Nore Sore VS Polestar

03/14/06 | by silverso | Categories: Deep Thoughts


It's mid-March so that means it's time for the release of the February edition of Nore Sore, Aomori's local JET zine. I chose not to subscribe this year, but I heard through the grapevine that the most recent edition features an editorial about a comment left on this post I wrote about an interview I had done with the Hokkaido JET publication 'Polestar'.

It seems that the current editor of Nore Sore (a newsletter put out by Aomori JETs) was a little put off by the following comment made by someone by the handle of 'Kudo':

i knew nore sore sucked, but now that I know its not an across the board JET-incompetence thing and there are JETs out there who compose original articles, and know how to format a page layout AND can publish the whole thing in shiny online format...can I get my lousy 2000 yen back?

I don't blame the editor for getting mad over that remark, and I think his response pretty much says all that needs to be said. Still this mess began here on my site, so I thought that perhaps I should say a little something about it. Here's my two yen:

Sure Nore Sore lacks a professional looking layout, glossy paper and color pictures. Sure it's almost always delivered late, sometimes by several months. Sure the content is oftentimes lacking and ripped from people's blogs(1). Sure the average JET blog has more readers than Nore Sore. This all may be true, but Kudo should remember one thing: Nore Sore is written and published by the best damn group of Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme participans in the world, Aomori JETs! If it's kind of crappy, it's only because that's the way we like it. Nore Sore is the product of your fellow prefecturemen Kudo-san, and if you dump on it then you're dumping on us all. If you like dumping on Aomori JETs so much, then why don't you just move to Hokkaido? As Sunil and I unfortunately discovered one time, that's something that the folks up there seem to enjoy doing(2).

I think it's nice that Aomori JETs take the time to cobble together this little rag every month. There's really no need for anyone to do it, yet our fellow Aomori ALTs and CIRs valiantly press on month after month with new issues that maybe only 40 or 50 people ever read. As more and more JETs turn away from Nore Sore and focus their attention inward on their own blogs I think the local Aomori JET community as a whole loses one of the only things that binds us all together, and that's kind of sad in a way.

I'm glad that Nore Sore is finally online and can be downloaded in PDF format from here. You don't even have to pay for it anymore, so that should hopefully quiet any other critics out there. Maybe it will even get more people a-readin' again and submitting stuff. What I'd like to see are more strongly worded opinion pieces in Nore Sore, so that I can have something interesting to gossip about. Lately the only place I ever see gossip worthy writing by JETs is on the Aomori Email Listserve.

Maybe it would be a good idea for Nore Sore to be published online as a collaborative blog (Like F'ed Gaijin for example) rather than as a PDF file. That kind of format might see a lot more contributions and could even reduce the number of inappropriate letters posted to the Listserve. Of course the downside to that would be that "outsiders" might start learning of our secretive JET society. If living in Japan has taught me anything, it's the importance of keeping outsiders in their place.

Who knows what the future may hold for our much abused local zine? To be honest, I'm guilty of not reading it regularly anymore and I almost never contribute my own original articles. This is likely because most of Aomori's best writers seem to stick exclusively to their own blogs these days, and Nore Sore has suffered as a result. That's why I feel it is my duty as "The Most Famous JET in Japan" to encourage my fellow bloggers to contribute something original once and a while to Nore Sore. Perhaps it might only be read by 40 people, most of whom you don't even know or care too much about, but like it or not they are your peeps and it's nice to show them some love once in a while. For better or for worse I'm glad to know that Nore Sore is still going out each month, crappy layout and all.


1. Editors of Nore Sore: Please feel free to use this post (or any post on this site) in the next issue if you want. I promise to try to write something original for Nore Sore again one of these days.

2. I've met a writer an editor from the Polestar and he seemed like a good guy, who as far as I know, has never defiled a hotel bathroom with a mysterious brown substance.

Ginza Panorama Bar

03/09/06 | by silverso | Categories: Trains


Okay I fess up! Those photos I posted the other day weren't 'Tilt-shift' pictures of Noheji, but were in fact just pictures of my train model buildings. While hunting online for more additions to my tiny Noheji town I came across this neat bar in Tokyo's ritzy Ginza district where you can look at model trains while you drink. Ginza must also be one of the only places in the world that is home to a designer model train store, where trains start at around $1000 a piece!

Sayounara Paul-chan

03/07/06 | by silverso | Categories: Photos

Nobody was more sad to see Paul go than this guy.

Last week my old buddy Paul Je headed home to Canada after spending over 7 years living in Hirosaki. I can only imagine the reverse culture-shock that's in store for him. Two weekends ago, Paul threw a great going away party for himself. Here are the photos:

Full story »

Tilt Shift Noheji

03/03/06 | by silverso | Categories: Photos


BoingBoing has been posting a lot about "tilt shift" photos recently. If you haven't heard of it before, it's a kind of camera trick where you can make photos of real life places look like miniature scale models by messing with the camera focus. Well this sounded like fun, so I hit the streets of Noheji to take some tilt shift photos of my own. Enjoy:

Pretty neat eh? It almost doesn't look real!

HG: Young Man

03/03/06 | by silverso | Categories: Novelty Music

Since I have taken it upon myself to keep the English speaking world well informed in the latest Hard Gay news it is my duty to announce that HG has just released the new single "Young Man", a cover of the classic Village People classic YMCA. Here's the music video! FOOOOOO!

In other news, it looks like the Japanese press is trying to expose HG as being less gay than he appears to be. I'm not sure what this story says exactly, but it seems to be implying some kind of relationship between Hard Gay and some 22 year old model/idol. Say it ain't so HG, say it ain't so! Then say FOOOOOOOOO!!!

Suit Yourself

03/02/06 | by silverso | Categories: Photos

Now for the final chapter in my epic series of vacation photo posts. For our last few days in Vietnam, Kate and I headed north to the small town of Hội An to do some suit shopping. The town famously is home to many old buildings that managed to survived the Vietnam War; however, most people come for the incredibly cheap custom made clothing. To be honest, I wasn't really looking as forward to this part of our trip as Kate was. Shopping for pants is near the top of my list of things I hate shopping for, right between shoes and Christmas presents. Nevertheless, I had a good time and wound up leaving with two new pairs of pants, some shirts and a nice new suit, which was christened just yesterday at Noheji High's graduation ceremony. Hopefully this means I won't have to buy pants again for a long time to come.

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Tokyo to Aomori for just 2300 yen!

03/01/06 | by silverso | Categories: Trains


'Watashi to Tokyo' has a neat post about how to travel long distances in Japan for as little money as possible. If you're willing to sacrifice 18 hours or so, it's apparently possible to take a combination of local trains from Tokyo to Aomori using a special 5 day pass which costs 11,500 yen. Read the details here, and then find your connecting trains here. Other than hitchhiking, I doubt there's any cheaper way across Japan. If you're not into that idea, then for $5000 yen there is also a not too comfortable night bus that runs from Aomori, Hirosaki and Hachinohe to Tokyo station.

Muy Bueno Mui Ne

02/28/06 | by silverso | Categories: Photos

Okay, back to the vacation photos! So immediately after returning from Cambodia, Kate and I rejoined Katharine, Andrew and the Rybaks and set off for Mui Ne beach with a bus load of boisterous ex-pats. Kate and I grabbed front row seats on the bus, which made the journey more than just a little bit nerve-wracking as our bus driver did his best impression of Michael Schumacher for the entirety of the journey. Fortunately the frequent brushes with death kept my mind mostly distracted from the drunken a cappella singing of our bus mates.

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Post-Japan Career Options

02/27/06 | by silverso | Categories: Links and Articles


Scene from A Day in the Life of Me

Well it's sad to say, but the time is coming near for me to start planning for life after JET. After three years of getting paid to surf the net all day, and occasionally speak English its hard to think of any jobs that would not be a shock to my system. My first thought was to come up with some kind of brilliant new business idea that would make me rich, and quick! I was just about to blow all my savings on underpants when I came across this handy list of careers for someone of my qualifications.

2nd hand electronics sales will soon be illegal in Japan

02/23/06 | by silverso | Categories: Links and Articles


As of April 1st 2006, it will be illegal in Japan to buy or sell uncertified used electronics manufactured more than five years ago. Why? In short it's because electronics companies in Japan are greedy and the Japanese public are pushovers. This is certainly bad news for Yahoo Auctions and will likely render Japan's numerous recycle shops even more crappy than they already are. The article I linked is actually a little alarmist in my view, as other things I've read indicate that the sale of used goods won't be banned outright, but will require some kind of safety inspection certificate. This is similar to the car shaken scam auto manufactures have been pulling on the public for years. For a really great article about doing your own shaken click here. Apparently you can save well over $500 doing this yourself.

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Avoiding life and teaching English in Noheji, Aomori, Japan


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