While researching the Tofugu JET Guide, I came across a wealth of information—blogs, websites, wikis, forums. The list goes on. So many people are writing so much about life on JET and living in Japan, and if you're doing either of those things, your life in Japan will become so much easier if you spend some time benefitting from their knowledge and experience. Every situation is different, so the more your read, the better you'll be able to handle your situation. These are sites I bookmarked and kept coming back to in my research: the best of the best.
Look through the links below and see what advice and resources they offer. I've done my best to highlight what makes each one unique.
Hopefully this page can be a resource for JETs looking for answers. Good luck!
- Official JET Program Links
- By JETs, For JETs
- Import Foods
- Legal Help
- Support for Various Groups
- More JET Program Survival Resources?
Official JET Program Links
This is help from above, so to speak—the official word from the people who sent you to Japan. Their advice can feel stiff at first. It is, after all, from the "bosses" so there's a certain formality that goes along with their writing. Nonetheless, a lot of problems JETs faced are covered in these links and covered well. Check out the resources here before digging into others.
The JET Programme
This seems like a no-brainer, but many JETs toss the "official" JET help documents they get at Tokyo Orientation. While CLAIR may give you dry advice or gloss over tough issues, its resources are incredibly helpful if you take the time to dig through them. The General Information Handbook (GIH) alone clears up a lot of concerns held by JETs during their time in Japan. On top of this, CLAIR offers teaching materials and a guide for life after JET.
Visit: The Official JET Program Website
AJET (The Association for JET) is officially the unofficial support network for all JETs in Japan. Being tied to CLAIR but not ruled by it means their help is down-to-earth and high quality. Their guides to life and work in Japan (not to mention teaching materials) are so top-notch, you could get all the help you need from AJET and be just fine.
Visit: The AJET Resource Page
CLAIR's Information for Foreigners in Japan
This directory created by CLAIR for foreigners living in Japan covers everything from marriage to taxes to garbage to job-searching. If it's something you have to do in life, you can probably learn how to do it in Japan right here. Give it a look and I'm sure you'll find a lot of useful information.
Visit: Multilingual Living Information
The Prefectural Advisors of Shimane-ken did a great job setting up a resource blog for their JETs. Though some things are Shimane-specific, any JET or expat in Japan will benefit from other 70% of the content.
Visit: Help from Shimane PAs
The PAs of Ibaraki have started a nice website for JETs in their prefecture, and the most interesting feature: Ask Ibaraki JET PAs. ALTs ask questions about their job and the PAs give honest, helpful feedback—a treasure trove of Dear Abby-style advice for ALTs.
Visit: Help from Ibaraki PAs
By JETs, For JETs
JET communities in every prefecture have some way of supporting each other, and most do this through JET Participant-created websites. Some of the resources on these pages will only apply to people living in or visiting that specific prefecture, but the majority of articles, guides, and clickables will help any JET anywhere.
If you're not getting the answers you need locally or you'd just like a second opinion, check out the pages below. You'll be surprised how much advice and wisdom you'll pick up.
This is definitely one of the best—consistently updated, high quality content, I could go on.
KumamotoJET is featured prominently in Tofugu's list of teaching resources, and that same expertise extends to the rest of JET life. Their Tax Guide, though only applicable to US residents, is incredibly detailed, and if you're from the US, check it out before tax season rolls around and save yourself some headache.
Visit: Kumamoto JET
Kyoto JETs has a great collection of information, the standouts being the Disaster Preparedness section and their Tax Guide (which is helpful to everyone, not just Americans). Most sites don't even address disaster (surprisingly), so that click alone could save your life.
Visit: Kyoto JETs
JET Sendai covers a lot of ground and their explanations of procedures untangle complicated situations—short, sweet, and to the point. If you need help in a hurry, head to JET Sendai.
Visit: Sendai JET
The website is rather bare bones in terms of design, but it has a ton of useful content. It doesn't cover every aspect of JET life, but what it does cover is unique and useful. More obscure and offbeat topics are covered here, too, so it's definitely recommended.
Visit: Hyogo JET
The Saga JET Programme site is nice—cute layout, plenty of info—but it takes some digging to find the good stuff. Most of the advice is Saga-specific, so you may click on a link thinking, "Wow! I really need to know this," only to find it applies only to people living in Saga. Nevertheless, keep poking around. There are a lot of gems in here that will apply to anyone living in Japan.
Visit: Saga JET
All the resources here are complete and personal, and it includes a unique furikomi guide. You'll probably be taught how to use this by your supervisor, but it's great in case you forget or are never taught.
Visit: Gunma JET
The Okinawa JET website covers most aspects of JET life. Their guides and articles are mid-size, which can be a good thing. If you're overwhelmed by comprehensive explanations elsewhere, it's helpful to read shorter versions of the same information.
Also, OkiJET has an Island Guide. With beautiful beaches and resorts, chances are you'll want to head down to Okinawa at least once. The Island Guide will give you the resident's perspective not found in most travel guides.
- Island Guides (mouse over About>Island Guides)
- Combating Summer
OitaJET sports a lot of content, and hopefully new things will continue to be added. Until then, enjoy the clean layout and unique features.
Visit: Oita JETs
The site is well-organized, and I found some good content here. The medical information was the most helpful, in my opinion.
Visit: Toyama JETs
Ehime AJET is a smaller site, but it has some hidden gems. It's pop culture events guide and the shipping guide are unique, and there are some good resources for vegetarians here too.
Visit: Ehime AJET
The PAs of Kagoshima have created some original and helpful content. A lot of the common "Guides for Living" include abstract questions to aid in development. It's nice to see their personal touch.
Visit: Kagoshima JET Program
Though this site is more of a teaching resource, there are a good number of survival resources here too, especially if you're in the Kobe area. For JETs outside Kobe, there's a unique and handy glossary of social and cultural terms—the kind you'll run into a lot as a JET ALT. If you haven't studied much Japanese and/or you're new to the English teaching scene, perusing this list will get you acclimated to your new life fast.
Visit: Kobe JET
Click around and you'll find helpful resources. I thought their section on culture shock had some unique things to say, compared with other articles or talks on the same subject.
Mie PA Newsletter
Unfortunately, the Mie JET site is defunct, but the Prefectural Advisors (PAs) are still here to help you. There's a small trove of articles on this site, so click around and you may find some answers to your burning questions.
Visit: Mie PA Newsletter
The JET Coaster
This site is unique to this list in that it is unofficial. It's curated by a group of former JETs who curate advice to newcomers and those currently on the program.
Visit: The JET Coaster
If you didn't get enough survival help from your fellow JETs above, here are some non-JET related links to take care of any loose ends you're still fighting with.
Surviving in Japan
No joke, this site inspired this list. All the other sites listed are very helpful, but this one is extremely, overwhelmingly helpful. Unfortunately, it hasn't been updated since 2013, but the articles left over are pure gold. This is all the nitty gritty stuff most guides don't bother to cover.
Which toothpastes have fluoride, where to find foods from home, what kinds of foundation match which non-Japanese skin colors—this site has it all.
I can't praise this site enough. Check it out and be amazed.
Visit: Surviving in Japan
This is an online community for expats in every country. The topics covered are fairly comprehensive, but not as deep as really good sites. Check here if you've checked everywhere else. You might find some answers or links you're looking for.
Visit: Just Landed
Japan Post Communication Guide
This is a chart from the Japanese post office that helps foreigners use the Japanese post office—makes a good language study tool.
Visit: The Japanese Post Office
Hyperdia & Jorudan
These are both Japanese train time calculators. I included them for completeness' sake, but Google Maps does the same task better. Use these if you have an aversion to Google Maps.
Japanese Toll Calculator Guide
Road trippin' in Japan? Calculate the tolls you'll have to pay on your cross country tour. Don't forget the snacks! Seriously. Don't forget the snacks.
Visit: Japan Toll Calculator
Food frome home is one of the things you'll miss most while on JET. Sometimes a tough bout of culture shock can be cured with a bit of cheese or Sour Patch Kids. Thankfully there are websites that offer import and foreign foods delivered straight to your door.
The Flying Pig
The Flying Pig delivers Costco items, and considering there may not be a Costco near you (especially if you live in the countryside), this is a big deal. The Flying Pig offers comforts of home as often as you like.
Visit: The Flying Pig
Foreign Buyers' Club
The Foreign Buyers' Club provides the same service as the Flying Pig, but they go beyond Costco and get you food from just about everywhere else. Almost anything you can imagine, they've got. Try not to spend your whole paycheck.
Visit: The Foreign Buyers' Club
The Meat Guy
Pretty self-explanatory. He's a guy. He sells meat. His prices are pretty reasonable and you can get almost any kind of meat in any size. Even Thanksgiving turkey! Put your burger and bacon cravings to rest once and for all.
Visit: The Meat Guy
Tengu Natural Foods
For whole, natural, and organic foods, Tengu is the best way to eat right in Japan.
Visit: Tengu Natural Foods
Yoyo offers items from Costco and a little bit more. If it's for sale anywhere in Japan, chances are they can get their hands on it.
Visit: Yoyo Market
Hopefully you won't need these links while on JET.
Japanese Law Translations
Unofficial translations of Japanese laws and regulations. If you're in legal trouble or are simply a law geek, check it out.
Visit: Japanese Law Translations
Japan Legal Support Center
Legal Consultation for foreigners in Japan. If you need a lawyer while on JET bookmark this site. Actually, bookmark it no matter what. You never know.
Visit: Legal Help for Foreigners in Japan
Support for Various Groups
If you need help or support for certain issues on JET, these sites and organizations can help you out.
Stonewall Japan is a branch of AJET that offers support for the LGBTQ community. They offer groups, events, resources, community outreach, and more!
Visit: Stonewall Japan
Figuring out what you can and can't eat as a vegetarian in Japan is a challenge. Thankfully this extensive guide helps you figure out which Japanese dishes are vegetarian. There's even a nice restaurant guide at the bottom.
Visit: The Neverending Voyage
"Is it Vegan?" offers solutions, recipes, and guides to help vegans find and make food while on JET.
Visit: Is it Vegan?
Japan Vegan gives survival tips and, most importantly, vegan-friendly restaurants in Tokyo and Kyoto.
Visit: Japan Vegan
People with Celiac Disease
Avoiding gluten is a serious matter for those with celiac. Thankfully, Gluten Free in Japan brings relief and suggestions for navigating the Japanese culinary landscape with gluten-avoidance in mind.
Visit: Gluten Free in Japan
More JET Program Survival Resources?
JET life outside of school can be a challenge, sometimes more so than the ALT job itself. Working out what to do and how to do it takes years. Hopefully these resources help a little and put you on a path of figuring out life in Japan. And if you come across any resources that have helped your life on JET, send them our way by emailing email@example.com, and I'll check them out.