March, 2015: Breeze Issue #89


A Free E-Newsletter for Friends of Japan & Teachers of Japanese

Greeting From The Director

“Hope” is the thing with feathers -----
That perches in the soul-----
And sings the tune without the words-----
And never stops----- at all -----

(Emily Dickinson)

March 11, 2011 will be remembered by everyone all over the world. Four years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in the Tohoku region, but we Japanese never forget, with the deepest gratitude to all our friends across the United States that you provided your encouragement, support and “Hope” to us immediately following the devastation. We truly felt the strong bond of Tomodachi, friendship, shared and tempered between Japan and the United States.

The seeds of hope that the you sowed throughout Japan continue to grow. Right now we are organizing events that bring to light the current status of the Tohoku area and its cultural strengths. This includes the JET Memorial Invitation Program (JET-MIP), which commemorates two American teachers who lost their lives during the disaster and many other activities in and around LA. On March 11, we will be co-organizing a screening of "Live Your Dream: The Taylor Anderson Story" with the Japan America Society of Southern California and the Consulate-General of Japan in Los Angeles. Special guests Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki and Director Reggie Life will host a Q&A session after the screening.

March also marks the season of flowers with celebrations such as Hinamatsuri, the festival of peach blossoms. We will be covering all of these events through our activities this month starting with our hina doll display in the library. We will also be organizing our Lecture Series 26 with Motoyuki Shibata and Tomoka Shibasaki (Akutagawa Prize awardee) to discuss modern Japanese literature. Finally, the month wraps up with the grand opening of the “Raku: The Cosmos in a Tea Bowl” exhibition comprising nearly 100 Raku pottery masterpieces with examples from each Raku Master from the very 1st to the current (15th) Kichizaemon Raku over the span of nearly 500 years. This exhibition will be held at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and is co-organized by the Japan Foundation.

May we continue singing songs of hope together and never stop at all!

Naomi Takasu, Director

JFLA Lecture Series 26
Japanese Literature in this Decade:
How a Smaller World Leads to More Literature We Can All Enjoy
Wednesday, March 4 @ 7PM (JFLA Auditorium)
Free Admission, RSVP Required

Literary expert and translator Motoyuki Shibata's Monkey Business, an annual literary journal available in both Japanese and English which features the writings of modern Japanese authors as well as British and American authors, contributed to spread and increasing popularity of Japanese literature across borders. On March 4th, Motoyuki Shibata and acclaimed Japanese author Tomoka Shibasaki will discuss many topics surrounding modern Japanese literature.

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JAPANEMA: Free Japanese Cinema Screening
3-11 Remembrance Special Screening & Director's Talk
"LIVE YOUR DREAM: THE TAYLOR ANDERSON STORY" (85mins, 2012)
Directed by Reggie Life
Wednesday, March 11 @ 7PM (JFLA Auditorium)

This film is a story about Taylor Anderson and all the young people who travel the world trying to make a difference. Taylor was an extraordinary American who dedicated herself to teaching Japanese children, living her dream right up to the events of March 11, 2011. The earthquake and tsunami in Japan was a disaster that no one could have expected.

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Cute Character Bento Photo Exhibition, 2015
March 13 – March 28 (JFLA Auditorium)

The Consulate-General of Japan in Los Angeles and BentoUSA recently co-hosted an online contest to see who could create the cutest, best decorated bento (Japanese box lunch) characters. Contestants submitted photos of their cute and creative bento characters decorated in food containers, and The Japanese Consulate and BentoUSA along with honorary judge Ochikeron, a Japanese YouTube personality and bento expert, selected the top 10 finalists. We will hold a photo exhibition of the creation from these 10 finalists so don’t miss the opportunity to see these highly creative, cute characters rendered in foodstuffs.

The opening reception on Friday, March 13 will begin at 1:30pm. Seating is limited. Click Here to RSVP (Required).

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Hina Dolls on Display
Now Through Saturday, March 14 (JFLA Auditorium)

In celebration of Hinamasturi, also known as Japanese Doll Festival or Girls' Day, which is held on March 3, we will be displaying our Hina-ningyo (Japanese doll) set in our library. This custom of displaying dolls began during the Heian period (8-10th century AD) when people believed that the dolls possessed the power to contain evil spirits. Hinamatsuri traces its origins to an ancient Japanese custom called hina-nagashi, in which straw hina dolls were set afloat on a boat and sent down river to the sea, symbolically taking evil spirits with them. In Japan, families typically start displaying their dolls in February to pray for young girl's growth and happiness and take them down immediately after the festival. Superstition says that leaving the dolls out past March 4 will result in a late marriage for the daughter.

JAPANEMA: Free Japanese Cinema Screening
I'm poor & miserable…but it's OK, as long as you're here…
"Happily Ever After" (117mins, 2007)
Directed by Yukihiko Tsutsumi
Wednesday, March 25 @ 7PM (JFLA Auditorium)

Based on the comic strip series by Yoshiie Gouda, this film is a visually striking, dark comedy that follows the devoted wife Yukie (Miki Nakatani) and her unemployed ex-gangster husband Isao (Hiroshi Abe). Isao’s uncontrollable temper often results in the dinner table being overturned and their meal on the floor. Everyone advises Yukie to leave Isao, but her love for him is unconditional because he was the one who initially saved her from misery with his unconditional love.

View Trailer

Workshop: Making Sushi in Japanese
Monday, March 23, 7PM - 9PM
Register Now!

Do you like sushi?  Experience sushi like never before in this popular workshop where you will learn to make different types of sushi, order sushi in Japanese, and enjoy your creations. A professional sushi chef will provide instruction to participants during the workshop while our language instructors will teach useful vocabulary and expressions as well as manners and customs related to sushi. We will make colorful chirashi-sushi, which is one of popular types of sushi for spring events such as Girl's Day and cherry blossom viewing parties. This workshop will be enjoyable for everybody and no prior Japanese learning experience is necessary. Let's enjoy sushi together!

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Raku: The Cosmos in a Tea Bowl
March 29 – June 7 , 2015
Pavilion for Japanese Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

The Japan Foundation and the Raku Museum are very pleased to announce Raku: The Cosmos in a Tea Bowl, an exhibition presenting 450 years of Raku ware to be held at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Raku ware, a type of Japanese ceramics first made in the 16th century by founding father Chōjirō, has continued to be made by 15 successive generations of heads of the Raku family, and with its distinctive aesthetic, holds an unparalleled place among Japanese pottery. Featuring work by past Raku masters and by the brilliant Honami Kōetsu, a close associate, as well as the wide-ranging activities (not limited to ceramics) of the current master Raku Kichizaemon XV and pieces by his son Atsundo, the future family head, this exhibition is a comprehensive survey of the unique aesthetic and philosophical realm of Raku ware, providing fascinating glimpses into each of the eras it covers.

This exhibition presents 94 works, from the serene, monochromatic tea bowls of founder Chōjirō, which most directly reflect the wabi tea ceremony ideals of legendary tea master Sen no Rikyū, to the strikingly original innovations of the current Raku master. We are confident that this first full-fledged show of Raku ceramics on American soil will draw much attention and acclaim.

After its run in Los Angeles, the exhibition will travel to Russia and appear, with partially modified content, at the Hermitage Museum and the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts.

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Fiscal Year 2015-2016 Japanese Language Grants

We are accepting applications for the following grants:

  1. Japanese Language Learners Event Grant previously known as "Speech Contest Grant" (Deadline: 9/1/2015)
  2. Japanese Teaching Material Purchase Grant (Deadlines: 3/15/2015 & 9/15/2015)
  3. Salary Assistance Grant for Japanese Language Courses (Deadline: 4/10/2015)
  4. Japanese-Language Education Project Grant (Deadline: 2 months prior to project start date)

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AJALT Workshop on How to Teach Japanese Phonetics
Saturday, March 7 @ 9:30AM (JFLA Auditorium)

This workshop will offer effective ways for Japanese language instructors to teach Japanese phonetics. Researchers have made significant advances in developing effective methods of teaching Japanese phonetics, and new, online learning tools are also available. The workshop will teach about these new methods and tools and help instructors achieve the results they want to see in their classrooms by engaging their students in phonetics early on in their language education.

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2014 December JLPT Results Now Available!

Test results for those who took the December 2014 test in the US were sent out by the end of February so you should be receiving them by the middle of March. Online results will be available until Monday, March 30, 2015 (US Time). The next test in the United States will on December 6, 2015, and additional information will be available on the AATJ website in June/July.

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Japanese Language Education Update #16: MLA’s Higher Education Survey Results

In February, the Modern Language Association (MLA) published a report titled “Enrollments in Languages Other Than English in United States Institutions of Higher Education, Fall 2013.” This report, published about every four years, researches the number of enrollments in world language courses in American colleges and universities. The survey resembles a census in that MLA attempts to survey every single college or university which offers world language courses in the United States. This year MLA surveyed 2,435 schools.

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2014 JET Memorial Invitation Program: Participant Essays Part 7/8

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.

JFLA Report: Lecture Series 25

The legendary guitarist Marty Friedman visited our office on Monday, January 26 to talk about his music career and his transition to Japan because of his love and interest in JPOP and culture. Friedman also discussed the importance of studying a foreign language and "wished that he had resources like the Japan Foundation's library" when he was beginning to learn the language. With a mastery of Japanese, more opportunities opened up to him as a world-renowned musician. Please visit the link below to view an interview with Friedman where he talked about important lessons he learned throughout his time in Japan.

View YouTube Video