St. Louis Ishinomaki Friendship Program
Japan America Society of St. Louis has been awarded a grant from the NAJAS/Tomodachi Grassroots Exchange Program for 2013 and 2014. Tomodachi (http://usjapantomodachi.org/) is an organization that was created to support Japan’s recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11 2011. The goal of this grant is to invest in the next generation of Japanese and American people and deepen relations between the two countries through grassroots level people to people exchanges. Tomodachi is sponsored by the U.S.-Japan by the U.S.-Japan Council http://www.usjapancouncil.org/. The U.S.-Japan Council is an educational non-profit organization dedicated to promoting people-to-people connections as crucial to a strong U.S.-Japan relationship. The Council brings together diverse leadership, engages stakeholders in the bilateral relationship and explores issues that benefit communities, businesses and government entities on both sides of the Pacific.
The St. Louis Ishinomaki Friendship Program brought 11 Japanese to St. Louis for one week from August 28 to September 4, 2013. The Japanese visitors included five (5) students age 12-15 and three (3) adults from Ishinomaki, near Sendai, and three (3) adults from Tokyo who have assisted the recovery efforts of Ishinomaki as volunteers. Ishinomaki is one of the most affected areas of Tohoku from the March 11 Earthquake/Tsunami in 2011. During their one week visit to St. Louis, the Japanese visitors stayed with American host families and participated in the Japanesee Festival at the Missouri Botanical Gardens (MBG). The Annual Japanese Festival in St. Louis is held over the Labor Day weekend holiday and attracts 35,000-45,000 visitors every year. It is one of the oldest and largest Japanese festivals in the U.S. The Japanese Garden* opened to public in 1977 and it is the largest Japanese garden in North America.