Allison Reed

Allison Reed is a second year JET program Assistant Language Teacher living and teaching in the city of Goshogawara in Aomori prefecture in the Tohoku region of Japan. She teaches English at five elementary schools and two junior high schools throughout the area. Allison graduated from Soka University of America in May 2005 with a Bachelor’s degree in liberal arts and a concentration in social and behavioral sciences. She enjoys living in Aomori and plans to extend her stay in Japan for several more years.

Updated April 4, 2007

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JET Tales from Aomori

If You Fingerprint Me, Will You Accept Me?

As the year draws to a close and the bonenkai (end of year party) season comes into full swing, I find myself reflecting on what it means to be a foreigner. Just a few weeks ago, on November 20th, Japan implemented a new immigration procedure that requires all foreigners entering the country to provide their picture and fingerprints. Only special permanent residents (i.e. third generation Koreans), foreigners under the age of sixteen, and diplomats/officials will be exempt. I will be subjected to this new procedure in February when I come back from a friend’s wedding and it ...

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JET Tales from Aomori

Oily Smile

“What’s that word in English again? You know, when you try and make excuses for something or you try and defend something …”

I’m sure many of us have moments where we can’t recall a certain word; those moments have become alarmingly frequent for me since coming to Japan. Whenever I talk to my friends it’s like having to play the game Taboo where you want a teammate to guess the word you are describing but you can only use limited words. My friend kindly reminded me that the word was justify. “Oh yeah! That’s the ...

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JET Tales from Aomori

Banging those drums and making friends!

It’s August fourth, 2006, two o’clock in the afternoon. My friend’s mother is wrapping my torso with a white cloth called a sarashi. Breathing and sitting become a bit more difficult as she uses all her strength to make it as tight as possible; perhaps sarashi means corset in Japanese. But it’s worth it, when she’s done it looks very kakko ii (cool, flash, stylin’). Next, I make my hair as big as possible using hairspray as if I was in the 80’s. I put on my traditional black festival pants, tabi (cloth shoes ...

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JET Tales from Aomori

Space is the norm

My friends from Tokyo came to visit me in Aomori last summer, and the first thing they said was, “Wow, I feel like I’m back in California!” I was a bit confused because I’m from California and I definitely did not have that reaction when I arrived in Aomori. My first reaction to Aomori was, “Wow, there’s nothing but rice fields!” I’ve heard there are rice fields in California, but I’ve never seen them. So I couldn’t understand what my friends were talking about.

Metropolitan Japan, specifically Tokyo, is very crowded. You can’t ...

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JET Tales from Aomori

The Unspoken Language

In the twenty years JET has been in existence, more than 46,000 young college graduates have passed through this beautiful land of Japan. Some come to learn about a new culture, some come looking to add experience to their resume, while others just come because they aren’t quite sure what they want to do and want to experience a bit of excitement before they have to decide. I decided to embark on this journey because I had fallen in love with Japan during my study abroad three years ago. Little did I know that I would fall in ...

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