Brown Bag Lunch Series

On the second Tuesday of each month, people who enjoy talking about Japan bring their lunch to our office at 50 Milk Street. Speakers, selected from across New England as well as special visiting guests, give a brief presentation about their unique Japan experience or specialty, followed by a group discussion on the topic.

For the summer holidays, our Brown Bag Lunch events have been canceled in June and July 2019.

2018 Programming

How Japan Send Off the Year and Welcomes the Next with Yasuhiro Yamauchi

Our culminating Brown Bag of the year featured Yasuhiro Yamauchi, Consul Cultural/General Affairs at the Consulate General of Japan in Boston.

He spoke about how the Japanese send off one year and welcome the next. In Japan, the end of the year is a season for reflection and hopeful envisioning of the year to come. It is a symbolic bridge. At the moment of crossing into the new year, temple bells in Japan are rung 108 times representing the 107 worldly desires plus once to symbolize forgetting about the previous year's worries.  Many end of year customs in Japan have deep roots in Buddhism and Shintoism. Yasuhiro Yamauchi helped us learn learn about the cultural - and also spiritual - significance of end of year traditions for Japanese.

Bringing Anime to Boston with Victor Lee

Victor Lee is one of the pioneering leaders behind Anime Boston, New England's largest anime convention. Victor discussed the vision he sees for Anime Boston in 2019 and beyond, including possible collaborations with anime studios, record companies, and more. Since it started, Victor has overseen Anime Boston's growth from a small conference into an expansive three day event that  brings in over 30,000 fans supported by an all-volunteer staff of over 350. He also talked about how Anime Boston has changed over the years, and some of the challenges he's faced managing an all-volunteer organization. His discussion also touched on his personal history with anime as an Asian American, how Japanese anime differs from American comics, and why anime resonates with Westerners and Bostonians in particular.

Fog X FLO Exhibit Viewing at Back Bay Fens

We ventured outside to enjoy our Brown Bag Lunch in historic Back Bay Fens. The Emerald Necklace Conservancy has partnered with world-renowned fog sculptor: Fujiko Nakaya, to create a stunning installation of art through the medium of pure water. Fog X FLO is sculptor Fujiko Nakaya’s first extended citywide exhibition of multiple “fog sculptures,” marking her five decade career with works at five sites along the historic urban parks that link more than a dozen neighborhoods.

Tadoku and Japanese Language Learning with Professor Atsuko Takahashi

Professor Atsuko Takahashi presented on Tadoku, a method of learning Japanese that is gaining popularity in universities across the United States!  "Tadoku" (or extensive reading) means reading a lot of easy and interesting books without the use of a dictionary or vocabulary list. This study method is a great way to build fluency and a rich vocabulary of words and phrases one might not encounter in the classroom, all while gaining a love for the Japanese language. Professor Takahashi explained how is incorporates Tadoku into her teaching at Smith College.

Atsuko Takahashi has more than 15 years of teaching experience between the United States and Japan.  She has been integrating the Tadoku method into the beginning Japanese course curriculum at Smith College.  Her current research focuses on pedagogical development in support of holistic learning through foreign language education, as well as evaluating metacognitive learning experiences in extensive reading for all-level Japanese learners.

Loving Japan in High School with Rachel Eio

Rachel Eio spoke about learning, teaching, and establishing a high school level Japanese teaching curriculum. Rachel described how she turned her passion for learning Japanese into a lifelong commitment to teaching young learners about Japan.

Rachel Eio created the Japanese language curriculum at Brookline High School and runs its exchange programs. She also organizes the popular Brookline Cherry Blossom Festival. In 2013, she was awarded the John E. Thayer Award for Outstanding Contributions to Cultural Exchange Between the United States and Japan by the Japan Society of Boston for spreading interest in Japanese language and culture to her students.

Anime: A Gateway to Japan with Aeric Holbrook

Aeric Holbrook led a discussion on how Japanese popular culture has become a gateway to Japan. Aeric explored the magnitude of Japan’s distinctive pop culture in the digital age. Pop culture from Japan has become a major export, diplomatic tool, and transnational phenomenon.

Aeric's interest in Japan grew from practicing katakana in 2nd grade to eventually volunteering at events, studying abroad in Japan, and earning a Bachelor’s degree in Japanese Studies. While traveling all over the world to research culture and education, Aeric found that Japanese popular culture and media had an undeniably strong presence. During a Master's degree in International Education and Intercultural Communication,  Aeric researched how Japanese popular culture actively influenced people around the globe from shaping learning habits, identity formation, and social behaviors.

Big Ideas for Japan from Emerging Women Leaders Featuring the 2018 JWLI Fellows

We heard from the 2018 Japanese Women's Leadership Initiative Fellows. The Fellows introduced their projects and answered questions about their experiences as leaders in Japan today. The 2018 Fellows included: Noriko Akiyama, Senior Political Writer; Tomoko Haneda, Board Member, World Robot Olympiad (WRO;  Masumi Kosugi, Chief Coordinator, Kids’ Door; Haruka Maruno, Program Manager, Salesforce.org; Mai Takeuchi Marketing Coordinator, Persol Career; and Maco Yoshioka Founder and CEO, MadreBonita. The Japanese Women’s Leadership Initiative is a two-year executive leadership development program that invests in emerging women leaders from across Japan and transforms them to be action-oriented leaders. Through a four-week training in Boston, Fellows will acquire the confidence to lead, skills to manage, and create Action Plans to make social change. Upon returning to Japan, they work towards achieving their vision. 

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