Meet Your 2014-2015 Hiroshima Block Leaders!

Version 2We talked to your 2014-2015 Hiroshima Block Leaders for the low down on themselves and the blocks they represent. Read on to find out more!

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*Dustin Reimer

Name: Dustin S. Reimer

Placement: Fukuyama City

Year on JET: Going into my 4th year.

Most memorable event(s) in Japan: My most memorable events in Japan were:

–  The birth of our third child, my daughter, Rosie.

– My oldest son, Theodore, becoming fluent in Japanese and entering a Japanese public elementary school.

– My second son, William, entering a Japanese Yochien.

 Block Name: Fukuyama Block

 Number of JETS in the block: 22

Festivals, special events, and activities in your region: The Bentenjima Fireworks and Fukuyama City Summer Festival are not to be missed.  Tomo-no-ura, which was the inspiration for Ponyo by the Sea and also a set location for Wolverine: Silver Samurai, is also worth checking out.

Thomas Bui

Name: Thomas Bui

 Placement: Kure City

 Year on JET: I’ve just started my third year on the JET program.

 Most memorable experience in Japan: My most memorable experience in the past year was watching the sun rise over Mt. Fuji from Lake Motosu.

Block Name: Kure Block

 Number of JETS in the block: 19 JETs

 Festivals, special events, and activities in your region: Like many Japanese cities, Kure hosts events throughout the year. Notable festivals include the Port Festival in April and the Food Festival in November. Kure is only a 40 minute train/bus ride from Hiroshima city, so visit anytime!

Sean Hofman

Name:  Sean Hofman

 Placement: Mihara City

 Year on JET: 4th Year

 Most memorable experience in Japan: One of my most memorable experiences in Japan was donning a traditional yukata and dancing in the streets of Mihara during the annual Yassa Festival.

 Block: Mihara/Onomichi

 Number of JETS in the block: 14 JETs

 A bit about your region:  Mihara and Onomichi are not the first cities you think of when you’re considering places to visit in Japan.  But trust me, it’s worth making a trip.

 Festivals:

Mihara

Yassa Festival (August)

Shinmei Daruma Festival (February)

Onomichi

Betchya Festival (November 11th)

Onomichi Port Festival (April 4th)

Sumiyoshi Fireworks Festival (August)

Zach Nichols

Name: Zach Nichols

Placement (city/ town): Shobara City 庄原市

Year on JET: 5th

 Something special about you and/or most memorable thing/event in Japan: This is a difficult one to answer. Now that I’m in my fifth year, I have done some traveling in the country which has resulted in a series of adventures that I never would have envisioned myself undertaking years ago. Should I talk about how I rang in the second anniversary of my arrival in Japan by watching the day break  after having climbed a mountain all through the night? It was a smooth climb, punctuated only by a brief earthquake in the dark. Or should I talk about camping in Yakushima, a primeval forest which was the basis for Hayao Miyazaki’s tale, Princess Mononoke, with streams so pristine you can drink the water? Oh, or scuba diving in Miyako-jima, arguably the most beautiful island in Okinawa? That was a good one. Or perhaps I could tell you about going snowboarding in Hokkaiko; the snow there is the finest powder you may ever see and that is where I learned to fly…even though I didn’t yet know how to land. From the Hells of Beppu to the ice fields of Hokkaido, it has been a wild ride but the one piece that connects everything as a keystone of each adventure is the people. On any adventure, the people you go with and the people you meet along the way will undoubtedly make it memorable.

Anything else you want to mention: Go forth and adventure! Now is a fantastic opportunity to travel domestically and abroad. The rest of Asia is right at your fingertips. Learn a language! Speaking Japanese (even a little) will enhance any adventure you seek.

 About your block: Stretching across central and northern Hiroshima, the Central Block is defined by our stunning natural beauty and rich cultural traditions, like Kagura.

Block Name: Central Block

Number of JETS in the block: 8

Festivals, special events, and activities in your region:

Yoitoko Matsuri – Shobara City, around the 4th weekend in August. The largest festival in Shobara by far. On Saturday, there is a parade through the city lasting about 4 hours. On Sunday, there is a homemade boat race in the morning and a fireworks festival at night. Great food, great fun!

Cherry Blossoms – Every year in early April when the sakura start to bloom, Ueno Park sees a huge influx of visitors from all over Japan because of their spectacular cherry blossom displays. So bring your friends and your ume shu.

Bihoku National Park Illumination – Every year from mid-December to mid-January, Bihoku Park puts on a spectacular display of wintery lights.

Taishaku-kyo – Located in Tojo Town, if you are looking to get out into nature, this is the place for you. Taishaku-kyo’s main attraction is the natural stone bridge that you can walk under. A fantastic place for picnics and hiking as well.

Anything else: There is a lot to see and do here in Hiroshima, and Japan, and Asia, so make the most of your time. Don’t talk about having an adventure, go on one! Think about personal development while you are here as well. This is a fantastic opportunity for you to improve your Japanese. With a little studying here, you will improve your Japanese by leaps and bounds compared to if you were taking a class back home for only 2 or 3 hours a week. If you are interested maybe challenge yourself with the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT). The JLPT has 5 levels, and there are books at most book stores which are specially designed to help you prepare.

This year I look forward to getting to know all of you better, so don’t be a stranger. Maybe come on up to Shobara for a change of pace sometime!

Danny Matson

Name: Danny Matson

Placement: Hiroshima City, Baby!

Year on JET: 3rd

Your most memorable event in Japan: I participated in an ascent run up Mt. Fuji (21km). It was gruelling and required months of training, but accomplishing it with friends and other local runners (i.e. other insane people) was an experience like nothing I’ve ever done.

Anything else you want to mention: Winter is Coming.

Block Name: Hiroshima City

Number of JETS in the block: 21

Festivals, special events, and activities in your region: Flower Festival, Toukasan Summer Festival, Peace Memorial Week, Okonomiyaki-feasting Any Day

Anything else: We have the amazing Hacchouza movie theater!! The comfort level of the seats will blow your mind. Try it out!

Cara McDonough

Name: Cara McDonough

 Placement: Saijo

 Year on JET: 3rd

 Most memorable event or thing in Japan: It’s difficult to choose just one thing about Japan, but recently I went on a whirlwind trip around Tohoku. It wasn’t incredibly relaxing, but we did so much in such a short time period. We saw a ton of cool things. If you have the chance, I highly recommend Yamagata and the Aomori Nebuta Festival!

Anything else you want to mention: I really like coffee. If you know of a shop in the prefecture that you think is really amazing, please let me know!

 Block Name: Higashi-Hiroshima

 Festivals, special events, and activities in your region:

Saijo Sake Festival – Saijo’s most well-known festival, taking place in October. This year, the festival will be on the 11th and the 12th. Most areas of the festival are free, including the food pavilion, streets, and sake brewery exhibits. This is the biggest festival of the year in Saijo, and it’s always busy. People come from all over to go to the Sake Hiroba, where you can try different sakes from all over Japan. A ticket is needed to get into the hiroba, which you can pre-order for ¥1,600. The ticket covers your entrance fee and you get a souvenir cup which you use to get your sake. Just bring your cup up to the counter and get your sake!

 About your area: We’re one of the smaller blocks, but we’re awesome! Higashi-Hiroshima is a quiet area,  but we have good access to the city and we have beautiful islands like Osakikamijima and Okunoshima. Come and visit us!