Upcoming Events
Oyama X Nitta - Tsugaru Shamisen Artists
As part of The Japan-America Society of Mississippi's 10 year anniversary, we would like to announce that we will be hosting Oyama X Nitta, an internationally renowned shamisen duo from Japan for performances this month.

Oyama X Nitta is a duo formed by two of Japan's foremost shamisen performers, Yutaka Oyama and Masahiro Nitta. Using a creative and innovative approach to the traditional sounds of the shamisen, they perform classic and original scores with virtuosic improvisations that display the versatility of the instrument. Oyama and Nitta both started studying the shamisen at a very early age and have won numerous tsugaru shamisen contests in Japan. Oyama X Nitta regularly performs in Japan and internationally, delivering its unique sound to audiences throughout the world.

The Japan-America Society of Mississippi has partnered with The Consulate-General of Japan in Nashville, The Japan-America Society of Tennessee, The Japan-America Society of Kentucky and The Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival to bring these two artists from Japan for shows in Memphis, Nashville, Lexington, KY, Tupelo, Jackson and Hattiesburg. We hope that we will see you at one of the performances.

Tuesday, March 27th - Tupelo, Mississippi
7:00 P.M.
Tupelo High School
Performing Arts Center
2500 Cliff Gookin Boulevard
Tupelo, MS 38801
Sponsored by BancorpSouth, Renasant Bank, Community Development Foundation, Hilton Garden Inn, North Mississippi Medical Center, Journal Publishing Company, Inc., WTVA/WKDH/WLOV

Also participating in this show will be the Blue Mountain College Chorale and the Itawamba Community College Chamber Singers.

Tickets are $7.00 for all seats and are available in advance at the Blue Mountain College bookstore, and the Itawamba Community College's Fulton and Tupelo campus bookstores. Tickets will be available the day of the show at the Tupelo High School P.A.C. Box Office.

Thursday, March 29th - Jackson, Mississippi
7:30 PM
Belhaven University
Barber Auditorium
1500 Peachtree Street
Jackson, MS 39202
Sponsored by Belhaven University and Nissan North America, Inc.
Admission is $5.00, and seating is limited.
Friday, March 30th - Hattiesburg, Mississippi
7:30 PM
The Oddfellows Hall
119 East Front Street
Hattiesburg, MS 39401
Brought to you by the Hattiesburg Concert Association and Festival South.
Admission is free, but seating is limited.

Past Events
Iaidō: An Exhibition of Japanese Sword Arts Presented by Sword Masters from Fukuoka, Japan
    Wednesday, November 11th at 6:30 PM in Meek Hall on the Ole Miss Oxford Campus
    Thursday, November 12th at 6:30 PM in the Fine Arts Auditoreum on the Itawamba Community College Fulton Campus
    Friday, November 13th at 7:00 PM in the Ford Center for the Performing Arts at Millsaps College in Jackson
The Japan-America Society of Mississippi (JASMIS) will be hosting five Sword Masters from Fukuoka, Japan, in 3 separate performances of martial arts, Japanese dance, and performances of Japanese folk songs in Oxford, Fulton and Jackson, MS. The first performance will be at 6:30 PM on Wednesday, November 11th at the University of Mississippi’s Meek Hall. The second performance will be at 6:30P M on Thursday, November 12th at the ICC Fine Arts Auditorium in Fulton, with the third and final performance at 7:00 PM on Friday, November 13th at Millsaps College Ford Center for the Performing Arts in Jackson.

The Japanese Sword Masters will be offering an exhibition of the ancient arts of Iaidō, Jōjutsu, Jūjutsu and Kendō. Master Nawata will also perform a Samurai Kuroda Bushi Buyo (dance). Each event will also feature choral performances of traditional Japanese folk songs by local college choral groups.

Iaidō is the art of fluidly and smoothly drawing the sword (katana), striking the opponent and then replacing the sword. Jōjutsu is the art of defending against a sword using a short (approx. 1 meter) wooden staff, or . Jūjutsu is the art of defense against an armed opponent using either bare hands or short weapons. Kendō is literally “The way of the sword” and is the art of Japanese fencing using a bamboo shinai.

Each event will feature choral performances of traditional Japanese folk music.

The Oxford and Fulton shows will feature the Blue Mountain College Chorale under the direction of Dr. Jerri Lamar Kantack, Choral Music Director at Blue Mountain College and Pontotoc native, combined with the Itawamba Community College Chamber Singers led by Choir Director Karen Davis.

The Jackson performance will feature the Millsaps Singers under the direction of Dr. Timothy Coker, Professor of Choral Music and Chair of the Department of Performing Arts.

Each event will also include time after the show for the audience members to meet and talk with the masters.

For the North MS shows, tickets will be $5.00 for the general public and Japan-America Society members. Tickets are general admission only with no reserved seating. Tickets for the Oxford show on November 11th can be purchased at the University of Mississippi Box Office, and on-line at www.olemiss.edu by clicking on the event calendar. The University of Mississippi Box Office telephone number is (662)915-7411. Tickets for the ICC/Fulton show on November 12th can be purchased at the Itawamba Community College bookstores at the Fulton and Tupelo campuses. The Fulton Campus bookstore telephone number is (662)620-5065, and the Tupelo Campus Bookstore is (662)862-8205.

Tickets for the Millsaps show will be $10 each for general public and JASMIS members. Tickets are all general admission with no reserve seating. Tickets for the Millsaps on November 13th can be purchased by calling (601)956-4453.

Contributing Sponsors for these shows include BancorpSouth, Chattan Dojo USA, Community Development Foundation, Hilton Garden Inn of Tupelo, Journal Publishing Company, Inc., Little Tokyo Restaurant, Madison County Economic Development Authority, North Mississippi Medical Center, Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation, Renasant Bank, Sakura Bana Restaurant, T.V.A Economic Development, Union County Development Authority, WTVA/WKDH/WLOV, The University of Mississippi, Blue Mountain College and Itawamba Community College. The North Mississippi Industrial Development Association, People’s Bank of Ripley and the Tippah County Development Foundation are also helping to sponsor this event.
Tupelo Collects: East Meets West - An exhibition of Japanese Arts and Artifacts
    Monday, November 9th until Thursdat, December 31st
    The GumTree Museum of Art in downtown Tupelo, MS
The North MS Committee of the Japan-America Society of Mississippi (JASMIS) is pleased to partner with the GumTree Museum of Art in downtown Tupelo, MS, for a reception to open their new exhibit. "Tupelo Collects: East Meets West - An exhibition of Japanese Arts and Artifacts" will run from November 9th until December 31st. The exhibit will feature will include Ukiyoe (Japanese woodblock prints), Japanese scrolls, Satsma pottery, a Kimono and obi collection, children’s toys and other items loaned by local collectors for this exhibit.

On Monday, November 9th, the GumTree Museum will host a reception from 5:00 PM until 7:00 PM for the opening of the new exhibit, and will also feature an appearance by Masters Sakai, Nawata, Kawaji, Miyazaki and Kuroda - the five sword masters from Fukuoka, Japan, who will be in Mississippi for the Iaido exhibits on November 11th, 12th and 13th. This reception will be open to the public and will be free. Light hors d'oeuvre and sushi will be served along with drinks. Japanese sake will also be available for a toast (kanpai).

The GumTree Museum of Art is located at 211 West main Stree in downtown Tupelo. For more information on the exhibit and reception, contact Tina Lutz, Museum Director, or call (662)844-ARTS (2787).

Energy, Economy and the Environment: Challenges and Opportunities for the U.S. - Japan Relationship

     Tuesday, November 18th, 2008
     The Capitol Club of Jackson, Mississippi
The Japan America Society of Mississippi and the Mississippi Development Authority co-hosted a luncheon at the Capitol Club entitled "Energy, Economy and the Environment: Challenges and Opportunities for the U.S. - Japan Relationship" on November 18. Speakers from Washington, DC including the Embassy of Japan, Panasonic Corporation, and the National Association of Japan-America Societies addressed attendees on the dynamic issues affecting both energy and economic policy in the two largest economies in the world: the U.S. and Japan. Additional comments from Keidanren-USA, the U.S. branch office of the most influential business organization in Japan--Nippon Keidanren, highlighted how differing opinions on contributors to environmental changes in our world belie the fact that citizens from both countries agree on the basic principle of making our lives and businesses more energy efficient.

Concert: Kaminari Taiko

     Thursday, October 16th, 2008
     Tupelo High School Performing Arts Complex - Tupelo, MS
As part of the beginning of the Japan-America Society of Mississippi North Mississippi Coordination Committee’s official opening, Tupelo was host to Kaminari Taiko from Houston, Texas. Prior to the concert, a reception was held for the artists, sponsors and JASMIS members, and was attended by Consul General Hiroshi Sato of the Consulate-General of Japan in Nashville. Around 900 people attended the Thursday night concert. As a special treat for the Tupelo School District, two matinee concerts were held on Friday morning and attended by several hundred of the district’s students. Contributors and Sponsors for this event were BancorpSouth, Community Development Foundation, Itawamba County Development Council, Journal Publishing Company, North MS Industrial Development Association, North Mississippi Medical Center, Oxford/Lafayette Economic Development Foundation, The Peoples Bank of Ripley, Renasant Bank, Tennessee Valley Authority, Tippah County Development Foundation, Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau, University of Mississippi Tupelo Campus, Union County Development Association and WTVA.

Sixth Annual New Year Celebration

     Sunday, January 20th, 2008
     Little Tokyo Restuarant in Ridgeland, Mississippi
On Sunday evening, January 20th, the Japan America Society of Mississippi was honored to hold its sixth annual New Year Celebration at Little Tokyo restaurant in Ridgeland, Mississippi.

Attending this year’s function were Consul Koichi Funayama from the Consular Offices of Japan at Nashville, Shoji Kiuchi, Director of M-Tek Mississippi, Inc. and President of the Mississippi Japan Association, and Mr. Whit Hughes, the Deputy Director of the Mississippi Development Authority. Also in attendance were the Presidents of Nissan North America in Canton, and the Nissan Suppliers Yorozu Automotive, Unipres SE, and PK-USA, Inc. Other attendees included Ray and Pam Smith of Renasant Bank in Tupelo, Dr. Chris Harth, Director of Global Studies at St. Andrew’s, Derwood and Regina Boyles of Boyles Moak Insurance, and Kaoru Ochiai and Yukako Yamada of the Croft Institute for International Studies at the University of Mississippi.

Beginning the ceremony with a word of welcome was JASMIS President Dr. Paul Tashiro, and he then turned the emcee duties over to John Henry Jackson, JASMIS Vice President. After New Year addresses by Consul Funayama, Mr. Kiuchi and Mr. Hughes, the annual toast for the New Year (“Kampei”) was given by Mr. Hughes and the assembled crowd.

Following the toast was a performance by students from the Japanese Saturday School (“Hoshuko”) in Jackson and Saint Andrew’s Episcopal School in Ridgeland. Performers from the Hoshuko were Yoshino Adachi, Taketo Fujimoto, Christian Huffman, Suzuha Kato and Koyuki Oikawa. Representing St. Andrew’s were Sam and Patric Marcus, Kate Musgrove and Tucker Shelson. The children first performed “Okina-kurinokino-shitade” in Japanese. Then came a performance of “If you’re happy and you know it”, complete with audience participation. The audience was then treated to a special performance of “Sakura” and “Kojo-no-tsuki” by noted soprano and Associate Professor of the Millsaps Department of Performing Arts Dr. Cheryl Coker.

Then followed the Traditional Japanese New Year Dinner, including servings of shiojake (broiled salmon preserved in salt), roast beef, kuromame and kuri (black soy-bean and chestnut), ebi-furai (fried shrimp), kohaku-kamaboko, hanamochi (soft rice-cake in a floral shape), Alaskan king crab, salmon roe and cucumber, boiled vegetables (shiitake, renkon, gobo, satoimo, konnyaku, ninjin, konbu and edamame), assorted sushi, tofu stuffed with boiled rice and then a delicious ozoni (rice-cake boiled in a vegetable-soup), all followed with dessert - taiyaki, a “sea bream”-shaped pancake filled with anko (red-bean jam).

As the guests were finishing their wonderful meals, the door prize winners were announced and then the evening was concluded by Dr. Tashiro with a final thank you to all who attended and then he bade the assembled crowd goodnight and invited everyone back for the Seventh Annual New Year Celebration.

This years door prizes were donated by the following friends: Annandale Country Club, The Beagle Bagel Café, Char (Amerigo), Cock of the Walk, Everyday Gourmet, Jackson Zoological Park, Lemuria Book-Store, Little Tokyo and Sakura Bana Restuarants, Lone Star Steak House, The Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, The Mississippi Opera Association, Nick's Restaurant, Outback Steak House, Pan Asia, Sweet & Sour Asian Grocery and Whisper Lake Country Club

We would like to thank all of the guests, dignitaries, and contributors for helping to make this year’s celebration a memorable one.

Concert: Chieko Fukuda Ensemble

     Thursday, June 14, 2007
     Center for Performing Arts on the North Campus of St. Andrew's Episcopal School in Ridgeland, Mississippi
Chieko Fukuda Ensemble is a three-member traditional Japanese musical ensemble. Led by Chieko Fukuda, the third grandmaster of Mitsunonekai, and including Atsuko Oshima and Daisuke "Kizan" Kawamura, the musicians play both solo and ensemble pieces showcasing the regal sounds of the traditional Japanese musical instruments: koto, a six foot-long horizontal thirteen-stringed instrument, shamisen, a three-stringed banjo-like instrument, and shakuhachi, a reedless end-blown bamboo flute.

Ms. Fukuda studied koto under her musician father from childhood and made her first stage appearance at age three. She won several national prozes at a young age and has earned national acclaim as a leading player of classical styled koto. Ms. Oshima plays the koto and shamisen. Mr. Kawamura plays the shakuhachi.

These instruments, like many Japanese instruments derived from Chinese ones, have likely not changed much over the centuries.

Presented by the Japan Foundation in collaboration with the Consulate-General of Japan - New Orleans, Saint Andrew's Episcopal School and the Japan-America Society of Mississippi, we are pleased to announce a performance on Thursday, June 14th, at 7:30 PM in the Center for Performing Arts on the North Campus of Saint Andrew's Episcopal School in Ridgeland, Mississippi.

Admission for the general public will be $10.00 per person, or $5.00 for current JASMIS members.

Doing Business With Japan Seminar

     Wednesday, March 7, 2007
     Mississippi Manufacturer's Association
Governor Haley Barbour was the keynote luncheon speaker at the "Doing Business with Japan" seminar held in Jackson on Wednesday, March 7, 2007 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the conference room of the Mississippi Manufacturers Association. Mississippi Development Authority Executive Director Gray Swoope introduced the Governor after two executives of Mississippi companies made informative presentations about doing business with Japan via trade and inbound investment. Welcoming remarks were extended by Hitoshi Hasegawa, Executive Director of the Japan External Trade Organization in Houston. The seminar was well attended by private and public sector representatives, and those that participated were able to gain a new understanding of the extensive economic ties between Mississippi and Japan.

Cherry planting ceremony in Jackson, Mississippi

The Japan/America society of Mississippi held a cherry planting ceremony at the Mississippi Sate Capitol in Jackson, Mississippi on March 4. Governor Haley Barbour, Mr. David Boyer, Vice President, Manufacturing-Canton, for Nissan North America, Inc., and Mr. Koichi Funayama, Acting Consul General of Japan, planted three cherry trees; one for education, culture, and business. We hope that the Japan-U.S. relationship; and in particular, the Japan-Mississippi relationship, be further strengthened as the cherry trees grow in Mississippi!

Transcript of Mr. Koichi Funayama's speech

Governor Barber, Mr. Boyer and distinguished guests, good afternoon. It is an honor to join you today in celebrating the growing friendship between my country and Mississippi.

Although I was posted to the Consulate General of Japan last October, this is my first opportunity to visit your beautiful state. I am pleased that our first meeting is under such auspicious circumstances. On behalf of the Consulate, I would like to extend our sincere thanks and congratulations to the Japan-America Society of Mississippi for bringing about this event.

As you may know, cherry trees are an integral part of Japanese culture and their blossoms are among our most cherished symbols. I am told that Elvis tracking is a popular pastime here in Mississippi. Well, in Japan, cherry blossom tracking is a national passion. Tonight, and every night all throughout the spring, the Japanese evening news will carry a “cherry blossom forecast”. The weather forecasters meticulously detail factors affecting the blossoms and reveal the best viewing locations. When the blossoms finally arrive, we celebrate by joining our friends, family and coworkers under the trees for feasting and drinking. These annual celebrations are eagerly anticipated, and fondly remembered.

Knowing this aspect of Japanese culture, you can understand why I am so honored and proud to be here at this ceremonial planting. While the cherry blossom is a national symbol of Japan, these trees here represent much more than simply Japan. We are here now because of the hard work of the Japan-America Society, which in less than 3 years has become a strong, positive presence in Mississippi. Mississippians are well know for their hospitality… and the friendly welcome you have shown the Japanese community has been no exception.

I understand that when this event was first planned, there was to be only one tree, symbolizing Japanese-Mississippi friendship. However, I think it is fitting that we today celebrate with these three trees – one each for culture, education and business – all planted together, as we are all gathered together today. This is a tremendous success story – it demonstrates how a Governor and administration interested in job creation, working with innovative companies willing to invest in new areas, with the support of a strong Japan-America Society can create an environment where culture, education and business flourish.

Unfortunately, my stay today is brief. However, I look forward to returning to Mississippi to watch these trees grow along with the friendship between Japan and Mississippi, and to someday attending a blossom viewing party, with lots of food and drink, right here!

Thank you.
Articles and newsworthy items about JASMIS, Mississippi, and our Japanese community...
Government of Japan honors "Paul" Yukio Tashiro
Rev. Paul Tashiro, Ph.D., has been conferred the prestigious Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays, presented by His Majesty the Emperor of Japan.
Manufacturing sees improvements, but challenges abound
by Lynne W. Jeter MBJ Contributing Writer
A Mississippi Business Journal Q&A with Jay Moon, president of the Mississippi Manufacturers Association and JASMIS board member
Japan-America Society of Mississippi turns two years old
by Kelly Ingebretsen MBJ Staff Writer
Americans, Japanese rely on group for more than just business
Ambassador Kato throws the first pitch
from press excerpts
Ryozo Kato, Japan's Ambassador to the U.S., at Mississippi State University
As I See It
Editorial by Joe D. Jones, CPA, MBJ Publisher
Open society good for Mississippi business