BY MONICA LOHENI
The JANZ Ladies’ Group is a social organisation formed to promote friendship, goodwill, and understanding among the women of Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. JANZ Ladies’ offers support and camaraderie to Australian and New Zealand expatriates and Japanese nationals alike in their appreciation of cultural diversity. The group is open to Australian and New Zealand women residing in Japan and to Japanese women who have resided in either Australia or New Zealand for at least one year.
JANZ offers members a range of activities including a book club, calligraphy, cooks-in-the-kitchen, gourmet (restaurant reviews), golf, cross-cultural exchanges, movies, sumi-e, ikebana, and bridge, as well as day trips and overnight excursions. Two popular interest groups are their gourmet and golf groups—the gourmet group meets once month and enjoys lunch at different restaurants of various cuisines in and around Tokyo. The golf group provides an opportunity to play golf on some beautiful courses around Japan at reasonable rates. This group also arranges golf lessons for everyone from the beginner to the experienced player with a monthly practice at a nearby golf range.
They enjoy fun outings including day trips to the Shiseido Factory at Kamakura, Tsukiji Market, Kawagoe town, a calligraphy exhibition, museum visits, and an ikebana exhibition. On their most recent overnight trip to Nikko, participants were also able to experience a different side of Nikko by visiting a reproduction of an Edo village. The highlight of the trip was an overnight stay at a samurai hideout, together with an open hearth dinner in the banquet hall reached by crossing a lantern-lit rope bridge over the river. Both the day and overnight trips enable foreigners to experience various facets of Japanese culture and share their views with Japanese members.
Another aspect of the JANZ Ladies’ group is to support and contribute to society as an international women’s group. They have for many years donated Christmas gifts to Kodomo no Machi, a children’s orphanage in the Saitama Prefecture. They also recently launched a fund-raising project to provide vaccines to children in developing countries who do not have access to adequate healthcare.
The current membership consists of 172 women: 115 Japanese, 42 Australians, and 15 New Zealanders.
History and Formation
In November 2007, the JANZ Ladies’ Group celebrated its 55th Anniversary Reunion in Sydney, Australia, where more than 100 current and former members gathered on the waterfront of the Sydney harbour. It was 1952 when Mrs Yoriko Gotoh, then the wife of the ex-Consul General to Sydney, took the initiative to form a women’s division within an organisation known today as the Japan-Australia-New Zealand Society (JANZ Society—itself formed in 1928 with approximately 30 members, including well-known men from diplomatic and commercial circles). The inaugural ceremony for the women’s division was held in October 1952, and Mrs Hideko Inoue (the wife of the ex-Consul General to Sydney) was elected as the very first president of the JANZ Ladies’ Group, with a 45 members. The group remained part of the JANZ Society until they became independent in 1974. By that time, membership had increased to 153 members: 67 Japanese, 66 Australians, and 20 New Zealanders.
Today, the JANZ Ladies’ Group continues the tradition established by its founding members. They welcome enquiries and are always on the lookout for new ladies interested in taking part in the group. For further information on membership or any of the activities, please refer to their website, www.janzladies.com, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.