Association of Foreign Wives of Japanese

  Supporting women since 1969

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History of AFWJ

In 1969, a foreign woman married to a Japanese, Joan Itoh, was looking for other foreign wives of Japanese. A JapanTimes newspaper columnist, Jean Pearce, became instrumental in the creation of AFWJ when she mentioned two separate times in her column about the first get together on September 7, 1969 at the Tokyo American Club. Her third column announced that the meeting was a success.

From the first meeting to the present day, AFWJ has been a source of friendship and support for its members. The Association of Foreign Wives of Japanese currently has almost 500 members from more than 50 countries. Members are located in National Districts throughout Japan and Overseas. There are active members in the following Districts: Hokkaido, Tohoku, Kanto/Koshinetsu, Chubu-Tokai & Hokuriku, Kansai & Chugoku, Shikoku, Kyushu & Okinawa, and Overseas. Throughout the year, all Districts hold a variety of activities. Some National Districts hold meetings in Local Chapters.
"I joined AFWJ early in '71, less than a year after my marriage and immediately after hearing about this wonderful group. We lived far from Tokyo, so it was the newsletter that was my main connection to the club.
It was so much fun to attend the seasonal luncheons to meet other women who shared many of the same life experiences that I did. It is that commonality that has been why I have kept up my membership all these many years, only 7 of which have been spent in Japan. No one else truly understands my life the way my fellow AFWJ members do."

M.S -- California

Some Dates of Importance:

First meeting, Tokyo American Club – September 7, 1969
Kansai District established – 1970
Kanto District Luncheons began – 1970
Panel discussion by Senior Members who were married before WWII – 1970
Visit to founder Joan Itoh’s home in Niigata – 1970
National Newsletter (bimonthly) established – 1970
Discussion group, Tokyo – 1971-75
First Christmas party, Tokyo – 1971
AFWJ name chosen – 1971
Chubu-Tokai District established – 1971
Group trip to Kyoto by Kanto, Kansai and Chubu-Tokai districts – 1971
First National Convention in Odawara – 1973
50th issue of the National Newsletter published – 1974
First Constitution – 1974
Joan Itoh (founder) elected first President – 1975
Annual national convention established – 1975
Official logo adopted – 1976
The Five Seasons (literary magazine) published– 1977-78
First annual Membership Directory published – 1978
The National Newsletter became bound magazine – 1978
10th Anniversary Celebration, Tokyo American Club – 1979
Memories: 10 Years (self-introductions) published– 1979
First talent show at a convention, Nagoya – 1980
First paid ads in National Newsletter – 1981
First mini-convention, Kyushu – 1982
First three-day convention, Nagoya – 1983
New AFWJ Constitution established 11 Districts – 1984
15th Anniversary Celebration, Tokyo American Club – 1984
Kyushu District activated – 1985
Hokkaido District activated – 1985
Seminar Series, Tokyo – 1985-86
National Newsletter became AFWJ Journal – 1986
Mini-convention, Hokkaido – 1987
20th Anniversary Celebration, Tokyo American Club – 1989
Memories: 20 Years (self-introductions) published– 1989
25th Anniversary Celebration, Tokyo American Club – 1994
Silver Linings (anthology) published – 1994
Bridges to Cross (English textbook) published – 1994
Shikoku District activated – 1996
Haruka Naru Nami no Oto (video) – 1996
First family camp – 1997
First spiritual retreat – 1997
Tohoku District activated – 1998
For Beautiful Lawful Life (legal handbook) published – 1998
Mother Tongues (bilingualism handbook) published – 1998
2001 Cooking Odyssey (cookbook) published – 2001
There Is A Way: Caring and Coping in Japan (crisis handbook) published – 2002 website goes online – 2003
35th Anniversary Celebration, Tokyo American Club – 2004

50th Anniversary Gala Celebration (September 7, 2019) Tokyo American Club

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