Celebrate Spring With Sakura Season


Join us on the Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival Facebook page for Sakura Season, two weeks of virtual and live events, including Japan Week, organized by the Consulate-General of Japan in Nashville. Sakura Season is a celebration of the 1,000 cherry blossom trees planted in Nashville parks and neighborhoods as part of the NCBF Tree Planting Project between 2009-2018.

Sister Cities of Nashville is encouraging sakura enthusiasts to celebrate Sakura Season by taking a one-mile walk anywhere in Nashville and discover the best blossoms in town. While you are viewing the trees, take some pictures and send your best one by April 5th to Sister Cities of Nashville for their Cherry Blossom Photo Challenge. Winning photographs will be announced on SCN's social media on April 10th. For more information: https://www.scnashville.org.

Sakura Season is a joint undertaking of the Japan-America Society of Tennessee and the Consulate-General of Japan in Nashville. Funding is provided by Presenting Sponsor, Nissan; Sakura Circle Sponsor, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development; Gold Sponsor, Mitsui & Co. (U.S.A.), Inc.; and Silver Sponsor, The Mitsui U.S.A. Foundation.

Schedule Here

Member Spotlight - Austin Peay State University 


Austin Peay State University, named after a former Tennessee governor, is located on an urban campus that for over 180 years has been used for educational purposes and on which the buildings of five colleges have stood. The University, located in Clarksville, Tennessee, is a four-year public, masters level university offering two doctoral degrees, over 56 majors and 63 different concentrations. Austin Peay sets the standard of excellence in Tennessee and across the southeast. With degree concentrations ranging from aviation science to nuclear medicine and everything in between, the University has the educational offering that is the right fit for anyone interested in pursuing a college degree. 

On December 21, 2020, the Austin Peay State University Board of Trustees named Dr. Michael Licari as the University’s 11th president. He officially arrived at Austin Peay on March 1, 2021. Licari previously served as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, where he oversaw all of the school’s academic functions, including 34 academic departments housed in five colleges. He was responsible for a $100 million general fund budget and oversaw much of that University’s strategic plan.

Licari earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Minnesota and his Masters of Arts in Political Science and Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He is also passionate about community service, serving as past president of the Terre Haute Symphony board of directors, president of the board, vice president and executive committee member for the Rural Health Innovation Collaborative, and board member for the Terre Haute Rotary Club. He also served as a Cub Scout and Boy Scout leader for several years, and he has often provided support for local K-12 schools.


Q&A with President Michael Licari 

JAST Board Member


What drew you to your career originally? What has changed?

“When I was an undergrad, and also as a grad student, I loved interacting with my professors. That academic life was really, really intriguing, and I also saw the power that was there, that you could just transform so many lives. That’s really what got me even as an undergrad, when figuring out what I wanted to do, how to make a difference. This was a great way to make difference. You touch so many people and change their lives forever, and you also change their families’ lives. Anyone who comes after, their kids. It lasts for generations, which is humbling.”

What excites you about serving as President at Austin Peay State University?

“Starting from a position of strength, APSU is ready to move forward as it serves students, the local community, and the state of Tennessee.  Austin Peay transforms lives, providing students from many different backgrounds and experiences an opportunity to earn a degree and achieve their career and life goals.  I am also excited to work to deepen the connection of APSU to the local community and the state of Tennessee.  All of this is the very work that energizes and motivates me.  Throughout my career, I have sought out the very things that Austin Peay is doing so well, so this is a perfect fit for me.”

What advice would you share with young professionals to stand out in their careers?

“When I think about my course, it’s the same advice I recently gave students in the Morgan University Center. ‘Always be ready for opportunity to knock. Work hard and do your current job as a well as you can, so when opportunity knocks, you can not only open the door, but say yes.’ You have to be ready, and you have to open the door. I kept saying yes and found every step in my career to be more rewarding then the last.”


Tennessee-Japan Forum Recordings


We invite you to view the recordings of the 2021 Tennessee-Japan Forum series on the JAST YouTube channel. 

On March 4th, Japanese community leaders joined our virtual roundtable to share their insights, experiences and thoughts about how Tennessee communities can better support current and future Japanese companies and residents. On March 9th, representatives from five Tennessee Sister Cities organizations came together virtually to speak about how they keep our grassroots connections with Japan strong and vibrant.

Our first-ever virtual JAST Annual Meeting on March 11th featured Consul-General of Japan in Nashville Mrs. Kayoko Fukushima and The Honorable Bill Lee, Governor of Tennessee, with The Honorable Bill Hagerty, U.S. Senator for Tennessee and included a panel discussion with members of the Japan-connected community, who have funded and worked with JAST on collaborative projects, discussing the many opportunities created for grassroots and scholarly exchange between the U.S. and Japan.

Watch Here

Persona non Grata Movie Screening


Join the Nashville Film Festival and the Consulate-General of Japan in Nashville for a free screening of Persona non Grata, a film celebrating the life of Chiune Sugihara. Experience the true story of a Japanese diplomat whose brave actions saved thousands of Jews on the eve of WWII.

This screening will be available from March 25th - 31st, and is available for anyone to screen for free on their home computer or smart device.  Registration is required to access this free film screening. To register and for more information, please click here.


Upcoming NAJAS Events


Raised in Brooklyn, NY, and trained at the Kodokan Judo Institute in Japan, Rena “Rusty” Kanokogi (née Glickman) is known as the “Mother of Women’s Judo.” Rusty dedicated her life to martial arts, and due in great part to her efforts, women’s judo became an official Olympic sport in 1992. Rusty’s daughter, Jean Kanokogi, Ph.D., a 5th degree black belt in judo, and author of Get Up & Fight: The Memoir of Rena "Rusty" Kanokogi, The Mother of Women's Judo, is keeping her mother’s legacy alive. During this program, Dr. Kanokogi discusses her mother’s fascinating life, and tells the story of how women’s judo became an Olympic sport. Followed by an audience Q&A.


Scientific Research in the Age of COVID-19

April 15, 2021 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM CDT


As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, workplaces have the daunting task of responding and adapting to the situation as best they can, while following federal and state guidelines. In this interactive webinar, Suzanne Finucane, MS, CCRC, PTA of the Regenstein Foundation Center for Bionic Medicine (CBM) at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, will provide an inside look into the evolving world of robotics research at a leading rehabilitation hospital. She will discuss how her group has adapted their research methods in the wake of COVID-19 and also touch on some international research collaborations with Japan led by some of her colleagues. Suzanne’s presentation will be followed by an opportunity for audience Q&A.


Spring Ikebana (Virtual) Workshop

April 21, 2021 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM EDT


Join instructor Teruko Nesbitt, formally trained in Ikebana -- the traditional Japanese art of flower arrangement, for this relaxing hands-on virtual workshop designed for beginners.

A suggested materials list will be provided in advance, emphasizing materials that can be easily and inexpensively purchased or found in one's backyard.


Sake Cocktails: Sakura Celebration

April 22, 2021 6:30 PM EDT


It’s cherry blossom season, and what better way to celebrate Japan’s most iconic blossom than with some sakura-themed sake cocktails. During this virtual workshop, Sake Samurai Chris Johnson, along with good friend and cocktail wizard Warren Hode, will guide participants through mixing original sake cocktail creations inspired by the spring blossoms. Each participant will receive recipes for a Cherry Blossom Fizz, Sakura Highball and Ichigo Cocktail to enjoy during the workshop.


29th Annual JASK Golf Classic

April 25, 2021 EDT 9:00 AM EST


Guide to Daily Living in Tennessee 


JAST's Guide to Daily Living in Tennessee is now available! It's for newcomers and long-time residents originally from Japan to familiarize them with essential information on aspects of daily life that may differ from life in Japan and other parts of the world where they may have lived before relocating to Tennessee. Please let your Japanese friends know about this guide. We hope this will be helpful to our Japanese community!


Partner Resources COVID-19 

JAST is generously supported by these outstanding partners


Austin Peay State University

Baker Donelson

BB&T now Truist

Jack and Barbara Bovender

DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee, Inc.

Humanities Tennessee

Clay and Cathy Jackson

Komatsu America Corp.

The Mitsui U.S.A. Foundation 


Office: +1 615-663-6060