Books about the JET Programme

This page provides a list of books about the JET Programme and JET Program books penned by former JETs based on their experiences. Some others have written fiction or unrelated titles but these are not listed here. If you are aware of any others or would like to add a review please contact us here.

Books about the JET Programme | JET Program books

All reviews are taken from one source (Amazon) to try an ensure some form of fairness in review quality although some reviews may have been edited for the sake of brevity. Full reviews may be read by clicking on the relevant review links as listed.

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My Mother is a Tractor: A Life in Rural Japan (2006)

My Mother is a Tractor
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Best Review: It was a good read, with a much more relate-able narrator compared to the other authors I knew of that had found themselves in Japan.

Worst Review: The book has a ridiculous amount of (semi) useful information and still remains a memoir of sorts. The book will have you laughing out loud and enjoying Klar’s writing style.

For Fukui’s Sake: Two Years in Rural Japan (2011)

For Fukui’s Sake
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Best Review: I like that the author spent most of his time enjoying the natural beauty of the area. The book is entertaining, warm and informative.

Worst Review: It’s not terrible. It’s not great. I just wouldn’t recommend it to anyone I know.

A Life Well Seasoned: Volume 1 – Trinidad & Japan (2020)

A Life Well Seasoned
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Paul Hadden is a Trinidadian writer and teacher who spent four years living and working in Japan through the JET Programme initiative. Throughout that time, he also worked as a journalist writing a column on food, travel, and culture for the Trinidad Newsday.

Getting Both Feet Wet: Experiences Inside The JET Program (2002)

Getting Both Feet Wet:…
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Best Review: This is a pleasant and at times penetrating collection of anecdotes from seven Japanese and seven native English-speaking contributors.

Worst Review: Only downside is that it doesn’t have much in the way of possible negative experiences a person may encounter.

Learning to Bow: Inside the Heart of Japan (1991)

Learning to Bow: Inside the…
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Best Review: This book is not just about the Japanese educational system but about the Japanese themselves… It is full of humor, insight and clear thinking.

Worst Review: I’ve been reading a lot of Japanese non-fiction and travel essays since a recent visit to Japan and so far this book ranks low in terms of enjoyment, educational value and insight because of its pretentious tone.

Importing Diversity: Inside Japan’s JET Program (2000)

Importing Diversity:…
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Best Review: Don’t look at this as a how-to or an expose; it’s not meant to be either. View this as good journalism, take everything you can from it and run.

Worst Review: A rather dated look at Japan’s JET Programme. A few interesting facts and shallow gossip from the early days of the programme but nothing truly worthwhile.

Japan Diary: A year on JET (2005)

Japan Diary: A year on JET
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Review: If you are interested in learning about Japan or the JET program, this book will not help you! This is merely a short, topical compilation of the author’s experiences during his two years in Japan. The book is extremely shallow and offers the reader little actual appreciation for Japan, the culture, or the education system.
In the Sunlight of Sakurajima (2016)

In the Sunlight of Sakurajima: My…
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Best Review: Mr. Bartlett is candid, funny, sincere; I haven’t cried while laughing in a long time. Thank you for the memoir, Mr. Bartlett!

Worst Review: Ray throws a couple tantrums in chapters toward the end over smoking, Hiroshima, and littering. He wrote the book more than 20 years ago after he left Japan and, unfortunately, couldn’t find a publisher. It could have done with some proofreading and editing as there were many typos and maybe some rants that his older mind might have softened or deleted.

Hitching Rides with Buddha (2006)

Hitching Rides with Buddha
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Best Review: Speaking as someone who loves Japan and has lived here almost 5 years myself, this book gets to the heart of the experience better than any other I know, and does a great job capturing the joy, delight, confusion and even occasional sorrow that comes when interacting with this amazing culture.

Worst Review: So much travel writing is a tedious checklist of places visited and experiences experienced, combined with trite observations about local customs and culture. Not so Will Ferguson’s Hitching Rides with Buddha.

Hokkaido Highway Blues (2003)

Hokkaido Highway…
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Best Review:  I’ve read numerous books and articles about the country because I’m fascinated by their culture. This is the best I’ve read that captures all that is Japan and the Japanese people. I laughed out loud several times. Highly recommend if you have ever visited Japan.

Worst Review: I don’t know what book everyone else is reading, but I thought this one wasn’t even good to use as scrap paper. The writer can’t write and he doesn’t have any good insights into Japan. Avoid this like the plague.