History of Japan America Society of Iowa
Japan America Society of Iowa (JASI) was found in 1989 by a small group of dedicated individuals to promote Japanese culture in central Iowa. The group was led by Ikebana master, Ms. Hiroko Sogi (1931 – 2012). On January 29, 1989, the first meeting of Japan America Society of Iowa was held by eight members: Koko Kawaguchi, Maxine Krick, Yoshio Swift, William and Dorothy Hopkins, Hisako Chirsmore, Rose (Ryuko) Griffith, and Hiroko Sogi. The first members shared one of traditional Japanese art of Ikebana (Japanese flower arrangements) with the community of central Iowa.
The founder of JASI, Ms. Hiroko Sogi left Iowa to Tokyo in 1998. Ms. Hiroko Sogi lived in Des Moines for 27 years, died in Tokyo, Japan on January 5, 2012 at age 80. Ms. Sogi was a professor of Ikebana, the art of Japanese flower arranging. As a representative of the Saga School of Kyoto, her teaching took her throughout North and South America. Iowa’s Sister State and numerous Sister City governmental and cultural exchanges benefited greatly from Ms. Sogi’s connections of Iowa and Japan.
Over the years, JASI members’ interests have grown and evolved, and today the organization’s standing committees reflect diverse interest in Japanese culture that exists in central Iowa. The relationship between Iowa and Japan is more than 50 years old. The act of humanity and goodwill opened a door of friendship due to the 1959 typhoon at Yamanashi Prefecture with the gift of 35 Iowa hogs and 100,000 bushels of corns. In 1961, the formation of Iowa Sister States with Yamanashi Prefecture solidified the bond that still exists today.