“Japan’s Unsung Gifts: Masks, Umeboshi and More.”

Memoirs of a Mask Maker captures Kathryn Graven’s four-decade relationship with Japan. From high school exchange student to Tokyo correspondent, from mother and artist to teacher and author, Japan shaped her professional and personal life in ways big and small. In this new book, just published in the UK by Cinnamon Press, Kathryn reveals Japan’s unsung gifts. 

The book honors three women — a grandmother, a neighbor and a pharmacist in Japan — who helped Kathryn stitch together a beautiful life after the tragic loss of her mother. Readers join her first journey from Minnesota to Tochigi in 1977. They follow the subsequent ups and downs as she moves between different cultures.

Among the unsung gifts the author received was a deep sense of belonging to a Japanese family — something that often eludes foreigners. A connection that started with umeboshi became something more profound. And it contributed to her resolve to raise a global family and discover her artistic self. Years later, when the global pandemic raged, the author knew exactly what to do, thanks to her Japanese mother: She sewed hundreds of colorful masks, signing each with a note of encouragement. Memoirs of a Mask Maker intends to change the way readers assess the strengths and possibilities of Japanese culture. 

Kathryn’s journalism career in Tokyo began at the ABC News Bureau and continued at The Wall Street Journal. Later, in the U.S., she reported for the Journal from New York and Boston, and taught international business reporting at Boston Unversity. Kathryn graduated from Stanford University and from Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism. She attended the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Study. She was a fellow at Harvard’s Program on U.S.-Japan Relations, and received an Abe Fellowship from the Japan Foundation. 

Kathryn now lives, writes, paints and sews in Boston.

Doors open at 6:00 pm. Dinner is served from 6:15 pm. The presentation starts from 7:15 pm.

Menu: TBD/ Coffee or Tea with One Drink. Book Break charges are 3,000 yen/ 4,000 yen (members/ non-members) per person. 

FCCJ members can sign up at the reception desk. Reservations cancelled less than 72 hours in advance will be charged in full. Non-members can reserve at the reception desk by email (front@fccj.or.jp). Payment is in advance till Monday, April 10th, 2023. No refund is available unless the event is cancelled by FCCJ.

Online attendance (via Zoom) is available at 550 yen per person. Please indicate the intention to attend online when signing up. Details on how to join online will be sent to individual emails after their reservations are confirmed. 

Attendees with food restriction should inform the reception desk (front@fccj.or.jp) three days before the event. We kindly ask for your cooperation with Covid-19 prevention measures at the reception and to wear a mask in the premises. Thank you.

(The talk will be in English)

Library, Archives & Workroom Committee