2019 Houston-Chiba Sister Cities Youth Ambassador Exchange Program

From August 16-29, 2019, five (5) middle school students representing Houston's sister city of Chiba, Japan, traveled to Houston to participate in the Houston-Chiba Sister City Youth Ambassador Program.

The Chiba Youth Ambassadors -- Sora, Chihiro, Nana, Kanade, and Yuri, along with chaperone Misato -- were welcomed by River Oaks Baptist School Ambassadors -- Cameron, Anna, Ava, Ava Caroline, Lucy and Amanda -- and their families.

Students visited Houston landmarks such as NASA and Graffiti Park. They also took part in a service project at the Houston Food Bank and celebrated with hundreds of fans as the Astros were victorious against the LA Angels.

Though the time passed too quickly, lifelong friendships and wonderful memories were made. Special thanks go to River Oaks Baptist School for making the experience an unforgettable one for our friends from Chiba.

2019 Sister Cities Youth Leadership Summit

Unveiling of the Houston Peace Pole

Unveiling of the Houston Peace Pole

More than 700 elected municipal officers, business leaders, diplomats and students gathered in Houston from July 16-19 to participate in the Sister Cities International (SCI) Conference and Sister Cities International Youth Leadership Summit celebrating the organization’s 62nd anniversary.

Participants engaged in a Parade of Flags, a Welcome Reception hosted by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, and an Award’s Dinner featuring President George W. Bush at the Marriot Marquis in Houston. Students in the SCI Youth Leadership Summit attended lectures under the theme “Resilience: Using your Passion to Build a Better World” at Rice University and completed projects encouraging them to use problem solving strategies and international insight as well as leadership skills to achieve a desired outcome.

Houston’s Sister City in Japan, Chiba City, was represented at the event by Deputy Mayor Takuya Hattori. Houston and Chiba have enjoyed 47 years of friendship and was honored to have Deputy Mayor Hattori in attendance for the unveiling of the Houston Peace Pole alongside Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Sister Cities International Chairman San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenburg, Sister Cities Houston President Harry Gee, representatives from Sister Cities Taipei and Karachi, and many others.

The Peace Pole, which displays the message, “May Peace Prevail on Earth,” showcases the eighteen international Sister Cities of Houston. The tradition of Peace Poles was started shortly after WWII by Japanese poet and philosopher Masahisa Goi. Today, there are tens of thousands of Peace Poles around the world, sharing the message of peace and encouraging interactions, both in the community and around the globe.

Click HERE for more information about Sister Cities International.

七夕 Tanabata - Star Festival Shines Brightly

On July 7, JASH volunteers joined the Consulate-General of Japan in Houston at the Children's Museum of Houston to celebrate Tanabata (七夕/ star festival).

Steeped in legend, Tanabata honors the tale of Orihime and Hikoboshi.  According to folklore, the Milky Way separates these lovers, and they are allowed to meet only once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month of the lunisolar calendar. 

With the stars aligning for this reunion, wishes are destined to come true.  Therefore, on this day, Japanese write their own wishes on colorful paper (tanzaku) and hang them from bamboo branches.

Participants in the Houston Tanabata event not only had the opportunity to make their own tanzaku wish cards, they also had the chance to experience kamishibai storytelling, play with kendama, and fold a variety of origami shapes.

Many thanks to all who came out to enjoy Tanabata with us! A special thanks to Kendama USA for their involvement.

26th Annual Japan Festival Houston


“Of all the cultural exchange festivals in Houston, Japan Festival is probably the best,” -Jef Rouner, Correspondent, Houston Chronicle

Japan Festival Houston, one of the city's largest free outdoor music and entertainment weekends, returned to Hermann Park on April 13-14 with two full days of Japanese-inspired music, dance, martial arts, food and merchants presenting an array of items reflective of traditional Japanese handicrafts and the latest Japanese trends. 

Japan Festival Houston welcomed the headlining group Yano Brothers, a trio of half Japanese half Ghanaian brothers who have turned their experiences with prejudice and racism into powerful fusion of Japanese lyrics and African beats. Crowds delighted in this “Jafrican” fusion as they danced and sang along.  

Also, making their Houston debut was Sachet who blended Japanese and Western musical elements.  Their use of piano/pianica, violin, and shakuhachi flute created a dynamic sound as the trio performed a variety of music from traditional Japanese song Sakura to familiar folk songs.

Break Free featuring International Olympic Committee (IOC) “Athlete Role Model” BBoy Moy and Japanese BBoy champion Sota Sky lit up the main stage with their high-energy hip-hop moves, and Kaminari Taiko, a crowd favorite at Japan Festival Houston, rocked with toe-tapping beats. Singer, songwriter, and composer Kohei also returned to Japan Festival Houston to share his vocal and emcee talents. 

At the Japan-America Society of Houston (JASH) booth, a favorite Japanese warm-weather treat, matcha soft-serve ice cream, was being served in fish-shaped taiyaki cake cones. JASH booth visitors also had the opportunity “to be a samurai” with origami “kabuto” helmets and photos with suits of samurai armor.

Special thanks go to our spirited volunteers who worked tirelessly to make JASH's many festival offerings possible!  Makoto ni arigatou gozaimashita.


*Press on the title to read the article.

HOUSTON CHRONICLE – If it’s spring, it’s time for an outdoor festival guide

HOUSTON CHRONICLE – Japanese Fest draws crowds to Hermann Park

CULTURE MAP HOUSTON – Japan Festival Houston

FOX NEWS – Japan Festival Houston this weekend

YELP REVIEWS – Houston Japan Festival

Photography by Jeff Fantich and Thomas Dwyer

30th Texas State Japanese Language Speech Contest


On Saturday, March 23, 2019, JASH in partnership with the Consulate-General of Japan in Houston presented the 2019 Texas State Japanese Language Speech Competition.

36 participants - ranging from middle school students and life-long Japanese learners - gathered at Rice University to demonstrate their Japanese language skills.

The contest showcased students reciting poetry and presenting original speeches and, moreover, featured a creative display of student determination, devotion, and tenacity as language learners.

As the contest celebrated its 30th anniversary, tribute was also paid to the contest founder, Dr. Toshimatsu Matsumoto, as well as to the fast approaching end of the Heisei Era.

Special recognition was given to the top three contestants in each competition division. 

  • Winners of the POETRY DIVISION received drawings of the Houston Japanese Garden and Kinokuniya gift cards from the Japan Business Association of Houston (JBAH). The 1st Place winner also received a gift bag from the Texoma JET Alumni Association.

  • Winners of the HAIKU DIVISION received gifts from the Japanese Teachers Association of Texas (JTAT).

  • Winners of the H.S. FREE SPEECH AURORA DIVISION received scholarships from the Japanese Association of Greater Houston (JAGH): $500 for 1st Place, $300 for 2nd Place and $200 for 3rd Place. Moreover, the 1st and 2nd place winners will be sent by JASH to the All-U.S.A. High School Japanese Speech Contest in California.

  • Winners of the COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY FREE SPEECH DIVISION received scholarships from JASH: $1000 for 1st Place, $300 for 2nd Place and $200 for 3rd Place.

  • Winner of the OPEN FREE SPEECH DIVISION received a round-trip ticket to Japan on All Nippon Airways, the official airline of JASH and the Texas State Japanese Language Speech Contest.

Congratulations to all of our contestants.



1st Place Elianna MOORE
Johnson H.S.
San Antonio Region
2nd Place Pamela INTERINO
Johnson H.S.
San Antonio Region
3rd Place Catherine DAY
Richardson H.S.
Dallas Region


1st Place Phoebe JIN
Richardson H.S.
Dallas Region
2nd Place Sabrina UY TESY
Johnson H.S.
San Antonio Region
3rd Place Richard MA
Clements H.S.
Houston Region


1st Place Tori WENDELL
The Importance of Appreciating Yourself
Churchill H.S.
San Antonio Region
2nd Place Annie ZHOU
Stronger Than Before
Clements H.S.
Houston Region
3rd Place Yunseo HEO
Creekview H.S.


1st Place Andrew KLEIN
Laughter Comes By The Merry Gate
University of North Texas
Dallas Region
2nd Place Daniel TRUMBLE
AI and Me
University of Texas at San Antonio
San Antonio Region
3rd Place April KIM
The Pen My Unskilled Mom Gave Me
The University of Texas at Austin
Austin Region


1st Place Jeremy RODRIGUEZ
Hardly Known
2nd Place Mario DEPAVIA
What I Learned Studying Abroad
3rd Place Jefferson LEE
How to Eat Ten-Don Properly


  • The Consulate General of Japan in Houston

  • The Japan Foundation

  • Japan Business Association of Houston (JBAH)

  • Japanese Association of Greater Houston (JAGH)

  • Texoma JET Alumni Association


On Tuesday, March 19, JASH hosted a NAJAS/KKC BUSINESS SPEAKER SERIES PROGRAM at The Briar Club.

The NAJAS/KKC Business Speaker Series is a collaboration between Keizai Koho Center of Keidanren and the National Association of Japan-America Societies (NAJAS) to bring original business content regarding US-Japan ties to Japan America Societies across the United States.

Begun in 2012, there have been over 35 presentations at Japan America Societies to date, in which senior executives of Japanese businesses discuss trends in their industry, their corporate outlook, their investments in the US and how those fit their overall business strategy. The program highlights the deepening US-Japan bilateral relationship on the investment side.

This year NAJAS is sponsoring six programs at six different Japan-America Societies, with different Japanese companies, including Mitsubishi Corp, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Marubeni Corp.

The grants from NAJAS are competitive, and we are pleased that JASH was selected this year.

Insurance is an industry in which Japanese companies have been active in the US, as US companies have been in Japan. Recently, a number of major Japanese insurance companies have made acquisitions in the US, as part of their global growth strategy.

It was an honor to have Tokio Marine, which has been among the most active Japanese insurance companies, and HHC, a Houston company, to describe their merger and their plans in the US and Houston.

Tokio Marine North America, Inc. President & CEO Yasu Fukuda spoke to TM Group's global strategy, and Tokio Marine HCC President William Burke spoke to the synergy and merit of joining the TM Group. 

Also providing context for the Tokio Marine acquisition of HCC while expanding on the importance of the U.S.-Japan economic relationship was Yasuhiro Uozumi, Executive Director of Keidanren, USA. Keidanren, long recognized and respected as the leading voice for Japanese businesses, is committed to reinforcing the strength and resilience of U.S.-Japan economic ties by further developing the communication channels between Japan and the United States.


  • Mr. Yasu FUKUDA

    President & CEO

    Tokio Marine North America, Inc.

  • Mr. William BURKE


    Tokio Marine HCC

  • Mr. Yasuhiro UOZUMI

    Executive Director

    Keidanren, USA


2019 Houston Regional Japanese Language Speech Contest

On Saturday, February 16, 2019, Japanese language learners from across the Houston region came together at the University of St. Thomas to compete in the 30th Annual Japanese Language Speech Contest.

Thirty-eight (38) contestants demonstrated their Japanese skills in the areas of (i) POETRY RECITATION, (ii) HAIKU, (iii) FREE SPEECH AURORA, and (iv) FREE SPEECH COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY.

The contest coincided with National Language Advocacy Day, giving all participants the opportunity to join the national “LEAD WITH LANGUAGES” campaign and tell their own stories of Japanese language learning success.

"Otsukaresama" to all participants, and "omedetou gozaimasu" to all winners.

Thank you for your inspiring displays of courage, initiative, diligence and enthusiasm.

Winners are listed below by division.  Those placing in the top two will move on to the TEXAS STATE JAPANESE LANGUAGE SPEECH CONTEST, which will be held on March 23, 2019.


1.       Hayagreev JAYARAM – 9th, Bellaire High School

2.       Carrie ELTER – 9th, William P. Clements High School

3.       Kameron MARTINEZ – 10th, Morton Ranch High School


1.       Emily LENT – 10th, Cinco Ranch High School

2.       Richard MA – 10th, William P. Clements High School

3.       Tori CHOU – 11th, William P. Clements High School


1.       Ruobin KONG – 11th, William P. Clements High School

2.       Annie ZHOU – 12th, William P. Clements High School

3.       Alice LIU – 12th, Bellaire High School


1.       Kyle CHOW – Senior, Rice University

2.      Lucas MENDOZA – Sophomore, Texas A&M University

3.       Meredith AUCOCK – Junior, Rice University


Consulate-General of Japan in Houston

JASH Honors Outgoing President William H. Weiland

At the 4th Annual Japan Update Houston Conference held on January 25, 2019, the Japan-America Society of Houston (JASH) took time to honor outgoing president William H. Weiland.

Mr. Weiland is a Houston lawyer who throughout his career has worked extensively on matters involving private and public international law issues. After completing military service, he worked for many years in one large and two smaller law firms. He managed, in the mid-1990s, the Mexico City office of Vinson Elkins L.L.P. He now practices on his own.

Mr. Weiland has served on the JASH Board of Directors at various periods over the past 30 years.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Mr. Weiland, working with fellow JASH Board Member Joe Hafner, the President of Riviana Foods, and then Japanese Consul General Yasuo Hori, devoted substantial personal time and effort to the development and construction of the Japanese Garden in Hermann Park.

In 2013, Mr. Weiland was asked to take on the role of Vice-President of JASH and soon thereafter moved into the role of President.

Because of Mr. Weiland’s dedication and leadership, the Japan-America Society of Houston is well positioned to continue to perform its core mission of uniting Houston’s diverse community, local businesses, and individuals to advance the mutual interest of, and the strong bonds between, the people of Japan and the United States.

Mr. Weiland has led our organization with both honor and distinction, and as a token of our gratitude, it is JASH’s great pleasure to present him with a samurai helmet, known in Japanese as a kabuto.

Kabutos were designed to celebrate the ability of their owners and were viewed as symbols of honor, valor and loyalty. The importance of the kabuto on the battlefield also led to the kabuto’s appearance in a number of Japanese proverbs and expressions.

One example is 勝って兜の緒を締めよ (katte kabuto no o o shimeyo), the literal translation of which is as follows:

"After victory, tighten the strings of your kabuto."

The pithy saying is a reminder that one should not lessen their efforts after succeeding (or more simply "not to rest on one's laurels").

This is very appropriate for Mr. Weiland because no matter what he or the organization accomplished during any year of his tenure as President, Mr. Weiland never rested on his laurels nor did he allow JASH to do so either.

Today, we continue to “tighten our strings” in honor of Mr. Weiland.

Thank you, Mr. Weiland, for your dedicated leadership of JASH.

4th Annual Japan Update Houston Conference


The 4th Annual Japan Update Houston Conference was held on Friday, January 25, at the Petroleum Club of Houston.

The 2019 edition of the event brought together experts from Japan and the Houston community to examine U.S.-Japan energy relations and the impact on Houston and the Lone Star State.

With the Japan-United States Strategic Energy Partnership having recently been formed, the United States and Japan have emphasized their commitment to strengthening energy security and promoting energy access. The partnership has become ever more meaningful as U.S. and Japan companies jointly prepare for openings of LNG hubs in our area and explore new resources. Moreover, Japan stands poised to achieve greater diversification of energy resources and increased flexibility of energy supply owing to activity in our region.

Energy is certainly fueling the future of the U.S.-Japan relationship in Texas!


  • Mr. Nobuo TANAKA

    Chairman, The Sasakawa Peace Foundation (SPF)

    Former Executive Director, The International Energy Agency (IEA)

    [view bio here]


  • Mr. Ryo MANABE, Ph.D.

    Director, President, INPEX Americas, Inc.

  • Mr. Farhad AHRABI, Ph.D.

CEO, Cameron LNG, LLC

[view bios here]


  • Mr. Bob HARVEY

President and CEO, Greater Houston Partnership

[view bio here]


  • Nobuo TANAKA - Energy Security & Sustainability Strategy

[download here]

  • Ryo MANABE, Ph.D. - Overview of INPEX and Our Business in the U.S.

[download here]

  • Farhad AHRABI, Ph.D. - CAMERON LNG - The Journey So Far

[download here]


Click here to view the complete Japan Update 2019 Photo Gallery.


*click on article title to view

HOUSTON BUSINESS JOURNAL - Japanese Oil and Gas Producer Eyes Eagle Ford Footprint

HOUSTON CHRONICLE - Japan’s INPEX Eyes Eagle Ford, Gulf of Mexico

HOUSTON PUBLIC MEDIA - Growing Japanese Investment In Houston Fueled By Need For LNG

BISNOW HOUSTON MORNING BRIEF - Link to the Houston Public Media story.  


This program is a part of a larger series of Japan Update presentations sponsored by The Sasakawa Peace Foundation and the National Association of Japan-America Societies throughout the United States that seek to stimulate public interest in contemporary issues faced by Japan and the United States. The series provides an important forum for information exchange at a time of increased interest in the United States-Japan bilateral relationship.


8-day Fellowship in Japan For Social Studies Teachers


Keizai Koho Center (KKC), in cooperation with the National Association of Japan-America Societies (NAJAS), will be hosting the KKC Study Tour to Japan 2019 for U.S. and Canadian social studies teachers from June 24-July 2, 2019 (tentative).

The 8-day study program is designed to allow educators to learn first hand about contemporary Japanese society and to enhance their classroom teaching of global perspectives.  Highlights of the fellowship include visits to Japanese schools, major companies, and industrial facilities.  In addition, sightseeing excursions are planned to provide fellows with memorable cultural experiences.

KKC provides round trip air transportation from participants' home city to Japan, as well as accommodations, ground transportation and meals associated with the ten day program.

Click here to download the program brochure.


 To be eligible, applicants must: 

  • Have skills and experience in developing curriculum and a strong interest in Japan;

  • Have never lived in Japan nor visited Japan on a similar study tour; and

  • Be middle or high school classroom teachers of Economics, Social Studies, Geography or History (grades 6-12).


  • To participate in the Study Tour, applicants are required to agree to:

  • Make a presentation and contribute to discussions at a symposium organized as part of the program.

  • Submit a lesson plan on Japan for their own classroom to KKC by Oct. 31, 2019.

  • Submit a final report to KKC by January 10, 2020, which describes how experiences and findings on the tour are used in the classroom and other occasions. Relevant copies of any school newspaper/magazine articles are appreciated.

  • Consent that the lesson plans and the final reports become the property of KKC to be posted to its website for use by other school teachers.

  • Understand that the demands of the itinerary are such that only individuals physically able to travel without special assistance should consider the participation, special diets cannot be provided and a smoke-free environment cannot be assured.

  • Understand there will be no provisions for spouses to accompany fellows due to the nature of the program and logistical requirements.


Applications are being accepted on-line through February 1, 2019.

For details, please click on the link below.



The Keizai Koho Center (KKC) is the independent, nonprofit organization affiliated with Nippon Keidanren (Japan Business Federation). Its mission has been to promote a better understanding of Japan's economy and society, both in Japan and abroad through a variety of publications, programs, fellowships and exchanges.

The  National Association of Japan-America Societies, Inc. (NAJAS) is a private, non-profit, non-partisan organization that offers educational, cultural and business programs about Japan and U.S.-Japan relations to the general public through its member Japan and Japan-America Societies. NAJAS is the only national non-profit network in the United States dedicated to public education about Japan. NAJAS consists of approximately 40 independent Japan-related organizations located in 32 cities around the country. Its membership cuts across usual group boundaries (business, political, academic, American, Japanese, etc.) and affords a variety of perspectives on U.S.-Japan relations.



"The program allowed me to build incredible connections, complete a successful research project that has given me insight into many issues, and challenge myself to understand what a leader is and how I can become one." —Participant from Linwood, NJ

The Japan-America Society of Houston is pleased to be partnering with our sister organization in New York – Japan Society – to offer Houston-area high school students with an exciting opportunity to visit Japan in the summer of 2019.

The Junior Fellows Leadership Program is a three-week culturally immersive learning experience for high school students who possess strong leadership skills and demonstrate potential to become future leaders.

During this program conducted in New York and Japan, Junior Fellows have the opportunity to build networks with current industry leaders and program alumni, stay with a host family in Tohoku (northeast Japan), attend a local high school, and experience Japanese history and culture through hands on experiences and historical site visits.


  • MAY 18: Program orientation at Japan Society, New York (long distance Fellows will participate via Skype)

  • JULY 8—10: Pre-departure orientation at Japan Society, New York

  • JULY 11—12: Depart for and arrival in Japan

  • JULY 12—28: In-country program

  • JULY 29: Return to the U.S.

*Program contents and dates are subject to change.


  • Meet and learn from industry leaders in business, arts and sciences, nonprofit organizations and government

  • Visit leading companies to learn and compare what they value and look for in building the future

  • Live with a host family and explore local communities in northeast Japan

  • Experience Japanese high school life

  • Carry out an independent project on a global issue

  • Learn about Tohoku’s current status and recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011

  • Visit significant cultural and historic sites

  • Learn basic Japanese in an immersive setting


U.S. high school students from 9th to 11th grade are eligible to apply.

Junior Fellows will be selected based on demonstrated leadership potential and skills, as well as the qualities necessary to have a successful and engaging experience with other program participants; including (but not limited to): ability to adapt to a foreign culture, emotional and interpersonal maturity, strong academic background and a demonstrated interest in Japan.

Knowledge of Japanese language is helpful, but not required.



Need-based scholarships are available.


  • FEBRUARY 15 (Friday): Application Deadline (postmarked)

  • MID-MARCH: Announcement of 1st selection

  • APRIL 6 (Saturday): Group interviews with finalists (invitation only)

  • MID-APRIL: Final selection and announcement of 2019 Junior Fellow participants

Japan ICU Foundation - Full Tuition Scholarship Opportunity for US Students

ICU Scholarship 2018.jpg

The JAPAN ICU FOUNDATION will once again be offering the merit-based JICUF Global Scholarship - U.S. Scholars Initiative (USSI) scholarship for US citizens to attend the INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY (ICU) in Mitaka, Tokyo.

The USSI will cover the entire cost of tuition for four years of undergraduate study at ICU. 

Eligible applicants must :

  • be a United States citizen
  • be graduating from U.S. high school in spring 2018
  • exhibit strong interest in Japan and the Japanese language
  • have interest in liberal arts education
  • be single with no dependents

Applications are being accepted through December 1, 2018.  Apply online here.

For those students or families who are interested in learning more, JAPAN ICU FOUNDATION is hosting information sessions via webinar on September 11, September 27, October 17, November 7 and November 16.  Click here to register.

Celebrating the 2018 Houston-Chiba Sister City Youth Ambassadors

On August 29, the Consul-General of Japan in Houston, The Honorable Hideo Fukushima, graciously hosted a reception celebrating the 2018 Houston-Chiba Sister City Youth Ambassadors and the 35th Anniversary of the Youth Ambassador Program.

Each of the 2018 Youth Ambassadors shared highlights from their trip to Chiba City, Japan from May 31 - June 14, 2018.  Stories were told of host family hospitality, school cleaning experiences, food adventures, and meetings with city officials.

Remarks from Consul General Fukushima, City of Houston Chief Development Office Andy Icken, and JASH President Bill Weiland stressed the importance of youth exchanges in the growing and strengthening of collaborative cross border alliances.

Written greetings received from Second Lady Karen Pence also noted how people-to-people exchange provides a "strong foundation for diplomacy." (To read the letter, please scroll down.)

In the words of Chiba Mayor Toshihito Kumagai conveyed through a letter addressed to JASH President Bill Weiland to mark 35 years of youth exchange, it is our hope that the Youth Ambassadors "will expand their horizons using the knowledge they gained through this exchange, and serve as bridges of friendship between our two cities."

Special thanks go to River Oaks Baptist School and Chiba City International Association for their efforts in support of the program.

SLOTUS Greetings Letter to 2018 Houston-Chiba Sister City Youth Ambassad...-1.jpg

Japan Stands With Houston: One Year Later


On this the 1-year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey, we want to say ありがとう (arigatou; thank you) to all those, both near and far, who came to Houston's aid in a time of need.

Owing to your generosity, the Japan Stands With Houston campaign exceeded our initial fundraising goal of $25,000 and raised $52,364.58 for Houston flood relief.

In addition to monetary gifts, you entrusted us with supplies and food - from 300 onigiri prepared by Seiwa Market for first responders to cases of cookies sent from Japan by Akie Abe, wife of Prime Minister Abe, for flood victims.

You also ran alongside us as we raised funds for the Houston Food Bank through the Harvest Marathon, spent time with us volunteering at shelters, and purchased special "bento boxes" from Kata Robata Sushi + Grill during Washoku Month.

Your support - channeled through Memorial Assistance Ministries (MAM) and BakerRipley - has made possible the rebuilding of schools and homes as well as hope and emotional healing.

One year later, we remain humbly #HoustonStrong!


Celebrating Diversity With MD Anderson

On August 16, 2018, JASH joined The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in highlighting the beauty of MD Anderson's diversity at its annual Diversity Celebration.

JASH was invited to reprise our role as the representative of Japan and provide participants with the opportunity to try their hand at shodo - Japanese calligraphy.  Nearly 150 patients and staff took part and walked away with a personalized JASH uchiwa fan.

Diversity is not only MD Anderson's strength, it is the strength of Houston! 

Thank you, MD Anderson, for featuring JAPAN in a special "Fusion of Inclusion."

Welcome Consul-General Fukushima

On July 24, Japan-America Society of Houston Board of Directors and Benefactors had the honor of welcoming to Houston the new Consul-General of Japan in Houston Hideo Fukushima, Mrs. Kaori Fukushima and Miss Mika Fukushima.

At a reception held at The Briar Club, Consul-General Fukushima greeted guests and shared his firm belief in the importance of promoting understanding of Japan in America as the key to further strengthening the U.S.-Japan alliance.

JASH looks forward to working with Consul-General Fukushima to foster friendship at the grassroots level.

Learn more about Consul-General Fukushima below.


Consul-General Hideo Fukushima and his family arrived in Texas from Thailand, where Fukushima-san served as Minister, Deputy Chief of Mission, and Permanent Representative to the United Nations ESCAP at the Embassy of Japan in Thailand. 

Prior to his time in Thailand, Fukushima-san served as Minister, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Japan in Italy (from 2012) and Minister, Head of Chancellery at the Embassy of Japan in the Russian Federation (from 2010).  Fukushima-san also served as the Minister of Public Affairs at the Embassy of Japan in the United States (from 2008).  He has also held the role of director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan's Public Diplomacy Division (from 2007), Global Environment Division (from 2005) and Climate Change Division (from 2003).

Consul-General Fukushima is a graduate of University of Tokyo, Faculty of Law (B.A.) and earned his Master's degree in International Relations at Johns Hopkins University.



Tanabata - Celebrating With The Stars

On July 7, JASH volunteers joined the Consulate-General of Japan in Houston at the Children's Museum of Houston to celebrate Tanabata (七夕/ star festival)

Steeped in legend, Tanabata honors the tale of Orihime and Hikoboshi.  According to folklore, the Milky Way separates these lovers, and they are allowed to meet only once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month of the lunisolar calendar. 

With the stars aligning for this reunion, wishes are destined to come true.  Therefore, on this day, Japanese write their own wishes on colorful paper (tanzaku) and hang them from bamboo branches.

Participants in the Houston Tanabata event not only had the opportunity to make their own tanzaku wish cards, they also had the chance to experience kamishibai storytelling, dance traditional bon odori dances, and fold a variety of origami shapes.

Many thanks to all who came out to enjoy Tanabata with us!

JASH Board of Directors


At the ANNUAL MEETING held on June 28, the JASH membership elected the following individuals to the Board of Directors:

Vice President, Government Relations and Senior Counsel, The Friedkin Group

Chairman, Commonwealth International Trust

CEO, Gondo Company Inc.

Hiroki HABA
General Manager, Houston Branch, Mitsubishi Corporation (Americas)
(Concurrently) General Manager, Houston Branch, Mitsubishi International Corporation

Yukihito HONDA
Senior Vice President Tubular Products Group and General Manager Houston Office, Sumitomo Corporation of Americas

Executive Vice President, Satake USA, Inc.

Hiroko SATO
Retired Japanese language professor, Rice University

Advocate of Japanese culture

William H. WEILAND
Retired Partner, Vinson & Elkins, LLP

The newly elected/reelected members join the following individuals on the JASH BOARD.

Takeshi EBISU
President and CEO, Goodman Global Group, Inc.

Joseph A. HAFNER, Jr.
Retired Chairman of Riviana Foods Inc.

Yasushi KOKAZE
Senior Vice President, Divisional Operating Officer Energy Division and Southern States Regional Officer Energy Division, Mitsui & Co. (U.S.A.), Inc.

Vice President and General Manager Houston Office, All Nippon Airways (ANA)

Director, Kane Russell Coleman Logan PC

Director of Sales Houston Office, United Airlines

Advocate of Japanese culture

Japanese businesswoman

We are grateful for the hard work and commitment of our Board of Directors who donate their time and expertise to the JASH mission of leading U.S.-Japan exchange in Houston.


On June 28, JASH held its 2018 ANNUAL MEETING at the home of the HOUSTON ROCKETS to mark 50 years of Japan-America friendship in Houston, discuss plans for the future, and conduct our Board of Director elections.

Members were treated to food and refreshments as well as a special prize drawing and a bespoke daruma anniversary cake.

Following the presentation of the 2017-18 Annual Report by JASH President Bill Weiland, members were taken beyond the velvet ropes and into the premium areas of TOYOTA CENTER for a special glimpse of the inner workings of the arena.

Thanks go to JASH President Elect Laird Doran and JASH Corporate Sponsors The Friedkin Group and Gulf States Toyota for making JASH's 2018 ANNUAL MEETING an evening to remember.


Click here to view the JASH FY2017-2018 Annual Report.

2018 Houston-Chiba Sister City Youth Ambassadors

Five students from River Oaks Baptist School (Camron Baldwin, Lily Durden, Amy He, Lucy Katz and Ava Winn) are having a summer of a lifetime as Houston and Chiba mark 35 years of youth exchanges.

From May 31 – June 14, 2018, the 2018 Houston-Chiba Sister City Youth Ambassadors will experience Japanese culture and customs through a home stay with a Chiba family, visits to Chiba schools, and outings that highlight Chiba's history. 

The Sister City relationship between Chiba City and Houston has long provided invaluable educational and enrichment experiences, and we are very pleased that we have been able to continue this meaningful grass-roots program. 

Special thanks to Mayor Toshihito Kumgai and the City of Chiba for an enduring commitment to the fostering of friendship and understanding between the youth of Houston and Chiba City.