Awww, but it was just starting to get good! In 2001, Weekly Shounen Jump debuted a new manga that rocketed to the top of everyone’s must-read lists: Bleach. I can still recall the almost nervous excitement I felt upon hearing the news that the author of Zombie Powder, Kubo Noriaki AKA Kubo Tite, was set…
*This is Part 1 of a 3-Part Post Series. Enjoy! I love reading romance manga. It doesn’t have to be in the shoujo genre. As long as there is good romance in the story, I’m in. For many shoujo manga fans, sizzling romance and hot characters are big turn-ons but that doesn’t mean that we […]
I went to San Diego Comic Con this year after a 5-year hiatus (thanks, Japan) to find that the Comic Con I one loved has been hijacked by security–RFID security tags! You swipe them at the entrance and you swipe them when you exit.
At least the energy of good ol’ geeks and nerds and everyone in between was still there. It just came with a lot of people. I couldn’t create a mental escape path without running into a billion folks and encountering some B.O. I thought I had gotten used to from years of convention hopping.
As much as Comic Con has a great freebie table, the star freebies were for attendees who made it to the registration entrance. After swiping past the security panels, attendees were given large plastic backpacks with choices between Pokemon, Gotham, Supergirl, and Comic Con themes. I chose Gotham, not because I was wearing my Batman shirt from Japan and not because I liked-loathed the first episode of Gotham, but because it was black and went with anything. Judge me if you like. I’m a black lover.
While I was in the Sails Pavilion, I roamed the autographs section where actors from different TV shows, movies, and animated series met and greeted fans. I saw an Aliens poster and stopped to find Ricco Ross, or Private Ricco Frost, hanging out at his table with cool scenes from Aliens. I talked to him some time, got his autograph, and went back down to the main floor to finish looking for David Mack, the artist and writer behind Kabuki and several Daredevil comics. I found Mr. Mack after a beautiful woman in white took me to a table with 2 handsome brothers promoting their comic, Okemus, and their company, RAE Comics. From the past 7 Comic Cons I’ve attended, this was the first one where I saw many black comic creators as well as black companies with good promotion.
On Sunday and the last day of Comic Con, I bought a few shirts and immediately donned a pink JigglyPuff shirt from the Mighty Fine brand since all the Pikachu shirts were gone (darn you, Pokemon Go!). It wasn’t as crowded as Saturday, mainly because most celebrities attended Friday’s and Saturday’s panels and promotional events. Sunday has always been the best day for Comic Con goers to buy their most-wanted merchandise at low prices. “Help us get rid of this extra inventory!” is the call of the last convention day. And if you’re a good haggler, this was the best time to haggle. I found manga priced down from $12 to $8 and Superman and Batman shirts discounted to $5. David Mack gave me a deal on two of his Kabuki volumes ($25 for two hardcovers signed), and I bought a hardback volume of The Goon. Promoters and creators were more visible between the aisles as they handed out the last of their free comics, wristbands, book samples, and stickers.
I returned to the Sails Pavilion to find Ricco Ross again. We ended up chatting for about an hour about random stuff, some fans stopping in between our conversation, and he gave me some advice on life. I’m not into celebrities and movie stars, but I think Ricco Ross is one stand-up, down-to-earth guy. I’ll be looking for more of his roles on the silver screen.
By 2:00 and after some impulsive buys, I left Comic Con to find some Pokemon outside the convention center. In the past Comic Cons, I had always felt like I had accomplished a big feat even when I had little money and couldn’t buy and go wherever I wanted. I survived the San Diego Comic Con! I would think as I rode the trolley to my car. Now that I have the time and money, I just don’t have the energy to be excited for hours on end. Thankfully, meeting fans and creators, exchanging cards with small press and independent publishers, and conversing with a talented actor made up for my low energy. Next year, I’ll be sure to prepare my heart–and maybe find a sturdier bag–so I can keep up with all that is the San Diego Comic Con.
Other great companies and businesses at Comic Con I visited (and usually bought buttons):
Escape from Japan…with Mr/s. Kitty
Between the boxes filled with clothes and Japanese souvenirs, a cat weaves through the narrow spaces, finally pressing their little claws into the cardboard. No matter how much the owner shoos their cat away, an ominous cloud floats above them. The owner and Mr/s. Kitty are leaving Japan.
The ominous cloud always follows people returning to their home countries with a (new) pet. While the know-how is available, all of the pieces don’t always apply to those going from Japan to the United States. I had to bring my cat, Ninja, from Okinawa to the United States in August 2015. Even as a JET Program participant, I had little help in booking a flight where the airlines allowed pets and going through the process of taking a cat on a plane.
Find out if your cat is allowed to be transported. If your cat is a certain breed, they may not be allowed for travel. Hairless breeds and cats with flat snouts are usually not approved. Check with the airline to see which breeds are allowed for travel. Also, cats under the age of 90 days old or over the weight of 32 kg (71 pounds) won’t be permitted to travel. Airlines that allow pets on flights since August 2015 are EVA Air, United Airlines, All Nippon Airways (ANA), and Singapore Airlines.
Find an airline that allows pets. The only way to do this is to call the airlines customer service line. Some airlines such as Cathy Pacific Airlines don’t allow pets, even in their cargo space. When looking for an airline that allows pets, always ask if the pet can be in the cabin (usually under the seat with you) or if they must be in the cargo (in an airline-approved kennel where checked bags go). It’s better to get on a flight where the pet is allowed in the cabin. If you’re a JET Program participant, tell your prefectural advisor well in advance that you will be bringing a cat with you so they can book your flight with a pet-permitted airline. Try to get a flight that only has only 1 stop so you don’t have to do a pet importation permit for each country.
Get an airline-approved kennel or carrier. Before booking a ticket for your pet, you must have the kennel or carrier’s weight, dimensions, and brand. Sherpa, Petmate, and Bergan make airline-approved carriers. I used a PetMate VariKennel, which are sold at Cainz, Meikuman, and any big pet store in Japan.
Get your cat’s vaccination and microchip. At least 30 days before the flight, make sure your cat has all their shots and vaccinations updated and in English. If they haven’t been microchipped, get that as well. It’s required for all pets entering the United States. If your cat has a vaccinations record that has not expired, this is efficient for travel.
Book your cat’s ticket. You can only do this once you get your airline tickets, or in the least, the reservation number. Call the airlines and tell them to add a pet ticket. The airline agent will ask you for your cat’s name, breed, weight, length, and age along with your carrier’s weight, dimensions (sizes), and brand. For JET Program participants, you will pay at the ticketing counter on the day of travel.
Schedule a checkup with your veterinarian at least 7 days before travel. You must get a Health Certificate with a Letter of Acclimation saying that your cat is healthy enough to fly. It’s usually good for only 10 days.
Submit application for Export Quarantine Certificate for Animals Under the Rabies Prevention Law. You must do this at least 7 days before travel. On the day of travel, you will bring your cat to the Quarantine Office with your travel permit, your flight receipt or boarding pass, and vaccination records. Once all the paperwork is finished, your cat will be examined by the on-location veterinarian. From there, you will get an Export Quarantine Certificate for Animals Under the Rabies Prevention Law that will be used for check-in points throughout the flight.
Schedule an appointment with the Quarantine Office in the airport. You must do this ahead of time. On the day of travel, you will bring your cat to the Quarantine Office with your travel permit, your flight receipt or boarding pass, and vaccination records. Once all the paperwork is finished, your cat will be examined by the on-location veterinarian. From there, you will get an Export Quarantine Certificate for Animals Under the Rabies Prevention Law that will be used for check-in points throughout the flight.
If you are stopping in other countries, check into their pet importation procedures as well as specifics for vaccinations. For Taiwan, if the cat is coming from Japan, you must file an application for a Permit for Animal Transit by submitting an Application Form for Transition with your cat’s vaccination certificates. This can be done by snail mail, email, or fax. I emailed the Hsinchu Branch Office (Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine, Phone: 886-3-3982431) at firstname.lastname@example.org and received an application form for the permit and the procedure for traveling with my cat. It takes about 2 or 3 weeks to complete this part, depending on when the branch office responds to your initial email.
Get an engraved tag with you and your cat’s information. It’s for identification as is the microchip. Make sure to include your cat’s name, your name, your phone number, and your future address, even if you’re unsure of your more permanent location back home.
On the day of travel, make sure your cat is well hydrated before taking them to the airport. Take your cat to the Quarantine Office with your paperwork. The Quarantine Office will require you to take your cat out of the carrier for a brief check. After you receive your travel permit and your flight is within the hour, you can go straight to the ticketing counter. In the preliminary screenings before you get to the ticketing counter, you must hold your cat while the airline staff X-rays the carrier. Once your pet is back in the carrier and you get to the ticketing counter, the airline staff will help you finish any ticketing procedures for your pet, and you’ll be asked to sign a liability release form. During travel, you are not allowed to bring your cat’s food with you unless you arrange it with the airline staff at the ticketing counter.
If you are stopping in Taiwan, a staff member will show you a photograph of your pet or bring your pet to you before boarding the next flight. They may ask for your pet importation forms, especially if you have any special instructions (i.e. giving food, water) for the staff.
Landing in Los Angeles Airport (LAX) is probably the easiest part of bringing a cat to the U.S. After landing and going through immigration, there is a section in the baggage claim area for animals. When I went to pick up my cat, there was no desk or staff to claim my pet. She was in a cart with the ropes from cargo around her carrier sitting by herself in the middle of the floor. The pet importation paperwork, which I tucked under my arm as I went through the last screenings, wasn’t checked at all. Anyone could take my cat from LAX. I don’t know if anything has changed since August 2015, but that’s something to be wary about. If you do not see your cat in their carrier somewhere in the animal claim area, report it immediately.
Resources for importing a cat to the United States:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Information on Cat Importation – http://www.cdc.gov/importation/bringing-an-animal-into-the-united-states/cats.html
Naha Airport Quarantine (near International Departures terminal)
Operating hours: 9:30AM-11:30AM, 1-5PM Every Day
Website: http://www.maff.go.jp/aqs/english/animal/ex_index.html (English)
Phone: +81 98-857-4468 (Ask for an English speaker)
My Mother Made Me Go to Japan
If it weren’t for my mom, I wouldn’t had gone to Japan and became the person who I am today. At the ripe age of 13, I became interested in anime and manga, and in a year, I made going to Japan my dream. Before I had my chance to go to Japan, my mom bought me secondhand manga from yard sales and told me about events relating to Japan. When my school hosted exchange students from different countries, my mom allowed Yuki, a Japanese student from Hokkaido, to stay with us.
By the time I was in college, my mom and I already knew I wanted to go to Japan, but coming from a single-income household, it seemed so far away. One day, she burst into my room to put a newspaper clipping in my hand for a city program in Japan. It paid for a majority of the 2-week program. With my mother’s help, I was accepted into the program where I met some life-long friends and allies in Japan. If she hadn’t found that newspaper clipping and helped me with the application, I wouldn’t had gone to Japan (for cheap) the first time.
I learned of the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program during that time, and I made it my Plan A after college to join the program. Why not get someone else to pay me to go and teach English in Japan for at least one year? The first program helped me get into the JET Program as it showed I was interested in Japan without any study abroad or Japanese classes on my transcript. After I received my interview date, my mom and aunt accompanied me to LA for the interview, the whole time saying, “Don’t worry. You’ll get in.” And they were right. I got offered a position in the program. The only thing that had me doubting the program was the up-front costs for lodging and bills. My mother told me, “You have a job waiting for you in Japan. Take it.” We both knew I couldn’t skip out on my dream of living, working, and later, learning Japanese just because of money. It didn’t stop me before, and from my mom’s own perspective, my dream outweighed poverty.
Without my mother, I don’t think I would’ve felt comfortable or strong enough to go to Japan. Sometimes I forget that my mom is human, not My Parental Unit or Super Mom. Over the years, I’ve seen my mother as someone who is funny, charismatic, and strong. She sought happiness for herself as well as her children, and she did the best she could as a single parent. The little things she provided to my brothers and I, whether it was homemade muffins or company to the store, she helped shape our futures.
By pushing me into programs to Japan amid the billion things she’s done for me, my mother has forever changed my future for the better.
7 Free to Cheap Things to Do for Job Hunting after Japan
The job hunt has changed, and whether you’ve been in Japan for 1 year or 5 years, returnees must learn how the hunt works again.
#1: Clean up your online presence.
If you are tagged in drunken or half-naked pictures on Facebook or in an inappropriate debate within 140 characters on Twitter, odds are you don’t care about your image. Why would any company think you about their company’s image?
No Cost. It only costs your time. Do a Google search with your name in quotations (ex. “John Smith”) to specifically find you. Remove unflattering photos and messages in social media. Scrub your Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, and any other social media accounts until they show a shining version of you.
#2: Create your personal brand.
Use free online articles and any online resources to make anything with your name has a consistent, personalized feel. Make sure your personal logo, LinkedIn, social media, website, blog, business cards, resumes, cover letters, and even your email signatures give the same image and feeling as who you are.
Cost? If you have a friend who is an artist or graphic designer and they’re willing to make a logo in trade for portfolio credit, this can be free. If you don’t, no worries. There are plenty of free logo designers and generators online such as Logomakr (see example below).
#3: Get 5 to 10 references.
Gone are the days to write “References upon request”. Online applications demand them, and you’ve gotta deliver. List all the jobs you’ve had, pick references who will give you positive recommendations, and contact them. Send them a copy of your resume so that when employers ask about you, your references will have a better idea of the you now.
Cost? It’s free, if your references are happy to do it, but always remember to send them a thank-you note ($1 for 10 from the Dollar Tree) or a $5 gift card to Amazon or Starbucks. This may be your ticket to a job, and if not, you’re still showing your appreciation.
#4: Quantify your experiences in simple language.
When reading your resume, a hiring manager doesn’t want to read, “Completed secretarial duties.” They want to see how you among hundreds of applications can contribute to the company. How did you make a difference at your last work places and by how much?
If you’re coming out of the JET Program, you can quantify your experience with how many students you taught. “I taught English to over 300 elementary school students.” If you can’t quantify your experience, qualify it. I went with, “changed English education culture at 2 high schools”. The best balance for getting a job is to quantify your past work and add value to them with what you did. As before, I used, “changed English education culture at 2 high schools by planning, marketing, and creating English-related events; consistently introducing effective and creative activities; reviving the English Club and recruiting students for the club; and building relationships with American bases for day exchanges and competitions”.
No Cost. Just take your time, sit down with a list of your work experiences, and write how you made a difference in those jobs.
#5: Go pro.
Cost? TopResume has a free resume evaluation, though their other services may have fees. Another resource for resume design is simply by Google searching your industry resume. For example, if you are looking for a job in technology, use “engineer resume”. You’ll get to see interesting and unique resume designs that can help make your resume get to the top of the pile. Always remember that your experience has the spotlight, not just the look of your resume.
#6: Don’t rely on the digital world.
It’s very easy to send a resume via email or an online application system such as Indeed or Monster. You don’t have to be like everyone else. If you really want the job, research the company and get the company’s mailing address and the hiring manager’s information. After 2 weeks of applying or the application period has ended, follow up on your application status. Send handwritten thank-you cards to the hiring managers or call them. Go to job fairs and network the traditional way with business cards and printed resumes. Add flair to your printed materials by using high-quality or premium paper. Talk to returnees who were in your program while in Japan and ask them about their current occupation. Maybe they can help you find a job, even if it’s temporary.
Cost? Get 10 handwritten thank-you cards from the Dollar Tree and the 99 Cents Store for $1 plus tax. The price for business cards varies at different stores. (I use OvernightPrints.com instead of Vista Print because they use recycled paper and really thick cardstock with fast shipping.) Buy premium resume paper at Wal-Mart for around $6. Most job fairs are free, but if you need a place to start, check out EventBrite or your local classifieds section.
#7: Down-play select experiences.
The one thing that came as a surprise to me in returning to the States was that a lot of hiring managers didn’t care about how many things I did in Japan. In cases where my husband and I were applying for work in retail, customer service, technological and clerical industries, we were treated with disdain after learning we had graduated from college and lived abroad. For me personally, I didn’t know if it was because of America’s anti-education culture and ethnocentrism. It really came down to the manager’s ego. Being younger, more educated, more global, and multilingual made some managers uncomfortable, and in some cases, hostile towards us during interviews.
Down-playing certain experiences for specific jobs, especially in entry level areas, could be the difference in earning a paycheck or leaving an interview disheartened. Be prepared to make a case for yourself when you’re applying for a job outside whatever you did in Japan. If you’re going for a sales or tech job, don’t go into detail about your time as a teacher.
Also, don’t take it off your resume just because it doesn’t seem to apply as it will look like a huge gap in your job history. Align the skills from your Japan job with the skills from the jobs you’re applying for and put those on your resume. Instead of using, “I taught English to 2 senior high schools,” you could use, “I learned to use PCs and trained other employees with various software in English and Japanese” or “I used Microsoft Office in Japanese and English to create multilingual documents in a fast-paced environment.” They show that you have adaptability and technical skills.
#Jade: How I Found a Job after Japan in 5 months
Hunger. That’s what fueled me through my 2-month temp job at the Consulate General of Japan in LA despite my 5 hour daily commute. That’s what got me to apply for 2 different positions in the community college down the street. That’s what got me a job within 5 months. It wasn’t my stomach growling–“Hey, you don’t have enough money to get through the month!” It was the hunger to set up my new life in the U.S. It’s not to say that I didn’t feel discouraged or upset at being unemployed without unemployment benefits. I had to re-think my approach and remember:
“Every ‘no’ is one step closer to a ‘yes’.”
From the stories of JET alumni and former expats, I’ve learned that the job industry hasn’t shrunk since I was a college student. The job industry had moved to online applications and keyword software to filter applicants. I couldn’t just be a secretary anymore. I had to be a tech-savvy administrative professional with the skills and go-get-’em attitude of 2 or 3 people.
Aside from the intrinsic qualities, adaptability was key. I had to learn from books, read articles, subscribe to job alerts and newsletters, and upgrade my skills with diplomas and tests to land a wonderful job in 5 months. If you’re not landing jobs and you’re doing the same thing each time, change your approach.
What have you done (differently) to get a new job since leaving Japan?
What tips would you give to job hunters post-Japan?
The Tenth International Manga Award submission period is open now. Gold and Silver Award winners will get a chance to visit Japan! Though Japan is known for a variety of cultural and technological exports throughout the world, manga and anime are among their most famous. In fact, manga and anime are so popular, they’ve become a major part…