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:

January – Floating Lanterns & Golden Shrines: Celebrating Japanese Festivals by Rena Krasno 

Author Rena Krasno begins with a discussion of the origins of the Japanese people and the creation myth of Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess. The first festival discussed is Setsubun (the day winter ends) and links ideas of Japan’s indigenous religion, Shinto, with ideas and images borrowed from China. Traditional Japanese family holidays follow: Obon (remembering one’s ancestors); Kodomo no Hi (Children’s Day); Hina Matsuri (Doll Festival); Oshogatsu (New Year); Sapporo Snow Festival; and the Cherry Blossom Festival (honoring the heritage of more than 848,000 Japanese Americans in the United States). Key information about arts and daily life are interspersed throughout: ikebana, taiko, lacquerware, bonsai, origami, haiku, traditional Japanese sports and martial arts. Included are recipes, games and other activities as well. The text provides historical background as part of retelling four folktales for a more intimate sense of Japanese culture. Common, relevant Japanese phrases are introduced. Floating Lanterns & Golden Shrines is especially recommended young adults, but will be found entertaining and informative by all age groups.

February – Hear the Wind Sing by Haruki Murakami

Murakami’s debut novel. The story takes place in 1970 over a period of nineteen days between August 8 and August 28, and is narrated by a 21-year-old unnamed man. The story contains forty small chapters amounting to 130 pages. The story covers the craft of writing, the Japanese student movement, and, like later Murakami novels, relationships and loss. Like later novels, cooking, eating and drinking, and listening to Western music are regularly described.

March – The Anatomy of Self by Takeo Doi 

Japan’s foremost clinical psychiatrist presents his ideas on the role of the individual in a society that often appears to have no individuals: the Japanese. The author is as quick to explode the myths the Japanese have about themselves as he is to defend what he sees as the genius of their society. He spreads his net wide, drawing his conclusions from an extensive knowledge of his own culture but that of the West: Freud, Weber, Max Picard, and George Orwell are every bit as influential here as sources from his own tradition.

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 

More information coming soon!

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.