The cultural, linguistic, and economic influence of the Land of the Rising Sun (so termed from the Japanese Nippon, the non-exonymic name of the country that means “the sun’s origin”) cannot be underestimated. Ranked as the second most technologically powerful country in the world after the U.S. and having the third-largest economy in the world after the U.S. and China, Japan is also the state of Georgia’s primary international investor, according to the Consulate-General of Japan.
This October 18-21, 2008, marks the 32nd annual Southeast U.S./Japan Association Conference, held this year in the Raleigh Convention Center of North Carolina. This annual conference takes place in Japan and the southeastern United States on alternate years and attracts over 500 participants of both nationalities. Created in 1976, the Southeast U.S./Japan Association (“SEUS/Japan”) was established “to promote trade, investment, understanding and friendship between Japan and member states of the southeast U.S.” The SEUS/Japan Association includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, with delegates from private and public sectors.
Perhaps the most visible and pervasive Japanese influence in America is the cultural and linguistic one. Both classical and contemporary Japanese culture captivate the modern American imagination: from Hokusai’s elegant woodblock prints of Mount Fuji to the array of modern-day manga comic books read in America; from Kabuki and No theater to yakuza films and anime; from geisha to stylized Japanese pop, America is enamored with the grace and glamour of Japan.
The study of Japanese has grown, too, with the popularity of Japanese culture in America. Not only is the study of Japanese available in universities throughout the country, but high schools have begun to offer Advanced Placement (AP) courses in Japanese language and culture. Numerous intensive courses are also offered through Japanese-American organizations like the Consulate-Generals of each state, study abroad programs, and online courses.
If you live near Atlanta and would like more information on Japanese cultural events, visit the Japan-America Society of Georgia.