Category Archives: The Mikan

Unbeaten Paths: Toyo 20202021

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.

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Backtrack #3: Goal Well Met (Terrence Gardiner, Yawatahama 1993-1995)


Flowers say thanks,
As do some sweets,
But a poem 
Does them better...

For the flowers will die,
And the sweets will be eaten,
But a poem is immortal,
To all forms of death,
And may only be consumed
By the heart...

So thus is my thanks,
Hereby written,
In hopes that your hearts,
May be filled
By my thanks.

What’s your name, when and where was your placement, and where are you from originally?

I’m Terrence Michael Gardiner. I was a JET in 1993 in Japan, Ehime prefecture, working in high schools, and I lived in Yawatahama city . I’m originally from Corcoran, Minnesota, USA.

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Backtrack #2: With New Eyes and Extra Colours (Sara Armstrong, Matsuyama 2005-08)

English Camp July 2006
A picture from a SHS school camp.

What’s your name, when and where was your placement, and where are you from originally?

My name is Sara Armstrong, I’m originally from West Virginia, USA. I was placed with the Matsuyama-shi BOE from 2005-2008 and worked at Asahi-chu my first year, Yushin and Nishi during my second, and I was in the BOE working only elementary schools for my third year.

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Backtrack #1: So Many Firsts (Annie Vuong, Matsuno 2009-12)

Editor’s note: Welcome to the first edition of Backtrack, a hopefully interesting project I’m pursuing as the newly re-elected Mikan editor! This year presents a few challenges to the blog. Firstly, we have a much smaller group of JETs to draw from than usual, even including the incoming JETs currently stuck in limbo. Secondly, these same JETs are restricted in what they have been doing in the last year or so. There haven’t been any festivals or large JET gatherings to write about. Although there are stories to be told about being a JET during covid, I think it’s fair to say that it will be a little easier to write those articles when we are completely out of the pandemic, and have some more perspective.

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Diversity awareness lessons

By Dom Chen

Hi everyone! For those of you who are interested in incorporating diversity and/or racial awareness within their lessons; there is a google drive containing material focused toward teaching racial issues in the classroom. We are in special times right now, and also in unique positions, as we have access to different levels of public education. People have been voicing a desire to run their own classes on racial issues recently, and I think this google drive is a great starting kit to do just that.

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What’s hotter than Paprika? A beginner’s guide to the Bands of the Rising Sun

By Killian Barry

Maybe it’s the language barrier, perhaps it’s misguided preconceptions, but I suspect my own limited exposure to and familiarity with Japanese music reflects the experience of a lot of us. Not content with this state of affairs, I used some of our recent free time to conduct a deep dive into the music scene here, past and present, mainstream and beyond. With deference to Spotify, YouTube and various blogs, what follows is a non-exhaustive, multi-genre introduction to a selection of contemporary Japanese acts deserving of your ears.

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Spring Breaking

By Killian Barry

I enjoy cycling. It’s not a passion, but I miss the daily commute back home. Dublin is a decent spot for a bit of a jaunt, located as it between a bay and the hills, and mostly flat to boot. What’s more, recent years have even seen the government sit up and take notice of the benefits cycling brings. Go there now and you’ll find some vastly improved bike infrastructure and an encouraging decrease in motorists who consider those on two wheels to be sworn enemies.

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All Kinds of Goodbyes: Deciding Whether to Stay or to Go

By Bennett Pérez


Darling you gotta let me know,

Should I stay or should I go?”

-The Clash

Time froze as I stared at the recontracting paperwork lying in front of me. I was flanked by my BOE supervisor and Carolyn, a fellow ALT, who had only just confirmed that she was not recontracting. What was taking me so long? I had walked into the Board of Education with my mind already made. I had spent all of Christmas break discussing whether I should recontract, and why, and why not, with my loved ones (in Japan and back home). It felt like I had had the same conversation a million times. I was trying my utter best to ensure that I wasn’t  making a hasty or irrational choice. When there seemed to be nothing left unsaid, I was finally satisfied that the choice that made me happiest was to return home.

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ALT Spring Showcase (Series 1)

Edited by Joshua Hill

About a week ago the Mikan blog reached out to Shikoku ALTs in an effort to accumulate photo submissions of personal art, creative projects for work or pleasure, or anything for that matter. Here are some awesome submissions from ALTs around Shikoku. If you are interested in submitting your photos or interesting work showcasing how you are spending your time during the current pandemic please email Joshua Hill, to share with ALTs far and wide.

Sakura in the time of Koro-chan

by Christian Dane, Matsuyama

So with the lurking COVID-19 (or as I like to affectionately call it, Koro-chan) sweeping the nation and by extension, the world, many of us ALTs (at least in the land of Mikans) are still reporting to work at our base schools. 

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