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What is the Japan/America Grassroots Summit?

The Japan-America Grassroots Summit is an annual large-scale meeting of Japanese and American citizens, held alternately in Japan and America. It celebrates the historic friendship between Nakahama Manjiro and Captain William Whitfield.

Whitfield rescued the marooned Manjiro in 1841 and shared his own home with him. Later, Manjiro’s rare command of English and salutary experience in America became pivotal to the Japan/US relationship after Perry’s arrival in 1853.

Each year, Japanese prefectures and American states alternate as hosts for about a week, sharing their homes and the unique features of their communities. More than 100 people usually participate as guests, enjoying sight-seeing, cultural activities, welcome and closing ceremonies, and staying with a host family. The guests and hosts make meaningful memories together in the spirit of Omotenashi - uninhibited hospitality and friendship.

4 Unique Points of Grassroots Summit

1 Homestay. Homestay. Homestay. Homestay (that doesn’t count as four yet). There is no better way to enjoy the full scope of life in a foreign country.

2 A Japanese prefecture or US state organizes the hosting side and involves hundreds of volunteers to make the experience special for their guests.

3 Hosts prepare for guests to have zero command of the native language. Everyone enjoys hand-signs and making it work.

4 Guests of all ages and backgrounds participate each year, from first-timers to seasoned travelers, ages 3 to 93 (really!)

The Grassroots Summit Consists of Three Exchange Events

Opening Ceremony and Welcome Reception

Welcome speeches, local entertainment, and local cuisine are offered at the Opening Ceremony and Welcome Reception. This convivial party is the first opportunity for participants to meet the people of their host region, including volunteers, artists, and dignitaries. During the day of the Ceremony, local sight-seeing tours are available.

Local Sessions (Homestay Program)

Participants leave in the morning for their homestay town and stay with their host family for four days and three nights. Guests pre-select a “local session” of interest to them based on previews they receive in a brochure. During the homestay days, the local town leaders and host families work together to share the best that their community has to offer. This person-to-person exchange and shared enthusiasm for local and cultural experiences is the essence of the Japan/America Grassroots Summit.

Closing Ceremony and Farewell Program

After the Local Sessions, everyone gathers together for a Closing Ceremony and Farewell Program to reflect on and celebrate their experiences. These are attended not only by the participants but also by host families, volunteers and others who have connected during the Summit. This three-part exchange program consistently gives hundreds of Japanese and American citizens a chance to enjoy all that is best from their homes in a way that they say they never forget.


June 24(Mon.) Depart USA
June 25(Tue.) Arrive Itami Airport via Narita/Haneda
Move to Himeji by bus
[ Stay at Hotel Monterey Himeji ]
June 26(Wed.) Optional Local Tour
Opening Ceremony
Welcome Reception
[ Stay at Hotel Monterey Himeji ]
June 27(Thu.) To Local Session Area
[ Home-stay ]
June 28(Fri.) Local Session
[ Home-stay ]
June 29(Sat.) Local Session or spend whole day with host family
[ Home-stay ]
June 30(Sun.) Depart Local Session area for Awaji
Closing Ceremony and Farewell Reception at Awaji Yumebutai International Conference Center
[ Stay at The Westin Awaji Island Resort & Conference Center ]
July 1(Mon.) Leave for Itami airport by bus
Fly back to USA via Narita/Haneda
Extend stay in Japan, joining one of the Post Summit Optional Programs or on your own plan

* The program schedule may change due to unforeseen circumstances.