The Japanese Language Contest is scheduled yearly and held at a local high school. The Heart of America Japan-America Society and the Olathe School District collaborate to provide the opportunity for friendly competition and networking so that all Japanese students can showcase their Japanese language skills and enjoy meeting other students across the region. Events include: Kana Bee and Kanji Bee (3 levels with HS and College Divisions), Shodo / Calligraphy, Haiku, Poetry Recitation and a Talent Show Contest.
The annual Japanese Language Contest is hosted by the Heart of America Japan-America Society and is sponsored by the Japan Foundation, the Consulate General of Japan at Chicago, the Olathe School District, the JET Alumni Association, the University of Kansas Center for East Asian Studies, and the Olathe District Schools International Studies Program.
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The Heart of America Japan-America Society sponsors many activities and has several civic responsibilities. Since 1972, HAJAS has engaged in a Sister City Program with the beautiful city of Kurashiki, Japan. For over 30 years, the HAJAS membership has hosted over 450 Japanese high school and college students during summer visits to Kansas City. Host families are from a variety of locations in the Greater Kansas City area. For the students, the Society sponsors social activities, sight-seeing, a welcome picnic by the members, and a grand party which includes presentations from both hosts and visitors.
Since 1981, our members have helped sponsor over 70 American high school and first year college students in a summer home-stay program in Kurashiki as student ambassadors. The American student ambassadors study the Japanese language intensely and are well qualified to represent the Japan-America Society.
The Japan-America Society sets up a section to display Japanese culture, food and items for purchase at the Ethnic Enrichment Festival. Every year in August, the Festival features countries throughout the world. We are happy to be a part of it.
The Japan Festival has been in operation since 1997. The Japan-America Society typically has several members who are actively participating in the planning of the festival, as well as countless others who set up and volunteer on the day of the event. This may mean directing visitors, working a craft or sales table, or holding workshops and performances. This is one of our biggest events of the year for representing Japan and its culture. Like us on Facebook and visit us at our Japan Festival Pages
Would you like to practice Japanese you’ve studied? Formed in November 1993, Nijikaiwa is an informal gathering of individuals who get together to use their Japanese language conversation skills. Currently the meeting time and place is 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. Thursdays at Denny's, 9001 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Mission, KS 66202. There is no cost to join. It is not a class; there are no lessons – just a place to use what you've learned. People of all ages and Japanese language ability are welcome.
The JAS Scholarship Fund is presently administered by Johnson County Community College. In past years it has also been administered by University of Missouri at Kansas City and Rockhurst College. The fund is established for a Japanese student studying in the U.S.or an American student studying in either country.
Shinnenkai (The New Year Celebration)
Since its founding, the Japan-America Society traditionally held a Christmas / Year end dinner dance in early to mid-December. Beginning in 1999, this party was shifted into January or early February of the new year and called the “Shinnenkai.” The Party Committee makes the reservation for the following year’s party. In past years, the celebration has been held in the Kansas City Carriage Club, as well as the Marriott Hotel and other locations.
Japanese Garden and Tea Room
The Loose Park Japanese Tea Room and Garden, dedicated in July 2006, was conceived as a cultural exchange between the Sister Cities of Kurashiki, Japan and Kansas City, Missouri. The Tea Room is set in a traditional Japanese garden featuring a small ornamental fountain, large boulders, many shrubs and groundcovers with a pathway leading to the Tea Room. The small garden is a place for quiet meditation.
The Japanese Tea Room is a space designed for holding Japanese tea ceremonies. It is a ceremonial space available only for this traditional activity and not for other types of gatherings. The Heart of America Japan-America Society‘s ”Friends of the Japanese Tea Room and Garden” work group hosts monthly Saturday morning work sessions from March through November to assist Parks and Recreation and Loose Park staff in the clean-up and maintenance of the garden. Contact us for more information about the Tea Room or Garden.