Sakura Tree Care Event – Saturday March 27 – Ault Park

Sakura Tree Care Event – Saturday March 27 – Ault Park

Sakura Tree Care Event – Saturday March 27 – Ault Park

We are so pleased to report that more than 40 people attended our Sakura Grove Beautification event on Saturday, March 27, at Ault Park — the largest number of volunteers for this event in the past 10 years, according to Tokiko Freeman, event organizer and longtime friend of the JASGC. A number of JASGC and JACL (Japanese-American Citizens League) members attended, as well as a large group of student volunteers from the University of Cincinnati. “This was the first time I can recall having so many student volunteers at one time,” said Anne Golden, Executive Director of the JASGC. “We certainly appreciated the students, and everyone who attended.”
As in previous years, the Cincinnati Park Board provided mulch, wood chips, wheelbarrows, and hand tools, and arranged for several staff members to help guide the volunteers and assist with the project.

“The tree care project often takes two mornings, and we had so much help this year that we were able to finish it in one morning,” said Tokiko Freeman. “I am very happy with the results.”

The Ault Park Sakura Grove is expected to be in full bloom sometime this week, depending on the weather, so people are encouraged to pack a picnic to enjoy under the trees, in keeping with the classic Japanese “O-Hanami” (cherry blossom viewing) tradition.
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Member Spotlight Series: International Language Plus

Member Spotlight Series: International Language Plus

Member Spotlight Series: International Language Plus

February, 2021

Member Spotlight
Education, ESL

Judson “Jay” Allgood, President and Owner of International Language Plus

Provided by ILP

In our Member Spotlight Series, we interviewed Judson “Jay” Allgood, president and new owner of International Language Plus. Since 1986, International Language Plus (ILP) has been teaching English as a Second Language (ESL), as well as many foreign languages, to thousands of students in the Cincinnati area. Their goal is to provide a comprehensive, top-quality language program to students that helps them reach their individual goals. In the interview, he gave us the background on International Language Plus, their experiences during COVID-19, and their plans with JASGC.

Tell me about yourself.

I have been the president and owner of International Language Plus just since May, 2020, but began my teaching career there in 1992. After teaching English as a Second Language for several years in Japan, on my return to Cincinnati I met Sandra Roberts, ILP’s founder, at a JASGC function in Mason.

I was born and raised in Cincinnati.  I attended Walnut Hills High School (Class of 1976) and received my bachelor’s degree from Miami University (Class of 1980).  I also have a Masters of Education (M. Ed) from Xavier University (Class of 2001).

My love for Japan came from the time I spent there. I lived in Tokyo and Kamakura from 1986-1992.  During that time, I was a “salaryman” and then became a teacher of English as a Second Language (ESL) in 1989.

I am married and have a daughter, Ginger, who also works at ILP as the Media Coordinator.  My hobbies include traveling, reading and watching sports on TV.


How long have you been a member of JASGC?

International Language Plus (ILP) has been a member for about 30 years. My own relationship with JASGC began in 1992. I had just returned to Cincinnati after six years in Japan. I don’t remember how, but I learned about a JASGC event at an art gallery in Mason. That’s when I met my future boss, Sandra Roberts, the founder of ILP. So, I have JASGC to thank for introducing me to ILP.


Why did you join JASGC?

From the beginning, most of ILP’s students have been Japanese. So, it was natural to join an organization with such close ties to the Japanese community in Greater Cincinnati.


What is the relationship between ILP and the local Japanese community?

Since 1986, ILP has specialized in working with Japanese companies, individuals, and families.  We are honored that we have longstanding relationships with so many people in the local Japanese community. In fact, most of our business comes from “word of mouth” advertising.

Students and Teachers Together, International Language Plus

Provided by ILP

 What is ILP all about?

First and foremost, we provide language lessons in English as a Second Language (ESL). We also offer lessons in eight foreign languages: Japanese, Spanish, French, Chinese, Portuguese, German, Korean, and Italian. Since almost all of our lessons are one-on-one, we customize them to fit each student’s needs and goals. In all of the lessons, our students learn the culture as well as the language.

In addition, ILP offers translations, interpreting, and cross-cultural training upon request.

…our lessons are one-on-one, customized to fit each student’s needs and goals.

What do you love most about your work?

First, I appreciate the opportunity to return some of the hospitality and kindness that I experienced during my six years living and working in Japan. I hope that my own experiences in Japan have helped me understand what our students are facing.

Second, I am blessed to work with really nice people – students and teachers – every day. This is the best job I have ever had. In fact, that is one of the main reasons I decided to buy ILP.


What classes do you offer currently?

We offer both virtual and in-person lessons. In the case of in-person lessons, they can be held either here at our school in Blue Ash, at the student’s company, or at their home. We are open 9:00 am-9:00 pm Monday-Friday and 9:00 am-3:00 pm on Saturdays, so we have the flexibility to accommodate our student’s schedules.

We also offer group lessons when a company requests it.

Caroline and Harley

Provided by ILP

Are you an official TOEIC testing site?

Yes, ILP has been an official TOEIC testing site since 1996. That means we can offer the TOEIC to our students upon request. We have the flexibility to administer the test to fit their schedules.


How do you sign up for classes?

It’s very simple. Please email either Dian Kemp ( or me (, or call us at (513) 791-9293. We will discuss options with you and set up a time for an assessment.


Who is the ideal student for ILP?

I wouldn’t say there’s an “ideal ILP student.” The good thing about our school is that the lessons are customized to fit each student’s needs. For example, we try very hard to find the right teacher for each student in order to help them reach their goals. I will say this – our most successful students are highly motivated to learn and are interested in finding out more about different cultures.


Describe a typical workday.

My day involves “wearing lots of different hats.” First, I’m in charge of the overall operation of the school. However, our Executive Director, Dian Kemp, is really the person who runs the day-to-day operations, as she has done the last 23 years. I am also involved with the planning, marketing and social media. However, my first love is teaching, which I do 15-20 hours per week.


What has been your biggest challenge so far?

I happened to acquire ILP during the shutdown last April. So, in addition to running my own business for the first time, I had the added complication of continuing the business during the pandemic.

Shoko and Jennifer

Provided by ILP

Is COVID affecting your business in a positive or negative way?

At first, it was negative because we had to go from almost 100% face-to-face lessons to 100% remote. Since our face-to-face lessons are normally two hours long and our remote lessons are only 1-1.5 hours, we saw a big decline in both hours taught and income. On the plus side, we have become much more skilled at teaching remotely, which has allowed us to teach students even after they have left the US. In addition, a lot of Americans have decided to study foreign languages, especially Japanese.


What has been your biggest accomplishment?

We have not only retained all of our teachers, we have also hired three new foreign language teachers in the last nine months. I also think that, because I am a teacher, I have made some changes which have benefited both our students and teachers.


How do you define success?

Let me answer that in two ways. As a teacher, I love when I see the “a-ha” moment on my student’s face. More generally, I appreciate the countless ways that our students have thanked us for a job well done.


Will we see you at any JASGC events this year?

I’m looking forward to the Reds outing (Japan America Community Day) on July 25th. I’m a huge Reds fan and I missed being able to go to games last year. I’m also looking forward to seeing Shogo Akiyama play in person.

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Sakura Grove Beautification 2021

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Hello Japan! An Original Educational Video Tour of Japan

Hello Japan! An Original Educational Video Tour of Japan

Hello Japan!

An original educational video tour of Japan

Funded by a grant from the Japan  Foundation’s Center for Global Partnership

Dear Members and Friends,

We are excited to announce the completion of a project that has kept us busy behind the scenes for the past few months. It’s “Hello Japan,” an original, educational video tour of Japan funded by a grant from the Japan Foundation’s Center for Global Partnership. To produce the video, our organization collaborated with Toko Shiiki, Michigan-based filmmaker, photographer, and musician.

The video includes several Cincinnati-area references designed to inspire people to learn more about local connections to Japan, including the Gifu Sister City relationship, and study abroad programs hosted by the University of Cincinnati, Xavier University, and Northern Kentucky University.

Though intended especially for kids, the video will be appealing to anyone interested in learning about Japan.

“Hello Japan” features original music from Shiiki’s composer husband, Erik Santos, who also appears in the video, sharing his experiences as a visitor to Japan. Also featured are original illustrations by COCORO, a cartoon artist in Japan with whom Shiiki collaborated to produce “The Story of Ikkyu,” also featured on our YouTube channel here.

“Hello Japan” is available on the JASGC’s YouTube channel here and will include an interactive study guide designed by the JASGC. “We realize that schools and libraries can’t offer many in-person cultural education programs right now, due to COVID, and we hope this video will be useful to librarians and teachers, especially in our region,” says Anne Golden, Executive Director of the JASGC. “We were extremely lucky to get a grant from the Japan Foundation, and we’re fortunate that Toko Shiiki was available for the project. We can’t wait to share it with members of our community. It’s one of a kind, and it gets to the heart of our mission — educating people in our region about Japan.”

Toko Shiiki

Born and raised in Japan, Toko Shiiki spent most of her life in Tokyo before moving to Michigan in 2005. Her pursuit of using photography as a narrative medium inspired her to explore documentary filmmaking, where she delights in meeting fascinating people and sharing their stories with the world. She exhibits her work nationally and internationally, and has earned multiple awards including The International Photography Award.

Erik Santos

Erik Santos is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, singer, and producer, who is active in many musical genres, from rock to classical, to electronic, world music, and music for theater and dance, installation, and film. A professor in two departments, Composition and Performing Arts and Technology, at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance, he is also the co-founder of the bands October Babies, The Crossed Lines, and Man From Ham.

A Celebration of Pioneers from Japan in Greater Cincinnati

A Celebration of Pioneers from Japan in Greater Cincinnati

A Celebration of Pioneers from Japan in Greater Cincinnati

The Japan America Society of Greater Cincinnati (JASGC) held their Annual Gala: A Celebration of Pioneers from Japan in Greater Cincinnati, on November 12th, 2020 at 6:00 pm EST. This hour-long event was held virtually (via Zoom), with guests attending from all around the world. JASGC was established in 1988 to foster business, social and cultural connections between the people of Japan and residents of Cincinnati. This Gala is one of the many ways they build these connections.

The event was hosted by Joe Dehner, the current JASGC president. It began with a beautiful tribute by Kiyoshi “Peter” Tanaka for his late father, Dr. Kinji Tanaka. He spoke of Dr. Tanaka’s amazing life achievements and how he helped establish several Japan-related organizations in Greater Cincinnati that continue to promote US-Japan relations decades later. Following Kiyoshi Tanaka was Tsutomu Nakagawa, Consul General of Japan in Detroit, who gave a heartfelt speech and toast to officially open the event.

The highlight of the evening included two key speakers, Shogo Akiyama of the Cincinnati Reds, and Yuya Kubo of FC Cincinnati. Both players arrived in Cincinnati in January 2020 as the first players from Japan to join their respective Cincinnati professional sports teams. The interactive interview featured questions from attendees. The players spoke about a wide range of topics including their sports experience in the US, adjusting to a new home life, and their favorite experiences so far living in Cincinnati. The players were reportedly happy to be included in this Gala and to share their perspectives. The event was well attended and was deemed a huge success for JASGC.

What People Said About The Event

The event was very smooth and enjoyable. As a Japanese, I was able to understand everything with transcripts, and the interpreter was excellent.

The event was great and well organized within an hour, not too long, not too short. Both players looked relaxed & comfortable chatting with each other. Live Q&A was fun to watch.
イベントは短過ぎず長過ぎず1時間以内でまとまっていてとても良かった。 両選手がリラックスして楽しそうに話していた。Live Q&Aは見ていても面白かった。

“I met Dr. Kinji Tanaka last year at the memorial Hearn reading event by the actor Shiro Sano, and it was good to hear him remembered by his son. I didn’t know he was born in Dairen in prewar Manchuria. That explains for me, at least partly, why he was interested in Lafcardio. I asked the question about Lafcardio Hearn of the two players.  I wasn’t surprised that they didn’t know anything about him. But do send on my message that while  they are there, they should by all means read translations of Lafcadio which describe Cincinnati of 100 years ago. And compare! That ought to be interesting.”
Okito Toyoda 豊田沖人

Member of the Hearn Society, Japan

Japanese Players Shogo Akiyama and Yuya Kubo Team Up for JASGC Fundraiser

Japanese Players Shogo Akiyama and Yuya Kubo Team Up for JASGC Fundraiser

Japanese Players Shogo Akiyama and Yuya Kubo Team Up for JASGC Fundraiser

Thursday, November 12th, 6:00 pm EST
Zoom Event
Registration Required
Register here

Both photos by Cincinnati Reds and FC Cincinnati via FC’s Twitter. View Post Here.

Shogo Akiyama of the Cincinnati Reds and Yuya Kubo of FC Cincinnati will be the featured guest speakers on November 12, 6:00 pm EST, for a virtual (Zoom) event to benefit the Japan America Society of Greater Cincinnati, a non-profit organization that helped welcome them to Cincinnati in January this year. Both Akiyama and Kubo arrived amid great excitement, as they were the first professional players from Japan to sign contracts with their respective Cincinnati teams.

“We were really fortunate to be able to arrange these two high-profile players, given their busy schedules,” said Anne Golden, Executive Director of the Japan America Society of Greater Cincinnati. It’s a rare chance to see them both at the same time. We expect that the event will not only attract our usual supporters, but also sports fans all over the US and Japan.”

The event is titled “A Celebration of Pioneers from Japan in Greater Cincinnati” and is open to the public (with advance ticket purchase).

All proceeds from the event will benefit the JASGC, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established in 1988 to foster business, cultural and social connections between the residents of Greater Cincinnati and the people of Japan.

Additional speakers for the event will include Tsutomu Nakagawa, Consul General of Japan in Detroit, Joe Dehner, Attorney at Frost Brown Todd and current JASGC President, and Kiyoshi “Peter” Tanaka, delivering a tribute to his late father, Dr. Kinji Tanaka, who established several Japan-related organizations in Greater Cincinnati during his decades of residence in the area.