This week’s café review is for anyone who appreciates a hot coffee paired with some cool jazz.
Concert Café in Takasaki
I almost didn’t notice this café as I walked past. But from the inside, deep and earthy tones of a double bass found their way through seams and glass panes and leaked into the streets. The low, inviting rhythm caught my attention and I had to stop and listen.
By the entrance there is a menu board listing all the artists to play over during the current month. I was pretty excited at this point; I had been looking for a jazz bar ever since arriving in Gunma. And as I read, I started to hear and pick out the other instruments—a sultry saxophone, a smooth jazz guitar and a piano playfully striking improv notes.
Unfortunately the set was almost finished so I didn’t try out the café that night. So the following weekend I came back in order to catch a full performance.
When I looked into the windows the week before, it was brimming with swanky looking people. So I decided it would be best to show up a little early. The café opens from 6 PM for business and the live music begins at 7.
After walking inside I immediately was greeted by a staff member who remembered me looking at the board the weekend before. I was surprised and delighted by this.
The inside of the café has a cozy and charming ambience with low lighting and tea candles on every table. Black and white posters of the glowing, soft faces of 40s movie stars and singers greet guests. And the shop is lined with shelves holding old hardcovers and Parisian antiques and probably a few secrets too. A large brass tea kettle in the middle of the room is left to boil and I got lost watching the steam billow, creating heat spirals in the air.
There is a cover charge of 1000 yen but for three hours of live jazz music, this is a fair price. Along with the cover, I had to buy one drink and one food item.
Although a glass of dark red wine would have suited the mood very well, I had walked past a coffee pot near the entrance that already won me over with the smell. I chose a black drip coffee and a piece of blueberry cheesecake for the perfect bitter/sweet combination.
The café’s menu includes alcoholic options such as wine, beer, and whiskey as well as coffee, juice, and tea. If you’d like to have a full dinner at Concert Café, no problem–they offer pasta, sandwiches, and other French entrees to satiate your appetite.
Around 7 PM, the band began to set up. This night featured a trio of a jazz guitarist, a pianist and a double bassist. They began with Nat King Cole’s “Route 66” and the guitarist sang the accompanying vocals. With the emotion he channeled into the lyrics and how he wore a slight smile on his face, I wondered if maybe he had a personal connection with the area. The band played for another thirty minutes before taking a break.
To anyone reading this, this is not-so-breaking news; being a foreigner in Gunma can draw a lot of attention. Sometimes it’s pretty uncomfortable but tonight was one of the many times where I really appreciated it. The band came up to chat and after the usual icebreaker questions, I discovered the jazz guitarist had lived in Los Angeles for two years.
Our conversation finally led into jazz and we talked about the bossa nova Stan Getz, cool jazz’s Gerry Mulligan, and my personal favorite, jazz trumpeter Chet Baker. The pianist piped in that Chet Baker’s “Everything Happens to Me” was his go-to song during his time playing in jazz bars in New York City.
Having to go back on set soon, the band asked if there were any requests. They were happy to play for me: “Girl from Ipanema”, “My Funny Valentine” and of course, “Everything Happens to Me.”
Needless to say, two hours of jazz and coffee later, I left Concert Café absolutely content.
Concert Café is located at オフィスＭｏｍｏｓｅフランスRenjakuchō, in Takasaki, Gunma. It’s about a 15-20 minute walk from Takasaki Station. And if you’re having a difficult time finding it, just search for the FamilyMart Aru Cho location on Google Maps. It’s the building to the left.
Whether you are a hardcore jazz enthusiast or someone who appreciates some great live music and atmosphere, Concert Café is the perfect place to impress a date, gossip over wine or unwind after a week of hard ALT-ing. (And I highly recommend the blueberry cheesecake.)
Warming your hands with a steamy mug of house coffee as you look around in awe of the cozy, contemporary and themed atmospheres of Japan’s coolest cafes doesn’t have to be limited to weekend ventures to Tokyo! With these articles, I aim to bring the spotlight to the more than deserving cafes of Gunma. Even in the inaka (and surprisingly enough, especially in the inaka) there are hidden gems scattered all around the prefecture just waiting to be unearthed. As I find these, I want to share them with the GAJET community so that everyone can find their home away from home (away from home.) The next time you meet up with fellow ALTs on the weekend for some r&r, try out one of these places!
THREE SENT grill&sweets in Isesaki
Head lowered as he finger picked the strings of the acoustic guitar in his lap, the owner of THREE SENT spoke of his vision for the café. THREE SENT grill&sweets is a restaurant café in Isesaki that is only the beginning of the Samm Entertainment dream. The owner of THREE SENT currently owns not only the restaurant café but also an adjacent hair salon (which deserves its own raving review perhaps in an Osusume Salon column) but he hopes to expand and open an entire business area of services to Isesaki locals. It will be a place where no matter what you need (food, entertainment, basic services) you can rely on Samm Entertainment to provide. The owner hopes that it can be a place where people can visit and be immersed in the feeling that they have entered a small town or community. Why is it named Samm Entertainment? Who is Samm? Well, the owner said there’s no reason behind the name except that he thinks it sounds cool. A worthy enough reason, in my opinion.
But, as of now, Samm Entertainment is building a sturdy foundation with THREE SENT café. What makes THREE SENT a worthy afternoon endeavor is the contemporary atmosphere, the friendly owner and staff (very excited for foreign customers!) and undeniably the most important aspect of a cafe—exemplary food!
From 11:30 AM till 2:30 PM, THREE SENT offers lunch service with a smaller, rotating set menu. But don’t let the small menu scare you away from trying something new and unknown because it’s just another testament to quality over quantity. THREE SENT offers lunch sets with soup and salad and main dishes of gourmet sandwiches, hearty chicken and beef entrees as well as grilled fish.
Between 2:30 and 5:30, THREE SENT is still open but only runs their drink bar and the location as a coffee shop. THREE SENT has a full drink menu of roasted coffees, herbal teas, imported wines and hard liquors. Looking to relax a little, I opted for a chamomile herbal tea.
Past 5:30 PM, the café starts up its kitchens for dinner service and if you sit at the counter, you can even watch the grill as the chefs skillfully work around it. THREE SENT’s dinner menu is a full menu including various pastas, cultural fusion foods and high quality steaks. On my last visit, I tried a featured monthly special of marinated shrimp and mushrooms sautéed in a garlic oil, intended to be eaten over fresh and lightly toasted French bread. Every time I eat at THREE SENT I am impressed by the balance of flavor and the combination of the ingredients’ texture. I have yet to try a dish that didn’t impress.
Beyond the rotating lunch menu and the decadent dinner courses, THREE SENT’s claim to fame is their feature dessert, the Dutch Baby pancake. In fact, it was their advertisements posted outside promoting the dessert that peaked my interest in the first place.
A Dutch baby pancake, also known as a Bismarck, or Dutch puff, is originally a breakfast food but thanks to THREE SENT, you can enjoy it at any point of the day. It’s a simple pancake made with egg, flour, sugar and milk and baked in a cast iron pan. (Which I might add that cooking with a cast iron pan is a great way to get the essential mineral iron in your diet. For women this is especially important, so I believe this more than justifies eating this dessert for health reasons!) What sets the Dutch baby pancake apart from its fellow pancakes and pastry puffs is that it is immediately served while piping hot with a scoop of French vanilla ice cream, fluffy whipped cream and a combination of your choice of ingredients ranging from chocolate to berries.
A big fan of sweet and savory flavor combinations, I tried the Manuka honey (a unique multifloral honey from New Zealand) and Rosemary Dutch Baby. As the ice cream melts and the toppings begin to mix, the pancake absorbs and takes on all the flavors without becoming a crumbly mess or too wet. I will definitely be back to try the Mont Blanc chestnut variation next time I stop by.
With plans to remodel and expand, I cannot wait to see how Samm Entertainment develops. And no matter when you decide to visit THREE SENT, you can expect great service, amazing food and an owner who is more than happy to chat with you!
THREE SENT grill&sweets is located at Nirazukamachi, Isesaki, Gunma (群馬県伊勢崎市韮塚町964-2) and unfortunately more than a walk’s distance away from the nearest station. But don’t let this deter you! If you don’t have a car, I’m sure the temptation of a Dutch baby pancake would make this a willing trip for almost anyone.
THREE SENT is open Sunday through Saturday from 11:30 AM with extended hours till midnight on Friday and Saturday. The average budget for lunch is between \1000-2000 and for dinner \2000-3000.
New Year’s resolution is to get a new hobby? If you’ve set your heart on learning a musical instrument, but don’t know where to get one, this guide is for you! I used to trek all the way to Tokyo, thinking the big city would have the best deals, but I learned that Gunma has hidden gems of its own. There are plenty of music stores in Gunma that didn’t make this list. If you had a great experience somewhere, please share in the comments!
For beginners and bargain-hunters
Hard-Off recycle shops (many locations in Gunma)
Gunma locations and hours (Japanese): http://www.hardoff.co.jp/shop/kanto/gunma/
Hard-Offs have all kinds of gadgets, and the inventories vary from location to location. For example, there are two in Kiryu, but I’ve found the western one is always better than the eastern in terms of musical instruments. If you’re looking for a good, cheap acoustic guitar, Hard-Off is the place to go. Unfortunately the staff may or may not know anything about musical instruments (may explain the cheap prices…). More specifically, I find they don’t bother keeping the instruments in tune, sometimes to the point where the strings are almost falling off and you can’t even try the instrument. BUT you can ask them to tune it and they usually have a little practice amp/space for you to use. Don’t be shy! Hard-Off is also especially good for effects pedals. I bought a Vox Pathfinder 10 practice amp here, an affordable choice if you’re looking for a small amp to practice on without terrifying your neighbors. You can also find appropriate amps if you want to terrify your neighbors.
Transit: Takasaki, Maebashi, and Shin-Isesaki stations, walking distance from each
With locations in Takasaki, Maebashi, and Isesaki (Shin-Isesaki Station), Dust Bowl is one of the better “chains” in Gunma. I put chain in quotations because this shop has a more down to earth, less commercial feel than the type you’ll find in AEON or SMARK. The location in Takasaki has great deals. I’ve seen a 100 dollar Orange Crush 12w for 5,000 yen in here. The Takasaki location especially has a large inventory of guitars, including used and vintage guitars. They also offer lessons (Japanese only). The Takasaki and Isesaki locations even have live venues.
A hidden gem in Midori: Slow Hand (Omama, Midori City)
Transit: walking distance from Akagi Station
Address: 〒376-0101 群馬県みどり市大間々町大間々2418 スナガビルA 1F Phone: 0277-73-2373 Hours*: Mon thru Sat :１５：００～２３：００ Sun and holidays日曜・祝日 １３：００～２３：００
*I would call ahead; I’ve seen his shop closed multiple times during his open hours.
Nestled away in the quiet town of Omama, Koshiba-san at Slow Hand sells some of the best guitars I’ve seen in Japan, including Tokyo. His shop is quite small and the inventory is always rotating, so you never know what he’ll have. He’s always good for at least one drool-inducing Fender; lately a golden, vintage Musicmaster has been hanging in his shop. I bought a custom reissue Japanese Fender Mustang from him and couldn’t be happier. The price was unbelievable. He does my repairs, and even took me out to dinner once. He has a nice balance of insane vintage guitars and affordable used ones. He plays in a local jazz band and offers lessons if that’s what you’re after (probably Japanese only). Practice space is also available (covered in Beatles LP covers and tabs for blues songs named stuff like “Give Me Back my Wig”). His hours are kinda weird, so I recommend calling ahead. My personal opinion; buy a guitar from a cool local guy like this, not a chain. It makes a better memory anyways.
Amazon, something for everyone: amazon.co.jp
Amazon is a great resource for musical instruments. Especially the smaller stuff like pedals and cables. It’s also great if you’ve got questions but can’t get past the language barrier, as it is offered in English. Payment options are also easy; you can either buy a gift card at the conbini or more recently you’re able to simply add your foreign credit card and pay with that (international bank fees vary on your bank, of course) with their currency translation (Bank of America charged me about 1.35 USD for a 40 USD transaction).
I bashed Tokyo a little in the intro, but of course the mega-city is a great source for musical instruments. The point of this guide was simply to show that you don’t have to haul down to Tokyo just for instruments, but of course tossing a little gear-hunting into your weekend trip to Tokyo can be a lot of fun.
So where to go? Most people start in Ochanomizu, walking distance from Akihabara (don’t forget the Hard-Off in Akihabara either; they have a nice pedal selection and usually several sub-50,000 yen reissue Fender Strats, Teles, Mustangs, ect.). Ochanomizu is a big clump of music stores (several stores are owned by the same people). I made the mistake of letting my first impression of these stores turn me off; I didn’t like the chain-feel and was disappointed I wasn’t finding the kind of boutique shops like back in the States. But I found out that while the feel of the shops is rather commercial, the inventory can be quite good. There are some super vintage guitars nestled in those bright lights and uniformed goons. If you want a sneak peek at the inventory of the largest store, Shimokura, take a look here: http://www.shimokura-secondhands.com/used_guitar_list.html
Shimokitazaka –Tokyo’s favorite hipster neighborhood, Shimokitazawa is an important place for Tokyo’s music scene. This includes guitar shops. (Bonus tip: head over to Bear Pond Espresso for some good coffee!). This is one cool shop:
The Guitar Lounge
Transit: 池ノ上駅 Ikeno-ue Station
It’s possible your school will have musical instruments you can use, especially piano and drums. If you teach at a high school, it’s almost guaranteed that your school will have both. My school has four pianos in four different locations and one drum set, and I’m always welcome to use them when the music club isn’t busy. Ask your music teacher for permission first, especially when it’s OK to play a noisy instrument liked drums! In my experiences, music teachers are among the friendliest teachers and will be glad to have you on board. But music clubs are also very busy, so be sure to only go when you know you’re not interrupting something! Sometimes the students use the pianos during lunch, so make sure you’re not stealing the piano when they want to use it. And be sure to check surrounding rooms for classes before you blast the drum solo from “In the Air Tonight.”
Know of anything other great music shops in Gunma? Post them in the comments!
The inevitable is coming. Every year we complain and try to prepare, and yet every year we get knocked down a notch and are reminded we will never win winter. Winter in Gunma is just as dreaded as every sempai will tell you- the houses are ill-equipped at keeping in heat, the AC heaters work overtime to keep the drafty winds out, and the chill-to-the-bone winds that sweep through Gunma will make you feel like Frosty. Winter is not easy but we are all here to conquer it as best we can together. If you are worried about what will happen in the next couple of months, read up on these great ways to stay warm and survive the dreaded winter.
How to Stay Warm
I highly recommend wearing thermal underwear (such as “HEATTECH” from Uniqlo) as your undermost layer on top and bottom. (Special note about heat tech- If you have a history of dry skin, as I do, you may want to be cautious when purchasing HEATTECH. Synthetic fabrics can aggravate dry skin, and HEATTECH’s deliberate design may make it more drying than the synthetics you’re used to. The label does prominently advertise that HEATTECH uses the skin’s moisture to produce its warmth).
This special material keeps your body heat in so you feel warmer from the get-go. On top of that layer, I usually wear a sweater, a puffy down-jacket, and pants as my base.
Layers are important because though you may feel just warm enough when you’re outside, as soon as you walk into a super-heated office, you may start sweating, which could cause you to catch a cold. Layers allow you to match your surroundings.
Note: School hallways will most likely be the same temperature as outdoors, but many schools ban wearing hats, scarves, gloves, and down-jackets inside, so layer accordingly.
Invest in warm winter clothes.
The difference between my first and second winter on JET comes down to one thing: my jacket. My first year I mostly wore peacoats, which were cute, but did not keep me warm in the least. My second year I invested in a puffy down jacket, which looked a bit silly, but was so well insulated, I didn’t mind. Gunma is famous for its soul-crushingly dry and cold wind, so choose clothes that are wind resistant (shiny jackets tend to be a good indicator).
Cover as much of your body as possible
A hat, gloves/mittens, and a scarf are vital for keeping body heat in. Every bit of exposed skin is an opening for body heat to escape. Some Japanese people also use a haramaki (a wrap that goes around the lower abdomen) to keep the stomach and lower back warm. I personally like wearing a haramaki, so you may want to give it a try!
For those who will cycle a lot this winter, fuzzy neck warmers that cover your neck and part of your face can help keep you warm, but beware: they can also trap your sweat, which again can become the source of a cold. Ear muffs are great normally, but should be avoided on snowy days when wet hair could lead to a cold.
Take a bath at night
This may just be personal preference, but I find that on the nights when I only take a shower, I am not nearly as warm as the nights when I take a shower and then a bath. If I clean off the day’s dirt and sweat and then heat my body for the night, I always feel healthier in the morning. On a side note, my pipes froze over twice my first year, so my coworkers suggested running hot water just before I went to bed to prevent this phenomenon, which became a good excuse to take a bath every night.
Keep your room heated and humidified
Most people use their air conditioners as heaters during the winter, which is great for keeping warm but tends to dry out the surrounding air, causing many a sore throat. I recommend using a humidifier, which replenishes the moisture in the air and can help prevent scratchy, sore throats. At work, you may see tea pots on stove heaters, or even your coworkers spraying water bottles into the air, for this same reason (to humidify the atmosphere).
Eat warm foods
Nabe literally means “pot”, but during winter it describes the unbeatable “hot pot.” If you like the prepared soup bases available at grocery stores, you can make nabe very simply by adding the soup base to a ceramic nabe pot, adding any assortment of vegetables (Chinese cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, etc.) and proteins, and heating the pot. This dish is best enjoyed cooked over a portable stove under the comfort of a kotatsu, a square heated table covered with a blanket. If you want even more warmth, I recommend a heated carpet and/or heated blanket, both can be purchased from Cainz Home, Nitori or similar stores.
Sold at every grocery or home store, these inexpensive and convenient chemical heat-packs are perfect for slipping in your shoes or pocket for those long and chilly walks through the school hallways. Hokkairos come in all shapes and sizes, and stay warm for several hours. Simply open a pack, give it a shake, and stick it on your body or in your pocket for an instant blast of much-needed heat.
Hot Water Bottles (Yutampo)
A water bottle is absolutely essential for a warm nights sleep, and here in Japan, the yutampo (湯担保) is a popular winter accessory. The Japanese style water bottle is made of a hard plastic rather than the rubbery style we may be used to, but works just the same and is as simple as can be. Fill a yutampo with hot water and throw it in bed to warm your chilly toes all night long!
Go to Onsen
Find a local onsen or bath and visit it regularly. Not only will you feel amazing, but you will avoid waking up to frozen pipes in your shower! Some public baths have membership cards with discounts for repeated visits.
Soak up the sun
The next two points are more for mental health. On clear winter days, it is incredibly uplifting to feel the sun on your face. Typically it’s dark when you leave for work and it’s dark when you get home from work, so some people don’t get enough Vitamin D from the sun’s rays. Accordingly, if you can, give yourself some time during the day to go outside and absorb the sun’s restoring rays. Even if it’s cold, if you walk around for a bit in the sun you’ll feel warmer, and the exposure to the sun will provide you with some much needed revitalization
Don’t lock yourself inside all winter
It’s very tempting to spend the entire winter season watching movies while eating nabe under yourkotatsu. While this can be an enjoyable way to spend some evenings on your own or with others, I highly recommend leaving your apartment to explore Gunma during the winter. Gunma is famous for winter sports such as snowboarding, skiing, snowshoeing and more, so this could be a great chance to try a new activity! Gatjet will also be hosting different events throughout the winter to get us all out of our slump and into fresh air.
For non-sports fans, I recommend trying a winter onsen day trip. Kusatsu is extremely hot, but in the heart of winter the water’s heating powers can keep your body warm all day while you explore the town’s lovely cafés, restaurants and shops. Don’t forget about all the illuminations Gunma has to offer throughout the winter break!
Meet your friends
Meet your friends, your neighbors, your anybody! Warm your bodies and your spirits by meeting with your close ones to chat, play games, have a laugh – anything to keep your hearts warm. They say winter is the season of loneliness, but go prove the universe wrong!
How to winter-proof your house
Suffering separation anxiety when parted from your kotatsu? Sub-zero apartments and icy bike rides to school mean Gunma’s cold is already biting. Without wanting to sound like a doom-monger, the worst of the winter is yet to come! Meet the cold head-on and make your pad a hot-haven…
Bubble wrap your windows
Bubble wrapping your windows will give you instant double glazing. Bubble-up to keep the cold out and your precious warmth in. Wrap with smaller bubbles will be more effective as the bubbles are packed together more tightly than those on a larger grade wrap. Fitting it is simple; clean your windows, cut your wrap to size, and use masking tape to attach it to the frame. Some websites recommend just spraying water onto the bubble wrap and sticking it directly on to the glass. Here’s a step-by-step for the DIY-phobic.
You can pick up sheets of bubble wrap at the 100円 store. For larger lengths visit Cainz Homes. Try and resist the urge to pop all those lovely bubbles before Spring!’
Don’t let a draft blow that warm fuzzy feeling out of your kotatsu. Wobbly doors and flimsy windows seem to be the norm in Japanese apartments. A sukima teepu (すきまテープ) is a quick fix to keep the cold winds out. These tapes have a peel-off sticky back and are available in foam and brush varieties. Cut lengths to size and stick them around the edges of your doors and windows. These are also great for keeping out noise, dust and summer insects. Pick some up at a hardware store or online.
Curtains for the cold
Tackle the shivers by investing in some drapery. Flimsy curtains will let the heat escape and the cold penetrate. I did away with my apartment’s flimsy, too short, lurid green curtains and replaced them with some heavy heat keepers – the improvement was instant. Heavy curtains will serve you well throughout the year by keeping the sunlight out and you cool during the summer. A makeover at your mado won’t cost the earth either… I picked up my miracle ‘heat-in, sun-out’ curtains at Sanki for a bargain 1,000円. I did a smaller window for 500円. Hang some new threads at your genkan for an extra defence against the winter.
Fit a stop panel
Another solution for window warmth warfare is a ストップパネル (stop panel). These plastic or foam sheets have a reflective silver side and can be cut to size. Fit them to windows and glass doors to tackle heat loss and drafts. These panels are only high enough to cover the bottom section of your windows and doors, so are maybe worth considering if bubble wrap alone isn’t keeping you toasty. You can find stop panels on Rakuten.
Apply some heat
It seems there isn’t anything that can’t be heated by a kairo. The word kairo comes from the kanji 懐 (futokoro) meaning pocket, which can also be read as kai, and 炉 (ro) which is translated as oven. Eco-kairo are environmentally friendly microwavable gel pockets offered in an endless array of designs. Pick up your ‘pocket oven’ at a hundred yen store or go high-tech with a USB version.
When your futon feels like a block of ice, slip in a kairo bed pad and pillow for a cosy night’s rest. Try a kairo band-aid which can be strapped to your favourite cold spot for a guaranteed 40 degree glow on the skin.
But the heat doesn’t stop there… A set of USB kairo glove warmers could come in handy when you’re bashing out February lesson plans on the keyboard. And for ladies who are very brave, and presumably very cold, there are even kairo panty liners. Good luck girls!
Remember to stay cool, but not cold. Keep warm, Gunma.
It’s that time of year again—one of GAJET’s biggest events—the Canyons Adventure and Mixer! Get to know your neighbors from Gunma, Ibaraki, Nagano, Saitama, and Tochigi while catching the last rays of summer during an action-(or leisure) packed weekend at Gunma’s own Canyons Alpine Lodge in Minakami.(more…)
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 from now until Friday June 17th at 8pm.
Hello fellow Gunmanians!
My name is Crystal Lamptey, and I am running for GAJET President. I work as an ALT in Shibukawa City, and in August, I’ll become a “unicorn”! … That is to say, I will be a 5th-year JET participant, a sight so rare it has a mythical nickname status. However, it’s not that uncommon in Gunma, and I believe it’s partly due to our community staying connected, friendly, and supportive.
As GAJET President, I want to continue that tradition, and as a unicorn, I have the experience to do it! I’ve worked in GAJET before as webmaster and currently volunteer at JOMO JET, and for over 4 years I’ve participated in so many international events that I’ve seen what works the best when holding fun and interesting events. My favorite GAJET events are: the Halloween party, the Thanksgiving dinner, and our biggest event for charity, I*CAN*JAPAN. I’m sure you have your favorite events as well, (ski trips, onsen trips, beer gardens, Gunma Games, etc.), and if elected, I’ll strive to create opportunities to acclimate to, explore, and survive Gunma with your fellow ALTS (and non-ALTs!).
(TL;DR: Crystal wants you to live in harmony, harmony, oh, love! in Gunma!)
Vice President / Tobu Rep
Hello everyone! My name’s Becky Robbins. Originally from the UK, I’m a sociable, fun-loving second year JET based in Kiryu who’s always looking for the next adventure. Like many of you I’ve spent the last year attending numerous events offered by GAJET, from snowboarding and canyoning in Minakami, to nights out like I Can Japan in Maebashi. As a Tobu rep, together with the talented Ashley Oros, we’ve organised some awesome events, from the GAJET Halloween party, to the Tobu camping adventure, as well as bowling nights and pub quizzes. I’d love the opportunity to continue creating bigger and better events next year too.
As a region we’re quite spread out in Tobu. Many of us don’t have cars and when winter sweeps in and the karakaze starts shaking your windows, getting to the train station seems a whole lot harder than it used to. It’s my hope that, with more events to tempt us from our homes, we can bring Tobu together and create an even stronger community. There’s plenty to do here when you know where to look and plenty of fun to be had when you’re with good friends. Tell me your suggestions, talk to me whenever you need a friendly ear to listen, and let’s create something great together.
Thank you for your time.
Hello everyone! My name is Kristin Wilson. I’m a soon-to-be third-year SHS JET living in Takasaki, and I am running for the Vice President position for the 2016–2017 GAJET council.
During my year as GAJET Secretary, I became heavily involved in both the JET and greater Gunma community. I had the opportunity to organize many GAJET events (such as the Potluck Thanksgiving, Skibo and Chill, and I Can Japan) and non-GAJET events as a member of JOMO JET. I would love to continue applying my experiences as Vice President, supporting the President and helping plan more wonderful events for the ALT community and beyond.
In my almost two years on JET, I have gained a deeper understanding and appreciation of the role that these events play in making JETs like myself feel more welcome and part of the Gunma community. I intend to continue reaching out to all JETs, new and old, and helping everyone come together to enjoy the best of what our wonderful prefecture has to offer!
As Secretary, I brought enthusiasm, openness, a positive attitude, and top-notch organization and note-taking skills to the position. If elected as Vice President, I would continue this same motivation and organization with the new GAJET council to serve you and help make your time in Gunma the best it can be.
Secretary / Seibu Rep
Hi Gunma JETs! I’m Maddie Ito and I’m going into my second year as an ALT. I’m from the bright lights of London but now embracing the inaka life in the village of Nanmoku. I can often be found enjoying the delights of the Japanese countryside, like konnyaku (loveee), onsen, and riverside runs, or escaping the quiet life for a spot of karaoke. On the rarer occasion, you might find me battling my inaka demons (centipedes, lack of conbini), but ganbatte imasu ne!
Life out here could have been pretty isolated, but instead I’ve done more than I thought possible in a year alone, and – even better – in the charming company of you lovely people. Much of that is down to the events organised by GAJET, so I’d love a chance to help continue that legacy as Secretary or Seibu Rep.
Before leaving the big smoke, part of my job was organising events, writing speeches, and generally keeping things ship-shape at a fast-growing hospitality startup. I’ve also experienced many of Gunma’s finest JET events, from lending a hand at JOMO JET’s International Carnival to winning the majority of the raffle prizes (not sorry!) at I CAN Japan this year. Aside from this experience, I’d bring energy, many embarrassing stories, a London accent and a taste for the glam to GAJET’s team to help everyone enjoy Gunma in all it’s cabbage-y glory.
Editor / Tone Rep
G’day, friends! Daniel Jong here, just about to head into my 2nd year on JET, in the gorgeous Minakami. I’m running (I’m really unfit these days, so more like walking) for the Editor and Tone Representative positions for the 2016-2017 year. You may look at my face, and wonder, “Is he Japanese? Is he Korean? Is he Chinese?”, to which I’d answer, “I’m ‘Strayan, mate”. But if you want to know my real heritage, vote for me ehehehe.
Much like you all, I opened my JET acceptance letter, wondering where in the Land of the Rising Sun I was to be sent. “Minakami-machi, Gunma”. Where!? Even Japanese people don’t know where it is. But it hasn’t even been a full year yet, and I’ve fallen in love with this place I now call home. Which is why I want to spread the good news. Spread the love. Spread the beauty of Minakami. (Minakami is known for Hot Springs and Actions Sports. I’ve made a spreadsheet (that’s right, a spreadsheet) of all the Minakami Hot Springs. Don’t forget to like, comment and subscribe for a copy) I want everyone to come to know why Minakami is the greatest, which is why I want to be editor – to use the powers of the internet and social media to talk up how great Gunma and all our regions are.
I was the Editor and Webmaster of a few clubs back when I was in university – namely the photography club and engineering club that I belonged to, so I know my way around. I’ve been in councils and committees my whole life, and I’m not bad with words. Although, if you didn’t sign up for bad puns and jokes, YOU’RE GOING TO GET THEM ANYWAY.
Vote for Pedr- Daniel Jong. Because you can’t spell Editor without the letters, E, I and D, which also appear in Daniel.
Sarah Dela Cruz
Webmaster / Treasurer
My name is Sarah Dela Cruz and I’m from the Toronto area in Canada. I’ll be heading into my third year as an ALT in Annaka (west of Takasaki). For this upcoming year, I will be running for Webmaster and Treasurer.
In my first year, someone told me that Gunma has one of the best communities and support networks in Japan. For the past two years, I have experienced this firsthand. We have a great group that puts on all sorts of events for people to enjoy together. I love experiencing new things, but I especially enjoy hanging out with JETs from other cities that I normally don’t see very often. I want both old and new ALTs, CIRs, and foreign residents to feel like a part of this welcoming community.
In terms of experience, I have previously served as both Webmaster and Treasurer during my time in University. I have experience in WordPress, HTML, CSS, and also programs like Photoshop. I also have experience with money (of course), spreadsheets, and being frugal!
This year, I’m ready to lend my experience to deepen connections between JETs, non-JETs, and locals in our community. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!
Hello fellow Gunmarians!
Last year I had the honor of serving with GAJET as a Chubu Representitive, but this year I would love to be GAJET’s Webmaster. When I’m not teaching at Mae-Nishi High you can find me learning programming, playing musical instruments, exploring Japan’s beautiful mountain onsen, and planning my slow journey across the world. As a GAJET member I started a semi-monthly gathering called MARU, which creates a space for artists, musicians, poets, culinary wizards, and anyone else who wants to come together and get inspired. I also organized GAJET’s annual Art Night along with Ashley Oros, and assisted in several other GAJET events. I’m also interested in creating events for the more outdoorsy and adventurous among us; I once rode my bike to Tokyo along our very own Tone River, and I would love to organize more bike tours, hikes and camping trips utilizing GAJET’s outdoor gear.
As for my logistical experience, 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. I’m also currently studying programming and data analysis in my free time with the hopes of creating databases, statistics, and web-apps that teachers and students in Japan can use to teach and learn English more effectively.
Enough with that serious stuff though—really, I’m running because I want to contribute to a thriving and supportive community wherever I go, and so far GAJET has allowed me to do just that.
Thank you for your time!
Hello Minna! My name is Paola Andrea Torres and I would like to run as a Chubu Representative.
During this first year as a JET placed in the center of Japan, *cough* Shibukawa *cough*, I have attended and volunteered in several GAJET events; as well as being involved in many other non-GAJET related community events. I enjoy meeting and socializing with many people and getting to explore the different areas of the Cabbage Patch. I feel that I can support current and incoming JETs as they adjust and cope with life in Japan; as I had to do so myself being born in Colombia and moving to the States as a teen.
I am a very charismatic, friendly, warm-mama-bear type person. I love Japanese culture and language. I really enjoy Karaoke-ing, purikura-ing, eating sushi and drinking sake! So let’s have a party in the BELLY BOTTOM OF JAPAN! (Actually Shibukawa does not have a purikura machine so let’s have the party CLOSE to the belly bottom of Japan).
Yo! What’s up? My name is Hilary Reynolds from the green state of Oregon. I am heading into my second year on JET. I’m currently living in Kiryu, but in the half that nearly no one goes to. In general, I like having a good time. I love drinking and cooking, but not at the same time. That can be dangerous. This has been witnessed at any event that involves cooking over a fire.
In the past year that I’ve been here, I’ve been to several awesome GAJET events, full of fun times and countless laughs. I’m not a stranger to coordinating my own events, which I plan when there’s nothing to do. I’m also always down to go on an adventure or start one of my own.
There are many reasons I would love to be Tobu Rep and a part of GAJET. GAJET crates so many great events that brings together people living in Gunma. Being a part of that and helping brainstorming and organizing these events would be awesome. I am full of ideas and I hope that I get other people more interested in the awesome prefecture that is Gunma and the Tobu area. There are many great things to see and experience in the area that many people don’t realize is there. I want to change that. Thank you!