The Society organizes several programs that occur on a regular or semi-regular basis. In contrast to our signature events, which hold nationwide significance, the Society’s ongoing programs are created to fulfill the local need of promoting Japanese culture within the Nation’s Capitol area.

While these programs cover a wide range of subjects – from the history of Christianity in Japan to whiskey tastings – their shared goal is to introduce Americans to the many facets of Japanese culture that may not be as publicized within the mainstream media or popular culture.

There are two broad categories of JASWDC’s ongoing programs: policy programs and social programs.

Public Affairs / Policy Programs

Japan 360 – Japan 360 is a series of programs held throughout the year that take a look at Japan, as well as US-Japan relations, from every angle. These talks cover a wide range of topics, including economics and business, science and technology, society and social issues, domestic policies and current events, history, foreign affairs and national security, and traditional and popular culture. We encourage everyone to broaden their interests in Japan and attend one or two (or more!) parts of the Japan 360 series.

Some past topics have included:

  • Japan Matters: Why Japan Will Always be Important to America
  • Growing up Global: Third Culture Kids
  • The Japanese Tea Ceremony: Tea Life, Tea Mind
  • Japan’s Agri-Food Sector & the TPP
  • Buddhism in Japan

Social Programs 

Networking Nights – JASWDC holds networking nights several times a year. Whether they are themed, such as our Tanabata Networking Night held during the summer with yukata and kakigoori, or held in collaboration with other organizations such as the Japan Global Initiative (JGI) study abroad students, these events are designed to bring people with the same interests together to talk, mingle, and eat! The Society’s networking nights gather a wide range of people from different fields and backgrounds, but everyone has one thing in common: a connection to Japan.

Bonenkai – The Society’s Bonenkai, or year-end party, is held to celebrate the passing of the current and to welcome the upcoming one. Held in the JASWDC office, the annual bonenkai brings together both JASWDC members and non-members alike.

Sake/Shochu/Whiskey Events – The world of traditional Japanese alcohol is one that is highly complex in nature. The production of sake, shochu, and Japanese whiskey is a combined narrative of Japanese and American history, art, agriculture, and a never-ending quest for beauty even in the smallest things. JASWDC’s sake, shochu, and whiskey events are both educational and fun – whether it is a tasting, a sake vs. shochu “contest,” or any other kind of program, we are sure to satisfy your palate.

Karaoke Events – Occasionally JASWDC will sponsor karaoke events at local karaoke boxes (with Japanese songs!) in Washington DC as an opportunity to meet new people and bring friends out to have a good time. These evenings include food, drink, and song – but you have to come ready to sing!

Izakaya Pub Quiz – Traditionally held in collaboration with the JET Alumni Association of DC (JETAADC), the Izakaya Pub Quiz is a spin on the traditional trivia games held at bars.

J-Book Club

The J-Book Club meets monthly to discuss both fiction and non-fiction books that are related to Japan in some way. Whether the book is about Japan/the language/its customs, is set in Japan, or was written by a Japanese author, the club brings together those who wish to marry their two interests of Japan (or simply other cultures) and literature.

J-Book Club’s lineup for the next few months:

September (9/18): Running the Shikoku Pilgrimage: 900 Miles to Enlightenment by Amy Chavez

“Running the Shikoku Pilgrimage” is an account of a solo woman’s journey running Japan’s 900-mile Buddhist pilgrimage, a distance equal to running from San Diego, California to Oregon. At 37 years-old Amy Chavez is suddenly let go from her university job, and is left wondering what to do next. She confides in her friend, a Buddhist priest, who encourages her to seek enlightenment on the Shikoku Pilgrimage. He gives her “cosmic tools” to take with her: prayer beads, mantras and a guide to the Buddhist pantheon of gods.

This is a story about Japan, Buddhism and running, but is also a book that explains in concrete terms, the Buddhist search for enlightenment.

October (10/16): What Did You Eat Yesterday? Volume 1 by Fumi Yoshinaga (manga)

From award-winning author Fumi Yoshinaga comes a casual romance between two middle-aged men and the many meals they share together. A hard-working middle-aged gay couple in Tokyo come to enjoy the finer moments of life through food. After long days at work, either in the law firm or the hair salon, Shiro and Kenji will always have down time together by the dinner table, where they can discuss their troubles, hash out their feelings and enjoy delicately prepared home cooked meals!

November (11/13): Turning Japanese: Memoirs of a Sansei by David Mura

Award-winning poet David Mura’s critically acclaimed memoir Turning Japanese chronicles how a year in Japan transformed his sense of self and pulled into sharp focus his complicated inheritance. Mura is a sansei, a third-generation Japanese-American who grew up on baseball and hot dogs in a Chicago suburb, where he heard more Yiddish than Japanese. Turning Japanese chronicles his quest for identity with honesty, intelligence, and poetic vision and it stands as a classic meditation on difference and assimilation and is a valuable window onto a country that has long fascinated our own. Turning Japanese was a New York Times Notable Book and winner of an Oakland PEN Josephine Miles Book Award.

For more information regarding the club, please contact former JET Carmel Morgan at camst87@yahoo.com.

JEToastmasters 

Toastmasters International is a non-profit educational organization with more than 300,000 members in 126 countries, aimed at improving members’ public speaking and leadership skills.

Japanese-English Toastmasters (JEToastmasters) provides a supportive and encouraging forum for those who want to take their personal and professional development to the next level. Members give speeches and evaluations in English, Japanese, or both languages. All levels of Japanese and English language learners are welcome!

JEToastmasters meets on the 4th Tuesday of every month at the JASWDC office. For more information, please contact Mark Lekowski at lekowskim@yahoo.com.

Other Programs

JASWDC also hosts other public affairs/policy, social, and cultural programs throughout the year that may not be listed here. We hold many of these programs in partnership with other Washington DC institutions, such as:

  • The Japan Information & Culture Center (JICC) and the Embassy of Japan
  • The DC Mayor’s Office on Asian & Pacific Islander Affairs (MOAPIA)
  • Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
  • The Hillwood Museum Gardens & Estate
  • The U.S. National Arboretum
  • The George Washington University Luther W. Brady Art Gallery

Simply put, the Society is an organization that is always doing something – and not necessarily the same things. Our list of upcoming programs is ever-changing, and we strive to create events that are both educational and enjoyable.