JASC 68 Delegate Report — By Yuta Baba

We are excited to share reports on the 68th JASC  written by the newly elected American Chair and Vice Chair of the 69th JASC!

Yuta Baba, Chairman of the 69th JASC American Executive Committee, reflects on how JASC helped him see and experience new aspects of the United States, the U.S.-Japan relationship, and himself. His report focuses on Boston and San Francisco, the opening and closing sites of the 68th JASC.BOSgroupphoto

I was both excited and nervous when I landed in Boston, the first site of the 68th JASC. However, my worries quickly wore off as I began meeting my fellow delegates. Although we had just met, everyone was open to sharing their personal opinions and listening to others.

MassChallengeOne of the most memorable moments in Boston was the visit to MassChallenge, a global startup accelerator that supports social entrepreneurship. Meeting social entrepreneurs of our age not only inspired us, but also taught us to not fear rejection. These passionate individuals shared their major takeaways, one of which is to always trust yourself and keep moving forward. This is something that applies not only to social entrepreneurship but to our everyday lives.

The visit to MassChallenge also taught me the many facets of Boston. Prior to JASC, I had viewed Boston as a historical city, and was therefore surprised to learn that the city is now hub for entrepreneurship. Seeing this new aspect of Boston, I became very excited to explore other cities as a JASCer.

The final city that we visited in the 68th JASC was San Francisco. The City of  San Francisco was formed in a very different way compared to the other cities we visited, such as Washington, D.C. and Boston. While the houses and buildings in Boston were older, more traditional in style and had more spaces between each other, those in San Francisco were relatively new and were all packed together. Visiting four cities, I was able to see the diversity within the U.S., not only in terms of the themes we explored but also in terms of  the city planning that reflected the characteristics of each city.

On the first day, we climbed up steep slopes to visit the Residence of the Consul General of Japan in San Francisco. All the walking was totally worth it, as we saw the beautiful view of the ocean and the Golden Gate Bridge from his Residence. I would like to express my sincerest appreciation to the San Francisco Consul General for opening his Residence to us.

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The next day, JASC held a series of academic events. The Diversity Symposium on Women’s Issues and LGBTQ was particularly inspiring. We had a rare and precious opportunity to listen to the panelists’ personal stories, which were truly eye-opening for me. The last event of JASC was the Reception at Hakone Gardens. SomenAs a Japanese student studying in the U.S., I instantly felt like I was back home when I entered Hakone Gardens. We experienced traditional Japanese cultural activities such as calligraphy and putting on yukatas. Personally, I found the Nagashi-somen as especially memorable. This is a popular summer event in Japan, where somen, a kind of noodle, is sent down a bamboo tube with flowing water. You catch the flowing somen with your chopsticks and eat it. It was my first time setting up the equipment- cutting bamboo and tying them together with ropes- and I felt the genuine Japanese culture there.

Looking back, JASC was definitely an amazing experience and I am so glad that I was able to participate in it. Not only did I learn more about the U.S.-Japan relationship through the programs and hours of discussions with peers, but I made long-lasting friendships with students from both Japan and the U.S. I sincerely believe the open atmosphere of JASC, where you can share your honest feelings and opinions, allowed us to make such connections. DiscussionFrom the beginning till the end of the program, I felt as if I had known my peers before the actual conference, and it was always comfortable being in the JASC community.To be honest, I did not imagine that I could build such relationships within three weeks. However, this was a pleasant surprise. Continuing these strong relationships that I made throughout JASC is one of the fundamental reasons that I ran for the 69th Executive Committee election.

The other takeaway from JASC is the importance of self-reflection. As I interacted with amazing peers whom I respect, I also reflected upon myself a lot, from my identity as a Japanese studying in the U.S. to what kind of a person I want to be in the future. It has been three weeks since JASC ended, and I still look back to it as one of the most meaningful summers in my life.

Thank you 68th JASC, and I am excited to come back to JASC as the 69th American Executive Committee Chair. In the midst of planning for the next conference, I am hoping that the 69th delegates will have amazing experiences in Japan!

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JASC 68 Delegate Report — by Jon Foissotte

We are excited to share reports on the 68th JASC written by the newly elected American Chair and Vice Chair of the 69th JASC!

Jon Foissotte, Vice Chair of the 69th JASC American Executive Committee, reflects on the life-changing experiences he had in JASC this summer, focusing on his two favorite sites: Washington, D.C. and Montana.

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Greetings! My name is Jon Foissotte and I attended the 68th JASC as a student delegate on the American side. Since I was a child, I had always held an intense interest in Japan, which grew and deepened as I studied Japanese language and culture throughout my high school and undergraduate years. My goal in attending JASC was to be able to more firmly grasp the Japan-U.S. relationship while having the chance to get to know a wide diversity of other students from both countries with similar interests. With this year’s conference now concluded, I can say beyond all doubt that the rare opportunities and enriching experiences afforded to me by JASC surpassed even my highest expectations. During JASC, I was able to learn a great deal more about the relationship between our two countries from distinguished speakers with unique professional backgrounds, while the same time experiencing ‘Nichibei Kankei’ in its most quintessential form—on a person-to-person level with my fellow delegates. I would like to write briefly about two sites we visited this year that each figured greatly into my overall JASC experience, perhaps because of the significant regional contrast between them—Washington, D.C. and Missoula, Montana.

AmbassadorKennedyWhile in the heart of America’s capital, we were privileged to attend panels hosted by individuals in government working directly on East Asian relations. Having the chance to hear from members of the House Foreign Relations Committee as well as from diplomats at the State Department allowed us to understand how these different sections of government each approach contemporary regional issues as well as the roles they play in strengthening the U.S. relationship with countries in the region. While at the State Department, we were honored by a surprise visit from U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, who took time out of her schedule to speak about Japan-U.S. relations and answer some of our questions.

During our visit to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, we learned about the many opportunities for strengthening regional multilateral relationships from the members of the Economic and Security Panels. This was incredibly fascinating as the speakers included individuals from the U.S. Department of Defense and from the business and think tank communities. Hearing them speak to a number of rising issues and opportunities in the region was both edifying and inspiring. As the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a forefront issue of US-Japan economic relations, we were honored to hear from Wendy Cutler who was the senior negotiator for TPP and is currently with Asia Society Policy Institute. Ms. Cutler not only provided greater insight on the agreement and the benefits of TPP, but also encouraged delegates to consider a career in government.

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To many of my fellow delegates and I who are interested in future careers involved with various sectors of government, being able to engage directly with these experts throughout our time in D.C. was a truly invaluable personal and professional experience that will no doubt form the bedrock of our evolving perspectives.

Before we arrived in Montana, many of us were unsure of what to expect—out of all of the sites on our schedule, Montana was the most difficult to visualize conceptually, as almost none of us had traveled there before. Upon arrival, however, we quickly realized one reason this site had been chosen—America’s vast, natural beauty loomed before us in a way that could not be elicited from a photograph. Particularly to someone like myself, who has had rather little exposure to nature, it was precisely because of my prior unfamiliarity that I could appreciate Montana, and why our experiences—which took us through sprawling woods and over rushing rivers, with vast mountainous expanses looming all around us—were so greatly impactive. While in Montana, we were able to reflect on the darker parts of American history as well. HikingWe spent time learning about the Fort Missoula Internment Camp, one location where Japanese Americans were incarcerated during the Second World War, while visiting the site’s historical museum. Additionally, we had the opportunity to visit the Flathead Reservation and learn about the culture and history of the Native American tribes living there.We were even privileged enough to introduce ourselves directly to members of the governing council. Finally, we spent our last day in Montana hiking in Glacier National Park, immersing ourselves one last time in the area’s natural beauty.

Thanks to these and so many other experiences at JASC, I have been endowed with a much deeper perspective on the unique relationship between Japan and the U.S. as well as its continued pivotal importance in the twenty-first century. Most importantly, I have formed unbreakable bonds with my fellow delegates that will last a lifetime. For these reasons, I will always reflect back on JASC as one of the defining moments of my life. To those who continue to support JASC or have contributed in any way to help make this program what it is today, I would like to extend my sincerest appreciation and profound gratitude. As the American Vice Chair of next year’s conference, I will strive on your behalf and on behalf of the delegates to help make the 69th JASC a defining moment in the lives of others.

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Please look forward to a second report on the 68th JASC by Yuta Baba, the 69th JASC American Executive Committee Chair, to be posted soon!

JASC Journal Summer 2016

JASC Journal

JASC is pleased to announce the release of the latest JASC Journal! Please view the journal by clicking here. This edition includes updates on the 68th conference to be held this summer, a story by the daughter of 1st JASC Delegate, greetings from new ISC intern, JASCer notes, volunteer opportunities, and more!

Please enjoy the Summer 2016 edition of the JASC Journal, and keep in touch!

 

JASC 67 Day 15— August 15, 2015 by Kevin Errico

After settling down in Kyoto the JASC delegate set out to explore Japans ancient capital. The JASC delegate split up into three groups, one went to Urasenke to participate in the Chado tea ceremony tradition, another went to the Toraya factory to see and sample some of Japans most famous sweets and the last group went to Nishihonganji, one of Kyoto’s renowned temples. Everyone enjoyed taking a break from meetings and work and finally getting some down time to tour Japan. We then returned to the Kyoto Utano Hostel to have round table reflection. As deadlines approach groups are having to think more critically about the aspects they have learned about each other’s nations and final forum presentations.

JASC 67 Day 14— August 14, 2015 by Teresa Anselmo

6:30am: The usual time for waking up during JASC. However, this day, I was particularly
tired from observing a four-hour conference centered around the prospects for
Shimane’s regional revitalization. I participated in the conference as well,
providing ideas for educational enrichment and how education could be used as a
tool to convince people to migrate and, ideally, live in the area.

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Made it into the newspaper!

7:00am: Packing. This is the moment I finally realized that I was soon leaving Shimane’s beauty. Yet, I was not leaving the memories behind. My okaasan and obaasan treated me to a variety of Shimane’s unique activities and sights, including: a boat trip around Matsue Castle, the wonders of the castle itself,

8:00am: Breakfast. Potatoes again.

9:00am: Round table. The true highlight of the conference; this is what we set out nearly 24 hours of travel time and 12,000 miles to achieve. Today’s highlight included my gained knowledge of the difference between ippanshoku & sougoushoku (don’t know what it is? Should have been in JASC!)

12:15pm: Departure – a particularly bittersweet time. On one hand, I could finally venture outside the building past 10:30pm and explore the wonders that Japan had to offer. However, Shimane’s rural charm is forever etched into my mind.

2:30pm: We reached the first service stop on our long (seven hour) bus ride. This particular stop was situated in Okayama prefecture, curiously known for its delicious milk products.

4:30pm:  I slept for the majority of the bus ride, and this service stop included. Honestly, I wasn’t quite sure where we were on the map, but I didn’t mind. I enjoyed the comfort (and air conditioned atmosphere) of the bus ride.

7:00pm: Arrival! Admittedly, I mostly explored the darkness of my eyelids the entire trip. However, when I was conscious, I was in awe at the green rice fields scattered along the highway. When we arrived in Kyoto itself, I was surprised that the weather was not as hot and humid as my round table partner (from Kyoto) warned.

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The Future: Final forum is approaching rapidly and, admittedly, I am terrified, perhaps at the likely chance of presenting unprepared. Nonetheless, I am determined not to stress about it. Rather, I’m looking towards the future in other ways. For example, I’m excited to further explore Kyoto’s breathtaking beauty – perhaps its famous sites such as Kyoumizudera Shrine. I also want a taste of city life (and a preview of Tokyo’s eccentricity) in the Gion Shopping District. Finally, I intend to reinforce the valuable friendships I have thus far with my fellow delegates.

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JASC 67 Day 13— August 13, 2015 by Johanna Gunawan

After nearly a week in beautiful Shimane, the 67th JASC delegation brought the second
leg of our program to a close with a forum on regional revitalization and following reception.

The day started off as any other at our Sunlake residence: at 6AM; a classical musical track wafted through the hallways and bedrooms as our cue to wake. A light cafeteria breakfast came soon after – and by mid-morning, most of us were fully awake and ready to tackle the day. For a volunteer task force of 14 (One Japanese and one American delegate from each RT group), this morning was spent prepping for a presentation to the residents of Shimane later that afternoon.

Split into three groups, delegates focused on innovating for regional revitalization across three sectors: tourism, industry, and education. I myself was a member of the tourism group, which discussed ways in which to sustainably attract both national and international visitors to the prefecture. After all the meetings, we had a light lunch and (for some, with nervous excitement) headed to the Prefectural Office to share our ideas with Shimane community members and to the rest of the delegation. Several important guests were present, including commentators from well-known businesses in each of the three sectors. Tourism was first, and suggested a linear marketing process for Shimane to follow
(centralize and define a powerful brand image, increase accessibility to the region and its information, and follow up with locally-based resources while keeping a global perspective).

As a digital marketer, I personally wanted to stress the importance of a unified marketing strategy – and expressed this by comparing the differences and issues with Shimane’s Japanese, Korean, and English tourism websites. I’ll be the first to admit that my nerdy obsession with digital marketing made me want to go on and on about this particular fix, but our presentation made sure to equally represent other ideas (such as development of a winter activities program to encourage tourism in more stagnant months).

Industry and Education brought up interesting points that played to Shimane’s strengths
in the medical and IT fields. By expressing and developing the talent and focus of the region, both groups sought to emphasize Shimane as a place for businesses to thrive and for eager students to begin specializing. The Industry group also mentioned the possibility of exporting Shimane products in the developing markets of Southeast Asia, and the Education group thought to utilize the large number of empty dormitories in Shimane to help create or convert new charter and boarding schools in the region. Each group’s presentation was followed by special commentary from Shimane leaders in each respective sector, and question/answer sections also brought out more interesting points from the minds of all the delegates.

After a successful forum and many speeches later, the delegation found itself at the
beautiful English Garden in Matsue, where (thanks to the generosity of Shimane industry leaders and members of the community) delegates, special guests, and host families broke bread together over a beautiful spread of food and drink. Shimane gave two brief performances: one of samurai culture and another by the costumed prefectural mascot, Shimanekko (Shimanekko is a yellow cat, dressed with icons from Shimane’s famous historical Izumo Taisha shrine).

Many photo ops, small plates, and business cards later, the delegation sadly bid good-bye
to our newfound friends, program supporters, and respected community leaders (as tomorrow we were to move to our third location, Kyoto)! The memories of Shimane, however, will forever stay in our hearts. The smiles of our homestay families and the shared countryside experience were an excellent part of our JASC programming, and we gained a perspective many of us would never have seen otherwise. Dan-dan (thank you), Shimane! Until we meet again.

JASC 67 Day 12— August 12, 2015 by Stéphane Fouché

My first experience in Japan was in Ishikawa, Komatsu – a small town tucked in the western side of the main island of Honshu.

Away from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, I fell in love with the true Japan.
A week in Shimane reminded me of the first few feelings that I felt landing at Komatsu airport.

Such feelings were excitement, joy, a fear of the unknown and the feeling of being stuck in Inaka Japan.

To a country boy that was raised outside of Port-au-Prince, Haiti and turned city boy due to living in New York and Boston, Komatsu came in with mixed feelings and so did Shimane.

However, surrounded by nature and open fields, Shimane brought upon me time to reflect.
Moments of serendipity that are rare when boggled down by a crazy schedule  and fast-paced cities like Boston, New York and Tokyo.

Since the summer of the year 2011 to now the summer of the year 2015, in the timespan of these 5 summers, I’ve traveled to Japan more than 10 times, completed multiple internships, studied abroad, worked as a consultant at multiple companies culminating to me being now a member of 67th JASC. I could not think of any other way to end my college career and mark the beginning of my life as a Shakaijin in Japan.

Nonetheless, the never ending sea of rice fields and rows of mountains forced me to ponder upon the original reason why I decided to learn Japanese.
The reason actually stems from my time living in Haiti.

The Haitian market is dominated by Japanese goods. From Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Isuzu and more, Japanese cars made made up an overwhelming amount of the vehicles on the street.

The television predominantly showed Japanese shows such as Pokemon, Dragon Ball Z and such all translated into French or English. Onigiri were redrawn to be burgers, names were changed and made to have an American or French flair to mask the Japanese influence.

Once I realized the Japanese influence that was hidden in the shadows, I was astonished to see how a country so far has such an influence on a small country like Haiti. This officially launched  me on a quest to learn more about Japan and how it became a leading soft power player in the world.

Never did it occurred to me that I would be coming to Shimane, the land of the gods and cradle of many of Japan’s cultural influences.

In the silent and moon-bathed nights of Shimane, I was able to remember and likewise reflect on the original mission that I had in mind when I decided to learn more about Japan.

JASC 67 Day 11— August 11, 2015 by Reg Fu

We started our fourth day in Shimane in a cloudy day, which was pretty good for us
because usually the sun light was too strong. 

But, the sceneries in Shimane are always beautiful.

After about one hour bus riding, we arrived at Nakamura Brace Corporation. During the presentation,
we are all amazed by Mr. Nakamura’s story for founding his company. I am deeply inspired by Mr.

Nakamura’s story because we all have dreams, and we are trying hard for achieving our dreams despite
other people told us our dreams are impossible.

This is the artificial hand that was produced by Nakamura Brace. At first glance, the hand was scary, but
it will help a lot of people who lost their hand.

Iwami-ginzan is the world heritage. There is a small town in Iwami-ginzan. The town keeps its original
atmosphere from the ancient period. Even the vending machine needs to merge into its style.

Kumagai family was the most powerful family in the area. We were very happy to visit the family’s home
as you can tell from the following photos.

After we finished our lovely lunch in Omori city.

We went to Onan city to discuss how to renovate the city. Yoshiteru-san and I think about letting
scientists and researchers to live in this peaceful place. It could be better for them concentrating on their projects, and at the same promote the education in the area. 

Finally, our day ended with celebrating Ayaka-san’s birthday. Yeah!

JASC 67 Day 10— August 10, 2015 by Katie Warmuth

We got to sleep in today!!! Whoooo! Well, we were only able
to sleep until around seven o’clock this morning, but it was something. At this
point, every second of sleep counts. #allsleepmatters

After
breakfast, we were separated by roundtables (RT) before boarding buses. It was
a twenty minute drive to Izumo Taisha, one of the most influential and
prominent Shinto shrines in Japan. On the way the religion RT, fondly called
“Rem Rem,” gave a presentation on Shinto religious characteristics and told us how
the world was created according to Shinto philosophy. The story is quite
interesting, so I’ll share it here on the blog. Before the world existed there
were two gods named Izanami, a female deity, and Izanagi, her male counterpart.
When these gods used a tool to stir the ocean, several drops of water dripped
off their utensil and formed several of the island of Japan. Although Izanami
and Izanagi saw that the newly created landmass was good, they were still not
content, so they took to their marriage bed. Izanami later gave birth to the
rest of the islands one by one. This story is just one of the grand bits of
Japanese mythology that we learned about today. We also heard the story about
how the gates of hell were sealed with a stone and about how the one of the
gods added land to Japan by stealing it from the Korean Peninsula. Shimane
prefecture is bursting with ancient stories passed down from generation to
generation. There is a deep relationship between religion, history, and life
here, resulting in a sense of mystery and intrigue. I, personally, (and I’m
sure many others share this feeling) believe that this connection with the
local culture and its past is very important and inspiring. We were lucky to be
able to learn about this all in person.

In addition to being a
famous shrine, Izumo Taisha has a long history and many interesting features.
It’s official name is Izumo Oyashiro, and it houses Okuninishi-no-kami, the god
of relationship building and interpersonal relationships between humans. Because
of this god’s area of expertise, girls often come to this shrine to pray for
marriage or their relationship status. This is prefect for all the
JASC-love/relationships.

Since JASC is one of the best programs in the world (…maybe I’m biased…),we
were given special access to parts of the shrine that few people aside from the
monks ever see. We were privileged enough to be invited to observe a worship
ceremony. The entire event, though nearly thirty minutes long, included only
one priest, a priestess, and two drummers, all in long traditional robes. After
a few moments of Taiko style drumming, the priest chanted a gorgeous melody
from a scroll and systematically waved a specially designed flag towards the
alter. Then a brightly dressed priestess walked in a tight circle multiple time
while holding a rattle composed of a cone shape with bells hanging off of it
and a handle draped with long, sweeping ribbons in bold colors. At certain
points in her circle, the woman would twist her wrist, sending the shrill sound
of bells throughout the large worship hall. After walking in many circles, she
shook the rattle in our direction, which I assume was either a purification
ritual or a way of blessing us.

After attending the ceremonial event, we were invited behind another special
gate. Before we could enter, our leaders had to offer a tribute to
Okuninishi-no-kami. This is a very special process that deviates from the norm.
Our leaders wore white robes and held a small branch in their hands. We all
bowed twice, clapped our hands four times, prayed, and then bowed once more.
This process is unusual because the normal process to pray at a Shinto shrine
in Japan involves one bow, two claps, and then another single bow. We also
received a bit of sake to drink once we entered through the gate. A monk later
gave us an informational tour regarding some of the unique characteristics of
Izumo Taisha. This included explaining how the roof is made with bark and an
overview on the complexities of the shrine’s architectural designs. Once the
tour ended, we all headed to a restaurant to eat Shimane’s special soba!! It
was so good. It was also wonderfully cool on such a hot day. Many of us treated
ourselves to some refreshing ice cream in an attempt to find further relief
from the heat.  

We then returned to our lodgings and began the American culture presentation.
This was done by a few people who had volunteered long before JASC officially
started. The presenters talked to us about certain aspects of racism and then
organized us all into smaller groups and mediated discussions. Because JASC has
a large amount of diversity amongst its delegates, it was interesting and
sometimes saddening to hear people’s experiences with prejudice and
discrimination. We were also prompted to talk about other race/sexuality
related issues such as America’s Affirmative Action legislation and the line
between harmless jokes and micro-aggression. While it was all engaging, the
portion I found especially interesting was the conversation about the relationship
between one’s personal identity and social labeling. I learned more about the
labeling that takes place everywhere, even in the U.S. census, and the sheer
amount of labels that Japan and the America have, whether they are meant in an
innocent or derogatory manner. Though it was a sensitive issue, all of the
delegates worked hard to create a non-judgmental and caring atmosphere, which
enabled depth in the conversation because no one felt it was necessary to
withhold their opinions.

Once the culture segment ended, the delegates formed their separate RTs and
began topic specific discussions like normal. RT time sped by, and soon it was
time for dinner. While we typically savor each bite of our meals (food is
wonderful), tonight we rushed each bite. The difference between tonight and
every other night was the impending talent show!!! We raced through dinner in
record time in order to find a spare moment to perfect our skills. It was well
worth it too. Everyone spent the evening in awe. Delegates and RTs preformed
standup comedy and dance routines. Groups also sang and played incredible
musical numbers. Each segment was so creative and skillful, and now the extent
of JASC talent has been revealed.  

From learning about Japanese mythology, attending a Shinto worship ceremony,
engaging in deep discussions, and participating in the talent show (not to
mention everything else in between), it was a long and exhausting day. Every
day in JASC is a new adventure. Tomorrow will be no exception. So with that in
mind, I’m heading to bed. Over and out!  

JASC 67 Day 8— August 8, 2015 by Camille Nguyen

To be honest, I was very nervous to participate in home stay. With my incredibly limited knowledge of Japanese and worrying about violating proper etiquette in a Japanese home, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to communicate or would come off as a rude American 😅 Luckily my 岡さん and かちょさん were very patient and understanding of the minor difficulties I had the first few hours of meeting me.  I’m also super fortunate to have ミドリさん as a roommate/translator! Supposedly we’re all going to 温泉 tonight. I’m anxious again – but if JASC or my homestay experience has taught me anything, it’s that my anxieties are usually far worse than reality.