Former JAST CEO Leigh Wieland Awarded

Order of the Rising Sun 


Leigh Wieland, former CEO of the Japan-America Society of Tennessee and former Director of the Tennessee Export Office, has been awarded “The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays” for her contribution to promoting regional exchanges and economic relations between Japan and the United States.

Under Leigh’s direction, JAST experienced its most significant period of growth, achieving an enviable position among its counterparts nationally.  Signature programs and events established during her tenure from 2003 - 2018 include:

  • The Mitsui USA Foundation Scholarships in Tennessee Program
  • The Tennessee Area Japanese Speech Contest
  • The Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival
  • The Women’s Leadership Forum and Networking Luncheon
  • The Memphis Japan Festival

Prior to joining JAST, Leigh served as (former) Tennessee Governor Don Sundquist’s Director for Policy. While managing state-federal relations and governor-led FDI and trade initiatives, she was a key member of the team involved in the opening of the Tennessee Japan Office in Yokohama in 1999.

From the earliest days of her public service career, from 1985 until retiring from JAST in 2018, Leigh was among those spearheading Tennessee’s longstanding involvement in the Southeast-U.S./Japan Association. As director of the Tennessee Export Office from 1989 – 1992, she was also responsible for establishing the Japan External Trade Organization’s Senior Trade Advisor Program in Tennessee.

The Order of the Rising Sun was established in 1875. The conferment of the decoration is a privilege of His Majesty the Emperor of Japan to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to Japan’s ties with foreign nations. The Government of Japan announced the Autumn Conferment of Decorations on Foreign Nationals on November 4, 2020.

Partner Spotlight - Sister Cities of Nashville


Sister Cities of Nashville (SCN) connects the people of Nashville to the people of the world through cultural programming, student and professional exchanges, travel, hospitality, and community partnerships, like the Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival.    

Founded in 1990, SCN is a mostly volunteer-run chapter of Sister Cities International, an organization that was created in 1956 by President Eisenhower with the goal of fostering peace and understanding between people from different cities around the world through the bonding of ordinary citizens. By becoming friends, President Eisenhower reasoned that people of different cultures could celebrate and appreciate their differences instead of deriding them, fostering suspicion and sowing new seeds for war.

Now, Nashville has 9 different Sister Cities in 8 different countries: Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, and Northern Ireland (U.K.), and offers a variety of in-person and virtual opportunities to connect with, learn about, and learn from the wonderful people in our Sister Cities across the globe.  

Sister Cities of Nashville is a much valued, wholehearted partner and friend of JAST. SCN has hosted the annual Cherry Blossom Walk since the Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival became a full-day event and actively participates on the volunteer NCBF Planning Committee. This fall, SCN staff and members fully supported and significantly contributed to the success of the Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival Tree Replanting Project. 

Please visit to find out about or participate in SCN events and programming!  There’s something for everyone!

The Sixth Annual Women's Leadership Forum 


This month, JAST hosted four unique and inspiring virtual sessions reflecting on portrayals of U.S. and Japanese women in fiction and film and real life challenges and achievements. Recordings of these events are now available on the JAST YouTube page.

Watch Here

Cooking with JAST:

Tennessee Kitchens, Japanese Style


Chef Jimmy Ishii

Sekisui Restaurant


If you missed easy shopping and simple Japanese cooking with Chef Jimmy Ishii, you can watch the video recording of this fun and informative JAST cooking series episode on our YouTube channel. 

Watch Here

Jimmy will take you on a virtual shopping trip to the grocery store to find the best ingredients and, then, to his kitchen where he will demonstrate how to cook without recipes by developing your own taste. Jimmy also hosts an exclusive, virtual tour of Sekisui Restaurants.

Find Cooking with JAST Videos Here

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! 

Upcoming NAJAS Events


Explore the Kanagawa Prefecture and Kamakura from the comfort of your own home


Join the Japan Society’s current online series about Kanagawa Prefecture in their Get to Know Kanagawa: Virtual Series.

Located just south of Tokyo, Kanagawa Prefecture is known for its breathtaking locales, the quaint hot spring town of Hakone and the grand Buddhist temples of Kamakura - Nashville’s sister city. 

On December 9th, the Japan Society will present a live sake webinar, a virtual exhibition of Kamakura-bori woodcrafts, a pop-up shop featuring delicious Kanagawa specialties, essays introducing the region, and more!

For more information and to register for the live sake webinar:


You are also invited to attend these virtual events:


A Virtual Tour of Passive Town

December 3rd at 12:00 p.m. CST


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