July 28, 2017 Vol. 13, No. 4

Japan in the News

The Embassy celebrated "one of Japan's greatest-ever exports" on World Emoji Day, July 17. Shigetaka Kurita was the inventive engineer who first brought "picture character" 絵文字 emoji to Japanese phones in the late 1990's. In 2016, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City added his original designs to their permanent collection, placing the 176 pixel pictures in the company of major works by groundbreaking artists. Read the article here to learn more.

Tokyo 2020 Starts Three-Year Countdown

There are now less than three years to go until the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and excitement continues to build for Tokyo residents who can't wait to host athletes and guests from around the world. To celebrate the milestone, the exterior of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building was transformed into a huge screen. Watch the Facebook Live video of the projection here to see memories from past Games and plans for the future.

Japanese Legislators Meet With U.S. Counterparts

A delegation of Japanese Diet legislators led by LDP Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai visited offices across Capitol Hill in July, discussing issues of mutual interest and reaffirming strong Japan-U.S. ties. Meetings included sessions with Senator Orrin Hatch, House Democratic Party Leader Nancy Pelosi, House Armed Services Committee Chair Mac Thornberry and Senator Chuck Schumer. The Diet delegation also went to a meeting hosted by Representative Kevin McCarthy and attended by Congressman Ted Yoho, Congressman Dave Reichert and Congressman Brad Sherman.

Traditional Craftsmanship Can Be Pretty Metal

From a region renowned across Japan as a producer of beautiful, high-quality swords since the Kamakura period (1185 – 1333), the master craftsmen of the Bizen Otafune Museum in Okayama preserve the art of sword making for visitors and enthusiasts. Japanese swords fit into one of five distinct styles from different production regions, with Bizen swords featuring a unique clove-shaped pattern on the steel surface grain of the blade. Take a deeper look at the meticulous process used to create these remarkable works of art.