Welcome to our new series of interviews with the local JASA community. To kick things off, we interviewed our former intern Junho Jeong!
Junho Jeong has been interning at the Japan-America Society of Alabama for the past six months. He is a Japanese and Financial Engineering major at Korea University in Seoul, Korea. He’s been studying Japanese since 2011 and English since childhood.
Q: What brought you to Alabama and to JASA?
“I participated in the Korea West Program, a joint program between the Korean Government and the US Department of State, so I was in Texas for three months and then got matched with JASA for an internship by the Program.”
Q: What do you at JASA?
“So I usually do social media stuff: I post Japan related news on our Facebook page and website and translate the posts into Japanese too. I also get the opportunity to participate in our board meetings and cultural events. I also do our ‘Japan in a Suitcase’ presentation.”
Q: What have you learned from working at JASA?
“I’ve learned how to manage a company’s website and see how that all works. Also, translating English into Japanese is quite an experience. And, I think if you’re a foreigner, you get so many opportunities to make friends, a lot of friends, around here. Like at our monthly dinner Kayobikai.”
Q: English is your third language and Japanese your second; what is it like working in your non-native languages?
“I just think it’s cool, it’s so cool!
When it comes to working in English I think it’s much easier because I know so much more grammar. I’ve been learning English grammar for so long and it made me realize that you never really learn grammar in your first language [Korean]. It’s also a really interesting experience to notice how people make sentences or express their feelings in different ways, depending on what culture you’ve been raised in.”
Q: What got you interested in Japan?
“The reason I got interested in Japan is that I wanted to be a journalist covering issues in East Asia. Since Korea is an ally with Japan and the US, I thought it is critical to understand the history between the nations and why we became allies. When I was a high school student, I felt like I needed to get exposed to Japanese articles too to get more correct information and not to be biased. That was the first time I started learning Japanese.”
Q: What have you liked about living in Alabama?
“People! It’s really different from what I expected. When I googled Alabama -I had never heard of Alabama before I came here- I noticed it had not a very good reputation with various problems, and even my teachers in Austin were worried about me going to Alabama with no one I know. But, it turned out it was not like that at all; people were so warm and sweet hearted. Everyone I met here has been understanding and, I think most of all, it has been really precious for me to be in a family orientated culture in my life. It’s been really cool just to get a family dinner or have a Christmas party, or Easter or any kind of holidays spent with family members here, and to be part of those events was so nice. I will never forget southern hospitality I got here.”
Q: What’s next for you?
“I have three semesters left at my University and am planning on learning more about finances. I’m planning to apply for a Japanese company and am seriously thinking of applying for Dai-ichi Protective Life [headquartered in Birmingham] so I can maybe come back here. That’s how much I liked living here.”
“Thank you for having me here and thanks to JASA for having me here. I enjoyed it a lot!”
Celeste Pfau, a gifted young Birmingham artist, will soon begin work as an artist-in-residence at Moriumius in Ogatsu, Japan. Moriumius is an area of Tohoku hard hit by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami; the organization aims to bring about healing through nature-focused programs. Celeste’s work includes creating beautiful prints using plant materials and will contribute to the mission of Moriumius, reconnecting children with nature.
Celeste received the honor of “emerging artist” at the Magic City Art Connection and is one of the driving forces as a community organizer in the Art Town East Lake Project working to make East Lake a hub for the arts in Birmingham.
During her time in Japan, Celeste will be traveling to Gunma prefecture, home to Birmingham’s sister city, Maebashi.
http://moriumius.jp/en/ (Learn more about Moriumius here)
One year ago today, July 3rd 2017, Birmingham formalized a Sister City relationship with Maebashi, Japan. Maebashi had previously been a Friendship City since 1998. Maebashi is the birthplace of famed poet Hagiwara Sakutaro and hosts an expansive Museum of Literature, which also features Birmingham poet Samuel Ullman.
Learn more about Birmingham’s Sister Cities Program here and visit Maebashi’s English language site.
Join us at the Samuel Ullman Museum for a presentation on Japanese Literature and a screening of “Tokyo Girl.”
Free snacks and refreshments will be provided. Come try Japanese confectionaries! This event will be a great opportunity for those interested in learning more about Japanese literature, history, and film.
Click here for the Facebook event page.
5:30-6:30 Japanese Literature Presentation & Snacks
6:30 – 8:30 Movie Screening: Tokyo Girl
8:30 – 9:00 (Optional) Hanashikai – Socialize with other guests
Tokyo Girl (東京少女) is a drama-romance-scifi film and representative of most Japanese movies: “The occurrence of an earthquake in Japan is not unusual. What would be, however, is the existence of a hole through time and the passage of a phone through which two people – one hundred years apart – can communicate. When a schoolgirl comes into communication with an aspiring writer, who is studying under poet and novelist Soseki Natsume, the most unlikely of romances ensues.” -IMDB
Admission: Donation at the door (Any amount is appreciated!)
**JASA Members enter free!
RSVP on our website here: http://jasaweb.org/?page_id=1548 or email email@example.com.
If you are able to make it for one of the events but can’t stay for the whole evening, don’t worry! Just let us know in your RSVP.
This program is funded by the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership as part of a long-term project to build a Japanese community around the Samuel Ullman Museum. We are grateful for their support!
On Saturday, June 23rd, author Sucheta Rawal gave a reading of her book “Beato Goes to Japan” for local families at the Samuel Ulman Museum. The book features a fictional version of her cat Beato traveling to Japan and learning about Japanese culture with Kazumi-san, a character based off her real life friend. The real life Kazumi-san attended the event and gave origami lessons to the children, teaching them how to make paper cranes. JASA gave our “Japan in a Suitcase” presentation and offered Japanese snacks to the visitors. Thank you to everyone for coming and learning about Japan!
Keep an eye out for our other events and more chances to learn about Japanese culture!
You can RSVP here for our upcoming events.
For more information about the author, and a series of Beato books, visit here
Thanks to everyone who made it out to our first anime trivia and movie night at the Samuel Ullman Museum. Our trivia from the event, both the questions and the answer key, are available here:
Anime Trivia Questions & Anime Trivia ANSWERS.
Please enjoy the trivia! We hope to see you at our next event!
JASA is collaborating with the Birmingham Public Library to host the innovative guitarist and composer Hiroya Tsukumoto!
Hiroya will be performing a free concert at the Birmingham Public Library, August 7th at 6 PM, as a part of JASA summer programming. For more information, see the Library’s Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1701253059969846/
“Hiroya takes us on an impressionistic journey” -Boston Herald
Born and raised in Japan, in 2000 he received a scholarship to Berklee’s College of Music and came to the United States. Hiroya has released six albums and has performed with Esperanza Spalding, The Kennedys, Joe Jencks (Brother Sun), Michael League (Snarky Puppy), Brooks Williams, and Jim Kweskin. For more information on Hiroya and his music, check out his site at http://www.hiroyatsukamoto.com/
The Alabama community is saddened by the passing of Dr. Bob Wendorf, 70, on May 22, 2018 in Birmingham, Alabama following a brief illness. He held a Doctorate in Psychology from the University of Illinois and was teaching at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Dr. Wendorf spent the past 25 years studying the art of Bonsai and was a board member and the president of the Alabama Bonsai Society. He was a frequent volunteer at the Birmingham Botanical Garden’s Japanese garden and tea house and kept his own Japanese style garden in his backyard. Dr. Wendorf’s family asks that any donations be sent to the Japanese Garden at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, 2612 Lane Park Road, Birmingham, AL 35223, or to The Karl Wendorf Scholarship Fund at Canterbury United Methodist Church, 350 Overbrook Road, Mountain Brook, AL 35213.
Read more about Dr. Wendorf’s life and work here
Consul General Takashi Shinozuka presented recognition and appreciation award to Daikin America President Yasuhiro Utsumi at Daikin’s Japanese Festival in Decatur
On Friday, May 25th, Daikin America received a recognition and appreciation award at the Daikin Festival in Decatur, AL from the Consul General of Japan in Atlanta, Takashi Shinozuka. This prestigious award is given to those who have made outstanding efforts to promote goodwill and advance business, cultural interchanges, and mutual understanding between people of Japan and America.
Daikin America has continuously supported local Japan-related organizations around Alabama such as the Japan-America Society of Alabama and tirelessly promoted grassroots relationships between Japan and America. One of their significant contributions to local communities is the Daikin Festival in May where people learn about Japan through music, food, and cultural activities.
Additionally, Daikin offers a Japanese homestay program to local teachers and students. Those who have been selected as participants will stay at Daikin employees’ houses in Japan for 10 days to become immersed in Japanese culture.
Winter Days– From the recently passed Director Isao Takahata of Studio Ghibli fame, the film is based on one of the renku (collaborative linked poems) in the 1684 collection of the same name by the 17th-century Japanese poet Bashō.
The Tale of Princess Kaguya– Takahata’s last film, based on the folktale The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, the movie features breathtaking animation and an emotional story.
The Makioka Sisters– Adapted from Junichiro Tanizaki’s classic novel, the film follows the decline of the once-prominent Makioka family.
Tokyo Olympiad– This impressionistic documentary of the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics pays as much attention to the crowds and workers as it does to the actual competitive events.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi– In this documentary, revered sushi chef Jiro Ono strives for perfection in his work, while his eldest son, Yoshikazu, has trouble living up to his father’s legacy.
The Twilight Samurai– Nominated for the academy award for foreign film in 2002, this historical drama follows Seibei Iguchi a low ranking samurai turned bureaucrat and the subsequent turmoil that ensues in his life.
YOJIMBO– In this comedic samurai film directed by Akira Kurosawa a rōnin arrives in a small town where competing crime lords vie for supremacy. The two bosses each try to hire the newcomer as a bodyguard.
Godzilla– The original monster movie, a fire-breathing behemoth terrorizes Japan after a bomb awakens it from its centuries long sleep.
The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness- A documentary offering an inside look at Japan’s most famous animation company, Studio Ghibli.
Tokyo Idols– A recent documentary examining Idol culture.
Which movie do you want to see for our movie night? (映画会で見たい映画を選んでください) *
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Tel: +1 (205) 703-0960
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Birmingham, AL 35205