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)

Best Review: Klar’s adventure is similar to the usual “disoriented foreigner steps into Japan for the first time but still finds itself able to separate from the pack. Anyone interested in becoming a JET should be sure to give it a read. Klar dedicates chapters with insight into everyday Japanese society and culture covering the usual topics like love hotels, festivals, toilets, and “gomi” piles, but also reaches out to some primary sources as well with references to bizarre current events in regards to the cultural and political scene of the time. 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: A friend recommended this book to me before I begin a study abroad in Japan. I had read alot of “memoir of Japan” type of books and was prepared for something similar to “36 Views of Mt. Fuji” or “Learning to Bow”… However, 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)

Best Review: As a former English teacher in Fukui, it was great to reminisce and to learn new things about Fukui. It was fascinating to read about this experience through another person’s perspective. 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.

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

Best Review: Of the meagre number of books published on the JET Programme, few manage to live up to expectations induced by their titles. For the most part, however, Getting both Feet Wet: Experiences Inside the JET Program does. This is a pleasant and at times penetrating collection of anecdotes from seven Japanese and seven native English-speaking contributors.

Worst Review: I suggest this for JET potentials as it has essays by Japanese teachers and other involved in program which gives you a better idea of what your employers will expect of you. 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)
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. Mr. Feiler clearly but a lot of thought into his visit and is just as clear in explaining to us what he feels is the important and major issues that Japan has to deal with – not just then but now and in the future. A must for any library on Asia or Japan.Worst Review: “I came to Japan at the invitation of the Japanese Ministry of Education . . .” indeed! Feiler has a very high opinion of himself… 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)

Best Review: My research interest has become team-teaching in Japan’s high schools, and there simply isn’t that much out there which is unbiased, well-informed and detailed. More than any other book, I always recommend this to ALTs, whether they’re JET teachers or not… 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 worthwile.

Japan Diary: A year on JET (2005)
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. (Webmaster’s note: This is the only review available. Do not take this as necessarily indicative of the quality of the publication)
In the Sunlight of Sakurajima (2016)
Best Review: None yet. Worst Review: None yet.
Hitching Rides with Buddha (2006)

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. Inspired by this book, I sometimes take off on similar hitch hiking trips during breaks at the university I teach at, and even made the same trip from Kyushu to Hokkaido. Every trip is a different adventure, and I’m glad that someone as talented as Ferguson wrote about it.

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)
Best Review: I’ve traveled to Japan over 20 times for business. 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.