Edited by Jordan Rocke
Hey everyone! Welcome to our second
annual consecutive Unbeaten Paths. Last time, we focused on a handful of incoming JETs from under-represented countries on the JET programme, talking about how they ended up coming here despite not having the same avenues to entry as British and American JETs. This year, I want to use Unbeaten Paths as a way for any incoming JET to introduce themselves to their community, considering how ridiculously long the delay has been.
To make it a bit more consumable, and a bit more targeted for folks who just want to see who’s coming to their region, I’ve broken it up into three posts. Today I have Toyo, which is the smallest group, and the bigger Chuyo and Nanyo groups will be coming soon.
Not every incoming JET has done an intro, but I sincerely want to thank everyone who took the time to put one together, and if any incoming JET reading this would like to be included, I am more than happy to add you. Please enjoy!
Joseph Cea Garcia (Imabari)
Hi everyone! I’m one of the 2020 JET’s that couldn’t make it to Japan due the border closures. So, I don’t have advice or experience with the job yet, but I can’t wait to start. I hope to stay in the JET program for at least 2 years. I was born in California, but I have been living in Omaha, Nebraska for the last fourteen years, where I met my wife in high school. She will also be joining me in my travel to Japan. As for my hobbies I like reading watching mystery, action, and horror-based media (shows, movies, books, games). In my free time I like to go out and explore around city trying new things. I love to go running/hiking when the weather permits. I love to drink coffee and taste new foods. I also love to travel to new places so I can’t wait to be able to explore all of Japan during my time there. I love meeting and talking to new people so feel free to add me on LINE.
Patience is a virtue and don’t forget to practice Japanese when you can.
Will Oakley (Imabari)
Hi! I’m Will, an incoming ALT from the East of England headed for Imabari. Before applying to JET I was working at a museum, so this will be a bit of a change of pace for me. I decided that I wanted to challenge myself and throw myself into something new and unfamiliar, so I’m looking forward to getting to Ehime and discovering more about this corner of the world as well as meeting all sorts of interesting people. I’ve visited Japan once before but only for a couple of weeks back in 2018, and it was that brief taste that led me down this road.
As far as hobbies go, I enjoy nature walks, whether that be through a forest, up a mountain, or just round a park, and reading literature from around the world, with favourite authors including Hermann Hesse and Natsume Soseki. I’m also into cinema, particularly the more art-house kind, and am always on the lookout for new and intriguing films to watch. Of course, I’m hoping to get the chance to try out plenty of new activities while in Ehime. I may not be particularly sporty, but I’d like to think I’m up for giving most things a go!
I’m also as of fairly recently a vegetarian, so I’d be really keen to hear any tips anybody has either for recipes or ingredients, or for places to eat out with good vegetarian/vegan options! From what I understand it’s not quite as easy being vegetarian in Japan compared to the UK. I’m not exactly what you’d call a great cook, but I’m happy to try and fumble my way through reasonably simple recipes.
I’m looking forward to finally being able to get to Japan, meet you all, and get started with this exciting new adventure!
Daisy Merriman (Niihama)
Hello! I’m Daisy.
I am currently living in Worcester, a city in the West of England and I am moving to Niihama.
I first found out about JET through a university guest lecture. I remember not being able to get the idea of moving to Japan out of my head from that point on. I studied English and American Studies. I have always loved learning about other cultures and most of my favourite authors are from Japan and America. I also did a lot of study into second language learning, and one day I hope to specialise in TEFL, so teaching abroad seemed to be the most natural first step.
Japanese culture interests me in many ways and I have always wanted to discover the real Japan for myself, rather than the one I have imagined in books. Growing up, my father was in the RAF, so we moved around every couple of years, even to other countries. This is why moving abroad on my own seemed a little less daunting. I still am quite nervous, but after the extra wait we have had this year I think I’m even more excited to finally make the big step. I have already been so welcomed over email/video by the supervisor and students at my High School and I honestly can’t wait to meet them all!
I am so happy to be moving to Shikoku as there seems to be a lot of hidden gems all across the island. I love walking, hiking and just being outside in nature so I suspect that is what I will spend most of my free time doing. Some of the places I want to visit in particular are Tokushima’s Iya Valley, Angel Road and the Ritsurin Garden in Kagawa. Closer by in Ehime, I would love to see the Shimanami Kaido and explore all the historical sites in Matsuyama. I am probably most excited to try all the food, particularly the Mikan fruit and udon, maybe even a sake or two.
I think being in Japan would be a great time to explore some new hobbies. From what I can tell there is a lot on offer in comparison to the UK. I would like to start learning a traditional martial art or try something like Karuta (I love Chihayafuru!). I’m sure everyone says this, but I want to improve my Japanese as it’s such an interesting and challenging language. It would be great to be able to communicate with the locals too. Finally, I want to get involved with the other JETs and make some friends, all these activities would be a lot more fun shared with others
Madel Catre (Niihama)
Hi! I’m Madel from Davao City in the Philippines. I mostly spend my time on books, Netflix, YouTube and Pinterest but I’m down for anything that’ll get me out of the house. I enjoy long road trips to bustling night markets, expansive mountain parks and hidden waterfalls with family and friends. I’m excited to have similar adventures and more in Japan.
I’ve been working as a teacher and travelling every summer ever since I graduated from college. Looking back, I may have chosen to get a language education degree just so I can use it to get to different places – a desire which naturally led to me stumbling upon the JET Programme during my preparations. When I found myself wanting more than the monotony of routine, I applied and got into JET with the encouragement of friends. Adventure appeals to me, and it hasn’t lost its charm even though the pandemic has put a damper on some plans.
It’s been about a year since we’ve been informed of our acceptance into the JET Programme and given a glimpse of our possible life there; and though this long wait is not easy, I’m still excited to finally arrive in Japan and meet everyone. In the near future, Ehime will be a place of beginnings for me. Probably from then on, when people mention Japan, my first thought will be of Ehime and all the memories I will have there.
Until then, please stay healthy and safe. Looking forward to meeting everyone!
Hello, my name is Andrew Christopher Pappas. I am from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I am of English (my mother is from Northern England), German, Greek, and Sicilian decent. I have my master’s degree in fine art with a focus on Illustration. I have a big interest in mythology and folklore, especially Celtic and Japanese myth. My favorite Japanese yokai has to be the many types of Kitsune, epically the Kuko, but I am also fond of Tanuki, Yuki Onna, and Oni. For my hobbies, I enjoy both digital and traditional painting, lifting weights, and board and video games. I am also a big animal lover. My top three favorite animals are foxes, wolves, and kangaroos but I also love dogs and hope to see some Shikokuken out and about in Imabari. My favorite food is curry or basically any spicy food or dish that features rice. My favorite non-curry Japanese food however has to be okonomiyaki. I am looking forward to learning more about regional gods, bodhisattvas, and yokai around the Shikoku and Kansai regions and working on a visual storytelling project based on Japanese history and mythology in my free time. Please don’t be a stranger! If you want any art done or know of any places of mythological significance off the beaten path, please let me know!
Hello! My name is Justin Jio, and I’m so excited to be joining the Ehime JET team from the United States! I’ll be placed in Imabari and am looking forward to assisting as an ALT in four different schools. To give a bit of background about myself, I am a Californian native, having lived in San Jose for most of my 23 years of living. I am a fresh graduate of the University of California San Diego, graduating with a B.A. in Political Science/International Relations, having spent the past four years (not including this past year of quarantine) spending hours at the campus library on the study grind. Prior to the COVID lockdowns, I could have easily described myself as an avid coffee drinker and a taiko enthusiast. However, the past year has thrown a wrench in the enjoyment of the latter of those two, though I am looking forward to the chance to pick that back up when I settle down in Imabari! I’d describe my Japanese skills as mediocre at best, having only studied it on and off throughout my university career, but I definitely aim to improve a lot during my time in Ehime!
Although the idea of joining JET entered my mind earlier, my decision to apply in the Fall of 2019 really cemented after studying abroad in the Yokohama branch of Meiji Gakuin University, where I got to experience everyday life in Japan, as well as get a taste of teaching English to Japanese students through a TA program provided by the school. Although (or maybe rather because) I only spent a few months in Japan, I truly wanted to experience more within Japan, especially within the scope of using my native English language skills as an effective tool for teaching others. I can’t wait to be headed to Imabari to start my time as a JET ALT, acting as an effective bridge in learning English for the students. But more than that, I am looking forward to involving myself in the communities I will be interacting with, be it in or out of school, and getting to know my students as well as many others! I also wish to be able to bring the experiences and perspectives of someone who has been actively involved in the Japanese-American community to the local Imabari community.
Outside of teaching with JET, I’m really looking forward to enjoying the everyday life in Japan that I only got to experience a little bit of. From those few months, I have since deeply missed walking to a local konbini and grabbing a quick meal, easily locating a nearby vending machine to get a canned coffee, or being able to sit down in a local café and enjoying a freshly brewed cup of coffee. Due to the enjoyment that I found within the more mundane daily activities, I’ve really come to be eager to get back to Japan, especially in experiencing the different environment of Imabari and its surrounding areas!