Congratulations on your new jobs here in Gunma! We’re very excited to meet everyone.
We’ve recently prepared a brand new Newcomers Guide here on the site with lots of information to help you find out about, prepare for, and adjust to your new lives. If you can’t find the information you’re looking for there, you can also contact one of the GAJET officers or post your questions to the Gunma ALTs Facebook Group.
Below is a message for all of you from our current GAJET President, Chelsey Reid.
My name is Chelsey and I am your GAJET President for this year. On behalf of the GAJET committee, I’m so excited to welcome you to your new home in Gunma! Whether this is your fist experience in Japan or if you’ve been here a handful of times already, you’ll find Gunma is unique in many ways and has so much to offer… start getting excited (if you’re not already!)
For those of you who are thinking: “Goon-mah?? What? I heard there’s an ointment for that…” Don’t let the name scare you… Gunma is low on the international radar but it is Japan’s hidden gem. There is something here for everyone. If you are an outdoorsy person, there is great hiking, skiing, snowboarding, rafting, and bungee jumping. Gunma is well-known for having the best natural hot spring resorts anywhere in Japan, the most famous of which is Kusatsu. If city life is more your thing, there are plenty of museums, galleries, restaurants, izakayas, and shopping here to keep you busy. When that isn’t enough, Tokyo is just an hour away!
There are JETs here from many different backgrounds with just as many different reasons for having applied to JET. Some wanted teaching experience, some wanted to learn more about Japanese language and culture, and some just wanted to get out of their hometown to try living in a country where the culture is completely different than their own. Whatever your reasons are, you’ll find that what makes Gunma so special are the people that live here. Gunma has one of the most active ALT communities in the country, so there will always be someone to lean on if you ever need support. Also, there are plenty of locals who are eager to make foreign friends, so start brushing up on your Japanese!
Your first few weeks in Gunma will be a whirlwind of excitement, and your schedule will be jam packed as you attend orientations, visit your schools, meet your teachers, make about a million self-introduction speeches, and generally get settled into your new life here. I’m sure you have tons of questions, so have a look through the Newcomer’s Guide on gunmajet.net and use the Facebook GunmaALTs group as much as possible! If I had one word of advice to you, it would be to prepare yourself for a very hot summer! Gunma is one of the hottest places in Japan, even hotter than Okinawa! Remember to pack accordingly!
Please don’t hesitate to contact myself, or any of the GAJET members with any other questions or concerns you may have! We’re already planning lots of fun events for you when you arrive! Yoroshiku!
GAJET President 2012-2013
A Handbook for Travelers in Japan is the 1903 version of the modern Lonely Planet travel guides and provides an interesting look at Japan at the turn of the 20th century, including several pages on Gunma. (more…)
It’s now time for the 2012-2013 GAJET Committee to introduce itself to the world.
Already, the new committee has begun planning out many exciting events for the upcoming months. We look forward to seeing as many people as possible!
If you ever need help with something, or need information on your regions, feel free to give a shout out to the GAJET committee. We want to help you out in as many ways as we can!
Location and Schools: Takasaki City. Two high schools.
About Me: Hi! I’m from Calgary, Canada. In my spare time I like watching movies, cooking, traveling, music, studying, and lurking on your facebook page. I’m a great sport about things, except that I hate losing at chess. And I very frequently lose at chess. So I don’t play chess very often. I’m an ardent admirer of Gene Wilder and gin.
Favorite Place in Gunma: Oze National Park is amazing! I recommend going in the fall!
Favorite Moment in Japan: On an ordinary day I took an ordinary jog and discovered a tranquil shrine down a tiny avenue near my place. It was snowing cherry blossoms and the whole world faded away for a minute, and it hit me that Japan is truly beautiful.
Note: You can usually spot me oafing around Gunma/GAJET events… Sightings have been known to dwindle in winter as I’m usually at home forming an unhealthy emotional attachment to my kotatsu. Please contact me with any questions or comments! I’m looking forward to hearing from you! [email protected]
Location: The misty mountain wilderness of Kanna-Machi, Southwest Gunma.
From: Sligo, Ireland.
My Hobbies: Running, travelling, hiking, reading, rocking out in Shibuya from time to time and cool beer on a Friday afternoon.
My Favorite Place in Gunma: Tough question! Maybe the “Skybridge” in Ueno village or boarding in Minakami.
Favorite Moment from School Life: Having a student I coached for months in English conversation, embrace me with the words “arigato Heber Sensei!” when she found out she passed all her university exams.
I wish I’d known: Gunma without a driver’s license is a challenge in the inaka… You can learn the kana faster my learning them in their groups and by drilling yourself with new words. Nomihodai are dangerous and two people on one bicycle is illegal.
Locations and Schools: Takasaki. 1 JHS, 1 elementary. I would describe both schools as “medium-sized.”
About me: General hobbies include photography, traveling, and basketball. I’m from Chicago, my mom is Mexican, my dad is Thai, and Gunma was in my top three places on my JET application.
Favorite Place in Gunma: Kusatsu
I wish I’d known: I wish I had known a little more about Japanese schools before I came. There’s a lot of things that you aren’t explicitly told once you’re at your school. A lot of the time it is because you aren’t directly affected by or involved in that bit of information, but I feel the more you know, the easier it is to get comfortable with your situation (even if it is about a long meeting after school that you don’t need to go to). It was also a few months before I figured out how to get involved in club activities and a few months after that that I found out that they did more than just practice (they had actual matches and tournaments). My solution to this was two-fold. I gradually started to ask specific questions (to various teachers I was able to communicate with) about any random Japanese written on the school calendar or daily schedule. And I would take the liberty to check out more and more of sometimes random things that the students would be doing after school and asking them about it. I gradually found out about their club activities (of course), but also about random committees, assemblies, and a bunch of other stuff that I had no idea existed in the school.
(Jenn, Jenny, Jenn-legs)
Location and Schools: Annaka City. 3 High Schools- Annaka, Matsuida and Kita Takasaki
About Me: I am originally from NY and this will be my second year as a JET ALT in Japan. I love teaching at my schools, exploring Japan and its culture, and spending time with and learning from the locals. I also enjoy attending GAJETs cool events and going on adventures with fellow JET friends
Favorite Place in Gunma: Amongst the spectacular mountains, towering trees and beautiful nature at Myogi and Haruna shrines.
I wish I would have known: Basic Japanese phrases to assist with my first greetings, how to read and write Hiragana and Katakana and lastly, how wonderful Gunma is and how nice people are.
The most important things to bring with you to Japan: An open mind, a kind heart, sense of adventure, patience and an enthusiastic spirit.
Location and Schools: Fujioka, the city to the south of Takasaki. I currently work at one JHS Monday to Thurs and split my time between EHS and kindergarden every other friday.
About Me: One of my dreams when coming to Japan has been to make short movies/skits for youtube. I have a youtube channel (quick plug: youtube.com/L7frost) where I occasionally make video blogs of stuff I do, but I REALLY want to shoot comedy skits/romantic shorts/action movies. I`ve got a lot of gear and a bunch of interested friends, so if you are interested in being a part of my production efforts, then let me know and let`s shoot something together!
Favorite Place in Gunma: One of my most memorable places is actually one I don`t remember clearly. It`s a free natural outdoor mixed onsen somewhere near Higashiagatsuma that people visit by cover of moonlight and one street lamp. It was such a profound “Wow, I am in Japan” moment that it`s a shame I can`t remember where it is. But if you ask me in person, I will have figured it out by then. So make sure to talk to me!
I wish I’d known: I wish I knew how to read at least 50 basic kanji. You have time so learn them!
Recommendations: Pack lots of summer clothes. Mentally prepare yourself for the boiling hot summer, and bring anti-perspirant deodorant. How to make the most of your time as a JET:
Locations/Schools: Takasaki City and I teach at two elementary schools in central Takasaki
About Me: I love meeting new people, kidding around with my kids, and helping new JETs with getting more acquainted with their new surroundings for the next year, so if you ever need any help, just give me a ring!… oh, and I love STITCH!
Favorite Place in Gunma: It has to be hands down, Kusatsu! It has the best onsen! So if you haven’t had an onsen experience yet, I suggest starting in Kusatsu!
I wish I’d Known: Bring a lot of omiyage from home! (And get used to having people give you omiyage and you having to give back too!) Omiyage is a very important part of Japanese culture. And, growing up in a filipino household, we were always told to bring back “pasalubong” which literally means “something meant for you when you welcome me back” and is very similar to omiyage. So, understanding how omiyage plays an important role in daily Japanese life would be one of the tops things I wish I had known better before coming to Japan!
Location: Azuma Town, Midori City. 1 Middle School, 2 Elementaries, 1 Preschool
About Me: I love the outdoors, cooking, reading, writing, and travel.
Favorite Place in Gunma: Anywhere I’m with my friends, or the waterfall hidden way up in the mountains of my town.
Recommendations: Get out and do, see, and experience everything you can. Don’t let anything keep you from enjoying your time in Japan!
Location and Schools: Isesaki – One Junior High School
From – Mississippi in the U.S.A.
About Me: I love to see and try new things. My hobbies are traveling, reading, shopping, enjoying nature, and hanging out with friends.
Favorite Place in Gunma: I can’t pick just one. Gunma is awesome!
I wish I’d Known: Futons HAVE to be aired out at least once a week. If you leave yours out for a month, it will start to grow mold. Also, Gunma has some crazy wind that makes it hard to bike, so be careful!
Favorite moment from school life so far: Having students come up to me outside of class to ask me questions or just to say hello. The kids who really love English make teaching so much fun.
Location and Schools: I live in the mountains of Kiryu teach at 1 mid-size JHS and 1 elementary/kindergarten
Hobbies: Kendo, going to cafes with friends, traveling and exploring places, music, drawing.
Favorite Place in Gunma: Minakami onsen in the winter and Kawauchi (Kiryu) during the spring.
Recommendations: Explore as much as you can while you’re here and don’t be afraid to try new things.
Location and Schools: Kanra Town. 4 primary schools, 3 kindergartens, 1 day care
About Me: I’m 23 and was born and raised in Christchurch, New Zealand. Studied Japanese and Music at university and finished my final year in Tokyo. After graduating from fashion school in New Zealand and also loosing my job to the Christchurch earthquake I decided to move to another shaky isle and now am here living in Kanra Town.
I enjoy photography, music, karaoke, travel, clothes and more. My weekends are usually either spent hanging out with friends in Takasaki or enjoying the nightlife and daylife of Tokyo city. I also like to go for drives discovering new places around Gunma. Feel free to talk to me!
Favorite Place in Gunma: Yatai-mura, Takasaki
I wish I’d Known: One thing I wish I’d known before I came to Gunma is how cold the schools can get in winter and how hot they get in summer!
Funny things I’ve been asked by Japanese children: ‘How long does it take you to fly to Japan and back everyday?’, ‘What time is your Mum coming to pick you up from kindergarten today?’, ‘Are you good at English?’, ‘Why can you speak English?’, ‘Why do you look like an alien?’ ‘Count how many words you know in English’, ‘Is it true that foreigners can’t draw rabbits?’ Some of the joys of living in the country!
Location and Schools: Haramachi. I taech at 3 high schools in Agatsuma.
About Me: My hobbies including hiking, attempting to snowboard, traveling, playing the guitar, starting but rarely finishing craft projects, memorizing poetry, studying Kanji, and taking up new hobbies. What I really love is thinking up big ideas and instigating spectacles!
Favorite Place in Gunam: Oze National Park. Sooo beautiful in the fall!
I wish I’d Know: Everything will be okay. If you’re like me, and you like to know what’s going on and why all the time, the first couple of months will be a bit tough. You just have to let go and let life happen! That, and ladies with big feet (US size 10 / Japan size 26, and above), bring extra shoes!
Just grab the PDF below and head over to the Rakuten Card website . If you have any issues with the guide, or any questions at all, you can email [email protected]. It’s actually his job to help out with the product and the process.
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… (more…)