HAJET » The Hokkaido Association for Japan Exchange and Teaching

October Polestar!

Happy Monday! As Halloween week begins, I pass onto you something more treat than trick: October’s Polestar! This month, you can find the first segment of our new serial fiction piece, Inugami, a sobering look at one of the more somber sides of teaching, and a month-by-month guide on how to survive in Hokkaido this winter. You can read all that and more here(PDF)!

First Year Rep 2014-15 Candidates

Voting begins October 26 and ends at 11:59pm on November 1st.

Go to http://vote.hajet.org during that time to place your vote. You will need a password that is sent by email. If you are a first year JET but did not receive an email, please contact president@hajet.org.

And now for the candidates…

Rob O’Neil

 Rob - First Year Rep
Hometown: Geneva, IL
Hokkaido Hometown: Yuufutsu-gun, Mukawa-cho, Hobetsu
Favorite color: Purple
Most Memorable/Best Hokkaido Experience So Far: Actually, this occurred last weekend. A HAJET pal invited me to meet her and some friends in Tomakomai to go see her friend’s (Naoto lol) show. I agreed, but I didn’t catch what kind of music they played. I was glad I didn’t. We arrived in the middle of a blazing hardcore set, and I was immediately blown away by the passion and musicianship coming out of all these bands in this tiny club. I started to get into it and before long I was hardcore dancing and the front of the stage, karate kicks flying high into the air. I got as much of an applause as the band did, and after the show I went to apologize to the singer for stealing his limelight, but instead he said “THAT WAS FUCKING AWESOME” we just started to shoot the shit about sports and bands and stuff. I met so many cool people that night, got a couple of cool demo CDs, and made some friends I hope to see again soon. Oh, and surprisingly enough, I was sober the whole night.
Why I think HAJET is important: I think HAJET is probably important for a lot of reasons, but I’m writing this because I want to be the first year rep, so let me tell you why I think HAJET is important to first years.
Hobetsu, my town, is a town of 4,000 people. The next town closest to me, Yubari, is famous for its melon depopulation and for being the first city in Japan’s modern history to declare bankruptcy. To the south, a 45 minute drive away, is Mukawa. A city of 9,000 that for a few weeks was the only place within two hours that I knew I had an English speaking friend. Not to discredit the kindness of my Japanese hosts (shout out to nice farmers) but I was feeling the loneliness bad. Keeping in touch with American pals was hard because of the time difference, so I really felt like I had no one to talk to, outside those JETs I had met back in Chicago and Tokyo.
Then Sapporo orientation came.
A couple of classes with useful information, to be sure, but no useless fluff, like in Tokyo orientation. Good, solid facts mostly about adapting to Hokkaido in our everyday lives. It served as an appropriate appetizer to the main course: the enkai/nijikai/partying. That was the reason we all looked forward to Sapporo orientation, and honestly, that was the most important thing we did. Not to sound like an irresponsible dope who doesn’t know how to do his job, but what all of us needed at that point in our lives was NOT a lecture on how to better ourselves as teachers or basic Japanese lessons. We’d been devouring as many articles as we could on the subject all week as we sat in our boiling-hot B.O.E.s and base schools. As we stuffed our faces with delicious grilled lamb or downed even more delicious American craft beers, we shared stories, laughed til we cried and for JETs like me, wilting in isolation, we reveled in the sheer community of the event. The loud, drunken reminder that there was a roving gang of gaijin out there making the same dumb mistakes as us. A couple hundred people out there, undercooking the rice, angsting about omiyage, and making breach of etiquette after breach of etiquette together like the most depressing club in history. I needed that night. That is why I went to every welcome party I went to, that is why I’m writing this e-mail now.
I truly believe that to fight the loneliness of inaka life, you really need to make friends with your neighbors and co-workers. And believe me, I’m trying every day. But I don’t know if I’d have the strength to without the support system I’ve been able to build for myself. Without my awesome HAJET friends, I’d never have got to go see Naoto’s band play, or climb Mt. Tarumae, or find a random soup curry place/jazz lounge the size of a studio apartment in Asahikawa. That is why I think HAJET is important. It’s almost like OkCupid for the frozen north, but with less creeps (a similar amount of hooking up tho). It’s a way for people from all over the world, thrown unprepared into this crazy situation, to meet people just as confused as they are, or wise senpai to guide us on our spiritual journey to sensei-enlightenment. HAJET is obviously a lot of things to a lot of people, but to me, it has been my lifeline to a bunch of very cool weirdos. That’s why HAJET is important to me.

Joseph Hall

Joseph Hall
Hometown: Milan, Indiana, USA
Hokkaido Hometown: Haboro-cho
Favorite Color: Blue
My Most Memorable Hokkaido Experience So Far:
To date I have had many memorable experiences in my time here in Hokkaido. If I had to pick one
that I will never forget it would have to be a barbeque I had with my neighbors the first week I was
here. They were very welcoming and seemed genuinely excited to have me positioned in their
town. It was a great way to be introduced to the people living around me and it was a whole
bunch of fun.
Why I think HAJET is important:
HAJET gains its importance from the various services it supplies JETs positioned in the Hokkaido
prefecture. Chief among which is the community that the association creates giving JETs from all
areas a base of support from which to grow and rely upon. This is what HAJET is to me, a place
where JETs in Hokkaido can come to for support, friendship, and frankly simple understanding.
While this is by no means the only purpose that HAJET serves it is, to me, one of the most
important and it is the reason I wish to further involve myself in the organization as a whole.

Adam Gentle

Adam Gentle - 1st Year Rep Candidate
Hometown: Boise, Idaho USA

Hokkaido Hometown: Monbetsu-shi, Hokkaido

Favorite color: Green

My Most Memorable Experience in Hokkaido So Far:
There have been so many awesome experiences that I couldn’t possibly pick just one…so I won’t. I’ve got two. The first is the time that Mark and I decided to go on a short hike up our local not-even-a mountain and rounded a corner to discover a huge buck just hanging out in the middle of the path. He let us stand right next to him for a full two minutes admiring his majestic antlers before taking off suddenly, causing us both to jump and scream. That’s right. A deer made me nearly pee myself. Not a bear, a deer.
The second is the full day I got to spend at Monbetsu Special Needs School. I got to run laps, eat lunch (something I never get to do at my high schools!), play games, sing songs, laugh, and high-five with some of the coolest and most warm-hearted kids I’ve ever met.

Why I think HAJET is important:
When I first arrived in Monbetsu, I was told by my base school that I didn’t really have a supervisor. I kind of knew this was the case already, since I had been told at the special meeting for Hokkaido BoE ALTs at Sapporo Orientation that our situation was a bit different from other ALTs, but I was incredibly surprised at how hard it was to get questions answered and basic living arrangements set up. It wasn’t that my teachers disliked me, it was simply that they had too many other responsibilities to be able to put forth the effort needed to get a new ALT’s life in order. Without a specific person being responsible, wires got crossed and miscommunication happened often in those first few weeks. I needed help, and HAJET turned out to be my greatest resource. The welcome parties provided me with opportunities to compare notes with other new ALTs and to seek guidance from the seasoned vets, all while blowing off some much needed steam. Since then, HAJET members have answered not only my questions but my wife’s as well, offered advice, and have given us endless ideas for how to make the most of our time in Hokkaido. It’s simple, really: HAJET provides support for JETs in Hokkaido, and as I quickly learned, we all need a little support sometimes.

September Polestar Now Online

Polestar September 2014

Polestar September 2014

Check out the September issue of Polestar, the last minutes of any month that can still conceivably be called “summer.”  Soon, the autumn winds of October will be upon us, bringing Halloween, first kotatsu uses, and the smell of snow…

The theme of Spetember’s issue of the Polestar is “Welcome!”.  On one level, that greeting is directed toward the new JETs; on another, it welcomes the new season, while simultaneously reminding us of the frequent hand-in-hand juxtaposition of one ending leading into another beginning.
Look forward to reading about using the four second language skills in the classroom, immersing yourself in a one-shot fictional piece by Polestar’s very own designer, and seeing some truly fabulous photography with accompanying blog post.


Download It Here!

Fall Meeting 2014 – Otaru! 7-9 November

Fall Meeting 2014

Happy Fall! This year Fall Meeting will be held in the charming city of Otaru. Probably one of the cutest

towns in Hokkaido, Otaru has a lot of wonderful things to offer. Stroll alongside the Canal and eat

weirdly flavoured ice cream, ride up the lift at Mt. Tenguyama and take in the view, make your very own

music box, the list goes on and on. Check out the sightseeing section for all the deets!


We have some awesome seminars lined up for y’all! If you want to discuss the tricky task of teaching

phonics, prepare for the ever-creeping-closer big freeze that is Hokkaido winter, or learn more about

HAJET’s biggest program, Hokkaido English Challenge, then please RSVP for one of all of our seminars!


After you’ve filled your brain with all the information you can stand, come join us for the traditional

Costume Party Enkai and let the wild rumpus start!


All the information you will ever need to attend this years Fall Meeting is in this packet – so please give it a good look-over!

Info Pack – Fall 2014



Accommodation: Friday, October 24th
RSVP Deadline: Friday, October 31st




Friday, November 7th 

6:00 pm (onward) – Check-in (For those staying at Grand Park Hotel.)

7:00 – 8:00 pm –  Workshop I: “The ABCs of Phonics” (TBD)

8:00 – 8:30pm – Welcome Kanpai

8:30 – 9:30 pm – PC Meeting


Saturday, November 8th


8:00 – 9:00 am – Breakfast*

9:00 – 10:00 am – General Meeting

10:00 am – 11:00 pm – Workshop II: “Surviving Hokkaido – Winter Edition” (Damian O’Kane and Charles Harries)

11:00 – 12:00 pm – Workshop III: “HEC and You” (Mike DeLue and Dagny Wise)

12:00 – 1:00 pm – Lunch*

– Free Time –

6:00 – 8:00 pm – Enkai  at Asakusabashi Beer Hall (小樽運河食堂)

8:00 – 11:00 pm –  3rd Annual Pub Quiz at Otaru Beer Warehouse (小樽倉庫No.1)


Sunday, November 9th

8:00 – 9:00 am – Breakfast*


* Breakfast and lunch on either day are not provided.


Email Back Form – Fall Meeting

Info Pack – Fall 2014

2014 HAJET Fall Meeting Request Letter (Japanese)

2014 HAJET Fall Meeting Packet (Japanese)


2014 Fall Meeting RSVP Form (Submit by Oct 31st)
  1. Basic Info
  2. (required)
  3. HAJET member?

  4. (valid email required)
  5. (required)
  6. (required)
  7. (required)
  8. Accommodation

  9. Which nights will you be staying?

  10. Who would you like to share a room with?

  11. Workshops RSVP
  12. Workshops Attending (check all that apply)

  13. Sightseeing Groups (see info pack)

  14. Saturday Enkai
  15. Do you want to come to the enkai on Saturday?

  16. 3rd Annual Pub Quiz
  17. You up for it?

  18. Do you need a membership?

  19. Other/Receipts
  20. Do you need a receipt for your office/school?

  21. Do you need the receipt made out to your BOE or School Office?

  22. Do you need a meeting packet mailed to your BOE or School (Note: You can print the packet above)?


cforms contact form by delicious:days


Central Welcome Party 2014

Lake Shikotsuko - Poropinai Campsite

Lake Shikotsuko – Poropinai Campsite


The severe rainfall that we’ve been so gracefully blessed with in the past few weeks, has led to the closing of the road from Minami Sapporo to poropinai due to landslides! The Poropinai site is still accessible minoring a detour via chitose (from sapporo south district take the 36 to chitose and then the 16 from chitose to shikotsuko, when you reach the lake go up road 453 to poropinai ). See the link below for more information:

Map of Detour:

The party will go on and the weather is looking good, but make sure to bring a tarp for your tent and rainwear just in case!


Hey HAJET, now, I don’t know what you’re doing the weekend of September 20th, but if the answer is not Lake Shikotsu, then you’re probably missing out!

This year’s annual central welcome party will be held lakeside of the beautiful Lake Shikotsu, at the former Poropinai campsite.

Get ready to get friendly, because this year is themed a graffiti party! So whether you come for the camping experience, the dip in the lake, the soak in the nearby onsen or just to have your new BFFs write nice things on you all night; bring your markers, bring your party and bring your enjoy!

Also check out the facebook event! (You have to log in to Facebook)

When: Saturday, September 20th – Sunday, September 21th
Because this is not a maintained campground, there are no check in or check out times, but dinner is set around 5h30

Where: Lake Shikotsu (支笏(しこつ)湖(こ)), Poropinai (ポロピナイ野営場(やえいば)in google maps or ポロピナイ風致(ふうち)探勝(たんしょう)林(りん))
〒066-0287 北海道(ほっかいどう)千歳市(ちとせし)幌(ほろ)美内(ぴない)

Poropinai Site information


Chitose Tourist Association: http://www.1000sai-chitose.or.jp/english/info/info05.php

What: Camping, hanging out, eating some pizza, swimming in the lake at midnight, roasting marshmallow on the beach, hiking Mt.Eniwa, writing graffiti on your friends all night, playing cool games with cool people etc etc.

Cost: FREE  for camping, plus 500¥ dinner (FREE for HAJET Members!),


  • Your own tent (there will be none for hire, if you do not have one please contact me ASAP)
  • Sleeping bag
  • Onsen/hiking gear (if you would like to go to the onsen or hike the nearby Mt-Eniwa)
  • Food for Saturday lunch and Sunday breakfast, snacks, drinks (there is no running water, maybe bring that for Hangover Sunday)
  • Flashlight
  • A shirt you don’t mind getting written on and a marker for the graffiti party
  • Frisbees, beachball, etc.
  • Your party and your enjoy!

Things to look forward to:

  • Dinner on Saturday night, FREE for HAJET members, 500¥ for non-members (we’ll provide the food, but don’t forget to BYOBEvERages)
  • HEC Baked Goods Auction (bring something to auction off, or bring money to bid on something nomz! All proceeds go to HEC, funding the Hokkaido English Challenge)
  • Some graffiti and the resulting shirt you can treasure forever!
  • Some kouhai-senpai games: Get to know your seniors and fellow jets, oh yeah bonding time yeah!


Driving is the easiest way to reach the campground. Poropinai is right off the 453 coming from Sapporo, on the north side of Lake Shikotsu. Carpooling is encouraged!

The bus to the Shikotsukohan Terminal from Sapporo was discontinued in 2010. A bus from the Chitose JR station will take you directly to the Shikotsukohan Terminal (支笏湖畔ターミナル) which is about 8km (13 min) from the campsite. We will arrange for pickups to be available from the Shikotsukohan Terminal.

Other Helpful Info

If you have questions, concerns, requests or need help for rides or sleeping arrangements please contact Lynn Akinocho, the Central Representative at (central.rep@hajet.org)

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