Unlike other groups, the Japanese Association started as “the Japanese Wives Club” in 1951, founded by Seiko MaCann. The club aimed to help the newly arrived Japanese wives, who married American soldiers during World War II, to meet as a group and to teach the Japanese-American style cooking.
It was renamed as “the Japanese Cultural Society” in 1954, and again as “the Japanese Association of Toledo” in 1986, according to Joseph Hara, a professor of Japanese studies at University of Toledo and president of the Japanese Association.
Serving as liaison between the Japanese community and the public in Toledo, the association organized various activities such as classes on Japanese art, customs, and the tea ceremony.
“About 70 percent of Japanese do not profess religion, although we have a Buddhist culture. The association is not religious, and there’s overall very little on the religious aspect on a community level,” Mr. Hara said.
But like other communities, Japanese-Americans in Toledo have set up their language school under the Japanese Association.
Yet, different from the Chinese, Korean, and Hindu schools, the Japanese school uses a curriculum designed by the Japanese ministry of education. The school is also funded by the Japanese government.
Although Japanese-Americans are well integrated into the general Toledo community, the population remained small, according to Mr. Hara.
“We have many engineers and workers who came to work for three or four years in the automotive industries, but they stayed no more than seven years,” Mr. Hara said.
Mr. Hara explained that the difference between the American and Japanese cultures sometimes led to many’s choice of returning to Japan after their projects were over.
“For those who came on work visa, sometimes they found the two cultures very different. Japan is more group-oriented, while in this country you are more of an individual. Some of the Japanese immigrants experienced a sense of separation from their culture,” Mr. Hara said.