Contributed Article by Elaine Browning
Japan-America Society of Dallas/Fort Worth
Host City Coordinator, 2012 Grassroots Summit in North Texas
Because the goals of the Center for International Exchange coincide with the mission of Japan-America Society of Dallas/Fort Worth to strengthen relations between Japan and our region, JASDFW elected to host the 2012 Grassroots Summit in North Texas, with Ambassador Thomas Schieffer serving as Chairman. Even as we arranged tours and homestays, enjoyed every moment of the visitors' stay, and celebrated its success, we did not anticipate then how many benefits JASDFW would realize, even after the Summit's conclusion. The following year we worked hard to recruit Texans to go to Shimane. Our involvement in both Summits has resulted in numerous new relationships with individuals and other organizations, affording new opportunities to achieve our goal -- bringing Japanese and Americans together.
JASDFW and CIE ties were further strengthened at our 2013 Award Dinner in April. JASDFW presented the Sun & Star Legacy Award to CIE Board Member Minoru Makihara, Senior Corporate Advisor and Former Chairman, President and CEO of Mitsubishi Corporation for his distinguished leadership in Japan-U.S. business relations as well as in cultural and educational interchange. Toshiaki Taguchi, also on the CIE Board of Directors, served as Honorary Host of the event. Being able to attract business leaders of such high caliber and international fame contributed to a very successful event, which raised funds to support our cultural and educational programs in North Texas.
One of the most significant results of our Summit participation has been a positive relationship with the Texas Rangers Baseball Club. JASDFW selected the Rangers for the Bridges to Friendship award, because they so generously hosted the Ishinomaki Little Senior Baseball team during the North Texas Summit and inaugurated the first Japan-America Friendship Night at the Ballpark, pitched by Yu Darvish. One year later, this past August, a second Japan-America Friendship Night was held, attended by Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae, who threw the first pitch. Notes Honorary Consul-General of Japan and Summit Vice Chairman John Stich, "We hope the Friendship Night will continue to be an annual event, honoring the ever-deepening ties between Japan and North Texas."
The 2012 Grassroots Summit had participation from 15 North Texas cities and motivated many individuals and groups to get involved with JASDFW in a variety of ways - as cooperating organizations, volunteers, members, Board members, and staff - and to continue their involvement with CIE and the Summit.
Their participation in the Summit's Denton and Richardson local sessions led to new relationships with the University of North Texas Office of International Affairs and the University of Texas at Dallas Asia Center. Both institutions are now eager to partner with us, yet another avenue for enhancing friendship and understanding with Japan.
Through the broad reach of the Summit, JASDFW met many talented individuals with outstanding leadership skills, five of whom are now serving on the Board of Directors. As a result of their experience with the Summit, they bring a high level of commitment to our mission. These newcomers have already contributed fresh ideas and energy to our organization:
From the Richardson local session --- Betty Peck and Mike Skelton
From the Southlake local session --- Grant Ogata
From the Dallas local session --- Steve Mullen
Summit volunteer --- Teruo Higa
Although I had lived in Japan for eight years on business, after moving to Dallas I lost all contact with it. By chance I heard about the Summit and became a host as a way to reconnect. Afterwards, I became an active member and volunteer for JASDFW, joined the Board of Directors and attended the Summit in Shimane.
Hosting for the 2012 Grassroots Summit also inspired other individuals to join the Society. Richardson local session hosts Bob and Nancy Kerstetter explain, "When we saw our guest's excitement about staying with an American family and experiencing typical activities, we decided to join JASDFW. The Society does good work like partnering with CIE and other organizations; as members we can support that work."
The Summit attracted many new volunteers, both Japanese and Americans, with a strong interest in US-Japan cultural exchange. From the 100-plus Summit volunteers, many have continued to support JASDFW programs and activities. Rachel Heisel, a Shimane participant, volunteers in our office two hours a week and helps at events. For Mark Kerby, a 2012 Summit volunteer, participation in the Shimane Summit indirectly led to a unique experience with JASDFW this summer.
Volunteering for the Grassroots Summit in North Texas inspired me to participate in the 2013 Summit in Shimane, as well as the post-Summit trip to Sendai. While there, I met the student representatives who were preparing to visit Dallas for the International Friendship City [Dallas-Sendai Young Ambassadors] program. I asked one of them, 'What is one thing you want to do in Dallas?' He answered, 'I want to ride a rollercoaster.' During their visit, I volunteered for JASDFW and we rode the rollercoaster! Because of these experiences, I have forged friendships with people half a world away.
New JASDFW employee Chrystal Sanders, Membership & Communications Coordinator, volunteered for the 2012 Summit shortly after returning from the JET Program in Fukui-ken.
The high level of commitment to promoting friendship and understanding between the two cultures by JASDFW during the Summit became the catalyst for my continued involvement with the Society. JASDFW’s and my own personal mission blended well. When the opportunity presented itself, it was natural to become part of their staff.
JASDFW support for the Shimane Summit also offered opportunities to meet our goal of strengthening ties. We publicized the event, held recruiting sessions, and offered an orientation for attendees. The large delegation from North Texas comprised almost a third of all guests at the Shimane Summit, evidence of enthusiasm for Japan at the grassroots level here in our region.
A wonderful example of how just one person's Summit participation can impact lives is Elizabeth Contreras. A teacher in Irving, Elizabeth joined the Shimane Summit because of JASDFW recruiting efforts. Now she is developing an exchange program with a high school in Matsue. As another door of international exchange opens to the next generation, we hope these students will help North Texas become ever closer to Japan.
Says Anna McFarland, Executive Director of JASDFW, "Our participation in CIE’s Grassroots Summit program has created additional opportunities to achieve our mission -- through new members and volunteers, through expanded awareness of our activities, and through enhanced cooperation with leading organizations such the Texas Rangers, UNT, and UT Dallas Asia Center."
Taken all together, each benefit is a puzzle piece fitting into the greater whole: an ever stronger bond of friendship between the people of Texas and the people of Japan. May the kizuna continue!
Memorable Trip to Japan 2013 by Dr. Perry, a descendant of Commodore Perry[2013.11.01]
Since 2009, Dr. Matthew C. Perry, a descendant of Commodore Perry, has been participating the Japan America Grassroots Summit, and writing the essays about his experience every year.
This year, too, he sent his essays with photos about his participation in the Shimane Grassroots Summit 2013, and his visits to Sendai, Kochi, Yokohama after Shimane.
Please read and enjoy his thoughtful essays.
【News Flash!】 Shimane Grassroots Summit Was a Great Success![2013.07.25]
The 23rd Japan America Grassroots Summit 2013 in Shimane ended on July 8th and it was a great success! The entire Summit Program, including the four "Post Summit Optional Programs", was a fruitful experience and was finished on July 12th.
The ninety-five participants, who crossed the Pacific Ocean from America, came to Shimane to join the Summit, and eighty-three of them attended all the programs, including a home-stay.
The Opening Ceremony was held at Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine, where the once in 60 year renovation called "Dai-Sengu" had just been completed. Representing the organizers of the Summit, Ambassador Taizo Watanabe, CIE Chairman, Senge Takamasa, the Chief Priest of Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine, and Mr. Zenbee Mizoguchi, Governor of Shimane, greeted the American participants. Also, Mr. Kurt Tong, Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Japan, made a congratulatory speech. Dr. Matthew Perry, a descendant of Commodore Perry, spoke about the importance of the international exchange through his own experiences of previous Grassroots Summits.
During the ceremony, junior and senior high school students from Callisburg, Texas, gave an impressive presentation in Japanese. Last year, during the North Texas Grassroots Summit in 2012, they were the hosts of Kesennuma Junior High School students. Their presentation included information about their hometown, Callisburg, what enabled them to join the Shimane Summit, what they learnt from the friendship between John Manjiro and Captain Whitfield, and their firm decision to continue the exchange as the next generation.
This year, the annual ceremonial exchange of the "globe" was conducted by Asuka, 12 years old, a descendant of John Manjiro, and Morgan, 15 years old, a descendant of Captain Whitfield.
After the Opening Ceremony, which was attended by about two hundred and fifty people, the Welcome Reception was held at the Shimane Winery with a fun BBQ-style meal accompanied by traditional Japanese music and dance called "Izumo Kagura".
Between July 4th and 7th, the American participants joined one of the eleven Local Sessions held around Shimane in Matsue, Yasugi, Izumo, Izumo/Hirata, Unnan, Okuizumo, Ohda, Gotsu, Hamada, Masuda and Oki. The participants learned the history and culture of each place through their real experiences at each Session, and developed friendships with the Shimane locals at night.
The last evening in Shimane was the Closing Ceremony, which was held at Shimane's English Garden. It was a lively party with the host families. The participants had a fun, final time with their host families in front of the beautiful Shinji Lake, in and around the English Garden, and promised each other a reunion in the near future.
After a one night stay at Tamatsukuri Hot Spring, many American participants joined one of the four Post Summit Optional Programs from July 8th, where they visited Hiroshima, Kochi, Kyoto, Tokyo, or Sendai to encounter a different history and culture from Shimane, and some of them also undertook home-stays in those areas.
The CIE office is now receiving pictures and comments from the American participants who now have many friends in Shimane and other parts of Japan.
Mr. Makihara, CIE board member, and the Texas Rangers received the Award! [ 2013.5.24 ]
On April 30, Japan-America Society of Dallas/Fort Worth gave the awards to Mr. Minoru Makihara, CIE board member and the Senor Corporate Advisor to the Mitsubishi Corporation, and the Texas Rangers Baseball Club.
Mr. Makihara received "Sun & Star Legacy Award" which is presented each year to a distinguished leader who has enhanced the relationship between the peoples of Japan and the United States. He served as chair of the US-Japan Business Council from 1997 to 2002. Since 2007, he has also chaired CULCON, the US-Japan Conference on Cultural and Educational Interchange, established by J.F.Kennedy and then Prime Minister Hayato Ikeda to strengthen the bilateral relationship through enhanced exchanges.
He also serves on the International Advisory Council of Allianz SE; the Executive Committee of the Trilateral Commission; the Harvard Asia Center Advisory Committee; the International Panel of Temasek Holdings; the International Advisory Board of Hakluyt & Company Limited; and McLarty Associates. He is Director General of the Toyo Bunko one of the leading orient Research Libraries. As board member of CIE, he is a strong supporter of the annual Japan America Grassroots Summit, which was held in North Texas in 2012.
The Texas Rangers was also the recipient of the award called “Bridges-to-Friendship Award” which is given periodically to an individual or organization for fostering friendship and understanding between Japanese and Americans in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.
As part of the Japan America Grassroots Summit 2012 held in North Texas, the Rangers created a special program for 16 Japanese teenagers − the Ishinomaki Little Seniors baseball team from an area devastated by the March 2011 tsunami. The Rangers gave the boys an unforgettable day and night at the Ballpark, commemorative gifts, and a private meeting with Yu Darvish. Funding for their trip was provided by the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation, Yu Darvish and gloops Inc. through the TOMODACHI Initiative. It also organized the first ever Japan − America Friendship Night at Ranger Ballpark and it kicked off the 2012 Japan America Grassroots Summit in North Texas and welcomed 185 participants from Japan.
Mr. Toshiaki Taguchi, another CIE board member, played a role of "Honorary Host" at the Award Dinner of April 30 held at the Westin Galleria Dallas. The dinner party was a great success with 340 attendees from more than 70 companies and organizations.
Japanese Imperial Decoration conferred upon Mr. Kaoru Yosano and Mr. Paul Maruyama, CIE(-US)'s affiliates! [ 2013.05.10 ]
Japanese government announced that Mr. Kauro Yosano, Vice Chairman of CIE, and Mr. Paul Maruyama, CIE-US board member, have been named as the recipients of this year's Japan Imperial Decorations, the "Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun" and the "Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette" respectively, on April 29th.
Mr. Yosano has contributed to Japan's political world for a long time including his dedication as former Minister of Finance. He has also been serving as Vice Chairman of CIE to promote grassroots friendship between Japan and the U.S. since 2002.
Mr. Maruyama has been contributing to the promotion of cultural exchange between Japan and the U.S. for a long time, and is a founding member of the Japan America Society of Southern Colorado and CIE-US. He was the first Japanese language instructor at the US Air Force Academy and is still teaching it at Colorado College. He was also the first American Judo athlete participated in the Tokyo Olympics, and taught Judo as a national team coach.
The Decoration will be handed to Mr. Yosano from Emperor at the imperial palace, and Mr. Maruyama will receive his Decoration in June at the Consulate General of Japan in Denver.
Flash News of 2012 Grassroots Summit in North Texas [ 2012.9.21 ]
The 22nd Japan America Grassroots Summit was held with great success in 15 cities in North Texas from Aug. 28th to Sep. 4th. All 15 municipalities proclaimed it “Japan Week”.
The 180 Japanese participants, including 53 students and their chaperones from disaster-stricken Tohoku, were impressed by the warm hospitality and open space of North Texas. They enjoyed person-to-person exchange and the unique culture of North Texas through various programs.
The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon conferred upon Dr. William R. Farrell [ 2011.11.18 ]
On November 3th 2011, the Japanese government bestowed to the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon upon Dr. William R. Farrell in recognition of his significant contribution to Japanese society over the past 40 years. Dr. Farrell has acted as an intermediary between Japan and the US in business, academic, military and grassroots relations and is currently Chairman of the National Association of Japan-America Societies and a member of the board of directors of CIE-US. After giving the opening speech at this year's summit in Kochi, Dr. Farrell went on to visit the area affected by the March 11 earthquake.
An awards ceremony will be held in Washington D.C. in January 2012.
The Honorable Minoru Makihara awarded Distinguished Service Award by the United States-Japan Foundation. [ 2011.11.18 ]
The Honorable Minoru Makihara, Senior Corporate Advisor, Mitsubishi Corporation and member of the Board of Directors of CIE-Japan has been awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the United States-Japan Foundation. An awards ceremony was held at the US Ambassador’s Residence in Tokyo on October 28th 2011. Thomas S Johnson, chairman of the United States-Japan Foundation, likened Mr. Makihara to a 21st century John Manjiro.
The award, founded in 2005, is awarded in recognition for contribution towards Japan-US relations. Mr. Makihara is the 8th winner of the award, with previous winners including Ambassador Thomas S. Foley, US Ambassador to Japan (2005); Ambassador Yoshio Okawara, Japan's Ambassador to the US (2007); Mr. Tadashi Yamamoto, JCIE Founder and President (2008); Ambassador Walter F. Mondale, Former Vice President and US Ambassador to Japan (2008); Honorable Yasuhiro Nakasone, Prime Minister of Japan(2009); Ambassador Robin Chandler Duke, Former U.S. Ambassador to Norway and Founder of the United States-Japan Foundation (2010) and Mr. Shoichiro Toyoda, Honorary Chairman and Member of the Board, Toyota Motor Corporation (2010).
Quilts from Fairhaven now on display in Miyagi [ 2011.8.20 ]
John Manjiro spent much of his time in the US in Fairhaven, MA and it has since been a sister city of Tosashimzu, Manjiro's birthplace.
After the devastating March 11 earthquake, citizens of Fairhaven, MA decided that not only did they want to make financial contributions to the relief efforts in the area, they also wanted to make more personal gifts to show the citizens of Miyagi that they were thinking of them. Over 70 quilts were made.
The Opening Ceremony of the 2011 Kochi Summit was held in Tosashimizu. At the ceremony Mr Gerald Rooney, who has served as Chair of the Fairhaven Tosashimizu Sister City Committee for more than 20 years and is currently the President of the Whitfield-Manjiro Friendship Society of Fairhaven, presented over 70 quilts to Mr. Kyuichiro Sato, Vice Chair of the Miyagi Grassroots Summit 2009 Volunteer Committee. The quilts were exhibited in the hall of the Miyagi prefectural government building from August 5 to 12, then now in Kokusai-mura Hall of Shichigahama-machi from August 18 to 25. On August 21, a charity concert featuring a number of famous Japanese artists will be held at the Kokusai-mura hall, and the quilts will be available for the audience to view.
As the weather starts to cool in the autumn, the quilts will be given to families in Miyagi prefecture that are currently living in temporary housing, including former host families from the 2009 Summit held in Miyagi.
These heartfelt gifts from the people of Fairhaven show the deep ties of friendship between Fairhaven, Tosashimizu and Miyagi.
"Translation service" for communication with Tohoku people. [ 2011.4.4]
CIE has started the translation service for the past American Summit participants, Host families, volunteers, when they want to communicate with their Japanese host families, guests, volunteers living in the Tohoku region.
If you wish your e-mail letter translated, please send it to email@example.com with your Tohoku friend's name and e-mail address.
If you do not know the e-mail address, please consult with CIE with the above address.
Please be aware that some of those Japanese living in the Tohoku region have not yet been connected, and if it is the case, CIE will let you know.
The translation will be helped by volunteers who are not professional translator. The e-mail letter should be within 300 words.
(CIE will inform the Japanese recipient of your e-mail that it will also offer translation service from Japanese to English.)
ALL OF THE SUMMIT PARTICIPANTS ARE SAFE! [ 2011.3.28]
Since the East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of March 11th, CIE has received countless inquiries about safety and whereabouts of the host families, volunteer staff of the Miyagi Grassroots Summit 2009, and participants from the Tohoku region in the Summits held in America. We have researched their status through e-mail, telephone, internet search function, etc., and by March 26, fortunately we have got information that all of those people and their family members are safe. However, some of them had their relatives taken by tsunami, lost houses, stores, or company buildings, etc. At least 3 families still seem to live in one of the evacuation centers.
We simply do not have words to express our feeling of sorrow and condolences to those people in Miyagi and other northeastern parts of Japan who had been devastated by the gigantic earthquake and tsunami of unprecedented scale. → Read more
CONTACT INFO to LOCATE FRIENDS/FAMILY IN JAPAN [ 2011.3.14]
Please do not place phone calls to Japan unless it’s urgent so that emergency calls are able to get through. E-mails are, in fact, more accessible than telephone now. If you are finding your friends or relatives in Japan, the following services are available.
P1 Sightseeing in San Francisco and the Pioneer Museum
P2 San Francisco Giants Game/Local Tours
P2 Opening Ceremony and Welcome Reception
P3 Local Sessions Homestay Program
P4 Closing Ceremony/Post Summit Optional Program
Flash News: San Francisco Bay Area Summit a HUGE success!
The greatest and largest Summit in our 20 year history [ 2010.9.9 ]
CIE is delighted to announce that the America Japan Grassroots Summit 2010 in the San Francisco Bay Area (SBGS) was a great success. 250 participants traveled from Japan to California and about 3200 people took part in the summit in total, including participants from Japan, host families, guests, supporters and volunteers making it our biggest summit ever!
Mr. Gerald P. Rooney, President of the Whitfield-Manjiro Friendship Society, receives the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays. [ 2010.5.13 ]
On April 29, 2010, the Government of Japan announced that the “Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays” will be conferred upon Mr. Gerald P. Rooney, President of the Whitfield-Manjiro Friendship Society, in recognition of his contributions to the promotion of sister-city relations and the encouragement of cultural exchange between Japan and the United States based on the story of John Manjiro.
Former Vice President of CIE-US Published a Book, "Escape from Manchuria"! [ 2010.4.26 ]
Paul K. Maruyama, who was vice president of CIE-US until recently, has just published a book entitled "Escape from Manchuria". The book narrates the true story of three Japanese men who escaped to Japan from Soviet-occupied Manchuria following the end of World War II to eventually bring about the repatriation of nearly 1.7 million Japanese held captive in Manchuria. One of the three courageous men was Maruyama's own father, Kunio Maruyama.
The three men personally appealed to General Douglas MacArthur, then the Supreme Commander for Allied Powers occupying defeated Japan, to bring about the rescue. Very little is known about the terror and misery that descended on all Japanese civilians in Manchuria following the Soviet invasion, and even less is known about the three men.
One important aim of the book is to let the world know the magnanimous kindness and respect that Gen. MacArthur and the United States military demonstrated to the helpless Japanese people trapped in Manchuria. That feeling of mutual respect has endured to this day to make the friendship between the United States and Japan "the world's most important bilateral relationship − bar none."
Maruyama, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel, is presently president of Japan-America Society of Southern Colorado.
Grassroots Summits featured in Highlighting Japan (Japanese Government magazine) [ 2010.4.5 ]
We are honoured to announce that America-Japan Grassroots Summits have been featured in Highlighting Japan, a magazine published by the Japanese Government to promote a better understanding of Japan throughout the world.
Various aspects of the summits are covered in the article, alongside interviews with Taizo Watanabe, Chairman of CIE, Joseph Barrett, participant of 19th Summit in Miyagi and Masae Omura and Shinobu Uogishi, Executive Directors of the Miyagi and Noto Summits respectively.
Tales of the Ofuro - Three Miyagi Summit participants from America share their thoughts on the Japanese public bathing experience [ 2010.3.12 ]
Dr Matthew Perry, descendant of Commodore Perry, who opened Japan to the West with the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854, tells the fascinating story of his ancestor's link with tradtional Japanese baths as well as his own initiation to public bathing at last year's Miyagi summit. Jack and Grant Nakamura, 2 young brothers from San Francisco, also share their story of their first time bathing in a tradtional Japanese public bath.
THE NARRATIVE AND JAPANESE PUBLIC BATHS
On January 6, 2010, I was very pleased to receive in the mail a book from Japan and in Japanese that Ms. Hiroko Todoroki had mailed to me on November 2, 2009. Hiroko had mailed it at the request of Mr. Toshio Fujimoto, who was the publisher of the book printed in Japan in 2009 by his company Banraisha, Inc. I had met Hiroko in Japan during my trip in July 2009 as part of an international cultural exchange.
She was the main reason I was invited to go to Japan and also the person that had told Mr. Fujimoto that I was related to Commodore Perry. That serendipitous connection was the main reason he wanted me to have a copy of the book entitled, "Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan Performed in the Years 1852, 1853, and 1854 Under the Command of Commodore M. C. Perry, United States Navy." The book contains the United States Congressional Document of communication to Japan and the eventual signing in 1854 of the Treaty of Peace and Amity between the U.S. and Japan (Treaty of Kanagawa). This is the first time that the Narrative, which was published in 1856 by the U.S. Congress, has been translated into Japanese for easy accessibility for the people of Japan.
The book arrived in perfect condition in spite of the long delay, which in mid-December had prompted Mr. Fujimoto to send me another copy directly from his publishing company, which I received on February 1, 2010. I will donate this second copy to the Manjiro Whitfield Friendship Society, a Japanese/American group in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, that has members and visitors who can read Japanese. The night the book arrived I stayed up until 11 PM and went through every page carefully. I compared all the beautiful lithographs and wood cuts that he reproduced with the originals in the first volume of the three-volume set that I have of Commodore Perry's narrative. I was very impressed on the quality of the book in general and the quality of the graphics.
Although I can't read the Japanese characters, I could easily follow where each chapter began and also appreciated the nice way he had outlined the various letters written by the Commodore and others that were reproduced. One figure that I was especially interested in locating was the lithograph of the "Public Bath at Shimoda" that the new book has reproduced on page 275. This indicates that the publisher's original copy in English was one of the first published, as the U.S. Congress withdrew that picture early in the printing process as they thought it was not in good taste due to nudity.
That picture is not in my copy (that I received as a wedding present from my cousin Louise DeWolf in 1966) and I understand from antique book dealers that copies with the picture are worth much more money. It is interesting to think how much we have changed our morals in the U.S. when you consider what is printed in books today and also distributed on the internet. Although Commodore Perry was very impressed with his visit to Shimoda and the people there, he does write some rare disparagingly remarks in the text near where this picture was printed.
When speaking of the people of Shimoda, Japan, after his 1854 visit to this town, Commodore Perry wrote the following in his journal: "The people have all the characteristic courtesy and reserved but pleasing manners of the Japanese. A scene at one of the public baths, where the sexes mingled indiscriminately, unconscious of their nudity, was not calculated to impress the Americans with a very favorable opinion of the morals of the inhabitants.
This may not be a universal practice throughout Japan, and indeed is said by the Japanese near us not to be; but the Japanese people of the inferior ranks are undoubtedly, notwithstanding their moral superiority to most oriental nations, a lewd people. Apart from the bathing scenes, there was enough in the popular literature, with its obscene pictorial illustrations, to prove a licentiousness of taste and practice among a certain class of population that was not only disgustingly intrusive, but disgracefully indicative of foul corruption."
Wow, these were very strong comments. At that time our nations had very different opinions of the civility of each country and the people. Fortunately, over time we realized it is not so much the variation between the two cultures, but the greater variation within each culture. I feel this book will be a great addition to the libraries in Japan so persons can gain a better perspective on the purpose of the trip to Japan by the U.S. fleet under the command of Commodore Perry, but also hopefully will get a better understanding of the value of each other's culture, from the past and in the present, so that we can be better neighbors on the world stage and share our similar fundamental values.
An example of how we can change our attitude with better education occurred last summer when I was in Japan. I met a Japanese college student at an international exchange reception. In very good English she stated to me that she had written a report on Commodore Perry in high school and then stated strongly that she "did not like him. " However, in college she had studied him more extensively and now thought he was a "great man. " I also could see attitude changes with our American travelers and with myself during the trip as we learned more about each other's cultures.
The public bath issue in Japan had first kindled my interest when I read an article in the Lexus car magazine in 2004 by Rolf Potts, who had traveled throughout Japan to sample the many types of baths and learn more of the value that the baths had to the Japanese. He emphasized that the natural hot springs (onsens) originated from the volcanic activity of the islands and that originally the Japanese would travel great distances to use these springs as baths for medicinal purposes. The author emphasized that the baths were for soaking and not cleansing, and in fact it is imperative by custom to clean the body thoroughly before soaking in a public bath.
Over the years public baths in Japan had become a tradition that whole families enjoyed and the mental benefits of relaxation and family bonding had became more important than the unknown physical benefits to the body. Baths had been installed in hotels, which made them more available throughout Japan to all travelers, even in areas where the natural baths were not available. In the Lexus article the author stated that public baths were a mixed-gender affair until Commodore Perry made it a moral issue, resulting in public baths for both sexes becoming less common in Japan. This greatly surprised me as, although I was aware on the disparaging comments the Commodore had made about nude bathing of both sexes, in all the biographies I had read about the Commodore, no one had ever connected him with a change in Japanese culture in regard to public baths. I have chatted with several Japanese/Americans about this issue reported in the Lexus magazine, but have not found any substantiation to the reporters claim. The magazine never responded to my request for more documentation.
In July 2009, I traveled to Japan as part of the Manjiro-Whitfield International Exchange program and had my first experience with Japanese public baths. The major difference with public baths in Japan compared to the western world and places like the Blue Lagoon in Iceland is that in Japan public baths are in the nude. Although mixed gender bath houses exist in Japan, the major hotels have separate bath areas for males and females.
When I arrived at our first hotel in Matsushima I learned that there was a bath in the hotel and I was anxious to experiment. My roommate, Bhaird Campbell, was from Boston and was special assistant to the President of the Japan Society of Boston. He spoke fluent Japanese and was extremely well-versed in Japanese customs. He told me everything I needed to know about public baths in Japan, but then told me the most bone-chilling fact - that he was tired, was going to take a nap, and didn't want to join me. Whoa, I had go on my own????!!!! Well, I donned my yukata (informal summer kimono) and slippers, provided by the hotel, and with a small towel over my shoulder I headed to the bath area. The towel is more like a wash cloth, but 2-3 times as long as ours and used more for cleaning not drying. Drying towels are provided in the bath area.
I had investigated the location of the male bath area earlier and I knew there was no way to get there without walking through the lobby. Taking the elevator to the first floor I stepped into the lobby and feeling totally nude held my head high while walking among numerous Americans and Japanese that were totally dressed. It was mid-afternoon and many travelers were just arriving and registering at the hotel for the beginning of the international exchange.
I made it to the bath area without incident, stored my slippers and yukata, and stepped into another room for an extensive scrub down, while sitting on a small stool. After feeling cleaner than ever in my life I gently slipped into the bath (no splashing allowed) and realized I was the only American there. Later I noticed some of my traveling partners so felt relieved that I hadn't violated some rule and was in the wrong area. The bath area was the size of most hotel pools, but was only about 18 inches deep, so when sitting on the bottom just your neck and head are above water. I soaked for about 30 minutes in several areas of the pool and then reversed the above process to head back to my hotel room.
The welcoming program was to begin at 4 PM and I was running low on time. I did not realize that my body temperature was quite so elevated and as I was walking through the lobby I was perspiring profusely and had a rosy-red complexion. Ms. Todoroki, who was making arrangements for the opening ceremony, spotted me and insisted I had to go talk to the projectionist about my presentation, which was part of the opening program. Fortunately, after I protested, she gave me 15 minutes so I could cool down, get out of my yukata, and get properly dressed.
I was to learn later from my roommate that the yukata like other forms of the kimono is considered appropriate dress and several persons actually wore them to breakfast after coming from the public bath. That ended my first experience in a Japanese public bath. I had several others while in Japan, but none had the excitement of the first. A Japanese public bath is an experience that I highly recommend, but be aware the water is very hot and it is definitely not an experience for modest persons!!!
My Public Bath Experience in Japan
By Jack Nakamura
My name is Jack Nakamura and I am a 5th generation Japanese American. I am a middle school student and I take Japanese twice a week. I also studied Japanese language and culture at my public elementary school in San Francisco, California. Last summer I participated in the Grassroots Summit in Miyagi, Japan. I wanted to go to Japan for many years and I was so excited to be going on my first trip.
On the bus from Narita airport to Matsushima, my mom told me that the hotel we were staying at had a public bath. She really wanted me to experience the Japanese public bath. I refused to go. My mom explained it was a once in a lifetime experience so I finally agreed. Unfortunately, I had to take my very active 8 year old brother, too.
My mother, sister, brother and I all walked to the public bath together. My mom gave us some quick instructions and then we off by ourselves. I was uncomfortable to be around so many naked men. My brother and I washed ourselves and then went into the baths. I was very shy and kept the towel over my private parts. My brother was showing off; standing up in the bath, doing a few Michael Jackson moves and not covering his private parts. I was totally embarrassed. One Japanese man thought we were Japanese and started speaking to us. I had to use sign language and my broken Japanese to tell him I didn't understand. In Japan, we looked 100% Japanese. After the bath, we felt relaxed and rush to the room to change back into our clothes.
The Japanese bath experience was very different and I learned that Japanese people are not shy to be naked in front of each other. In America, we don't take baths with people we don't know so it was a very new experience for me.
My First Experience at a Japanese Public Bath
By Grant Nakamura
My name is Grant Nakamura and I live in San Francisco, California. I am eight years old and in the third grade. My brother and I went to our first public bath in a hotel in Matsushima, Japan. In our room, I put on my yukata and my slippers. When I entered the bath, I noticed there was a sign that said, "No tattoos." I think they have this rule because Japanese people don't want to look at tattoos. My brother and I went to the stools and started washing ourselves. I felt a little weird being naked in front of a lot of men. I saw a man with grey hair who also had gray hair on his private parts. This was the first time for me to see so many different types of bodies. In America, I usually take a bath by myself.
After washing ourselves went to the outside bath area. We saw all the trees and I could even see the bay. It was very beautiful. When we were done outside, I asked my brother if he wanted to go to the inside bath. The inside bath was hotter. Once we were done, we got towels and dried ourselves. We put back on yukata and we went outside waiting for our mom. I really liked the bath because the water was very warm and I felt very relax. I wanted to go the next day but my brother refused. The next time I go to Japan, I will definitely try another public bath. I recommend that everyone should try it at lease once. I also learned that I can't get a tattoo if I want to go to a public bath in Japan.
JCCI presented its award to descendants of Manjiro and Captain Whitfield [ 2009.12.14 ]
Special Commemorative Award was presented to descendants of John Manjiro Nakahama and Captain William H. Whitfield.
The Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of New York (JCCI) celebrated its 25th anniversary of its Annual Dinner on November 10th at the Hilton New York by paying tribute to friendship between John Manjiro and Captain Whitfield. Their 5th generation descendants, Ms. Kyo Nakahama and Mr. Bob Whitfield accepted the award at the dinner.
The Chamber bestowed its highest honor, the Eagle on the World Award, upon Charles O. Holiday, DuPont's Chairman of the Board, and former MLB star Hideo Nomo during the event.
The distinguished senior senator from Hawaii, Daniel K. Inouye, delivered keynote address in the event.
JAPAN HONORS GOV .COLLINS & DR. RICHARD WOOD [ 2009.11.6 ]
On November 3rd, the Government of Japan officially announced that the Honorable Martha Layne Collins, former Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and Dr. Richard Wood, Professor and Dean Emeritus, Yale University Divinity School and Former President of Japan Society, will be honored with a prestigious decoration, the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, in recognition of their outstanding contributions to U.S. - Japan positive relations.
Gov. Collins was Chair of "Kentucky Grassroots Summit Volunteer Committee 2008", and Dr. Wood is serving as President of CIE-US.
The Order of the Rising Sun was established in 1875 as the first national decoration awarded by the Japanese Government.
The Election of President Obama and the John Manjiro Grassroots Exchange [2009.1.20]
Taizo Watanabe, Chairman of CIE Japan has written an article entitled "The
Election of President Obama and the John Manjiro Grassroots Exchange."
On the 20th January 2009, Barack Obama was officially-inaugurated as President of the United States of America. The article focuses on this turning point in American history and its link with future grassroots exchange with Japan.
The Election of President Obama and the John Manjiro Grassroots Exchange
1. John Manjiro Whitfield Commemorative Project for International Grassroots Exchange
On April 4th 1987, their Majesties the Japanese Emperor and Empress (Crown Prince and Princess at that time) on the occasion of their visit to the United States visited a private house in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. The house was the house in which William Whitfield was born. He was the whaling master who, out of good intentions and human love, took home the 16 year old ship-wrecked fisherman John Manjiro to the United States and gave him an American education. John Manjiro was a sensible and very diligent person and in recent years it has been widely recognized that the knowledge and experience he gained during his stay in the United States enabled him to exert immeasurable influence on the leaders of the Japanese feudal government just before the opening of the country, and the then emerging leaders of the Meiji Restoration. Furthermore, the friendship between John Manjiro (Manjiro Nakahama) and William Whitfield’s families that has been fostered across international borders for so many years has moved the hearts of many people.
Appointment of Dr Richard Wood as President of CIE US [ 2009.1.20 ]
On 1st December 2008, Dr Richard Wood was appointed President of Center for International Exchange (US), our counterpart office in America. He will support our exchange activities in America.
Dr Wood received his PhD in philosophy from Yale University and has served as President of Earlham College and Dean of Yale University's Divinity School. He was also founding Chair of the US-Japan Bridging Foundation and is currently President of the Japan Society.
In 1968, Dr Wood was a Fulbright Fellow at Waseda University, and has long had a deep involvement with Japan. He is fluent in Japanese.
We are delighted to announce that the 18th Japan America Grassroots Summit, held in Kentucky from October 23rd to 27th was a great success! Over 180 participants flew from Japan to the US, where a very enjoyable week was spent with hundreds participants in Kentucky. Below are just some snapshots of the activities held during the summit, we will issue a full report soon!
We are now busy preparing for the next summit, to be held in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan from July 27th to August 3rd 2009. Please keep checking the website for information about the summit and application process!
The 19th Japan-America Grassroots Summit 2009 in Miyagi [ 2008.09.08 ]
Beautiful, untouched nature, historical summer festivals, relaxing hot springs and delicious local delicacies. Experience traditional Japan next summer in Miyagi.
Miyagi has a long, interesting history and is famous for its abundant beautiful nature. We hope you can experience the warm hospitality of the people of Northern Japan whilst exploring the many stunning parts of Miyagi - from the countless tiny islands lining Matsushima Bay to Sendai, "City of Trees" to the Zao Mountain, complete with volcanic lake. Along with numerous historic and religious sites, the chance to attend traditional Japanese summer festivals and relax in natural hot springs, Miyagi prefecture is the perfect location for you to have a once in a lifetime experience.
Arrive Tokyo, Japan and transfer to Matsushima, Miyagi (hotel stay)
Opening Ceremony and Welcome Party (hotel stay)
7/30 - 8/1
Local session (homestay)
Closing Ceremony and Farewell Party in Sendai (hotel stay)
3 Depart Sendai for Tokyo and US
We will also offer a number of Optional Programs (both hotel stay and homestay types), including a tour of traditional Japanese festivals in the Tohoku region of Japan. They will run from August 3rd to August 5th.
More information on the summit will be on our website from October 2008.
Alternatively, please contact
Paul Rusch - A Great Contributor to International Exchange [ 2008.05.27 ]
Here at CIE we would like to introduce to you others who have contributed to the US-Japan friendship, as we are trying to. Today we would like to introduce Paul Rusch, who first came to Japan over 75 years ago and whose legacy still today helps foster friendship between Japan and the US.
Paul Rusch grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. After the Great Kanto earthquake of 1923, he was asked to come to Japan by the YMCA to help rebuild the YMCA halls in Tokyo and Yokohama that had been destroyed in the quake. He had planned to return to America once the halls had been reconstructed, but he was so well liked and respected in Japan, his fellows persuaded him to stay and he became an economics lecturer at Rikkyo University in north-west Tokyo.
In 1927, Rusch established a Japanese branch of the Brotherhood of St Andrew as a youth group for students.
The Brotherhood of St Andrew in the US decided to establish a training camp for their young missionary leaders in Japan and Paul Rusch decided that the town of Kiyosato would be perfect as it was overlooked by Mount Fuji and the natural beauty of the Yatsugatake ridge. He bought the land from Yamanashi prefecture and set about raising money. The camp was named Seisen-Ryo.
Just before the onset of World War II, he returned to America to try and raise funds there. As Japan and America were enemies at this time, he was criticized but argued that the Christian spirit could save Japan. The construction of Seisan-Ryo hit many difficulties-weather problems, lack of materials and lack of transportation. However, thanks to student volunteers from Rikkyo University and donations from church members and businesses, Seisan-ryo was finally complete in July 1938.
With the onset of war between American and Japan in 1941, Paul Rusch was deported to America but returned in 1945 as part of the American military that were occupying Japan at the time. He left the military office in 1949 and returned to Seisen-ryo, which became the centre of a new project-the Kiyosato Farm Village Centre (now known as the Kiyasato Educational Experiment Project). It was a model of a farm community, with 4key ideals-food, health, belief and youth education and was supported by American and Canadian citizens. A church was completed in 1948 and subsequently a clinic, a nursery and farm school were added. Paul Rusch died in Tokyo in 1979. The house where he lived is a museum commemorating both his life and the development of KEEP.
Some members of the office recently visited KEEP in Yamanashi-prefecture. It is in a beautiful location, surrounded by mountains and with a perfect view of Mount Fuji. It is a true site of cooperation between Japan and other countries, and contained lots of fascinating information about Paul Rusch and his contribution to internationalizing Japan. The church and farm school were true examples of international cooperation. Paul Rusch's house has also been kept as it was, and it was very interesting to see how a foreigner lived in Japan decades ago. KEEP is also trying to tackle global problems, such as environmental degradation, by supporting international cooperation.
We here at CIE hope that we are also able to contribute to world peace and cooperation like Paul Rusch and KEEP. We intend to introduce Paul Rusch and his great achievements towards grassroots exchange to participants at this year's summit, which is being held in his home state of Kentucky.
John Manjiro's House in Fairhaven to become museum [ 2008.03.28 ]
We were delighted to learn that the house that John Manjiro resided in during his time in America has been acquired by a Japanese citizens group and will be renovated into a museum for the town of Fairhaven. A number of well known Japanese founded the group, which is headed by Dr Shigeaki Hinohara, aged 96, head of St Luke's International Hospital in Tokyo.
Introducing one of our supporters − Mr.Rooney [ 2008.03.28 ]
Here at CIE we have a number of supporters that have helped make the last 17 summits the successes they were. Two people who have helped further friendship between the US and Japan and supported our activities are Gerry and Ayako Rooney. In fact, Gerry has been recognized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan, for "furthering friendship and understanding between the United States and Japan." We are very thankful to have Gerry as a supporter of CIE, and would like to introduce him and his very interesting story of his relations with Japan to you!
I first became directly involved with Japan during my three and a half year solo trip around the world. I decided to spend a significant amount of time in one Far East country and I selected Japan and started to teach myself a useful level of the language. On April 12th of 1967 I entered Japan for the first time and started my five and one half month tour of the country on my motor scooter. Although I had been received with great hospitality in the other 30 countries I had visited the Japanese people were outstanding in this respect. Of the 165 days I spent in Japan, 140 of those days were spent in the private homes of new-found friends. Obviously I was tremendously impressed with the gentleness and hospitality of the average citizens of this culture.
Upon my return to the USA I moved to New Bedford to work with an American missionary priest I had met in Japan. It was here that I met my wife, Ayako, and had two children.
My wife Ayako became involved in a sister-city agreement between Tosashimizu and the Fairhaven-New Bedford area and through her participation I became familiar with the activities involved. I was present with her when the, then, Crown Prince Akihito and Crown Princess Michiko visited Fairhaven in October of 1987. I joined the committee in 1991 and became Chairman in 1993. We have a wide range of activities, including the Manjiro Festival that is held every other year in the first week of October. As well, the Sister City Committee is ready to host any visitor who expresses an interest in Manjiro or the Japanese culture. The "Manjiro Trail" and the New Bedford Whaling Museum bring people closer to understanding the surroundings of Manjiro's time in the USA and the great effect he and Captain Whitfield had on the establishment of strong and lasting ties between two areas of the world that are geographically distant but increasingly close in spirit.
As Chairman (or member) of the Sister City Committee I will continue to offer my assistance to any event which has as its intention, the goal of greater understanding between peoples of the world community.
Those of you who wish to take part in the optional programme after the Kentucky summit in the Fairhaven area, Mr and Mrs Rooney have very kindly offered to guide you around the area and show you the places Manjiro used to go to. We sincerely thank them for there continuous support of our activities.