Over the U.S. winter holiday and New Year’s celebration, 20 high school students from Japan’s Iwate Prefecture visited Southern California in conjunction with the 2016 TOMODACHI Honda Cultural Exchange Program. Their journey, documented in a newly released video produced by Honda, took the students to local schools, hospitals and cultural institutions, and culminated with their participation in the 2016 Rose Parade, an event broadcast around the world.
The TOMODACHI (“friend”) program was created by the governments of the United States and Japan following the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami to create new bonds of friendship between Japanese and American youth. The participating youth were directly impacted by the disaster.
“The hope for the TOMODACHI generation is that they have a good understanding of why relationships between the United State and Japan are so important,” said Henry Ota, director, U.S.-Japan Council.
“The TOMODACHI Honda Cultural Exchange Initiative is an extension of our belief in The Power of Dreams,” said Steve Morikawa, vice president, Corporate Relations & Social Responsibility for American Honda. “Not only will these students experience cultural exchange while they’re here in the United States, but they will carry forward what they’ve learned back to Japan and throughout the rest of their lives.”
The focal point of the students’ visit was riding the Honda float, “Nature’s Hope,” in the 2016 Rose Parade Presented by Honda. Along the parade route, they played music with an American high school marching band and greeted parade-goers, deepening the bonds of cultural exchange. The float, which featured elements of Japanese and American national parks, also included several regional flourishes from the Iwate Prefecture suggested by the students.
To view the video of the students’ journey, please visit https://youtu.be/mIVjGai4DsI.
About the TOMODACHI Initiative
The TOMODACHI Initiative is a public-private partnership born out of support for Japan’s recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake that invests in the next generation of Japanese and American leaders through educational and cultural exchanges as well as entrepreneurship and leadership programs. We seek to foster a “TOMODACHI generation” of young American and Japanese leaders who are committed to and engaged in strengthening U.S.-Japan relations, appreciate each other’s countries and cultures, and possess the global skills and mindsets needed to contribute to and thrive in a more cooperative, prosperous, and secure world.