I was just flipping around various bookmarks and I found this article on Japan Today: Jenn Barr, a Seattle-born blonde, has managed to infiltrate the male-dominated and generally isolated and hidden world of Mahjong in Japan.
Not only that, Barr feels that it's a complete waste for Mahjong to be hidden away in seedy, unrecognizable Mahjong parlors, arguing that “it's the best game out there and I want the world to know it.”
Barr flies all over the world as a sort of ambassador for the game, which she learned as a student at Sophia University, a Jesuit university based in the center of Tokyo. A couple of years later she passed Japa'ns Professional Mahjong League exam and, along with another American named Garthe Nelson (who reportedly makes his living teaching English to Jpop stars), became the first westerner to pass.
Now, I've only had minimal exposure to Mahjong myself, but I really enjoyed it and have kind of been keeping my eye out at Goodwill and other shops for an inexpensive set to play with. But if you haven't had any chance to learn about the game beyond, say, watching moe Mahjong anime Saki on Crunchyroll, you should check out Barr's website, ReachMahjong.com.
So: how cool is that?