Hello all, and a big welcome to the new 2013 JETs! My name is Chris, and I will be serving as your GAJET president this upcoming year! On behalf of the GAJET Committee, I would like to take this time to welcome you to your new home for the next year: Gunma! I want to stress how excited I am that you have been placed in a prefecture many people outside of Japan have rarely heard of. Lucky for you, there are many adventures and activities you can enjoy here that can help you make the most out of your experience on the JET Programme.
When I first got my placement in Gunma, I personally did not know what Gunma was all about. But I soon found there was an abundance of fun and interesting activities right around the corner, thanks to the GAJET Committee members and local JETs in my area. Gunma has many events to offer its residents. If you love the outdoors or extreme sports, Minakami and Agatsuma in northern Gunma offer opportunities to go canyoning, snowboarding, rafting and even bungee jumping. If you would rather immerse yourself in Japanese culture, you can go and visit temples or shrines, attend festivals and, of course, take a dip in Gunma’s famous hot springs—the most famous being Kusatsu. If the city is more to your liking, there are lots of museums, galleries, izakayas, restaurants, and shopping malls in Takasaki, Maebashi and Kiryu (or if you want the “real” city experience, Tokyo is a little over an hour away from Gunma by train).
Considered as the crane-shaped prefecture of Japan, Gunma is home to more than 100 JETs, each with their own reasons for entering the JET Programme. Many JETs have joined the program to further engage in an international community; others have joined to gain more teaching experience and knowledge. Some have joined simply to get out of the house and have an adventure. Whatever the reason, each person is a puzzle piece making up the Gunma JET community. It should be understood that this network we have created in Gunma is only sustainable through a little bit of support by a whole lot of people. That is how we make an awesome community.
With the help of this year’s outstanding GAJET Committee, I believe we can help provide you with many different activities and events that will deepen your understanding and love for not only Gunma, but Japan too. Please keep an eye on www.gunmajet.net and the Facebook group, Gunma ALTs, for updates! Your AJET committee is working hard planning events for the year, such as the Fuji Hike and our 1st Annual Gunma Games Sports Day. The regional representatives are also working hard this year, planning at least two small events within each region per month, so keep an eye on the Gunma JET calendar!
On behalf of myself and the entire GAJET committee, we wish you the warmest welcome to Gunma and look forward to meeting you at your Gunma Orientation, as well as at GAJET events! Cheers!
Christopher De Borja
GAJET President 2013–2014