The Japan Club of New Orleans is a social and recreational club for Japanese citizens, American-Japanese and their families. It was started in 1975 by a group of Japanese living and working in the area, using seed money from a private auction of sumie works donated by the wife of then Consul General Kato and purchased by the soon-to-be members. Its purpose then and still now is to foster friendship amongst the local Japanese community and to spread goodwill between Japan and America.
At the onset, surprisingly, there was a substantial number of Japanese living in the Greater New Orleans Area. Whereas now the membership consists largely of permanent families with roots established in the area, many back then were transitory workers stationed here for a short period of time to serve customers of their parent company in Japan, so they were repairing cameras or printing equipment in the service departments at Sears or elsewhere.
They socialized via tennis, golf, dancing, sado, ikebana and a mix of things Japanese and New Orleanian. Much is still the same, though structurally committees have replaced the various “clubs within the club”. Today, there are committees for Public Relations, Culture and Education, Sports and Recreation, Social Activities and Women’s activities, and they recruit members for activities and events.
Guiding the club is a board of volunteers and committee heads. They meet every other month to plan events and discuss club affairs. As an organization, the club stages four events a year: a spring picnic that mixes onigiri with a local favorite, crawfish; bon-odori where we break out the kimonos and sound system to dance for/with shoppers at the Lakeside Mall to the classical summertime ondo beat; Japan Fest, a major production of Japanese culture and things Japanese done in cohort with the New Orleans Museum of Art; and bonenkai, our year-end party/general meeting with a timely visit from Santa.
The Japan Club of New Orleans is a fun and warm social and recreational club.