Letter from JAST Board Chair

Masami Izumida Tyson


Dear JAST Members and Friends,

As is true on the national level, the strong ties Tennessee enjoys with Japan encompass many areas including economy, business and culture. Among these is the common thread of personal relationships which are formed and cherished along the way. And so it is with JAST: whether it is the Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival which showcases culture, arts and food or the annual Southeast U.S.-Japan Conference which focuses on business ties and opportunities, we value first and foremost the friendships which hold together every event and program we offer. Indeed, JAST exists to build, support, and enhance the Japan-Tennessee relationship which began many decades ago. That is why with every activity and program, we celebrate this strong and special bond, and we are grateful to every Japanese company and person that calls Tennessee “home.” Thank you also to all Tennesseans who welcome them and support JAST’s endeavor.

It is against this backdrop that I am honored to serve as Chair of JAST, with the generous support of Honorary Co-Chairs Governor Bill Lee and Consul General Kayoko Fukushima, to further the work that the previous Chair, Bob Booker of DENSO, and others, have built over the last two decades.

Sincerely yours,

Masami Izumida Tyson

Global Director of FDI and Trade

Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development

Masami Izumida Tyson joined the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development in 2018 as the Global Director of FDI and Trade. Her primary duties include: managing the international offices which identify companies from around the globe interested in doing business in Tennessee; supporting the business development team to recruit international companies to Tennessee and cultivating relationships with such companies; and developing relationships with various international agencies, diplomatic channels and organizations in order to promote economic development in the State of Tennessee. She is also the State’s contact for any issues relating to trade.

Masami was born and raised in Yokohama, Japan and has lived in Nashville, Tennessee for most of her adult life. Prior to holding her current position, Masami held various attorney positions at global companies including Nissan North America as well as at a law firm. She has her B.A. and M.A. from Johns Hopkins University and her J.D. from Vanderbilt Law School. She is married to Dr. Rich Tyson, a native of the U.K., and they have three children, Joel, Julia and Mei.

Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s mission is to develop strategies that help make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs. To grow and strengthen Tennessee, the department seeks to attract new corporate investment to the state and works with Tennessee companies to facilitate expansion and economic growth. You can find them on the web, Facebook, and Twitter and Instagram at @tnecd.  

The Memphis Japan Festival Returns on November 7th


We are excited to announce the return of the Memphis Japan Festival at Memphis Botanic Garden on Sunday, November 7th! The Japan-America Society of Tennessee is honored to work with Memphis-area companies and organizations to bring a taste of Japan to Memphis with this fun, family-friendly celebration of Japanese culture and the close bonds between Japan and the Greater Memphis Region. Local performers, martial arts groups, artists and vendors with a connection to Japan and a passion for Japanese culture will have the opportunity to showcase their talents and products once again.

Highlights will include drumming by St. Louis Osuwa Taiko, performances by the Kent Family Magic Circus, tours of the Japanese Garden, presentations and exhibits of Japanese culture, traditional martial arts demonstrations and the experience of modern, youthful Japanese culture with anime, cosplay and children’s activities.

We look forward to seeing everyone at the Memphis Japan Festival on November 7th!


View from Japan

Erik Castor and Linden Eftink


Guest writers with connections to Japan living in Tennessee and and connections to Tennessee living in Japan have been invited to share their thoughts, sentiments and experiences.

In this issue, we are featuring an article by Memphis natives Erik Castor and Linden Eftink, who are currently participants of the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) program. They currently live in Kobe city where they are approaching their 4th year of teaching English to elementary school students. 


Four Terms

July 20th, 2021, 12:10: The bell rings, and elementary school students cheer. The school day is over, and spring term is finished. After another long and strange semester, summer break is just around the bend. Across Kobe City, one hundred JETs let out a collective sigh of relief. The term hadn’t been an easy one. Thousands of 2020 JETs being waylaid in their respective countries meant teacher shortages, leaving many Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) juggling extra schools and a crazy class load, but it was done. There were no end-of-semester enkai or summer English festivals to plan for, but we cheered together over text.

Once summer arrives, COVID-sanctioned work from home begins. We pack up our textbooks and work laptops and prepare for fall from the comfort of our floor couches with the A/C on full blast. All ALTs in the city LINE app groups are veterans now, so we use the chat rooms for brainstorming and lesson sharing. With COVID restrictions, lesson planning has become the primary way to bond with your students, so many ALTs have taken to priding themselves on creating interesting activities and sharing them around Kobe.

Four terms have come and passed since the start of the pandemic. Adjusting to a “new normal” never really stops. Old lessons are thrown out for being too loud, too close, too wild. Classes are (hilariously) scolded for being too excitable. Kids take English quizzes at home on their new school-issued laptops. Reading and writing skills are finally a higher priority. Friend groups grow stronger through shared experience.

“ESID”, or “Every Situation is Different”, is the popular JET Programme turn-of-phrase, but camaraderie in times of trouble can put into perspective if our own ordeals are really all that different from anyone else’s and if those differences really mean as much as what ALTs in Japan have in common.   

It’s been four terms, and we’ll be ready for the fifth together.


Trivia of the Month


This month, test your knowledge of Tennessee! 


Why is Tennessee called the Volunteer State? 

Answer Here

JAST Pick - Naomi Osaka


The JAST Pick for July is Naomi Osaka, a limited series on Netflix focusing on tennis player Naomi Osaka. This documentary is an intimate look inside the life of one of the most gifted and complex athletes of her generation. It offers insight into the tough decisions and ecstatic triumphs that shape Naomi Osaka as a superstar and a young woman. The show also explores here biracial roots and her struggles as she fights for her aspirations. Whether you are a long time follower, or your first exposure was her lighting the cauldron at the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony, you will enjoy this real look into this inspiring woman.


Upcoming NAJAS Events


A Conversation with Naomi Umeki: Japanese Kokeshi Doll Maker

August 05, 2021 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM EDT / 6:00 - 7:00 PM CDT

Join Japanese Kokeshi doll maker, Naomi Umeki, live from Japan, in a bilingual conversation about the art and craft of producing traditional wooden Kokeshi dolls. The conversation will be conducted in Japanese and translated into English.

Intro to Chanoyu: The Japanese Tea Ceremony

August 12, 2021 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM CDT


While Chanoyu, the Japanese Tea Ceremony, has been alive and well for over 500 years, it remains a mystery for many both inside and outside of Japan. Join the Japan-America Society of Chicago as Francis-sensei  sheds some light on Chanoyu’s origins, philosophies, and culture.

Summer 2021 Family Program: Japan-in-a-Suitcase

August 25, 2021 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM CDT


Umeko Tsuda’s Contributions To Modern Japan

August 25, 2021 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM CDT


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