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What is Nippon Club of the Triangle?

The Nippon Club of the Triangle was founded in 1990 as a nonprofit organization run by all volunteers, and committed to providing intercultural programs and activities in the Triangle area (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill) of North Carolina.

The Club’s major goal is to foster deeper cultural understandings between Japanese and Americans. To achieve this goal, the Club promotes US-Japan cultural exchange and conducts local service activities. The Nippon Club warmly welcomes everyone, Japanese and non-Japanese, who support its goal.


The Nippon Club of the Triangle holds annual cultural events including a Children’s Day event, Summer Festival, and Year-End Mochitsuki to meet our objectives. In addition, the Nippon Club and Members’ Cultural Clubs participate in international festivals and other international events to introduce Japanese Culture.

  • Support schools and communities in the learning of Japan culture
  • Distribute announcements of local events and practical information about life in the Triangle area through E-mails and bilingual online media
  • Collaborate in cultural events with Japan-related organizations such as NC Japan Center, Japanese Language School, and Triangle Japanese Business Association, Chapel Hill Durham Nihonjin-kai, and Japan America Society of NC
  • Participate in other activities that foster understandings between Japanese and Americans



The Club’s organization consists of a Board of Directors and Administrative Committee, that are formed by all volunteers. Club activities are planned by the Board, the Committee, and other members who are interested. The Club welcomes the direct participation of as many members as possible in the administration of its activities.

The Directors meet regularly on the first Wednesday of each month. We welcome member participation at any time in these meetings. Please email us through the Contact Us page ahead of time if you are interested in attending.


Board of Directors

Rocky Iwashima

Rocky (Tsuguyoshi) is the current President of the Nippon Club. He is retired from IBM Japan and his own consulting company. He and his wife founded Triangle Taiko in 2002 and they continue to introduce Japanese culture to the Triangle area.

Yoshiko Iwashima

Yoko moved to Raleigh from Fujisawa (Kanagawa prefecture) with her husband and four sons in 1987. Now two of her sons live in Japan and two live in the US. Yoko loves seeing her four (soon to be five) grandchildren on-line. Yoko also enjoys seeing the sparkling eyes of children at school and community events she is involved in.

David Robinson

David helped start the Nippon Club and is now happy to be back as a Director. He is an attorney and the current Honorary Consul for Japan in North Carolina. David grew up in Japan and likes all things Japanese; except singing in public which he claims would harm US-Japan relations.

Kimberly Sergent

Kimberly lives in Cary and works in Morrisville as a business analyst for a technology company. She joined Triangle Taiko and the Nippon Club in 2009 after seeing a drumming performance at the Summer Festival. She volunteers with Animazement and other organizations to promote Japanese culture and animation.

Foster Thorbjornsen

Foster lived in Kobe for 9 years and worked for a Japanese international law firm in Osaka. He is a former attorney who now advises Japanese and other foreign clients on doing business and technology transfer in the USA.

Lui Bright

Lui was born and raised in Japan until 11 years old and has lived in this area since coming to the US. She currently lives in Cary and works as an office manager and bookkeeper at RoleModel Software, Inc. and moonlights as a stylist and model for Chip Henderson Photography. She has been volunteering with the Nippon Club of the Triangle for 6+ years and attends the Japanese Baptist Church of Raleigh where she serves as a translator. Lui is the Nippon Club treasurer.

Bob Henard

Bob, his wife, and his daughter moved to Raleigh in 1991 to work for Kobe Steel in RTP. The family joined the Nippon Club to enjoy taking part in various events organized by both Kobe Steel and the club. Years later, Bob’s daughter moved to Japan to teach English and Bob was able to visit Japan on two occasions. Falling in love with both the physical beauty of Japan, and some of its people, he wanted to try to maintain some connection to the Japanese community in Raleigh, and share his love for Nippon.

Mariko Koike Porter

Mariko lives in Cary with her husband, their 2 sons and 2 beagles. She is a SAS certified programmer and leads Analytics & Reporting at Physicians Pharmacy Alliance, Inc. in Cary. She dreams for all Japanese children and their friends in the Triangle to have opportunities to discover rich Japanese history and values through memorable events as she did as a child growing up in a rural area of Japan.

Bill Leadbitter

Bill spent 9 years in Japan on two assignments for IBM — 1985-1989 and 1993-1997. Bill and his family enjoyed travelling around Japan and SE Asia and sampling the foods and shops of Tokyo. Bill is retired now after 36 years with IBM and another 12 years with IBM subcontractors. He now enjoys golfing, travelling, and spending time with his grandchildren.

James D. Porter

Jim lives in Cary with his wife, their 2 sons and 2 beagles. As a Manager of Capital Events, he is anxious to help in any special events, trade shows, landscaping projects and/or constructions in the Triangle. He enjoys playing Basketball and coaching his son’s Kids League.

Mariko Martin

Mariko is a student at North Carolina State University, studying textiles. Having grown up in a Japanese-American home, Mariko wants to contribute to the spread of Japanese culture, and help foster a community in which everyone feels welcome and accepted.



To join the Nippon Club of the Triangle, please sign-up on our Join Us page. There are no application or membership fees.