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Member Highlight: Dylan Phelan

How long have you been a member of the Japan Society of Boston?

2023 was my first year as a JSB member, so only a year so far – but I’m very excited for

2024 and another year of JSB events!

What drew you to JSB?

In the Spring of 2023, I started Japanese Language classes at Showa University. I had

always thought about learning Japanese, and I was really enjoying the lessons with

some newfound free time on my hands. Eager for more practical experience, I asked my

classmates for recommendations and was told about JSB’s Language Room. After

sitting in on a few language exchanges as a non-member, I was hooked, eager to

become a full-time member and explore all the other activities they had to offer!

How would you describe yourself and what you're passionate about?

Professionally, I’m a software engineer who works in Healthcare standards-development

at Boston Children’s Hospital, helping improve how hospitals exchange data with each

other, with patients, and with researchers. I care a lot about work in the non-profit space,

open-source software development, and making healthcare better for patients


Personally, I’m an incredibly curious person with an interest in games and

Japanese culture. I’ve always been a fan of video games and board games – recent

favorites have been Neon White and Wingspan. I love going bird watching and kayaking,

traveling to new countries, cooking dinner for my friends, listening to tons of music

genres, adding to my vinyl and cassette collections, and I absolutely love reading books

– my favorite read in 2023 was the Shakespeare-meets-Secret-History mystery thriller “If

We Were Villains” by M.L. Rio.

[Dylan and his partner kayaking at his favorite spot around Arlington, Spy Pond]

Do you have a favorite event or program that you have participated in with JSB?

Ooh, that’s a tough question. As corny as it is to say, all of them have been amazing in

such different ways. Three that come to mind: First, the monthly JSB Language Room

has been a perfect compliment to Japanese language classes, providing speaking and

listening practice while getting to know other JSB members and native Japanese

speakers. Second, the monthly JSB Book Club has been so culturally enriching.

Jumping on a zoom call to discuss a new work of Japanese literature every month has

been a great way to nudge myself towards reading more books and learning more about

Japanese authors, Japanese history, and other JSB members. And finally, the Connect

with JSB events are such fun! Going out to local Japanese businesses and connecting

with JSB members in-person has been a great way to make new friends and explore

new restaurants in the Boston area.

[A dinner party with friends, cooking up some takoyaki and okonomiyaki!]

What about JSB makes it special from other groups within the Boston area?

The events and the people! The range of members' life experiences can be incredible;

going to social events and hearing about everyone’s unique connections to Japan and

Japanese culture is so eye opening. Plus, the wide range of activities both online and in

person allow for great lifestyle flexibility. Even for members not living in Boston-proper,

JSB’s online book clubs, cooking classes, and more provide fun ways of exploring

Japanese culture and making new friends.

Finally, there’s JSB’s connections to various Boston businesses. These connections do wonders for the events JSB holds – from performances at a jazz club in Allston and izakaya dinners near Fenway, to guided tours at the Museum of Fine Arts and Japanese whisky tasting in Union Square. Moreover, the membership also provides discounts at some wonderful stores in the area – a favorite of mine is the specialty shop Crane and Turtle in Union Square!

[Dylan and his partner visit the great pyramids in Egypt

along with an incredible tour guide, Ragab]

What would you say to somebody who is considering joining JSB?

If you’ve never attended a JSB event before, there’s nothing wrong with trying things out

before committing. Several events are open to non-members, so find one that speaks to

you and see if the events are for you! If you’ve been to an event before and enjoyed it –

well, what are you waiting for?! New year new you, right? I joined around this time last

year and have had an incredible time since then – I’m sure you will too.

Finally, if these kinds of events aren’t for you but you’re still reading, I’d hope this has offered a glimpse into the beautiful community the people of JSB have cultivated. That work takes incredible time and effort, and by being a member you’re supporting their work and the community it's built. Japan Society of Boston is a special organization, and I’d encourage you to join others in helping this organization and this community continue to thrive and grow.

[Dylan and friends going to Hojoko in Fenway after a Connect with JSB event!]

Interested in becoming a JSB Member? Click here or reach out to for more details.

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