When Jasmine Umeno is not busy with her duties as an ALT for elementary and middle schools in Beppu, Oita, she engages with her local community through traditional Japanese dance. Originally from Maui, Hawaii, Jasmine has studied traditional Japanese dance for over thirteen years and received professional certification in Hawaii. On JET, Jasmine has found opportunities to practice more classical styles of dance, joining the group “Namishiro no kai.” The group holds performances throughout the year.
As a fourth generation mixed-race Japanese-American, Jasmine has dedicated time to introduce and familiarize Japanese people with Japanese-American culture and history. “A lot of people I’ve talked to are surprised by the dedication with which Japanese-American communities have preserved their culture. Many assume that Japanese customs don’t even exist abroad,” Jasmine observed. “I suppose I’ve helped bring to light the shared nature of cultural heritage as something that transcends language and geographic distance.” Jasmine takes these lessons back to her students as they work together to examine culture, ethnicity, and nationality in one of Japan’s most internationalized cities.”