Cultural News: An attempt to reach newcomers from Japan turned into discovering Japanese culture enthusiasts in America
Cultural News is a monthly English language newspaper featuring news and information about traditional Japanese cultural events in Southern California. 6,000 copies of the 8-page tabloid has been in print each month since July 1998 in Los Angeles by Japan-born Shige Higashi.
And it is now distributed to Japanese American community centers in Southern California and is a direct mailer to subscribers at a rate of $25 a year for 12 issues.
Currently Cultural News is also recognized as a daily email newsletter edited by Shige Higashi. The contents of both the monthly newspaper is the same as what is available at the website www.culturalnews.com.
The publication was the brainchild of Shige Higashi in the 1990’s when he convinced himself that a new format of news media was needed in the Japanese-speaking community of the Greater Los Angeles area.
The earliest Japanese immigration started more than 100 years ago in Southern California. Unlike Korean and Chinese immigration, only a small number of new immigrants from Japan continue to arrive today.
These new waves of Japanese immigration since World War II have spread into a much wider segment of geographical, social and economical levels. In order to reach these scattered Japanese-speaking populations, Higashi thought that an English-language newspaper was suitable and readable for them because most of newcomers from Japan had already learned the English-language in their native country or they were quick to learn English in the U.S.
A real chance for Higashi to start publishing an English language periodical came in the late 1990’s when he was a Los Angeles business manager of Japan’s national news agency Kyodo, and noticed that numerous news releases were sent to newsrooms by institutions, corporations, and government offices. He foresaw that he could start a newspaper by only collecting these news releases.
Through trial and error in 1998 and early 1999, schedules of traditional Japanese cultural events in Southern California were emerging as the core segment of Cultural News, and Higashi realized that Cultural News could be delivered to the original targeted Japanese-speaking population at the same time when the tabloid monthly was subscribed to by Japanese culture enthusiasts in the main stream society of America.
For Japan-born Shige Higashi, traditional Japanese culture was the last thing he would have thought to be of value from his native county. For most people in Japan today, traditional Japanese culture seems to have no attraction in their highly industrialized lifestyles.
Discovering Americans’ enthusiasm about traditional Japanese culture was not only Higashi’s eye-opening experience, but it was also in delivering the very positive message from America to Japan.
As of the end of April 2011, the American people’s greatest interest in Japan is the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami including consequences of the Fukushima nuclear-power plant incident. The April 2011 issue features the firsthand experiences from the disaster areas in Japan, and the cultural aspect of Japanese food in emergency situations. Higashi made his fact-finding tour of the Tohoku disaster area from April 15 through 20.
Prior to his experiences with Kyodo News in Los Angeles, he was a Japanese-language reporter with Kashu Mainichi daily newspaper in Los Angeles from April 1981 through May 1982, and with Nichi Bei Times in San Francisco from June 1982 through March 1983. He worked with the Asahi Shimbun (newspaper) as an assistant to the Los Angeles correspondent from 1983 through 1986. In Japan, Higashi worked with several trade newspapers in the Kyoto and Osaka areas from 1978 to 1980, and through on-the-job training he learned news gathering skills and understood the whole process of the newspaper business. (April, 30, 2011)
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