The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles Newsletter
Director Greeting
Continuing on with our new slogan, “We are Your Japan,” we have asked our friends in the US and Japan for what they think as ‘their’ Japan. The result is a collection of wonderful testimonials of how diverse one’s idea of Japan can be, even among our friends in Japan! Now that we know virtually anything can be your Japan, we are interested in knowing about yours. So do not be shy and please send us a short video clip sharing ‘your Japan’ (See Video Project Below For Instructions)!

Our traveling exhibition Manga Hokusai Manga has been very popular among the visitors and it is so educational about Hokusai and Ukiyo-e (traditional woodblock printing) that we decided to initiate a special school visit program with our transportation grant . If you are teaching Japanese language and looking for cultural excursion options with your students between now and the end of the show (August 3 rd ), please do not let this opportunity slip away and apply now!

We will be providing even more opportunities for you to get inspired and express yourself in the upcoming months, so stay tuned!
Hideki Hara
“This is My Japan” Video Project
What is your Japan?

Have a VHS tape of My Neighbor Totoro that you just cannot throw away? Still bragging to your friends about the cherry blossom you saw in Tokyo five years ago? We think Japanese culture no longer belongs only to the Japanese nation, but has become a global asset that anybody in the world is entitled to enjoy on their own terms. So many different aspects of Japanese culture are here to inspire your senses, enlighten your mind, engage your own creativity, and encourage your learning. In other words, Japan is yours.

Please tell us about your Japan!

How to share your Japan
• Take a one minute video with your phone/video camera.
• Show something that is a symbol of your Japan, or of your memory related to your story.
• Within one minute, tell your story in English.
• Conclude the video saying “This is My Japan”.
• Send your video to us!
• Take a video with your friends and say “This is My Japan!” all together at the end.
• See the example, below.

Shared Videos

The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles will post your video on our Facebook and Instagram.
Thank you very much for your cooperation!

Contact us: 

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 .

Wednesday, June 5
12:30PM & 1:00PM (20 Min Sessions)
Free Admission
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!

Saturday, June 15: 12-2PM
12:30PM & 1:00PM (20 Min Sessions)
Free Admission, Register Now
Our popular Tea Time event is coming back again on a Saturday afternoon. This time, we will hold it at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf! Let's get together and enjoy coffee and tea while you chat with native Japanese speakers. All levels welcome! Japanese language experience is not necessary; this event is open to everyone, ages 18 and up.

Watoji: Art of Japanese Bookbinding
Tuesday, June 18, 2019 7pm-9pm
Fee: $20
Payment is required upon reservation of your seat.
Cancellations after 6/14 will not be refundable.
Seats are limited to 20 participants
In this workshop, held in conjunction with our Manga Hokusai Manga exhibition, you will learn classic Japanese bookbinding technique using fine quality washi (Japanese paper) and linen thread from a book artist and graphic designer Tania Baban. She will teach a basic technique called Yotsume-toji or four-hole binding and how to create simple yet beautiful one-of-a-kind notebook that you will be able to take home after the workshop. All materials and tools will be provided. Please note participants will use sharp tools so it is suitable for those ages 18 and up. 

Wednesday, June 19
12:30PM & 1:00PM (20 Min Sessions)
Free Admission
Wellness Wednesdays: We offer Wellness programs on Wednesday at lunchtime!

June 19 is Yoga day! In this program, 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.

The following grants are still available:

Deadlines:  9/1/2019

Deadlines:  9/15/2019

Deadline:  Two months prior to the project start date

Fiscal Year 2019-2020 Japan Foundation Program Participants
The Japan Foundation offers two training programs, one for specialists in a cultural or academic field at our Japanese Language Institute in Kansai as well as another for Japanese language teachers at our Japanese Language Institute in Urawa. For the current fiscal year, we will be providing four postgraduate students with the opportunity to train in Kansai and one Japanese language teachers to train in Urawa. We hope they are able to make good use of their time in Japan and hope to hear about their experiences in a future issue of Breeze. For information on the 2020-2021 program cycle, please check back in October.

Japanese Teaching Methods Program for Teachers (June 25 to August 8)
  • Ms. Hang Hoang (North Carolina Virtual Public School - Raleigh, NC)

Japanese Language Program for Specialists (Short-term: June 5 to July 31)
  • Ms. Lingjun Jiang (The University of Chicago)
  • Ms. Camila Gutierrez (Pennsylvania State University)
  • Ms. Anran Tu (University of California, San Diego)
  • Ms. Aijie Shi (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

2019 GEN-J Invitational Tour for Houston High School Students
From March 9 through 16, the Japan Foundation in coordination with the Japan America Society of Houston sent 20 students from Strake Jesuit College Preparatory and Westchester Academy for International Studies. During the course of their weeklong stay in Japan during spring break, the group got to visit the Mayor of their sister city in Chiba, participate in a company visit at the Shiga Plant of Daikin Industries LTD, which also has a presence in their home city of Houston, and also to visit various touristy locations in eastern and western Japan. The students were asked four questions at the end of the trip and I will share four responses from their replies below:

Third Annual Japan Bowl in DC
JFLA Grants Specialist Mike Penny traveled to Washington D.C. area to watch the Third Annual Junior Japan Bowl 2019 held at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology on May 10 th , 2019. JFLA supported the contest through its Language Learners Event Grant. Like the National Japan Bowl, which brings together high school students from across the nation, the Junior Japan Bowl puts Washington D.C. area elementary and middle school students’ Japanese language abilities to the test in a fun and nurturing quiz format.

Participants competed in groups of three and answered multiple questions spanning Japanese language, culture, society, daily life, history, geography and current events. Not only did the contestants display a deep understanding of the country and culture throughout the evening, each group’s teamwork and communication skills were equally impressive to watch.

One of the important functions of the Junior Japan Bowl is introducing primary-level language learners to the Japan Bowl format at an early stage, fostering their curiosity and motivation to continually push themselves and compete in the Japan Bowl all the way through the 12 th grade.
The competition also gives parents, teachers, and other community members the opportunity to encourage and show their support for the students’ hard work.

JFLA is proud to have supported Junior Japan Bowl 2019 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 67:  
Your Japan - Japanese and Peace Part 1: Peace, Education, Change
This article is part 1 of 2 in which I discuss affecting peace and change, and how it can be done through Japanese language education.

Within the field of peace and conflict studies, the concept of “peace” is broken down into “negative peace” – the absence of war and violence – and “positive peace” – the presence of structures for sustainable, long-term justice and equality for all. That education is fundamental in promoting positive peace cannot be understated; it empowers students in so many ways. One can say that education in world languages such as Japanese even have a direct relation to peace, as it directly brings into the classroom a different culture that students would not normally have access to. Language learning encourages students to think deeply about culture – their own and others’ - from a new perspective. It challenges our assumptions about our worldview, and provokes change in our thinking. Of course, this is not to say that it automatically leads to peace by itself – there is still far too much to address at multiple levels - but it lays down the necessary groundwork for deeper communication and understanding in our common humanity, which is sorely missing in many parts of the world today. It can even inspire us in some unexpected ways.
Consider for example, on the other side of the globe, that mainland China has almost a million people learning Japanese (source: An impressive number already unto itself, but when we look deeper into the motivation of some of these students, we find that the reason some learn Japanese is precisely because of a desire to build future peaceful relations with their neighbor. For instance, Duan Press, based in Tokyo and run by a Hunan native, holds a regular essay contest for Chinese students who reflect on what learning Japanese means to them; these essays provide not only inspiration and hope towards the possibility of a peaceful future, but also double as authentic reading materials from authentic voices (essays are generally suitable for intermediate-level students):

Moreover, language education is something that the student carries on with them beyond the classroom, even using their language ability to further educate others, potentially setting off a ripple effect. One prominent example are CIRs (Coordinator for International Relations), international staff members of local governments or international associations in Japan who use their knowledge of both Japanese and their home country to promote deeper international understanding. To share one example as a former CIR myself, using Australian author Shaun Tan’s award-winning work “The Arrival,” ( a magic-realism picture book that tells the story of a stranger in a new land, I led my team of both American and Japanese volunteers to teach Japanese elementary students about what it’s like to be an immigrant themselves, in Japanese. We then had these students present what they learned to others attending the event, then incorporated real-life data visualization of migration flows around the world. Through Japanese, we were able to directly convey the connection between locals and the world around them through issues - and stories - that affect us.  

Ultimately, the question is: Where can we learn to find common humanity – not only between Japanese and American, but given our diversifying world, between a whole variety of nationalities and cultures?

Perhaps we can find this through working for a common goal. Through cooperative activities such as the one in Middlebury College’s Global Partnership program, we see that it is very much possible to collaborate for a greater cause using Japanese, like these students who approached the issue of sustainability that many local towns in Japan are facing:

What issues persist today in both our local and global communities, and how can we use our cultural assets to create not barriers, but connections and perhaps even create positive change? Gestures and expectations of others to speak English can only get one so far. Tackling issues together while speaking the other’s language, both figuratively and literally – that is where real peace dialogue can begin.