The New Kids on Chuyo Block

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Finally, but not least, we have our Chuyo folks! You may have met some or all of them – I see you social butterflies 😉 – during our conference last week. But just in case, let’s welcome the new kids out on the Chuyo block and try not to covet their central location and accessible public transit too much 😛

This is the last of the regional Unbeaten Paths posts for this year (woo!). Stay tuned for a final mixed-region post featuring some of our summer and most recent fall arrivals. It’s been lovely getting to know you all this year, and I hope everyone has a warm holiday in Japan or elsewhere !!

Bobo

Hi this is Bobo! I’m the Chinese CIR of Ehime Prefecture since April 2023, still new to town !  Before came to Japan, I have majored in Japanese for over 6 years in Shanghai, and have a master degree in Japanese culture, which doesn’t help me much though compared to the real life struggle in Japan.  And I also have worked in my university press for 2 years. So it was 8.5 years college life spent in the same place HAHA.

Recently, I’m fond of a famous sake store in Matsuyama called ‘蔵元屋’(kura moto ya), where you can drink hundreds of Ehime famous sake very easily. It is my new ambition to taste it all !

Moving-to-Japan Mood Playlist: Sakura kirakira💖

Christian Olson

(he/him) 

I had just graduated with a social science teaching degree before JET, and I was looking for a job when I was accepted into the program. During college right before I graduated I thought I was going to do a study abroad in Shikoku so I took a Japanese language class. The study abroad actually was canceled but through that Japanese class I heard about the JET program and applied. Post graduation none of the places I applied to wanted to even interview me and then JET (which had previously said that I was an alternate) asked me to go and I jumped on the opportunity.

I love hiking, skiing, running, just about anything outdoors so I’m looking forward to exploring some of the mountains in Shikoku and having some adventures out there. I definitely want to climb Mt. Ishizuchi and I’m also interested in visiting the 88 temples for the Ohenro.

Moving-to-Japan Mood Song: Big in Japan by Alphaville

Celine Santos

(she/her)

I was an English education major in university when I learned of the JET Program, but my career path after college leaned more on non-government and education-based organizations back in the Philippines. My work mainly focused on teacher training, and developing and implementing systems for teaching literacy in various school communities back in my country.

As I have always loved being with and learning from communities, pursuing JET allows me to do that as I also share about my roots and culture while teaching English. I’m determined to learn Japanese too so I could have more meaningful encounters.

I kinda fall all over the place when it comes to hobbies and interests, but mostly I never notice the time pass when I’m immersed in doing art, writing/reading, or playing the ukulele.

I love exploring, learning from stories of people too, and immersing myself in newfound interests and so I’m looking forward to learning the way of tea, discovering hidden corners in Japan, see nature and festivals, and doing tons of outdoor activities.

Moving-to-Japan Mood Playlist: binibini sa konbini (direct translation: lady in konbini – “binibini” is a Filipino word to formally address a lady in the Philippines hehe ✌️)

Ruby Skippings

(she/her)

 

Before becoming a JET, I was sure I wanted to move abroad on my own and wanted to work with children. JET combined those two things amazingly, allowing me to do something I care about post-graduation, and to travel a part of the world I’ve never seen before. I’m super glad I applied on to the programme on a whim and now live here!

I’m passionate about being outside in nature, so I want to do some more ambitious hikes this year. I’m keen to document my travels through photography and writing. A new thing I’ve tried so far is taiko, as I’m a big fan of music, and am hoping to play a song live with my group.

Moving-to-Japan Mood Playlist: 🍵🍡🌸🇯🇵🌊

Thaddeus Bligh

(he/him)


I graduated from university in Canada in 2020 and had moved home to help my father who had some health issues. Once he had recovered I felt a little lost in what to do next, and had wanted to travel after uni but couldn’t due to covid. My parents then mentioned the JET Programme to me and it sounded great, so I got my TEFL certification and began the process. And here I am :^)

I am a big fan of playing music, so i am hoping to learn more about Japanese music, and to share English/Canadian music with all my students and coworkers.

Moving-to-Japan Mood Playlist: The Learning Curve

Holly Johnson

(she/they)

 

I was a support worker for adults with learning and physical disabilities at a media center. I helped support people learn new creative and healthy skills, everything from sewing to sports to learning more about their own community. I was just finishing my part time degree in psychology (which took over seven years) when I heard about JET. I was aching to explore the world and have new experiences and grow as a person and as an artist, before going back to do my MA in Art Therapy.

I want to explore lots of Japanese arts lie shodo, ikebana, haiku, etc but especially anything textile related like sashiko. I also want to take up taiko and kyudou, as well as explore different places in nature. I also want to get better at writing (here is one of my stories: The Modern Fortune Teller) 😉

Krystel Jane Saavedra

(she/her)

 

Hii, my name’s Krystel, 23, from Cebu, Philippines. If you’re a JHS ALT and are using the New Horizon textbook, you should’ve already read about my hometown (page 59). Hahaha 🙂 Back home, I was actually an accountant. As I worked at a multinational company, more than just crunching numbers, the diversity of the work environment made waiting til the clock ticked five fun. I made good friends, notably Japanese friends who I really look up to.

Why JAPAN? There’s a lot of encounters and reasonings why—the conversations, realizations, and all the -tions. Hahaha But to put it simply, I would say because of the people that make up Japan, the country we came to admire and appreciate. Additionally, the last motivating factor was my favorite line from an anime I’ve already rewatched six times and counting: “Someone who cannot abandon everything cannot achieve anything.” If you know it, virtual high five!

That’s when I took the career shift and started exploring what’s beyond the horizon, the One Piece. Haha! Kidding aside, I’m an old soul chasing after sunsets, the moon, breezes, nature, flowers, melodies, the smell of the rain, and people who feel like hug. I will end this one as I quote my SOP: “I will uphold this opportunity like how many Japanese people think of Ichi-go Ichi-e in every circumstance—a once-in-a-lifetime encounter.” I strongly believe that culture is what brings people together. So as I start anew here, I’m looking forward to hearing your story and learning a lot from you and your culture. See you around!

While here, I’d love to try flower arrangement, playing shamisen, hiking, and doing more cooking!

Moving-to-Japan Mood Playlist: romanticizing life

Dillon Flores

(any/all pronouns)

 

Hello everyone, my name is Dillon, I am 24 years old and my birthday is December 4th. Yes, for those of you wondering, I am a sagittarius and a tiger from the zodiac. I am from America. I was born and raised in Miami, Florida; and yes Miami is definitely a beach party, hang out with friends, and a very fun nightlife, and most importantly fun city. My family is from Cuba, I am an extremely proud second generation American born in my family. I am also the first to graduate from a university with a bachelors and eventually a masters. Because of my family being from Cuba, I am grateful to call myself a Latino individual and hold pride in my background. Before coming to Japan, I was attending my university for my masters taking a few classes and working on my thesis. By the way, I received my bachelors in science last year in Criminal Justice with a focus in forensics and a minor in Asian studies with a focus in Japanese language in Florida International University. GO PANTHERS!!

I studied Japanese for 3 years and I absolutely fell in love with it. This is why I am doing a big career change because when taking Japanese classes I realized my passion for teaching was outweighing my CJ degree, however I was already too invested into my degree thus I graduated in CJ. I do not regret it, because that degree means so much to me. But now I want to get my masters in Asian studies with a focus in Japanese art history (specifically in Ukiyo-E and calligraphy) and soon hope to be an art teacher in Japan. Ever since my first semester in taking Japanese 1, my teacher told me I was very good in Japanese and told me that I should apply for JET and I waited 3 years to finally make that goal a reality. It was exciting when I received the news I got in, I honestly cried tears of joy, but I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t scared. Although I knew so many people who did JET teachers, friends, etc. I still was very nervous because it was my first time moving away from home, leaving my best friend; my mom and my other friends, but most importantly getting out of my comfort zone. I am ever so grateful for the wonderful opportunity, as I am the first in my family to ever say I taught English abroad in Japan. 

Furthermore, this is my first time being in a classroom setting, although I have had experience teaching kids in summer camp, or in theatre shows I directed, and I was even a private tutor for students from the ages of 3-18 aiding in any and all subjects even for ESOL. But this will be my first time in a full blown school and classroom environment so I am pumped to get it going.  I do have a connection to Japan, my mother has always been fascinated by Japanese media and pop culture. My mother would play NHK sometimes, play Japanese rock and techno bands and play anime when I was younger exposing me to the pop culture and media outlets of Japan, she also raised me in a very asian inspired manner as it was one of her favorite parenting method books she read way back when. Moreover, my father actually was Buddhist and lived in Japan for quite some time, thus he brought back pictures to show me of japan, Buddha’s and god like statues from Japan, and most important art. That is what got me into Japanese art history to begin in the first place. If it wasn’t for them and myself with my ever growing passion in the arts and japan I don’t think I would be here today.

I also speak four languages: English, Spanish, Japanese, and French (my French is rusty). People like to tell me I’m a Jack of all trades; I enjoy sports especially volleyball and basketball, art like theatre, makeup, costume designs, music, I play the flute, I draw, paint, sculpt, I can dance, i have done a lot of things and I’m grateful for each and every single experience I have gained from it. I also quite enjoy video games, anime and manga. Favorite games are Borderlands (any and all games) , Persona, Super Mario Sunshine, Pokémon (my first one was yellow) and many others. Favorite anime is Kill La Kill, Jojo’s bizarre adventure, Haikyu, Fully Cully and soul eater. For manga, currently practicing reading Jojo’s in Japanese, but I really do enjoy JJK, Chainsaw man and Tokyo Revengers. Also really enjoy KPOP, some favorite groups are Stray Kids, ATEEZ, P1Harmony, Dreamcatchers, (G)-Idle, and LE SSERAFIM. Back home I collect photo cards and I have two full binders of cards, didn’t bring them with me but I hope to collect new ones. I also really like Hololive, some faves are Suisei, Watame, IRyS, Gawr Gura, Mori.

Moving-to-Japan Mood Playlist: Do not play the crane with the cinnamon roll dressed up as Luffy… it ain’t happening.

Amy Poon

(she/her)

 

I’m a graduate from MMU in the UK in TESOL and Japanese (heavy focus on TESOL so my Japanese is… lacking 😅) 

I like baking and gardening so working a toaster oven has been interesting 😅. I’m looking to join an ikebana club or something similar! I’m hoping to visit Yufuin and Beppu!

Sigourney Weaver

(she/her)

 

I had just finished my degree in film and right after I decided to go to pastry school. One day while I was in class looking up pictures for a new cake to design, a cherry blossom one popped up. It reminded me of a dream I packed away while in college of studying abroad in Japan. I looked at my life and I knew if I didn’t make a change I would be stuck in Texas forever. On a whim, I applied to JET still chasing that dream to come to Japan. Long story short I got in and so happy that I did!

As for hobbies, I love to travel! I’m constantly looking for new places to go. I also love baking, I hope to get an oven so I can put my pastry skills to use. I enjoy sports too! Back home I always liked going to games and playing sports so I hope to do the same here. I also like karaoke, movies, and rhythm games.

What I’m interested in looking into while in Japan is joining a taiko group! I’ve always been interested in taiko even before I came to Japan and now that I’m here I definitely want to look into it.

Moving-to-Japan Mood Playlist: Matcha made in heaven

Amanda Martinez Moreno

(she/her)

 

In many ways, I feel like there are a million things in my life that have been preparing me for this amazing journey. I have moved around a lot (Mexico, Switzerland, most recently USA), so I am no stranger to the excitement and nerves that come with an international move. That being said, this is my first time moving entirely by myself, and I am fresh out of university, so I know I still have so much to learn and experience. Living in Japan is a dream come true, and I am stoked to see what this adventure has in store!

I really enjoy hiking and camping! I’m super excited to explore the mountains around me. I am also a big fan of Studio Ghibli, reading books, watching movies, and traveling. I majored in English and Biology in university, so I have really varied interests and can talk about anything from Gothic literature to the anatomy of fishes. In short, I love talking with people about the most random subjects haha

Moving-to-Japan Mood Playlist: wait am i in an anime? 🤯

Martha Kamioner

(she/her)

Despite growing up in a rather mundane smalltown in Pennsylvania, I developed a deep love of anime, manga, video games, and music from abroad thanks to the wonderful beast of the Internet. I was captivated by these worlds that were so unlike my own and developed a drive to understand these stories and the people who made them within their own context. That led me down the path to moving to Washington DC for college and studying International Relations and the Japanese language. My most sought after goal while in college was to study abroad in Kyoto and I almost made it a reality… but fate thought otherwise and COVID canceled those plans.

Flash forward to Spring 2022 and I’m suddenly graduating college, burnt out from an intense degree that was marred by a pandemic, and never got to do the one thing I really wanted. My overarching feeling is ‘What now?’ So, I look back to the past and what has motivated me before; discovering more about Japan. And the best way to do that, I knew, was to really be there and connect with the people however I could. 

I was encouraged to apply to the JET Program by my Japanese professor and I was incredibly fortunate enough to be accepted into the program and be placed here in Ehime! Now my hope is to not only deepen my understanding of Japan, but to challenge myself in all kinds of unexpected ways and simply see what comes of it.

Outside of traveling as much as I can and exploring the abundant nature Ehime has to offer (as of December 2023 I have both hiked Mt Ishizuchi and biked the Shimanami Kaido!) a major interest of mine is live music! I’ve been a huge fan of musicians from both Japan and Korea for the past decade so it is a literal dream come true to have the chance to see some of them live. Since arriving I have gotten to see KIRINJI in Hiroshima and have plans to see SHINee at the Tokyo Dome in February 2024 and hopefully I can discover lots more new music while I am here! If you have any recommendations please let me know or better yet let’s go to a concert together!!

Moving-to-Japan Mood Playlist: This last part might hurt (Cuz no one said this change was gonna be easy!)

Joshua Battle

(he/him)

When I was in high school I took French as a foreign language and enjoyed it, but when my friend said he was taking Japanese I was jealous because I didn’t know I could have been also. A few years later, I was making plans for University and considering the JET program for the first time. My plans were cut short when the 2011 earthquake happened in Japan and I decided going there wasn’t for me. As it would turn out, I didn’t even finish college either until recently.

After spending time with computer science and coding, I fell back into working on cars, driving, or inspecting. I forgot about school for some time until I didn’t think it was in the cards, but when Covid happened I decided to do the things I always wanted to, such as JET! It led me to finishing my degree this year (in linguistics of all things) and finally ending up here in Japan with some friends.

I love staying home and just playing games or cooking, but I do like to go out and go on adventures. The extremes side of sports is cool with me, and I like exploring unknown or scarcely visited places. I don’t love being in crowds but I still love going to amusement parks and riding coasters (as a Floridian, it’s natural).

Moving-to-Japan Mood Playlist: Gacha shuffle

Tanuja Ramkissoon

(she/her)

 

Hey everyone, I’m Tanuja. I majored in International Relations. I’ve always wanted to work abroad, experience new cultures and lifestyles, learn more about different societies Internationally and overall expand my knowledge and perspective on life things. So here I am.

Learning languages is a big interest of mine so I’ll definitely try to increase my fluency in Japanese while I’m here. I’m looking forward to reading books I wasn’t able to find back home and exploring as much of Japan as I can. 

Moving-to-Japan Mood Playlist: Matcha Latte Wanderer ✨️

Skye Howes

(she/her)

 

Hello everyone! I graduated from college in winter 2022 (about a year ago now—time flies!). With a background in psychology I was heading towards graduate research, but I wanted to take a moment to consider other options. A lot of this change I can attribute to my growth in college—I got to make so many friends from around the world that exposed me to different cultures and perspectives, and their endeavors to explore a country vastly different from their own inspired me to do the same. Also, previously being a swim coach, I had interest in exploring more mentoring/teaching-related careers!

I want to explore literally everything and anything! I would like to look into cultural dance opportunities, and any haiku/general writing activities. I also would like to continue studying Japanese!

Moving-to-Japan Mood Playlist: 時間がかかる (after the best song ever by my queen Aaamyyy!)

Have a story you want to share?

Reach out to themikanblog@gmail.com


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