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By Jessie Zanutig | 10th February 2011 | 3 Comments

For Americans, getting a Japanese drivers license can be an absolute nightmare with often an entire spring-break devoted to mastering the driving course. For the rest of us, one simple afternoon at the driving office is all it takes to hit the roads again!

Guides »

By Jessie Zanutig | 31st January 2011 | No Comments

I have been living in Japan for the past eighteen months and still to this day, and much to the shock and horror of the Japanese people I encounter, I have no clue what my blood type is. The first question I was asked by my students during my self-introduction on the first day of class was, “What is your blood type?” Never in my life have I been asked that question by anyone, let alone a fourteen year old kid in broken English.

Guides »

By Jessie Zanutig | 17th January 2011 | 1 Comment

Like it or not, winter is upon us, and living in Gunma inevitably means chilly mornings in your uninsulated house, long treks to school through heavy snow, up hill both ways, on a bike, and acquiring a fondness for the smell of kerosene.

Food and Drink »

By Jaimie Lynn Foster | 11th January 2011 | No Comments

In case you have not noticed, winter is here in Gunma. While the howling wind whistles in through the windows and the sun sinks down behind the horizon at 5 o’clock in the afternoon, no one wants to do anything except cuddle up in a quilt on the couch (or under the kosatsu) and eat something warm.

日本 in General »

By Chelsey Reid | 20th December 2010 | No Comments

You see them every day, dangling from your student’s backpacks and adorning their pencil cases. Trinkets and curios of popular characters your students subscribe to, and for the most part they are recognizable, like Totoro or Hello Kitty. But sometimes a character so cripplingly bizarre pops up that you suddenly find yourself on the wrong side of a vaguely unsettling generation gap, as you are grossly uninformed as to what is popular with your students. Care to be let back into the loop?

日本 in General »

By Jaimie Foster | 17th December 2010 | 1 Comment

A few weeks before I left North Carolina for Japan, I met my friend Juan Eduardo for a coffee at Starbucks. He is an immigrant from El Salvador who has lived in the U.S. for the past six years. We were sitting at the metal café tables outside the shop, watching the traffic go by on Battleground Avenue and enjoying the warm June sun.

Food and Drink »

By Alice Volkmar | 26th November 2010 | 4 Comments

One thing that you quickly notice living in Japan is the true love the Japanese share for the seasons, and how they celebrate the changing of the seasons with relish. Summer brings fireworks and yukata.  And at summer’s end, Autumn may not quite feel like autumn yet, the leaves may not have changed colors, but as soon as September rolls around the advertisements change to sweater-wearing girls against backdrops of gorgeous winter foliage.

Travel »

By Helen Auer | 22nd November 2010 | No Comments

For many of us ALTs in Japan, deciding what to do and where to go during the Christmas holidays can be quite the struggle. There is usually a split in numbers between those who are going back home, and the others who go off exploring. As foreigners we are often amused by Japan’s interpretations of Western holidays like Easter, Halloween, and Christmas, the perfect examples of such are elaborately displayed at Tokyo Disneyland!

Travel »

By David Shaw | 18th November 2010 | No Comments

The main place to view the stars in my hometown of Miami is at the local Science Museum. It is located at the edge of a sprawling downtown, so you have to fight through immense traffic just to enter the place. Then, there are the hoards of anxious people trying not to miss the last laser light show of the day. You have to ask an employee where to find the telescope, and they direct you down a dark dirty alley and up a long flight of stairs only to …

Food and Drink »

By Jessie Zanutig | 10th November 2010 | No Comments

The snow is falling in the mountains and the temperatures are dropping. It is that time of year when we struggle to find comfort in our uninsulated Gunma apartments.  If you are not already spending each evening snuggled beneath the kotatsu grasping for any small amount of warmth, then it is certainly time to open your storage closets (or wallets) and get your apartment set up for the long cold winter months ahead.