COVID-19 Information

Nagano Prefecture alert level map from the Nagano Prefectural Government COVID-19 information portal, June 17. The Matsumoto area is at Level 3, with the rest of the prefecture at 1.

The Nagano Prefecture alert levels are: Level 5 – Special Warning II (purple), Level 4 – Special Warning (red), Level 3 – Warning (orange), Level 2 – Alert (yellow), and Level 1 – Advisory (gray).

Recent updates:

  • June 17: The prefectural government has ended the prefecture-wide Level 3 fixed status. The Matsumoto area remains at Level 3, with all other regions of the prefecture at Level 1. (Announcement)
  • June 8: The Medical System Alert in place in Nagano Prefecture has been lifted (announcement).
  • June 4: All areas of the prefecture have been lowered to Level 4. A Medical System Alert remains in effect (announcement).
  • May 21: All areas of the prefecture have been raised to Level 4 (announcement).
  • May 20: Ina City, Komagane City, Minowa Town, Minami Minowa Town, and Miyada Village at Level 5 (announcement).
  • May 17: The Hokushin area has been raised to Level 4 (announcement).
  • April 28: The prefectural government has issued six new main focuses moving forward, including: curbing the fourth wave of infections, tracking and containing variant virus strains, bolstering medical and testing systems, progressing vaccine distribution, supporting economic revitalization and combatting discrimination targeting COVID-19 patients.

In addition, Nagano asks the following of residents throughout the prefecture:

  • Follow Nagano Prefecture’s New Lifestyle Guidelines
    • Avoid high-risk behaviors (talking while eating with others, etc.)
    • Follow preventative measures in place at businesses
  • If you are concerned about a fever or other possible symptoms, contact your designated health center (See Consultations below)
  • Follow precautions at work
Prefectural case numbers by health center as of June 16. (Note: No updates to prefectural information portal as of 7 p.m. June 17)

Total confirmed cases in Nagano Prefecture: 4,944
Discharged patients: 4,835
Active cases: 93

Inpatients (by health center): Hokushin (2), Iida (2), Ina (6), Kiso (0), Matsumoto (12), Matsumoto City (22)*, Omachi (2), Nagano (8), Nagano City (19), Saku (6), Suwa (6), Ueda (8)

*Matsumoto City Health Center patients were included in Matsumoto (regional) Health Center totals until March 31, 2021.

  • View the most recent case information here (all areas but Nagano and Matsumoto cities), here (Nagano City), and here (Matsumoto City). (All JP.)
  • View all Nagano Prefecture case information here or here (official, JP) and here (unofficial, EN).

Last updated on June 17, 2021

Continue reading “COVID-19 Information”

2021 Leavers’ Series #3

To all our departing JETs:

Our third installment of the 2021 Leavers’ Series is now available. Our final series of guides covers framing your JET experience, saying goodbye, and reverse culture shock.

Access all the guides via the link above, or individually, below:

  1. Framing your JET experience
  2. Farewells
  3. Reverse culture shock
Continue reading “2021 Leavers’ Series #3”

Block Leader Changeover Announcement 2021

Block Leader Crossing: New Horizons


A group of seven travellers approach the counter at the Kuma Inc. bus station. The signage above the two bushy-tailed, bright eyed, masked travel agents behind the counter read “Deserted Mountain Getaway Package.”

“Good morning! We’re so excited to have you here … you here!” one of them said. “Let us be the first to congratulate you on your wise decision to sign up for this adventure. Welcome… to the check-in counter for your Deserted Mountain Getaway Package! There is so much to look forward to! But first, let us introduce ourselves. I’m Tianny with Kuma Inc.”

“And I’m Tvikky!”

“We’ll be bussing to the mountain with you to help you get settled. Think of us as your partners. We’re in it for the long haul! So, let’s get started, shall we?” The two travel agents turn to their monitors and looked up the travellers’ applications.

“Shauna… Brigitta… Aly… John… Natalia… Satoe… Elliot… Let’s see… Oh! Yes, here you are! Our next step will be to take a picture of you all. Oh, don’t worry, take as much time as you need to get yourself looking just the way you want. We’ll be ready when you are! …you are!”

“Wonderful! Ah, but before we depart, I have just one final question for you… If you could bring ONE thing with you to a deserted mountain, what would it be? …what would it be?”

The travellers, wanting to make haste and get a move on, blurted out the first thing they thought of:

Continue reading “Block Leader Changeover Announcement 2021”

Are you the Imposter? – Toshin NagaYes

Check out this Arukuma-inspired crewmate! (Art by Anna Reyes)

During a bright, sunny afternoon on April 24th, nine friends gathered for the annual Toshin NagaYes. All was well until Brown passed by Red in the first round, and decided to stab them right in front of the hallway, then called a meeting saying they found the body and then blamed Green for the dastardly deed. A typical round for this NagaYes, actually.

In each game session, friendships and alliances were made and broken, sometimes in the span of minutes, and the most unsuspecting of people became the very imposters we were trying to find. Playing Among Us tested our deduction skills to see who was lying, who was telling the truth, and who was the imposter. And even with all the deception, we all had a blast playing the game!

Continue reading “Are you the Imposter? – Toshin NagaYes”

Starting the 16th Annual “Nagano International Perspective” Photo Exhibit

—This post is made on behalf of the Nagano CIRs—

Thank you tall those who submitted photos for our 16th Annual “Nagano International Perspective” Photo Exhibit!

Our theme this year is “Naganonbiri,” capturing the international community’s nonbiri moments this past year in Nagano Prefecture—places, items and scenes that bring feelings of relaxation and being at ease.

Continue reading “Starting the 16th Annual “Nagano International Perspective” Photo Exhibit”

2021 Leavers’ Series #2

To all our departing JETs:

The second installment of the 2021 Leavers’ Series is now available. Our second series of guides covers visa extensions, successor preparations, and getting your pension refund.

Access all the guides via the link above, or individually, below:

  1. Visa extensions
  2. Successors (successor’s guides can be found here)*
  3. Pension refund

*Prefectural JETs, ALTs, and G Instructors should use the one labelled “(様式 2) Essential Information for Successors”

Continue reading “2021 Leavers’ Series #2”

[Closed] Nagano Prefectural Board of Education is Seeking Senior High School ALTs!

  1. Job Type: Assistant Language Teacher (ALT)
  2. Number of Positions Available: 9
  3. Workplace:
    • Base school: A Prefectural senior high school in the Chushin, Toshin, or Nanshin area
    • Regular visit school(s): Prefectural senior high schools in the neighboring area
    • Irregular visit school(s): Prefectural special education schools in the neighboring area
    • Note: Base school: 3-4 days a week; Regular visit school: 1-2 day(s) a week; Irregular visit school: A few times a month.
  4. Period of Contract:
    The duration of the appointment shall be from August 1, 2021 to July 31, 2022.
  5. Work Terms and Conditions:
    • Remuneration: 280,000 yen/month (3,360,000 yen/year)
    • Compensation for income tax and inhabitants’ tax is not paid
    • Commuting expenses are provided
    • Housing allowance is not provided (although teacher housing may be available)
    • Working hours: 08:30 to 16:15
    • Break time: 12:15 to 13:00 *subject to change according to the schools’ daily schedule
    • Holidays: Saturdays, Sundays, national holidays, and New Year’s Holiday
    • Insurance provided: health insurance, employee’s pension insurance, employment insurance, workers’ accident compensation insurance
    • Note: As for other work terms and conditions, the Terms and Conditions for JET Prefectural ALTs shall be applied. However, the JET Programme Accident Insurance will not be available.
Continue reading “[Closed] Nagano Prefectural Board of Education is Seeking Senior High School ALTs!”

2021 Leavers’ Series #1

To all of our departing JETs:

Whether you’ve been here for one year or the full five, we hope you’ve made some wonderful memories in Nagano. Preparing to leave JET can feel overwhelming, but the 2021 Leavers’ Series is here to help you get ready.

We will be releasing these resources in three stages as we approach the Leavers’ Conference. As of today, you can access the first installment, which includes information about the following:

  1. Scheduling
  2. Bills and utilities
  3. Budgeting
  4. Car sales and disposal
  5. Sending items overseas
Continue reading “2021 Leavers’ Series #1”

Toshin Virtual NagaYes: Among Us

This could be you!

Are you up for testing your truth detection skills? Are you willing to lie to your friends to convince them that no, you didn’t murder Blue even though you killed Purple? Are you brave enough to find out who your friends really are? Then come join us for several rounds of Among Us for our virtual NagaYes!

What: Toshin Virtual NagaYes: Among Us Edition (Online)


When: April 24th, 2021 (Sat), 4pm-6pm

Continue reading “Toshin Virtual NagaYes: Among Us”

Yuru-chara and You: Nanshin’s Guide to Local Mascots

When I received my placement email five years ago and saw that I would be living in Takagi Village, naturally, the first thing I did was Google it. Nothing came up. That was worrying but I tried again this time in Japanese, which yielded a few results. And the main result that piqued my interest was a music video featuring the village’s mascots, Berry-chan and Go-kun. It was this video with its catchy song, cute characters, and local people that eased my worries and had me excited to move to my new home. It even inspired me to buy a blazer with strawberries on it before the trip! This is the power of Yuru-chara (ゆるキャラ), Japan’s mascot characters.

Yuru-chara were created to promote places, events, and businesses. The name is a contraction of three words: yurui mascot character. Yurui (緩い) can mean quite a few things but in this case, it describes the mascots as soft, gentle, light-hearted, weak, and laid-back. The term Yuru-chara is even trademarked by its creator, cartoonist Jun Miura and the publishing company Fusosha. Most often, they are local mascots, also referred to as gotōchi-chara (ご当地キャラ) (gotta avoid that trademarked name!). There are even guidelines for their creation:

  1. It must convey a strong message of love for one’s hometown.
  2. Its movements should be unique and unstable or awkward.
  3. It should be unsophisticated or laid-back and lovable.

And they are a huge business! In 2012, sales driven by the characters reached nearly $12 billion. Having a popular Yuru-chara can generate a lot of tourism and income for an area. And popularity is important considering there is a literal popularity contest held each year called the “Yuru-chara® Grand Prix”. Our very own prefectural mascot, Arukuma, took away the top prize in 2019! While I’m sure we all know Arukuma by now and everyone is familiar with the mascots in their own areas, I’d like to introduce you to some of Nanshin’s mascots, particularly those belonging to the areas inhabited by JETs.

Continue reading “Yuru-chara and You: Nanshin’s Guide to Local Mascots”