Newsletter Volume 22

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Japan-America Society of Greater Austin
Newsletter, Vol. 22

May 3, 2011

In This Issue
PROGRAM Follow-Up... 2/7
Golden Week in Japan
Japan Relief Fund
Summer 2011 Japanese Language
Japan Foundation Grants
Go To...







Academic Lecture Series - Winter


Ikebana, the art of Japanese flower arranging 

Dr. Nancy Stalker - Ikebana
Dr. Nancy Stalker, a professor of Japanese history and culture at the University of Texas at Austin
talked about Ikebana and Industry in Postwar Japan. The lecture examined the circumstances and strategies that facilitated rapid and massive growth among Japan's largest Ikebana schools in the postwar period:  Ikenobo, Ohara and Sogetsu.




JASGA Cultural Salon Series 


 Sadako and the Origami Crane as a Symbol of Peace


 Senbazuru - Thousand origami cranes  



The JASGA cultural salon series presented a guest speaker from Hiroshima.
Ms. Yumie Hirano, a native of Hiroshima and a volunteer member of the Never Again Campaign (NAC), talked about why paper cranes are a symbol of peace for the people of Hiroshima. The participants in JASGA cultural salon learned of the ancient art of origami and make their own origami crane.


Japanese Taiko & Dance Performance 
Chieko Kojima

Chieko Kojima
Thanks to the efforts of many volunteers and the supports of Martha Durham, Austin Taiko and Japanese dance groups, Hanabira and Mirei.


Japanese  Dance Workshop
by Chieko Kojima

Chieko Kojima 西馬音内
The workshop was simple enough for beginners to learn some of the fundamental body movement of Japanese dance, and a variation of interest to more experienced dancers.


Academic Lecture Series - Spring


Japanese & American Communication Pattern

Dr. Fling lecture 052211
A devoted Japanophile and  
A clinical psychologist and Distinguished Professor Emerita of Texas State University, Dr. Sheila Fling, talked about the differences in Japanese & American verbal & non-verbal communication patterns. She discussed  possible reasons for and advantages & disadvantages of each, improved communication when the differences are respected and accommodated.

JASGA Newsletter - Spring 2011

is compiled and edited by:

Kako Ito 

Japan-America Society of Greater Austin


Dear Community,
    The Japan-America Society of Greater Austin would like to announce to that we will celebrate the beautiful fall season during the Fall Festival, or Aki Matsuri this year.
Festivals honoring certain times and seasons of the year are an important part of Japanese culture. JASGA's Festival has become an annual highlight for the Austin community. JASGA received incredible feedback about last year's May festival. Please mark on your calendar and you won't miss out on JASGA's Aki Matsuri this fall or October.

Golden Week in Japan
Many Japanese workers get about a week off around the end of April and beginning of May. This is because there is cluster of national holidays during this time.
The week starts on April 29th, a national holiday that used to be celebrated as the birthday of Emperor Showa, who passed away in 1989. It is now celebrated as Greenery Day, a day for nature appreciation.
May 3rd is Constitution Memorial Day. The present Constitution of Japan came into effect on this day in 1947. May 5th is Children's Day, set aside to pray for the healthy growth and happiness of boys and girls. Because May 4th falls between two holidays, this day, too, was designated a national holiday. Some companies give employees a day off on May 1, which is May Day.
The word "Golden Week" was first used by movie companies to get people to take advantage of the "golden" opportunity to go see a film. The term gradually began being used by other people to refer to this string of holidays.

Golden Week comes at a very pleasant time of the year in Japan; temperatures are neither too cold nor too hot.

Meanwhile, for the golden week this year, we have many benefit events and programs in Austin and central Texas to help out the Japan relief. 
In Japan, there are many opportunities for "Golden Week Volunteering" for Tohoku Relief; for example,  "Giving back during Golden Week", "For Many, Golden Week Is Opportunity to Help", or "Call for Sludge Removal Volunteers during the Golden Week!".
     Golden week volunteers        
Volunteers are helping clean a cemetery at  Jionin temple in Ishinomaki,

Japan Relief Fund


JASGA thanks everyone who has donated Tsunami Relief boy-fatherso generously to our Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund over the past month.  As of April 30th, the fund raised nearly $8,600.  Yet the need is still acute, and your donations will make a difference, not just for the short-term, but for the mid- and long-term recovery efforts that lie ahead, long after the initial wave of support has subsided.  


Your generous donations will be contributed to Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima Prefectural Government offices in the areas worst affected by the earthquake and tsunami.


To contribute to the Japan relief fund, please click here or send a check to:


Japan-America Society of Greater Austin

PO Box 9276 Austin, TX 78766


For any questions, please contact us at or phone at 512-656-4731.


EVENT FOLLOW-UP OyamaxNitta Duo 041111                OYAMAxNITTA DUO


Tsugaru Shamisen Benefit Concert  


Many thanks to the audience, supporters, and volunteers who made the wonderful Tsugaru Shamisen Benefit Concert                Click on the picture to see more photos.
happen on April 11th.
We will post the concert video clip on our web site at on May 5th.

ONGOING PROGRAM Thursday class                

Summer 2011  

Japanese Language Classes




@Murchison Middle School 

3700 North Hills Dr.

Austin, TX 78731


Mondays: May 2-July 11


6:15-7:15pm  Beginning III

7:15-8:15pm  Pre-Advanced I

Beginning II

Instructor:Chihiro Legres  


Thursdays: May 5-July 14

6:15-7:15pm Beginning II 
7:15-8:15pm Intermediate II
Instructor: Kaori Kitta 

*No class on July 4th & 7th.

Click here for more details.


For any questions, contact








Japan Foundation Grants for Language Programs


The Japan Foundation Los Angeles office has announced a number of grant programs to support Japanese language education. 
The first is a new 5-year program to invite 32 High school students who are studying Japanese to travel to Japan each summer. It is basically all-expenses paid. It was created in honor of the two American JETs who sadly lost their lives  in the earthquake and tsunami. The deadline is coming up fast - Friday, May 13.

The second is a grant program of upto $1000 to schools that want to purchase materials, equipment, supplies, etc. for their Japanese language programs.  


GUEST ESSAY TX wild flower Buttercups 


by Tomio Yamakoshi Petrosky
Center for Complex Quantum Systems, UT
April 29, 2011

I wonder if you noticed that we had an extraordinary beautiful pink carpet of Buttercups (Pink Evening Primrose) instead of the blue carpet of Bluebonnets this spring. I think this is due to a severe drought this year. As you know, wildflowers in Texas are famous. A drought means the weather in Texas is not so comfortable for the flowers.  In severe weather, the pollination period is short, and the plants should bloom at the same time in this short period. Moreover, the flowers should attract insects as much as possible. Hence, the flowers in severe weather have more beautiful colors than the flowers in comfortable weather. This is the reason why, for example, that we have so many beautiful flowers in the high mountains, such as in the Rocky Mountains and in the Alps.  Indeed, maTX wildflower Indian Blanketny garden flowers originate from the Alps. However, there are also a few beautiful garden flowers that do not come from the high mountains.  When I was in Japan I found Buttercups and (which is also a typical Texas wildflower) in a Japanese nursery store.


Flowers appeared on the Earth about 80 million years ago. Before the plants had flowers, they used wind to pollinate.  This means most dinosaurs did not see flowers, because the dinosaur had its heyday about 100 to 200 million years ago.  Around 80 million years ago, plants noticed that insects could pollinate.  Hence, if you see a picture of dinosaurs sitting in the flowers next time, you should see that this picture is totally a fiction. It was lucky for us that insects could see colors. Otherwise, flowers would not have such beautiful colors.  
I noticed that there are three major countries that produce new kinds of flowers and export them to the world.  These are The Netherlands, Britain and Japan.  For example, The Netherlands is very famous for tulips.  Britain and Japan both are famous for their beautiful gardens.  

Japanese wildflowers
Japanese have a long tradition of improving the breed of flowers.  Among them, the Morning Glory is a typical example, as shown in the picture.  This book on varieties of the Morning Glory was written in the Edo period (1603-1867) in Japan.  If you read "The Origin of Species" by Charles Darwin, you notice that he starts his argument by considering the human improvements of pigeon breeds.   But forty years before Darwin's book was written, Ryuou Kamata (1754-1821), a Japanese medical doctor, wrote a book "Shingaku Oku no Kakehashi [心学奥の桟(かけはし]" (The Bridge to the Interior of Shingaku) in which he presented the theory of evolution through the studies of the improvement of the Morning Glory. 
Wishing you a delightful spring and summer!



Japan-America Society of Greater Austin