Japan Update: Urban Farming and Gardening in Japan and the United States

On Tuesday, February 20, JAS presented its spring Japan Update program featuring three expert speakers on urban agriculture. Professor Eiji Goto of Chiba University spoke about trends and technology in factory farming in Japan, highlighting the efficiencies and financial aspects of the industry. St. Louis's own Mary Ostafi of Urban Harvest STL focused on the specific efforts and adaptations required for urban farming in St. Louis and the broader social impact of this trend. And, Kevin Erickson of Loyola University in Chicago presented an overview of the challenges and opportunities of urban agriculture, from small-scale community gardens to the latest advances in aqua- and aeroponics. About 70 people braved the wind and rain to hear our speakers and enjoy our signature sushi and sake reception afterward in the gorgeous lobby of Novus International, Inc., one of JAS's corporate members who generously hosted the event.

photo credit to Linda Austin

Making It and Breaking It in Japan

On Thursday, February 15, JAS and UMSL's office of International Studies & Programs, the Department of Language and Cultural Studies, and the Japan-America Student Association hosted Mr. Steven Gan for a FREE talk and book signing chronicling his amazing experience. Mr. Gan ran a highly successful debt collection business in Japan for 12 years - the first foreign-owned business of its kind in Japan. He told the absolutely riveting story of starting his business organically and growing it to employ 30 people. His business was so successful, he drew the attention of the media, but also the ire of his competition, which used an obscure and ambiguous clause in the law to shutter his company. He now has a consulting business in Chicago, Stellar Risk Management. Following his talk, he took questions from the audience and offered autographed copies of his book, "Making it and Breaking it in Japan" for sale to about 30 audience members.

photo credit to Chip Meyer

The Japan America Society Successfully kicked off the 2018 New Year

The Japan America Society of St. Louis began the new year with a wonderful Shinnenkai at Sushi Sen in Lake Saint Louis on January 21. This year's Shinnenkai was well-attended, including Deputy Consul General of Japan from Chicago, Kenji Tanaka, and three full tables of our corporate members Nidec, Novus, and CSI. Once again, our attendees had the pleasure of hearing the insights of guest speaker Dave Lowry, an expert on Japanese culture. This year, Dave spoke of the concepts of omote, or "surface-level meaning," and ura, or "deep meaning." He explained this in the context of some interesting unpublicized (ura) Shinto practices concerning the emperor, as well as practices concerning the coming and unprecedented abdication, as Emperor Akihito will "retire" oApril 30 and Crown Prince Naruhito will become the new emperor.

photo credit to Linda Austin and Dan Lindsay

"Japan America Society of St. Louis" is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
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