Flexibility and a sense of humor have long been predictors of a successful JET participant. And with good reason. After all, let’s face it: life in Japan for a gaijin can range from the frustrating to the absurd to the downright hilarious, often within the same day.
The malleable young JET is expected to smile and wear a variety of hats placed upon his or her head in the name of “international exchange.” For most JETs, it’s what happens in between the lines of the job description that makes the experience so meaningful.
Who better to capture the flexible thinking and sheer comedy of the JET experience than a former participant himself? JET alum and professional illustrator David Namisato (Aomori-ken CIR, 2002-04) showcases some of the more memorable aspects in his new book Life After the B.O.E. This whimsical compilation of cartoons that appeared previously in JETAA publications worldwide is likely to hit the funny bone of both former and current program participants alike.
Each cartoon presents a different familiar scenario. There is the moment of sudden awareness when it becomes all too clear to the ALT that he or she is more of an exotic show-and-tell object than a real teacher, a realization that can be disappointing, underwhelming, or just a huge relief, depending on who you ask.
There is also an amusing rendering of an imagined meeting of serious Japanese bureaucrats deciding on the interpretation of Western holidays, wherein one decides that Halloween shall be officially sanctioned “a day to celebrate cute furry animals.”
With his bold colors and witty captions, Naimsato covers many of the universal experiences that stand out for most of us and he manages to remind us of some that we may have forgotten about—or conveniently repressed—for that matter.