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About the Japan - America Society Of Rhode Island, Inc.®

Mount Fuji

The Japan-America Society of Rhode Island, Inc.® (JASRI) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Our role is to connect the people of Japan, Rhode Island and southern New England. JASRI has come a long way from its roots as a small, local nonprofit forty years ago. We facilitate a better understanding of heritage through cultural awareness. Every year we provide quality cultural programs promoting cultural curiosity. 

JASRI’s goal is building bridges across cultures. How? By promoting mutual respect among peoples, heritages, nations, and institutions. We serve our local community through public awareness, tourism, and celebration. We strive to open hearts and minds to the intrinsic value of every individual. What affects one of us, affects us all.

As we begin our 41st year, we’re full of gratitude. Cultural curiosity is a part of life experience. Its positive, liberating, and a source of connection. Our core need as humans is to belong and to feel connected to others.


Celebrating our 40th Anniversary last year, the Japan-America Society and Black Ships Festival of R.I. is honored to have been chosen by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan to receive its prestigious citation from the Minister. This acknowledged the Society’s dedication to developing and understanding educational and economic ties between the citizens of Rhode Island and Japan. The citation was presented by the Honorable Keizo Obuchi, former Prime Minister of Japan.


Do you know what the term “Black Ships,” or “Kurofune” means?

In the Japanese language it refers to ‘foreign ships’ excluded from Japan for two hundred years until 1854…with one exception! Commodore Matthew C. Perry was born here in Rhode Island. Perry pioneered the use of steam engines for the United States Navy. He negotiated the Treaty of Kanagawa as the first treaty between the United States and Japan. This ended two centuries of Japanese isolationism. Every year JASRI celebrates this historic event here in Rhode Island -- a region taking pride in its seafaring legacy.  We're a picturesque state that aims for multicultural connections.

Our Black Ships Festival has now assumed a life of its own. It’s where communities come together. A melting pot of the diverse cultural landscape of our community with a sprinkling of the East. This annual festival goes a step further in its cultural educational outreach. 

The Black Ships Festivals in Rhode Island and in Shimoda, Japan commemorate this historic event with celebrations of friendship. The Festival is presented by The Japan-America Society and Black Ships Festival of Rhode Island, Inc., a non-profit, non-partisan organization.


For further information, contact the Japan-America Society of Rhode Island, Inc.®, P.O. Box 2543 - 169 Broadway, Newport, RI 02840; email at; or text/call 401.622.4822.​

Be Curious. Keep An Open Mind All Your Life.
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