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Member Highlight: Rona Conti

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

It is my great pleasure to say that I have been a member of the Japan Society of Boston for over 20 years.

What drew you to JSB?

I was interested in Japan, in particular Japanese scrolls and ceramics from the time I was in college. I admired them in various museums and dreamt one day of learning Japanese

calligraphy. Thus, my interest in Japan was strong. The programs offered seemed extremely desirous to attend.

[Umi 海, sea or ocean, from Kyoto exhibition]

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

I am an abstract artist, but primarily, since 1999 I have been studying Japanese calligraphy. At that time my children had graduated college, and I decided to fulfill my dream of 35 years. I got a job teaching English in Gunma-machi (now Takasaki), sold my car, rented my apartment, bought a dictionary since I knew no Japanese, told said children I was moving to Japan and to please come visit. And they did. I lived in Japan for two years, then three months in segments for 12 years. By that time I was able to study by correspondence and began exhibiting my work. This past July I was shocked but also thrilled to win First Prize in

a museum calligraphy exhibition with 200 Japanese calligraphers.

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

Over the years I participated in many programs with JSB. Lectures by Peter Grilli were always wonderful, the selection of Japanese films likewise, and a reading by Donald Keene was a particular delight. Speakers, writers, poets, Norman Tolman, a gallery owner in Japan, and others gave excellent presentations. There were celebrations of the New Year and other rituals observed. There were tickets to theatre with Japanese related plays. But it was the people I met and spoke with who gave to me the most satisfaction and increased


[Obi 帯, sash, from Tokyo exhibition]

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

I would tell anyone with the slightest interest in Japan to come to an event and am sure that they would wish to join.

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

I made many Japanese friends the one year I taught English. Some came to visit me here, and we stay in touch. My beloved Sensei, Mieko Kobayashi who has now retired, and my current Sensei, Sakiko Yanagisawa are central to my life as is Japan.

I thank Japan Society of Boston for giving to me the opportunity to laud them and to give thanks for the many programs in which I participated.

[Fu Do Shin 不動心, immovable mind, from Kyoto exhibition]

Check out their website for more about Rona Conti

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

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