Become an Urban Explorer: Guide to Haikyo

Contributed by S. Elizabeth Thomas

Haikyo, meaning ruins or abandoned buildings in Japanese, is synonymous with urban exploration. It’s the exciting subculture of discovering and photographing overgrown temples, failed amusement parks and dilapidated schools. This unconventional hobby is especially popular in Japan. Intrepid haikyo-seekers never know what they’ll find.

The beautiful

haikyo1

The surreal

haikyo3

The terrifying

haikyo2

Japan is a hidden haikyo wonderland, just waiting to be uncovered. When the economy bust in the 1980s, many love hotels, attractions and homes were deserted. But Japan accumulates old buildings for many reasons. Buying new homes in Japan is more popular than renovating older ones. The tax system makes it difficult to demolish aging buildings, so property owners to leave them to rot. Even if property owners want to renovate the older structures, strict housing regulations can create impossible barriers. Not that this is a bad thing for the urban explorers.
Haikyo may be endangered if new government regulations make their way into law. Grab your camera and sense of adventure; start exploring the hidden side of Japan while you can.

What if you go into a Haikyo and find… your name?

What if you go into a Haikyo and find… your name?

This calling card was found on the floor of the Queen’s Chateau by one of the local haikyo explorers. It happens to have my name on it.

My Experience

I was first introduced to haikyo by chance. Down the street from a party I attended was one of the most famous haikyo in Ibaraki: the Queen Chateau love hotel. It was a water brothel in the late 80s. It was closed for hiring illegal foreign workers. The Chateau – like many haikyo – has a kind of haunting beauty. We gazed at it from across the street at the massive, grinning queen of hearts. I was hooked.

Queen Chateau – by Susan Thomas

Queen Chateau – by Susan Thomas

Where can I find haikyo?

Finding a good haikyo spot isn’t easy. Sometimes you get lucky and stumble upon one. If you are serious about the hobby, you might want to invest in the haikyo-goers bible, 廃墟本 (Haikyo-hon): The Ruins Book series. These books list the best haikyo spots in Japan complete with maps. They are only available in Japanese, so dust off your Japanese dictionary.

Looking online can be a frustrating experience. There are an endless number of haikyo photography sites in English. This is a good starting point. These sites rarely give you any useful information for finding the haikyo stunningly displayed their photos. At best, you’ll get a city name. At worst, you’ll see your haikyo dreams crash and burn while your pleas for assistance go unanswered. Veterans fear the spots will be overrun with casual thrill-seekers. Lots of tourists mean more graffiti, pocketed souvenirs, stolen furniture and chained up doors. Also, these photographers don’t want their hard sought-after photos to become ubiquitous on the web.

You’ll have more luck poking around the Japanese haikyo forums. Japanese urban explorers seem to be more willing to share information. A lot of the Japanese sites even have maps and addresses.

It’s not a challenge if the information is handed to you. Think of it like a treasure hunt. The Goonies wouldn’t have been very exciting if One-Eyed Jack had painted a giant arrow on the side of the cliff by the beach. You have to work for your abandoned pirate ships, gold and water slides.

Other local haikyo: abandoned wedding hall- Although in the middle of nowhere, you can see how the wedding hall was once a fashionable place. Now it’s just a memory.
wedding hall1

Japanese Stigmas: Ghost and Curses

“Oh, I would never go there” is the answer I get from most Japanese people when I mention urban exploration. Why? Ghosts roam in abandoned places. Japan is an interesting mix of the technologically advanced and traditional. Potential ghosts are a real, modern-day fear. One of my Japanese friends is a scientist. He claims to not believe in ghosts, yet he would never venture into abandoned temples or forgotten hospitals. Why? It’s just in case, in case he’s wrong.

Once one of my haikyo-explorer friends took a few charms from an abandoned temple. He proudly showed his Japanese girlfriend, who proceeded to yell at him. She claimed he’d be cursed if he kept the charms. This was a real fear for her. He ended up throwing the charms away to make her happy. This is apparently a good way to subvert on-coming curses. A little superstitious? Maybe, but remember The Grudge took place in an abandoned house. If wandering obake is your fear, you might need a different hobby.

Haikyo temple hidden in the hills - Closed down due to scam operations, it has an otherworldly  feel.

Haikyo temple hidden in the hills – Closed down due to scam operations, it has an otherworldly feel.

Mortuary Tablets at the Scam Temple in the Hills-picture by a local urban explorer  Mortuary Tablets at the Scam Temple in the Hills-picture by a local urban explorer

Mortuary Tablets at the Scam Temple in the Hills-picture by a local urban explorer.

Tips and Needed supplies

When exploring a haikyo, you should bring a camera with a good flash, lantern, flashlight, fedora/whip combo (only if you want) and good shoes. Wear a Japanese medical mask if you’re worried about asbestos or mold. Some explorers use dust masks or respirators. Old, rugged clothing is best. Dark-colored clothing is especially useful if you need to hide from disapproving neighbors. Always bring a friend and a fully-charged cell phone.

Potential Dangers

Haikyo isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s risky, and that’s part of the charm. A lot of potential problems will be solved if you get permission to enter the ruin first. Otherwise, it’s trespassing. If you need to pry open a door or window to enter, it is breaking and entering. Taking an item, abandoned or not, from the building could be considered theft. You may find rotten floors, damaged infrastructure, broken glass and protruding nails. To add to the list, you may encounter asbestos, mold, unwelcoming squatters, unhappy neighbors, police, potential curses and more. It might be tempting to go at night, but, for safety reasons, late afternoon or early evening is better. Don’t go to a haikyo when it’s raining. Rain is absorbed into the wood and weakens the infrastructure. If you don’t have permission to enter, you can always take pictures from a public area, like the street or sidewalk. You can still appreciate an interesting haikyo from afar.

Haikyo Protocol

The urban explorer motto is “take only pictures and leave only footprints.” The more people pick away at the sites, the less will be left for future explorers. Finding a shell of a once great abandoned love hotel would be discouraging for anyone. So, it might be tempting draw all over the walls or steal that cup you found in the cabinet. Try to resist. A haikyo is relic, a forgotten window into Japan’s past. As you explore this unconventional historic site, try to have a little respect. If you don’t respect the building, respect the potential retribution from the ghosts in residence.

Tokyo Orientation 2014 issue now online!

Tokyo Orientation 2014 issue now online!

UPDATE: Fukushima AJET’s meeting time for their Group A & Group B welcome dinners has been changed to 8:30, and not 9:00 as printed in this issue.

Tokyo Orientation 2014 AJET Connect This issue, created special for the incoming JETs set to arrive this summer, is full of information about getting settled in and involved in Japan. Even if you’ve already been here for years, there’s still great tips for adjusting to the summer, becoming a great ALT, coping with homesickness, volunteering, and more. You can finally see the results of May’s mobile phone poll, as well! Also want to check out our brand new design, created specifically to look better on your screen and be more readable. Whether this is your first Connect, or you’ve been with us for a few years, there’s a lot of new and exciting things going on here. Give it a read!

Tokyo Orientation 2014 issue now online! (30MB PDF)

Departing JETs! A heartfelt message from Pam Kavalam, the vice president of JETAA New York

Dear Departing JETs,

Otsukare on completing your time on JET: the amazing experiences you’ve had these past one to five years will provide wonderful memories — and friends — for a lifetime! However, remember that your life as a JET doesn’t end when you leave Japan. You now join the ranks of 60,000 JET alumni and dozens of active JETAA chapters and subchapters around the world.

During the four months I spent job searching after I returned home to New Jersey, JETAA New York helped keep me busy. I did informational interviews with JET alumni in my field, wrote for JETwit, proofread articles for JQ Magazine, helped organize and attend events, and attended the JETAANY Career Forum and Welcome Back Reception. It also helped me build an incredible social and professional network that I still have today.

As you prepare for the journey home (or to someplace new), make sure to sign up for the JETAA chapter for your new destination. Soon enough, you could find yourself enjoying a sunset boat cruise in New York, volunteering at the Sister Cities International Conference in San Francisco, doing the Sumo Run in London, tasting sake in Minneapolis, or traveling to beautiful Tiritree Matangi Island in Auckland.

Here is a list of the JETAA chapters around the world and how to sign up via their website and Facebook: http://ajet.net/jetaa-chapters.

Gambatte and have a safe trip to your next adventure!

Pam Kavalam
vicepresident@jetaany.org
Shiga-ken ALT, 2007-2009
Vice President, JETAA New York

Moving (again!) in Japan

1505125_10152339700288205_942248436573476449_nYou already know how to pack, and you’ve probably moved before in your life, but what’s it like in Japan? What all do you need to do? We recently heard from Hannah Brown, a first-year JET in Oita prefecture who is currently in the process of moving apartments. She offered to share her experiences in the process, as well as some advice.

DISCLAIMER: Moving is not possible for some JETs and other employees in Japan due to contract stipulations. If you’re interested in moving, please get in touch with your supervisors first to discuss the possibility. You may be responsible for maintaining your provided apartment in addition to a new apartment, or not allowed to move at all.

So you’ve come to Japan, settled down into your new apartment and made a cozy little place for yourself. You’re happy there for a while, but then something happens: the space gets too small, you realize you want a lower rent or to live in a different area, or you decide to move in with a friend. In my case, all of the above happened to be true. This meant that I got to experience the absolute pleasure of moving from one apartment to another, just eight months after having moved into my first apartment in Japan. As my friend and I planned our move, we realized there were more steps to consider and more actions to take than we had previously thought. Luckily for you, I’ve been taking notes along the way. Here are the most important steps and tips to consider during your move according to my experience.

Finding a place

You have a few options for this. You can ask your supervisor to help you look (my supervisor was a pro at moving, so she was the best resource I could have asked for), you can use online real estate agent websites, or you can go to a real estate agent directly. Many cities will have multiple agencies who all offer different selections, so going to a few may not be a bad idea. I lost count after four…

Tip: If you are going to go to a real estate agent, be prepared to pay a hefty fee. When I finally chose a place, the final fee included the agent’s fee as well, which was a third the price of our key money! Real estate agents are very helpful, but if you want to save a few yen and do some exploring of your own, searching online is also a great resource.

Guarantors

Once you’ve found a place, you’ll need to do all the necessary paperwork, which includes a guarantor form. What is a guarantor? Called ‘hoshounin’ (保証人) in Japanese, a guarantor is a person who vouches for you in a loan or contract. In essence, they’re co-signing the apartment for you. If you skip a payment or run out on the apartment, your guarantor will cover the expenses. This means you need to find someone you trust, and who would be willing to co-sign for you. My supervisor and vice principal both offered to sign for me, so if you have that close of a relationship or are comfortable asking, they are good options.

Tip: Most places will ask for a guarantor, so be prepared with one BEFORE you find your place. There’s nothing worse than finding the perfect place and then having to hunt down a person to guarantee you. So start asking as soon as you start looking!

Key Money

This is lost money. Wave it goodbye and don’t look back, because it is very unlikely you will see any of it ever again. The key money for my place was 150,000 yen. As I gaped at this figure, trying to figure out what in the world my landlord was trying to pull, my supervisor helpfully asked if I would like an explanation of why it was so high. Nodding numbly, I listened. First you have to replace the tatami mats (about 50,000 yen), then there’s the cleaning and repainting (sayonara 30,000 yen), first month’s rent (50,000 yen invested into the place), and a safety deposit (a fabled 20,000 yen that may come back later). Thankfully my roommate and I were splitting the cost so it didn’t hurt us too much, but if you’re moving alone or in general, keep the key money cost in mind before you move in.

Before moving out

What did you have to do again? Internet, utilities, mail? What are you forgetting? How do you turn on the gas and water again? This is the hectic part of your move—an uphill battle with time and responsibilities. Push past it and you’ll reach the blissful flat area above where you can relax a little and enjoy the slow unpacking stage.

Once you’ve finalized that you’re moving, you should tell your landlord (if you haven’t already) that you’ll be moving. Give them a specific date that you’ll be out by (two weeks is a good timeframe), and ask some important questions: Does my rent cover the month before or the month behind? Are there any extra expenses I should pay for before leaving? When should I turn in the key? If you have tatami, ask about any special conditions pertaining to its replacement: is that your problem, or the next person’s?

Next on your list is to forward all mail to your new address and change your mailing address. This requires going to city hall, usually during the work day since those are the only hours they’re available. The process was relatively quick for me; however, every situation is different. I was moving during spring break and had an understanding vice principal, so I didn’t have to take time off, but that won’t always be the case. You should ask your supervisor to go with you if you aren’t confident in your Japanese skills (or if you’d just like some support).

At city hall you can also change your official address. For this you will need your gaijin registration card and your inkan. Always take your inkan when filing important paperwork since you never know when you’ll need it.

Utilities

Changing utilities is surprisingly quick and easy to do. You can start and stop electricity and water at any time simply by calling the companies and making appointments to do so. No one needs to be home, and you’ll receive the bill for the utilities used after your last bill. Turning on the gas, however, requires someone to be home. Keep this in mind.

Also, watch out! If you don’t have automatic withdrawal for your utilities, the bill will be sent to your home address. Whether that’s your old or new one is hard to say, so keep an eye on both and check them frequently.

Internet is the same as electricity, except that depending on when you are calling (if it’s a busy time of year) you may have to wait two weeks or more from the time you call to set up internet at your new place. Thankfully you don’t have to be there when they shut it off or turn it on, unless you have wireless. In that case you may have to present. Check with the provider when signing up.

Presents

Cultural note! When you leave your old apartment and move into your new one, there’s an important step you must make. This is hikkoshi no aisatsu (moving greeting) and the buying of soshina or aisatsushin. Just like omiyage is the giving of a present after a trip and giri-choco is obligation chocolate, soshina is the obligatory “bribe” gift for your new neighbors and landlord, and a “thank you” gift for your old landlord and former neighbors (if you’re close to them). A small tin of chocolate, cookies, or senbei will work for the neighbors, and a larger one for your past and future landlords. Of course buy special gifts according to how close you are to people, and whether they helped you at one point or another.

Other paperwork to file

Fill out the change of address form with CLAIR

If you’re moving in with a roommate, make sure you decide whose fridge and washing machine you’re going to keep. Find out who the unwanted ones belong to (your school, BOE etc.) and make arrangements for them to be moved.

If you’re registered under any governmental sites such as the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), make sure to change your address so they can reach you in case of an emergency.

If you are a US citizen, you will need to file an 8288 form with the IRS before you file taxes. This lets them know that you have changed addresses. For other nationalities, check with your federal government for their particular requirements.

Summary

  1. Find a place. Choose whether to use a real estate agent or not.
  2. Find a guarantor. File necessary paperwork
  3. Pay key money
  4. Notify old landlord
  5. Change mailing address and forward all mail
  6. Change official address
  7. Stop utilities and internet at the old apartment, start at the new.
  8. Hand out presents to old landlord and neighbors, as well as new ones.
  9. Change address with governmental sites, CLAIR, and IRS/Tax agencies.

Congrats! Now that you’ve somehow managed to move all your things to your new place, all you have to do is unpack! Treat yourself and those brave souls who helped you move with some relaxation and a good meal. You all deserve it.

Hannah Brown is a first-year JET living in Oita prefecture. Passionate about food and cultures, she spends most of her time investigating both through cooking and searching for delicious food spots where she can chat with the people in her community. When not in the kitchen or talking with others, you can find her hiking and exploring her area… Which she will resume doing once she’s fully unpacked!

Announcing the 2014-2015 Connect magazine team

Connect magazine is happy to announce its new team for the year. These men and women will be working hard to bring you useful, interesting content to help connect you to Japan and the community no matter where you are.

First off, our heartfelt thanks to everyone who took the time to reply and respond to the call for a new Connect team. It’s great to know how many of you want to be involved, and hearing all of your ideas and feedback was truly inspiring. This year, we received over 50 applications for 10 positions (20 of which were for Travel). Please know that, even if you were not selected to serve on the main Connect team this year, we appreciated and read everything you wrote, and hope that you will continue to support and contribute to Connect magazine throughout the year (and apply next year as well)!

Now, let us introduce the team that will be working to produce quality issues of Connect every month this year. You’ll notice a new structure of 4 main sections with small teams of editors working together. We hope that this will streamline Connect and raise the bar even higher on the content we bring you.

NEWS & EVENTS

Erika Klein — News Editor
Lacey Lee — Events Editor

ARTS & CULTURE

Verity Townsend — Culture Editor
Colin O’Neill — Entertainment Editor
Tom Legge — Travel Editor
Simon Griffin — Travel Editor

LIFESTYLE

Nick Powers — Food Editor
Hiroshi Fukushima — Sports Editor
Erica Grainger — Fashion Editor

COMMUNITY

Nathan Berne — Volunteering Editor
Vicki Clark — Public Relations (community & social media)
Michelle Castro — Public Relations (AJET & JETAA liaison)

PRODUCTION STAFF

Patrick Finn — Head Designer
Sterling Diesel — Assistant Designer
Hannah Killoh — Assistant Designer
Ola Weber — Copy Editor

Please join us in congratulating them all and wishing them well on what’s set to be a busy, busy year. We all hope that you, the community, will continue to send in your stories, tips, reviews, photos, comics, poems, and anything else from you head and heart to share. We’ll see you in July for our special Tokyo Orientation edition.

AJET Connect Magazine May 2014

The May AJET Connect is ready to download!

May 2014 AJET Connect

It’s only fitting that our last issue of Connect magazine before the summer break was our biggest and most challenging. In addition to all the new things we tried out, we wound up making this issue twice as the Computer Gods swallowed the first draft forever. We’re sorry for the wait, but we certainly think it’s worth it!

Check out the May issue for features on arcades, museums, KitKats, sake, baseball, geocaching, Korean hanami, charity yoga, men in tight spandex, pop culture trends, and more! We also talk about how you can work with Connect next year, or how you can give us your feedback from the comfort of your own keyboard. Please enjoy this last issue, and we’ll see you again in August!

May 2014 issue of AJET Connect (43MB PDF)

AJET Connect magazine applications (deadline extended)

Enjoy reading Connect magazine? Want to get involved? Applications for the 2014-2015 Connect team are open until June 1st at midnight!

Connect is a professional-level publication with contacts throughout Japan and readership throughout the world. Connect has been in the hands of embassies and government groups, and is a great way to gain work experience in the field of publications during your time in Japan.

You do not need to be a JET participant to be part of the team, but understand that this is an AJET-sponsored publication and that we will cover AJET-related matters in addition to lifestyle pieces and stories. You do need to currently be in Japan and plan to be in Japan until April/May of next year. If you have any questions about how Connect runs, what sort of responsibilities the positions entail, how much time you need to commit, or anything at all, you can contact me at connect.editor@ajet.net.

If you’re interested, please send me an email with the following by Sunday, June 1st:

  • Your name
  • Your prefecture
  • Position or section interested in (if section editor, up to three sections, ranked in order of preference)
  • Years you’ve been in Japan
  • Current profession
  • Approximate free hours per week
  • Non-detailed list of current time commitments
  • Relevant experience
  • Attached writing sample (document or link, if you don’t have anything on hand, write something new and interesting)
  • Favorite or interesting quote from any source

I will follow up with all interested applicants and ask a few more questions to help make my decision.

We are looking for the following new team members for the 2014-2015 year, starting in June.


SECTION EDITORS – ALL SECTIONS

Culture, Entertainment, Food, Travel, Fashion, Events, Volunteering, and Sports

A section editor’s primary responsibility is to source articles for Connect. You’ll work directly with members of the community to provide interesting and engaging content to keep the publication fresh and relevant. Each month you’ll be responsible for 5-6 pages of content for the section, and for editing what you receive (if you do not have experience editing, no worries, we can teach you!). You’ll also be responsible for writing a monthly one-page editorial on any topic of your choosing, as well as a monthly “about me” blurb and summary of your section. Section editors spend a lot of time emailing back and forth with contributors and the head editor to refine articles and plan for upcoming issues. You may apply for multiple sections in a single email, but limit it to three, in order of preference. To be considered, you must:

  • Be committed to and skilled at completing things on a deadline
  • Be quick and responsive with emails
  • Be good at finding people to write content every month, or seeking outside content to cross-publish
  • Preferably be plugged into and knowledgeable on the Japan side of things for the section you want to write for
  • Be willing to find great content beyond the normal Japanese magazine standards
  • Be open and honest (yet polite and professional) with the head editor and team about the work being done and how it can be improved
  • Have a few hours free per week in which to work on finding content and editing that content
  • Have a basic familiarity with word processors and cloud-based collaboration programs like Google Drive and Dropbox

PUBLIC RELATIONS MANAGER

Started last year, this position is very open in terms of responsibility and scope. The overarching goal of the PR manager is to promote Connect within the community and beyond. The PR manager works to get Connect articles in the hands of people who aren’t subscribed to eConnect News. We want to publish our content on Japan-related blogs and websites, and the PR manager works with these outside groups and sites to accomplish this. They also work with the head editor to discuss and plan ways to expand the reach of Connect in terms of new features and ways to connect with the readership. To be considered, you must:

  • Be highly independent and motivated
  • Have clear goals for Connect from the outset, and commit to pursuing them
  • Be skilled in networking and keeping up professional contacts
  • Be committed to keeping up with lots of Japan-related blogs and sites in order to promote Connect there
  • Find articles of interest to cross-publish in Connect magazine in order to create cooperative publishing relationships with outside sources
  • Read through Connect’s articles on a monthly basis to determine which are good candidates to share outside

CONTEST AND COMMUNITY MANAGER

New for this upcoming year, this is a good entry position for Connect for people with only a little bit of free time who still want to be part of the team. The Contest and Community Manager receives and organizes contest submissions for Connect’s cover photo contest and haiku page. These two features have been a mainstay of Connect since its beginnings, and they’re an important part of our community. The Contest and Community manager takes each month’s submissions, assembles them, and presents them to the head editor for voting and layout preparation. They also make sure all submissions have a title and name, and are up to the standards set by Connect in terms of image quality and usage rights. To be considered, you must:

  • Have an interest in working with Connect
  • Have a good editorial eye for detail
  • Have good organizational skills
  • Be able to work on a deadline
  • Be willing to promote the photo contest and haiku page in the community and find new contributors

ASSISTANT DESIGNERS

Also created last year to help with the enormous task of designing Connect’s visual elements and layout, the assistant designers work with the head designer to create Connect’s actual pages. The head designer handles the majority of the work, but assistant designers can be expected to clean up images, tweak layout, fix typos, adjust colors, and create original graphic elements (such as the recently included contributor map and sakura map). To be considered, you must:

  • Be creative, with a sense of style that works well with Connect’s visual identity
  • Have your own copy of Adobe design programs including Illustrator and inDesign
  • Have a familiarity with the above programs
  • Be “on-call” to provide assistance to the head designer when needed (the bulk of design work is done between the 15th and the end of the month)
  • Be able to work quickly and within given parameters
  • Take instruction well, while also suggesting your own ideas

I’m also pleased to announce that I’ll be serving as Connect’s head editor for another year. We’ve done a lot of good work, but I still have a lot planned, so I’m very happy to have another year to work with you all to make this magazine something great. Thanks, as always, for your support and contributions, and I look forward to seeing applications from you.

All the best,
Steven

Race to the Top results are in!

This past year National AJET set ambitious goals for JET community involvement: 1,000,000 yen raised for charity and 10,000 volunteer hours of community service. To allow JETs to log their contributions to the community, AJET introduced the JET Community Service Tracker, an online form designed to collect data on volunteer hours served and charity money raised by JETs around Japan.

AJET used the JET Community Service Tracker to determine the winners of the Race to the Top Challenge, a contest to see which prefecture could raise the most yen and volunteer hours per JET. The challenge ran from November 1, 2013 through April 31, 2014. After six months, AJET is proud to declare the winners of the Race to the Top Challenge!

Top 3 Prefectures: Money Raised

Prefecture Total money raised Money raised per JET
1. Saga (48 JETs) ¥400,000 ¥8,333
2. Niigata (102 JETs) ¥551,888 ¥5,410
3. Oita (80 JETs) ¥185,019 ¥2,312

Top 3 Prefectures: Community Service Hours

Prefecture Total hours Hours per JET
1. Yamagata (81 JETs) 1189 14.6
2. Saga (48 JETs) 294 6.1
3. Hokkaido (263 JETs) 1476 5.6

Nationwide Totals

Total money raised Total hours
¥2,105,258 3676

Congratulations to Saga and Yamagata for your extraordinary commitment to the community! You are the champions, but the people of Saga and Yamagata are the real winners to have such dedicated and generous JETs.

The JET Community Service Tracker is still up and running. The information on the Tracker allows AJET to share the positive impact JETs make in their communities with the Japanese Ministries that support JET and with the Japanese public. Please visit the JET Community Service Tracker and continue to log your JET community’s positive impact!​

We want your feedback on Connect magazine!

Connect magazine has had a big year. Over the past 10 issues, we’ve introduced a lot of new features and tried to make some positive changes and progress. We’re a bit biased in our love for Connect, so we want to hear from you. Give us your honest feedback and suggestions, and help us improve what we bring to you. After all, Connect magazine is made by, about, and for the community!

AJET is looking for a new Head of Visual Media

The AJET National Council is seeking a creative, enthusiastic JET to become the Head of Visual Media for the coming JET year. The HoVM works closely with the Connect Magazine Editor to manage the design and layout of AJET’s monthly publication. The HoVM is also responsible for overseeing the AJET National Council’s branding designs. See below for more details. Application deadline: May 23rd, 2014.

Responsibilities

  • Responsible for the design and layout of the monthly AJET Connect Magazine, printed magazines for Tokyo Orientation and the After JET Conference, as well as signs, posters, business cards, etc.
  • Coordinates the advertisements for the above publications.
  • Ensures all printed media, including AJET reports, conform to AJET’s visual branding guidelines.
  • In conjunction with the Executive team, modifies/updates AJET’s visual branding guidelines as appropriate.

Preferred Skills

  • Experience in the design industry.
  • Project management experience.
  • Working experience with inDesign.
  • Working experience with Photoshop and Illustrator strongly preferred.

Check out some of the amazing work that the HoVM, Melinda Lange, produced this year:

If you are interested, please contact the AJET National Council.
Email: exec@ajet.net
Application deadline: May 23rd, 2014

Filmmaker needs your help to show the real Fukushima

andersonCameron Anderson met up with Fukushima JETs on his trip to Japan and became inspired to show the world the real Fukushima. Tired of all the misleading publicity, Mr. Anderson seeks to help people, “forget about what it means to be a disaster, and discover what it means to be Fukushima.” But he needs your help. Go to Story Hive and learn about Mr. Andersen’s project and how you can help him to receive the budget he needs to turn his idea into a reality. Voting closes on April 27th.

You can also learn more about Mr. Anderson’s project through this article on Japan Today.

Spring 2014 Surveys

In order to represent your needs, opinions, and suggestions to the sponsors of the JET Programme, National AJET has developed a spring survey to assess various aspects of the JET Programme and consider how they may be improved.

Specifically, AJET is surveying how you would feel being a solo educator in the classroom, and what kind of resources/training you would need to help with this process. Also, if there was an English-speaking coordinator in schools to help JETs connect more with the school and local communities, what kind of resources/information you would be interested to receive. Finally, with a number of changes taking place between CLAIR and AJET, we are interested to know more about which National AJET services you most value and use, and how we might better serve our members (you!).

We have listened to your feedback on these ideas and developed one quality survey to cover all the key issues. Many of these issues were raised at the previous Opinion Exchange meeting with the ministries and CLAIR in December 2013, and are likely to have significant impacts on JET participants around the country, especially ALTs.

To take the survey, please click here. It should take about 15-20mins to complete. Your opinions are valuable to us and the future of the JET Programme, so please take the time and fill in the survey today.

By completing the survey, you will also have the chance to enter a draw to win an exciting prize from AJET!

If you have any feedback or suggestions about the survey or reporting process, please feel free to email them to projects@ajet.net.

AJET Connect Magazine April 2014

The April AJET Connect is ready to download!

April 2014 AJET Connect

The second-to-last issue of Connect is one of our best ever! Aside from a smorgasbord of wedding food, fashion, culture, and etiquette for when that young teacher or friend invites you to their special day, the April edition features tons of great Spotlight subjects, a jam-packed Sports section, an update on JETs Rally for Tohoku, information on donating blood in Japan, and plenty more!

Don’t forget to send us your questions, comments, advice, Spotlight nominations, event dates, photos, haiku, and (most of all) your stories about life in this little island country we call home. Enjoy the issue, and we’ll see you in May.

April 2014 issue of AJET Connect (41MB PDF)