The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles Newsletter
Director Greeting
I am very excited to give you the first issue of Your Japan , our re-branded e-newsletter. It has been such a joy greeting you every month in Breeze , but my four year assignment in LA has given me one conviction, that it is not us who decide what Japan is, but rather you, the readers of this e-newsletter. Japanese culture has permeated throughout many corners of American life and it would be almost rude nowadays to compliment Americans about how well they use chopsticks. Along the way, Japanese culture has been adopted, slightly modified, and popularized in many creative ways. From my favorite California rolls to the recent Kon-Mari cleaning method, culture has been morphed to the liking of people on the receiving end. Through our events, JFLA has always embraced and celebrated these metamorphoses, and sometimes even proposed newer interpretations of Japanese culture, challenging the notion that culture is a static jewel in a showcase.

Your Japan derives from our new corporate slogan, ”Japan Foundation, Los Angeles - We are ‘Your’ Japan,” and serves as an invitation for you to formulate your own understanding of Japan through inspiring interaction with artists, thinkers, as well as your friends from Japan, the US, and beyond. It is my sincere hope that through these interactions, you will find not only new dimensions of Japanese culture, but also new ways to express yourself.

Now sit back and relax for a new ride. I suggest you buckle up, though, for it is going to be an exciting one.

Hideki Hara
Special Announcement
Japan Foundation Promotional Video
As a final project, our intern Sean created the following promotional video highlighting our activities here in Los Angeles. Please take a few minutes to watch this video!

Music credits: Energy by

Manga Hokusai Manga:
Approaching the Master's Compendium from the Perspective of Contemporary Comics
May 2 - August 3, 2019
Mon - Fri: 10am - 7pm
Sat: Noon - 5pm
Sundays & Holidays: Closed
*Special Grant for School Visits to JFLA Available!
This exhibition approaches the Hokusai Manga from the perspective of contemporary Japanese comics, focusing on genre, pictorial storytelling and participatory culture rather than the integration of word and image or the role of popular characters. And instead of aiming at a historiographic verification of influences, the exhibition invites viewers to ponder their own notions about manga by comparing works from different periods while exploring the diversity therein .

Mini Lecture:
Old Man Mad About Painting - An Introduction to the Art of Katsushika Hokusai
Lecturer: Meher McArther
May 1 @7:30pm & 8pm (Lectures)
7:00pm - 9:00pm (Preview)
*Light Refreshments Will Be Served
Before the formal opening of the exhibition on May 2, we invite everyone to preview and celebrate it together. We will have two short lectures,  "Old Man Mad About Painting: An Introduction to the Art of Katsushika Hokusai"  with Japanese art historian, Meher McArthur (Academic Curator, Scripps College, Claremont and Creative Director of the Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden, Pasadena) to help us understand the world of Hokusai art. You will be one of the first people to watch and enjoy this wonderful exhibition.
Wednesday, May 29
12:30PM & 1:00PM (20 Min Sessions)
Free Admission
Wellness Wednesdays: We offer Wellness programs on Wednesday at lunchtime!

May 29th is Yoga day! In this program, there is no need to change clothes or use a yoga mat; you will be seated in a chair receiving relaxing instruction from a bilingual (English and Japanese) instructor. Learn simple Japanese phrases during the instruction and stretch your mind as well as your body.

There will be two free sessions beginning at 12:30pm and 1:00pm. No reservation necessary, all are welcome.

12:30PM, 1:00PM (20MIN SESSIONS)
Mid-week fatigue is a familiar foe to many of us. Why not maximize your relaxation and join us for a Sound Bath at Lunchtime!

The singing bowl used for this program harmoniously combines the healing qualities of the Tibetan singing bowl and its Japanese traditional singing bowl. Relax and feel your stress dissipate into thin air as the sounds of the singing bowl lead you into a meditative state.

There is no charge and no reservation required. All are welcome to come, sit, listen, and refresh!

The following grants are still available:

Deadlines:  9/1/2019

Deadlines:  9/15/2019

Deadline:  Two months prior to the project start date

Cal State East Bay Receives Japan Foundation, Los Angeles Grant to Support a New Japanese Language and Culture Minor
Congratulations on the official start of the Japanese minor at  California State University, East Bay ! We are pleased to support the expansion of your Japanese language program. Thank you to the  Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco  for your time and support in presenting the official grant check!
JF's GEN-J Program Sends Students From Five Cities to Japan During Spring Break 2019
In October of 2018, the Japan Foundation, Los Angeles, in collaboration with the Center for Global Partnership in New York crated the Grassroots Exchange Network Japan (GEN-J) inviting individuals to various locations across the United States to organize grassroots exchange activities for two years. As a part of this project, the four members acting as supporters organized the Invitational Tour for High School students that provided students in the cities of Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, and Kentucky the opportunity to visit Japan for a week during spring break. Close to 125 students and chaperones from these four regions along with Detroit participated in this program and were able to visit their sister cities, participate in exchanges at local high schools, and visit Japanese companies with a presence in their home state. Through this program, we hope the participants were able to learn the importance of international exchange as well as the networks available to them as Japanese language learners while experiencing cherry blossom season in Japan. We hope they had a great time and look forward to hearing about their experiences.
JFLA Supports the Twelfth Annual Tennessee Area Japanese Speech Contest
Grants Specialist Mike Penny traveled to Murfreesboro, Tennessee to watch the Twelfth Annual Tennessee Area Japanese Speech Contest held at Middle Tennessee State University on April 6 th . JFLA supported the speech contest through its Language Learners Event Grant. Thirty-six contestants from seven different universities bravely stood before an audience and a panel of judges to gave a three or four-minute speech entirely in Japanese that they had written themselves and memorized.

The variety of topics and nuanced content of each speech was impressive. Some students were funny in their speeches, some were very open and honest about difficulties they had experienced in their lives, but all of them were truly passionate about their love for Japanese language and culture. Amazingly, there were even a few compelling and eloquent speeches that were given by students who had never even been to Japan before!

Japanese speech contests are crucial for providing motivation for students to grow and achieve higher standards in Japanese, and they are also valuable to the local community in which they are held.

The positive support from the community was palpable during the event as contestants were cheered on by their parents, friends, family members, teachers, and local business representatives.

JFLA is proud to have supported the Twelfth Annual Tennessee Area Japanese Speech Contest and will continue to support Japanese language events across the country. For more information about our Japanese language education grants, please visit our website:
Japanese Language Education Update 66: 
The Diverse Voices of Japan
Like any country, Japan is more than a single homogenous entity, but rather holds a diversity of individuals from different places, backgrounds and experiences. Through their different voices, one can see the different lives these people live. Let’s see a small sample of that variety within Japan!

These projects show the efforts of individuals to rebuild and continue living their lives after the events of the 3.11 Tohoku Disaster, complete with short interviews.

Did you know that Okinawa has its own unique language called Uchinaaguchi? More accurately, it is one of the several Ryukyuan languages indigenous to the Ryukyuan Islands. Okinawa itself is known for its unique history and culture and is worth seeing firsthand. Here in the US, Okinawa-born Mr. Chogi Higa has long championed the learning of Uchinaaguchi and through his incredible work has received the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays, a high honor indeed!
Online dictionaries:
Short films from the Okinawa International Movie Festival showcasing Okinawa:

This year the Japanese government officially recognized the Ainu as Japan’s indigenous people. They, too, have a rich history in Japan worth exploring. In fact, there are Japanese words that are even derived from the Ainu language, such as tonakai (reindeer) and rakko (sea otter). You can check out how these words sound through the Ainu Museum website and even hear audio playback of tales, even a lullaby, with authentic Ainu speakers:
Manga and anime enthusiasts can also enjoy the hit work “Golden Kamuy” which features Ainu culture in an extensively researched and exciting story of mystery and adventure.

Yasashii Nihongo
Finally, we also know through the official data that there is a growing foreigner population in Japan. What can make it easier to communicate with each other when living in Japan? One major initiative is Yasashii Nihongo, which aims to more efficiently streamline easy-to-understand Japanese for non-native speakers. 
やさしい日本語(にほんご)には、ゆめが あります。:

This is just a small glimpse of the diversity within Japan. We welcome you explore even further to find a region, language/dialect, or culture that resonates with your interests, and to discover “your Japan”!