What’s The YOKA?
The YOKA is an English-language newsletter published by the International Affairs Division with the help of current and former Kumamoto JETs. For current JETs this is an opportunity not only to learn about some of the activities and events your fellow JETs are involved in, but also to get a glimpse of the what post-JET life is like from one of your sempai. Likewise, we hope The YOKA will give former Kumamoto JETs an idea of what current JETs are up to and help you maintain connection with the Kumamoto JET community.

What does ‘YOKA’ mean?
‘Yoka’ (よか) is Kumamoto dialect for ‘yoi’ (良い), which means ‘good’.

Want to Contribute?
We aim to issue The YOKA on a seasonal basis. Any contributions would be welcome. Whether you are a current or former Kumamoto JET, if you would like to write an article, contribute, or have any questions about The YOKA, please contact the PAs at Thank you.

Send me The YOKA!
Currently we send The YOKA to all current and former Kumamoto JETs by email. If you know of a current or former Kumamoto JET or someone else who would like to receive The YOKA, or if your email address has changed and would like to receive The YOKA at a different address, please let us know at

Winter 2020
Design by Kira-Ann Hayashi

  • Yakushima by Melissa WrightThe YOKA Winter 2020
  • Eco Park Minamata by Ryn Kaestner
  • 橋上手 by Khair Ali
  • Monitor Tour to Yamato Town by Ruth Madden
  • What I Wish I’d Known Earlier about Kato Kiyomasa by Adam Pool
  • Kikuchi-kun by Steven Swanson
  • A Couple Notes from Junior High School Teachers and Japanese Bamboo Pancake by Kelley Gathright
  • Socks Magic by Catherine Burke
  • Extra Time in Kuma Gun by Raleigh Hooks
  • Sakura Viewing Guide by Chase Sutherland
  • Photos by Tiffany Chin, Josie Dennis, Quinlan Fletcher, Kira-Ann Hayashi, Alicia Lim, Eva Marie Olson, Chase Sutherland, Jenifer Vosper

An HQ version (213 MB) of this issue is also available.

Autumn 2019
Design by Jenifer Vosper

  • Anime Adventures in Kyushu by Adam Pool
  • Okonomiyaki and Fishing by Fernando Luna
  • Wonderful Winter Songs by Greg Corbett
  • Living Rugby in Japan by Greg Lambert
  • Yay, Smart Phone and Home Improvement by Kelley Gathright
  • Rugby World Cup by Ruth Madden
  • School Sports Festival by Ryn Kaestner
  • A KumAJET Journey through Kyushu’s Long Summer by KumAJET
  • Photos by Quinlan Fletcher, Peter Georgantis, Ryn Kaestner, Jess Langshaw, Yuan Luo and Niamh Merry

An HQ version (169 MB) of this issue is also available.

Summer 2019
Design by Alicia Lim

  • Homecoming and Haiku by Miriam Horsley
  • Summer in South Kumamoto by Hester Mullen
  • Kumamoto JET Gothic by Preston Sangster
  • Fishing in Takamori by Olivia Saputra
  • Night Bus – No Problem! by Jenifer Vosper
  • Welcome to Kumamoto! by the Area Leaders of Kumamoto Prefecture
  • Photos by Kira-Ann Hayashi, Miriam Horsley, Alicia Lim and Chase Sutherland

An HQ version (33 MB) of this issue is also available.

Spring 2019
Design by Greg Corbett

  • Aso Village Festivals by Zaynab Nakhid
  • Koinobori of Kyushu by Greg Corbett
  • Golden Week in Seoul and Sayonara Sensei by Alicia Lim
  • A Day in an Inaka Life and Anata no Warehouse by Jess Langshaw
  • Sakitsu Church UNESCO World Heritage Trip by Olivia Saputra
  • To Cross a Threshold by Luna Howell
  • Cat Island by Melissa Wright
  • Photos by Greg Corbett, Bilal Khan, Jess Langshaw, Alicia Lim, Charles Marchant and Daniel McCoy

An HQ version (50 MB) of this issue is also available.

Winter 2019
Design by George Leach

  • Winter Moments and Welcome Back Home by Ola Akindes
  • Yuki Matsuri by Kelli Yogi and Lottie Caddick
  • Aru Ressha — JR Kyushu Sweets Train by Emilie Mitchell
  • Getting on the Citrus Train (And other fruit-related adventures) by Hester Mullen
  • Entrancing Ehime by Jenifer Vosper
  • Welcome Back Home by Ola Akindes
  • The Wee Bopper on Flower Park Hill by Ruth Madden
  • The Legend of the Unkai by Zaynab Nakhid
  • Phonics Escape Room by Ming Ching Bay
  • Photos by Chase Sutherland, George Leach and Lily McDermott

An HQ version (129 MB) of this issue is also available.

Autumn 2018
Design by Laura Sikoski

  • Cup………rice by Alicia Lim
  • A Short Text Exchange about Rice by Alicia Lim
  • Typhoon Trami by Jess Langshaw
  • We are KumAJET! by KumAJET
  • Colors of Fall by Ola Akindes
  • On the Drunken Horse Festival by Ming Ching Bay
  • Climbing the 3333 Steps by Jess Langshaw
  • Visiting the Happiest Place on Earth by Olivia Poole
  • The Fields are Ripe for the Harvest by Ola Akindes
  • Invitation to the Kumamoto International Friendship Festival by the Kumamoto Prefecture International Affairs Division
  • Photos by Amy Cooper, Alicia Lim, Lily McDermott, Scott McGowan, Mary Sawyer, Amy Shiroma and Chase Sutherland

An HQ version (41MB) of this issue is also available.

Summer 2018
Design by Chase Sutherland

  • A Message from Your Incoming PAs by Bilal Khan & Lily McDermott
  • Irises, Kimonos, and So Much More by Ola Akindes
  • So Many Words by Cody Swall
  • Seven Summer Songs by Greg Corbett
  • A poem by Elizabeth Costales & Alicia Lim
  • Onsens by Melissa Wright
  • Experiencing Yakushima by Chase Sutherland
  • Clam Digging in Kamiamakusa by Olivia Saputra
  • The Merits of Kuma by Katelyn DePalmer
  • Summer Moments by Ola Akindes
  • Thoughts on Leaving by Laura McGhee
  • Avoiding Saying Goodbye by Jonny Cornish
  • Photos by Alicia Lim, Sammuel McDowall, Justin Lau, Joyce Tan, Chase Sutherland, Eugene Kim

An HQ version (8 MB) of this issue is also available.

Spring 2018
Design by Greg Corbett

  • Hidden Histories by Zachary Johnson
  • The Universal Bond of Soccer by Paige Hughes
  • Digging Bamboo Shoots in Kumamoto by Olivia Saputra
  • Fun with Sumo by Greg Corbett
  • Solo Exhibition at Josuikan, Reihoku, Amakusa by Chalice Mitchell
  • Urban Japanese 101 by Joyce Tan
  • It’s an Egg-Shaped World: International Attempts at Amateur Rugby (for Girls) by Jenifer Vosper
  • St. Patrick’s Day in Kumamoto: Caint, Craic agus Ceol by Charles Marchant
  • Photos by Greg Corbett, Lara Czepera, Justin Lau, Charles Marchant, Laura McGhee, Chase Sutherland, and Joyce Tan

An HQ version (46 MB) of this issue is also available.

Winter 2018
Design by George Leach

  • The Call of the Drums by Olayitan Akindes
  • Eventful Uto, 御輿来海岸 by June Ang
  • Kimono Class in Uto City by June Ang
  • An ALT’s Journey to the Kendo World Championships by Dale Padoin
  • Winter Blues or Something More Sinister? Thoughts on How to Protect Yourself against Depression on the JET Program by Jennifer Frey
  • ALT Pep Talk by Bilal Khan
  • Learn about Pizza by Chiri Davis
  • Shimabara by Melissa Wright
  • Graduation by Timothy Hull
  • A Taste of Tea in Minamata by Greg Corbett
  • KumAJET’s Christmas Party at Jiaien Children’s Home and Spring 2018 Events, KumAJET
  • Kashima: the Village of Water by Lily McDermott
  • Carnival: Introducing my Country’s Largest Festival by Zaynab Nakhid
  • Interview with a Wirebender by Zaynab Nakhid
  • Photos by June Ang, Greg Corbett, Chris Hester, Justin Lau, Laura McGhee, Joyce Tan, and Jenifer Vosper

An HQ version (45MB) of this issue is also available.

Autumn 2017
Design by Greg Corbett

  • With Friends, in High Places: Climbing Mt. Fuji by Olivia Poole
  • Minamata and Bamboo by Greg Corbett
  • Success Amidst Misfortune: A Reflection on My Hospitalization in Japan by Erika Bareng
  • Untitled haiku by Alexandra Butler
  • A for Annyeong, B for Busan by Joyce Tan
  • Onsen Ideas for the Winter by Chris Ott
  • Invitation to the Kumamoto International Friendship Festival by the Kumamoto Prefecture International Affairs Division
  • Photos by Greg Corbett, Luna Howell, Justin Lau, Laura McGhee, Olivia Poole, and Joyce Tan

An HQ version (26MB) of this issue is also available.

Summer 2017
Design by Sheridan Piltz

  • Are You All Set for KumAJET? by KumAJET
  • Kona Kona Café: More than a Trendy Café by Erin Dillon & George Leach
  • Summer Vacation by Zak Repman
  • This Year Is Canada by Jamie Jové-Viniegra
  • Taifuu and You by Jonny Cornish
  • Confessions of a Gaijin Drama Queen by Sheridan Piltz
  • Housekeeping: Tackling the Dreaded Kabi by June Ang
  • Title Unrecovered by Garrett Stanford
  • Photos by Erika Egner, Tanya Leonard, Laura McGhee, Susannah Roberts

An HQ version (14MB) of this issue is also available.

Spring 2017
Design by Chase Sutherland

  • AJET All Kyushu Hanami by CJ Fischer
  • Mono no Aware by Chase Sutherland
  • Adapting Is Awareness: Working in Japan by Aaron Maisler
  • Surya Restaurant Review by Caitlin Puzzar
  • A Week in the Life of a CIR by Erika Egner
  • 4 Things I’ve Realized After Learning a Language for 5 Years by Josh Anderson
  • Language Exchange by Zaynab Nakhid
  • Kumamoto Summers by Jonny Cornish
  • The Beach House by Rebecca King
  • Photos by Caitlin Puzzar, CJ Fischer, Erika Egner, Joyce Tan, Laura McGhee, Olivia Poole, Preston Sangster, Rebecca King, Susannah Roberts, Tanya Leonard

An HQ version (14 MB) of this issue is also available.

Winter 20172017YOKAWinterCover
Design by Richie Luu

  • How to Survive Winter in Japan by Zaynab Nakhid
  • A Winter’s Night Tale by Denise Wiley
  • Learning from Six-Year-Olds by Mary Ellen Greenwood
  • JHS: Japanese Horror Story by Jazmin Guerrero
  • Babies on a Plane: How to Deal with the Unknown by Jonny Cornish
  • Kumamoto, Kyushu’s Own Winter Wonderland by Zaynab Nakhid
  • Ode to Natto by Mary Ellen Greenwood
  • Photos by Richie Luu, Laura McGhee, Zaynab Nakhid, Susannah Roberts, Joyce Tan, Denise Wiley

An (slightly more) HQ Version (38 MB) of this issue is also available.

Autumn 2016autumn-2016-cover
Design by George Leach

  • 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

An HQ Version (106 MB) of this issue is also available.

Summer 2016Summer2016YOKAcover
Design by George Leach

  • Not What I Signed Up For by Julia Green
  • The Key to Communication: An Open Heart by Mana Haleem
  • Rejoice with Those Who Rejoice; Mourn with Those Who Mourn by Sharon Lo
  • Driving Woes: A Haiku by Katelyn DePalmer
  • New ALTs and Ghosts by Liam Nolan
  • The Stranger in Minamata by Zaynab Nakhid
  • Was It Enough? by Mana Haleem
  • A Farewell Message by Roland Carlos
  • Photos by Sue Chetty, Katelyn DePalmer, Jamie Jové-Viniegra, George Leach, Max Levitt-Campbell, Susannah Roberts, Denise Wiley

An HQ Version (74MB) of this issue is also available.

Spring 2016Spring2016YOKAcover
Design by Jemma Gallagher

  • A Thank You to Civil Servants by Liam Nolan
  • 5 Reasons to Love Kumamoto by Denise Wiley
  • Mood Maker by Brendan Amy
  • Explore Kumamoto’s Backyard by Kuma-Gun ALTs
  • Tampopo by Jazmin Guerrero
  • Road Trip to Oita by Denise Wiley
  • Photos by Jemma Gallagher, Jamie Jové-Viniegra, Olivia Lee, Zaynab Nakhid, Joleen Tomlinson

An HQ Version (77MB) of this issue is also available.

Winter 2016Winter2016YOKAcover
Design by Denise Wiley
  • Failure to Communicate by Liam Nolan
  • A Little of Ourselves: The Decision to Re-Contract by Sara Birnbaum
  • Japanese Residence and Income Tax by Dokken Nakamone
  • Samui Desu Ne! by Denise Wiley
  • Day Trips from Kumamoto by Olivia Lee
  • Bright Lights in Asagiri by Jamie Jové-Viniegra
  • Present Tense by Jessica Weinstein
  • Photos by Erika Egner, Chris Hester, Jamie Jové-Viniegra, Olivia Lee, Denise Wiley

Autumn 2015Autumn2015YOKAcover
Design by Rachel O’Hanlon

  • 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

Design by Roland Carlos

  • Hajimemashite, Kumamoto by Liam Nolan
  • Ramadan by Mana Haleem
  • Rub the lamp, one wish left, no brainer…free time baby. by Jeff Kaiser
  • A Message from KumAJET
  • Reflections on JET in Kumamoto
  • Photos by Olivia Lee, Erika Egner, and Roland Carlos
  • Haiku by Audrienne Manansala

Design by Jemma Gallagher

  • Half Past Ten by Christopher Hester
  • Last Breaths of Spring by Audrienne Manansala
  • Adventures in the Life of a Developing Obachan:
    a satire about premature aging
     by Jemma Gallagher
  • The Color Run in Kitakyushu by Mana Haleem
  • The Golden Country: Iwate
  • Continue? The Return of an ALT After JET by Matthew Khor
  • Photos by Jemma Gallagher, Erika Egner, and Olivia Lee

An HQ Version (80MB) of this issue is also available.

Design by George Leach
  • Untitled by Arianna
  •  by Charlie Fieseler
  • (Is there) Life After JET(?) by Joe Tomei
  • Tabaruzaka by Roland Carlos
  • Photos by Olivia Lee, Chalice Mitchell, and George Leach
Design by Valeria Reyes
  • The Story…So Far by Brendan Amy
  • The Future of the Japanese Elementary School Program by Sam Muller
  • Snap, Crackle, Pop – A few crispy hikes by Jeff Kaiser
  • Takahama by Chris Hester
  • An Outsider Amongst Outsiders by Julia Green
  • Reverse Culture Shock: A reflection by Lauren Sorondo
  • Photos by Erika Egner, Olivia Lee, Chalice Mitchell, and Lacey Lee
Design by Valeria Reyes
  • Skateboarding in Kumamoto by Sam Van Ginhoven
  • 4,541 Miles of Perspective by Jarissa Lum
  • Chinese Characters Worth Getting Tattoed by Chris Ott
  • Short Stories from Kumamoto by Sam Zimny
  • Summertime Swimming in Kyushu by Chris Ott
  • Photos by Lacey Lee and Valeria Reyes
Design by Zachary Johnson
  • Prose: Personal Musing on the Value of Experience by Ariana Coveney
  • Photo: Takahashi Inari Shrine at Hatsuuma Festival by Hiroshi Fukushima
  • Full Bloom: Night and Day by Adele Jackson-Gibson
  • Photo: Sunset over the Cherry Blossom Trees at Tachioka Lake in Uto City by Inandi Roux
  • I Identify With by Zachary Johnson
  • Poem: Are humans not after all, just hope and desire made into flesh? by Ariana Coveney
Design by Valeria Reyes
  • 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
Design by Zachary Johnson

  • Ringside by Zack Kraushar
  • Experiencing Racial Differences in Japan by Adele Jackson-Gibson
  • The UN Comes to Kumamoto by Erik Smith
  • Out in Japan by Zachary Johnson
  • My “Oh No” Moments by Melissa Barcellos
  • California Kawaura Dreaming by Erin Dillon
Design by Andrew August

  • Kumamoto ALTs Say Goodbye – speeches, poems, and reflections
    of returning JETs
  • Can I get a medal too? by Alys Turner
  • Making the most of Eikaiwa by Melissa Reed
  • Welcome to your new ALT PA
  • New KumAJET team
  • The 2012-2013 KumAJET goodbye
  • Mayumi’s cutting edge by Andrew August
  • An incoming JET’s search for adventure by John Roche

Design by Ian O’Kidhain

  • Festival on Fire by Joe Fingerhut
  • The Mighty Rooster by Mollee Reitz
  • Bittersweet by Melissa Reed
  • Well, If Your Friends Jumped Off a Bridge…Would You? by Ian Cruz
  • Spring pictures by Kaile Heng
Design by Laura Turner
  • Guarding the Yokozuna by Hugo Dragonetti
  • Positivity and Teaching by Mollee Reitz
  • Onsen Etiquette by Chris Ott
  • In Pictures: International Friendship Festival

  • Ni Kyu Bee by KumAJET
  • A Little Bit of Mullet-tude Goes a Long Way by Joe Fingerhut, former Kumamoto City ALT
  • Photography by Inandi Roux taken in Uto and Ashikita
  • An American in Kumamoto by Jason Shon
  • Beating the Winter Blues by Marie August and Jason Shon
  • Reminders: 2012 International Friendship Festival, Travel, 2012 Skill Development Conference, Reappointment Information, Photo Directory
  • A Fond Farewell includes reflections of several departing JETs
  • 無 on the Mind by Laura Turner
  • Michael’s Japan Memoirs:  Reflections on Two Years Spent in Hitoyoshi in Senryu Form by Michael Hofmeyr
  • I do Nichibu.  Nichi-who?  JETs who do Japanese traditional dance share thoughts from their time on, and off, the tatami by Ruth Rowntree-Kai, Cody Jones, Emily Taylor, Matt Khor, and Erik Smith
  • Goodbye from KumAJET  Farewell messages from this year’s KumAJET Reps
  • New KumAJET Representatives  Meet your new KumAJET Representatives
  • Who’s that Pokemon Vegetable? by Laura Turner
  • Leftover Rice:  Japanese traditional festistive wear – and where to be seen in it this sticky season by Ruth Rowntree-Kai
  • Announcements & Reminders:  Re-entry Permits, Planned Power Outages, AJET Connect Magazine – New Sports Editor’s Content Call-Announcements & Reminders:  Re-entry Permits, Planned Power Outages, AJET Connect Magazine – New Sports Editor’s Content Call

  • Internationalization in the Nude by Chris Ott
  • Spring Photos by Michael Hofmeyr
  • A Message From the New Japanese PA by Hideki Harada
  • Announcements for Current JETs
  • Everyday I’m (Noh) Shuffling by Laura Turner
  • A Tokyo Transition by Scott Borba
  • Photos by Michael Hofmeyr
  • Natural Italian with Plenty of Heart by Andrew August
  • The Six Higo Flowers by Jason Shon
  • Photos by Ian O’Kidhain
  • Information on the abolishment of the Alien Registration System
  • Kumamoto News: bicycle parking bans and bicycle parking fees in Kumamoto city
  • Announcements for current JETs: Kumamoto as a ordinance-designated city, call for TOAs, and SDC General summary
  • More Than a Tape Recorder by Joe Fingerhut
  • Ichi Kyu Bee! by Adam Chludzinski of KumAJET
  • Some Humble Encouragement by Ian O’Kidhain
  • Photos by Michael Hofmeyr
  • Kiwi Culture by Jason Shon
  • Change in Remuneration for JETs Arriving in 2012
  • Photos by Katakin Peace
  • Kumamoto in the News
  • From the Editor