Archive for April 2016

JUSFC Hosts 40th Anniversary Discussion on Japan Studies

April 14, 2016 – 

To commemorate its 40th anniversary and to address the rising concern within academic circles that Japan Studies as a field may be in “crisis”, the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission convened a discussion on April 2, 2016 at the Association of Asian Studies annual meeting in Seattle.

The discussion, chaired by University of Hawai’i professor Patricia Steinhoff, featured experts, Professors T.J. Pempel (University of California, Berkeley), Leonard Schoppa (University of Virginia), Patricia Maclachlan (University of Texas, Austin) and Dyron Dabney (Albion College). Professors Pempel, Maclachlan and Schoppa also serve as Presidentially-appointed Commissioners on the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission.

The group discussed trends in Japan Studies, potential interdisciplinary approaches to the teaching of Japan and the Japanese language, and recommendations on creating a demand for and diversifying Japan Studies in the United States. Over 75 academics, students and representatives from public policy organizations attended the event and engaged in a lively discussion on how to make the field more accessible by generating greater interest.

The Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission is marking its 40th anniversary through 2016. The Commission has spent the last four decades supporting the U.S.-Japan relationship through public policy, arts, culture, and educational exchanges.


Sawako Nakayasu Wins 2016 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation

April 13, 2016 – 

The Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission congratulates U.S.-Japan Creative Artists Program Alumna Sawako Nakayasu on winning the 2016 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation. The award recognizes book-length translations of poetry from any language into English published in 2015. Ms. Nakayasu won for The Collected Poems of Chika Sagawa, translated from the Japanese.

Since 1978, the Commission has worked with the National Endowment for the Arts to implement the U.S.-Japan Creative Artists’ Program. This important bilateral program allows artists to research and experience both the traditional and contemporary artistic milieu of Japan.  The Commission is marking its 40th anniversary through 2016.

JUSFC40 Meet Our Grantees Series: Karen LaMonte: Sculptor

April 11, 2016 – 

In celebration of its 40th anniversary, the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission is having conversations with a number of grantees.

“I consider myself one of the luckiest people on earth for being a part of the program and reflect on it constantly,” remarks contemporary artist Karen LaMonte. She is known for her innovative work creating glass sculptures and spent seven months in Japan on the U.S.-Japan Creative Artists Exchange Fellowship. The Fellowship is funded by the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission and administered in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.

LaMonte has used clothing as a metaphor for identity and exploring the human in absentia throughout her career. As a Fellow living in Kyoto, she researched the Kimono – its production, form, function, and social significance. Focusing on the Kimono was a new evolution in LaMonte’s artwork. She had spent a decade of her career focusing on dress styles characteristic of Western society until she turned her attention to Japan and to the Kimono,  the clothing that most embodies that culture.

One of the people she met was Akiko Nakamura, a fifth-generation brocade weaver. “I found the Kimono very beautiful, but incredibly rigid,” said LaMonte in a presentation at the Corning Museum of Glass. “She taught me about the appropriate motifs you wore in which season, and what the fabric needed to be. Everything was specific; it was the most highly codified clothing vocabulary I have ever seen. And the other thing that I found is that when you wear the Kimono, it completely transforms… » READ MORE

JUSFC40 Meet Our Grantees Series: Kapi’olani Community College

April 5, 2016 – 

In celebration of its 40th anniversary, the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission is having conversations with a number of grantees.

“I have the opportunity to consider environmental problems, so together we can discuss why we have to protect native species,” remarks Reina Takadan a second year student from Kansai University’s Takatsuki campus in Osaka. Reina is currently in Hawai’i where she is working on and learning about the impact of invasive species under the Kai Yama project.

Kai Yama is a year -long program under which undergraduate students from Japan and Hawai’i are working together to address local and global environmental issues.  The project, which includes week-long exchange trips to Japan and Hawai’i, is intended to foster new approaches to environmental problem-solving by encouraging students to explore the shared experiences of two local communities.

JUSFC is delighted to support Kai Yama, which began in December 1, 2015 and will run through November 30, 2016. The program, supported for the first time by the Commission, involves faculty and students, including native Hawai’ian students from the University of Hawaii, Kapi‘olani Community College (KCC) and Kansai University (KU), Takatsuki Campus in Osaka. There are six students from KCC and 12 students from Japan.

Reina and her fellow KU students are currently in Hawai’i for a five-day introduction to ecology and environmental science skills particular to Hawai’i along with their peers from Kapi‘olani Community College, who are sharing their basic ecological sampling skills and their participation in a local community initiative to restore Maunalua Bay, O‘ahu. Together, the students from… » READ MORE