News Archive


Language and culture class for ATYP program in June

Japanese language and culture class for WMU's Academically Talented Youth Program (ATYP)

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—A Japanese language and culture class for students of Kalamazoo's Academically Talented Youth Program is planned for 1 to 4 p.m. Monday, June 23, through Friday, June 27, in Western Michigan University's Lee Honors College. The program is geared toward students in grades six through nine, but is open to other students.

The class will be taught by Michiko Yoshimoto, outreach coordinator for the University's Soga Japan Center. For more information, contact Yoshimoto at or (269) 387-5874.

Language and culture class for people 50 and older in July

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—A Japanese language and culture class open to anyone age 50 or older is planned for 1 to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, July 8-10, at Friendship Village Senior Living Community in Kalamazoo. The program is being offered through Western Michigan University's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

Registration is required.

The class will be taught by Michiko Yoshimoto, outreach coordinator for WMU's Soga Japan Center. For more information, contact Yoshimoto at or (269) 387-5874.

Yoko Tawada to read at WMU April 21

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Called "magnificently strange" by The New Yorker and frequently compared to Kafka, Pynchon and Murakami, Yoko Tawada is one of the world's most creative, theoretically provocative and unflinchingly original writers. She will visit Western Michigan University to present a reading of her prose and poetry from 5 to 6:15 p.m. Monday, April 21, in 3025 Brown Hall.

Post-disaster recovery topic of March 18 talk

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Dr. Ethan Segal will give a free, public lecture on "Three Years Later: Japan and the Challenges of Post-Disaster Recover" at 3 p.m. Tuesday, March 18, in 3301 Friedmann Hall on the campus of Western Michigan University.

The devastating triple disasters—earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant crises—of March 2011 claimed close to 20,000 lives and left many more Japanese unemployed, homeless, and wondering if their communities would ever be rebuilt.

Segal, associate professor of history at Michigan State University, has been following the recovery efforts and will draw upon his research and site visits to help explain what happened in 2011 and why recovery efforts are so complicated and frustratingly slow.

Segal's visit is sponsored by WMU's Soga Japan Center.

Conversation table available Fridays in February and March

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University's Soga Japan Center is hosting a Japanese conversation table for intermediate- and advanced-level speakers from 3 to 4 p.m. every Friday in February in the Bernhard Center Cafe.

To register, contact Michiko Yoshimoto, outreach coordinator for WMU's Soga Japan Center, at and include your name and Japanese level.

Talks on haiku and tea-ceremony ceramics Feb. 13

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—The Soga Japan Center is bringing husband-and-wife team Susumu and Emiko Miyashita to Western Michigan University to give two talks as part of its ongoing Premodern Japanese Culture Workshop and Speaker Series. The back-to-back talks will be held Thursday, Feb. 13, in 3025 Brown Hall.

From 4 to 5 p.m., the haiku poet Emiko Miyashita will talk about the history of haiku and the translation of haiku poetry into English. Although Westerners think of haiku as a form of short verse arranged in the pattern of 5-7-5 sounds, there is also a style of haiku known as "free rhythm haiku," which follows freer rules. Miyashita will talk about the work of the modern free-rhythm haiku master Taneda Santōka (1882-1940), the place of his work in the history of haiku, and the difficulties of translating his work for contemporary Western audiences. The talk will be in English with examples of translation problems drawn from Japanese.

From 5 to 6 p.m., Susumu Miyashita will talk about the aesthetics of the tea ceremony and the ways that its profound appreciation of simple, rough ceramics and utensils contributed to Japanese aesthetics. People frequently describe the tea ceremony's appreciation of rough, simple beauty as being uniquely "Japanese," but is that necessarily the case? This presentation re-evaluates the assumption that other nations and people cannot appreciate the aesthetics of tea. Miyashita, an expert in tea-related antiques, will show examples of tea culture, and talk about the aesthetics that have shaped the tea ceremony and notions of "Japaneseness" over the years. This talk will be in Japanese with English interpretation.

Emiko Miyashita

Emiko Miyashita is a haiku poet who, since 1997, has been writing in both Japanese and English. She is a director of the JAL Foundation, known for its World Children's Haiku Contest. She is also a manager of the Association of Haiku Poets and a councilor of the Haiku International Association. She has translated more than 10 books about haiku and waka poetry, Noh theatre and Japanese sweets.

Susumu Miyashita

Susumu Miyashita is a graduate of Dōshisha University in Kyoto. He is the owner of a shop in the Ginza (Tokyo) that specializes in tea antiques.

For more information, contact Dr. Jeffrey Angles, director of WMU's Soga Japan Center, at or (269) 387-3044.