From Mie Guidebook
There are just over 100 JETs placed in Mie, one of the most relaxed and friendly prefectures in Japan, and you are about to join them!
A welcome message from Mie AJET
Hello and Welcome to Mie-ken, the best prefecture in Japan! Although it has a more relaxed country feel, Mie still has a lot to offer you to make your experience great! Mie is home to beautiful mountains which are famous for hiking, such as the Kumano-kodo, beaches to relax on, several theme parks for extra fun and excitement. Additionally, we are convienently located between Nagoya, Osaka, Kyoto and Nara for all of your touristy Japan sightseeing needs! Most importantly, however, Mie serves up a fabulous bunch of people to party and adventure with as well as a great AJET council to facilitate your need to get down in Japan. Whether it be through sports, cultural activities or drunken merry making (or combination of all three) we’re here to help.
Mie AJET is a group of volunteers from within the Mie JET community who meet regularly to organised social, cultural and sporting events. Mie AJET also pays for and runs this website. Although many prefecture's AJET organisations charge a membership fee, Mie AJET is completely free to join.
I'm an ALT coming to Mie, but where in Mie will I end up?
There are 2 types of ALTs, Prefectural and Municipal.
Prefectural ALTs are organised by the main office in Tsu and are usually senior high school ALTs. Many new Prefectural ALTs are at first under the wrong impression they will be based in Tsu, but that is simply where all of your initial correspondence will come from. Prefectural ALTs usually aren't notified of their city or town until late June or even early July.
Municipal ALTs are hired directly by their towns and are usually junior high school-based, with visits to elementary schools, though some Prefectural ALTs also do elementary schools. You should be notified directly by your town, so you will be aware of where you will be based fairly early on.
If you want to know a little more about Mie, you should check out the Regional Guides, which have been written by local ALTs and are probably your best source of information about your new home.
Tokyo Orientation Conference
New Mie JETs will arrive first in Tokyo for a three-day orientation and will afterwards travel with a prefectural representative back to Mie on the Wednesday afternoon where they'll be picked up by a someone from their school or town. Group A usually arrives late July, with Group B arriving one week later.
All new JETs fly into Narita airport from early Sunday morning to late Sunday night. At Narita, you'll be met by current volunteer JETs who will show you to your buses and to where you can forward your heavy luggage onto your prefecture. It's helpful to have a small bag with just the items you'll need for the conference and for the first few days in your new city or town. When we catch the bullet train to Mie on Wednesday, you really don't want to be carrying big luggage as the Tokyo trains can be very crowded.
The conference runs from Monday to Wednesday and is considered a business conference, so a suit or equivalent is recommended. There are a number of seminars dealing with the JET Programme and with life in Japan. Most countries, but not the US, have an embassy night where your national embassy puts on a free meal and lets you know of things more specific to your country, such as registering for contact in emergencies, voting, and so on. There will also be a get-to-know-you bonding night for the Mie Prefecture JETs, where we'll have dinner in Tokyo and go out somewhere afterwards.
What's the weather like in Mie?
You'll be arriving in the middle of summer, so it'll be hot! Mie is sometimes described as having a mild Japanese climate, but that can be deceiving. Mie really has 3 different climates.
Firstly, there is the Ise Plains which stretch all the way from Kuwana in the north to Ise-Shima in the south. Winters are fairly mild, hovering around zero, with some snow in the north, but rare in the south. Summers are hot and fairly humid.
Secondly, there is the more mountainous regions that include Nabari, Iga and Kameyama. Expect snow in the winter, though the summers aren't quite as hot as those on the Ise Plain.
Lastly, we have the Deep South extending from Taki, past Kumano, all the way to the Wakyama border in the south. The climate here is almost sub-tropical climate. Summers are hot, though the winter is quite mild compared to the rest of Mie.
What should I bring?
Mie has a number of big, modern shopping centres and Nagoya, Osaka and Kyoto are within an easy day-trip away. You can buy most things here, but in general most people find Japanese deodorant, which lacks anti-perspirant chemicals, and Japanese toothpaste, which lacks flouride, to be fairly sub-standard. If you're shoe size is greater than about 28 cm, you may also find it difficult to buy shoes. Additionally, if you find yourself erring on the larger size of clothing due to simply having a larger build, while you may be able to find clothing that fits you in general, the fit of the clothing might be ackward, as it is often made for a heavy-set person. People with longer limbs might find pants or long-sleeve shirts difficult to acquire.
Mie Prefecture is served by two major train lines, JR and Kintetsu. Trains from Nagoya to Ise run frequently from about 5:30am to about 11:30pm and regular trains run from Matsusaka to Osaka, Nara and Kyoto. South of Ise or west of the Ise Plain, trains can be more infrequent or areas may be served by bus only.
Mie is also serviced by excellent high speed ferries that run from Yokkaichi, Tsu and Matsusaka to Chūbu International Airport (Centrair), an approximately 40 minute journey.
Earthquakes and Typhoons
Ten percent of all the world's earthquakes occur in Japan, so chances are you'll feel one while you're here. Every new JET will be issued with instructions in English on what to do in case of an earthquake. In the past 3 years there have only really been two reasonably-strong earthquakes in Mie. In April 2007, a mild earthquake caused a small amount of structural damage in Kameyama, and in September 2004 two large earthquakes hit off the coast of Mie that also caused minor structural damage and was felt as far away as Kobe. Not a single house or building suffered any major damage in either event. Generally, though, you will probably feel nothing more than minor tremors during a normal year.
Typhoons start at the end of rainy season in late June and can continue as far as late September. Generally typhoons are nothing like hurricanes or cyclones and tend to be little more than a strong wind/rain storm. As long as you don't go down to the beach or to swollen rivers, there's not much to worry about with them.
Mie Social Scene
Mie AJET organise a number of social events throughout the year. Highlights are the Halloween Party in October and Valentine's Day Ball in February in Matsusaka, as well as the Sayonara Party and the Deep South Camping trip in June/July. There are also a number of other events organised on the fly.
JET Support Networks
Moving to a foreign country where you don't know the customs or the language can be incredibly frustrating and sometimes you may need someone to talk to about problems at work or in your day-to-day life. We have several PAs (Prefectural Advisors) available to help you out. Check out the AJET page on this site to see who your PAs are. All will be available to meet at the Mie Orientation later in August.
If you don't know any Japanese, don't worry. About half the JETs who arrive in Mie know no Japanese! Many Japanese people can speak a little bit of English, and in a prefecture like Mie, the novelty of speaking English with a foreigner can often outweigh the intimidating nature of the language. Of course, the more you know before you come, the easier it will make things in your day-to-day life in Japan. Check out the Basic Japanese section for some good websites for learning common phrases, simple lessons and reading hiragana and katakana. Learning katakana is hugely helpful in the everyday, as many foods, menus in foreign restaurats, store names, and ingredient lists feature katakana heavily.
Tips for Getting the Best out of your JET Experience
Although every situation is different, here are some basic tips that may help you make the most of your time in Japan.
- Get to know your fellow JETs, both within your area and within the wider prefecture. They can be invaluable sources of support, both social and professional.
- Keep in mind that even as Japanese people themselves are much like people everywhere, the mechanisms of the culture itself can be quite different. Reactions to what you would consider common-place might be quite extreme, with the reverse being true, as well. Aim to keep both an open mind and a firm grip on your own values.
- If matter seem difficult or overwhelming at first, do not blame yourself. Much of your first months here will be spent simply learning how to get by; adapting to a new culture can be, and in ways is suppose to be, very stressful.
- Expectations are often betrayed by reality, but keep in mind what you'd like to do with your time here and what differences you'd like to make in your community, city, student body, and yourself. This will change with time, but by having this sense of purpose, it becomes easier to navigate though what is often a very self-determinted employment.
- Go out and enjoy the country and your time here! Whether this means travelling to the other end of Japan or simply visiting friends in the neighbouring city for a few days, a change in local and in activity can be both refreshing and eye-opening.
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