JAST Announces New Officers and

Expresses Gratitude to Immediate Past Chair Bob Booker


Members of the JAST Board of Directors gathered June 17th via Zoom to conduct the Society’s semi-annual business meeting and to elect new members and officers. At this session, JAST also welcomed Honorary Co-Chair Consul-General of Japan in Nashville Kayoko Fukushima as guest speaker. Consul-General Fukushima graciously thanked JAST for its many contributions to Japan-U.S. cultural exchange and conveyed her firm intention to continue to work closely with JAST and its members in the days ahead.

With unanimous consent, the JAST Board elected a new slate of officers for the 2021-2022 term:

Board Chair              Masami Izumida Tyson Tennessee Department of  Economic & Community Development

Vice Chair                 Norio Mitsubayashi, Brother Industries (U.S.A.), Inc.
Treasurer                  Mike Fedele, Mitsui & Co. (U.S.A.), Inc.
Secretary                  Lori Odom, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce
Immediate Past Chair Bob Booker, DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee, Inc.


Bob Booker
DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee, Inc.

Following the election, former Immediate Past Chair John Scannapieco expressed sentiments on behalf of the Board in praise of Bob Booker’s leadership and service as Board Chair over the last two years:

“As someone who has served a couple of terms as Board Chair, I know how difficult the role can be, even during the best of times. A short period after Bob took over as Chair of the Board, we had an unexpected leadership transition. Bob stepped in calmly and led us through how we were going to manage this change in leadership until we could complete a search and retain a new CEO. Before we could even begin, the globe was hit with a COVID pandemic.

I can’t think of a more challenging time in the history of the Society. So meetings and programs, which were the lifeblood of the Society, came to a halt. Bob, again very calmly, supported by an excellent JAST team, led us through it. I can’t imagine a better leader during these challenging times. The organization is now poised for the next chapter in its evolution as a business organization focused on promoting TN-Japan relations.”

In response, Bob shared his own thoughts as outgoing Board Chair and thanked those who supported him during his tenure:

“With all sincerity, this is a great organization. It has great staff, great board members, and members at large. I gained so many good friends, and I hope to continue supporting the organization for many years to come. I also want to thank Executive Committee members Joe Durante, Cathy Holland, Mike Fedele, and John Scannapieco for serving along with me. I live in the Maryville area of TN, so there were many times when it was difficult for me to travel to Nashville. Having members of the Executive Committee in Nashville, along with others in dedicated service to our Society, made our organization work during a difficult time. They carried a lot of the load and made my job a lot easier.”

Trivia of the Month


This month, test your knowledge of Japan! 


To celebrate the 25th anniversary of its entry into the Japanese market, Starbucks Coffee Japan will release special and exclusive local versions of its Frappuccinos in all 47 prefectures from June 30. 

Based off the prefecture's popular food, what will be the Frappuccino flavor for Hokkaido Prefecture? 

A) Sapporo Ramen

B) Soft Serve Ice Cream

C) Yubari King Melon

D) Corn 

Answer Here

View from Tennessee – Yoshie Lewis


This is the first article in our new monthly newsletter series The View from Tennessee and The View from Japan. Guest writers with connections to Japan living in Tennessee and connections to Tennessee living in Japan will share their thoughts, sentiments and experiences.

In this issue, we are featuring an article by Yoshie Lewis, Producer/Director/Writer/Historical Costumer of Pretzel Studios. Yoshie is a seasoned Producer/Director with over 15 years of experience in investigative documentary storytelling. She possesses a keen interest in history, particularly women’s history and lending a voice to their stories, as well contemporary social justice concerns.


I am Nisei.

Within the Japanese-American community, that is an instant identifier. It identifies me as the child of an immigrant. It says that I am probably very westernized; and it tells them that there is a very good chance I don’t speak Japanese. They are correct in their assumptions.

Nisei is also the identifier of a generation of Japanese-Americans who were interned during World War II.

Since my mother came from Japan after the war, this particular connection to the camps and injustices is something to which I have no personal lineage. However, as a film producer and historian, there has never been a more relevant time to bring stories to life about significant individuals who stood up proudly as American nationals and just happened to have a Japanese cultural heritage and gene pool. I am so thrilled to be developing two films related to this topic with my colleagues on the board at Mind Balloon Films right now.

I am also excited to be developing another film, “Friendship Flower”, that will focus on the history of the Cherry Blossom Festivals in the United States, and I look forward to highlighting our own festival here in Nashville. This city and state truly have cultivated a friendship with Japanese businesses and individuals, and they warmly embrace ongoing cultural exchanges. It is my honor to have called Nashville home for thirty-one years now, and I look forward to continuing to share my Japanese heritage with this wonderful community.

- Yoshie Lewis


JAST Pick - Our Dreams at Dusk


In recognition of Pride Month, June's JAST Pick is the manga series Our Dreams at Dusk by Shimanami Tasogare. The story follows Tasuku Kaname who is terrified that his sexuality has been outed. Just as he’s contemplating doing the unthinkable, Tasuku meets a mysterious woman who leads him to a group of people dealing with problems not so different from his own. In this realistic, heartfelt depiction of LGBT+ characters from different backgrounds finding their place in the world, a search for inner peace proves to be the most universal experience of all.

You can purchase Our Dreams at Dusk at your local bookstore or preferred online retailer. 


Upcoming NAJAS Events


World of Manga

July 14, 2021 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM EDT


Manga has become a global phenomenon and one of Japan’s most recognizable cultural exports. It has appeal across cultures and generations and is a medium of expression that often goes beyond entertainment, challenging the divisions between art, education, and amusement. This lecture introduces manga - its production and history. The Japan-America Society of Greater Cincinnati will explore the evolution of manga and the ways it interacts with culture and society.


Baseball—the national pastime of both Japan and the U.S.—will be featured at the Tokyo Summer Games for the first time since 2008. In a lead-up to the 150th anniversary of baseball in Japan, join the Japan-America Society of Chicago for a discussion of the differences in the game in both countries, the popularity of the sport, experiences playing through the pandemic, and prospects for baseball at the Tokyo Summer Games.

JASO Virtual Beer Garden

July 16, 2021 4:00 PM PDT


JASK Summer Celebration

July 24, 2021 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM EDT


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