Intercultural exchange and discussion took place in January when a Japanese delegation visited various universities in Tennessee as part of the “Walk in US, Talk on Japan” program, an initiative developed by the Japanese government to increase cultural and political awareness of Japan in major US cities.
The program, first launched in 2014, serves as a public diplomacy program catered to sharing Japanese stories and experiences to the US public. Each visiting delegation consists of individuals with ranging backgrounds, from diplomats to Japanese undergraduate students, all of whom have some significant connection to the United States. The delegates discuss unique topics regarding Japanese lifestyle and recent developments in Japan as a way of increasing dialogue and strengthening relations between the United States and Japan.
The delegation first traveled to Virginia, before heading to Tennessee, and ending in Hawai‘i. The delegation, led by Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki who currently serves as President of the America-Japan Society Inc., visited Tennessee State University and Austin Peay State University, and spoke to numerous students, faculty members, and community leaders. The event at Tennessee State University was also attended by The Consul-General Japan in Nashville, Masami Kinefuchi.
This visit is one of many that demonstrate the deep relations between Tennessee and Japan. The current US Ambassador to Japan, Ambassador William Hagerty, is a native of Tennessee, and is the third US Ambassador to Japan to come from the state. Japanese culture is also greatly celebrated in Tennessee, exemplified by the 10th annual Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival taking place this year. Nashville is one of the three cities in Tennessee gifted with cherry blossoms from Japan, and is home to the Japan-America Society of Tennessee. Furthermore, Tennessee also exported a total of $2.5 billion goods and services to Japan in 2013.
Karunia "Karin" Silitonga is a research intern at the East-West Center in Washington and a recent graduate of Baylor University.