On Monday evening, May 17th, I received an email from the NY JET office informing me of my placement: FUKUOKA-KEN. Technically, all they gave me was the name of my Contracting Organization—of whom I will officially be an employee. Since my employer is the prefecture, that means I’ll probably be a senior high school ALT.
Here is the email I got, plus the letters that came along with it.
Fukuoka-ken is the name of a prefecture on the island of Kyushu. A prefecture is equivalent to a U.S. state, so I have no idea what city or village I’ll be in, whether it’ll be rural or urban or mainland or island or what. But from what I can tell so far, Fukuoka is awesome.
Here’s a map of Japan, with Fukuoka in red:
Here’s a map of Kyushu and all its prefectures, including Fukuoka:
Here are some fun facts I’ve found:
1) Fukuoka-shi (the capital city of the prefecture) is consistently rated the most livable city in Japan by the Japanese, and is internationally rated as one of the best cities to live in, period. (according to the Monocle Livability Index)
2) Kyushu is hella isolated from the rest of Japan. It takes 5-6 hours to Tokyo by shinkansen (bullet train), and costs around $200 each way. Or $300 each way flying, 1.5-2 hours.
3) It is the closest place in Japan to the rest of the civilized world. Fukuoka is closer to Seoul than it is to Tokyo, and Kyushu is the closest island to China. Fukuoka-shi in particular, a harbor city, served for hundreds of years as Japan’s only point of contact with the rest of the world. Western culture also seems to wend its way into Japan via Kyushu—for example, the first Costco in Japan is right outside of Fukuoka, lol.
5) Most Fukuoka prefectural ALTs live in jutaku apartments, which seem to be rundown but spacious and cheap apartment complexes housing for teachers. Here’s a sample floorplan.
And here are some resources I’ve been amassing:
http://www.fukuokajet.com/ The main website for Fukuoka JETs, created by past JETs. Has some great, some generic information.
http://www.ithinkimlost.com/applying-jet/11600-fukuoka.html A great thread all about Fukuoka JET life on I Think I’m Lost, a JET forum.
http://www.japanliness.blogspot.com A great blog from a (former?) prefectural ALT in Fukuoka
http://kyushu.com/fukuoka/ Fukuoka expat guide; I liked the info on “getting around” and how to use buses, trains, etc.
http://sherynainjapan.blogspot.com/ Another Fukuoka JET blogger