Japanese Game Night

SJA is hosting a Japanese Game Night in-person on September 25th! We will have some games (including Pokemon bingo!) and the chance to do some Origami. This event will be at Central Library from 2pm to 4pm! Sign up here! Open to those in Pre-K through middle school.


YOU-CRANE (Ukraine Fundraiser)

SJA is partnering with Naoko (Origami YouTube: Fold It!) to teach us how to fold origami cranes, which are a symbol of hope and peace in Japan. The Japanese believe that by folding 1000 paper cranes, a wish will come true. This is based on the story of Sadako, a young girl who lived in Hiroshima during the nuclear bombing and eventually died of leukemia at the age of 12. 

To make this decoration with us at home, you will need the following:- Two pieces of origami or other paper cut into squares – one blue and one yellow (the colors of the flag of Ukraine)- Beads- Wire or string- Scissors – A Needle to string the beads and origami cranes .

** If you don’t have beads, you can can just string your origami cranes together with a needle and thread or leave them as they are. 

SJA will take some ornaments to the Ukrainian embassy in DC as a gesture of peace and goodwill.

Scan the QR code on the flyer or click here to register! Hope to see you there

Origami Update & Spring Workshop

In addition to offering an origami segment during the SJA Ikebana event in January (fan and Mt.Fuji), we did another Origami Workshop, the last one of the winter workshops on 2/13.  It was right before Valentine’s Day, so we folded two kinds of Hearts, and a sweet Cup Cake!  Naoko-sensei taught the first Heart, and shared how we can include our love message inside the Hearts.  The second Heart, a 2 color Heart, was a bit complicated, but everyone followed Michiko-sensei’s instructions thoroughly and folded so well!  Some did multiple Hearts!  The last was a Cup Cake by Satoko-sensei.  Everyone’s colorful cupcakes looked so yummy and perfect for getting ready for Valentine’s Day!  Hope everyone enjoyed the workshop as much as we did   We are offering the spring workshop from March.  Please register via the flyer. Hope to see you there!

SJA Spring Updates!

Dear SJA Community,

Spring is in the air!  There are so many in person and virtual events happening this spring for you to enjoy! SJA continues to move forward with participating in various in person events. 

We will be at the Cherry Blossom Kite Festival at Virginia Highlands Park on March 26, most likely doing origami, kendama and yukata dressing.   Please join us there!   https://www.arlingtonva.us/Government/Departments/Parks-Recreation/Parks-Events/Cherry-Blossom-Kite-Festival

We will be participating in Japan America Society’s Japan Bowl again this year, offering origami and tea ceremony workshops to their participants.  We have also been invited to be a part of the Children’s Corner at the Japan America Society Sakura Matsuri,  please come visit us there! https://sakuramatsuri.org/  We are also hoping to have a Japanese style flea market on May 22, so please save the date.  There will be martial arts demonstrations and other fun family activities – for the young and the young at heart.  We are always looking for new students, volunteers and collaborators, we couldn’t do anything without our amazing, dedicated board and stalwart volunteers. Drop by our website or FB to see announcements.  

Happy spring! 

Jennifer Swanson, SJA President

SJA-Sponsored Language and Culture Classes & Workshops

Adult Beginner Japanese Classes:  We are continuing to offer free adult beginner Japanese classes on the third Sunday evenings. Please see below to register. 

Register at: https://tinyurl.com/4hywkd8a  

Love Japanese Pop Culture? 
Represent SJA at a Con!

What is a con?  A con (short for convention) is a place where people of all ages can interact and meet fellow fans of popular and/or niche media. Cons are comprised of panels, artist alleys, vendor booths, photo/autograph opportunities, and more! 

Cons also allow for local, statewide, and nationwide organizations to table and share what their organization does and how people can join! These tables are usually placed at the front of the convention hall, but they can also be placed in random areas throughout the con. 

Some popular upcoming cons in the DMV area that showcase Japanese pop culture are GalaxyCon, Awesome Con, and AnimeUSA.  SJA is planning to participate with a booth at one or more of these upcoming cons.  If you are interested in representing SJA at a con or otherwise want to help us participate in one, let us know!  Email us at: sja2018sja@gmail.com.  

Kids Activity, Martial Arts Demonstration, and Boroichi Event

When:  May 22nd (Sunday) afternoon
Where: First Presbyterian Church near Ballston Metro station (601 N. Vermont St. Arlington, VA 22203)

What:  May 5th is Children’s day in Japan. To celebrate, SJA is planning a May event with some activities for kids, martial arts performances, and Boroichi ( a sale/flea market of kids items and Japanese items). 

What’s Boroichi? The most famous Boroichi has been held in Setagaya, Tokyo for over 400 years.  We got the idea from it as the grassroot group is trying to have the sister city between Arlington and Setagaya.

How:  If you’re interested in participating in Boroichi, please let us know. You’ll get a space (10 feet x 10 feet) for a donation of $40. The first 10 people (or groups) will get a free table. You can do your own Japanese item yard sale there and promote your group if you’d like to. You have some items and are willing to donate to SJA? Please let us know. We’re happy to receive and sell them at the SJA Boroichi table. We’re especially looking for manga/ anime books and items.  https://tinyurl.com/Boroichi

If you have any ideas or suggestions, or are interested in volunteering, please let us know here : https://tinyurl.com/SJAMayEvent or contact us at: sja2018sja@gmail.com

SJA Advocacy Survey Results Show a Strong Interest in Japanese Language Program in APS

Thank you to those who participated in the SJA Advocacy Survey on the Japanese language program offerings in APS. The survey initially targeted Heritage Language Families due to lack of options for those students who already have a certain proficiency level in Japanese, yet their needs are not met by the APS. However, the survey was expanded to include regular APS supporters who participate in the SJA language and culture program offerings.
We are thrilled to report a strong interest in the Japanese language program. While the number of respondents was about 30, 80 percent of them expressed an interest in taking the Japanese language if APS had expanded to offer from Middle School or offer Japanese IV and AP Japanese which are not currently offered. About 55 percent said that their children are taking Japanese language classes outside APS. So why not gain an APS credit for this! SJA Advocacy Committee is meeting with APS officials to understand what it takes for APS to expand the program.
Let’s work together to expand the Japanese language program offerings in APS!

The Arlington-Setagaya Monthly Zoom Event.

Even though this is an “Arlington and Setagaya” (Setagaya is a city in Tokyo) event, anyone from the DMV area can join us.  This is to help youth to connect in both towns and to practice the language students study.

The next event is on March 18 from 8-9PM.

Please sign up at https://tinyurl.com/arlsetagaya2022. You can sign up just for one or all sessions! We’ll send you the zoom link by email on the day before each session. 

For more information about the program and Arlington-Setagaya group, please check our website , and if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us! 

Arlington-Setagaya group: arlington.setagaya@gmail.com

A Look Back — SJA’s New Years Ikebana 
and Origami Workshop

Finally, a HUGE thank you to the 46 participants who attended SJA’s New Years Ikebana and Origami  Zoom Workshop.  We were so pleased to have the accomplished Yukari-sensei, a certified instructor with training from the Ikenobo School of Ikebana in Kyhoto, give a brief overview of the traditions surrounding Oshogatsu (New Years) and the kadomatsu New Year’s decoration, followed by a flower arranging demonstration.  The second half of the program was a presentation by our wonderful origami team (led by Michiko-sensei) who led our participants through folding a fan and then Mt. Fuji.  

Don’t forget,  Ikebana International DC’s annual exhibition is coming up at the National Arboretum April 7-18.    Information is available at: 



New Year’s Ikenobo and Origami workshop!

Happy New Year everyone! We want to welcome you into 2022 by sharing some Japanese culture with you.

The Ikenobo portion of this event will be taught by Yukari sensei, who has studied the art of Japanese Flower Arrangement for 42 years, and SJA origami teachers will lead us through a short hands-on origami lesson to make a New Year’s fan (ogi/扇). This event will make you want to run out and get flowers to make your own Ikenobo at home.
To make the origami, you only need any piece of origami paper, or any piece of paper cut into a square (wrapping paper works well). Please join us for this one-of-a-kind event!

Register here: https://forms.gle/kyHcmjDzNFREBTQTA

A Year in Review

Dear SJA Community,

Seasons greetings to you from the whole SJA family!  As the year comes to a close, we hope you have been able to spend some relaxing time with your family and friends. 

2021 went by in a flash!  We were able to accomplish a lot with your help and support, despite the unstable nature of COVID in our area.  SJA remains dedicated to our three pillars: Education, Outreach and Advocacy.  With these goals in mind, we charged ahead in 2021 with our virtual Japan Day, held in March 2021.  We had over 270 participants and 11 online workshops, including origami, ikebana, an art workshop and anime watch party.  We want to thank all the leaders, teachers and supporters that made those events possible.  

With society opening up in late spring, we were able to hold two in person, outdoor events.  Tanabata in July saw over 300 participants and 6 different booth activities, including yukata dress up, tanzaku making and kendama.  We also held a mini boro ichi (flea market) in which we sold some Japanese books and toys.  In October, we partnered with Washington DC Omotesenke (tea ceremony) to host an Autumn Harvest Tea Ceremony.  We welcomed over 50 guests who enjoyed traditional Japanese tea and sweets under a lovely (but windy) autumn day.

We are hard at work planning a new year’s ikebana workshop that we hope you will come and enjoy as well.  Please pencil in Saturday, January 29 from 3-5pm for this spectacular workshop!

Throughout 2021, we continued to hold online origami and beginning Japanese language classes as well.  We supported adult classes with Arlington Community Learning and YEP (Youth Enrichment Program) with Arlington Public Schools.  

Finally, our advocacy team continued to meet with APS world language leaders to help ensure the vitality of the Japanese language program in APS.  Thanks in part to SJA’s efforts, APS was able to hire a second Japanese language teacher to teach expanded language programs at Wakefield and Yorktown High Schools.

I’d like to thank the SJA board and dedicated volunteers for all their effort and passion this year.  SJA would be nothing without you!  

As 2021 draws to a close, we hope that in some small part, SJA has been a part of your life, and that we will see you soon in 2022.


Happy Holidays from SJA!


Jennifer Swanson

SJA President

Harvest Festival Tea Ceremony

Hello everyone! SJA will be holding a Harvest Festival Tea Ceremony in conjunction with Omotesenke Domonkai Eastern Region USA. It will be held at the side garden of the First Presbyterian Church, Arlington (601 N Vermont Street, Arlington) from 2pm to 4pm on October 17th. It is an all ages event, but those ages 10 and younger will need a parent or guardian present. If you would like to join us as a participant or an observer, please register using the links below. We hope to see you there! 😀

Guest Blogger Feature- What is DO/DOU (道)?

Hi! I am Minako who is Japanese person but attends a college in America as an international student. In this blog, I would like to introduce Do or DOU, which is unique concept lives in Japanese tradition.

  1. What is DO?

If you are familiar with Japanese culture, you may have heard the word of DO and/or DOU before, but what does it mean and how it would work? Even though I came from Japan, explaining the concept of Do is difficult in fact. Generally, DOU would refer to the practice for pursing one’s own field and it usually takes long time. Sometimes this is misunderstood that everyone who practices Do just need to gain skills and acquire techniques (waza 技) like getting academic degree as a proof of the completion; however, this way of thinking is incorrect. In fact, he people who train DOU ask to respect the way of life and its spirit. 

*For the spelling in English, it may be able to use both Do and DOU for the concept of 道

  1. Different Types of DOU
  1.  Artistic DO 

It is generally called as geido (芸道) or Shizuka-naru Do (静なる道) in Japanese, and the word is usually used for Japanese traditional performing/fine arts. Practitioners do not simply train themselves for acquiring the form (kata 型), actions, artistic skills, and the manners, but also practice for pursing the perfect beauty as long as they can. In other words, this is the endless spiritual discipline. 

屋内, テーブル, カップ, 座る が含まれている画像

  1. SADO/CHADO (茶道・茶の湯) [English: The Tea Ceremony]

Cha (茶) or tea in English was brought from China to Japan originally as a medicine about a thousand year ago. Tea cultivation spread across Japan, and tea-drinking became to be common in the ruling classes of warriors (samurai 侍) in the Muromachi (室町) period [13th century]. Since having a good communication between host and guest(s) became significant, manners (saho 作法) were formulated as a result. Eventually, tea master named chajin/茶人 in Japanese which includes famous person known as Sen no Rikyu (Japanese: 千利休) created the Tea Ceremony (Sadou/Chadou 茶道) based on the ideas of Harmony, Respect, Purity and Tranquility (wa-kei-sei-zyaku 和敬静寂). However, it is also true that various schools of the rea ceremonies have been founded before, during and after the time of Sen no Rikyu in fact. Another famous and important part of Japanese tea ceremony is the spirit of elegant rusticity (wabi わび) and anyone regardless of their social status should keep in mind on humbleness (koudou 講道). 


  1. KADO/IKEBANA (華道・いけばな) 

[English: The Art of Japanese Flower Arrangement]

It was originated in the 6th century when Buddhist Monk offered flowers to the Buddha, but this type of flower arrangement has become to be popular in Japan since the 16th century. Practitioners believe Ikebana gives life and meaning to flowers arranged in the vase. It is important to formulate a triangular by positioning Heaven (Ten 天), Earth (Chi 地) and Human being (Jin 人) to show and express the harmony between humans and nature. Same as the Tea Ceremony, there are so many different schools in Japanese Flower Arrangement today.

おもちゃ, 立つ, 持つ, 小さい が含まれている画像

  1. SHODO (書道) [English: The Art of Japanese Calligraphy]

Japanese calligraphy (Shodo 書道) is the art of words by using a dipped writing brush (fude 筆) with black ink (sumi 墨) that is made from an inkstone (suzuri 硯). Japanese calligraphy was originally come from China, and a lot of Japanese people are familiar with this type of calligraphy in nowadays. However, people need to practice hard for being an expert and/or a calligrapher (shoka 書家) who gain classical calligraphy techniques that different from modern Japanese writing style and enable to write/perform that reflects to the form of artistic writing named sho (書). 

カップ, 座る, テーブル が含まれている画像

  1. KOH-DO (香道) [English: The Art of Appreciating Incense]

Unlike the tea ceremony, Japanese flower arrangement and calligraphy, Koh-Do (香道) is not known in general for not just the only for foreigners, but also among Japanese people (I honestly have not known this one until recent time). As implied by the art of appreciating incense, this is Japanese traditional art culture which enjoys the incense by burning the fragrant wood (Koh-Boku 香木). It was formulated in the Muromachi (室町) era [13th century] when the tea ceremony and Japanese flower arrangement became to be popular among people. There are categorized in two separate sectors called Mon-Koh (蘭香) which enjoys the aroma of incense for spiritual elevation and incense- identifying game (Kumi-Koh 組香). Since guests are sometimes asked to present the theme based on either Japanese classical poems or literature works, knowledge of literature would be a key element for enjoying the tradition as well.

  1.  BUDO (武道) Japanese Traditional Sports 

According to the Japanese Budo Association, they defined the term of Budo (武道) [Japanese Traditional Sports] as “a form of Japanese physical culture that has its origins in the ancient tradition of bushido (武士道) – literally, ‘the way of the warrior’” in 2014. The association also describes Budo includes Judo (柔道), Kendo (剣道), Kyudo (弓道), Sumou (相撲), Karatedo (空手道), Aikido (合気道), Shorinji-Kempo (少林寺拳法), Naginata (なぎなた), and Jukendo (銃剣道). I would specifically like to focus on Judo (柔道), Kendo (剣道), Kyudo (弓道), Karatedo (空手道), Aikido (合気道), Naginata (なぎなた) as well as Iai (居合) in the blog.

  1. Kyudo (弓道)

Like Archery, target is shot by using a pair of the bow (yumi 弓) and arrow (ya 矢) in Kyudo (弓道).  Both bows and arrows have been used in Japan since the Paleolithic time, and utilized in Japanese traditional religious culture called Shinto (神道) as well as developed as a weapon by warriors or the samurai (侍). The same as the other types of DO/DOU (道), the practitioners (Kyudoka 弓道家) train their skills and techniques not just the only for striking the target (mato 的), but also to pursue the beauty and try to maintain the bow-drawing posture. 


  1. Kendo (剣道)

Kendo (剣道) is one of popular Budo (武道) in Japan. It had developed from Japanese fencing game that uses bamboo swords (shinai竹刀), and unified rules were formulated by the end of the Edo (江戸) era [19th century].  Kendo (剣道) practitioner wears a face guard (men 面), gauntlets (kote 小手), breastplate (doh 胴) and flap/throat protector (tare 垂れ) for protecting their face and body. According to the one person who is the expert of Kendo (剣道), winning a game is not only significant portion, instead, respect an opponent is more important than a victory. Crouching which is called sonkyo in Japanese practices the above sprit and philosophy because the players need to do this before and after the competition. Furthermore, shouting with a clear voice (hassei 発声) is necessary at the moment of a strike (datotsu 打突) as well as showing awareness (zanshin 残心) is required right after the strike for getting a valid point (yuko 有効) during the game. 

暗い, 自転車, ペア, スポーツゲーム が含まれている画像

  1. Judo (柔道)

Judo (柔道) would be the world most famous Budo (武道) in these days because it is appeared in the Olympics game and many people enjoy this across the globe. Judo (柔道) was formally created by Kano Jigoro (Japanese: 嘉納 治五郎) in 1882 based on Jujutsu (柔術) which enables to defend a body only by using bare hands. In the competition, a practitioner (judo-ka 柔道家) should respect their opponent anytime during the game. It is known as the philosophy of the sport that “Judo (柔道) begins and ends with courtesy.” Kosei Inoue (Japanese: 井上 康生) who is an expert of Judo (柔道) and an Olympic gold medalist says, “I could not only nurture physical strength – needless to say – but also learn the importance of respecting people and cooperation.”

シャツ が含まれている画像

  1. Karatedo (空手道)

Karatedo (空手道), which has been recently approved as the competing sport for the Olympic game, was rooted in Okinawa (沖縄) with influenced by kenpo material art from China. Since the numbers of Okinawan practitioners (karate-ka 空手家) began to introduce this sport across Japan from the late 1910s, Karatedo (空手道) becomes to be known as one of Japanese traditional sports today. As some of the other DOU, there are various schools in Japan. Karatedo (空手道) asks trainers to use every part of the body to protect themselves by using the basic techniques (kihon 基本) which include punching (tsuki 突き), kicking (keri 蹴り) and maintain the form (kata 型). The comparative match with an opponent is called kumite (組み手) in Japanese which is applied to use the combination of the above techniques. Although Karatedo (空手道) is somehow seems to be Judo (柔道), there is a demonstration of a series of techniques (Enbu 演武) unlike Judo (柔道) that is often shown before the competition. As implied by this, repeating practices would be a key component of Karatedo (空手道) as well.

  1. Aikido (合気道)

Aikido (合気道) was created by Morihei Ueshiba (Japanese: 植芝 盛平) as a modern material art. It is crucial to know that Aikido (合気道) focuses much more on practice itself instead of competing one another. Because of this, many people regardless of their ages, genders, national origins and among others enjoy the sport together. Aikido (合気道) had been introduced to the world since 1950s, and it expanded to more than 100 countries across the globe by 2018. 

おもちゃ, 人形, 部屋 が含まれている画像

  1. Naginata (なぎなた)

In Naginata (なぎなた), there are two major ways of the competitions: practical match and showing the demonstration. Like Kendo (剣道), two individuals or a group of people competing with the opponent in the practical match. For the demonstration, it is conducted by two players like the practical match, and referees judge it based on the correctness of the forms and actions. 

おもちゃ, 人形, 持つ, 選手 が含まれている画像

  1. Iai (居合) [Pronounce: E-I]

In the middle of 16th century, Jinsuke Hayashizaki (Japanese: 林崎 甚助) worked hard to restore nearly lost material art. After this, many schools were born, and numbers of forms (kata 型) were developed in the next century (Edo Era 江戸時代). Because of the origin as shown above, Iai (居合) is Japanese traditional material art based on the sudden/accidental confrontation between the people with having their own sword in the past eras. It had often turned into the fight immediately after swordsmen stay or seat nearby. To avoid potential conflicts, forms (kata 型) were formulated, and these have been incorporated into swordsmanship (kenjutsu 剣術) as well as a combat skill called taijutsu (体術) for protecting the body. 


おもちゃ, 人形 が含まれている画像



Thank you for reading by the end of the blog! I appreciate your time for reading the entire article while this blog would be a little longer than some other ones. Even if you cannot read the whole blog, I hope some parts of the blog would be helpful or enable to motivate you to learn more for Japan and its culture. In case you are interested in Japanese culture and/or would like to get more information for DO/DOU (道), I highly recommend to view this website since there are a lot of videos that introduce Japanese culture and it is so informative as well as user friendly. Lastly, I would like to thank Study Japanese in Arlington [SJA] for allowing me to be a guest blogger. Although it is the first time for me to write the blog, I could enjoy every part of the writing process and gain more knowledge of DO/DOU (道) throughout blogging. Hopefully, I will be able to interact with the organization again in the future!


DOU|Is Japan Cool? All Nippon Airways [ANA],  https://www.ana-cooljapan.com/contents/dou/. Accessed 11 May 2021.

“The Definition of Budo.” ©2014 The Japanese Budo Association, The Definition of Budō|ENGLISH GUIDE|日本武道館 (nipponbudokan.or.jp). Accessed 11 May 2021.

“合気道について” International Aikido Federation (IAF), 合気道について | 公益財団法人合気会 (aikikai.or.jp). Accessed 11 May 2021.

植田一三, 上田敏子. A Complete Guide to Japanese Culture and Scenic Spots in English. Japan, 2009. GOKEN, https://www.goken-net.co.jp/goken_sample/189.pdf.

“なぎなたの見方” (公財) 全日本なぎなた連盟, Web Translator (translatetheweb.com). Accessed 11 May 2021.

*All images in the blog are came from いらすとや (irasuto-ya) which provides variety of pictures without costs created by Japanese illustrator called Mifune, Takashi-san (みふね たかし さん).

What Has Sophia Been Listening To? #1


Hello everyone! I’m Sophia and I’d like to welcome you to the first edition of What Has Sophia Been Listening To? In this series, I’ll introduce a Japanese artist or band that I enjoy. My taste in music ranges from heavy metal to pop so be ready for many different styles of music!

For the first edition of What Has Sophia Been Listening To? I want to introduce the first Japanese group that I got into, Babymetal. Babymetal as a Japanese kawaii metal band who’s been around since 2010. Originally they were a group of three members; Su-Metal, Moametal, and Yuimetal. They released two albums as this trio, the first being a self-titled album* Babymetal and the second being Metal Resistance. I will be sharing my top two songs from each album (trust me, it’s hard choosing just two from each to share).

*Note- A self-titled album is when the album shares the same name as the band/artist

The first song comes from Babymetal, and is titled ヘドバンギャー!!or Headbangeeeeerrrrr!!!!!!! in English. This is the twelfth song on the self titled album and it is probably my favorite on the album. Compared to some other songs on the album, it showcases the more metal side of the band. It’s a great introduction to the metal side of the band and as the song title implies, it truly is a song you can easily headbang to.

The second song from their self titled album I’d like to introduce is ギミチョコ!! or Gimmie Chocolate!! in English. This song starts off hardcore, making you think it’ll be more of a metal song, but then the chorus starts and you get a more pop style of song.

Onto the second album we go! The band’s second album is titled Metal Resistance. The first song from this album I’d like to share with everyone is titled GJ! It combines the pop and metal aspects well, as well as having well placed instrumental moments to just rock out to.

The second song from Metal Resistance that I’d like to share is titled Karate. This was actually the first song by Babymetal that I had ever listened to, and I was hooked from the start. Similar to some songs on the first album, it features more of a pop tone for most of the song while the background instrumentals are more metal focused. This mix of genres blend well, and it creates a song that brings energy to the listener.

Sadly, the trio was reduced to a duo in 2019 when Yuimetal left the band. Since then, Su-Metal and Moametal have continued to work together and they released their third album back in October of 2019 titled Metal Galaxy.

Metal Galaxy is an album that really focuses on combining different styles of music, not limited to pop and metal. For instance, the song Pa Pa Ya! ft. F.Hero combines pop and rap into one song. It is one of the few songs in the band’s discography that heavily features a rap component.

The second song from this album I’d like to introduce is titled BxMxC. Technically, this song is not a part of the album since it came out about a year after the album originally came out. Despite its later release, it is still considered to be part of the album in its cover art and on official records. Unlike Pa Pa Ya! it focuses more on a mix of rap and metal, rather than rap and pop.

I have made a Spotify playlist that includes all of these songs, and will eventually hold a compilation of all songs featured on What Has Sophia Been Listening To? I hope everyone enjoys this mini-series and let me know what you think of Babymetal.