Monthly Archives: November 2015

2015-2016 ALT Skill Development Conference

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The 2015-2016 ALT Skill Development Conference is this Thursday and Friday (December 3-4). Here are a few important announcements as you get ready for SDC.

Venue Details
Hotel Kumamoto Terrsa (ホテル熊本テルサ)
28-51 Suizenjikoen, Chuo-ku Kumamoto-shi 862-0956 (〒862-0956 熊本市中央区水前寺公園28-51)
TEL: 096-387-7777
Google Maps Link for Terrsa

You must have your supervisor’s permission to drive your own car to and from Terrsa.
You are responsible for the parking fees (300 yen/1st hour) then (100 yen/40min) for Terrsa parking (no fee cap).
Many coin pay parking lots around the hotel and kencho are much cheaper (caps at 600-800 yen).

Check-In Procedures
All participants are asked to check-in on BOTH mornings of the conference.
Registration tables are on the 3rd floor lobby in front of the Taiju Rooms.
Thursday, December 3rd check-in is between 9:15 to 9:50.
Friday, December 4th check-in is between 9:00 to 9:30.

Participants who preordered bentos must pay for them at check-in.
The bentos are 700 each. Please bring exact change/small bills.
The lunch you ordered is displayed on your nametag in case you don’t remember if you ordered one.
Your nametag will also serve as your lunch ticket.

PA Consultations
The JET Prefectural Advisors are available for confidential one-on-one consultations with ALTs and JTEs throughout the conference in Kenshuushitsu A on the 2nd floor.
Please sign up at the check-in tables if you would like to speak to a PA about personal, work-related, or other matters (you may sign up under an alias).

Professional business attire is required.
Any tardiness, unapproved absence, or lack of professionalism will be noted to your CO.

We look forward to seeing you soon at SDC!

Thanks Illumination at Saishunkan

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The long standing drive-thru Christmas lights (or illumination, as it is called in Japan) tradition at Saishunkan is open again for the Christmas season! It is a popular Kumamoto event where you can drive your car through a 2km course on the Saishunkan campus in Kumamoto City, and enjoy a variety of Christmas lights all around you.

The lights will be turned on from 5:30 to 9:00pm every day except Sunday. It is 500 yen for each car to enter. However, due to the high popularity of this event in Kumamoto, admittance to see the lights is determined by the last number of your license plate. If the last number is odd, you can go on odd days (ending in 1, 3, 5, 7, 9) and vice versa for even days. In addition, on very popular days (Saturdays and Christmas week), the line to enter Saishunkan will start at Grand Messe, not at the Saishunkan campus.

You can find more information from their official site (in Japanese):

Autumn 2015 YOKA

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The Autumn 2015 YOKA is out! This issue of the YOKA features:Autumn2015YOKAcover

  • A Whirlwind of Firsts for a First Year JET by Denise Wiley
  • Culture Shock Treatment by Jessica Weinstein
  • Advice from a 2nd Year JET  by Misato-K
  • Enso and Rituals by Rachel O’Hanlon
  • Photos by Katelyn DePalmer, Olivia Lee, Laura McGhee, Susannah Roberts, Joleen Tomlinson

This YOKA was designed by Rachel O’Hanlon.

Submissions are always accepted for future issues of the YOKA. If you want to contribute an article, photo, or creative piece to be part of a future issue, please e-mail your submission to

Driver’s License Agreement between Maryland and Japan

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Great news for our current and future Maryland JETs! As a result of a recently signed driver’s license reciprocity agreement between Maryland and Japan, JETs with a Maryland driver’s license no longer need to take the practical driving test when applying for a Japanese driver’s license. However, you will still have to apply in person for a license and take a vision/hearing test. This agreement will streamline the process for Maryland JETs as you no longer need to worry about the passing the driving test.

JETs from other states in America are unfortunately still required to pass the driving test in order to obtain their Japanese license. However, with Maryland leading the way, this hopefully will lead to other states signing agreements in the near future!

You can find the official announcement here:

Kumamoto International Friendship Festival

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Thank you to everyone who came out to the International Friendship Festival last Saturday (11/7)! And a very special thank you to our volunteers who helped run the JET booth at the festival. There were also more than a few JETs who participated outside the booth, helping out with face painting or even appearing on stage. It would not have been a great success without all our great visitors and volunteers!

Here are just a few snapshots from the festival (click the “continue reading” link for even more pictures)!


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