Himure Hachimangu shrine in Omihachiman, Shiga, Japan.


Do you want to hone your origami skills? Curious about what Japan’s samurai were really like? Want to acquire some basic phrases for your upcoming trip to Tokyo? If you’re interested in Japan in any way, please join us for J-Chat! Each month, we meet for a presentation on some aspect of Japan or a casual language-learning session. J-Chat is one of the best opportunities in West Michigan to learn about Japan and immerse yourself in its culture.

J-Chat takes place at 7:00 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month at Wealthy Theatre at 1130 Wealthy Street SE, Grand Rapids. All ages and language levels are welcome.


Michigan has a sister-state relationship with Shiga Prefecture, which includes the city of Omihachiman. Through the Goodwill Mission project, citizens of Grand Rapids and Omihachiman enjoy a memorable opportunity to experience each other’s countries and cultures. Every other year, citizens from Grand Rapids participate in an official delegation to Omihachiman, where they are immersed into the culture through host families, special excursions, and an official gift-giving exchange with the mayor of Omihachiman. On the alternating years, citizens from Omihachiman visit Grand Rapids to enjoy homestays and a Great Lakes summer.

These exchanges are a wonderful opportunity for all involved, and have resulted in decades-long friendships that endure to this day. They’re also an important part of achieving our mission.


We have organized several official delegations to study the other city’s cultural aspects, city governance structure, education system, environmental policies, and lifestyle. Furthermore, we have hosted many Japanese guests in Grand Rapids, including government officials, student groups, and private citizens. We invite you to be part of our hospitality.


To receive updates on J-Chat dates and topics, or if you are interested in partaking in our exchanges either as delegate or host, please reach out to us at

Learn how to get involved with this sister city and/or make a donation to the Omihachiman project fund!