Rocky Mountain JETAA Newsletter

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					     Rocky Mountain JETAA Newsletter
               A Quarterly Publication of the Rocky Mountain JET Alumni Association
Fall Edition                                                                                                       October 2005

Welcome Back!                                                          Takayama and Denver
Gina Carosa                                                            celebrate 45 years of Sister
Vice-President/ Editor
                                                                       City Ties
Okinawa, 2002-2004
                                                                       Sonia Narang
On behalf of the Rocky Mountain JET Alumni                             Member at large
Association (RMJETAA) I’d like to welcome all of the                   Gifu-prefecture, 2003-2004
returning JETs back from their adventures in Japan.
                                                                       A group of anxious Japanese high school ni-nensei
We hope that your time in Japan has left you with many
                                                                       students got off an airplane in July, ready to experience a
wonderful memories!
                                                                       week in the city they had heard so much about. Arriving in
Now that you have returned you are one of 300 JET                      Denver on their first visit to the United States, the students
Alumni belonging to the Rocky Mountain JET Alumni                      weren’t sure what to expect. What would their host families
Association. All returning JETs can find comfort within                be like? What would the Americans feed them? Where
the RMJETAA because it is comprised of JET alums                       would those giant automobiles – like the ones they had
who have done what you have done and who are all too                   just seen a few minutes ago from their airplane windows –
familiar with what you are going through now that you                  whisk them away to? The students would soon find
have returned.                                                         themselves in large American homes, trying to
Being an active member of the RMJETAA will help to                     communicate with host mothers, fathers, and siblings,
ease your transition as well as keep you connected with                eating strange concoctions, and absorbing a new culture.
other people who share your understanding and                          A mixture of anticipation and nervousness soon led to
passion for Japan. The RMJET alumni serve as                           exhaustion as jet lag began to take effect.
informal ambassadors of Japan sponsoring a variety of
events thoughtout the year that reach out to the local
Please contact Desire Thorp, president of the
RMJETAA at or myself, Gina
Carosa at, or visit our website at for more information and to learn
how to get involved. ■

        Upcoming Events
        September RMJETAA Meeting at Domo

3       Takayama and Denver (cont.)
        New JET Q & A
4                                                                        Students from Takayama enjoy a farewell dinnear in Denver
        Letter from the Editor                                           with their host families. The Japanese students and their
        The Other Sake                                                   American host siblings dressed up in yukatas (Japanese
5                                                                        summer dress) for the event.
        Welcome Back Party Recap
                                                                                                                  continued on page 3
*       Special Insert from the Japanese America Society of Colorado

                                                 RMJETAA Newsletter Fall 2005 - Page 1
UP COMING EVENTS                                                       September RMJETAA
RMJETAA PLANNING MEETING                                               Meeting at Domo
                                                                       Desiree Thorp
4995 LOWELL BLVD. / DENVER, CO                                         President
OCTOBER 9, 2005
                                                                       This month the RMJETAA decided to break from the
                                                                       norm and held our monthly meeting at Domo’s
Don’t be shy, get involved! Please join us for free coffee and
                                                                       Japanese Country restaurant. In case you were
good company while ensuring the ongoing success of the
                                                                       interested in attending our meetings, but were a little
                                                                       unsure as to what we do; about 5-7 alumni members
KARAOKE EVENT                                                          and officers get together (we usually have coffee that
MORI SUSHI BAR                                                         the RMJETAA pays for) and discuss past events, plan
2019 MARKET ST / DENVER, CO                                            for future events and reminisce about our sojourns in
TIME AND DATE TBA                                                      Japan. Every JET alumni is welcome to participate.
We invite all alums, returning JETs, friends and family to come        Domo’s was delicious! If you haven’t eaten there,
out and join us for karaoke. More information will be emailed to       lunch is very reasonably priced and filling. Consider
you or please check our website in the near future. We hope to         coming to the next month’s planning meeting. Get
see everyone there!                                                    involved with your local JETAA chapter; it’s a resume
RMJETAA PLANNING MEETING AND BOWLING                                   builder! This past weekend, we met at 1pm on
                                                                       Saturday instead of 2pm on Sunday because that is
                                                                       Domo’s closing time and they are not open on
                                                                       Sundays. But we usually meet at Coffee on the Lowell
NOVEMBER 13, 2005
                                                                       at 2pm, every second Sunday of the month. There will
                                                                       also be a reminder sent out via the Yahoo group a
Please meet us at the bowling alley at Jillian’s inside The Colorado
                                                                       week or two before the meeting.
Mills Mall. We would love to for you to join us for free bowling and
good company while ensuring the ongoing success of the                 See you next time! ■
RMJETAA! Please RSVP to for this meeting
so that we may reserve enough space.

DECEMBER 11, 2005
It’s not too late to get involved! Come and find out what happens
behind the scenes and join us for free coffee. By attending a
meeting you will be ensuring the ongoing success of the RMJETAA!


Submit articles and have your name entered into a drawing for a $25
gift certificate to a Japanese restaurant. Article ideas – Japanese    RMJETAA Members, friends and family enjoy delicious
news, announcement/ reviews of local events, Japanese recipes,         traditional Japanese food at Domo during the September
Japanese restaurant reviews, Japanese cultural information or          monthly meeting. From left to right - James Barron, Kayoko
anything else you would like to write about that your fellow           Shinomiya, Monica Narang, Katie Bilodeau and Sonia
RMJETAA members would enjoy. ■                                         Narang.

                                                   RMJETAA Newsletter Fall 2005 - Page 2
continued from page 1

A mere two years ago, I went through a similar experience as I                            only two years ago, I sat at a Japanese dinner table,
stepped foot in Japan for the first time. As a new JET teacher, I                         looking at items I would have never envisioned on a plate,
was ready to take on an exciting adventure, and I wondered                                Risa now sat at my dinner table, curious about the
what was in store for me. I remember nervously awaiting a ride                            content of the meal she saw in front of her.
from the teacher who would drive me three hours from the
                                                                                          After having taught Risa in Japan, it was quite interesting
shinkansen station up to the mountain village I would call
                                                                                          to watch her apply her language skills to real-life
home for the next year. The fact that I was equipped with just
                                                                                          situations in the U.S. She spoke mostly in English, rather
a few Japanese vocabulary words – one of which was kanpai –
                                                                                          than taking the easy way out and conversing with me in
was a bit scary. At least the word I did know made it a bit
                                                                                          Japanese. Risa excitedly looked up words in her
easier to make new friends!
                                                                                          electronic dictionary when she tried to communicate,
Looking back, I can’t believe it was just a little over two years                         eager to make herself understood. In shops and
ago that I first had significant contact with Japanese culture. At                        restaurants, I encouraged Risa to talk with others, and
that time, I could have never imagined I’d actually host                                  she proudly completed transactions using the language
students from Takayama only a few years later. Takayama, a                                she rarely had a chance to speak in Japan. I was
small town nestled in the mountains of central Japan, had                                 delighted to view English education outside the confines
welcomed me during my JET year in Japan.                                                  of a classroom.

                                                                                          During the week, I spent lots of time at events with the
                                                                                          student group. I got to catch up with Miyoko and Yuki,
                                                                                          also my former students at Yoshiki High School. I’ll never
                                                                                          forget the new students I met, including Yoshi, the
                                                                                          cherubic, baseball-loving boy who one day hopes to
                                                                                          attend university in Denver, and Kiyomi, the bubbly
                                                                                          teenager with her own unique style and sense of humor.

                                                                                          I’m sure the Sister City relationship between Takayama
                                                                                          and Denver will continue to grow strong with programs
Risa navigates the cereal aisle at King Soopers while shopping for omiyage (souvenirs).   such as the student trips. After experiencing wonderful
                                                                                          hospitality during my stay in Takayama, it was a
Denver and Takayama formed a Sister City relationship 45                                  remarkable opportunity for me to take care of my student
years ago, and annual student trips have helped foster the                                guests. ■
cross-cultural tie. Last year, Denver high schoolers went to
Takayama, and this summer, a group of Japanese students
from Takayama paid a visit to Denver.

I joined the Takayama Sister City Committee upon my return to
Denver from Japan. I considered myself lucky to participate
with the organization during an exciting time - the 45th
anniversary year of the Sister City relationship. In fact, the
student visit this summer coincided with a delegation from the
Takayama Mayor’s office.

I was ecstatic to find out that three of the visiting students
would come from Yoshiki High School, where I had taught
English as an ALT. I couldn’t believe I’d get to meet my
students again, after all these months, in a completely different

I signed up to host Risa, one of my former Yoshiki students. I
had grown accustomed to playing the role of the polite guest,                              Yoshiki High School students Risa Yamamoto, Miyoko Matsui, and Yuki
making it surreal for me to act as host this time around. While                            Nakamura (from left to right) used English in real-life situations during their
                                                                                           stay in Denver.

                                                        RMJETAA Newsletter Fall 2005 - Page 3
 New JET Q & A
                                                                       questions in small groups. Some of the topics included: rural
                                                                       JET, high school JET, female issues, team-teaching, financial
 Chris McMorran                                                        planning, and travel within Japan. There were also regional
 Treasurer                                                             breakout sessions, so that JETs could ask specific questions

 On June 25, ten Rocky Mountain JETAA members and the JET              related to living in places like Hokkaido, Okinawa, or Kansai.

 team from the Consulate-General of Japan helped prepare the           The last official bit of business was a book giveaway, sponsored
 new JETs for life in Japan in the annual Q and A. They were set       by JETAA. In the hopes of deepening the new JETs’ interest in
 to leave the country on July 23, so many of them were worried         Japan and learning the language, we had a free raffle and gave
 about omiyage, local dialects, internet access, obtaining an          away a number of books. The following are those we chose:
 international driver’s license, and countless other concerns that
                                                                            •   Japanese language dictionaries
 were threatening to distract from their enjoyment of beginning             •   Making out in Japanese
 their exciting new life.                                                   •   Learning to Bow: Inside the Heart of Japan
                                                                            •   Importing Diversity: Inside Japan’s JET Program
 The event allowed the new JETs to share their emerging worries             •   Looking for the Lost: Journeys Through a Vanishing
 with one another and get some feedback from those who had
                                                                            •   The Roads to Sata: A 2000-Mile Walk Through Japan
 gone through the same things. Matthew Johnson from the                     •   The Rough Guide to Japan
 Consulate began by showing a touching and humorous video                   •   The Girl With the White Flag: A Spellbinding Account
                                                                                of Love and Courage in Wartime Okinawa
 produced by actual junior high students in Japan, showcasing               •   Getting Both Feet Wet: Experiences Inside The JET
 their school life and their creative talents. This was followed by             Program
 a teaching workshop on how to use improvisation in the                     •   National Geographic Traveler: Japan
                                                                            •   Hiking in Japan (Lonely Planet)
 classroom, presented by Jon Wilkerson. Aside from being very               •   Hokkaido Highway Blues: Hitchhiking Japan
 entertaining for all participants, Jon’s advice about using           The event concluded with most of the new JETs eating a
 improvisation encouraged the new JETs to strive for a                 homemade bento, prepared that day by two JETAA members
 classroom atmosphere that invites innovation and a lack of self-      and their families and friends. We hope that the Q and A
 consciousness.                                                        session relieved some of the new JETs’ fears and allowed them

 Next came a series of break-out sessions, in which the ex-JETs        to adjust more easily to their new lives in Japan. ■

 spread out throughout the room and answered more focused

Free $25 Gift Certificate to a Japanese Restaurant of Your Choice!
A Word from the Editor…
Gina Carosa
Vice-President/ Editor

I’d like to thank everyone who submitted articles for this newsletter. Your help, time and effort making this newsletter is greatly
appreciate. As a thank you for every article that you submit, that is also printed, your name will be entered into a drawing for a $25
gift certificate to a Japanese restaurant of your choice! So those of you out there who would like to find a way to be more involved,
writing an article for the newsletter is a great way to start! Don’t be shy, almost anything goes! We would love to hear about your
favorite experience in Japan, or about the latest Japanese restaurant you visited. I would really like to encourage the JET alums
outside of Colorado to send us something so that our newsletter truly represents all RMJETAA members. You can submit
newsletter articles to me at by December 16, 2005 for the Winter Edition! Thank you in advance for getting
out your creative pen and helping to make our newsletter better!

On another note I’d also like to announce that we are looking for more RMJETAA event planners! We need YOUR help! If you
have ideas for future events and or would like to help us plan and organize events please get in contact with Desiree Thorp at Or better yet, come to one of our meetings the second Sunday of every month at Coffee on the Lowell.

I hope everyone had a fantastic summer and finds time to enjoy the changing of the seasons! Until next time, I look forward to
reading all of your articles! ■

                                                RMJETAA Newsletter Fall 2005 - Page 4
The Other Sake- Shochu
                                                                Welcome Back Party and
Michelle Carriger
Ehime-ken, 2001-2003
                                                                Sushi Rolling Demonstration
Pretty much everyone knows about that rice wine we call         Gina Carosa
                                                                Vice-President/ Editor
sake, but before going over and meeting a bunch of hard
drinking old men in my yakuba, I had never heard of the         On Saturday, September 24 the Rocky Mountain JET
other sake: shochu.                                             Alumni Association held a welcome back party for the
                                                                returning JETs. The main event of the party was a sushi
My old man enkai drinking buddies told me shochu is
                                                                rolling demonstration in which everyone participated.
“Japanese whiskey.” And this term is fairly appropriate,
                                                                Over 50 people attended this fun event, which included
because like whiskey, shochu is distilled (as opposed to
                                                                returning JETs, JET alumni and their family and friends.
the brewing process that creates nihonshu rice wine.)
                                                                Special thanks go out to Akira Shirai the Master Sushi
You can make shochu out of all kinds of materials like
                                                                Chef/teacher and to Hisako McMorran for all of their help
sweet potato (imo-jochu), rice, soba, barley, even
                                                                and expertise. Thank you everyone who attended, it was
straight-up sugar. Shochu is more popular in southern
                                                                a very successful event. For those of you who weren’t
regions of Japan where it’s rather warm to be making
                                                                able to make it this year mark your calendars now for this
good nihonshu. Shochu isn’t picky about climate,
                                                                event next September! ■
ingredients or anything and all those factors combine to
make for nice local variations on a tipsy theme.
Like whiskey, shochu comes in two main varieties:
single-malt and multiple malt. Single-malt is the older
process; it’s been around since the 14 century and
involves making alcohol out of only one material (like
potato or rice). This is like single-malt Scotch making
that comes to have a lot of local flavor due to differences
in process and ingredients.
Multiple-malt, or kou-rui, has only been around since
1911 and often involves several distillables. This mixed
ingredient style makes for a smoother, more anonymous,
liquor. It’s kou-rui shochu that puts the chu in chu-hi.
The multiple distillations, that is, extra refining, are also
                                                                  Sushi Chef Akira Shirai show returning JET, Solomon
the source of the no-hangover myth; supposedly there
                                                                  Smilack how to place the rice on the nori for making sushi.
are fewer impurities to leave you futsukayoi.
One cold night during bunkasai practice, I found myself
huddled by a kerosene heater with the fathers of several
of my students, including the mayor of the village, an
accomplished guitar player, warming our hands on tall
cups of oyu-wari: hot water and shochu, with an
umeboshi chucked in. I just call it “old man drink” and I
can attest, nothing warms these old bones better on a
cold night, après ski or just après walksing-home-from-
school-in-the-snow. ■
You can find shochu or soju its Korean equivalent (like
most things, the Japanese stole shochu either from the              RMJETAA enjoying the beautiful Boulder weather after
Koreans or the Chinese) at the Argonaut Liquor Store in             eating all they could of their own hand made sushi!
Denver and Liquormart in Boulder.                                   (Please visit our website to see more photos from the Welcome Back Party.)

                                          RMJETAA Newsletter Fall 2005 - Page 5
Rocky Mountain JET Alumni Association
PMB #464
1550 Larimer Street
Denver, CO 80202-1610

Yahoo Group:

Officer Contact Information
Desiree Thorp
Vice President/Newsletter Editor:
Gina Carosa
Chris McMorran
James Barron

         Rocky Mountain JET Alumni Association members, including two new returning JETs and the Consul General
         Mr. Ota at the Annual Welcome Back Party and Sushi Rolling Demonstration in Boulder. Left to right – Chris
         McMorran, Helena Shirai, Desiree Thorp, Michelle Carriger, Gina Carosa, Joel Weierman, Mr. Ota, Rachelle
         Bergen, Returning JET Soloman Smilack, Sonia Narang, Wendy Meyers, Returning JET Kate Howell.

                                          RMJETAA Newsletter Fall 2005 - Page 6
Newsletter 7