Autumn 2016 YOKA

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The Autumn 2016 YOKA is here! This quarter’s YOKA features the following…

  • Rainbow Forest Camp by Mary Ellen Greenwood
  • Aoi Aso Jinja Okunchi Matsuri by Jamie Jové-Viniegra
  • Small Cuts by Jazmin Guerrero
  • Komame Cafe by Erin Dillon
  • Stay on the Left by Blain Cox
  • Photos by Hiroshi Fukushima, Jazmin Guerrero, Jamie Jové-Viniegra, George Leach, Laura McGhee

This YOKA was designed by George Leach. An HQ Version (106 MB) of this issue is also available. 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


2016 Higokko Wakuwaku English Camp for JHS Students

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The second annual Junior High School Higokko Wakuwaku English Camp was held on Saturday, October 29. Junior High School students interested in English came from all over Kumamoto Prefecture to the camp to enjoy using English and learning about other cultures.

Our favorite mascot, Kumamon, joined the party! Feel free to check out some photos from the camp.










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Event – Yatsushiro Fireworks Festival

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yatsushiro-fireworks-festival-2The Yatsushiro Fireworks Festival will be held Saturday, October 15 from 18:00 to 20:15. This is the largest fireworks show in Kyushu and each year pyrotechnicians from across Japan compete to produce the most spectacular fireworks displays.

The fireworks will be shot off over the Kuma River in Yatsushiro City (near the Kuma River Green Area Park, 八代球磨川河川緑地). The festival may be accessed by train (get off at Yatsushiro Station) or by car (free parking will be available in some areas). This event is extremely popular, so expect roads and trains to be very crowded.

Should there be severe weather, the festival will be postponed to Saturday, November 5.

More information is available here (Japanese).

Event – Mizuakari Festival

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Still looking for something to do for the three-day weekend coming up?

Come see some beautiful handmade lanterns in Kumamoto City! There will be bamboo and paper lanterns all around the Hanabatacho area of the city and near Kumamoto Castle.

mizuakari-festival-imageOctober 8 (Sat.), 18:00 – 22:00
October 9 (Sun.), 18:00 – 21:00

Hanabata Park
Near the statue of Kato Kiyomasa (across from the International Center)
Near Johsaien
Ninomaru Park
Kato Shrine

Click here for more information about the festival (Japanese only).

2016 Higokko Wakuwaku English Camp for ES Students

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The second annual Elementary School Higokko Wakuwaku English Camp was held on Saturday, October 1. Elementary school students from all over the prefecture came to Hotel Terrsa in Kumamoto City to participate in the camp. Together with Kumamoto ALTs, the students enjoyed a full day of English communication and cultural exchange!

There was also a special guest this year… Kumamon!

Here are a bunch of photos from the camp. Take a look!















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Leavers’ Meeting 2016 Photos

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At long last, the photos from the Leavers’ Meeting are here!

Thank you to everyone who attended, thank you to the presenters, and thank you to our special guests, Governor Kabashima and Kumamon!

Hopefully the Leavers’ Meeting was beneficial to all those who attended. We hope that all those who left this past summer are enjoying their new, post-JET lives, wherever that may be! Best of luck to all! 🙂

If you would like to review some of the information for non-reappointing JETs, please visit the guide.

2016 Leavers' Meeting 1

2016 Leavers' Meeting 2

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Kumamoto Orientation 2016

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Kumamoto Orientation 2016

Thank you to everyone who came to Kumamoto Orientation this year! Over 50 new JET participants joined orientation this year, spending two and a half days attending workshops, visiting booths, and studying Japanese. We hope that orientation was both fun and educational for our new JETs!

Additionally, more than 30 volunteers from around Kumamoto Prefecture helped out this year. Thank you for your time and effort — it’s thanks to you that Kumamoto Orientation was a success!

Below are some of the materials from this year’s workshops and booths. Please take a look at them!
Stay tuned for photos…! Continue reading

Kumamoto City Tourism Pamphlet

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熊本城観光リーフレット(中面)The Kumamoto International Convention and Tourism Bureau has released an updated city tourism pamphlet with information post-earthquake. It is highlighted by a map of no-entry zones in the Kumamoto Castle area but also lists areas in Kumamoto City that are still open for business and more than ready to take visitors.

You can find the pamphlet (Japanese only) here:

Incoming JETs: Flying to Kumamoto

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Several incoming Kumamoto JETs have been inquiring about the process of flying to Kumamoto after Tokyo Orientation. Flights for all incoming JETs have been booked and together with the Kumamoto PAs, we will be traveling as group together from Tokyo Orientation to Haneda Airport and onto to the plane heading to Kumamoto. Once we all arrive at Kumamoto Airport, you will then meet people from your specific placement and head with them there.

As for baggage, the rules for flying domestically in Japan apply. You can find the rules for ANA here: However, please be aware that in previous years, incoming JETs have been asked to come to Tokyo Orientation with only one carry-on and one large piece of baggage. Any other pieces of baggage you bring with you from abroad will be collected at Narita Airport when you arrive and will be sent directly to your placement in Kumamoto.

Update: A previous version of this post linked to the baggage rules for Japan Airlines. Incoming JETs will fly on ANA and the link has been updated.