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Connecting Japan and Minnesota over 50 years

The Japan America Society of Minnesota is a member-supported, non-profit organization established to promote mutual understanding and friendship between Japanese and US citizens. Through our programs and events, we endeavor to promote an appreciation of cultural, educational, economic, public, and other affairs of interest to both peoples. JASM also connects and supports Minnesota's seven Japanese sister cities, two Japanese-language Saturday schools, over 100 Japanese corporate subsidiaries, and a host of other organizations dedicated to Japan-related topics from Anime to Zen. JASM is open to individuals, corporations, and other organizations interested in supporting its missionFounded in 1972, JASM is a member of the National Association of Japan-America Societies.


    • 2024-08-07
    • Como Park and Conservatory, St. Paul, MN
    • 36

    (Picture: 2023 Obon Festival first shift volunteers) The 2024 Obon Festival will be on Sunday, August 18th at Como Park. We are now accepting registration for volunteers! Mandatory Volunteer Orientation will be held virtually on Wednesday, August 7th at 6 pm.

    Please find information below on the various booths you can volunteer at and make this event successful together!

    (Picture: 2023 Obon Festival first shift volunteers)

    • Calligraphy - assist calligraphy master and help people do calligraphy (previous experience with calligraphy preferred) 

    • Yo-Yo Tsuri - a game where participants fish for floating balloons. Volunteers will need to organize booth, prepare water balloons, prepare hooks, and help run game. 

    • Balloon Makers - help make balloons for Yo-Yo Tsuri 

    • Kingyo sukui - our version will involve participants fishing for rubber fish with scoopers. Volunteers will need to prepare tubs of water, and help run game. 

    • Japanese Quiz - conduct J-quiz by asking participants questions and encouraging participants

    • Main Booth - sell variety of JASM merchandise and conduct membership outreach 

    Everyone aged 18 and older is welcome to volunteer. Current JASM members given priority. If you are not JASM member yet, become a member and join the JASM family today! Whether you're new to Obon or an experienced volunteer, we look forward to having you!

    ** Please note that all volunteers need to attend a volunteer workshop before the festival to get necessary information.  Time and location to be determined.

    We're looking forward to working with you!

    • 2024-08-08
    • 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
    • Online Event

    Please join us for "UFF DA!: How World War II Started a Japanese Community in Minnesota" with James S. Kanki on Thursday, August 8 at 6:00 p.m. on Zoom.

    Heart of America Japan-America Society of Kansas City, Missouri members Mark Saito and Jim Kanki, sons of Niseis, will talk about WWII, their parents' lives at Fort Snelling, MN, and the growing Japanese community that still exists.

    James S. Kanki is the Honorary Consul of Japan in Kansas City. He has been an active member of the Heart of America Japan-America Society (HAJAS) since 1992 and continues to volunteer on numerous committees including serving as its President from 2008 to 2011. He received the Honorary Consul appointment from the Foreign Ministry of Japan in August 2016. He was born and raised in Chicago and held various Development positions at WTTW/Public TV in Chicago (14 yrs.) and KCPT/Public TV in Kansas City (28 yrs.). He retired in 2006 and he and his wife Lydia have one daughter, Jamie Mariko, who is married and living in Melbourne Beach, Florida.

    Mark Saito, a native Minnesotan, is a retired meteorologist now in his 30th year of living in Kansas City. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in meteorology from the University of Wisconsin and Master of Science in Environmental Studies from the Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, and a Master of Divinity from Lincoln Christian Seminary. Before retiring five years ago, Mark spent over 40 years in the atmospheric sciences. As part of his career, Mark has performed analyses of, and interpreted modeling output of the atmosphere to determine impacts on operations for a variety of industries including aviation, broadcasting, transportation, air pollution and emergency management. Mark is a Sansei, one of many who grew up in Minnesota just after World War II. Like a true Minnesotan, Mark developed an interest in many of the activities that Minnesota is famous for: fishing, cross country skiing, and complaining about the Vikings, Twins and Gophers. In a state filled with tall Scandinavians, Mark and the Japanese community were quite the oddity. But despite the social and cultural differences, the Japanese thrived and formed a distinctive Minnesota flavor. And because of his experiences, Mark is ideally suited to talk about how the Japanese community in Minnesota grew out of the dark times of World War II. 

    • 2024-08-16

    Currently, we are looking for nominations for the Mondale Award for Japan-Minnesota Partnership. If you think you know an individual or organization who is perfect for this award, please let us know! 

    Please click here for a list of criteria for the Mondale Award and here to nominate someone. 

    The due date for nominations is August, 11, 2024. 

    Every year, the Japan America Society of Minnesota presents the Mondale Award for Japan-Minnesota Partnership to an individual or organization that has been nominated by the membership and selected by a committee of the Board of Directors. Purpose: The Mondale Award for Japan-Minnesota Partnership is presented by JASM to recognize outstanding contributions to the building of understanding, cooperation and respect between the people of Japan and Minnesota. 

    After Walter Mondale returned to Minnesota in 1997, having served with distinction as Ambassador to Japan, JASM created the Mondale Award for Japan-Minnesota Partnership. The award was first presented to Joan and Walter Mondale to recognize his work as an ambassador to Japan and her ongoing efforts to promote the arts in both countries. The Mondale's epitomized JASM's core value of fostering meaningful connection between Minnesota and Japan. Through this award, JASM celebrates individuals and organizations who are dedicated to bringing Japan and Minnesota closer together.

    Recent awardees include: 

    Dick Stahl (2023)

    Gayle and Judith Fleming (2022)

    Sarah Walbert (2021) 

    Bill Deef (2020)

    Patricia Katagiri (2019)

    You can find a complete list of awardees by clicking here.

    We cannot wait to receive your nominations! 

    • 2024-08-18
    • Online

    White Team

    Captain; Joe Montgomery 

    Kat DalagerJeffrey Dubois 

    Lydia RoseBen van Lierop

    Red Team

    Captain Rio

    Peter Hill, Jack Koepke,

    Andy Morris, Michiko Smith

    JASM has played a key role in connecting Minnesota and Japan, and we need your financial support to continue to do so. Join our Summer Fundraising Campaign! 

    Goal: Our goal is to raise $15,000 by Monday, August 19, the day after the O-Bon festival.

    Match: To help achieve the goal, our board members have agreed to provide a 100% match for the first $7000 in donations.

    Teams. To make things fun, our board has divided into two teams, Team Red and Team White. (Yes, we are shamelessly copying from the famous KOUHAKU (紅白) song competition hosted every New Year's Eve by NHK.) Donate to support either team. Whichever team has the most donors by Monday, August 19 wins!

    To Donate: Please click the red and white logo above and go to the donation page!

    May the best team win!

    • 2024-08-18
    • 3:00 PM - 8:30 PM
    • Como Park Zoo and Conservatory

    Please save the date  for Obon Festival 2024 at Como Park on Sunday, August 18 from 3 PM to sundown for a celebration of Japanese culture and tradition.  There will be food, singing, dancing, martial arts, and of course, lantern lighting! This is a family friendly event perfect for everyone. 

    Please stay turned for the update!


    JASM Activities that will be at Obon Festival: 

    Calligraphy - Try your hand at calligraphy or ask the calligraphy master for a message on a fan (with a donation of $15 or more)

    Yo-Yo Tsuri - A game where participants fish for floating balloons

    Kingyo sukui - In our version, fish for rubber fish with scoopers

    Japanese Quiz - Test your knowledge of Japan and win a prize

    Main Booth - Find variety of JASM merchandise and other fun items.

    Visit JASM Main Booth for Obon Festival Masks!


    We hope to see you there!

    • 2024-09-21
    • 12:00 PM - 3:00 PM
    • Pioneer Creek Golf Course 705 Copeland Rd #9787, Maple Plain, MN 55359
    • 61

    JASM will be holding our 4th annual charity golf scramble event in September at Pioneer Creek Golf Course in Maple Plain, MN on September 21st.

    Please save the date for this event!

    Enjoy a fun day of competition with old friends and new, while supporting JASM. This event is limited to 72 participants. 

    Tickets until August 23rd

    $75 for members

    $90 for non-members 

    After August 24th

    $100 for members

    $115 for non-members

    For further information, please contact:

    Tom Haeg, 612-940-3351 tomhaeg@msn.com

    Marc Blehert, 763-280-2108 mblehert@yahoo.com

    • 2024-11-16
    • 5:30 PM - 9:00 PM
    • Oak Ridge Country Club 700 Oak Ridge Rd, Hopkins, MN 55305

    Please mark your calendars for the 2024 Mondale Award and Scholarship Gala will be held in person on Saturday, November 16th at the Oak Ridge Country Club in Hopkins.

    Both the MondaleAward and Mondale Scholarship will be presented at this event. The Mondale Award recognizes outstanding contributions to the building of understanding, cooperation, and respect between the people of Japan and Minnesota. 

    The Mondale Scholarship is presented to students enrolled in Minnesota colleges and universities who want to broaden their knowledge of Japan through a combination of study and travel.

    Please keep an eye out for registration information which will come in September.

    • 2024-12-12
    • 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
    • TBD
    • 50

    The 2024 Annual Meeting  is scheduled on December 12th at 6:30 pm this year. The location is to be dermined.

    At the meeting, we will be reflecting on the year as a whole and looking forward to next year. We’ll discuss additional ways we can further JASM’s  mission and will hold elections for board members.

    Mark your calendar!


JASM is supported by hundreds of individuals and over 40 Companies and Non-Profit Organizations. Special thanks to the following sponsors:

Corporate Benefactors

Daikin Applied 

Delta Air Lines, Inc.  

Taiyo International, Inc.

Corporate Patron

Dorsey & Whitney LLP

Miller Milling Company


Corporate Sustaining Members


Hamre, Schumann,  Mueller & Larson PC   

Japan Lifeline Co.Ltd

Mall of America

Metropolitan Airports Commission

Naigai Industries U.S.A. Inc. 

Satellite Industries, Inc.

Surdyk's Liquor & Cheese Shop

The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd.

Corporate Contributors

Satellite Industries, Inc. UMEI    

Partners in Service

JK's Table     Kiku Enterprises, Inc.     

Metoree   Minnesota Trade Office

Origami Restaurant     Sakura Restaurant

Saint Paul Saints Baseball Club     Saji-Ya Restaurant

Suishin Restaurant

TOMODACHI     Voyager Group Inc.

Nonprofit Members

Concordia Language Villages     Economic Club of Minnesota     Global Minnesota

JETAA Minnesota     JETRO Chicago     JP Network, St. Cloud State University

KCC-Japan Education Exchange     Macalester College Asian Language & Culture Department

Minneapolis Japanese School     Minneapolis Institute of Art

Minnesota Council of Teachers of Japanese     Minnesota Orchestra     

NDSU-Emily Reynolds Historic Costume Collection     Twin Cities Aikido Center

UMN Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

University of North Dakota-Grand Forks     Winona State University Global Studies Dept.

Contact Us


P.O. Box 26639

Minneapolis, MN 55426

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