Dr. Joseph Amato
Dr. Joseph Gashō Amato is founder and director of the International Center for Japanese Culture since its inception in 2011. Before ICJC, Dr. Amato founded the Yokohama International School Japanese music program in 2003 – the first and only primary/secondary traditional Japanese music program in the world. The award-winning program has garnished worldwide acclaim with yearly concerts throughout Japan and overseas.
Dr. Amato received his Ph.D. in Music Composition from New York University in 1998 with research studies in contemporary Italian music. In 2000, he was awarded the prestigious Bunka-Cho Japanese Government Artists Fellowship to pursue formal study of Japanese music history and Japanese traditional musical instruments (koto, shamisen and 17-string koto) at Seiha Hōgaku-kai, Tokyo, under the tutelage of Yasuko Nakashima and Garei Okubo. He received his teaching license and Japanese professional name Gashō in 2003. In addition to Japanese music, Dr. Amato has research interests in Ainu music and culture. In 2003, he was invited to the Hokkaido Ainu Culture Research Center for studies on the Ainu tonkori instrument.
He is editor for the first English language publications of the Japanese 13-string koto “The Japanese Koto: A Beginner’s Textbook” (2010) and “The Ainu Tonkori” (2013). Dr. Amato has held teaching positions and special lecturer posts at Robert Stockton College of NJ, Fukuoka International School, Heidelberg College, Katoh Gakuen, Seiha Hōgaku Gakuen and Yokohama National University.
Ms. Nana Obayashi
ICJC Grants Writer and Administrator
Ms. Obayashi holds a design degree from University of Tsukuba with further graduate studies in England at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. A native of Kanazawa, Ms. Obayashi has worked at DeBeers Diamond Jewelry, Tokyo and Nelly May, London. She currently divides her time working for both ICJC as the grants administrator and as the Visual Designer at LOOP CO., Ltd in Yokohama.
Ms. Jain Son
ICJC Media Relations
Ms. Son is a 2012 YIS graduate and was in the first group studying Japanese Music in 2003. Currently in her fourth year at Wasade University, Jain just recently completed one year of overseas study at Ludwig Maxmiliam University - Munich. She is a pursuing her Bachelor's degree in liberal arts.
Ms. Jacqueline Pender
Ms. Pender is currently Elementary School Principal at Yokohama International School with previous posts in Germany, Kuwait, Austria, Philippines, and London. A polished and passionate photographer, Ms. Pender has an impressive photo collection from around the world. She lends her unique eye to the beauty of Japan as present in various images on the ICJC website.