JapanFest – Atlanta

As a non-profit 501(c)(3)
organization and with the mission to improve the understanding and appreciation
of the bonds between Japanese and American culture in the Southeast United
States, JapanFest would not be possible without the support of the Georgia
Council for the Arts.   For many
JapanFest participants, this is the first time they are able to witness
demonstrations of Japanese traditions firsthand.  The impact of JapanFest goes far beyond the
festival itself.  Through the
distribution of free tickets to students and educators across Georgia and also
with the participation of groups such as the Georgia Association of Teachers of
Japanese, many classrooms are able to benefit from the variety of educational
opportunities available at the festival. Furthermore, JapanFest serves Georgia
artists by providing the unique opportunity to display and/or demonstrate their
work and talents.  This provides
particular value to artists given the sheer size of JapanFest’s audience –
upwards of 20,000+.  In keeping with
JapanFest’s goal of maintain cultural and artistic authenticity, all
participating artists have some connection to Japan.  As JapanFest, by its nature, draws an audience
of people keenly interested in Japan, the festival, therefore, provides a
marked benefit to these artists by allowing them to put their talents before
their primary target market. It has been known to happen that some members of
the festival’s audience will approach an artist with an opportunity for future
work and/or collaboration.  With the
multitude of participating artists, numerous opportunities exist for those
artists to meet each other and, thereby, expand their professional
contacts.  Official relations between
Japan and the state of Georgia were first inaugurated in 1973 with the
establishment of a Georgia State Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism
office in Tokyo. The opening of the Consulate General of Japan in the capital
of Atlanta in April 1974 offered a major boost in bilateral political
relations. The visit of the Emperor and Empress to Atlanta in June 1994 was a
crowning touch to these developing political ties. Political relations and
personal contacts are renewed and reinforced every year by Georgia state
government officials at the Annual Joint Meeting of the Japan U.S. Southeast
Association. Economically, Japan is one of the top foreign investors in the
State of Georgia, as Georgia is regarded as the center of Japanese industry in the
U.S. Southeast. Japanese-affiliated companies have invested $10.4 billion in
Georgia, where 547 Japanese-affiliated companies currently operate. These
companies together employ 37,000 workers. Georgia’s exports to Japan  amounted to $1.2 billion, making Japan its
5th largest export market. With such close economic ties between Japan and
Georgia, JapanFest only strengthens Georgia’s status as a true international
city and also helps the State’s economic development activities helping to
bring in more Japanese businesses and companies. As JapanFest grows, the
committee will be dedicated to ensuring that the festival is more accessible to
various communities and demographics, especially to people who may not have the
opportunity to experience Japan in their area.