Essence of Cultural Exchange

There are overseas hubs called Japan House in London, Sao Paulo, and here in Los Angeles. It is a cultural facility supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which promotes Japanese culture to the world.

I have many opportunities to talk with people involved in this cultural exchange project, because I work in Los Angeles.

To begin with, what is “cultural exchange”? And why it is necessary?

It is not easy to answer this question, but I strongly feel that people’s positive attitudes to finding the answer should support the basis of this project.

Recently, one of my acquaintances in the United States told me an interesting fact that only 10% of U.S. citizens own passports––which means that 90% of US citizens have never traveled outside the U.S.

Some people think that it is not necessary for U.S. citizens to travel outside of the country, because the U.S. is a country of immigrants where cultures and information from the world are concentrated. But I think they are wrong.

The United States, after all, is predominantly “American” and it is almost impossible to see the world from a global perspective from here.

In my view, it is simply because people in the U.S. are basically not interested in what’s happening in the world. This country proudly remains the most powerful country in the world in many fields including resources, economy, military affairs and more.

Making efforts to promote the significance of Japanese culture to the people is almost like serving delicious dishes to those who are not hungry (laughs).

The first thing to do is to be open-minded, communicate heart to heart, provide them opportunities to meet “surprises” and gradually “understand” the culture, while patiently making long efforts to share the “fundamental human senses” constituting the basis of Japanese culture. The road is long and winding, but there is hope.

We should not solely focus on economic exchange. It is just a beginning and we need to go a long way in order to discover the essence of cultural exchange. It is absolutely essential for the future of Japan and the United States and definitely worth pursuing for years to come.


Completion: 2018
Location: Los Angeles, USA

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