Japan-America Grassroots Summit:

Building on 180 Years of Friendship

John Manjiro-Whitfield Commemorative Center for International Exchange (U.S.)

Connecting Americans and Japanese Through Grassroots Exchange

CIE-US is built on the bedrock of personal friendships. Now more than ever, such friendships are critical. To enable us to continue to foster friendships between Americans and Japanese we need your support. Any amount is appreciated and helpful. You can donate today via the link below. If you prefer to support us in other ways, please reach out to us at
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Dear Friends of CIE-US:

At the end of 2021, we have big hopes for 2022 - which of course includes a Grassroots Summit in Wakayama Prefecture, hopefully in October!!  I suppose it's right to say: it'll ALL depend on the COVID pandemic.  I'm staying positive and ask that all of you do too. WAKAYAMA 2022!!

I personally hope that all of our newsletter recipients participated in all or at least a couple of our webinars in 2021. If you did not, I encourage you to join in the future as we will certainly hold some web-based events in this upcoming Year of the Tiger. Of course all of those future events WILL have info on Wakayama to help you make the decision to attend - so please start saving your money to "buy in" once we have dates and pricing settled.

We also very much want your feedback on our virtual events. For our "Minka" Event, we had 600+ people sign up and had more than 400 attend. We hope that those of you who attended will provide your personal feedback to me on ANY event we've held; on ANY event you'd like us to present in the future; and on ANYTHING we are trying to do in CIE-US to help us all maintain and build our relationships between the people of our USA and Japan.  Please help us!!

You can reach out to me at: with ANY feedback at any time, and I personally promise I'll read whatever you send and give you any thoughts I have in reply...please just let us know what you think - THANKS!!  And IF you think we're doing the right things, please consider a donation to our non-profit organization via this link here.

In preparation for Wakayama and any/all future Grassroots Summits, I've contacted some of our Alumni from past Summits - I hope you enjoy what follows from Matt Perry on our Board and of course the "Keeper" of the Family relationship back to Commodore Perry's Japan relationships.  PLUS, please also enjoy two extraordinary stories from Grassroots Summit alumni Karen Jordan from Colorado Springs and Tatyana Sisk from Boston - hope they help you understand what these amazing trips and home-stays are all about!!  And you can expect more from our alumni in the future.

ALL for now except please accept my very best wishes for the holidays and of course ALL the best for the New Year of the Tiger and 2022.  Stay safe and THANKS for your support!!! 

Most Sincerely and ALL the best,
Jamie Kelly
President CIE-US
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Memories of Past Summits:

Alumni Share their Experiences
Grassroots Summit Alumnus Tatyana Sisk Shares Thoughts on 2019 Hyogo/Himeji Summit

Participating in the Manjiro Summit program is a rare opportunity with memories that will last for many years. What makes this program unique is the combination of well-organized guided tours with the group activities, and a three-day family home-stay that allows one to see and feel like if you have lived in Japan for years. Even though I don’t speak Japanese, I enjoyed learning new words and day to day phrases and rely on non-verbal communication when needed. It was always fun and stress free and we had English volunteer interpreters for assistance. 
Every day of the trip started with healthy breakfast choices and some foods that I had always wanted to try or had seen for the first time. Following breakfast we had a group agenda with a list of tours during the day and a group dinner. In my opinion, the program is great if you love traveling and exploring Japanese culture and traditions or perhaps you are just as adventurous as I am (LOL), and who is interested to visit Japan for the first time.

All ages are welcome and fun is allowed! Japan is a small country but it has a diverse culture and offers opportunities to see and discover new things and places each time you travel with the Manjiro group. The highlight of my trip in 2019 was attending a Japanese tea ceremony, dressing in Kimono, touring a local sake  factory, watching a traditional puppet performance, and attending the Manjiro summit ceremony at the end of my trip.

I look forward to go with the group again to discover another region next time. And I hope to see you there!

Taty Sisk
Grassroots Summit Alumnus Karen Jordan Recollects Engagement in Six Summits
I have taken Japanese 101 many times, I like origami/anime, making Hawaiian-Japanese food, and was traumatized as a 5-year old by a traditional Japanese toilet and the Nara deer.  I really didn’t know Japanese culture.  Paul Maruyama, my college Japanese 101 professor, told my "college-self" about the Manjiro Summit.  In 2006, when we saw each other again, I could afford to go. 

I consider the Manjiro Summit to be the exchange program that I never had a chance to do as a teenager.  I love that each city has new experiences.  Some highlights over the years include:  tategu coasters, herbal tye-dye, making pottery, playing koto, weaving on a loom, and finding a fossil!

My husband and I aim for cities off the beaten path, which is how we planted hundreds of flowers to beautify our host village of Soni-mura (‘17 Summit).  We've had wonderful and unique experiences on every visit!  We've seen the Miyajima Torii, Himeji-jo (White Heron Castle), and done so much more from our bucket list.  The Summit price includes air travel, ground transportation, hotel stays, a 3-day homestay, food, and volunteer translators for about a week, plus cultural presentations and regional food specialties.  It's an awesome way to visit an amazing country.  There are extensions to visit other cities.  Take extra money to get souvenirs.  Go and do that unique thing that only you did!
I love that each year, people say “I had the BEST host family and the BEST city” … and we’re all correct! 

I hope you join us in Japan!

Karen Jordan 
'07, '11, '13, '15, '17, '19
Colorado Springs, CO 
An American Flag in Japan

by Matthew C. Perry
In 1853, when Commodore Matthew Perry went to Japan, he made an initial stop in the Bonin Islands, 600 miles south of Tokyo, at an island settlement called Chichijima.  It is part of the island chain now known as Ogasawara, which includes Iwo Jima.  Perry stopped there as he knew it had been settled by Americans and British in the 1830s and he was eager to establish an area where Americans could store coal for the new steam ships being constructed for the U.S. Navy.  Mr. Nathaniel Savory was the senior American on the island and Perry bought 50 acres of land from him for $50.  He also gave Savory an American flag.  It had 31 stars, which represented the number of states at the time with the addition of California to the Union in 1850.

Location of Chichijima in relation to Tokyo.  Image from Natural Earth and GEBCO - Washington Post.

Aerial view of Chichijima (Kyodo News/AP Image).

Descendants of Nathaniel Savory in 1927 on Chichijima. (Photo provided by Takashi Savory)
Nathaniel Savory and his descendants proudly displayed the flag to visitors, along with the $50 receipt from Perry for the land purchase.  They even raised the American flag on a staff when foreign ships arrived in port.  The openness of flag display changed over time as Japan became more militaristic and then went to war with the United States.  When the military took over the island during the war, residents were moved to other areas.  The descendants of Savory, fearing reprisals, due to their American heritage, burned the flag before they left the island.

On August 19, 2020, a journalist, Simon Denyer, for the Washington Post, who was stationed in Tokyo, wrote an article about ethnicity, including inter-racial marriage, and focused his discussion on the Chichijima residents, who had a mixture of American and Japanese heritage.  The journalist emphasized that now most descendants did not consider themselves Americans or Japanese, but Islanders and were proud of their mixed heritage

The article of the Savory family and the loss of the American flag given to their ancestor by Commodore Perry, made a compassionate and sympathetic impression on the 83-year-old Mr. Akira Kondo, who owned a watch store in Saijo, Ehime Prefecture, Japan.  He learned of the flag incident while viewing old newspapers used as packing material for watch repair items he had received.  He decided, with the support of some of his business associates in Saijo, to create a duplicate of the 31-star flag and give it to the Savory family in Chichijima.  A Japanese newspaper, Asahi Shinbun, one of the biggest newspapers in Japan, followed up on the story a year later on August 21, 2021, with an article by Ms. Yumi Nakayama that was titled: "Perry's Stars and Stripes Has Come Back - Disposed during WWII, Replica Sent from Ehime."


Mr. Akira Kondo (red necktie) and his business associates in Saijo, Japan, with the replicated American flag featuring 31 stars, June 2021 (Photo provided by Mr. Kondo).
Mr. Takashi Savory received the flag on behalf of the family and stated that the surprised Savory descendants in Chichijima were overjoyed to accept the flag.  Mr. Savory stated, “The Stars and Stripes given by Perry must have been the emotional support of our ancestors.  I am deeply moved by it.”  Mr. Savory has participated in Black Ships festivals that have been held in Newport, Rhode Island, and in Shimoda, Japan, and is proud of the long-term relationship his family has had with the United States and the connection with Commodore Perry.

Mr. Savory remembers the visit of Dr. Hiroshi Nakahama to Chichijima with his daughter, Kyo, in 1992.  Kyo is a descendant of Manjiro Nakahama, who was the first Japanese person to live in the United States and was a key person in the successful diplomatic negotiations that Commodore Perry had with the Japanese government in 1853 and 1854.  Ms. Kyo Nakahama is active with grassroot summits and a friend of mine.  We both participate in summits between our countries, which are conducted annually to assist in understanding cultural differences and maintaining peace between our countries with many individual friendships.

By creating and donating this flag to the Savory descendants on Chichijima, Mr. Kondo expressed great compassion for his Japanese citizens that he did not know.  He also demonstrated a respect for Commodore Perry, who had given the original flag to Nathaniel Savory.  Mr. Kondo said, “Numerous sacrifices have become the foundation of today’s peace.  I hope the replica will be useful in conveying the history of Chichijima island.”  These individual acts of kindness and respect are important in the current tensions around the world and are greatly needed for world peace.

Mr. Takashi Savory in Chichijima Island in June 2021 with a replica of the 31-star American flag that his ancestor received from Commodore Matthew Perry (Photo provided by Mr. Savory).
Special thanks to Ms. Yumi Nakayama
, Ms. Chika Aoki, Ms. Hiroko Todoroki, and Ms. Mikiko Morimura for information and assistance with this article.
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The Manjiro-Whitfield Commemorative Center for International Exchange-U.S. (CIE-US) is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization headquartered in Washington, DC. All donations are fully tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. 
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