A Free E-Newsletter for Friends of Japan & Teachers of Japanese
初しぐれ 猿も小蓑を ほしげ也 （芭蕉）
hatsu shigure saru mo komino wo hoshige nari (Basho)
(First winter shower; a monkey is looking at me, wistfully, wanting to have a small straw rain-coat of his own.)
There are many beautiful Kigo (words that are used in Haiku to refer to a particular season) for November in Japan such as 初時雨 (hatsu-shigure: first scattered shower of winter), 初霜 (hatsu-shimo: first frost), 木枯らし(kogarashi: cold bitter wind) and 冬構え(fuyu-gamae: getting ready for the coldness of winter). They make us poetic and quite melancholic with a feeling of decline towards the end, but also with an anticipation of rebirth. I love Basho’s sense of humor in his Haiku above; how he vividly visualized the monochrome beauty of the cute monkey.
This month, in addition to our bi-weekly Japanema screenings, we have Kiyoto Kuge’s KIRIE Exhibition in our auditorium through November 8. Do you know KIRIE? I personally nicknamed it “3D Ukiyo-e.” As you may know, Ukiyo-e is the multi-colored wood printing that one prints with ink in as many different colors as there are in the tableau. KIRIE is also the layering of colors finely nuanced, not by ink but rather by paper, surprisingly minimally cut and layered in each form. The artist, Kiyoto Kuge, is one of the foremost KIRIE artists whose works have never been exhibited abroad. He uses eye-catching colors and designs, creating a beautiful blend of traditional and pop much like L.A.’s Mid-Century Modern designs. Please do not miss this unique occasion that lasts through November 8!
We are also very happy to report that the 2014 JLPT registration closed last month to a record number of applicants in the US. We are now planning to host the test in Los Angeles and look forward to administering the test on December 7. I wish all of the test-takers the best of luck (Gambatte-Kudasai). Finally, we will be at the ACTFL Annual Convention in San Antonio, TX, from November 21-23 so please make sure to visit our booth #9043 to support Japanese language education.
With Thanksgiving around the corner, many of you will be gathering soon with friends and family to share warm feelings of sympathy and gratefulness which resonate consecutively with Christmas and the New Year. We also want to take this opportunity to say thank you to all our supporters. We look forward to seeing you soon, through our remodeled main entrance and bathrooms surrounded by flowers!
Naomi Takasu, Director
Kiyoto Kuge, award-winning KIRIE (Japanese traditional paper-cutting art) artist from Japan has an exhibition at JFLA. He uses an amazing technique of cutting and layering paper to depict the beauty of various landscapes and persons. He is one of the foremost KIRIE artists whose works have never been exhibited abroad.
An Autumn Afternoon (Sanma no aji) is the gently heartbreaking story of a man's dignified resignation to both life's ever-shifting currents and society's gradual modernization. Though widower Shuhei Hirayama (Chishu Ryu) has been living comfortably for years with his grown daughter (Shima Iwashita), a series of events leads him to accept and encourage her marriage and departure. As elegantly composed and achingly tender as any of the Japanese master's films, this is one of cinema's fondest farewells.
When a warlord dies, a peasant thief is called upon to impersonate him, and then finds himself haunted by the warlord's spirit as well as his own ambitions. In his late, color masterpiece Kagemusha, Akira Kurosawa returns to the samurai film and to a primary theme of his career—the play between illusion and reality. Sumptuously reconstructing the splendor of feudal Japan and the pageantry of war, Kurosawa creates a historical epic that is also a meditation on the nature of power.
No less than seven JFLA staff will be attending the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Annual Convention and World Language Expo 2014 from November 21-23 in San Antonio, Texas. We've got our hands full this year!
Before ACTFL's official start, staff from the Japan Foundation and the Laurasian Institute will be holding three days of follow-up training for participants of the Japanese Language Education Assistant Program (J-LEAP).
The 2015 National Japan Bowl will be held on Thursday-Friday, April 9-10, 2015 at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland. The Sakura Matsuri - Japanese Street Festival, the largest Japanese cultural festival in the US, will be held on Pennsylvania Avenue in downtown Washington DC on Saturday, April 11, 2015. Early bird registration ends on December 5, 2014. If a team applies before December 5, the $55 for one teacher per school will be waived. The application deadline for the National Japan Bowl is on January 16, 2015. Make sure to apply early!
This exhibition presents a selection of architects' efforts as it engages the ongoing conversation of how architecture can serve communities following a natural disaster. The exhibition features works by artist Hiroyasu Yamauchi, and architects Hitoshi Abe, Manabu Chiba, Momoyo Kaijima and Yoshiharu Tsukamoto (of Atelier Bow-Wow), Senhiko Nakata, Osamu Tsukhashi, and Riken Yamamoto.
Luke Roberts, professor of Japanese history at the University of California, Santa Barbara, introduces the lives of a number of average samurai from the Edo period, focusing on military skills and cultural activities in their lives. This lecture is held in conjunction with the exhibition Samurai: Japanese Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection.
Superposition is a performance created by sound artist Ryoji Ikeda exploring the way we understand the reality of nature on an atomic scale— inspired by the mathematical notions of quantum mechanics. Employing a spectacular combination of synchronized video screens, real-time content feeds, digital sound sculptures and—for the first time in Ikeda's work— human performers—superposition explores the thrilling conceptual world opened up by quantum theory.
Invite a Japanese Assistant Teacher (AT) into your K-12 classroom for up to two consecutive academic years to give your students an opportunity to hear and learn Japanese from a native speaker. This program was started in 2011 with the help of the Laurasian Institute (TLI) with the goal of nurturing a new generation of highly qualified Japanese language teachers in the United States. We currently have a total of 23 ATs in 19 different states nationwide.
Arts & Culture: "Support Program for Translation and Publication" is due on November 19th and "Exhibitions Abroad Support Program" is due on December 1st. Please visit our website with additional information on the JF world-wide website and don't miss this annual deadline.
Japanese Language: Teacher Training Program at the Japanese Language Institute, Urawa, and Japanese Language Program for Specialists in Cultural and Academic Fields at the Japanese Language Institute, Kansai are both due on December 1st.
This year, we received the most number of applicants for the JLPT in the US with over 4400 applicants at 15 test sites nationwide. With the addition of two new test sites in Columbus, OH, and Denver, CO, we were able to reach out to Japanese language learners in new sites in the midwest. AATJ is now preparing to send out test vouchers and information sheets to all registered test takers so please keep an eye out for this by the middle of November.
Michigan has a rich connection with Japan thanks in part to its sister-state relationship with Shiga Prefecture. The respective capitals Lansing and Otsu have been sister-cities since 1968, and though they once had a handful of Japanese programs in their school district, the number was significantly reduced when a Foreign Language Assistance Program (FLAP) grant from the federal government was cut.
In July of 2014, 32 US high school students participated in the JET Memorial Invitational Program (JET-MIP). They travelled to Japan for a two week study tour of the Tohoku region, focusing on the cities of Rikuzentakata and Ishinomaki (Due to Super Typhoon Neoguri, the trip to Rikuzentakata was cancelled). These were the cities that Montgomery Dickson and Taylor Anderson were assigned during their tenure as JET Assistant Language Teachers. Sadly, they lost their lives during the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in March, 2011 and JET-MIP was created to commemorate their work. Participants took part in exchanges with local elementary and high school students as well as local community groups with the purpose of fostering friendship and goodwill between both countries. Each month, we will feature four essays written by the participants describing their experiences in Japan. Click below to read about their unforgettable journey.
For the 2014-2015 school year, we invited nine assistant teachers (AT) to various schools around the country as part of the Japanese Language Education Assistant Program (J-LEAP). This is the fourth year of this program where schools around the country are given the opportunity to invite an AT for up to two years to aid in strengthening their Japanese language program. This month, we will feature the reports from the following ATs detailing their experiences at American schools.
On October 18, 2014, Mr. Shinju Karasawa, Advisor at the Consulate General of Japan in Chicago, presented a Japan Foundation grant check in the amount of $20,000 to Ms. Steph Wilson, Curriculum Director at the West Des Moines Community School District in Iowa. Our "Salary Assistance Grant for Japanese Language Courses" will be used towards resuming a Japanese-language program at Valley Southwoods Freshman High School in the West Des Moines Community School District.
The Washougal School District (WSD) received a “Salary Assistance Grant for Japanese Language Courses” from the Japan Foundation to help sustain the popular program at Jemtegaard Middle School. Hiroshi Furusawa, Consul General of Japan in Portland, presented a check for $21,855 to Washougal Superintendent Dawn Tarzian, on October 6, 2014.
This month, we have several new books and audio books in English as well as some books in Japanese. Make sure to drop by and apply to become a member if you haven't already done so. Our annual library membership fee is only $2 and you get a free cloth book bag.
We are happy to announce that construction in our courtyard has reached a milestone and our guest entrance is now open to our patrons. Starting on Tuesday, November 4, please enter through the courtyard instead of the employee entrance in the back. The renovation on both the men's and women's bathrooms on the first floor is also complete so you will no longer have to use the bathrooms on the second floor. Construction is still ongoing as they renovate the center island on Courtyard Place and we appreciate your patience for a little bit longer.