Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Local Okinawan protest

An article was published in the Okinawa Times today written by one of our local correspondents (Akko Cacaji) about a protest that took place at Union Station on the 26th (last Thursday). The protest was held by American groups Code Pink, Veterans For Peace and Gabriela DC. AU Professor David Vine, author of multiple books on US military bases overseas, also offered his support at the protest. Read the full article here.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Ninja recruiting!

In case you missed this story, Chris O'Neill has been hired by Aichi prefecture as the first paid American ninja in Japan.  So, if you aren't sure what to do with your lives after AU, there might be a position for you in Aichi prefecture (as long as you can do backflips and use throwing stars...).

Read the story here.

So American ninjas look like this...

NOT this!

Monday, May 23, 2016

New forum for U.S.-Japan related research

Announcing the Sasakawa Forum:

A new open platform for submissions of research and analysis related to Japan and U.S.-Japan relations
Sasakawa USA is proud to unveil the Sasakawa Forum, a new platform for research and analysis related to Japan and U.S.-Japan relations in a bilateral, regional, and global context. In order to gain a more comprehensive view of U.S.-Japan relations, the Sasakawa Forum offers experts outside Sasakawa USA a chance to bring their work to a wide audience.

The first paper to be published on the new platform, "Climate Politics in Japan," by Ken Sofer with the Center for American Progress, analyzes the impacts of public opinion, bureaucratic rivalries, and interest groups on Japan's environmental agenda. The paper is now online, and more Forum publications will be published to the platform soon on topics including U.S.-Japan alliance coordination and U.S.-Japan defense cooperation.

The Sasakawa Forum is now accepting submissions for future publication. Submissions should be 750 to 2,000 words in length and written on issues that previously have been inadequately covered regarding Japan or U.S.-Japan relations from a bilateral, regional, and global context. Authors of accepted submissions will receive a modest honorarium.

To submit an article for consideration, please contact Research Assistant Graham Dietz atgdietz@spfusa.org. Published items are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Sasakawa USA.

New "Self-study" page

I know that over the summer all of you are working hard to improve your Japanese (and kill time?).

I have made a page specifically for those of you who would like to study on your own, but aren't sure where to turn. This page will be updated periodically.

It's located here (or in the menu on the left under the title "独学 Self-study."

Please comment here or on the page itself about anything you would particularly like to see on that page. Thank you for your support! よろしくおねがいします。

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Summer is great JLPT prep time!

Why not spend your long summer break preparing for the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) held on December 4th, 2016 at Georgetown University?

If you are looking for a more universal means of gaining recognition for your Japanese ability you might want to take a certified exam. The JLPT is the most widely accepted Japanese proficiency exam in the world; held by the Japan Foundation and the Japan Educational Exchanges and Services and offered in 69 countries. Many employers and graduate schools in Japan require you to demonstrate proficiency by taking the JLPT.

In case you're wondering what your level of proficiency is, here is a list of the competencies required for each level:


Here's information about the location and fees for each level:


You might even ask a friend or classmate in Japan to pick up some materials for the exam or buy them yourself here:


Please let me know if you have any questions about the JLPT.

Ken Knight, Ph.D.
Japanese Language Program Coordinator
American University

Friday, May 20, 2016

INTERNS NEEDED @ the U.S.-Japan Council!

Gary Zottoli, a recent AU graduate with a rich history in Japan, has informed me that the U.S.-Japan Council, where he works, is looking for PROGRAMS INTERNS for the summer as well as the fall. This could be a great opportunity to add some very solid Japan-related experience to your resume and make important and interesting connections that will last a lifetime.

Click here to see all opportunities at the U.S.-Japan Council:

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

AU JAPN blog

Wow, our little blog has already had over 1,000 views from 10 countries since it was introduced on March 23rd! (I don't think they were all me... I've never even been to Poland.)

Let us know if there's anything you'd particularly like to see. This blog was made for you.

Feel free to contact me directly at knight @ american.edu or comment on this blog.

Thanks for your support. これからも、よろしくお願いいたします!

Ken Knight, Ph.D.
Japanese Language Program Coordinator
American University

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

J.LIVE Talk 2016

The Japanese Program at the George Washington University will seek applications for J.LIVE Talk 2016 starting September 1. J.LIVE Talk (short for Japanese Learning Inspired Vision and Engagement Talk) is a new brand of Japanese language competition for the 21st century, which emphasizes the comprehensive range of presentation skills necessary for achieving communication in today’s increasingly interactive and multimedia world. Therefore, unlike a traditional speech contest, J.LIVE Talk evaluates not only oratory competence, but also the dynamism, vision and level of engagement of each participant's presentation, which can include audio-visual materials, audience interaction, and other enhancement. Please see the website (JLIVEtalk.com) for more details, including the promotional video that shows clips from the last year.

The contest consists of two rounds. In the preliminary round (September 1-October 13), entrants send in a 2-3 minute video answering the question “How did learning Japanese inspire you?”. This is followed by the final round, held at the George Washington University on November 13, 2016, in which each finalist gives a longer live presentation on a topic of his or her choice.

Thanks to generous support of the following organizations, the top awards include a chance to study abroad in Japan (a package of an airfare, six week intensive summer course tuition and a stipend in the amount of $2700), as well as cash prizes. We will also provide a travel subsidy up to $500 for a selected contestant to participate in the final round depending on the location of his/her home institution.
Applicants must satisfy all of the following basic qualifications:

  • Studying Japanese as a foreign language, as of November 13, 2016 (J.LIVE Talk 2016 final round date), at the undergraduate or graduate level in a 2-year college or 4-year university
  • Has earned a minimum of six credits of college level Japanese as a foreign language or the equivalent (as determined by the student’s university and subject to review by the selection committee) by the time of application
  • Has not attended a full-time, secondary-level (grades 7-12) Japanese educational institution accredited by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan, for 4 or more years.
Heritage speakers who satisfy the basic qualifications are also encouraged to apply. Eligible applicants enter one of the three competition categories as determined by teacher recommendation (and subject to review by the selection committee), based on ACTFL oral proficiency guidelines 2012.
  • Category I (Intermediate Low-Intermediate Mid)
  • Category II (Intermediate High- Advanced Low)
  • Category III (Advanced Mid-Advanced High)

Friday, May 13, 2016

Another interesting find...

Here is another interesting Japan-inspired shirt found at a Marshall's in Gaithersburg, MD. I liked it so much I bought one.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


Dalkey Archive Press is offering a Fellowship that will combine intensive study and experience in publishing and literary translation. The Fellow will gain experience in several areas of publishing while also learning how to edit translations, provide sample translations, work with authors and agents, and scout for works to be considered for publication. Applications are invited from all languages, but preference will be given to those candidates with high proficiency in one or more of the Slavic languages and extensive familiarity with contemporary writers from the Slavic countries. Previous experience in editing is a plus but is not a requirement. A background in the books published by Dalkey Archive Press is expected. The Fellowship may lead to assignment in Dalkey Archive's/University of Houston-Victoria's Applied Literary Translation Program. 

Stipend for a full year is $18,000. Deadlines for applications: June 15, 2016. To apply, please send a complete CV and cover letter that responds to the requirements and preferences stated above to Jake Snyder at jnysder@dalkeyarchive.com.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

2016 Noriko Williams Award Winners

This year we were proud to present four students with the Noriko Williams Award for Japanese language study. The winners are:

David Anzalone
Samantha Gies
Sally Hwang
Elizabeth Thorne

Congratulations to all of our winners!!!本当におめでとうございます!

Remember, next year it might be YOU!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Message from Japan: Katina Tsangarides

We are excited to share special messages from AU students who are currently studying in Japan. These include insights and observations that you might find especially useful when you arrive in Japan. Please feel free to leave a comment and let us know your thoughts or questions.

Katina Tsangarides
Waseda University

Deciding to study abroad in Japan for the year was one of the best choices of my life. Not only did I get to live in one of the most incredible cities in the world, but I got to feel at home in it. I went to school, made friends, worked an 'arubaito', and lived with a host family. Of course, it took some time to get used to life in Japan, and not everything was always so fun and easy. I had to adjust to a society where English speakers are rare, and the metro has more than six lines. I had to abandon my vegetarian ways to fit in with my host family, and I had to learn how to move and pay bills, all in another language. But all of the positive experiences and knowledge I've gained far outweigh the difficulties. Japan has given me a chance to experience a language and culture very unique from that of America's, and has opened my eyes to ideas I would have never considered had I spent my whole life in the western world. And for that, every embarrassing language mistake I've made, every time I've hopped on the rapid train instead of the local one, and every time I've misread a menu, and ordered something with more tentacles than I'd like, has been worth it.

Message from Japan: Marley Taylor

We are excited to share special messages from AU students who are currently studying in Japan. These include insights and observations that you might find especially useful when you arrive in Japan. Please feel free to leave a comment and let us know your thoughts or questions.

Marley Taylor
Ritsumeikan University

Circles, Clubs, and Social Groups
                At Ritsumeikan, there are no fraternities or sororities. Here, social groups are determined by your major, and club activities. If you want to make Japanese friends, joining a circle is the best way to do it.
There is a clear distinction between clubs and circles – clubs demand more time, money, and higher levels of skill. But, circles still require dedication. In comparison to AU, Japanese circles are the most similar to American clubs, which Japanese clubs are for more serious athletes, musicians, and performers. At AU, club membership is fairly fluid – you can attend club meetings every week, or once a month, or only when pizza is offered, and it’s fairly acceptable. In my short experience at Ritsumeikan, circles require more frequent meeting attendance, and very rarely is food used to draw new members in.

Finding a Circle
                Finding circles to join is the easy part – Like every other university, Ritsumeikan held an activity fair. AU’s fair pales in comparison to the one thrown by Ritsumeikan, which has everything from waterskiing circles to a cat circle. Walking around campus during the activities fair was very overwhelming.
There are many things that are different from what happens at AU. There are so many flyers. Expect to come home with a tall stack of flyers that are likely to be completely in Japanese. Although the Japanese tend to be very eco-friendly, they have no qualms about paper use – something that’s noticeable in many facets of university life. At AU, most club members stand behind a table, while, at Ritsumeikan, they hand out flyers, chant in unison, and do their best to show off what their club does. If you talk to a circle representative, they will often ask you to sit down, and go into a detailed explanation about the circle. Depending on your Japanese skill, it might be a good idea to take a friend with you to make sure you get the full scope of what each circle has to offer. The best part – unlike AU, you don’t have to give out your email address to circles, so you don’t have to worry about getting annoying emails after the activity fair.

Circles for Foreigners
                Some circles will avoid foreigners. There’s nothing more awkward than watching every person around you be handed a flyer and wonder why you’re being skipped over. But, this is not something to take personally. Some circles have high membership fees, while other clubs require buying equipment and uniforms that the average exchange student wouldn’t want to take on. Some circles are more foreign-friendly than others. Circles that are looking to expand and include international students will be more eager to find members. They’ll have flyers with English information or members who speak English.

Choosing a Circle
                Once you’ve sifted through your stack of flyers from the activities fair, the next step is to choose which circles you think you might join. Each circle has someone who handles communication – their email address will usually be on the flyer. Many circles also have twitter accounts and LINE groups. There are three things to keep in mind when deciding which circle to join; price, time commitment, and travel. Circle membership ranges from 500 yen to 10,000 yen and beyond. My soccer circle meets twice per week, but the ping pong circle meets 5 days per week. Most circles don’t meet on campus – if you have a bike in Japan, then you can get to most meetings easily, but beware of circles that require taking trains which cost a lot of time and money. My suggestion is to find a circle for 5,000 yen or less, with meetings 2-3 times per week, and with meeting places that can be reached within 30 minutes by bike.

There are so many reasons to join a circle if you attend a Japanese university. Classes in Japan require far less reading and writing than those at AU, so you’ll have more free time. Joining a circle will get you out of your dorm and give you an opportunity to interact with Japanese students which is the best way to improve your speaking skills. You’re sure to find a circle that interests you and find Japanese students who share that interest.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Top companies move to hire more foreign employees | The Japan Times

Top companies move to hire more foreign employees | The Japan Times: Japan's top companies are increasingly moving to give foreign people permanent contracts, judging that the benefits of diversification are well worth the challenges...