Sunday, December 27, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Avatar (Non-3D version) - My opening day review

This video is getting quite a few views on my 2nd YouTube channel - TaishaJason - where I talk about geeky stuff I like - movies, comics, etc.

I did a review from Japan for the movie Transformers 2 and it became the most watched video on this channel, so I'm not surprised this video is also getting many views. I'm probably one of the few reviews (out of a ton of 3D reviews) on YT for this movie talking about it as a non-3D experience.

Did you see it? What did you think?


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Picture of IzumoTaisha from 2005

IT - Giant rope
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

I'm looking thru older pictures trying to find some of certain students for their New Years Cards and graduation presents.

I didn't take many pictures during my first year as a JET from July 2004 to July 2005.

I didn't even have a digital camera when I first arrived in Japan. I "won" my first digital Nikon at a year-end party with my Japanese co-workers in December 2004. So that's when I started posting regularly to FLICKR and taking more pictures.

And when I first joined Flickr I was limited in how many pictures I could upload during each month, so I was much more picky about what I posted.

Looking thru an archive of pics from 2005, I noticed about 15 pictures of IzumoTaisha Shrine that I had never posted. They're perhaps interesting to anyone who has been to the Shrine in the past few years, since it doesn't quite look like this anymore - new buildings have been built, stairs have been changed and right now their in the midst of rebuilding the roof of the main shrine.

So I hope you enjoy these pics from the past.

I also posted a few pics of some "enkai" (parties) I went to during my first year so you can see what it's like - how we sit, what type of food is served, etc.


(Click on any picture to be taken to my whole online Flickr album of photos)

Looking down main st of Taisha-cho

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Snow on my scooter

Snow on my scooter
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Lots of people ask me about getting around in Japan - using public transport, buying a car, etc.

This is how I got around from October 2004 to August 2005. A scooter or moped - 50cc - and I loved it for the most part. Easy to use, to park - gas was cheap, insurance was cheap. But in bad weather, especially rain or snow - you got wet - and it sucked. So I traded up for a car in my 2nd year as an ALT, but I missed my scooter from time to time.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

One of my favorite quotations

Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. ---Marcus Aurelius, philosopher and writer (121-180)

Love from the Argonauts

I've been feeling a little blase about YouTube lately. I still log on every day - check my vids - respond to PMs and check comments - and watch vloggers I'm subscribed to - but the energy to create my own new vids seems to be waning a bit.

So I asked my viewers (I have almost 3,000 subscribers, but of those about 1,500 watch regularly) to ask me questions - they could ask just about anything - and I would answer. It was fun making the response vids, and two of the 4 (I have a problem with brevity) are posted now, with the other two coming later this week.

It gave me a nice shot in the arm and a bit of motivation. Not being in Japan these past few months, I was worried that my channel would languish and not attract any new subscribers, but it just keeps chugging along.

I also get incredibly nice emails from folks I've never met thanking me for all the videos and information - which is really great.

I thought I would share two recent examples with you below - edited a little to keep them relatively anonymous.
I've spent a fair amount of time over the past 18 months on YouTube, so it's gratifying to know that people appreciate the time and effort I've put in.

Hope all is well with you. I'm hopefully off to see Avatar at theaters this Friday - first time I've gone to a movie on opening day in a long, long time. Just can't decide if I want to see the 3D version first or the regular version. I want to see both for comparison sake - but maybe if I see the 3D version first I'll feel seeing the regular version is redundant.
I'm also gonna see a movie called "The Hangover" this week on DVD- my sister got it in her Netflix shipment so we're gonna watch it together. It hadn't come out in Japan before I left, but had already left theaters by the time I got back. I've heard it's really funny.

Be good,

Email 1 -
I just wanted to contact you to say thank you. Your videos are great, I look forward to them all the time. You are able to communicate a deep love of teaching. Through your videos I have been able to see many of the joys and difficulties you found in JET. You manage to be positive often, and when faced with hardships, you are honest about them. You seem to have an attitude that compels you to help others. I remember you sharing the video to help someone in their speech competition, an entire series on Japanese language, and the many video requests. You released a whole series on applying to JET and commented on essays for the program. Within this context, you have shared so much of yourself. I am amazed you can put yourself out there like this. I have no doubt you will make it back to Japan. Thank you. Ganbate ne!

Email 2.
Hi Jason! New generation of JET applicant here--hoping to go to Japan in 2010. My name is XXXX and I'm graduating this year from college, so I'm kind of whippersnapper, but I don't plan on going crazy once I get to Japan. I'm genuinely interested in the kids and teaching. Your videos have been a godsend for me in that way, because reading BigDaikon and even the official JET forums has been depressing for me. I just wanted to thank you for being so positive and extremely informative in your vlogs. They are an inspiration to me, and I hope to vlog about Japan myself once I get there, hopefully providing a different perspective, because I think your vlogs are still the best, and they're still relevant. I've been recommending them to every applicant I know this year!

Anyway! Don't lose that genki spirit!!! Know that a whole new generation of JET's are gearing up and you're the best out there for actual advice and not incessant whining!

One last thing: we have 5600 applicants this year for JET, so it's going to be really competitive. We're going to need lots of advice, haha, so I bet your views will be going up a lot.

(Jason again)
Thanks for the nice comments and PMs - each one is read and appreciated!
Mata ne.

Monday, December 07, 2009

RENTリハーサル風景 シーズンズ・オブ・ラブ

and here's a nice version sung in English with Japanese subtitles - I absolutely love this song!

Rent cast from Tokyo

Nice little video moment. I taught this song to my school's chorus club a few years ago and they sang it (In English!) at our culture festival in 2008.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Alternatives to Rosetta Stone Japanese

If you're learning Japanese and have considered buying the Rosetta Stone software to learn, watch this vid.
Some good info from my friend, Koichi.
And then head over to for all the other ways to learn Japanese.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

2009 November Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament - 14th Day

Been a good tournament in Fukuoka this month. I'm not a huge Hakuho fan, but you have to hand it to him - he fought very well and deserves the cup.

He also passed Asashoryu's record of 84 wins in a single calendar year. Asa fell apart in the last few days, and my favorite rikishi - Harumafuji - had a mediocre basho as well.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Japanese History

A fun video made by a JET in Kagoshima.

It starts out with the ponderous voice-over, but that's done for comedic effect and soon peps up with some really funny lines throughout.


Friday, November 20, 2009

I can't stop playing this game!

For an incredibly addictive game called ESKIV - Click Here.

Click on "New Game."
USE the ARROW KEYS on your keyboard to move the circle to hit the square without letting the moving balls strike you.

What is your top score? Let me know! :)


100 Movies, 100 Quotes, 100 Numbers

Brilliant countdown via movie clips from 100 to 1.

I think I knew the movie names for 92 of these. :)


Osaka Bang! with English sub

More Japanese silliness...

This video is from Japanese TV with English subtitles.


You know you want to click it!!

For your random bit of Japanese silliness, Click Here!


Thursday, November 19, 2009

SUMO - Kyushu Fukuoka - Day ONE- Complete Highlights - #3 (of 3) November 15, 2009

SUMO has started again, so I'm a happy man for the next two weeks!

Enjoy coverage each day of the tournament on my All-SUMO channel: JasonsinJapan on Youtube

Thanks for watching!

Friday, November 13, 2009

iJapan (Intermediate Japanese lessons) #1 - Let's Study! **10 questions**

I'm starting a new series on vlogs on my channel to help those, like myself, who are studying Japanese at a level slightly above the basic level.

I hope to post a new lesson every week and learn as well as teach.
My Japanese is not great, but I try, and I want to continue studying while back here in America.

Thanks for watching!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Genki English: ESL Karuta Game for Teaching English

A good twist on "karuta" - a game I must have played hundreds of times in my schools in Japan.

Instead of the teacher saying the word and the kids simply identifying it and slapping the card, the kids have to ask the teacher a question; in this case, "Do you like....?" and if the teacher says "Yes" they can slap the card.

The video above is in Japanese with English subtitles.


Monday, November 09, 2009

平岡さんの顔に殴られた跡 島根女子大生遺棄事件(09/11/07)

I'm not sure if I'm understanding all the latest details of this tragic event, but basically a 19 year old college student from Shimane ken (Hamada town) was abducted on her way home this past week, and later they discovered her head. I think they are searching for the rest of her body.

I have a friend who is also a former ALT in Shimane who taught this girl when she was a Jr High student. My thoughts go out to her and this girl's friends and family.

I would be utterly devastated if something like this happened to one of my former students. According to my friend, this girl was really interested in English and would often talk to her.


Saturday, November 07, 2009

Friday, November 06, 2009

Guy dancing like Michael Jackson at a bus stop

Apparently this guy used to wait for the bus outside an office and another guy in the office filmed him dancing over a 15 month period.

This just made me smile. So many of us grow up and lose our sense of freedom and inhibitions take over. Dance Bus Stop Guy - Dance!

I get some of this same youthful energy teaching in Japan - one of the reasons I want to go back.

Have a good day.


Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Anti-foreigner protests in Tokyo sparked by Halloween train party

Read an interesting article on today about the annual Yamanote Halloween train party.

For those that don't know about this - basically every year a bunch of gaijin would ride the loop train in Tokyo on Halloween night dressed up in costumes and basically being noisy and bothersome to regular Japanese folks.

Ultra-right wing Japanese Nationalists, who want all foreigners to leave Japan, decided that this year they would show up and protest. So a bunch of Japanese police showed up too to keep an eye on the situation and as a result, not many foreigners showed up this year and it was a bit of a fizzle.

You can read the article and see some of the hilarious pictures of badly worded protest signs Here.

As is usually the case on JapanProbe - the comments section below the article is more entertaining and enlightening than the article itself.

If you want to see video of past year's train parties, then check out the YouTube channel of RoninDave.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Man in the Box - Facebook Abuse

Pretty much sums up my attitude toward Facebook. I don't mind the site so much, but I'm really glad I don't work in an office like this.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

In-Depth JET Application campus visits in San Diego

Hey Gang -

Here are the dates for the in-depth information sessions with Angel from the Japanese consulate in LA.

She will be at USD on Tuesday, October 27th from 12:30 to 2pm in the UC Forum A.

She (and I) will b at UCSD the same day (10/27) from 5pm to 6:30pm in the International Center lounge.

And she will also be at SDSU on Tuesday, November 3rd from Noon to 1:30pm at the International Students center.

For a complete list of all the information sessions in Southern California Click Here.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Jason does Kendo (剣道)- Part One

My most recent YouTube vlog. I edited some footage I shot back in July on the last day of school at my main Jr High School.

Some of the "honors" this video has after the first 24 hours it was on my channel:

#31 - Most Discussed (Today) - Japan
#1 - Most Discussed (Today) - Howto & Style - Japan
#9 - Most Discussed (This Week) - Howto & Style - Japan
#33 - Most Discussed (This Month) - Howto & Style - Japan
#13 - Most Viewed (Today) - Howto & Style - Japan
#83 - Most Viewed (Today) - Howto & Style - South Korea
#5 - Top Favorited (Today) - Howto & Style - Japan
#47 - Top Favorited (This Week) - Howto & Style - Japan
#52 - Top Rated (Today) - Japan
#1 - Top Rated (Today) - Howto & Style - Japan
#10 - Top Rated (This Week) - Howto & Style - Japan
#46 - Top Rated (This Month) - Howto & Style - Japan

My description from the YT sidebar:

After school, on the last day before summer vacation, I had the pleasure of hanging out with the kendo team at my main Jr High school one last time.

I decided I would put on all my gear and let the kids have one last whack at me after their practice ended.

Yamasaki sensei was kind enough to help me out with filming and explanations, and the whole team stuck around even though I'm sure most of them were pretty tired. (Practicing kendo, where you're wearing fairly thick clothing, in Japan in the summer time is a hot and sweaty job)

I can't really show the kids too much, but you'll see a little more of them in part TWO since they'll be wearing helmets. I really have enjoyed my time hanging out and working out with the kendo team, even though I've gone to practice less in my last two years.

I hope you enjoy this vlog, I apologize in advance for my poor Japanese, and I hope you watch part TWO - Coming Soon! :)



a good guide to kendo terms: Click Here

a beginner's guide to kendo with two methods for tying the tenogui: Click Here

けんどう(剣道)translates to "way of the sword"

Monday, October 19, 2009

UCSD and CSUSM campus visits

Hey Gang -

I'll be out recruiting for JET this week.

On Monday the 19th, I'll be at UCSD from 10am to 3pm.

It's a Programs Abroad EXPO and there will be lots of tables with lots of info.
Not sure where my table will be, but start at the Price Center and walk along and I'm sure you'll see me and oh-so-colorful signs. :)

I will also be at the Traveling Tukwut Study Abroad Fair on Wednesday, October 21, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the Kellogg Library Plaza at Cal State San Marcos (CSUSM).

If you're near/at either of these schools, please stop by and say hello.

I will post information about the official information meetings later in the month at UCSD, USD, and SDSU in this blog next week. (Someone from the Japanese consulate in LA comes to these meetings to discuss the application in depth)

See ya,

Saturday, October 17, 2009

2 recent web articles

The first one is just another reason I can't wait to move back to Japan...

Click Here

Don't get me wrong, I love America, I just wish it wasn't inhabited by so many idiots.

The 2nd article is about Japan:

Click Here

It's a list of ten things you should do if you visit Japan - I've done 8 of them. Anyone care to guess which 2 I HAVEN'T tried yet? :)


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Zeplin in Tokyo - 25 - Colab: What annoys you about Japan?

An interesting collaboration video I took part in.

The question posed was "What annoys you about Japan?"

There are some interesting and varied responses.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Pictures from my last month in Shimane

final kendo at TJH - 8
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

I uploaded about 50 more pics to my Flickr account.

These pics are all from July 2009, my last month living in Shimane.

I had a whirlwind month - trying to pack and get ready to go home, trying to say goodbye to places and friends, attending farewell parties, and having to say goodbye to students and teachers, many of whom I've known for 5 years.

Below is a sampling of some of the pics I can share on Flickr.

But before I explain those, the picture above is me (yes, me) in my full kendo gear. I wanted to shoot some video footage on me putting on all the gear, and the kendo coaches were nice enhough to oblige, and the kids on the team pitched in too. I'll try to get that footage edited together and posted on my YouTube page in the coming month.

Goodbye photo display TJH - 4

This picture is of my farewell display for my main Jr High School - Taisha Chu - where I taught for 5 years. I wanted to do a display that featured just the current students, so I made two displays with one featuring older students, now graduated, and this one featuring current kids.

HP at YouMe Town

It wasn't all hard days and sad memories tho - I got to see a bunch of my former students at farewell parties they threw for me, and a few invited me out to see the most recent Harry Potter film at the nice theater in Izumo.

Hearn by Harris library event - 12

Trying to bring closure to so many of my activities at school and in the community was difficult. I scheduled an elementary school teacher brain-storming meeting for the last week I was in Taisha, and ended up sleeping thru my alarm that morning (something I almost never do) and being late for the meeting, just so tired from all the packing and running around I was doing during my final week.

I also had a chance to end my time as a library volunteer with a special event I called "Hearn by Harris."
The above picture shows me reciting one of Lafcadio Hearn's speeches to a small audience of mostly friends and students and teachers. I wanted to pass along some advice on preparing students for speech contests, since I'd had so much fun doing that activity every year and my schools had enjoyed success at all of the contests.

Final day at Taisha Sho - 12

By far the toughest and most emotionally exhausting part of my final month was saying goodbye to the students and staff at all my schools, especially the ones I've been teaching at since 2004.

Some of the schools had really fun and touching farewell ceremonies for me on my final day, and I put up picture displays at all my elementary schools and my main Jr High School.

I really do miss my students - much more than I miss any particular aspect of Japan.

I wish I could show you all the fun pictures and video I have from these ceremonies, but I can't on the open internet.
Having said that, I am trying out a new online photo service called Phanfare that I like quite a bit. It's a much more private option than Flickr, and much easier for me to share my photos with people I know, since I can send specific links to content that remains private without requiring the viewer to register with the site.
If you know me personally, feel free to send me an email and I'll send you a link to more pics and video.

This might be my last update to FLICKR for a while. I might upload a few pictures from my life here in San Diego, but the site might be quiet until next year, when I plan on returning to Japan.

Thanks for your views and comments.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

【車窓風景】 一畑電車 川跡→出雲大社前(HQ推奨)

Someone sent me a link to this video, made by a Japanese train enthusiast.

It shows the scenery from Kawato station to IzumoTaisha station.

No narration or music, just the inaka passing by the window.

This is very representative of where I lived in Japan from 2004 to 2009.

In fact, I used to ride this train on occasion. During my first year, if it was raining, I would sometime take the train to school, as the final stop is about a 5 minute walk from my main Jr High School.

The 2nd to last station at about the 10minute mark (Hamayama koen station) is about a 5 minute walk from my old apartment.

You can see the huge, white torii for IzumoTaisha at about 12;49 into the video.

Enjoy a little glimpse into MY Japan.


Thursday, October 08, 2009

My new exclusive JET Twitter account

I've been using Twitter for a while now - mostly just for fun and personal Tweets and for following friends. I don't have a cell phone here in America, so I post to Twitter from my home MAC.

My general account is Taisha Jason.

But I thought it might be best to offer a Twitter account with general advice and guidance for JET Applicants and people interested in moving to Japan.

So I've started a 2nd Twitter account - just Click Here.

I've titled it JapanJET and I hope to make daily posts with small bits of information that I hope will be helpful to people going to Japan to live and work.

Feel free to leave feedback here or send me a note on Twitter.


Sunday, October 04, 2009

Simon and Jason visit In-n-Out

Check out the video below - currently playing on my main YouTube channel (Myargonauts) - that features me and my cousin, Simon, who is visiting San Diego from England.

I took him out last week and our travels took us to In-n-Out Burger - my favorite fast food burger place.


Monday, September 28, 2009

2009 September Grand Sumo Tournament - Day 15 - Final Day

Good summary of the final day of Sumo in Tokyo. (In English)

A great end to the tourney, with a yokozuna showdown on the final day.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Memories of June

Farewell eigo board part one - 6
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

I just posted another 60+ pics to my public Flickr site.

Pictures that are all from the month of June 2009.

The picture above is a display I put together to say farewell to my main Jr High school where I worked as an ALT from 2004 to 2009.

This first display included photos from 2005, when I first got my digital camera to about 2007. Many of the students in the photos are the older siblings of the current students at that school.

Farewell eigo board part one - 2

I did a separate display for the current kids, and I'll post pics of that display in my July 09 batch.

I also posted a bunch of pics from CHESS 2009.
CHESS is Camp for High School English Students of Shimane, an all-English, 3-day camp for HS students we have every year.

It was my fifth and final year being part of the camp, and I've had tons of fun every year I went.

Here I am with Rob, the ALT PA and an all-around swell chap (he's from England).

CHESS 2009 - Day TWO - 123

I also have pics from various student events I attended - some with my secondary Jr High and some with my main school.

One such event was a kendo competition in neighboring Hiroshima prefecture.
I made a video about it on my main YouTube page (Myargonauts) as well.

June kendo taiikukai at TJH - 2

I'll post pics from July soon, and then I might stop posting to Flickr for a while.

I've found a new online photo site I want to try called Phanfare.
It offers a little more safety and privacy options than Flickr and I like the way I can organize photos on the site AND include my short video clips as well.

If you're interested in seeing a few of my albums on Phanfare, send me an email and I'll send you a private link.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

2009 Undokai in Under 2 Minutes

This is one of the coolest vids I've seen on YouTube in a while.

I used to love September in Japan, cuz September means SPORTS DAY! I loved Sports Day every year at my Jr High schools.

This ALT in a very beautiful part of Japan uses time lapse technology to compress his entire Sports Day into two minutes.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Hinomisaki with Eli and Robin

Hinomisaki with Eli and Robin - 1
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

I just uploaded about 60 pics from April and May in Japan.

Included are pics from a visit by fellow JET Eli and his wife Robin. I showed them around the local sites one day, including Hinomisaki lighthouse and Hinomisaki Shrine.

I re-established my PRO account with Flickr, so there should be about 2500+ pics to look at once again on my page.


Tuesday, September 08, 2009


I get all kinds of emails at my main YouTube channel, where I post mainly videos about living in Japan and being an ALT for the JET Program.

One of my subscribers (and I have over 2600 now - pretty amazing) recently asked me to answer some questions about being an ALT for a college paper he's working on for a careers class. He wants to be a JET after he graduates.

Here are my answers to his questions - I thought other may find them useful.


(It should go without saying that the following is my opinion of being an ALT and the JET Programme)

OK - here come the answers....

About how many hours a day does an ALT/ESL Teacher typically work?
typical day is 8 hours (with a short break at lunch time)

What sort of tasks do you perform on a day to day basis?
teach English, team teach with Japanese teacher of English (JTE), grade papers, etc.

Are you free to offer personal lessons or is that not allowed?
Not allowed, altho you will be asked to teach some community approved adult classes on occasion

Is it normal to continue your education while working this job?
You can certainly do something online, but it would be difficult to try for your Masters while being a JET; of course, you can certainly improve your Japanese language skills while a JET

What are some important skills as an ALT/ESL Teacher?
genkiness, adaptability, good speaker, like children

As a teacher do you have problems with unruly children or administering discipline?
Discipline is not the job of the JET - it's up to the Japanese teacher in charge of the class. How you deal with the occasional unruly student is another factor that separates truly excellent ALTs from the merely average.

Are the students attentive and interested in learning or is it sometimes a fight to get them to pay attention?
Japanese classes at the JH level are not separated by ability - there are no honors classes - so you get a mix of students in your classes - some are very interested in English - others are mildly interested and some could care less

As you come from a different culture would you say the students are more interested or apprehensive about your background?
definitely very interested - in just about everything about you and where you are from - but they also have preconceived notions that can be completely wrong at times

Are there some things that are not culturally acceptable that take some time getting used to? Yes, it can take a little while to figure out how to act in certain social situations, but that's part of the fun too.

As this job requires you in most cases to move away from your home country would you say it is difficult to keep in contact with family and friends back home?
Not in 2009 - with SKYPE, email, webcams, digital photos, and the plain old telephone, it's pretty easy to stay in touch with those that matter to you. Having them be interested in all that you're doing in Japan is another matter....

Are the parents very involved in their students school work?
Can't really say... They are active in supporting their kids in their after school clubs, like cheering for soccer or attending brass band concerts, but as an ALT you're not involved with parent/teacher meetings. I have had many parents come up to me in town or at school events and tell me how much their child enjoys English or my lessons, so that is always gratifying.

Do you meet with the parents on occasion to discuss their childs progress?

Do you need to spend time after work on projects?
yes - but it varies. For example, autumn is typically the time for English speech contests, so I would spend on average about 1 hour after school each day from Sept to Nov working with kids and helping them prepare their speeches. An ALT will sometimes stay after school to talk to another teacher, prepare the next day's lessons, etc. and sometimes just to hang out with their students in a more relaxed atmosphere.

Is there work on the weekends?
Very rarely, there will be a school event on a Saturday, but you usually get another day off the following week to make up for it.

Do you work with multiple schools or just one?
I worked with one Jr high school and 5 elementary schools for my first three years and then with 2 JH schools and 6 elementary schools my final two years. I'd say about 80% of ALTs I've known have at least two schools.

When visiting multiple schools do you have set schedules or do the days vary?
Usually they have a set schedule - even if it's just laid out a few months in advance.

When working with Teachers as an ALT are you able to participate much or is most of the work left up to the teacher?
This varies too much for me to give a simple answer. It varies depending on what level of student you're teaching (grades 1-6, 7-9, or 10-12), and what Japanese teacher you're working with.

Are you able to come up with your own lesson plans are do you need to stick with set standards?
For JH, there is a textbook and a set curriculum, but there is flexibility within that structure. Elementary school is much more open to ALT created lessons.

If a teacher is absent for some reason would you be asked to fill in for them for the class period?
You'll almost never be asked to teach alone. If a teacher is absent, they either have another English teacher cover their classes or reschedule them - there are no one-day substitute teachers in Japan.

Do you work with teachers besides the English teacher?
That is up to you and what kind of relationship you create with the rest of the staff, and this will depend a great deal on how much Japanese you can speak.

Do you need to tutor some students outside of the normal work hours?
Sometimes, but not too often.

What training or education is required for this job?
You have to have a BA/BS degree, and submit a detailed application with an essay and letters of recommendation and then be interviewed.

Are there any certifications required for this job?

Is there room for advancement with special certifications?

Is extra training needed throughout the career?
There are mid-year seminars and teacher training seminars - some are mandatory for all JETs and some are optional, where you can get more training.

What are some of the benefits that you get with this job?
Furnished apartment, national health care, decent salary.

What qualities help make a person successful in this career?
A genuine desire to be accepting of Japanese cultural differences and wanting to connect with your students and make them more culturally aware of where you came from.

Are you always spending your time with your students and the teachers or do you have to work alone sometimes?
There is a lot of free time during certain periods of the year (for example, if all the students are taking tests), so you have to be self motivated to study Japanese or find ways to keep yourself busy when you have no classes.

What do you like the most about this job?
My awesome students!

What do you dislike the most about this job?
The limitations of my poor Japanese language skills.

Do you need to travel frequently for this job?
within a set parameter, you can travel from school to school, and some ALTs go to a different school almost everyday. But your travel expenses are taken care of, and many days you're at the same school all day.

Do you need to relocate for this job?
Umm... you need to move to Japan. :)

Is the job market for this growing or shrinking?
Shrinking, as far as the JET Programme is concerned. It's somewhat expensive for a local city Board of Education to hire a JET, so many BoEs are opting for cheaper alternatives,

Is the typical salary for this career enough to sustain a family on?
The JET salary is 3,600,000yen per year or about $3000/month. It's more than enough for a single person. I wouldn't know if it's enough for a family.

Is the turnover rate for this career high or low?
Most JETs stay 2 years, but with the recent economic downturn, many JETs are choosing to stay even longer.

Do most people stay in this career until they are retired or move on to something else?
It's a one year contract that is renewable up to 3 years, and also up to a maximum of 5 years for exceptional ALTs.

Do you feel that you are treated fairly in this career by your coworkers and superiors?

Good luck!

Monday, September 07, 2009

2010 JET Application - out soon - check with the consulate homepage for your area

Good links in the sidebar on the YouTube page for this video.

Good luck to everyone applying this year for the 2010-2011 JET year.


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Jason in San Diego - Vlog #1 - Legoland

Hello All -

Been a while since I posted to this blog.

Here is a fun video of my trip to Legoland last month - I went the first weekend I was home from Japan.

Hope all is well where you are.


Friday, August 07, 2009

Back in the USA

Not quite "Back in the USSR" as The Beatles once sang about, but I am back in the United States - in northern San Diego to be specific.

I got in last week after a LONG journey home from Osaka via Seoul to Los Angeles and then two hours on the freeway to San Marcos, where my parents now live.

I hope to have updates on my new job here and my plans for moving back to Japan in 2010 as they happen and materialize.

I'll have pics too - I know my Flickr site is not fully functional at the moment as I let my "pro" status lapse, but I'll have it back up and running soon. Of course, I continue to update my main two YouTube channels - Myargonauts and TaishaJason.

It was very sad and stressful and exhausting leaving Japan after 5 years, but I hope to settle in here and enjoy the next 6 months or so before I go back to Japan in March of 2010 (either for a visit or to go back there to live).

Hope all is well.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

5 years in a song....

I've been asked many times in recent days to sum up my 5 year experience here in rural Japan as an ALT. There are so many aspects, both personal and professional, that I would need to talk about that I can't adequately do the experience justice in a short blog post or casual conversation at karaoke or over dinner.

To put it very simply - I have enjoyed my time here in Shimane beyond words.

This experience has been transformative for me - a life altering experience that I don't think I'll ever fully recover from - and that's a good thing.

My life here has been filled with friends and fun times, and also frustrations and sadness. The overwhelming outpouring of well-wishes from my co-workers and students these past few weeks has been really touching, and I know that the hard work I put in over the years has been appreciated.

I went to a sayonara party last night with about 10 area shogakko teachers that wanted to say Thank You to me - some have been teaching with me for 5 years. They serenaded me with SMAP's "Arigatou" at karaoke and needled me about finding a nice wife when I return to America. It was a fun party!
And they talked about my relationship with the students like I was more than just an ALT - like I was a friend and they kept using the words "famous" and "popular" which made me a little embarrassed but also good inside.

Just the previous night I was invited to another sayonara karaoke party with about 20 former students, all now in HS, and the contrast was funny. The choice of songs with the slightly drunk teachers was Eagles and Bay City Rollers and Joe Cocker, while the kids were happy to sing the latest GReeeeN or HY song and had no interest in singing English songs.

I was asked once what song I would listen to as I flew away from Japan...
and again recently I was asked to "reflect" on my time here for a local JET publication and this is the song that I found that I think pretty well sums up my time as a rural ALT.

It's a Billy Joel song from early in his career, and it's among my Top 10 favorite songs of all time...

"Summer, Highland Falls"

They say that these are not the best of times
But they're the only times I've ever known
And I believe there is a time for meditation
In cathedrals of our own
Now I've seen that sad surrender in my lover's eyes
And I can only stand apart and sympathize
For we are always what our situations hand us
It's either sadness or euphoria

So we'll argue and we'll compromise
And realize that nothings ever changed
For all our mutual experience
Our separate conclusions are the same
Now we are forced to recognize our inhumanity
Our reason coexists with our insanity
So we choose between reality and madness
It's either sadness or euphoria

How thoughtlessly we dissipate our energies
Perhaps we don't fulfill each other's fantasies
So we stand upon the ledges of our lives
With our respective similarities
It's either sadness or euphoria

To Shimane: Sayonara - mata ne - see you again.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

My farewell speech at Taisha Jr High School

My last day of being an ALT happened on Friday, July 17th.

I spent the day at my main Jr High School - Taisha Chu, where I first started teaching in August of 2004.

I've spent the past two weeks saying goodbye at all my other schools - some were emotional farewells, others were less so, but I knew that Taisha JH would be the one that would be the hardest for me.
Luckily, I decided to do my entire speech in English. I could have struggled with some Japanese, but then the kids would have been distracted by my muddy pronunciation and the mere fact that I was speaking full sentences. :)
So I asked one my JTEs - Mr. Toma - to stand beside me on the stage and translate what I was saying into Japanese. This gave me time in between my paragraphs to collect myself and keep it together, and it even distracted me a bit - worrying about where I should pause for the translation - so I only cried a few times during the speech.

The opening line, where I mention how hot it is, became too prophetic, as it was sooooooo hot and humid in the gym - everyone was sweating and sticky.

I got a nice surprise at the start of my farewell ceremony, when the new Kocho sensei (School Principal) made his introduction speech entirely in English. And he speaks very well - it's a shame that I've only been able to work with him since this past April.

The whole day on Friday was a special day for me - one that I will never forget. I have lots of photos, mementos, thank you cards, and memories from that day.

Here is the text of my speech:

Farewell speech for Taisha JH
July 17, 2009

Good morning everyone.
I know it’s hot today, so I will try to keep this speech short, but I have a few things I want to say on my last day here at Taisha Jr. High School.

When I first came to Japan in 2004, I was very nervous about my new job as an ALT. I had never been to Japan before, I didn’t speak Japanese and I had never heard of Shimane before.
But on my very first day in Shimane I met Moriyama Kyoko sensei - and she has been my friend for 5 years now. Everywhere I went, people in Taisha were so nice to me and welcomed me to Shimane. I want to thank some of the teachers that have been here since I first arrived in 2004, like Akagi sensei, Kojima sensei, Maniwa sensei and especially Kyoto sensei. He has been so kind to me all these years and helped me very much. And I want to thank teachers no longer here, like Sakamoto sensei and Nishi sensei for all the wonderful concerts, Ishitobi sensei and Matsuo sensei for letting me play kendo, and of course all the great English teachers I’ve taught with - Hama sensei, Kada sensei, Honda sensei, Yamamoto sensei, Ninose sensei, Nariai sensei, and Nagami sensei.
I want to thank all the current teachers here today for being patient with my poor Japanese. Also, for letting me attend so many sports events and music concerts. I also want to thank the current English teachers for all their help and patience and fun lessons. To Iwanari sensei and Sano sensei - arigatou! I have to say a special “thank you” to Mr. Toma, who has been my friend for 4 years and helped me in many ways - honto ni arigatou gozaimasu! Last, but not least, I must thank Kyoko Moriyama sensei. I once read a book in her class about a “Giving Tree” that does all it can to help her friend. Ms. Moriyama has been my “giving tree” for 5 years - many, many, many times she has helped me and we’ve had so much fun in our English classes and at school events like Sports Day that working with her is a true joy.
To all the staff and teachers at Taisha Chu - I say “Thank You!” To the students I say - you are very lucky. I have taught at many schools with many teachers. The teachers here at Taisha Chu work very hard and care so much about their students. You are all very lucky to have such nice and thoughtful teachers and staff.

Being an ALT is not a difficult job. I enjoy teaching English, talking with students, participating in school events, and talking about America. But sometimes it can be difficult to live all alone and so far from home. Therefore, many people ask me - “Jason, why have you stayed in Taisha for 5 years?” And I have many answers - I like Japan, I like Shimane, I like living in a small, peaceful town, I like my job as an ALT.
But my real answer is “my students.” All of you have become my family and Taisha now feels like my home. All the 3nen sei here today were 4th graders at shogakko when I first came to Japan in 2004. The 1nen sei were shogakko 2nen sei. Perhaps more than any other teacher here in Taisha, I have watched you grow up. I have seen you become teenagers, and seen your personalities change and develop as you got older. I have also watched older students graduate from Taisha Chu, go on to High School and even on to University. I am very proud of all my students. You are all great people and I have enjoyed getting to know all of you.
I want to thank you - the students, for being such good students all these years. For being my friend, chatting with me in English and trying so hard in your English classes. I know you can achieve anything you set your mind and heart to - I believe in you.

And I want to take a moment to give you some advice. Travel! That is my advice. Japan is a wonderful place, full of great culture and traditions. I have enjoyed learning about the history of Izumo and Shimane and been lucky enough to travel to many other fascinating places in Japan.
Many young people all over the world are very interested in learning about Japan. Please tell them about your country. There are so many amazing things to see in this world - in Africa, in Australia, in Europe and in America, that I hope you get a chance to see some of them. Don’t be afraid to take a chance and leave the safety of Japan, where you know the language and the culture. Try new things and accept new challenges. I was a little scared when I first moved to Japan, but these past 5 years have been among the best in my life. I took a chance and I made many mistakes, but that’s ok. There is a saying - “Failure is the stepping stone to success.” (Shippai wa seikou no moto) I agree - learn from your mistakes and continue to to do the best you can.
When you travel to other countries, the language you can use almost anywhere is English. I know it’s hard now, at age 13 or 14, to see how important English can be, but if you study hard, English can be your ticket to the world.

Anywhere I go in the world after today, I will always carry in my heart many precious memories of my time here at Taisha Chu.
I have really enjoyed so many school events, like Sports Day, Culture Festival, your club competitions and concerts and graduation. My favorite activity has been the English Speech contests, where Taisha Chu has won many prizes.
I hope our classes together have been interesting and even fun sometimes. I will miss playing games and reading the book together and helping you study.
I have thousands of pictures in my computer of students and events at Taisha Chu. Smiling students, laughing students posing with the peace sign -students arm in arm - together as friends. I also have thousands more trapped in my mind - moments frozen in time that I will remember always.

I will never forget all the fun moments and smiling faces. I will never forget all the times we chatted in the halls between classes, all the lunch times we spent together, all the sports events where I cheered you on to victory, all the concerts where I heard wonderful music. I will never forget all the friends I have in Taisha.
Thank you so much for being my friend. I am very sad to leave, but I am happy to know that anytime I come back to Taisha, I will see so many of my friends again.

Please show the new ALT the same kindness you have shown me. Just like me when I first arrived, he will be very nervous. So please introduce yourself in English and welcome him to Taisha Jr. High School.

It’s very hard to leave, but I know I will see you again. So instead of saying Sayonara, I will simply say mata ne - see you again.

Thank you very much for listening.

And after that I had a great day - chatting with my kids, taking more pictures, playing kendo after school and then going to a really nice teacher party in the evening.

Lots more to do before I leave Japan, but I wanted to take a moment to remember this special day.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Preview of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament in Nagoya - 2009

For the next two weeks I'll be enjoying my last Sumo tournament for a while.

This is my rundown of where the wrestlers are in the rankings and what to expect during this basho.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Like bubblegum with a wafer in the middle

1. Products in Japan amuse me at times. Especially when they misuse English.

2. School farewells are tough - I have two more tomorrow and three next week. Gambarimasu!

3. Japan in the summer sucks! OK, ok - it doesn't suck, but damn it's hot!

4. I didn't mention it in this vlog - but I got to go swimming with about 12 of my students yesterday at the school pool. It was so refreshing and fun! 12 boys who are in the "Fun Sports Club" get to use the pool after school and I was asked to join them. We had a blast! I may be a fat old geezer, but I can swim like a fish. :D

5. I can't wait to be back in the States to drink regular Pepsi again. It's sad that I'm looking forward to cola... :P

6. This video is over 10 minutes long - if you watched all the way to the end I owe you a sticker! :D


PS - the really sad thing is I don't even chew gum.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Getting your hair cut in Japan

A skit and an interview - 8 minutes of pure goofiness. :)

My good friends at the local hair salon - Carriere - are fans of my blog and YouTube channel - so I asked them if they would like to be in a video with me. They said "mochiron."

The skit is meant to show that even with minimal Japanese you'll still be able to get by - use the Japanese you know and you'll be surprised how much English some shopkeepers and other folks know. Fumiko didn't really know what I was going to say/do in the skit, so she did a pretty good job of being a Japanese person. :D

I really have enjoyed each visit to the salon - I've come to think of it as my most pure Japanese language relationship. Fumiko and I chat about world events, sports (she likes sumo too), local gossip - all kinds of things - and we do it almost entirely in Japanese. She doesn't want to practice her English on me, like so many Japanese adults do when you meet them, and we don't have to talk about school, which is refreshing.
My Japanese was pretty bad when I first arrived in 2004, but she's been really patient and we've had a great time chatting along the way these past 5 years.

I hope you enjoy the vid!


Friday, June 26, 2009

Breaking news - Michael Jackson has died at age 50

This from

Michael Jackson has died, according to stunning reports from Los Angeles. The 50 year old suffered a cardiac arrest at his home in Holmby Hills, Los Angeles on Thursday and paramedics were called to the scene. Reports suggest the King of Pop was unconscious and not breathing.

The medics had to perform CPR on the superstar as they rushed him to UCLA Medical Center. claims the Thriller singer has since died.


This is crazy news. I'm reading this at about 7:30am here in Japan as I prepare to go to school. I don't have time to write a reaction now, but I'll add one tonight.


Monday, June 22, 2009

TRANSFORMERS 2: Revenge - an early review from Japan

My thoughts on the big summer blockbuster, which actually opened in Japan a few days before it opens in America.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Not everyone likes us

Recently I posted a video about the challenges and rewards of teaching at Elementary school in Japan. I'm trying to get some of my thoughts and experiences teaching here for 5 years on video before I leave Japan in just over a month.

As always, my vids get comments and I get emails wanting more info, etc.

But this time I got another video posted as a "response" to my video.

The video was about 2 ALTs (maybe JETs - but I'm not sure - they could be with another company) who got arrested in Okinawa ken for having crystal meth. Drugs are a big huge No-No! here in Japan and there is zero tolerance.

But the interesting part was what was written in the sidebar description box...

I've copy and pasted it here with no corrections or additions/deletions.

Just goes to show that for all the kids I've helped become more interested in English over the years and all the Japanese friends I've made, there is still a very small amount of Japanese citizens who resent us being here on the taxpayers dime.

Here is the content:

The superintendent of education said
「Trust in the education is damaged and regrettably. Severe disposal is examined including the dismissal. 」

what a nauseating sight.
This is why I hate gaijins.
this kind of crimes committed by gaijins is on the rise and has become a social problem.
it seems sign of going from bad to worse.
these gaijins doesn't want to follow the rule of japanese society..


Dear jet.
do you get certified as tefl,tesol,M.Ed?
most of your associate in japan are only speaking native tongue...
they are not qualified teacher.

it was originally started in 1987 to trade friction between Japan and the U.S.
How many country would employ, even as simple language teachers, unskilled foreigners who could
not speak, write and read the national language?
only japan.
What a nonsense.

Now, existence value of jet is nothing.
there is a movement to do abolition of jet.
it is positive trend.

the problem is Administrators of jet, called clair.
that's what we call "amakudari",
clair is seen as a symbol of corruption of official.
we japanese have doubt about the way of using taxpayer money.

we'll see the end of the jet programme in not-so-distant future.
slowly but surely many japanese is realizing this.

it's very regretful that
i heard some jet persons are always bad- mouthing japan on the web.
stop it.
that's unforgivable rude
ingratitude to japan.

in fact, you receive very preferential treatment(like striking mismatch)from japan.
You're encouraged to remember that japan spend money 40000 million yen a year to feeding jet foreigners.
this is our tax.

I've had comments left on my videos similar to this in the past - and I've even tried to be reasonable and have a discussion with these types of people, but they're not interested in a dialog - just a one-way, narrow minded attack on what they see as a waste of taxpayer money. Of course, I humbly disagree.


Monday, June 15, 2009

A few June Updates

Hello All -

I noticed when I logged in to Blogger just now that this is my 901st post. I'm sure I passed 900 a ways back, but I've deleted some old posts along the way (usually cuz they were linked to photos that are no longer public) and I'm now at 900+ posts. Kinda crazy in a way. I've been posting to this blog for about 4 1/2 years, so that's about 200 posts a year. Not bad. :)

Anyway - it's interesting (at least to me) that after spending so much time on this blog, and then shifting my attention to my much more viewed channel page over at YouTube, that I'm now going to start using Twitter.

I've had some people bugging me about why I hadn't signed up for Twitter yet. I didn't really see the appeal, but I'm not going to have as much time to vlog and blog over the next few months as I prepare to leave Japan, so maybe the brevity of Twitter will work best for me.

My address over there is Twitter(dot)com/TaishaJason

Check it out and feel free to leave feedback.

I never seem to catch on to these social network sites - I have a MySpace page that I haven't logged onto in over a year and the only time I go to my FaceBook page is when someone leaves me a message over there.
I spend a lot of time on my computer, but I just don't visit these sites that often.

Not really much else to report at this time.

I just got back from a 3-day English camp called CHESS that I've blogged about here many times in the past. It was, as always, a great and exhausting time - one of my most favorite JET events of the year.

I now have to turn my attention to leaving. I have to pack, send boxes back to America, try to sell some things here, give away clothes and books, etc., finalize my bills, get my plane ticket home, and the list goes on.

I have a few more big events before I leave, including a special library event on July 4th that I'll tell you more about soon, but basically my attention has to be on preparations for leaving and saying goodbyes. July 30th (my tentative leave date) will be here before I know it, and I don't want to rush around in my final week.

Hope all is well where you are.


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Golden Week trip to Hiroshima

Golden Week trip to Hiroshima - 4.jpg
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

I spent one day of my Golden Week holidays in early May visiting nearby Hiroshima with Mike, a college student studying in Shimane, and his wife, Kim.

We had a nice day of sightseeing, shopping and eating.

I made a vlog about the first part of our day, which we spent at the Peace Park and Peace Memorial Museum.

You can see it on my YouTube channel Here.

I'll post a 2nd vlog soon with footage of us eating okonomiyaki and walking around the city.

More pics can be seen at my Flickr page by clicking on the pic above.


Friday, May 29, 2009

Penn Says:Japanese Rape Game

Penn is a famous magician/comedian/actor in America.

He has an interesting channel on YouTube that I subscribe to.

I agree with most of what he says here - a well thought out and interesting discussion.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

How to Make Bento (Japanese Boxed Lunch)

I often see this channel's videos, since the channel is labeled "Guru" on YouTube, just like my channel. So their videos are often above mine on the "top rated" or most viewed lists.

I haven't really watched one before, but I have to admit, I watched this one all the way thru - just fascinated by how a bento is made.
I've seen my kids open amazing looking bento lunches for years now, and I always wondered if they were hard to make.

While this example features some over-the-top features for cuteness and interest, it's actually not that far from the reality I've often seen at school.


Monday, May 25, 2009

2009 May Grand Sumo Tournament - Day 15 - Final Day

A nice summary of the final day of action, from NHK world channel -so all the commentary is in English.

It was a great tournament - one of the most exciting I've seen during my five years watching SUMO.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Asashoryu: Sumo's big bad boy 2 朝青龍 明徳

An interesting 3-part interview with the Grand Champion - Asashoryu. The CNN interviewer asks questions in English and Asa responds in Japanese with English dub over.

Go to the YT page and you can click on parts 1 and 3.


Tokyo Day 13 - Hakuho v Harumafuji - May 22, 2009

A great match between two fantastic foes with an unexpected and thrilling finish!

I love SUMO! :D


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Kansai Men's Students Finals 2009

This is college level kendo. I'm not sure how many of my students, who are playing kendo in Jr High School, go on to compete at the college level.

At about the 2:45 mark in this video, you see a good example of the "tsuki" attack, or neck thrust, that is actually not allowed at the Jr High level.

And the very end of the video contains some quick points.

I'll be editing and posting a kendo video of my own very soon.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Tokyo Day 4 - Harumafuji v Goeido - May 13, 2009

My coverage of the current sumo tournament is well under way on my new YouTube channel I have dedicated to SUMO. :)

Check it out!


Saturday, May 09, 2009

Japanese TV #2 - TFP2 with Rookies(ルーキーズ)and Arashi (嵐)

pretty good example of the type of TV I watch here in Japan, when I'm not watching Sumo.

I can't really follow along well enough with a drama or comedy - the actors just speak too fast for me to get it all - but I do enjoy the occasional funny game show, like Tokyo Friend Park (TFP2).

I'll be posting a few more of these clips on my TaishaJason channel on YouTube.


Friday, May 01, 2009

Summer movies in Japan

Hello All -

Well it seems to start earlier and earlier each year - the coming of the summer movie season.

When Sony started releasing the Spider-Man films during the first week of May, it started a trend of kicking off the summer "blockbuster" movie slate even earlier than the standard Memorial Day weekend start of decades past.

So this weekend in America you get the first big popcorn muncher of the season - "X-Men Origins: Wolverine."

When does this movie come out at theaters in Japan you may ask...

August 22nd! That's right, almost 4 months later! Which means, in this year when I'll be going home to San Diego in late July, I will miss seeing this movie on the big screen. It won't still be playing in America when I get home and it won't have opened here in Japan before I leave. Sucks! In fact, based on the internet buzz and reviews I'm seeing today, the movie will most likely be out on DVD back in the States by late August.

This happened last year with another big comic based movie (that actually turned out to be very, very good - unlike what I'm hearing about Wolverine) - "Iron Man" came out in May last year and didn't open here in Japan until September! I could have bought the DVD from Amazon in America and watched it before having a chance to see it on the big screen here. But I waited and I'm glad I did, as it was a great big-screen movie. (And I bought the DVD too)

I fare better with most of the rest of the summer fare I really want to see, with the exception of the latest from Pixar - "Up."
It opens around Memorial Day weekend (May 29th) in America, but doesn't open here until December 19th - the Japanese market is holding it back as a Winter holiday movie here. So I'll miss it on the big screen as well.
Same thing happend with "Wall-E" last year - but with that one they also only released it to the big screen here in my area dubbed in Japanese so I waited to see it on DVD so I could watch it in English.

Other summer movies I'm looking forward to this year include:

Star Trek - opens May 29th here in Japan

Terminator Salvation (T4) - opens about three weeks after America (21 May) here in Japan on June 13th

Transformers 2 - Revenge (as it's called here) - opens in Japan on June 20th
This movie actually opens a few days before it opens in America on June 24th. Which is interesting since the first film did well here, but not Pirates of the Carribean well. Heck, I may have to go see it and make a vlog about it and spoil it for everyone in the States for a change. LOL

Harry Potter 6 - opens July 15th (same day as in the States). This franchise is immensely popular here, so I'm not surprised we don't have to wait for this one.

Another July opening here is Monsters v Aliens, an animated 3D film that looks like a lot of fun. It opened in March in the States. Luckily, the amazing new movie theater in my area has a nice 3D theater within its 10 screens, so I can see it in 3D.

As for more adult fare - it can be hit or miss. Something like Angels and Demons will open at about the same time, but something like "Knocked Up" from a few years ago won't even be released here on the big screen - comedies don't play well here. Dramas depend entirely on who the star is - if it's got Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp, then it gets released here.

Something like Land of the Lost - which has Will Ferrell - a big star in America but no big deal here - and is based on an old American TV show - doesn't even have a Japanese release date listed on the IMDB. Since it comes out in June in America, it's another one I'll probably miss on the big screen.

OK - well, it's a big holiday week coming up here next week - 4 holidays in a row known as Golden Week - but not much is playing at the local theater for me to go see. I saw Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino last week (it just opened here) and I don't think there is much else coming until Angels and Demons in mid May. (Unless you count 17 Again - which is getting a timely release here as Zac Efron has become popular here due to the strong DVD rentals of the High School Musical franchise here and the fact that the Disney channel is a popular cable channel here)

Right now, I'm most excited about Star Trek and the new Terminator - can't wait to see both!


Thursday, April 30, 2009

Saturday, April 25, 2009

SMAP's Kusanagi Kun/草彅君 Arrested! - Breaking Japanese News

Some interesting aspects of Japanese culture are discussed after they finish talking about the breaking news involving a member of popular J-pop group SMAP.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Shortening Japanese (Tofugu)

Really well-made vlog helping you speak better Japanese (or at least more natural sounding Japanese).

Deas is a fellow ALT in another part of Japan.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

10 questions

Hello All -

I get tons of email at my YouTube page - most of it from JET applicants or people interested in living in Japan.

I do my best to answer as much of it as I can, but I do get asked the same question a lot by people who haven't looked thru all my videos. And I understand, since I have a lot of videos to look thru! :)

I got the email below a few days ago from a student in high school - much of my mail comes from eager high school students trying to plan out their future, a future that many of them hopes will include a job in Japan.

So have a look at Sydney's 10 questions and my 10 answers below.



My name is Sydney and I am a high school student who is interested in teaching English in Japan in the future. I'm working on a career portfolio project in my English class and I was hoping that I could interview you for the "Ask an Expert" portion. If you are busy and don't have the time to answer these questions, please let me know as soon as possible. Also, I'm very sorry if one of these questions were already answered in one of your videos. My boyfriend recently informed me of your videos on YouTube and I was in a hurry to write you this message. However, I will be watching more of your videos. :) Ah, so sorry about the length of this message. Now for the questions:

1. What do you like most about your job?

2. How did you become interested in your career?

3. Briefly describe some of your job responsibilities.

4. Describe the education and/or training required.

5. Approximately how many hours do you work a week?

6. What is the approximate salary range in your area?

7. What do you like least about your job?

8. Does your job come with any benefits?

9. Do you get along with your co-workers/boss/etc.?

10. How long have you had your job?

Thanks for your time!

- Sydney

Hi Sydney -

Well, seeing as we're both from San Diego, I'd be happy to answer your questions.

Glad you're enjoying my vids - please subscribe when you have time.

1 - The best part of my job is helping my students - not only to learn English, but to learn about America and to help them be comfortable speaking to a foreigner.

2 - Before I found out about the JET Programme, I was in college (at UCSD) and studying with the goal of becoming a high school history teacher. So I was already interesting in teaching, and when I found out about JET I decided to try teaching in Japan.

3 - I'm an ALT, which means Assistant Language Teacher. Even though I'm an assistant, I still have to do many of the same things the regular teacher does - teach lessons, prepare lessons, grade papers, go with the students to school events, help with English speech contests, etc.

4 - To be a JET, you have to have a college degree - a BA or BS. You don't have to have a degree in education, but it helps to have had some teaching or youth volunteer experience when you apply.

5 - 35 to 40.

6 - JETs make 3,600,000 yen per year. With the current exchange rate at around 100yen = $1 - that's about $36,000 per year.

7 - After a few years of being an assistant, you do start to want to run your own classes and make more of the decisions about what to study and how to study it. And being an assistant also means that you have to be asked to join classes by the main Japanese teacher of English, so some days you are very busy and other days you are not busy.

8 - Yes, being a JET includes good benefits - excellent health care in the Japanese National system, 20 paid vacation days per year and subsidized rent for my apartment.

9 - Well, that's a tricky question here since there is a language barrier for many JETs who don't speak Japanese well. But I do get along with most of my fellow English teachers very well, and I wish I spoke better Japanese so I could get to know my other co-workers better.

10 - JET is a one-year contract, but you can renew up to five years maximum. I am in my fifth year, so my job ends this July.

Hope that was helpful.

Jason H.

Friday, April 17, 2009


So this is the most watched video on the Japanese YouTube main page today.

It's two skits from a TV show. Watching it - if you have no idea what they're saying or why people are laughing - welcome to my world. :)

I often channel surf, but I seldom watch any variety or comedy show for too long. While I do get the cultural references some of the time (for example - I think the first skit is a parody of a popular TV show) and I do understand some of the Japanese - most of the humor here goes right over my head.

The actors or comedians on most shows 1 - talk way too fast for me and 2 - often use Kansai dialect full or words and expressions I'm not familiar with.

It's tough sometimes living somewhere where you're never really in on the joke and you can't really make jokes of your own.
Again - the more you can learn Japanese, the more you will enjoy your time in Japan.

My students will most likely enjoy this clip.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Gathering Storm by Coughlan666 (RATED R)

WARNING - this does have a bunch of bad language, but I haven't laughed as hard at anything on YouTube in a long while.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Scrap Teacher eng subbed Ep 1 Part 1/7

I'm lucky that my Jr High is not like the one portrayed in this popular Japanese TV show - "Scrap Teacher."

The show is popular because 4 of the young male actors are from a very popular J-pop boy band called "Hey! Say! Jump!"

But I like the lead adult actor who plays the 29-year-old new teacher at the school.

It's great to be able to watch stuff like this on YT with added subtitles.


For more, just click on the above video YT icon or wait until the end and click the link for part 2.

Friday, April 10, 2009

First Day of school at my Japanese Jr. High - Part ONE

April 8th was the first day of the new Japanese school year.

I'll only be teaching for first term, as my job with JET ends in July.

So it was a bittersweet start to the year this time - knowing that it will end soon made it a bit sad.


Monday, April 06, 2009

Apple's all-new 3G iPod shuffle; it talks to you!

I'm a huge Apple computers fan - ever since 2004, when I got the iBook laptop I'm typing on at this moment , I've enjoyed hearing about each new innovation and product.

I bought my iPod (video, 40gb) back in 2005 or 2006 - I can't even remember now. I still use it all the time - it's been particularly helpful here showing pictures and slideshows in class. And I love having it for long train trips or flights home.

This new iPod Shuffle is pretty amazing - doubt I'll be buying one, but it sure looks cool. :)


Saturday, April 04, 2009

Pictures and vlogs from my Tokyo trip - part 2

Tokyo - Feb 09 trip - Day Four - 3.jpg
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Hello All -

I've finally had some time during my Spring Break to update my FLICKR page with the rest of my Tokyo pictures.

These include pictures from Sunday, when I went to a famous Buddhist temple in Asakusa called Senso-ji. And I traveled by train out to neighboring Saitama prefecture to visit the John Lennon Museum.

Both were worthwhile destinations and I recommend them both to people visiting Tokyo.

The picture above is me in the lobby of the JLM - you aren't allowed to take any pictures or video in the actual museum, so that's about all I have, except for a few vlogs I shot at the entrance:

The temple at Asakusa is a very famous landmark in Tokyo and it was super crowded on the Sunday I visited.

Tokyo - Feb 09 trip - Day Four - 10.jpg

But it was interesting to see the mix of commerce, with the path leading up to the temple full of shops on both sides of the path, and the traditional, with people waving incense all over their bodies and making prayers and offerings inside the temple.

It was a great final day in Tokyo - I had just the right amount of time before I had to get the train from Ueno station back to Narita airport. And the weather stayed nice the entire time, altho it did start to get chilly on Sunday.

Unfortunately, I think all the carrying of luggage around the stations, and up and down large flights of stairs, did a number on my back, and after feeling sore all week, my back seized up on me on Friday after I got back and I was in bed all the next weekend, basically unable to move and in great pain, necessitating a trip to the Japanese emergency room that Sunday. Sucks to get old! :P

Anyway - the trip was excellent - I had a great time, met some cool people, saw some awesome sites and ate some great food.

I can't wait to do it again!


Tokyo - Feb 09 trip - Day Four - 20.jpg

100 Scariest Movie Moments - 01 - Jaws

People often ask me what my favorite film of all time is, and I have many, but if pressed I say "JAWS."

For me, it's just a perfect movie. And oddly enough, I never saw it on the big screen when it was originally released in 1976. (I was only 7 years old and I lived in California, so my parents wisely didn't let me see it or I would have never gone to the beach again)
But I never saw "SIngin' in the Rain," "Casablanca," or "Bridge on the River Kwai" on the big screen either, so that's not a big deal.

It was probably the fact that I discovered the movie on VHS and could watch it over and over again (which I did) that has let it become my all time favorite movie.

Everything about it is fantastic - the pace, the plot, the acting, the effects, and of course, the music.

I realized that it's a genre picture and maybe hard to compare to something like Schindler's List or Citizen Kane, but for me, JAWS is endlessly watchable and a great example of everything that Steven Spielberg does so well.


Thursday, April 02, 2009

Behind the Scenes at MyArgonauts Productions

Happy April Fool's Day everyone. This vid has been getting some good reaction from my viewers on YouTube.

Hope you enjoy it. :D


Utada Hikaru - First Love (karaoke)

I really like the style of lyrics seen in the above video.

Watching karaoke vids is a great way to learn Japanese. Many standard karaoke vids include furigana for the kanji, so as long as you know at least hiragana you can follow along. This video is even easier as the Japanese is transcribed into romaji.

Utada is immensely popular here, altho she hasn't had a big hit in over a year.
This song is an early hit for her and one of my favorite sappy J-pop songs.
I'm not sure who to compare her to - maybe Christina Aguilera - since they both are talented vocalists, have had many big hit records, and both started singing at a young age.

The video below is a live version of the song and you can see how Utada looks now.


Thursday, March 26, 2009


Hello All -

I have lots of things to tell you, and no time it seems to type it all up and post it here.

But I should have some time starting this weekend, as I'll be on Spring Break starting tomorrow. yeah!

I'm not going anywhere or doing anything special - just hanging out in my town and trying to catch up on things that need doing, like cleaning my apartment, seeing some movies (Watchmen - yeah!), and updating this here blog.

I'm sure many of you watch my vlogs over on YouTube, and I've been pretty active over there, but I want to spend some time here as well - I have some text posts percolating in my brain that I want to share with y'all.

Also, I need to update my Flickr site, which is way behind. Altho the fun of it has gone mostly for me now that I can't post pics of me with my students, I will try and get the rest of my Tokyo pics posted and some other recent pics as well.

Thanks for reading and I hope your Spring is off to a nice start.

Be Seeing You,

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Another good vlog from my buddy Koichi.

A good one for my students to watch!


Monday, March 09, 2009

Response - Getting to know TaishaJason

More than you ever wanted or needed to know about me. :)

To follow along with the list, click on the YouTube icon in the lower right corner and watch the video on the YT page so you can access the sidebar.

I invite comments and responses.


Friday, March 06, 2009

New STAR TREK trailer

I was never a big Star Trek fan. In that old pop-culture debate, Star Wars vs Star Trek (similar to Elvis vs The Beatles or Batman vs Spider-Man), I was always on the side of the Jedi, Wookies and lightsabers over the side with phasers, Tribbles and bad Scottish accents.

But I certainly enjoyed Star Trek growing up - the original TV series with the best captain (which is another debate - Kirk vs Picard) was always something I liked to watch, but I hadn't seen every episode and I didn't know obsessive details about each show. I had a friend in High School named Chris who was a big Trekkie and he got me to watch some of the best of the original series, like Wolf in the Fold and City on the Edge of Forever. Well, as you can see, I now can name episode titles, so I've grown into being a Trekker (the more recent term for a Trek fan), but I'm still not an uber fan.

What prompted my interest even more than Chris's enthusiasm for the old series was the new series - The Next Generation - that started when I was a Freshman in college. The first season was a bit stiff and awkward at times, but the show grew into an interesting parable of life here even tho the action took place in distant galaxies far into the future. I became a bigger fan of "Next Gen" than I was a fan of the Kirk and Spock version of Trek.

But the first Next Gen movie - called Generations - was a disappointment. The previous 6 ST movies, with the original crew - had been somewhat hit or miss - the generally accepted wisdom nowadays is that the even numbered ones - 2, 4 and 6 - are good movies, with #2 being my personal fave - and the odd numbered ones are not very good, or even downright awful, as in #5. (Although I have a lot of affection for #3 - The Search for Spock)
The Next Gen movies hit their stride with their 2nd attempt - First Contact - which features perhaps the best villian in any of the movies, even better than Khan in ST #2 - the Borg.
Star Trek movies, like Bond films, get by on their established characters, but what makes them really memorable and fun and exciting is a great villian.

So it's with interest that I watch the build-up for the new Trek film, coming to screens in May (even here in Japan where it comes out on May 29th).
Simply titled "Star Trek," this film chronicles the early adventures of Kirk and Spock and the original crew, all played by new, younger actors. The film is being directed by JJ Abrams, who is responsible for Lost and Alias on American TV,

The trailer below is pretty excellent - giving a good indication that the film will be action packed and exciting. What's missing, at least in the trailer, is a hint of the comedy that makes Trek so much fun - no dialog from Scotty in this trailer - and I'm still not sure if Nero, the new villian played by Eric Bana, will be memorable or not, but I'm certainly very excited to see the film.

Abrams has to walk a fine line here - please all the core Trekers out there while trying to build a new audience that will want to "bodly go" on more adventures in the future.
Many casual movies fans will dismiss this picture based on the title alone - "pphhht" Star Trek? - I don't like Star Trek, some of them will say, but if the movie succeeds, then perhaps even casual fans or older fans, like myself, who didn't buy into the recent TV incarnations of the franchise, like Voyager, Deep Space Nine and Enterprise, will give Star Trek another chance.

Watch and enjoy! (There is a short commercial before the trailer begins)