JASC 67 Day 7— August 7, 2015 by Emi Okikawa

I started the day bleary-eyed, dressed in Business Formal, and a raisin bun in both hands. At 8:00, morning announcements were read, and we filed out of the Bunka Koryu Kaikan, each pulling out our fans in an effort to offset the Hiroshima heat. I have since been informed that I have not yet experienced real Japanese heat because Kyoto is next on our itinerary.

After a brief stint on the train, all 71 delegates of JASC were soon gathered outside of the Wendy Hito Machi Plaza. The day’s programming started with scheduled RT time. My fellow GEARS (Global Eco-hazard and Resource Sustainability) delegates were soon discussing our plans for promoting a more sustainable lifestyle in Tokyo. We focused on the wasteful abundance of vending machines, which adds to the consumption of plastic, and negates all efforts to use reusable water bottles. Next, we brainstormed ideas on how to slowly phase out the use of plastic bags in stores throughout Japan.

Lunch was served quickly, but personally, I was too excited for the Hiroshima Forum to eat. The first guest speaker was Mr. Sadao Yamamoto, a hibakusha (survivor of an A-bomb attack) who recounted his story for us. On August 6, 1945 at 8:15 a.m, 3 B-29 bombers flew overhead as he worked in the field picking sweet potatoes. “We didn’t believe they would drop the bomb,” he told us, “We thought they were only reconnaissance planes.” Within seconds, the bomb exploded in a blast of heat and fire. The huge fireball burned at the temperature of almost 4,000º Farenheit. Although his face was badly burned, there was no medicine on hand to treat his injuries. Like many victims, tempura oil was applied instead. In addition, they were denied water due to the belief that burn victims should not drink water, as it dilutes the body’s natural water storage and prevents quick recovery. Mr. Yamamoto’s family was fortunate enough to survive, but he explained how his uncle—although seemingly in perfect physical condition after the attack, died a few days later due to the residual radiation. After his presentation, Mr. Yamamoto said a few short words which really struck a chord with me. “I have no grudge against the Americans,” he said, “Let’s work together to create a nuclear free world. Let’s join hands to prevent another Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” I believe that it takes a person of incredible strength to see past the hardships of one’s own life and look to the betterment of all human kind. His message of peace and the need for strong action towards the cause of nonproliferation is one that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

The second part of the Forum was an active discussion between Mr. Kazumi Mizumoto (the Vice-President of Hiroshima Peace Institute) and Mrs. Mihoko Kumamoto (the President of UNITAR, Hiroshima Office). Among the topics discussed was Nuclear Energy and Sustainable Development. As an Environmental Studies major at Franklin & Marshall University, I found both topics within my area of study and learned much from the two experts. It was very enlightening to hear their opinions and thoughts on issues I am very interested in, such as the roles of economic development and social aspects on the sustainable development of nations.

Lastly, the third part of the forum focused on Group Discussions. In Room C, we talked about the contentious issue of U.S forces being stationed in Japan. Although Okinawa accounts for less that 1% of landmass in Japan, it houses more than half of the U.S forces in Japan. U.S forces place an incredible burden on the people of Okinawa, and some hope to see the U.S forces move elsewhere.

Our last stop was at Hotel Sunroute, where we were greeted by many JASC supporters and alumni. I had the pleasure of talking to a prominent hibakusha who told us all about her travels. I was impressed that out of 20,000 applicants, she was selected as one of three women in a group of 35 Fullbright scholars. Many of us struck up conversations around the room, even coming away with a few business cards. It was a wonderful opportunity to hear more about the lives of JASC alumni.

There are times when JASC can be overwhelming. Some days you can’t wait to change out of your business formal clothes, rub your tired feet, and lay in your bed for years! But then, there are days like this, when you realize how lucky you are to be a part of JASC. Every day, I learn so much about Japanese culture, American culture, and myself. I get to meet prominent members of Japanese society, visit historical sites, and explore all Japan has to offer. Today was an experience I will never forget. I am sure that the lessons I have learned from the city of Hiroshima and its inhabitants, will stay with me forever.

JASC 67 Day 5— August 5, 2015 by Jason Yang

AAAAAAND OFF WE GO! On the third day of JASC, we visited
Otafuku and Miyajima.

Otafuku

Otafuku is the company that makes okonomiyaki sauce.  Arriving at the shop, we split up into 4
groups (we had 71 people in total).

For my group, we began by watching an introductory video on
the origin of the okonomiyaki sauce.
Following the video we toured the museum introduced us to the history of
okonomiyaki sauce.  What I found most
interesting was that the okonomiyaki sauce was developed for okonomiyaki in the
recent century.  I have always thought
that okonomiyaki was a traditional Japanese food, but surprisingly, the
delicacy was only recently developed post-World War 2.  Accordingly, the okonomiyaki sauce was
developed for okonomiyaki.  At first, Worcester
was used, but it turned out to be too “runny.”
Following the advice and requests of okonomiyaki shops, a sauce was
created to compliment okonomiyaki.  That
sauce was the okonomiyaki sauce of Otafuku.

Throughout the tour, Isshu (Eco-hazard coordinator)
translated amazingly!

At the end of the tour, we were each given a fresh bottle of
okonomiyaki sauce.  Since the bottle just
came off the production line, it was HOT!
As you can see in the picture above. We were thoroughly surprised at how
hot it was!  It was too hot to hold.

Following the tour, we were invited into a kitchen to cook
and eat our own okonimiyakis!

After the Otafuku museum, we took a short ferry ride from
Hiroshima to Miyajima.

Miyajima is famous for its Itsukushima shrine and deer.  After dropping our luggage off at our hotel,
we split up into random groups of 10 to explore the island. Our first stop was
the famous tori gate that floats on the ocean during high tide (it doesn’t
actually float, but you get what mean).  

On the way, we ran into many deer.  Unlike the deer in Nara, we were not allowed
to feed them.  The “wild” deer were much
less aggressive than those in Nara; perhaps, because they don’t see us as a
source of food. O.o

It took 300 yen to enter the Itsukushima shrine.  For many American delegates, it was their
first time visiting a Japanese shrine.
Before entering, you must wash your hands and mouth with the shrine
water (as shown below).

It’s very popular to get fortune told by omikuji (fortune
paper).  Unlike the fortune cookies that
we get in the states, there are bad fortunes within those slips!  If you get a good fortune, you take the
blessing slip with you, but if you get a bad fortune, then you tie those slips
in the shrine to ward off the evil. (Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture of
the tied bad fortune slips!)

Following the shrine, we toured the streets of Miyajima,
eating local treats such as momiji manju. We eventually ended up at a
restaurant for dinner.  Shops close
really early on Miyajima so we had dinner at 5PM!

After dinner, we regrouped back at our hotel for RoundTable
discussion.  At 7PM, I ran out to get
this picture of the sunset at the tori gate.

That night we slept early (lights out at 11PM) because the
following day was extremely packed (waking up at 4AM to go back to Hiroshima
for the Peace Memorial Ceremony).

Passing the Torch: A Sign-off from the 66th AEC Chair

Anna Zeng, 66th AEC Chair

It is hard to believe that the 66th Japan-America Student Conference ended almost two months ago! I used to think that life after being a JASC EC would be a breeze, but—as most alumni would agree with me—that is never quite the case. In a way, JASC trains you to be driven; it ignites an engine just keeps on going, wherever life leads you next.

I find myself in such a spot.

JASC gave me a chance to dedicate myself to one activity for a year. When it ended, there was a sigh of relief, a hint of bitterness, and a lot of tears. A year ago, I had never imagined what planning JASC could entail. A year later, I say with confidence that this process has taught me more about myself, more about the world, and more about life than any other activity I have done thus far.

Still, it is difficult to articulate exactly what has changed in my life post-JASC. Perhaps, it is that I am more aware of my own weaknesses and strengths. Or perhaps, it is that I am more inclined to work in a team. While filing all of the different ways I have benefited from JASC, I have come to see JASC as wine—the longer you taste it, the better it gets.

When JASC suddenly ended on August 24th, I found myself in disbelief and excitement. My mind could not grasp the scope of what had happened. I only knew that I would miss my fellow ECs so much! Since then, many people have asked me how I felt about the conference. I have given answers like, “It was hard, but it was good”; “I am so grateful that my ECs and I have become like a family!”; “I wish I had talked to the delegates more”; “Overall it was successful!” But I knew that no matter how much I tried to convey my feelings for the 66th JASC, it would never come out quite right. There is something about this past year that is beyond verbal expression.

Two months later, I am still lingering in the aftertaste of JASC.

These days, when I walk in the cold breeze of Baltimore, I always think of the blazing Tokyo sun and the murmurs of cicadas. That is my memory of the 65th JASC—it has almost become like a physical reaction. I cannot recall any of the lectures I listened to or any of the speakers I met (except a few of course). All I remember is this warm feeling of being surrounded by 71 other college students, who were just as curious, just as eager, just as excited, and just as tired as I was, for an entire month traveling to places whose names I could not even pronounce. There were surely tears, jokes, laughter, conflicts, and growing pains. But recently they have all become a blur in my head. My experiences in both 65th and 66th have somehow blurred together into an impressionist painting. I have to zoom out just to get a glimpse of what it all means.

The moment Yohei, my co-chair, and I announced the 67th chairs, I was sure that something inside of me was being built—it was a defense mechanism to hold me together. A year worth of anticipation, excitement, anxiety, growth, and battles is now moving past me to the next JASC ECs. My time in JASC is over. Our time in JASC is over.

I am sure that was when it all became a blur. The hour-by-hour schedule became a blur. The meal menus became a blur. The ECs’ struggles became a blur. My regrets for the conference became a blur. But maybe this blurry picture is not that bad. It is perhaps a blessing to view JASC that way. Details are not the most important anymore. The 66th ECs and I can now sit back and look at the whole picture.

We can now enjoy the aftertaste.

In the meantime, JASC moves on! Even with ambivalent feelings for my own JASC experience, I am proud to voice my faith in the 67th ECs. They are a strong, hardworking team. October is a difficult month for them because that is when the initial excitement ebbs and the flood of responsibility rushes forth. There will come a time when every detail is important, every activity needs a back-up plan, and every dollar/yen needs to count. Clarity now belongs to the 67th ECs. For them, this will be a year full of challenges and growth. But this journey is worth it.

I cannot wait for the day when they can join the 66th ECs in viewing this impressionist art and tasting this wine that is JASC!

A New Generation: Greetings from the 67th AEC Chair

Hannah Jun, 67th AEC Chair

My name is Hannah Jun. I’m a junior at Smith College, and I am currently studying abroad at the London School of Economics. My majors are Government and Economics. Before participating in the 66th JASC, I was initially unsure about the type of experience I would have. However after a month of intense discussions with students from all around the world, intellectually stimulating lectures from successful individuals from different backgrounds, and amazing fieldtrips across the United States, I can say that I am supremely grateful for JASC. JASC gave me the space for personal and academic self-reflection and growth. I made life-long friendships with people I never would have met otherwise and was challenged in my beliefs and perspectives. Because of this rewarding experience, I am very honored to have been elected to the Executive Committee of JASC 67th as the American Executive Chair.

It’s only been two months since the end of JASC 66, but the Executive Committee has been hard at work planning conference and recruiting for JASC 67. In Japan, my counterpart Jumpei Matsui is has been leading the Japanese Executive Committee which consists of Shawn Yajima (Arts and Science, University of Tokyo), Luis Michel Montano (Integrated Human Studies, Kyoto University), Shiori Okazaki (Law, Keio University), Ryosuke (Pepe) Suzuki (Commerce, Meiji University), Isshu Fujii (Law, Aoyama Gakuin), Marino Mori (Law/Political Science, Gakushuin), and Sae Murai  (Liberal Arts, International Christian University). On the American side, we have Takeshi Hidaka (Cinema & Media Studies, Carleton College), Isaac Min (Int’l Relations, University of Southern California), Takuo Koyama (Business, Whittier College), Harrison Bade (Communications, Villanova University), Lisa Kanai (Psychology, DePauw University), Ken Covey (Int’l Business/Finance, University of Hawaii at Manoa), and Sakura Takahashi (Psychology/Computer Science, Duke University).

JASC 67 will be hosted in Japan in four sites: Hiroshima, Shimane, Kyoto, and Tokyo. Since it is Japan year, the JEC are working hard on site coordination, fundraising, recruiting, and other important programming. On the American side, the AEC are hard at work recruiting the most competitive and diverse delegation possibility. With a multi-pronged recruitment strategy that includes a new social media strategy, we hope students all over the country find out about JASC and apply by December 31, 2014.

I am so excited about JASC 67 because of the amazing people in the Executive Committee and the vision we have come up with together. JASC 67 will facilitate intense discussions on war and peace in Hiroshima, regional revitalization and population change in Shimane, culture and history in Kyoto, and the economic center of Japan in Tokyo. Our roundtable topics will also produce much thoughtful debate with topics like Religion as a Means, Religion as Meaning; Security and Non-Traditional Threats; Society and Inequality; Media in the 21st Century; Educational Approaches Today and Tomorrow; Global Eco-Hazard and Resource Sustainability; and Power and Responsibility in the Business World.

With half of our AEC studying abroad this year, we have literally been communicating across the world to bring you the best JASC possible. JASC alums old and new have reached out to provide support and show us that JASC doesn’t end with the conference. The physical distance doesn’t matter, and any challenges that we come across can be overcome together. Through my JASC experience, I have learned the power of a community. When people come together with the same goal, anything is possible.

JASC in San Fran!!

Delegates arrived in San Francisco on Wednesday August 6, where they were hosted by The University of California, Berkeley!

The delegation hosted a Diversity Symposium, where they heard a lecture about immigration trends, both historically and currently, in the U.S. and Japan from Berkeley professor Keiko Yamanaka. Dr. Yamanaka is a sociologist and a continuing lecturer in the Departments of Ethic Studies and International & Area Studies at Berkeley Her lecture was followed by a panel discussion featuring Britton Watkins (JASC 40 & 41), Madeline Adkins (JASC 40 & 41), and Josh Feldman who spoke about their experiences being openly gay living and working both in Japan and the U.S. Mr. Watkins has been living as an out gay man since his early 20s in both the U.S. and Japan. He is an independent consultutant in market strategy research and communication strategies for companies like Adobe, Fujitsu and Sony. Ms. Adkins has held positions in many different fields throughout her career including in the corporate world with companies like Sony, Intel and Safeway, and in academia, teaching at CU Boulder and Berkeley City College. Mr. Feldman is a creative director focusing on user experience strategic design. He has been legally married to Mr. Watkins (also on the panel) for six year. Each panelist shared their personal stories, which were inspiring, and led to a meaningful question and answer session with  the delegates.  Shortly following the Diversity Symposium, the delegates had their annual talent show, where Amedeles and Japadeles worked together to show off their talents!

JASC 66 had a monumentally successful homestay weekend from August 8-10. Delegates stayed with alumni and their friends throughout the Bay Area, experiencing the culture, sights, and food of Northern California.

With the help of JASC alumnus Jon-Michael Durkin, JASC 66 also had the opportunity to tour Google’s Mountain View campus and participated in a creative-thinking workshop.  The delegates loved seeing Google’s Android Garden, and experiencing the unique work environment at Google.

JASC alumnus Allen Miner hosted JASCers at Harkone Gardens, the oldest Japanese estate in the Western Hemisphere, for a Japanese culture night. The delegates enjoyed a variety of Japanese culture including Nagashi-Somen (catching floated noodles in cut bamboo shoots with chopsticks), Shodo (Japanese calligraphy), and Senkou Hanapi (summer sparkler tradition).

To wrap up their stay in San Francisco, JASC 66 spent a day taking RT Field Trips. Each RT had a unique experience and was able to explore a different aspect of their RT.

Please visit JASC’s Facebook and Flikr pages to see photos from all of these great events, and more!

Japadeles Welcomed to Iowa and JASC Opening Ceremony

After a successful American Orientation, the Japanese delegation (or Japadeles) arrived in Iowa on August 2! They landed in Des Moines after a long, but pleasant, flight from Tokyo, and immediately boarded a charted bus that brought them to Grinnell College. The Japadeles were ushered into a large meeting room where the Amedeles were waiting, seemingly disinterested in their arrival. Suddenly, music started, and the entire American delegation broke out in a Harlem Shake, surprising the Japadeles! They held up a “Welcome” sign, and shouted welcome to JASC, and the Japadeles were thrilled. They mingled, hugged, exchanged gifts, and did self-introductions.

On August 3, the 66th JASC delegation held their first joint RT meetings. Everyone was excited to work and discuss together, finally in person after months of communicating over the internet. The delegation then prepared for JASC’s Opening Ceremony, changing into business formal attire (the first of many times during the Conference).

After a brief welcome from ISC Assistant Director Chelsea Irvin, the delegation was officially welcomed to Grinnell, IA by Mayor Gordon Canfield. Mayor Canfield gave the delegation a deeper look into small-town American life, and the history of trade and friendship between Japan and Iowa. Sharon Lu, American Executive Committee member, then read a statement from Iowa Sister States. The statement covered the long friendship between Iowa and Yamanashi Prefecture, which was formed and survived on mutual respect, trust, and genuine understanding.  Next, the delegation heard from Doug Lewis, a native Iowan whose professional work and volunteer service has been focused on bringing Iowa to the world, and the world to Iowa.  He spoke about his personal connection with Japan, and commended the delegates on their commitment to the important relationship between the U.S. and Japan. Finally, Dr. Sachiko Murphy, a high-school Japanese language teacher in the Des Moines public school system, spoke to the delegation about her personal experiences teaching in both Japan and the United States, and the differences that exist in the two systems.

JASCers next heard a lecture  about Indigenous Agriculture and foodways in the U.S. from Dr Christina Gish HIll, who is a Professor of Anthropology and American Indian Studies at Iowa State University. She spoke in depth to the delegation about Native American agriculture, specifically their tradition of farming corn, squash, and beans. Her lecture prepared the delegates for their visit to a local Native American settlement the following day.

The Amedeles and Japadels wrapped up their first day of programming by performing skits for one another in the evening. The skits were both humorous and informative about each distinct culture.

You can see photos from the entire Des Moines site on JASC’s Flikr and Facebook pages!

JASC 66 AO Filled with Spirit of Learning and Friendship

American Orientation for the 66th JASC began on Wednesday, July 30th as delegates flew, drove, and even walked to Des Moines, IA! The diverse delegation coming from across the U.S. took over the Des Moines International Airport for several hours on Wednesday. There, delegates began bonding and learning each other’s names.  After travelling to host university Grinnell College, the delegates’ first day together was filled with introductions, ice breakers, and learning the history of JASC.

On Thursday, American delegates had their first Roundtable (RT) meeting in person, and heard their first lecture from David Yepsen. Mr. Yepssen is currently the director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, after a 34-year career as a political journalist with the Des Moines Register. He is an expert on the presidential caucus campaigns, having covered the Iowa caucus for 9-cycles. He spoke to the American delegation about the caucus system, his personal experience, and the future of the American presidency. He was extremely gracious, taking over 45-minutes to answer questions from the delegation.

After the lecture from Mr. Yepsen, two delegates were awarded for their outstanding essays in the annual RT paper essay contest! The delegation then worked together to prepare their skit for the Japanese delegation, which will be presented upon their arrival to the U.S.

The last day of AO, Friday, August 1st, began with RT discussion time, followed by a presentation on networking  by the American Executive Committee. The delegates learned key differences between networking in Japan and the U.S., tips for being confident while networking, and guidance on how to take networking to the next level by building and maintaining the relationship over time. They were then given time to practice with one another. After some free time in downtown Grinnell, the American delegation reflected upon their time in Iowa so far, and prepared for the arrival of the Japanese delegation on Saturday.

You can see all the photos from AO on JASC’s facebook and flikr page! Please check them out and “like” them!!

American Orientation for the 66th JASC begins TOMORROW!

Another JASC is about to begin, and the American Executive Committee is already in Grinnell, IA (outside of Iowa’s capital Des Moines) preparing for the American delegates to arrive!

The AEC is has spent the last two days finalizing Conference logistics and planning. They took a tour of Grinnell College’s campus, appreciating the architecture and environmentally friendly buildings. Grinnell College, a private liberal arts school, has many notable alumni including legendary jazz artist Herbie Hancock, Nobel Prize winner Thomas Cech, principal architect of the President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal Harry Hopkins, and many more.

Please visit JASC’s Facebook and Flickr pages to check out pictures!!