JOI at 20: A Spectacular Cultural Celebration

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The Japan Outreach Initiative (JOI) recently celebrated 20 years of promoting awareness and understanding of Japan throughout the United States. The important milestone was commemorated with an intimate gathering in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Guests included former program participants and friends of JOI in addition to prominent community members.

While attendance was necessarily modest due to the ongoing pandemic, the celebration of Japanese culture was anything but! And in true JOI fashion, we’ve captured it all in series of videos we’d like to share just as far and wide as possible. Not only do these include top-notch performances—including taiko drummers Matsuriza, mainstay entertainers at Walt Disney World's Epcot Japan Pavilion—the Year 19 JOI Coordinators also taped a “cultural festival” presenting on unique and lesser-known aspects of Japanese culture.

Cultural festival presentations include everything from Japanese business fashion to calligraphy to hanachōzu (a tradition at shrines and temples that has become an at-home, Insta-worthy art)! Presented specifically for the camera, the sessions are as interesting for the culturally curious visitor as they are helpful and insightful for your class or club. Please feel free to take advantage of them for any purpose that spreads awareness and understanding of Japanese culture.

Of course, the gathering would not have been complete without the reflection and discussion of insightful guests. Opening remarks were offered by Hiroko Tsuka (Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership) and Sen. Bill Hagerty (TN, former U.S. Ambassador to Japan). We were also treated to a keynote address from none other than Naoko Yamazaki (former JAXA astronaut and NASA mission specialist).

In between these extremely impressive contributors, we heard from some interesting panels on topics such as Japan in the South and the importance of grassroots exchange in addition to a look back on the 20-year history of JOI. While we’ve linked to specifically mentioned videos throughout, we encourage you to peruse the entire playlist. It truly is a treasure trove of top-notch Japanese cultural content and performances!

In closing, we were so grateful to everyone who joined us. Throughout the program's history, JOI and its many volunteer participants have worked to promote mutual understanding between residents of the U.S. and Japan. In gathering together, we were reminded of the importance of this mission.

-The JOI team at Laurasian Institution

 

 

 

 

Explore More from the JOI 20th Anniversary Celebrations

 

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Learn about the new JOI logo

 

 


A joint initiative of the Japan Foundation and Laurasian Institution, the Japan Outreach Initiative (JOI) brings volunteer Japanese coordinators to regions of the U.S. where Japanese culture has been less accessible. JOI coordinators are hosted by U.S. nonprofits and educational institutions with a strong commitment to promoting learning about Japan. During the two-year program, JOI coordinators engage their American community through Japanese-themed programming—from lectures to hands-on elementary school activities to events focusing on traditional Japanese art forms.

Questions? Contact Laurasian's JOI staff in the U.S. (+1 800.721.7474) or Japan (+81-3-3712-6176).

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