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2018 Farewell Beer Garden

June 28, 2018 | GAJET Events | No Comments

For many Gunma JETs, July can be trying times. In particular, we will experience two pains: the start of the humid season, and – more important – the departure of our fellow JETs.

Luckily, there is a solution for both of these problems!

On July 14, please come out to GAJET’s Farewell Beer Garden party to celebrate the leaving JETs one last time, and to knock back a few cold ones to combat the humidity.

The venue will be the Takashimaya rooftop beer garden, located near the west side of Takasaki station. Festivities will begin at 5 PM and go until 9 PM, but feel free to come at your own leisurely pace. Entry to the event will cost ¥3,000 for men and ¥2,600 for women. Your admission will cover both tabehoudai and nomihoudai (all-you-can eat and all-you-can drink)!

If you have any questions or want more information, please feel free to consult the Facebook event page or contact a GAJET member.

Hope to see you on July 14. Kanpai!


June 17, 2018 | News and Announcements | No Comments

Thank you so much to the big and outstanding group of people throwing their hats into the ring to join the next GAJET crew! You can vote right here from now until Thursday, June 21.

Devyn Couch (Tamamura), President

Hello, everyone! My name is Devyn Couch, a soon-to-be third year JET from Gunma’s very own Ball Village, Tamamura. 

Having served as Chubu Representative for the past year, I’m eager to continue building our community with you all, this time as GAJET’s president. Having worked with and learned from the amazing members of this year’s committee, I’m looking forward to using that knowledge and experience in creating even more opportunities to get out and enjoy all that Gunma has to offer!

Some of my personal goals for this year are to provide more resources and support to incoming Gunma JETs (via the website, Facebook page, and other sources); coordinate more with our block to co-host regional events; and keep bringing you all both familiar and new events so we Gunma JETs can keep on doing what we do best–being one of the most tightly-knit ALT communities around! 

Thank you for your time and consideration!


Valerie Landers (Tomioka), Vice President and Seibu Representative

Hi everyone! I’m Valerie, from the M of the DMV (DC/Maryland/Virginia) of the United States. I’m going into my third year as an SHS ALT. I live in Tomioka, which sits in view of beloved Mounts Myogi and Asama. You can often find me on some Gunma excursion—driving up a mountain, scoping out a local cafe, snapping garden pics, or on whatever adventure the day calls for!

From my first Gunma Games two summers ago, GAJET events have been taking me to new experiences, folding me into our JET community. Ultimate Cabbage wasn’t the end! Art Share Nights, Canyons, and the fall Myogi hike pushed me past limits. I experienced how supportive our Gunma family is; they had my back as I shared poetry, careened down streams, and scrambled over mountain rocks.

As Vice President of GAJET I will support the President in building this community, working with the team to coordinate the events that bring us together. My modus operandi is, “Where there’s a will there’s a way.” I will make Gunma more accessible to my fellow JETs, so that we can better navigate this phenomenal prefecture in which we live, work, and play. Let’s do this!


Tiffany Do (Higashiagatsuma), Vice President or Agatsuma/Tone Representative

Hey Gunma ALTs! 

Coming from the mountains of Agatsuma, I’m Tiffany Do, and I’m running for the positions of Vice President. 

This past year, I’ve had the pleasure of being the Agatsuma Rep, and the experience has been extremely rewarding. It has been exciting watching all the events come to life and I would love to have a chance at that once again.

During my 1styear here, I attended many events held by GAJET and had a blast. Then as a 2ndyear, I had the pleasure of being on GAJET and played a part in organizing the events with a great group of people. Now nearing the start of my 3rdyear, I believe that I have an even better understanding of GAJET’s mission in creating a warm community for all the ALTs in Gunma.

I’m looking forward to an awesome year with many new memories to make! 


Alex Krause (Takasaki), Secretary

When I first came to Gunma, I felt overwhelmed by the rush of names, faces, and information suddenly dumped on the new arrivals. It was difficult to keep track of all the people I’d met and the many upcoming events in the community. I didn’t know how to get involved with a variety of different things either.

Now that my second year on JET is approaching, I have found myself reflecting on what I will do from now. The recent Summer Conference really inspired me, as it was during that time that older and former JETs alike emphasized on how valuable the time spent on JET is. I made a personal vow that, during my remaining time in Gunma, I would do my best to give back to the loving community that had made this cabbage patch feel like home. 

That is why I have decided to run for the secretary position.

I will utilize my strengths, which include strong organization, time management, and working well with others, to further GAGET’s goals. I hope that I can leave an impact on the future new ALTs so that they too can take comfort in the tight-knit support of the Gunma community.

Luke McDaneld (Maebashi), Treasurer or Chubu Representative

Hello everyone! I’m Luke McDaneld, and I’m running to be your next GAJET Treasurer. I’m a soon to be 3rd year JET currently residing in our lovely prefectural capital of Maebashi. When I’m not being used as a human jungle gym by nourishing Japan’s leaders of tomorrow at Hakoda-Chu and Shinden-sho, you might find me bouldering at Wall St. Gym, or hiking one of Gunma’s scenic mountains.

Why should I be your GAJET Treasurer? I bring the skills necessary to effectively assist GAJET in leading and providing for one of the most active and vibrant ALT communities in Japan. Before embarking on JET, I spent a year working in the actuarial department at a financial firm after completing a degree in Mathematics. I have also helped lead a presentation on budgeting and finance for ALT’s at our Summer Development Conference; and have the requisite mathematics and computer skills to efficiently carry out the duties of Treasurer. 

Having been a beneficiary of the work GAJET has done in the past, it would be my honor to work with GAJET to continue making Gunma an excellent place to be an ALT in Japan. I hope you consider me worthy of the position of Treasurer!



Mathew Huynh (Kanra), Treasurer or Seibu Representative

What’s up Gunma! I’m Mathew, with one T or just call me Mat. I’m currently a first year from down under Melbourne, STRAYA, living in Kanra (Yay for Konnyaku Park). I would like to run for Treasurer and Seibu Rep.

Prior to packing my life away and hopping on to a plane, I have had experience dealing with event planning and keeping to a budget, whilst also leading and guiding a committee and team. I have co-organised small to large events as the President of my university’s Japanese club and even larger scaler events (Melbourne Summer Japanese Festivals). As a first year JET, attending GAJET had given the opportunity to meet fellow Gunmanians (Melbourne = Melbournians, had to call us that haha) and experience new worthwhile activities, I would like to enhance those events further for us to enjoy.

During winter, I like to hit the slopes. If there is no snow, I like to travel and experience Gunma and Japan. If I’m not traveling, you will see me stuffing my face at local cafes. I would like to share my experiences with you all.

Cheers for scrolling by! 


Gavin Au-Yeung (Isesaki), Editor

Hello, beautiful people of Gunma! My name is Gavin (よろしくお願いします). I’m originally from Toronto, but now find myself living in Isesaki. When I’m not teaching high school students, you can find me playing basketball, bankrupting salad bars, or snapping pictures of Japan’s natural beauty (BTW follow me on IG @auyeunggavin).

I’m aiming to be the GAJET editor, as I believe there is much Gunma can offer. The community of JETs in Gunma is extremely vast. However, a community is only as strong as its member’s ability to communicate and share knowledge. As the GAJET editor, I would like to contribute to the ever-expanding pool of information. I love what GAJET is doing online now, but I see ways we could improve our reach. This means getting new and interesting content online and promoting a strong social media presence.

Last year, I remember reading the email informing me that I would be living in Gunma. I knew nothing about my new home at the time – as I’m sure many others can relate. But now, as community members, we have a chance exercise our voices to promote our wonderful cabbage patch!


Nikkita Kent (Ota), Editor

I believe I would be a great addition to the team as GAJET’s Editor. I have worked in a high-paced business environment where writing and editing was of the utmost importance, but so was helping others develop those skills. In my own time, I’ve written two novels (still seeking publication), blog posts, and short stories ranging from the impact of societal expectations to science fiction.

My goal as GAJET’s Editor would be to bring together writers from across the prefecture. Gunma has numerous JETs who write for blogs, friends, and fun. We have a community of untapped potential right here! Let’s shine the light on some of these talented individuals and increase community involvement by giving them a platform to showcase their work, not to mention the ability to share their experiences with other JETs.

I have a WordPress blog, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram already; therefore, I’m familiar with the technology required for the position. I’ve edited technical reports, resumes, and creative writing for myself and others. But most importantly, I feel that I can make an impact by bringing people together to share Gunma with the rest of the world – one article at a time.


Chris Sept (Maebashi), Editor

Greetings my fellow Gunma-llenials.

Septimus Entertainment Productions (in association with Septimus Inc.) is proud to present to you, me. Hi.

I will be rounding off my first year here in the bellybutton prefecture at the prestigious Maebashi Girl’s High School. When I am not scuttling about my business trying to coordinate energetic high school students, you can usually catch me DFA (down for anything). A myriad of strange comprehensions and skills lends nicely to randomly participating or volunteering at events.

Speaking of bizarre talents and desires, I want to be your GAJET Editor. Here’s the deal — I do a fair bit of writing. Been a bit of an addiction of mine. I used to get my fix during university as the Chief Editor of the school’s TV news show, the Beaver News. Or the SUPER Beaver News, when I was done with it. See, I am a bit of a people pleaser. Just ask any of my friends, and they’ll tell you how fun I am. Ask any of my non-friends that I have paid off, and they will tell you how fun AND generous I am.

In my short time in Gunma I have met several awesome people and participated in many fun events, both designed by and for the JET community as well as events put on by the locals. Did you get to see the Samurai Parade and musket demonstration? No? It was a blast. Literally.

After spending nearly a year in this awesome community, I think it is about time I use my considerable talent for writing, copyediting, social media ninjutsu, and eccentric charisma to give a little something back to the folks I have come to love. Er, in a strictly platonic way.

As GAJET Editor, I will put my attention to getting people involved and spreading the good Gunma word to newcomers and JETerans alike to generate some serious HYPE for this grand community of ours.

I look forward to serving you.

Andy Cerecero (Kuni Village), Agatsuma/Tone Representative

Howdy everyone! My name is Andy and I’m a soon to be second year JET from Texas, currently living in the beautiful mountain village of Kuni! With my newfound mountain life away from the city came a lot of newfound free time, and as such I would like to dedicate it to helping build the amazing JET community here in Gunma by serving as GAJET’s Agatsuma rep! 

When I first moved to Kuni, I thought that I would never be able to form connections living so far out in the inaka. But thanks to my amazing Nakanojo and Agatsuma family that quickly changed, and with that came my introduction to GAJET and all the awesome things the organization does for us JETs! Being able to participate in events like Gunma Games and the Art Showcase helped me connect with so many people whom I know have the pleasure of calling friends. I want to help in building bridges for all the JETs here in Gunma which is why I want to represent Agatsuma. Agatsuma is one of Gunma’s many hidden treasures full of natural beauty and onsen… lots and lots of onsen. I want to be able to invite more JETs out to Agatsuma to be able to witness all it has to offer. Can you believe some Gunmites (Gunmies?) haven’t been to Kusatsu yet?! I’d love to foster more growth and friendship between Gunma JETs by having joint events with the other regions!

All in all, I want to pay the kindness and warmth I received forward by serving you all to the best of my ability! Yoroshiku onegaishimas y’all! And thank you.


Edward Portillo (Shibukawa), Chubu Representative

When I came to Japan on JET, one of the goals I set was to travel to every single prefecture. So far I’ve had the opportunity to visit 14 of them, and I’m looking forward to more. Every prefecture I visit has unique and fun things about it, sometimes that means festivals, sometimes that means great sights to see, but it almost always means a fun JET community with great things going on. I want to be able to share all the great things we have here in Gunma, here in Chubu, with the rest of Japan, and in return, bring back the best things to you from all corners of country. Whether it’s sports tournaments or theater performances, there’s so much out there we can learn from.

As your rep, not only will I be here in Chubu, having fun events, helping out GAJET, and helping each of you however I can, but I’ll also be using my travels to connect us to fellow JETs and other communities across Japan. A vote for me is a vote for fresh ideas, new connections, and lots of adventure, so let’s go explore together!


Ciara Lily Malone (Takasaki), Seibu Representative

‘Ohayo. I’m Ciara from the UK going into my second year as an Elementary School teacher in Yoshii (basically, the middle of a rice field). I’m hoping to become your Seibu rep for the next year! I’ve had an incredible time getting to know as many of you as I could, and am looking forward to meeting you new JETs as well! Without the strong community that Gunma has, my time in Japan would have been half the experience that it was, and we are lucky to have such a tight-knit community in our prefecture. 

I have spent almost all my time in Japan either participating or running my own events. Whether it’s jetting off to Japan’s largest snow festival or eating too much BBQ at Kannonyama Family Park, I have spent almost every Monday since I arrived in Japan recovering from fun. GAJET organises some of the best events of the year, including Gunma Games (sei-no, Seibu!) and Minakami Canyons, and I am looking forward to lending a helping hand. But, I also want the opportunity to introduce some events of my own, such as welcome parties, pub quizzes, BBQs, hiking trips, camping, and more. If you, the community, have any more suggestions, let’s make them happen!

(P.S. a vote for Ciara is a vote for fun!)’


Ciara Malone

Maja Thoenes (Tomioka), Seibu Representative

Hi, friends! I’m Maja Thoenes, an upcoming 2nd year JET in Tomioka! Originally from Alabama, USA, I enjoy climbing mountains, binge-watching Netflix, and dominating at onigokko.

Whether or not I’d be able to make real friends in Gunma was the biggest fear I had when I first moved to Japan. However, (as we all know firsthand) the ALT community here is unlike any other, and the hard work of the passionate, relationship-oriented GAJET members is a part of what maintains our Gunma standard. This year, I’d like to help further our mission as your Seibu Representative!

In university, I planned weekly dinner outings for foreign exchange students, organized Frisbee games, and mentored future study abroad students. As your Seibu Rep, I would love the opportunity to assist and support incoming and current JETs, while organizing regional events that grow ALT relationships as tall and strong as our mountains!

One of the many things I love about Gunma is its balance between city life and nature. As the Seibu Rep, my goal is to organize one hiking or outdoor activity per month, in addition to several karaoke outings, onsen excursions, marathons, and movie nights throughout the year. If elected, I look forward to being a source of positive energy to our GAJET community and helping people from all over the area make our experiences in Gunma unforgettable.

Jansen Magarro (Tatebayashi), Tobu Representative

Hey Gunma JETs!

My name is Jansen Magarro and I am Senior High School ALT from Canada going into my 4th year on the JET programme. I currently reside in Tatebayashi: a place where the Tanuki roams freely, the udon noodles are as big as sheets of paper, and thermometers explode.

I have helped organize a number of regional and Gunma-wide events for GAJET as the Tobu Representative this past year and I am hoping to continue to contribute with the 2018-2019 committee.

Prior to joining the JET programme, I held several positions within the Canadian banking industry and Federal Government. During my time at these institutions, I assisted in organizing team building events and casual get-togethers. Furthermore, I led and organized many recreational sports teams over the years.

A hobby of mine is traveling. As most of you know, traveling takes a great deal of planning and coordination. By using these skills that I’ve acquired through my journeys around the world, I feel that I could utilize these abilities and use them to bring together the ALTs within Gunma and the Tobu region.

I look forward to the upcoming year.

Arigathanks Gozaimuch!


And that’s it! Remember to cast your votes via the google doc, which can be accessed through this link. Voting is open now until Thursday, June 21. Thanks so much!


Cafe Spotlight #1: Piece Cafe

February 15, 2018 | Food and Drink | 1 Comment

Hello! Seeing as this is my first post, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Rachael, and I am a first-year ALT living in Nakanojo, a small town with mountains on all sides. My hobbies are reading, writing, drawing, and eating; things that can all be conducted at my favorite sort of place in the world: a cafe. I love the productive atmosphere and the versatility of being alone or in a group. Furthermore, sitting down for a drink and a snack at a cafe provides a respite from either committing to a restaurant or aimlessly wandering around an area. Since arriving in Gunma, I’ve tried to seek out as many of these places as possible.

Last year, an ALT named Tamara started a series recommending cafes as well, although it capped at two posts. I hope to continue the series, posting one or two cafe spotlights per month, so please look forward to them!

One more thing: I have a car, which makes my access to places different from someone who would take public transit. I will try to include places that are both reasonably reachable by car and/or public transit/walking.


Piece Cafe’s house-made ginger ale

The first cafe I’d like to spotlight is a little place called Piece Cafe. About a 15 minute walk from the station, Piece Cafe sits on a street corner and beneath a restaurant. Occasionally you’ll see the staff of the upstairs restaurant make appearances in the cafe, which is something really neat about this part of downtown Takasaki! You’ll notice the counter space near the register is filled with business cards and colorful flyers advertising other cafes, bookstores, and music shops in the immediate area.

The entrance is heralded by the cafe’s logo, a puzzle piece in humble brown and blue pastels, as well as a sign advertising the cafe’s specialty: soft-serve ice cream. At the time of writing this, Gunma is ridiculously cold. However, I am of the opinion that ice cream is acceptable to eat no matter the season, especially if it’s good! Plus, the cafe is well-heated and guest blankets are available to use as well.

The atmosphere of Piece Cafe is quiet and calm. About five tables run along the north wall, so it is fairly small, although I have never had trouble finding a seat. For computer or device users, there is an outlet next to the table furthest away from the door.

Like most cafes in Japan, Piece Cafe has really delicious food! They usually have a sandwich-of-the-day deal going on, and I am a big fan of their shrimp and avocado grilled sandwich.

If you want dessert, they have a 焼きシフォンケーキ, which I think sounds a little more refined in Japanese than ‘fried chiffon cake.’ Especially considering its lovely presentation:

If you are a cake person, then you need to try this! Its flavor is gentle, not too sweet, accompanied with the topping of your choice and a little dish of the ice cream that the cafe boasts on its doors.

As for drinks, they offer a house-made ginger ale that is unlike any I have ever had. Due to all the pulp and strong flavor, it’s probably closer to ginger beer than ginger ale. If you are a coffee drinker, I recommend their cappuccino.

I hope you get the chance to visit Piece Cafe soon!



Piece Cafe

Hours: 12:00 -21:00, Closed on Wednesdays!

Budget: ¥500-¥1500

Address: 〒370-0813 Gunma Prefecture, Takasaki, 本町64−1−1


50cc Life: Get Your Scooter License in Gunma

September 7, 2017 | Guides | 2 Comments

If you’re new to Japan and have been asking around about how to get a Japanese driver’s license, you’ve probably heard some tales. There are some determined ALTs out there. Shrugging off the expenses and stress, they take the driving skills test over and over again until they finally pass.

If you’re looking for another way, a 50cc scooter license might be right up your alley. Getting one is actually very simple. No need to take a driving skills test. No struggling through a Japanese paper test.  Here you’ll find information on obtaining a scooter license the simple and easy way.


Step 1
Translate your home country’s license to Japanese at JAF (the Japan Automobile Federation)

First, check that you meet the following requirements: (1) you must have lived in Japan for at least three months. (2) your foreign license is not expired.

Documents to bring to the JAF office:

  1. Application form, direct from the JAF website.  外国運転免許証翻訳文発行申請書
  2. Your driver’s license from your home country. 外国運転免許2
  3. Photocopy of your residence card. (Also, bring your card just in case). 在留カード3
  4. 3,000

How to:

  • Prepare the required documents.
  • Check the location for your nearest JAF office.image2
  • Go there. You don’t need an appointment, but check their hours of operation beforehand.
  • Talk to an agent and submit necessary documents.
  • Receive the translation. Keep it in a safe place until you go to the Traffic Center.

For more information, check out Information on the Japanese Translation for Switch a Foreign Driver’s License to a Japanese License.

Step 2
Prepare Your Documents and Study for the 10 question English Driving Test

According to section 3 of the local Traffic Center’s Procedure for Obtaining a Japanese Driver’s License document, you must bring the following documents to the Prefectural Driving Center. You may need to go to City Hall to collect one or more of these.

(3) a. Your original driver’s license + a copy of both the front and back
(3) b. The Japanese translation of your license from JAF
(3) c. Your passport + copies of most of its pages
(3) d. Your resident card and certificate of residence
住民票5 + a copy of each

The Certificate of Residence is different from the document you initially received in City Hall. Take the attached original document with the Japanese to City Hall to make it very clear which document you’re requesting.

(3) e. Written application (the clerk will produce and may fill out on your behalf) + your 3 x 2.4 cm photograph.

Photo booths are often located outside large chain stores or train stations. The Traffic Center also has a photo booth handy. No, these are not the fun purikura kind where you can add a mustache and place a ghost in the background!

(3)f. Bring your international driver’s license (if you have one) just in case.

If you are from a non-Western country, you may need more documentation (when I was waiting, I heard the Japanese clerk tell a Sri Lankan man that he needed additional papers)

To prepare for the 10 question English driving test, get to know Japanese road signs and regulations. Learn the 3-point turn that is specific to driving a 50cc scooter. Also, drive with friends and chat about driving with coworkers or other ALTs who have been driving in Japan for a while.

Step 3
Getting your Japanese Driver’s License at the Prefectural Traffic Center

Check the location and hours of Gunma Prefecture’s Traffic Center 総合交通センター6. It’s a ten minute walk from Shin-Maebashi Station. Bring more than enough cash to cover the fees (these total around 1 man yen 一万円).

Go to the Traffic Center right when they open because it will already be busy. In 2012, the hours were 1:00-4:30pm Monday to Friday. Expect to be at the Traffic Center until after 4:00pm. Expect to wait between the various steps and bring something to fill your time.

Follow the yellow line to the second floor. Stand in line for Foreign License Conversion (this was on the far right). Wait until it is your turn and, in Japanese, tell them you want a 50cc scooter license and that you aren’t going to take the driving skill test運転技術試験7 .

Provide your documents. They will check them, ask you clarifying questions, and maybe request more copies. If they need a copy of something, they will send you to the copier down the hall. (Interesting note, they asked me about the age restriction printed on my Wisconsin driver’s license. I told them it was to make it clear to clerks that I couldn’t buy alcohol and that it had nothing to do with driving.)

Take the vision test. When they’re ready, the clerk will direct you to the back of the reception area to complete an eyesight test視力検査8. You will be asked to look at circles and tell the vision specialist which direction the gap in each circle is facing. Make sure you know the Japanese for “up” “down” “right” and “left.” Then, you will need to identify colors. Be ready with your Japanese color words! Then, the vision specialist will sign your papers, and you will take them back to the reception counter at the front of the room. There you will pay for the vision test. Wait as they complete your paperwork and process the other foreigners in line.

Take the 50cc scooter 10 question paper test in English or Portuguese/Spanish. When called, follow the clerk to a nearby room. Each question of the test is accompanied by a descriptive picture, likely because the English is wordy. At the end of the test, the clerk collects your test and grades it. You’ll know right then and there if you passed.

Pay for the test at another counter. You will then be asked to enter two four digit numbers into a machine, which will print a paper you will need for the next step. Again, there may be a long wait at this time. Take out something to do, but pay attention to what’s going on.

Get your driving license photo taken. Finally, go with the other people who have passed the test to have your photo taken. After your license is printed, your name will be called, the clerk will ask you to check the spelling of your name and your address, and then you’re free to go– Japanese 50 cc scooter license in hand!

Step Four
Buying Your Scooter & Gear

You’ll Need:

  • Scooter
  • Mandatory vehicle liability insurance自賠責保険9
  • Helmet
  • Gloves
  • Windproof/waterproof coat

If you want to buy a used scooter and an ALT near you isn’t selling one, find a used motorbike shop (usually you can find these near a university). I bought my scooter from Tsukagoshi Motors塚越モーター near 高崎市経済大学校Takasaki Keizai Daigakko at 744-1 Kaminamiemachi, Takasaki 370-0801. Used scooters sell for between 50,000 -80,000 yen.

Shiny new scooters sell at any motorbike store. These are usually located on main roads and easy to identify because bikes and scooters are displayed in the windows. These run 170,000-200,000 yen.

For accessories and gear, go to a specialty shop. Takasaki’s Ricoland ライコランド高崎店image4

stocks helmets, gloves, and jackets. I recommend getting a helmet that shields your face. Bugs are real. Rain will also happen.

You’ll need insurance before you start driving. I asked the owner of the shop where I bought my scooter for a recommendation. He suggested an insurance company in downtown Takasaki called Zenrosai共済ショップ高崎店.image5

Insurance can run near 30,000 yen annually and may involve authorizing an auto-withdrawal from your bank account.

Stay Safe

Remember to keep in the left lane and do 3-point turns at intersections which are wider than 2 lanes (one way). Keep track of your mileage and when you’ll need an oil change. Know your route before departing, be aware of traffic, and try to keep at a reasonable speed.

Don’t hold a phone and don’t drive in the rain. Be safe. If you think you’ve missed your turn or it starts raining, just pull over, shut off your bike, check Google maps or wait out the downpour, and return to the road when conditions are right.

Good luck!

This guide was compiled by a former JET who completed this process in 2013. If you notice any errors or feel you have any important information to add, please contact the GAJET Editor, [email protected]


1. 外国運転免許証翻訳文発行申請書(がいこくうんてんめんきょしょうほんやくぶんはっこうしんせいしょ)foreign driver’s license translation application form

2. 外国運転免許 (がいこくうんてんめんきょ)foreign driver’s license

3. 在留カード (ざいりゅうカード)residence card

4. 外国運転免許証翻訳文(がいこくうんてんめんきょしょうほんやくぶん)foreign driver’s license translation

5. 住民票(じゅうみんひょう)certificate of residence

6. 総合交通センター6(そうごうこうつうセンター)General Traffic Center

7. 運転技術試験(うんてんぎじゅつしけん)driving skill test

8. 視力検査 (しりょくけんさ) eyesight test

9. 自賠責保険 (じばいせきほけん) mandatory vehicle liability insurance

About the Author

Terry Dassow is a former Assistant Language Teacher with the JET Program who lived in Takasaki from 2011-2014. Upon returning to the USA, she taught writing at a Hmong high school before entering the editing field. She is currently an Editor and Communications Specialist for an engineering consulting and design-build firm based in Milwaukee, WI.

GAJET organizes a group trip each year, but if you’re interested in climbing Mt. Fuji alone or you’re busy that particular day, this guide is for you! I’ve written as much as I know about the mountain and provided links for leftover questions. Afterwards, there’s a little photo-journal and story about my own hike to get you inspired!


2017-2018 GAJET Crew

June 10, 2017 | News and Announcements | No Comments


Misha Pinyo — President

My name is Mikhail Ryan Pinyo, but most people call me Misha. I’m originally from the west coast of the USA, but I currently live in Maebashi. I want to contribute to a thriving and supportive community wherever I go, and so far GAJET has allowed me to do just that, so I’m really excited to start my third year on the committee. When I’m not teaching Senior High School or planning events you can find me playing musical instruments, exploring Japan’s beautiful mountain onsen, and charting my slow journey across the world.

If you see me at one of our events, don’t be shy–say hi!

Paola Torres– Vice President
Hello fellow JETs! My name is Paola Torres. I am a J.H.S. ALT in the city of Shibukawa, the bellybutton of Japan. I was born in Colombia but lived half of my life in Miami; you can tell by my warm personality and bright smile. I don’t quite have any hobbies but my personal objective for this year is to take the JLPT N2 with confidence. I wish for you to enjoy meeting people here in Gunma at any of our events as I did during my first year in JET. You’ll make friends for life and maybe you will be the ones planning these events next year.
Hope to see you soon!

Talisha Vernon — Secretary 

My name is Talisha Vernon. I’m from Fairfax, Virginia but I mostly tell people I am from Washington DC. I currently live in Takasaki teaching high school. I am starting my fourth year on JET serving as GAJET’s secretary, and I am excited to give back to our community and enjoy the many events GAJET puts on throughout the year. In my free time, well…I don’t have much free time with one year old twins. I like to karaoke, film adventures with my family and take as many purikuras as I can. 


Abby Ryder-Huth — Editor
Hello! I’m Abby, and I’m a second year SHS Jet living in Takasaki. I am from lake-y Michigan via windy Chicago, where I worked as a florist and creative writing teacher before Japan beckoned. We’ve got a first-rate community out here in Gunma, and I am glad to be working with GAJET to bring people together and encourage everyone to be the interesting individuals they are. I like road trip sing-alongs, existentialist drama, onsen, and falling down rabbit holes of academic research. Come talk to me about your cooking techniques, your favorite punctuation, and your general hopes and dreams. May they all come true, and may we have many happy times together under the Gunma skies!

Josh Frankle — Treasurer

My name is Josh Frankle, and I’m a third-year SHS ALT in Kiryu! I was born in Japan, and raised all over the Pacific and the US. I’m really excited to be a part of the growing JET community in Gunma. It really is wonderful to be able to contribute to such a large and close-knit group such as ours. As for me, I enjoy both the indoors and outdoors – whether that be board game nights or hiking in Oze. I’m by no means an expert of Gunma, but if you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to ask. Looking forward to meeting and getting to know you!

Jesse Britto — Seibu Rep
G’day everyone!! How ya goin’? My name is Jesse Britto, but people usually call me Gary. Just kidding… that would just be silly. I am from the land down under, also known as Australia, more specifically Perth!
I moved to Japan around one year ago and continue to fall in love with it more every day. I am located in an amazing town called Tomioka. It is surrounded by views of mountains and I can’t get enough of the delicious food! This year I have decided to join GAJET as a representative for Seibu as I really want both older and newer JET’s to experience what I have been lucky enough to experience over this past year. In my first year on JET I was teaching at one elementary and one junior high school, but from this year I will be at three elementary schools. When I am not at school crushing life with the teachers and students, I am usually running around doing things in my local community. My week usually consists of hockey, Taiko, other assorted sports, Vegemite eating competitions and paragliding.
Anyway, enough about me! When you see my amazing face in Gunma, please don’t hesitate to come and say hello and introduce yourself! Give me your best Aussie accent, unless you’re Aussie…. that’s totally cheating. Cheers.

Devyn Couch — Chubu Rep
Hello and welcome to Gunma, friends! My name is Devyn Couch, and I’m currently GAJET’s representative for Chubu region. Originally hailing from one of New Jersey’s many shore towns, I’m now entering my second year as a JHS JET in Tamamura. Before moving to Japan, I spent several amazing years teaching both general and special education at the elementary school level, so the jump to junior high was admittedly a little scary! However, I wouldn’t trade the connections I’ve made with my students and coworkers here for anything.
In my free time, you’ll often find me throwing myself headfirst–sometimes literally!–into the many amazing events and beautiful natural spots (have you seen these mountains!?) that our humble cabbage patch has to offer, pursuing various creative endeavors, and volunteering in different capacities in order to give back to the prefecture I now call home. One of the best things about Gunma is how friendly and supportive the community here is, so if you ever have any questions, need help getting settled, or just want to say “hi”, please don’t hesitate!

Jansen Magarro–Tobu Rep

My name is Jansen Magarro, I am a Canadian JET going into my 3rd year. Currently, I am an ALT at two senior high schools in Tatebayashi. This is my first year being a part of GAJET and I’m really excited to share what our group, community, and Japan has to offer. During my free time you can find me in Tokyo, exercising, or buying groceries.

Apparently everyone pronounces the word “bag” wrong. Come see me and I’ll teach your the correct way to say it.

Tiffany Do–Tone/Agatsuma Rep

Hi everyone! My name is Tiffany Do, but please, call me Tiff. Before moving to the beautiful mountains of Agatsuma, I lived in sunny California all my life. (My first winter here was tough!) This will be my first year on the committee and I am excited to be able to provide as much assistance as I can, as well as get to know more fellow ALTs. During the week, you can find me teaching at kindergartens and elementary schools.  But once the work is over, I’ll be playing in my local taiko group, soaking in all the onsens Gunma has to offer, and enjoying my surroundings!


GAJET Elections 2017-2018

June 6, 2017 | News and Announcements | No Comments

Here are the nominations for your upcoming GAJET committee! Please read each platform carefully and vote by clicking the link below. If you are unsure of the tasks each role must fulfill then check out the nominations page. Voting is open now until Friday, June 9th at 8 p.m.!!!

Misha Pinyo (Maebashi)PresidentMisha - White Shirt - Smiling

Hello fellow Gunmarians!

My name is Misha and I’m running for President. When I’m not teaching at Mae-Nishi and Haruna High Schools, you can find me learning new musical instruments, exploring Japan’s beautiful mountain onsen, and planning my slow journey across the world.

I believe that I have the experience and skills necessary to lead the GAJET team into another successful year. This August will mark the end of my third year on the JET program, and my second year on the GAJET council. Two years ago I was a Chubu Representative, and this year I was on the executive board as Webmaster. In addition to GAJET, I am also a member of the JOMO JET council, which seeks to create spaces for grassroots intercultural exchange. Also, for a second year running I will be assisting new JETs as they adjust to life in Japan as part of the Gunma Orientation Committee.

I also have experience outside of the Gunma community. I have taken courses in conflict resolution and communication, and I have lived in intentional communities. In those communities we held regular meetings, and made decisions through consensus (vs. “majority rules”), which taught me how to collaborate effectively in a group, and how to find common goals.

As for my platform, I have a few ideas as to what direction the new committee should head in:
Simplify Event Timeline:
In years past GAJET had held a plethora of major events, one right after the other at the beginning of the contract season, with relatively few towards the end. As president I plan on committing to 8 major events spread throughout the year; this will reduce the amount of stress for GAJET members, while insuring that the community has a chance to enjoy big events more consistently. I would also like to bring back the practice of holding small, informal regional events like “family dinners,” hikes, festival walks, and movie nights, depending on the availability of regional representatives.

Schedule Meetings & Events Early:
As for logistics, I would also like to ensure that all major events and meetings for the entire year have an estimated date from the very start, and have these dates shareable to everyone via Google Calendar. Doing this early on will increase the number of people who can attend our events, and will clear up confusion when it comes to scheduling meetings. I would also propose that there be one mandatory meeting per month; 8 meetings would be online and last exactly 1 hour, and 4 meetings would be in person and last exactly 2 hours. In person meetings would be held at or before major events since most GAJET members attend such events anyways.

Make Finances Transparent:

GAJET is a non-profit organization, but a certain amount of cash flow is needed to insure the safety and logistics of events, as well as to provide equipment and services that the broader community can use. I would make sure that GAJETs cash on hand is never too low or two high, and that balances and expenses are made transparent to the community.
Most importantly, I’m running because I want to contribute to a thriving and supportive community wherever I go. We are incredibly lucky in Gunma to have such an active and supportive AJET, and I firmly believe that it is an indispensable part of our little cabbage patch. I want to do my part to make sure that this support stands strong for current and future generations of JET participants.
Thank you for your time,


Paola Torres (Shibukawa)Vice PresidentImage-1

Hello Everyone! My name is Paola Andrea Torres and I would like to run as the GAJET Vice President .

During my first year in JET, I was very impressed with all the hard work the Senpai JETs put together to coordinate and plan such fun events. This past year, I was able to join the GAJET team as a Chubu Representative and  I experienced first hand how the magic happens! It was a lot of fun to work alongside such motivated and driven members. So I would like to join this wonderful team once again as the Vice President.

I am a very charismatic and friendly. And I will do my outmost best to support the president and lead any new GAJET members. As well as being a beacon for any new JET in Gunma.

Let’s have another amazing year full of fun events in Gunma!

Paola Torres


Josh Frankle (Kiryu)Treasurer & Tobu RepJames Frankle - Tobu Rep

Hello Gunmans!

I’m Josh Frankle, and am running once again to be a member of GAJET! I’m a third-year JET living in Kiryu in the Tobu region. Over the last year as a Tobu rep, I have organized and helped lead various regional events and a number of Gunma-wide events too! I have the desire to help contribute and make our community even better this year. With the experience of having been your Tobu rep, this year I would like to take it a step further and join the executive board as the Treasurer of GAJET. I look forward to another year in our cabbage patch!





Talisha Vernon (Takasaki)Secretary & Treasurertalisha

Hi Gunma JETs! I’m Talisha Vernon and I’m going into my fourth year as an ALT.  I’m from “Washington DC” (and if you are also from “Washington DC” you know that I am not really from Washington DC) AKA Virginia and now I live in Takasaki. When I’m not teaching at Chou Secondary School, I can often be found running after my twin babies, singing current pop songs with a 40’s twist, exploring local and national world heritage sites with my family and making (very infrequently) travel YouTube videos.

In my years here in Gunma, I have experienced many of Gunma’s JET events, from cannoning to performing at I CAN JAPAN and Art Night to even leading and teaching the Cha-Cha Slide to a everyone at JOMO JET’s International Carnival. As you can see, Gunma JET community is very active and puts on all sorts of events for everyone to enjoy.

As you can imagine, twins can be a handful but I think I have gotten everything under control and organized. I have been on the Gunma Orientation Committee for two years now and presented on variety of topics at many conferences over the years.  As either Secretary or Treasurer I could use the skills I use daily and apply it to the GAJET community. This year, I’m feel ready to use my experience to create event, get involve and bridge the gap between JETs, non-JETs, and the locals in our Gunma community.


Mandy Brixey (Shimonita)Secretary & Seibu RepMandy


My name is Mandy Brixey and I’m in the beloved city of Shimonita, right at the end of the Joshin Line! Can’t miss it!

The positions running for are: Secretary and Seibu Representative!

As the only ALT in my town, I really want to reach out to my fellow Gunmanites! I have held student council positions in the past in middle school, high school, and college. I started my own groups, (Anime Club and Japanese Conversation Club, respectively) I enjoyed working closely with my fellow members and definitely felt a sense of pride that came with the responsibilities I had.

I currently run 2 English conversation classes, and do a board game event once a month! As a soon to be 2nd year JET, I feel I have greatly matured and also improved my problem solving skills. So no matter the position, I know I can handle responsibilities with ease and can tackle any problems that come my way!

If elected, I will use my  creativity, bubbly personality, ideas and combine them with others in order to help create new and exciting events, as well as doing my best to help incoming and current JETs in my region!


Devyn Couch (Tamamura)Editor & Chubu RepDevyn

Friends, strangers, Gumarians, lend me your…well, eyes, I suppose, as you’re reading rather than listening to this! 

My name is Devyn Couch, and I’m a soon-to-be second year JHS JET in Ball Village, a.k.a. Tamamura. Originally from the frenetic coastline punk scene of NJ, you’ll often find me out and about, meeting people and throwing myself headfirst (sometimes literally) into any and all events happening around this amazing prefecture of ours!

Over the past year, I’ve learned that while Gunma has some of the best onsen and most beautiful natural spots in Japan (have you SEEN these mountains!?), it’s really the people that make living here so wonderful. Volunteering at events organized by GAJET and JOMO JET (I CAN Japan, International Carnival, etc.) has shown me just how welcoming, tight-knit, and enthusiastic this community is. Three cheers for nakama in the inaka!

As such, I’d like to pay the positivity I’ve experienced here forward by joining GAJET as Editor and Chubu Rep. In both positions, I’ll continue to spread the word of GLORIOUS GUNMA™ via the magic of modern technology—e.g. the Interwebs and social media. By keeping everyone up-to-date on happenings, hidden gems, and Gunma-related life hacks, my goal is to bring people together and help them make the most of their time here in our humble cabbage patch.

TL;DR—I’ve got many ideas, and the energy and experience to make them a reality. I’ve held various long-term leadership positions (including an editorship for my school’s literary magazine), have a way with words, the drive to learn new things, and a knack for getting people out of their homes. If elected to GAJET, I promise to put these skills to good use to help make our community even better for all of its members.

Thank you for your consideration!


Abby Ryder-Huth (Fujioka)Editor


abby platform


Tiffany Do (Higashiagatsuma Town)Agatsuma RepTiffany

Hello, everyone! My name is Tiffany Do and I’m from sunny California! Now, you can find me in Higashiagatsuma as a soon-to-be 2nd year Elementary School ALT. “Where is that?” I’m sure you’re all thinking, like many Japanese people would ask. Well, it’s in the western part of Gunma, where Kusatsu is located! But, I hope to change that as the Agatsuma Rep, and show you other amazing places this region has to offer.

During my 1st year, I had the pleasure being guided around Gunma, and was shown the beauty it has to offer by wonderful senpais. I also had a lot of fun attending many GAJET coordinated events. As a 2nd year JET, I want to be able to repay that same hospitality and help create great memories in Gunma for my fellow ALTs. I hope to work with the other members of GAJET to organize the events that you all enjoy and bring all ALTs in Gunma together. I also hope to be a resource to the incoming ALTs and help them with life in Japan.

Thank you for your time~


Jesse Brito (Tomioka)Seibu RepJesse

G’day everyone! For those who do or don’t know me, I’m Jesse Britto. I am currently in my first year on JET and am applying for the position of Seibu rep for the 2017 – 2018 period. I arrived around July late last year from Perth, Australia and am currently teaching at a JHS and an ES whilst living it up in the amazing town of Tomioka! (That’s right, it is where the world famous silk mill is!) 

I remember when first arriving in Japan I was still so unsure of what kind of lifestyle I would have in Tomioka. I researched a lot, but all that really came up was the Tomioka Silk Mill and pictures of old buildings, so to be honest I was a little worried. But, I remember the first drive in from Maebashi with my supervisor and seeing the mountains. SO MANY PRETTY MOUNTAINS! (Perth is basically a really really flat desert with a few trees, sort of). I was ready to begin my journey in Tomioka!
Now, let me tell you about me and why I am applying for this position. As I said earlier I am still a newbie within Gunma, but I have a lot to share. In the short time I have been here I have traveled around a lot, specifically more around where I live. My main goal as a Seibu rep would be to organise many different events within the Seibu region to help educate other Gunma… nites.. (definitely the technical word for people who live in Gunma) about the lesser known and visited parts of my region.

If you choose me as your rep, I would be so excited to show you all of the hidden gems you have been missing out on!
On a side note, I’m good at cooking and I can play guitar sort of, so if this helps sway your decision, I’m all for that.

Thanks for reading through whatever this was. Vote Jesse!


Jansen Magarro (Tatebayashi)Tobu RepJansen GAJET Profile

Hey Gunma JETs!

My name is Jansen Magarro and I am going into my 3rd year on the JET programme. I come from the land where rivers of maple syrup flow, polar bears are a constant threat, and -20 degree Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit) is sweater weather. I am currently a Senior High School ALT in the hottest place in Japan, Tatebayashi. (Ironic, eh?).

I’ve participated in many events organized by GAJET. These events were always a great time and because of that I have been inspired to run for Tobu Regional Representative.

Prior to joining the JET programme, I held different positions within the Canadian banking industry and government. During my time at these institutions I assisted in organizing team building events and casual get togethers. Furthermore, I lead and organized many recreational sports teams over the years.

A hobby of mine is traveling. As most of you know, traveling takes a great deal of planning and co-ordination. Using these skills that I’ve acquired through my journeys around the world, I feel that I could utilize these abilities and use them to bring together the ALTs within the Tobu region.

Within the Tobu region, there are 9 cities where ALTs reside. These are 9 opportunities to showcase what Tobu is all about. As your Tobu Regional Representative, I would like to take advantage of each one of our cities and hold monthly gatherings to learn about each other and the communities we live in.

Arigathanks Gozaimuch!


This is the end of candidate platforms for 2017-2018. Next,


 <<< VOTE HERE! >>>


Voting will be held only until Friday, June 9th at 8 p.m.

Only current JETs may vote!

First, all current members would like to give our gratitude for another amazing year of support and participation at the many exciting events we’ve had this year: Beer Gardens, Karaoke, Gunma Games, Canyons, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Skibo & Chill, Art Share Night, and our big, annual fundraiser I*Can*Japan (愛・感・ジャパン)! I’m happy to announce that we raised over ¥150,000 from I*Can for the Komochiyama Children’s Home in Shibukawa!

Gunma AJET is one of the most active AJET organizations, and while it’s hard work to host events in this wonderful cabbage patch known as Gunma, joining the council is a fantastic opportunity to meet new people, gain experience in leadership and event planning, share your knowledge via the website, and give general support to the ALT community.

With all that said, we’ll start the election process for the 2017-2018 GAJET Committee tonight!

**Please note that because GAJET is a branch of the national AJET Council, only current and re-contracting JETs may apply. Regardless, we love all ALTs, eikawa personnel, and others in the international community and encourage you to keep coming to our events!**

The application period is from today until 7 p.m. June 5th (Monday).

The voting period will start the following Wednesday (June 7th) until Friday (June 9th).

Elections results will be announced Sunday, June 11th.


If you wish to run for the please e-mail me, Crystal Lamptey, at [email protected] with

  1. Subject: GAJET Elections
  2. Your full name and city in Gunma
  3. The position(s) you are interested in running for (Yes, you can run more than one!)
  4. An election platform outlining why you want to be a council member and why you want that particular position. Include any relevant experience, skills, and characteristics you have that will assist you in the position, as well as what you hope to accomplish if elected
  5. A profile picture of yourself to display next to your platform on the 2017-2018 election candidates page, which will be posted after all platforms are collected. If you’re unsure of what to write, click here for some examples from past


What positions are up open? Well, GAJET is restructuring into two committees.

The executive committee roles like President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Secretary, Editor, and Webmaster need dedicated members who will work together continue, change, and/or create new Gunma-wide events.

The regional representatives committee works together in each of Gunma’s 5 regions (Agatsuma, Chubu, Seibu, Tobu, & Tone) to hold small get-togethers and give general support and information. ALL members take joint responsibility in holding small-scale events in each region, but the lead organizer will be the rep of that region (i.e. decisions on who, what, when, where, etc.). Lastly, if not enough members are elected, positions will be combined (e.g. Tone/Agatsuma Rep).

No matter what committee/position, all council members help where and when they can. In addition, members can hold two positions as (e.g. Secretary & Seibu Rep, Editor & Tone/Agatsuma Rep) if they win enough votes and accept both positions. The maximum number of members on the council will be eleven. You’ll find more info about the positions below, and please send in your application by 7 p.m. June 5th (Monday) to [email protected] !

We look forward to hearing from you!

  1. President

The president makes sure everything runs smoothly and is responsible for facilitating committee meetings, setting the agenda, and delegating tasks. The president is also responsible for problem solving and making final decisions about money, events, and operations. They are the liaison for National AJET and will be in close contact with our block representative. Japanese language proficiency is a plus, but not mandatory. The president works very closely with the vice president, and therefore candidates for these positions should be individuals who work well together and have a solid personal relationship.

  1. Vice President

The vice president’s role is similar to president, but with a bit less emailing. The president and VP consult each other on various topics and run meetings together. Therefore, president and vice president candidates should be individuals who work well together and have a solid personal relationship.

  1. Secretary

The secretary’s main duty is to take detailed notes at GAJET meetings, type them up, and distribute them to all committee members. They compile a year-end guide of all GAJET events to pass on to the next committee. The secretary often works closely with president and vice president.

  1. Treasurer

The treasurer is responsible for all of GAJET’s money and receipts, and makes decisions about money along with the President. The ideal candidate should be organized, responsible, diligent, and good with numbers. The treasurer will need to change over the current GAJET bank account, and will be responsible for the bankbook and any necessary correspondence with the bank itself. Japanese written and verbal communication isn’t necessary, but it may be helpful in these tasks.

  1. Editor

The editor is responsible for all the content on the GAJET website,, as well as moderating the Gunma ALTs Facebook group. The editor encourages committee members and the wider ALT community to write articles on a regular basis. Potential candidates should have good writing and editing skills, as well as basic knowledge about WordPress. The editor often works very closely with the webmaster to manage GAJET’s online content.

  1. Webmaster

The webmaster is responsible for maintaining and developing GAJET’s web presence (, creating pages and forms for GAJET events (such a registration forms), and administrating GAJET’s email and Drive accounts on Google. GAJET’s webpage is built on WordPress and requires little direct maintenance. No direct experience with website administration is necessary, but candidates for webmaster should be confident with technology and in following technical instructions, self-directed and proactive, and enthusiastic about developing new features for

Regional Representatives Committee

Regional representatives are the go-to people in each region, acting as a local support for new and current ALTs. Reps are responsible for contacting local ALTs about both GAJET and various regional events, as well as planning small outings and dinners together. ALL members take joint responsibility in holding small-scale events in each region, but the lead organizer will be the rep of that region

  1. Chubu Region Reps

Isesaki, Maebashi, Shibukawa, Shinto-mura, Tamamura and Yoshioka.

  1. Tone Region Reps

Minakami, Katashina, Numata, Showa and Kawaba.

  1. Tobu Region Reps

Chiyoda, Itakura, Kiryu, Meiwa, Midori, Oizumi, Ota, Oura and Tatebayashi.

  1. Seibu Region Reps

Annaka, Fujioka, Kanna, Kanra, Nanmoku, Shimonita, Takasaki, Tomioka and Ueno-mura.

  1. Agatsuma Region Reps

Higashiagatsuma, Kuni, Kusatsu, Naganohara, Nakanojo, Takayama and Tsumagoi.