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:

May (5/8) – Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back by Janice P. Nimura

In 1871, Japan was just starting to open itself up to trading with other countries, and cultural changes were afoot. That year, along with a group to negotiate trade with the U.S. and President Grant, were five girls, daughters of samurai, sent to receive a Western education and then come back to their homeland. Three of these girls – Sutematsu, Shige, and Ume – stayed for over ten years before returning to Japan. This is their story.

June (6/5) – The Shooting Gallery Stories by Yuko Tsushima

Eight stories by one of Japan’s most important women authors concern the struggles of women in a repressive society. An unwed mother introduces her children to their father . . . A woman confronts the “other woman”. . . A young single mother resents her children . . . These stories touch on universal themes of passion and jealousy, motherhood’s joys and sorrows, and the tug-of-war between responsibility and entrapment.

July (7/10) – Memories of Silk and Straw: A Self-Portrait of Small-Town Japan by Junichi Saga

Over 50 reminiscences of pre-modern Japan-illustrations of a way of life that has virtually disappeared. Voted “Best Book of the Year” by Japan’s foreign press. This is a collective biography, based on interviews taped by a small-town doctor, recording the lives of a cotton dyer, blacksmith, tofu maker, undertaker, carter, tenant farmer, local gangster, casual laborer, horse-meat butcher, magistrate’s wife, apprentice geisha, rice merchant, thatcher, carpenter, midwife, county hangman, pawnbroker, draper, fisherman, hairdresser, servant, charcoal burner, and so on-over fifty in all. Their memories are all related to a lakeside town and its rural suburbs northeast of Tokyo.

August (8/7) – Singular Rebellion by Saiichi Maruya

A conventional Japanese businessman who has been recently widowed remarries a much younger woman, a model by profession. This one atypical action sets off a comic chain of events that changes his life: his maid quits, his new wife’s grandmother moves in (she’s just out of prison for murder), and, as his wife’s behavior grows increasingly incomprehensible, his once orderly existence unravels. While the plotting of this novel is glacially slow, readers who enjoy the ruminations of an ironical first-person narrator or who want satiric insight into contemporary Japanese society will undoubtedly enjoy.

Exact dates for J-Book Club can be found in the Upcoming Events section or the JASWDC newsletter, for members who receive it. 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. Exact dates can be found on the Upcoming Events page. 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. Please see our Upcoming Events page for the most up-to-date information.