Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Word of the Month: February

February: Yago 


Yago.”Shop name.” Kabuki actors of the early Edo period were considered too lowly to be allowed surnames. Many, therefore, used a name derived from a sideline business in which they were involved. This became known as their yago. The yago could be the name of a place with which the family had a deep connection, the name of a place from which the actor hailed, the name of an ancestor’s occupation, and so on. Among the earliest yago were Yoshizawa Ayame s Tachibanaya and Ichikawa Danjuro s Naritaya, revealing that the custom began during the Genroku era. The yago is a kind of nickname and is used by the audience as a word of encouragement that is shouted out to the actor during a performance. Yago are also shouted out during firework festivals: tamaya or kagiya.


Monday, January 30, 2017

Azusa's Dance Exercise Class

On Friday, January 27th, Azusa Hashizume, rookie cheerleader for the Redskins, taught her first class here at JASW. Azusa led the class in a series of exercises to the beat of music. Azusa's class was based on the HIIT model - high-intensity interval training. This is not just a great way to burn fat and lose weight, but it is also the way Azusa trains on her own in the gym.

Although it was a tough workout, it required no equipment or experience. Even those of us who hadn’t exercised in a long time were able to enjoy the workout and learn a lot about proper form. Azusa was incredibly encouraging and friendly throughout the entire class and we are happy she will be working with us again!

If you want to learn exercise routines from a First Lady of Football, join us for Azusa’s dance class! The next class will be held February 24th at 11:00 am. Tickets are $18 per class. To register, go to

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

New Year's Greeting from JASWDC

On behalf of the Japan-America Society of Washington DC (JASWDC) and its Board of Trustees, I would like congratulate the Sakura Shimbun on their 10 years in the Washington DC community, and offer a heartfelt New Year’s greetings to the readers.

2017 marks the 60th Anniversary of the Japan-America Society of Washington DC. The Society’s mission has always been to promote greater understanding between Americans and Japanese. We do that through the many cultural and educational programs that we hold throughout the year.

In the spirit of our kanreki year – the year of rebirth – we are moving forward to rebrand the Society’s image into one that sparks thoughts of innovation and long-lasting friendship between the peoples of Japan and America. 

Perhaps we are most famous for Sakura Matsuri, the largest one day Japanese festival in the country. Last April we welcomed over 25,000 guests to our festival. But we do many, many other things throughout the year.  Indeed, we are unique in Washington DC, because we present programs about so many aspects of Japan - from foreign affairs - to food!

In this past year, we produced or collaborated with other organizations on over 100 programs, which drew over 3000 attendees.  We have been able to produce these programs, such as Japan-in-a-Suitcase (JiS), National Japan Bowl, Ohanashikai, and the many language and culture classes we offer with a staff of only 4 people and great interns that we have throughout the year.

Our current programming will expand to give the Washington, DC area a series of lectures and talks called Japan 360°, which will cover a wide range of topics, including economics and business, science and technology, society and social issues, as well as traditional and popular culture.  We will also introduce a new program to help Japanese residents in our community to learn about America, called Living in the USA.

This coming year, Japan-America Society of Washington DC will continue to work to strengthen the bond between Japan and the United States through these important programs, and nurture the next generation of Japanese and Americans, who are the future of our relationship.  Happy New Year and Thank you for your support.

Executive Director  

Marc Hitzig






私どもが提供するプログラムの中にワシントンDCエリアに住む方々を対象に開催する「ジャパン360°(Japan 360°)」というものがございますが、今年は経済、経営、科学、テクノロジー、社会、社会問題、伝統文化から大衆文化にいたるまでさらに幅広いテーマを取り上げた一連の講義を提供いたします。さらに、今年はワシントンDCエリアのコミュニティーに属する日本人の方々がアメリカでより快適に生活できるよう医療制度や教育に関するトピックを扱う、「リビング・イン・ジ・ユーエスエー(Living in the USA)」という名のプログラムも新しく始めます。



Executive Director  

Marc Hitzig

Cherry Blossom Tree Planting at Mt. Pleasant Library

In October, 2016, the Japan-America Society, along with the National Cherry Blossom Festival committee, planted four beautiful cherry blossom trees – called sakura trees in Japanese – at the Mt. Pleasant Library. This was the third time JASW sponsored cherry blossom tree planting through the NCBF in the greater Washington, DC area. This was not the first time JAS has worked with the Mt. Pleasant Library. In fact, Japan-in-a-Suitcase teachers students about Japanese language and culture at the Mt. Pleasant Library each year. It was a pleasure for us to return to the library. With the addition of the four cherry trees, JAS now holds a permanent place in Mt. Pleasant.

JASW presented the library with two children's  books - Eliza's Cherry Trees and Yuki's Journey - about the Japanese gift of cherry blossom trees to Washington, DC and the 3/11 earthquake, respectively.

Two volunteers from Casey Trees, a DC-based urban forestry non-profit, taught us how to dig proper holes, prepare soil, and plant trees. As they grow and bloom the cherry trees will be a beautiful reminder for the students, families, and residents of Mt. Pleasant that JASW is the bridge between their local community and Japan. Visit the Mt. Pleasant Library in April to see the trees in full bloom and check out a book!

For more information on events held at the library, go to

To learn more about Casey Trees, go to

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Word of the Month: January

January: Kabuki 

The etymology of Kabuki(歌舞伎) is Kabuku(傾く). "Kabuki dance," which is said to be the origin of Kabuki, was started by people who dressed like "Kabuki mono(かぶき者) "who do not care, are off the beaten track, and wear wacky clothing that goes the edge of fashion." The spirit of Kabuki is to entertain people not by being bound by existing ideas but by inspiring change.

Kabuki consists of play, dance and music. Placing Edo and Kamigata (Kyoto and Osaka) at the midpoint, Kabuki has reflected tastes of each era. And it has not leaned on the Shogunal authorities, but people in general have raised Kabuki. Now there are more than 700 repertoire of Kabuki, and many are long-running.

There were "Onna Kabuki" held by women and "Wakashu Kabuki" held by young boys, but they were prohibited during the Bakufu era for the reason that they might corrupt public morals. Then "Yarou Kabuki" held mainly by adult men has appeared. Today's Kabuki is acted all by men, and the man who acts as a woman is called "Onnna gata."


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Word of the Month: December

December: スープカレー
(Soup Curry) 

Soup curry is a Japanese style curry dish originating from Sapporo in Hokkaido. It is said that a chef of the cafe called "Ajanta" took the idea of Chinese and Korean herb soup and South Indian curry and created "Yakuzen Curry" in 1971. In 1993, the restaurant "Magic Spice" had the idea of adding an Indonesian dish called "soto ayam" to curry and created the first "soup curry". It instantly became popular in Sapporo and many restaurants in the area started to provide their own styles of soup curry. In 2002, there were over 200 soup curry restaurants and it came to be recognized as the most famous of Hokkaido's B-kyuu gourmet foods.

The soup is made of different kinds of meat and several kinds of spices. Other ingredients such as chicken leg and deep fried vegetables (green pepper, paprika, eggplant, lotus root, etc.) can be added to the soup. 


Monday, November 7, 2016

JUMP Panel: Potential Flashpoints for the Northeast Asia Region

On Thursday, November 4th, JASW and the Embassy of Japan collaborated with Sasakawa USA and the National War College Alumni Association to host a second JUMP program. JUMP – the Japan U.S. Military Program – connects military service members and government civilians who have served in Japan. The National War College generously housed the event, which allowed current and past students with an interest in Japan to gather and interact with each other and people who have lived abroad.

photos courtesy of Jeff Song

Over 100 people turned out to watch a panel of distinguished speakers, including Lt. Gen. Wallace “Chip” Gregson, Jr., James L. Schoff, Scott A. Snyder, Bonnie S. Glaser, and moderator, Dr. Cynthia Watson, discuss potential flashpoints in Northeast Asia. Panelists covered a wide range of topics revolving around Japan, China, and the Korean Peninsula as well as the relations between Northeast Asian states and the U.S. After a Q&A session, attendees moved from the Roosevelt Hall to the lobby of the college to have dinner and network.

JUMP is organized into regional chapters throughout the United States. If you are a service member or civilian with experience in Japan and would like to attend future JUMP events or learn more about the organization, please visit the JUMP website.

photos courtesy of Jeff Song