July 20, 2019 | | No Comments
With summer just around the corner, it’s time again to say farewell to our fellow JETs departing from the programme. Join GAJET and many leaving JETs for our annual Farewell Beer Garden on July 20 from 5:00 pm.
We will be meeting at the rooftop beer garden at the Takashimaya building near Takasaki station (map here).
You are free to come and leave as you please, although we recommend coming early to get the most out of your entry fee (and to say your goodbyes). Entry is 3,000 yen for males and 2,600 for females. This price includes all-you-can-eat and drink!
For more information, check out the Facebook event page or contact a GAJET rep!
The questions began popping into my head when I saw a poster of my predecessor, dressed in some form of make-shift wedding dress, sprinting for her life with a handful of others through a foot deep of mud. どろんこ祭り (doronko-matsuri). As to why my small town in the middle of nowhere had a mud and eel festival, I will never know, but I ventured into the rice paddies all the same.
Along with some other teachers from my school, I had signed up for the International Volleyball Competition – which, unsurprisingly, is played in a pool of mud. It was to be my first experience of playing volleyball and, having Googled the rules only the night before, was unsure as to what to expect. My school principle had prepared matching T-shirts, those Japanese toe socks that I had never seen anyone actually wear in real life, and a fighting spirit that was generally echoed by the other team members. A few of my co-workers were also kitted out, goggles and all, ready for war, and I was beginning to question whether I had made the right decision this morning when I left the safety of my bed. We arrived, bright and early, on a sunny day on the first of June, and eyed up the competition. I have to say that, despite my absolute lack of confidence in my ability to play volleyball, I was reassured after spotting a group of fully grown, Japanese men with a thick layer of make-up on, Little Mermaid-style boob bras made out of paper plates, and – scrawled across their back’s – had various バースデー messages written in thick, black ink. As I looked around, similarly alarming images of the Flintstones, cat-women, medics that carried around a gigantic syringe, brides-to-be, and the undead were scattered about the field preparing for a morning of sporting fun. “What was happening?” I thought, as I took my first step into the mud, and into the madness.
Fun fact: attempting to do any form of physical activity in mud is abnormally difficult. Even walking proved to be a challenge.
After watching my school principle dive for the ball, fail to even to touch it and take out two of his team members in the process, it was my turn to play. I was nervous, but I did my best, and lost my first match spectacularly (and the two after that as well). In fact, the only game that we did win was against a group of Junior High School students that had graduated from my school this very year. The battles continued around us. People ran, jumped, stumbled, and tumbled, and grew steadily dirtier and dirtier until they resigned to simply lay in mud, like a bath. By the end of the tournament, there wasn’t a single white shirt left on the field, and my hair was no longer a shade of ginger.
The following day, I returned to the festival – mentally prepared this time – and watched as thirty or so mothers, and then thirty or so fathers, attempted to race, as fast as they could, through the field of thick mud. Men and women stumbled and fell, hard, ripping themselves back out of the mud with only their eyes visible through the layers and layers of dirt that covered their face and bodies. Eels were released into the water, and children fought to catch them with their bare hands, diving this way and that as the adults struggled to catch up behind them. And then, the race which had brought me here in the first place. Foreign couples lined up at one side of the course, wearing beautiful, clean, white wedding dresses. The whistle blew and they dove into the water, sprinting to the finish line. Shambles of the prim and proper couples they once were, our two ALT teams were handed a live fish as their prize. After watching the carnage unfold, I started to think that the volleyball competition from the day before wasn’t actually so bad…
What amazes me about Japan is that, even a town as small as mine, can have such a unique and distinctive event that is accessible to all. If you weren’t able to make it out to Yoshii this time, I hope you’ll join me on the muddy battlegrounds next year!
March 30, 2019 | | No Comments
Out of the cold and into the park!
Spring is just around the corner, and with that means, cherry blossoms! Join GAJET (and many others awaking from winter hibernation) on Saturday March 30, for the first event of the spring. Feel free to join anytime from 11:30 in the morning. We will be gathering at Kannonyama Family Park (more info can be found here).
Cost of the BBQ is 1000 yen per person (500 yen if vegetarian). Drinking is possible, but remember to BYOB.
For more information, please check out the Facebook event page, or contact your Seibu reps.
October 21, 2018 | | No Comments
Come out on October 21 to Viento Takasaki for the sixth iteration of JOMO JET’s International Carnival. There will be lots of food stands, stage performances, and booths hosted by the international community in Gunma. Festivities begin at 11AM and conclude at 3PM. Come out and experience the fun!
For more information, contact a member of JOMO JET.
September 1, 2018 | | No Comments
Looking for a way to meet new people in Gunma while having fun and competing? Say no more! It’s almost time for the sixth annual Gunma Games!
Never heard of the Gunma Games? The Gunma Games is usually the first large GAJET event after the new JETs arrive in Gunma. Come on out and represent your region in this Olympic-style sporting event! Events can range from trivia, paper crane folding, relay-race, and of course the ever-popular Ultimate Cabbage!
Athletes and non-athletes alike are welcome to participate. Regardless of your abilities, you’ll be sure to have a fun time.
The Gunma Games will be held on September 1st at Takasaki Ishihara Green Space. Please arrive by 11:30 as the opening ceremonies will commence at noon.
The Gunma Games wouldn’t be complete without the following Welcome Beer Garden. There’s no better way to end off a day in the sun than with drinking with your fellow competitors. Everyone is welcome to join us as the Takasaki Takashiyama Rooftop Beer Garden after the festivities.
Please sign up via the google document (click here), and remember to wear your region appropriate color to the event (PS. Speak to your regional representative if you don’t know what color you are)!
Time: Gunma Games (11:30 – 16:00) and Welcome Beer Garden (17:00 – 21:00)
Fee: Gunma Games (free) and Welcome Beer Garden (￥3,000 for males and ￥2,600 for females)
For more information, please check out the Facebook event or contact a GAJET member.