usually is.  Whatever your experience is, please remember to take care of yourself.  If you are finding this a difficult time, you know better than anyone else what can help get you through the cold months. 
With winter well underway and 1st yr JETs having passed their 4 month anniversary on the JET Programme, we wanted to share a few thoughts about culture fatigue.  This information was presented to us at previous PA conferences, and we wanted to share some of the tastiest bits with all JETs as we thought it was particularly useful during this potentially difficult time of year.  It’s also very interesting! 
 ‘Culture Fatigue’
Coming to Japan means you must learn new patterns of behavior and figure out how to navigate social situations.  In our home countries we know how to have a conversation and how interactions are supposed to work.  We get a small dose of satisfaction, a small buzz, a little psychic boost from an interaction gone well.  But in a different country and culture, interactions must be learned.  We don’t get those doses of satisfaction that come from a conversation that is “complete” or “whole”, but rather little shocks that are the result of things not going the way we are used to.  These shocks accumulate. 
Culture fatigue describes the cumulative effect of constantly being confronted with these little shocks.  ‘Culture shock’ implies one big jolt, but for most people it’s the small, sometimes even imperceptible aspects of life that build up and cause culture fatigue. 
Some common things that can get at people:  being compared with past JETs, foreigners; being stared at; getting asked the same questions over and over; smoking and drinking; sexism. 
Feeling Crazy?
This graph is often used to express the cycles we go through in a different culture:
But in reality it may feel like:
It’s normal to feel crazy at first.  Usually over time the severity of the dips and peaks becomes less.
Ideas on Coping
Coping with culture fatigue requires mourning.  You lose something by coming to Japan.  When you come to a different culture, it’s like going to a circus and looking at yourself in one of those fun mirrors that distort your image.  You look at yourself and you don’t recognize yourself.  You’ve lost the normal you.  People see you differently than you are used to being seen, and you may even see yourself differently.  You need to mourn your loss (the loss of family, friends, and your own identity).  Just like any time you experience grief, it’s important to acknowledge what you feel and move on.  Over time, the mirror image gets more familiar, and hopefully you come to like what you see. 
Moving to another culture is a big transition.  Think back to other transitions in your life (university, 1st job, etc.)  Try drawing a graph with time on one axis and how you felt on the other.  Chart out how you felt before the transition to after the transition.  Chart about 15 months (3 months before the transition to 1 year after the transition).  What patterns do you see?  Also, what did you do to cope with challenges of transition?  The things that worked in the past are most likely to work for you now. Adjustment is an intensely personal experience.  Often children, when they are taken to another country or culture, revert back to behaviors that they had grown out of (which drives their parents nuts).  Similarly, when the social carpet gets pulled out from under our feet, we may revert back to old ways and habits that we struggled to get over.  In technical terms this is called ‘regression in the service of the ego.’  A helpful strategy to help with adjustment:  write out what about Japan particularly bothers you.  Not so you can bash Japan, but because it’s important to know where Japan bothers you.  Pay attention to how you’re feeling, how riled up you are or aren’t when you make your list.  Instead of thinking ‘Why do they always do that?’ trying thinking ‘Why do I always react like this when they do that?’  Sometimes it helps to pick where not to adjust so you can adjust more fully in other areas.  It’s also important to know and accept your personal style.  Are you introverted or extroverted?  Optimist or pessimist?  Do you talk slow or fast in conversation?  What do you say to yourself when something good happens?  Something bad happens?  Do you think through problems or feel them out?  Knowing yourself can help you figure out how to cope and adjust.  Keep in mind that whatever worked for you before will help you now.  Use your experiences as a way to know yourself better and learn what’s important to you. 

Under Construction!!!
We've started revamping the website, but it's going to take some time.  In the meantime, tell us what you think!  Do you like it so far?  Any suggestions?  
・If you have been to a good English-speaking doctor, please email the PAs about it.

・Good luck with the new semester of classes! 

Important upcoming dates:

・Starting in October - New ES/JHS ALT School Visits  
Upcoming Events:

・September 5 - Taco Night, 7PM at Tortacos, Kumamoto City
・September 26 & 27 - Ashikita Beach Party, Otachimisaki Park, Ashikita, check-in starts at 4PM
Area Guide


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