Japanese Expatriates Build Community Amongst Themselves and with Findlay

The Far East to the Midwest

Cruising along Industrial Drive in Findlay, you may notice a few companies of Japanese origin. Northwest Ohio is a draw for many Japanese-based automobile industries due to the work force, the proximity to I-75, and the nearby auto industries. Currently there are 14 Japanese-based companies located in the area, employing over 6,000 individuals. These companies not only bring jobs to our community, but also expatriates from Japan who have rallied together to embrace their Japanese culture and the American community in which they live.

Friends of Findlay

Friends of Findlay is a community organization comprised of employees from Japanese-based companies with satellite locations in Northwest Ohio, along with representatives from the City of Findlay. Kazuo Koyama, President of Nissin Brake in Findlay, founded the group in 1992 in an effort to connect Japanese individuals living and working in the U.S. with each other and their communities. Originally from the Nagano prefecture of Japan, Koyama has lived in the U.S. twice for his job and says he started Friends of Findlay because of the “various cultural differences between Japan and the U.S…such as law, language, traffic, food, and the education system.” The group’s mission is to establish friendly relationships among members and with the residents of Findlay, to build a foundation to contribute to the city of Findlay, and to support activities for the cultural exchange of Japan.

Friends of Findlay bridges the gap between Findlay and Japan.
Friends of Findlay bridges the gap between Findlay and Japan.

Building Community

In the fall, the group enjoyed a social picnic with over 200 members in attendance. They also participate in the Julie Cole Charity Golf Tournament, which benefits local hospice programming. “Findlay is a good place to raise a family, people are very welcoming. We want to show our gratitude.” says Koyama. Friends of Findlay members organize an annual gratitude ceremony, known as “arigatou no kai” during which students show gratitude to their teachers with their talents, such as music or dance.

Friends of Findlay has also hosted several trips to Japan with members of the Findlay community. During these trips the group visits a variety of schools, business’ headquarters, and meets with former Findlay residents to gain insight into the academic, social, and business culture of the Japanese.

The City of Findlay has welcomed the Friends of Findlay by offering tours of Blanchard Valley Hospital and translating hospital forms into Japanese. Findlay City School District provides bus services every Saturday for children to attend Japanese school in Toledo for lessons in Japanese language, culture, and math. The Findlay Economic Development office even closed their offices for a half-day for the Detroit Japanese consulate to temporarily come to Findlay to provide on-site support service.

Friends of Findlay demonstrates that what is good economically
is even better culturally for our community.
While many of its members are here on temporary assignment,
the impact of the organization leaves a lasting impression upon the City of Findlay.

Community members and readers are encouraged to submit ideas for the column.
Know someone our readers might like to meet or have an example
of cultural diversity that we can share and learn from?
Email Sarah Mayle at editor2@findlayfamily.com.

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