JASPectives

There are so many interesting and intelligent folks who enjoy reading JASK.org.  Our JASPectives column features articles by these JASK members and friends. 

Your submissions are always welcome!  Click here to read more about contributing to JASPectives.  You may also comment on articles (JASK will moderate periodically to ensure constructive commentary). 
  • 30 Sep 2010 10:34 AM | Deleted user
    Dr Matthew Perry, descendant of Commodore Perry, who opened Japan to the West with the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854, tells the fascinating story of his ancestor's link with tradtional Japanese baths as well as his own initiation to public bathing at last year's Miyagi summit.  

    *Posted with permission from http://manjiro.or.jp/eng/index.html 


    THE NARRATIVE AND JAPANESE PUBLIC BATHS 

    On January 6, 2010, I was very pleased to receive in the mail a book from Japan and in Japanese that Ms. Hiroko Todoroki had mailed to me on November 2, 2009. Hiroko had mailed it at the request of Mr. Toshio Fujimoto, who was the publisher of the book printed in Japan in 2009 by his company Banraisha, Inc. I had met Hiroko in Japan during my trip in July 2009 as part of an international cultural exchange. 

    She was the main reason I was invited to go to Japan and also the person that had told Mr. Fujimoto that I was related to Commodore Perry. That serendipitous connection was the main reason he wanted me to have a copy of the book entitled, "Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan Performed in the Years 1852, 1853, and 1854 Under the Command of Commodore M. C. Perry, United States Navy." The book contains the United States Congressional Document of communication to Japan and the eventual signing in 1854 of the Treaty of Peace and Amity between the U.S. and Japan (Treaty of Kanagawa). This is the first time that the Narrative, which was published in 1856 by the U.S. Congress, has been translated into Japanese for easy accessibility for the people of Japan. 

    The book arrived in perfect condition in spite of the long delay, which in mid-December had prompted Mr. Fujimoto to send me another copy directly from his publishing company, which I received on February 1, 2010.  I will donate this second copy to the Manjiro Whitfield Friendship Society, a Japanese/American group in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, that has members and visitors who can read Japanese.  The night the book arrived I stayed up until 11 PM and went through every page carefully.  I compared all the beautiful lithographs and wood cuts that he reproduced with the originals in the first volume of the three-volume set that I have of Commodore Perry's narrative.  I was very impressed on the quality of the book in general and the quality of the graphics.

    Although I can't read the Japanese characters, I could easily follow where each chapter began and also appreciated the nice way he had outlined the various letters written by the Commodore and others that were reproduced.  One figure that I was especially interested in locating was the lithograph of the "Public Bath at Shimoda" that the new book has reproduced on page 275.  This indicates that the publisher's original copy in English was one of the first published, as the U.S. Congress withdrew that picture early in the printing process as they thought it was not in good taste due to nudity. 
     That picture is not in my copy (that I received as a wedding present from my cousin Louise DeWolf in 1966) and I understand from antique book dealers that copies with the picture are worth much more money.  It is interesting to think how much we have changed our morals in the U.S. when you consider what is printed in books today and also distributed on the internet.  Although Commodore Perry was very impressed with his visit to Shimoda and the people there, he does write some rare disparaging remarks in the text near where this picture was printed.

    When speaking of the people of Shimoda, Japan, after his 1854 visit to this town, Commodore Perry wrote the following in his journal:  "The people have all the characteristic courtesy and reserved but pleasing manners of the Japanese.  A scene at one of the public baths, where the sexes mingled indiscriminately, unconscious of their nudity, was not calculated to impress the Americans with a very favorable opinion of the morals of the inhabitants.  

    This may not be a universal practice throughout Japan, and indeed is said by the Japanese near us not to be; but the Japanese people of the inferior ranks are undoubtedly, notwithstanding their moral superiority to most oriental nations, a lewd people.  Apart from the bathing scenes, there was enough in the popular literature, with its obscene pictorial illustrations, to prove a licentiousness of taste and practice among a certain class of population that was not only disgustingly intrusive, but disgracefully indicative of foul corruption."

    Wow, these were very strong comments.  At that time our nations had very different opinions of the civility of each country and the people.  Fortunately, over time we realized it is not so much the variation between the two cultures, but the greater variation within each culture.  I feel this book will be a great addition to the libraries in Japan so persons can gain a better perspective on the purpose of the trip to Japan by the U.S. fleet under the command of Commodore Perry, but also hopefully will get a better understanding of the value of each other's culture, from the past and in the present, so that we can be better neighbors on the world stage and share our similar fundamental values.

    An example of how we can change our attitude with better education occurred last summer when I was in Japan.  I met a Japanese college student at an international exchange reception.  In very good English she stated to me that she had written a report on Commodore Perry in high school and then stated strongly that she  "did not like him. "  However, in college she had studied him more extensively and now thought he was a  "great man. "  I also could see attitude changes with our American travelers and with myself during the trip as we learned more about each other's cultures.

    The public bath issue in Japan had first kindled my interest when I read an article in the Lexus car magazine in 2004 by Rolf Potts, who had traveled throughout Japan to sample the many types of baths and learn more of the value that the baths had to the Japanese.  He emphasized that the natural hot springs (onsens) originated from the volcanic activity of the islands and that originally the Japanese would travel great distances to use these springs as baths for medicinal purposes.  The author emphasized that the baths were for soaking and not cleansing, and in fact it is imperative by custom to clean the body thoroughly before soaking in a public bath. 

    Over the years public baths in Japan had become a tradition that whole families enjoyed and the mental benefits of relaxation and family bonding had became more important than the unknown physical benefits to the body.  Baths had been installed in hotels, which made them more available throughout Japan to all travelers, even in areas where the natural baths were not available.  In the Lexus article the author stated that public baths were a mixed-gender affair until Commodore Perry made it a moral issue, resulting in public baths for both sexes becoming less common in Japan.  This greatly surprised me as, although I was aware on the disparaging comments the Commodore had made about nude bathing of both sexes, in all the biographies I had read about the Commodore, no one had ever connected him with a change in Japanese culture in regard to public baths.  I have chatted with several Japanese/Americans about this issue reported in the Lexus magazine, but have not found any substantiation to the reporters claim.  The magazine never responded to my request for more documentation.

    In July 2009, I traveled to Japan as part of the Manjiro-Whitfield International Exchange program and had my first experience with Japanese public baths.  The major difference with public baths in Japan compared to the western world and places like the Blue Lagoon in Iceland is that in Japan public baths are in the nude.  Although mixed gender bath houses exist in Japan, the major hotels have separate bath areas for males and females.

    When I arrived at our first hotel in Matsushima I learned that there was a bath in the hotel and I was anxious to experiment.  My roommate, Bhaird Campbell, was from Boston and was special assistant to the President of the Japan Society of Boston.  He spoke fluent Japanese and was extremely well-versed in Japanese customs.  He told me everything I needed to know about public baths in Japan, but then told me the most bone-chilling fact - that he was tired, was going to take a nap, and didn't want to join me.  Whoa, I had go on my own????!!!!  Well, I donned my yukata (informal summer kimono) and slippers, provided by the hotel, and with a small towel over my shoulder I headed to the bath area.  The towel is more like a wash cloth, but 2-3 times as long as ours and used more for cleaning not drying.  Drying towels are provided in the bath area. 

    I had investigated the location of the male bath area earlier and I knew there was no way to get there without walking through the lobby.  Taking the elevator to the first floor I stepped into the lobby and feeling totally nude held my head high while walking among numerous Americans and Japanese that were totally dressed.  It was mid-afternoon and many travelers were just arriving and registering at the hotel for the beginning of the international exchange.
    I made it to the bath area without incident, stored my slippers and yukata, and stepped into another room for an extensive scrub down, while sitting on a small stool.  After feeling cleaner than ever in my life I gently slipped into the bath (no splashing allowed) and realized I was the only American there.  Later I noticed some of my traveling partners so felt relieved that I hadn't violated some rule and was in the wrong area.  The bath area was the size of most hotel pools, but was only about 18 inches deep, so when sitting on the bottom just your neck and head are above water.  I soaked for about 30 minutes in several areas of the pool and then reversed the above process to head back to my hotel room. 

    The welcoming program was to begin at 4 PM and I was running low on time.  I did not realize that my body temperature was quite so elevated and as I was walking through the lobby I was perspiring profusely and had a rosy-red complexion.  Ms. Todoroki, who was making arrangements for the opening ceremony, spotted me and insisted I had to go talk to the projectionist about my presentation, which was part of the opening program.  Fortunately, after I protested, she gave me 15 minutes so I could cool down, get out of my yukata, and get properly dressed.  
    I was to learn later from my roommate that the yukata like other forms of the kimono is considered appropriate dress and several persons actually wore them to breakfast after coming from the public bath.  That ended my first experience in a Japanese public bath.  I had several others while in Japan, but none had the excitement of the first.  A Japanese public bath is an experience that I highly recommend, but be aware the water is very hot and it is definitely not an experience for modest persons!!! 
  • 30 Jul 2010 8:08 AM | Deleted user

    By: Natalie Berry

    In 2006 I first experienced the hardest part of my job as an ESL instructor – the day a student’s three-year visit to America ends and they return to Japan.  This has now happened to me dozens of times with my students from the Hitachi Automotive plant.  Each time, I soberly accept that I might never again share a laugh and a hot cup of ocha (tea) with a student whom I have come to call “friend”. 

    Ladies are usually so good at correspondence, sending pictures and cards at Christmas or the hot summer months to reinforce the distant friendship.  However, as anyone who has friends overseas knows, it is just not the same as being together.  And, well, the gentlemen are just not as forthcoming with those cards and letters.   It can be disheartening to watch the children I taught grow up in sporadic images sent via cards and letters.  I just know that as they have grown they have forgotten sensei (teacher), along with a better part of their English. 

    As JASK’s Japan Idol contest winner in 2009, I received two round-trip tickets to Tokyo, courtesy of All Nippon Airways.  I invited my friend, Arleen Webb, who is half-Japanese and spent her youth in the Fusa-area of Japan.  Arleen also works with Hitachi employees and their families as an ESL Instructor.  She had not seen her hometown in over 20 years.  Both Arleen and I were anxious to visit Japan – Arleen to visit her home; I, to visit my former host family; and both to visit Hitachi families in Ibaraki whom we had taught.

    Arleen and I cannot thank the JASK enough for the opportunity to make these visits.  We spent three days in Ibaraki.  Most memorable was the day the Hitachi families organized a party for us.  I think we spent the entire afternoon crying I do not remember ever crying so much in my entire life!  More than 30 members of the extended Hitachi family joined us for food and karaoke. 

    The opportunity for me to reconnect with my host family was also unbelievable.  My host sisters are now in their teens they were nearly babies when I visited in 2002.  We are closer than ever after this visit.  This could not have happened without the generosity of JASK and ANA. 

    Thanks to JASK and the Idol Contest, Arleen and I were able to reinforce these special relationships by visiting the hometown of Hitachi, where our students live.  I am also happy to report that Arleen’s home was still standing, although the city has sprung up around it.  The trip was an incredible experience for both of us, and one we will never forget.

  • 30 Jun 2010 10:02 AM | Anonymous member

    Interview: Dr. Andrew Maske, UK Art Professor

    Japan Today – Dr. Andrew Maske, one of Kentucky’s premier Japanese art and culture scholars, has a lot to say about Japan today.  From an educated outsider’s point of view, Dr. Maske’s thoughts are particularly interesting for JASK members. 

    Maske, assistant professor at the University of Kentucky department of art, lived in Fukuoka, Japan from the mid-1980s through the early 90s.  This article reflects his comments during an interview with JASK.

    “It’s been particularly interesting to see the changes that took place in Fukuoka, the city I lived in,” Maske said.  “Fukuoka is known for festivals, Hakata Gion Yamagasa and Hakata Dontaku.  All the money for cultural things went into those festivals.  They didn’t have anything cultural before.”

    Today, Fukuoka enjoys a city art museum, a city museum, a prefectural museum, an Asian museum, and a variety of theatres that enrich both modern and traditional culture.

    “After having spent that year in Japan, it completely changed my view of what I wanted to do with my life,” Maske said.  “I was very fortunate that Japan offered me something that attracted me to focus my interest.”

    Although he felt differences in the city between his first stay and the later visits, he observed a unique coexistence of modern and traditional cultures.

    “What’s been always interesting to me is the connection between modern Japan and traditional Japan living together,” Maske said.  “Temples are not all museums; people continue to participate in Buddhism as a religion.  In summer, there are festivals, which are not things that the government sets up to preserve; ordinary people participate enthusiastically.  Some old things can come back; some good things can remain from the past.”

    As Maske realized, tradition plays a great role in Japan.  He said experience and personal connection are the keys to passing these good traditions along to future generations.

    “It’s a challenge in any culture to make young people familiar with, and have a respect for their own tradition,” Maske said.  “A young man in high school in Fukuoka has participated in Yamagasa [festival]; he feels the importance of the festival and the connection with the team.  So it’s not just a part of Japanese culture or historical culture, but his own culture.  I’ve seen young people who are involved in the traditional culture and they do see value in it.”

    Finally, he mentioned what is important to learn in cultural exchange.

    “I try to bring the experiences I’ve had to help people understand about Japan, not only about traditional Japan, Japan in history, or Japanese art, but how those different aspects of Japanese culture relate to Japanese people today,” Maske said.  “I think art plays a big role in understanding culture; you can’t understand culture without including its art.”

    Working with Dr. Maske and others, JASK continues to plan artistic and cultural events that help to pass along both Japanese and Kentucky traditions – traditions that improve our individual and community lives.  Sincere thanks to Dr. Maske for granting this interview and sharing his observations with JASK.  Have ideas to share?  Send them to programs@jask.org.

  • 01 Jun 2010 1:37 PM | Deleted user
    By: Keiko Fukuzaki, JASK Volunteer
    University of Kentucky, Asia Center

    -- Keiko has been working in Kentucky as a Japanese-culture educational outreach coordinator through a grant from the Center for Global Partnership. --

    My two year long program in Kentucky is almost over. There are only two months left before I go back to Japan. Thanks to JASK and the UK Asia Center’s support, I have been able to provide various programs around Kentucky. My main focus has been school visits. I have spent 92 days doing school visits and have met about 11,000 students.

    When I first came here, I didn’t know much about Japanese traditional culture. So I covered only basic themes about Japan, such as ’Japanese elementary school student-life’, origami, and calligraphy. But people are very interested in Japanese traditional culture and its heart, and they often asked me about it.  At first I couldn’t answer very well. I learned that I needed to know more about Japanese traditional culture. As I prepared for presentations on Japan, I found the uniqueness of Japanese culture. Once I got involved with the Japanese groups in the area, I found great Sensei (teachers) and Nakama (friends) to study with.

    When I did Tea Ceremony demonstrations or presented about Noh theatre, students watched closely, concentrated on what was going on and what I was saying. Before I came here and studied more, I had not realized that Japanese culture is so deep and interwoven with religion and customs. I also didn’t realize until I came here how valuable Japanese Culture was to all people, not only the Japanese. There are so many things to learn from traditional culture. You can learn how to communicate with others, how to show respect to people, how to show appreciation to nature, art, and even everyday objects that you use. You can find friends who share the same ideas as you do easily. That’s why I’m enjoying learning and spreading them to many people.

    I’ve also learned about Kentucky’s wonderful culture, and what kind of image they have of Japan, the American education system, and more. I love the people of Kentucky! They are very nice, friendly and are very hospitable. I really appreciate that I have been blessed with this role. I feel like I have been educated by the people of Kentucky even more than I have taught them.

     After my program is over, I would like to continue to learn about other cultures and tell Japanese people about my great experiences in Kentucky.

  • 04 May 2010 9:09 AM | Deleted user

    By: Rob Sperry
    JASK Member: Franklin Precision Industries of Kentucky

    The venue, the weather, the booths and entertainment, everyone who attended would surely agree the 2nd annual Japan-America Society of Tennessee (JAST) Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival was a blooming success. Held in the courtyard of the Nashville Public Squre with a splendid view of downtown, attendees of all ages enjoyed a celebration of Japan in Tennessee.

    Tables were lined around the plaza offering Japanese cuisine from local restaurants, pop culture items, and travel brochures enticing locals to visit the Land of the Rising Sun. Some of the locals took the opportunity to wear a festive yukata or dress as their favorite cosplay character.

    The stage performances began with a stirring Taiko drum rendition by Kaminari Taiko all the way from Houston, TX. Other acts throughout the day included traditional kimono clad dancers and Mamiko(check) singing pop songs in English and Japanese. Of course, this being Nashville, country music recording artist Rattlesnake Annie(one of the earliest country artists to perform live in Japan) thrilled listeners with some of her home grown hits. The highlight of the day on the stage was none other than Consul General Hiroshi Sato displaying his multiple talents by performing on the fiddle. It was announced that Consul General would also be performing at the Grand Ole Opry. Now that’s cross-cultural attainment!

    Emily Winckler and all JAST members and volunteers can be proud of all the hard work they put into this event. Events like this will continue to draw us together to celebrate our different cultures and strengthen the bonds of friendship and goodwill between Japan and the United States.

  • 02 Apr 2010 10:27 AM | Deleted user

    By: Kristen Thomas
    JASK Volunteer

    Photos: Sarah Darnall
    Kentucky World Trade Center

    Each year the Japanese eagerly await the return of the sakura (cherry blossoms) that mark the return of spring after months of winter gloom. As the delicate pink flowers emerge, so do the people, drawn out of their homes and offices for hanami (“flower viewing”)undefinedenjoying the warming weather, good sake, the company of friends, and, of course, the stunning views of sakura fluttering in the breeze.  Hanami is a quintessentially Japanese tradition, though one need not be in Japan to experience it.

    The United States offers its own opportunities for hanami, with the most famous being the National Cherry Blossom Festival held annually in late March and early April in Washington, D.C.  Over one million visitors annually attend the two-week festival, which takes place this year from March 27 to April 11.  The festival was made possible by a 1912 gift of some 3,000 cherry trees from the mayor of Tōkyō to the people of Washington, D.C. to honor the friendship of the U.S. and Japan.  In return, the United States Government sent a gift of dogwood trees to Japan in 1915.  Since 1935, an official festival has been held commemorating the two countries’ relationship.  Today there are about 3,750 cherry trees of 16 varieties beautifying the Tidal Basin area near the Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial.

    Though the cherry trees are certainly the stars of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, also featured are more than 150 cultural offerings for the whole family each day.  Concerts, street vendors, fireworks, a parade, art shows, a 10-mile run, and the Sakura Matsuri Japanese cultural celebration are just some of the festival’s main attractions.  Performances of traditional Japanese arts such as taiko drumming add to the festive atmosphere.  Admission to most events is free.

    For more information about the National Cherry Blossom Festival and to plan your visit to Washington, D.C. for America’s version of hanami next spring, visit the official website at www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org.

  • 02 Apr 2010 9:43 AM | Deleted user
    By: Dawn Dailey
    Bryan Station High School

    From the time I was nine years old, I dreamed of traveling to Japan. The dream was influenced by a wonderful friendship in elementary school. You might say we were attached at the hip. Karin Yamaguchi was from a small town in Hokkaido. She arrived in Kentucky my 4th grade year in elementary school. When I first met her she barely knew any English, but she was able to pick up the language quickly. My interest in traveling to Japan grew as Karin shared her culture and experiences with me.  Little did I know, my connection with Karin would be severed when we went to middle school.

    While I missed my friendship, the desire to experience Japan continued to grow. I read books, watched movies and continued to practice the language I had learned from Karin’s family.  Finally, an opportunity was presented; the dream was close to becoming a reality. At the young age of thirteen, I was given the chance to experience my dream.

    In the summer of 2005, I had just finished my seventh grade year and was preparing myself for a two week journey to Shizunai and Toyota City, Japan, through the Sister Cities program. Japan offered a bit of western culture, such as; McDonalds and Wal-Mart. However, the unique and quaint lifestyle of the people I met provided a firsthand look at Japanese traditions and beliefs. The value placed on education, family bonding, and responsibilities were more than expectations you would hear from your parents.  Each and every moment I shared with my Japanese families was a learning experience. Attending school emphasized the value of education, with teachers teaching from the moment you walked in the door. There appeared to be no down time for the students during school hours.

    Upon returning home, I began to think how much influence Japan had on my life. I wanted to know what occupation I could pursue to return to this wonderful country. I asked my parents to formally continue my lessons with the Japanese language and we hosted several students through the Sister Cities of Lexington program. This program placed Japanese students to stay with families for several days. Sister Cities offers the opportunity to middle and high school students to share the experiences of culture, customs, and country. With this experience I was able to develop a better understanding of the language and lifelong friendships that will always stay in my heart. I thank Sister Cities for the wonderful opportunity that was given to me. What was once a dream was becoming a career decision.

    I began looking for colleges and universities that would offer me an opportunity to continue my passion. The results of my search led me to Georgetown College. Seeking a career in Commerce, Language, and Culture will prepare me to meet the challenge associated with an international profession. Traveling to Japan was my dream, pursing this career path is the journey of a lifetime.
  • 31 Mar 2010 10:17 AM | Deleted user
    Fifteen thousand people live in Murray, Kentucky, West of the Land Between the Lakes, about four hours West from Louisville.  During the academic year, ten thousand students at Murray State University (MSU) nearly double the population.  This small college-town has spurred some of Kentucky's finest Japan programs and I had the chance to learn about them in March by visiting Murray.  
     
    Remember Murrary State's buzzer-beater upset in the NCAA Basketball tournament two weeks ago?  Imagine the same intensity applied to Japan programs and you begin to understand why Japan flourishes in Murray.  
     
    Murray State announced an academic major in Japanese in January, 2010.  It has already attracted many new students.  Establishing a new major is no small task.  Professors in many departments and administrators must agree that the field is a top priority for students.  Funding must be committed for the long-term.  MSU added a new Japanese faculty member last year, in a very difficult financial year, to bring the major to reality.  No other Kentucky university has an official Japanese major.  
     
    The impact for Kentuckians of having a Japanese major is significant.  Our public school teachers must obtain a degree in Japanese in order to be certified to teach Japanese in Kentucky.  Now, Murray State can train new Japanese teachers for Kentucky's grade-schools.  For now, our kids can study Japanese only in a handful of schools in Kentucky but Murray State takes them one step closer.  
     
    The grade-school students in Murray, however, already study more Japanese than students in most school systems.  Three local school districts have combined resources and secured a grant from the U.S.-Japan Foundation to fund a Japanese teacher for their schools.  Nakamura-sensei's students consistently compete at the very top in Kentucky's world language festival.  I was impressed as I watched them perform skits and sing in Japanese during a local competition.  
     
    MSU has built relationships with Japanese universities as well and sends students to study and experience Japan.  I visited with seven students in medicine who are going to visit multiple schools together in Japan in May.  Their faculty mentor is Dr. Suguru Nakamura, a Japanese physician-academic who has settled with his family in Murray (yep: his wife is the busy Japanese teacher mentioned above).  These students will see Japan for the first time and meet their counterparts in medicine, with whom they may study and collaborate for public health in the future.
     
    The intensity and enthusiasm of the folks who drive Murray's flourishing Japan programs may be exemplified by Dr. Tom Lough.  Dr. Lough is a professor in educational psychology at MSU and also happens to be a former Olympian ('68, modern pentathlon).  He told me how he got involved in Murray's Japan programs.  When he moved his family to Murray from Connecticut in the 90's, his son's study of Japanese was interrupted because Murray had no Japanese program.  Dr. Lough went to work, bringing people together and finding the funding to bring Japanese classes to the local school districts.  Now many families credit his initiative for their children's fulfilled interest in studying Japanese.  
     
    The Japan programs in Murray thrive on such initiative and cooperation.  Another example is MSU's Japan Programs Committee.  Dr. Lough brought together teachers from departments across campus, unrelated except that they incorporate Japan in some of their lessons.  Dr. Bommanna Loganathan, a chemistry professor, is Chair of the committee.  Dr. Loganathan studied and taught in Japan previously in his career.  His son and daughter studied with Nakamura-sensei in Murray.  The Japan programs committee meets regularly to discuss Japan programs at MSU and in the community.  Through the committee, Dr. Loganathan and the others keep the ball rolling for many of Murray's Japan programs.  
     
    JASK members know that there is much to admire about Japan, the Japanese language, and our Japanese friends.  We work together in many communities, in many ways, to share with each other what we have learned from Japan.  Young people, especially, have a growing interest in Japan.  They flock to Japanese language and culture classes in elementary schools and universities throughout Kentucky, wherever they can be made available.  Murray is one more great example of how a community can work together, building Japan programs for future generations.  
     
    At JASK, we are always thrilled to see up-close the success of communities who partner to build such flourishing Japan programs together.  The MSU Japan programs committee and JASK are working more closely now on new programs.  They told me they would warmly welcome any JASK guest that would like to visit Murray.  Congratulations to Murray for their contribution to the Japan/America friendship in Kentucky. 
  • 26 Feb 2010 1:06 PM | Deleted user
    Kenny Nashimoto
    Hitachi Automotive Products

    past_1997.jpgHave you noticed that hometowns tend to have a unique scent, reminding us that we are "home again"?  Almost two years ago I arrived at the Bluegrass Airport in Lexington for my second chance to work in Kentucky.  I seemed to recall the flavor of Kentucky, which I had missed for nearly ten years.  I felt I had "returned" to Kentucky, rather than "come" to Kentucky.  

    My first visit to Kentucky was in July of 1989, just before I was married.  I became a big fan of Kentucky during this four-month stay because it was just the right season for playing outside.  However, in some ways I was shocked by the difference between Americans and Japanese.  In particular, the American lifestyle devotes significant time to family, whereas I was used to devoting most of my time to my work.  Also, there was always daylight in Kentucky long after work!

    I visited Kentucky for a short time again in 1990-91 for projects in my field.  Then, in February of 1993, I was finally assigned to work as an expatriate in Kentucky.  My family felt worried when they arrived in Kentucky three months after me, especially because we had a one-year-old child.  Fortunately, volunteer English teachers and Japanese  colleagues' wives helped us very much to establish our American life.  I felt again, as in my previous visits, that Kentuckians' hospitality is very special.  This special hospitality made our family comfortable and safe during these days in the United States. 

    While living in Kentucky in 1995, our second child arrived.  We remember always feeling kindness from everyone in Kentucky, especially my wife as the time came to deliver.  She always remembers the baby shower thrown for her.  In Japan, mothers stay in the hospital with their new babies for ten days or more.  We knew it was a shorter time in America but reality was a surprise when they sent us home after just two days!  I took a week off work to help give the baby baths, take care of our older son, clean around the house, etc...  All this may be natural in this country but was not common in Japan in those days.  That was good experience for me at that time.  For my wife, the opportunity to spend time in the United States gave her a boost of confidence in her life. 

    The time flew by and we were assigned back to Japan in February of 1998.  Our first son had grown from one year old to five years.  Our second son was already two years old!  We were filled with great memories and Kentucky had become a second hometown to our family. 

    recent_2008.jpgOn my current assignment, I have already been in Kentucky two years.  Because of my children's school, I am away from my family this time around.  But I am living comfortably, getting lots of help from Kentuckians, and enjoying your hospitality, your lifestyle, and your long daylight again. 

    It is difficult to be apart from my family but they have visited here twice during holidays.  They met old friends and shared memories.  It makes me happy to see that we are all still connected to each other.  I do not know how long my current stay in Kentucky will last but I hope to keep making friends and memories in my Kentucky home.


    第二の故郷 ケンタッキー

    故郷というのは不思議なもので、その土地特有の香りがあります。

    約2年前の2008年4月2日、二度目の米国赴任のためにレキシントン空港に降り立ちました。

    10年ぶりに懐かしい香りを感じると共に、赴任というよりも「帰ってきた」という思いが強かった記憶があります。

    私が初めてケンタッキーに来たのは、1989年7月。出張で4ヶ月ほど滞在したのですが、1年中で一番良い季節であったこともあり、この初めての滞在でケンタッキーの大ファンになりました。

    退勤後の太陽の高さ、家族との時間を大切にするケンタッキー人のライフスタイルなどは、家庭を顧みずに仕事ばかりしていた私には十分なショックを与えてくれました。

    その後、1990年、91年と続けて短期で出張する機会もあり、そのような業務のつながりもあってか1993年の2月にこちらで仕事することになりました。家族は3ヶ月ほど遅れてからこちらに来たのですが、上の子が1歳になったばかりということもあり、最初はだいぶ不安だったようです。

    しかし米国人ボランティアの英語の先生方や、日本人の同僚の奥さまたちの助けもあり、何とか米国生活を軌道に乗せることができました。

    私自身も出張中に感じていたのですが、ケンタッキー人のホスピタリティは特別なもので、これがあってこそ家族がこちらで安心して生活できたのではと考えております。

    1995年にはこちらで下の子が生まれました。ケンタッキー人は臨月の身重な妻にいろいろな場面で気を使ってくれて有り難かったし、生まれる直前にベビーシャワーをやってくれたりして、周囲のサポートをいつも感じることができました。

    子供が生まれると日本では、母子共に1週間から10日くらい病院に入院するのが当たり前なのですが、生後2日後に退院させられてしまうのには驚きました。

    そういう話を聞いてはいたので、一週間会社を休んで上の子の面倒をみたり、妻がゆっくり休めるように家事をこなしたり、子供をお風呂に入れたりと、こちらでは当たり前なのかも知れませんが、日本ではなかなかできないことを経験できました。妻もアメリカで子供を生んだことがかなりの自信になったようです。

    過ぎた日は早いもので、1998年2月に帰国しました。1歳だった上の子は幼稚園に通う5歳に、こちらで生まれた下の子は2歳になっていました。

    私たちの家族にとっても5年住んだケンタッキーは第二の故郷であり、懐かしい思い出でいっぱいです。

    こちらに2度目の赴任になってから2年になりました。今回は子供の学校の都合で単身でこちらで生活していますが相変わらず、「退勤後の太陽の高さ」「家庭第一」「ホスピタリティ」を感じながら毎日を助けられながら送っております。これはケンタッキー人にとっては常識でも、我々にとっては一種のカルチャーギャップなのかも知れません。

    今回は単身生活とは言いながらも家族も長期連休を利用して年に1度こちらに遊びにきており、昔の友達と会っては懐かしそうにしています。

    今後何年こちらに滞在するかは定かではないのですが、より多くのケンタッキー人と仲良くなって多くの思い出をつくって行きたいと思います。





  • 01 Feb 2010 5:04 PM | Deleted user
    By Sara G Smith
    President, Smith Management Group

    Limitations on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions (GHG – includes carbon dioxide and related gases) are no longer a distant threat.  With the December 7th declaration by U.S. EPA that GHG are a danger to human health and the environment, we have begun a wild ride – one which does not have a clear outcome.  The question as to whether Congress or EPA would act first has been answered with EPA’s announcement.  We will be especially vulnerable in Kentucky to the changes coming.  Many of our industries will be subject to the rule, as a general stationary fuel source or due to their particular industry – or both.  At a minimum, many industries will be required to work through some complex calculations to determine if they are in or out.

    Because of the “endangerment finding”, EPA now MUST regulate GHG under the Clean Air Act.  Currently, that means any facility emitting over 250-tons per year of GHG would be regulated.  CO2 emissions are common and come from both natural and man-made sources.  Each of us individually emits between ½ and one ton of CO2 annually.  A 250-ton per year limit could mean that a large elementary school may require a permit.  To counteract that departure from common sense, EPA is developing a “tailoring rule” to raise the permitting limit to 25,000 tons per year.  Whether EPA actually has the power to change the regulation in this way remains to be seen.

    You are now required to monitor and report GHG emissions over 25,000 tons per year.  Compliance with this regulation, effective December 29, 2009, will increase costs for affected manufacturers substantially.  The regulation (Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2009-0171), consisting of over 1200 pages, could be the subject of an article by itself.  Critical dates are coming up quickly – and some are already past.  Monitoring and measuring your emissions begins January 1, 2010, and the first report is due in April 2011.  If you won’t be able to install required monitoring equipment and procedures by April 1, 2010, you may have some pretty big trouble.  Extension requests had to be substantively supported and submitted by January 28, 2009!

    Now is the time to learn about this rule and whether it applies to your facility.  SMG is presenting a seminar on the Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse Gases Rule on February 23, 2010 at 3:00pm.  We will review the rule in general and go through a case study to learn how to work through the specific requirements.

    Next we can expect the addition of GHG to the air permitting process, with requirements of “Best Available Control Technology” (BACT), although EPA notes that they don’t know what BACT is yet. 

    All of this is happening without Congress moving on cap and trade legislation.  In fact, EPA’s actions can be characterized as part of a game of chicken the administration is playing with Congress.

    Kentucky stands in the center of the controversy due to our heavy dependence on coal for electricity (greater than 92%) and our currently low electric rates which have attracted industries that use large amounts of electricity, like aluminum smelters. 

    Kentucky has few alternatives to replace coal as our primary source of electricity.  Alternative energy from solar and wind will provide very little to our energy mix, purely as a function of our geography.  Biomass can be developed to provide some fuel for power generation but may not provide more than a small change.  Nuclear generation takes over twenty years to permit and develop, and currently cannot be legally sited in Kentucky.

    There is significant debate and discussion about the impact of these restrictions on electric generating industries, but little attention has been paid to the impact on general industry and manufacturers – whether through substantially increased energy prices or direct regulatory control of greenhouse gas emissions.

    Litigation is a certainty.  EPA’s actions will likely be attacked by the environmental community questioning whether EPA has the power to alter the PSD threshold from 250-tons per year to 25,000 tons per year.  Impacted industry and energy producers will likely question EPA’s authority to add GHG to the list of regulated pollutants, as carbon dioxide is both a valuable commodity and essential to life.  GHG are vastly different from the types of pollutants currently regulated under the Clean Air Act.

    Wait and see is not a viable response to this issue.  The impact of the proposed actions is too significant to allow others to make decisions that can significantly impact our economy.

    Sara G. Smith is President of Smith Management Group, an environmental and energy development consulting firm in Lexington and Louisville, Kentucky.  SMG provides permitting and compliance assistance to manufacturing clients and has been involved in energy policy development, siting and permitting of energy facilities.

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