Vol.17 December 2008
- Rena ‘Rusty’ Kanokogi, “Mother of Women’s Judo”, is Honored
- Ambassador Hosts Japan-U.S. Networking Event for Young Business People
- Dr. Hideyo Noguchi Memorial Is Restored
- Visit Japan - Historic City Reborn: Tome City, Miyagi Prefecture
- Culture Connection -Haiku Poems in Translation
- From the Ambassador's Desk
- Oshogatsu Events - Japanese New Year in New York
- Hogaku: New Sounds of Japan 2009
- Event Calendar
November 3, 2008, Rena ‘Rusty’ Kanokogi, President, NY State Judo, Inc., was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette for her outstanding contributions to the promotion of judo. The conferment ceremony took place at Ambassador Sakurai’s residence on November 24th. Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, tennis legend Billie Jean King, and many other friends joined the night’s celebration.
In his congratulatory remarks, Ambassador Sakurai said, “this award [is] not just as recognition of your achievements but is also a symbol of the strong bonds of friendship you have forged between the people of Japan and the United States”. Calling her “Kanokogi-sensei”, the term which means a teacher or respected master in Japanese, the Ambassador further stated that he hopes the spirit of judo will continue to grow here in New York and around the world.
In her speech, Ms. King praised Ms. Kanokogi for being her long time friend as well as a great sportsperson. Then, President Markowitz presented Ms. Kanokogi with the proclamation. Messages were provided by Mr. Yukimitsu Kano, President of Kodo Kan, and Mr. Hideki Matsui, baseball player for the New York Yankees. In his statement, Matsui expressed his appreciation to Ms. Kanokogi and said, “Such remarkable achievements could have only been accomplished by a person truly immersed in the values and spirit of Judo”.
Rena ‘Rusty’ Kanokogi is known for her extraordinary role promoting the sport worldwide and for blazing a path that would make the Japanese martial art an official women’s Olympic event.
Ms. Kanokogi began practicing judo at a time when the sport was virtually off-limits to females. When she helped her team to victory at the New York YMCA state championship in 1961, she had to give up her medal because she was a woman. Later, she traveled to Japan to train at judo’s world headquarters, the Kodokan, becoming the first foreign woman in history to practice at the main dojo in Tokyo. After returning to the United States, she established the “Kyushu Dojo Community Service Center” with her husband, Ryohei Kanokogi, also a judo player, in her native Brooklyn. There she devoted her energies to coaching and promoting the sport to young people.
In a major effort to popularize women’s judo, Rusty advocated holding a first-ever women’s judo world championship. Eventually approved by the International Judo Federation and held at New York’s Madison Square Garden in November 1980, Rusty organized the event and raised money for it by mortgaging her own house. Buoyed by the success of the world championship, and spurred by her efforts and those of other judo officials from Japan and around the world, women’s judo became a demonstration sport at the Seoul Olympics in 1988, and it finally earned a spot as a full medal sport at Spain’s Barcelona games in 1992.
Rusty Kanokogi was inducted into the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1994. She has received many other accolades, including a Henry Stone Award and a bronze medal from the International Judo Federation.
On November 7th, the Consulate hosted a “Japan-U.S. Young Business People Networking Event” at Ambassador Sakurai’s residence. The event was held in collaboration with Columbia Business School’s Japan Business Association (JBA) and the Center on Japanese Economy and Business (CJEB). It was made possible by the initiative of Mr. Natsuki Tsuda and Mr. Hiroyuki Kubo, Co-Presidents of the JBA, who hope to expand their group’s networking activity beyond the business school.
The evening was a unique opportunity to bring together MBA students, both non-Japanese and Japanese, and young Japanese professionals living in the metropolitan area. The attendees from the business community work for companies in various sectors, such as financial services, international trade, manufacturing, IT, tourism, and other business-related organizations. There were approximately 80 participants, including about 30 non-Japanese. The Consulate supported the event as a starting point for the further development of exchange between young Japanese and American business people.
The evening started off with lectures on the Japanese economy and business by three distinguished speakers. First, Professor Hugh Patrick, Director of the CJEB, spoke on Japanese financial institutions’ recovery from the financial crisis of the 1990s and the lessons to be learned. According to Professor Patrick, what the U.S. government and businesses should take from the Japanese experience is to, among others, consider the worst case scenario and focus on the importance of the ‘main street’ economy.
Professor Patrick was followed by Mr. Kazumasa Okubo, Senior Visiting Research Associate at Columbia’s Weatherhead East Asian Institute and the CJEB and an official at the Ministry of Finance. Mr. Okubo emphasized the advantages of doing business in Japan, highlighting attractive sectors like healthcare and other high value-added services for Japan’s aging population. He also spoke about the impact of young people’s increased purchasing power, which is fuelled by a stronger yen.
In his opening remarks, Ambassador Sakurai said, “Japan is particularly well-positioned in terms of 21st century technologies, energy efficiency, and its ability to lead on the issue of global warming.” And the evening’s final speaker, Mr. Gen Ito, President of JETRO New York Center, and an official at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, echoed that sentiment. He focused largely on climate change issues and Japan’s strength in its environmental technologies, including “innovative solar power” and PHEVs (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles). The evening’s talks were followed by a lively Q&A session with lots of input from both the students’ and the business people’s perspectives.
During the reception that followed, the conversations were even more animated, as most participants shared a common interest in the Japanese economy and business. Many students from the business school had some experience with Japan, whether it was visiting there, having close Japanese friends, or even just eating out often at Japanese restaurants. After the networking event, the Consulate received largely positive feedback from participants, with one of the few complaints being that the three talks were too short.
Despite the current global economic downturn, now is the time to look for new business opportunities, especially related to Japan. In order to facilitate interaction between the Japanese and American business communities and to provide a catalyst for non-Japanese people to learn more about the Japanese economy, the Consulate looks forward to hosting this kind of networking event again in the near future.
The memorial grave of internationally renowned scientist Dr. Hideyo Noguchi (1876-1928) was restored, thanks to a financial contribution of approximately 4,000 dollars from the Japanese Medical Society of America (JMSA). After a month-long restoration, the unveiling ceremony was held in the Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx on November 15, with about 30 people in attendance, including Ambassador Sakurai.
In his speech, Ambassador Sakurai expressed his appreciation to JMSA, Rockefeller University, the Friends of Woodlawn Cemetery and everyone else involved in the restoration. Referring to Dr. Noguchi’s contributions to medicine and bacteriology, and his unwavering dedication until his last breath in search of cures for diseases, the Ambassador commented, “Dr. Noguchi was more than a gifted doctor and scientist; he was a true humanitarian. Dr. Noguchi is a reminder of the need for international cooperation in the fight against diseases that still plague populations around the globe”.
©National Diet Library, Japan
All right Reserved
Hideyo Noguchi was born in 1876 in Fukushima, Japan. In 1900, he moved to the US to pursue his studies in medicine. He then joined the Rockefeller Institute of Medical Research (now Rockefeller University). Dr. Noguchi received honorary degrees from Yale University and Tokyo Imperial University, among others. He traveled the world, including South and Central Africa, in search of cures for diseases. Dr. Noguchi passed away at the age of 51, while he worked as a researcher at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research in Ghana. He contracted yellow fever, a disease he was researching in order to develop a vaccine.
During his life time, Dr. Noguchi established strong bonds here in New York. He married his American wife, Mary, in 1911 and worked at the Rockefeller Institute. After his death, his remains were brought back to New York and placed in the Woodlawn Cemetery. The Institute placed a monument of a boulder and bronze plaque, which reads: Through Devotion to Science He Lived and Died for Humanity. Every year, hundreds of people visit this site to pay tribute to the great scientist.
In Japan, Dr. Noguchi is an incomparably respected figure. In 2004, his portrait was adopted as the design for the 1000 yen note. In 2006, the Japanese government established the Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize to honor individuals who made outstanding achievements in medical research and services. The presentation ceremony for the first laureates was held in May 2008, during the TICAD IV (Tokyo International Conference on African Development), to mark the 80th anniversary of Dr. Noguchi’s passing.
The Japanese Medical Society of America (JMSA) was founded in 1974 for the advancement of the welfare of Japanese residents in the US. Their activities include the creation of a network between Japanese speaking doctors, scholarships for young Japanese doctors, as well as the distribution of medical information to Japanese communities in the U.S.
Historic City Reborn : Tome City, Miyagi Prefecture
Photo Courtesy of Tome City
In Japan, 2005 was known for the culmination of “Heisei no daigappei“, a year when many local cities and towns merged and re-organized. Nine towns in northeastern Miyagi Prefecture were no exception; they combined to become one city on April 1, 2005, and so Tome City was born.
Located on a plain between the Kitakami River to the east and Hasama River to the northwest, Tome city is blessed with wonderful nature. With four distinct, different seasons, the region’s vast stretches of rice fields turn green in summer and shiny gold in autumn - an awesome view that attracts many visitors.
Photo Courtesy of Tome City
In the city, there are also a number of ponds and swamps where swans and wild geese fly over and stay through the winter. Izunuma, a designated conservation site under the Ramsar Convention (an international convention on wetland habitats that recognizes important world waterfowl sites), and Naganuma are particularly notable. In the daylight and the moonlight, graceful silhouettes of birds appear on the water’s surface and minnows, fireflies, and golden eagles also populate the region.
Tome City is an agricultural city with a population of approximately 88,000. It is famous throughout Japan for its high-quality rice varieties like “sasanishiki” and “hitomebore”. Good rice means that the region’s other food is good, too. The city produces a wide range of specialties, from which traditional products like miso, soy sauce and abura-fu (fried wheat gluten) are made. Good rice also means that excellent Japanese sake can be produced. “Sawa no Izumi” is a well known brand brewed from locally-produced rice.
Photo Courtesy of Tome City
There are many historical sites and ruins in Tome city including ancient tombs, Shinto shrines, temples, and other buildings that have been designated important cultural properties by local municipalities. Among them is the building of the former Toyoma elementary school, constructed in the Meiji era and now an educational reference library, and the wooden statue Fudo myo-ou zazou housed in Yokoyama Fudo-son, both of which are officially named important cultural treasures by the Japanese government. Furthermore, a local festival and designated intangible important cultural property, “Yonekawa no mizu-kaburi”, and a Noh performance, “Mori Butai”, are amongst the traditions that have been handed down from generation to generation.
Photo Courtesy of Tome City
Tome City has provided sources for contemporary artistic inspiration, too. It is the birthplace of creative talents in popular culture like the late Shotaro Ishinomori, a manga author and animation giant. His masterpieces, “Cyborg 009” and the “Kamen Rider (Mask Rider)” series have a great influence on many authors today. Near the house where he was born is a memorial museum displaying Ishimori’s works, his favorite items, and a replica of the rooms of the Tokiwa-so, an apartment in Tokyo where many young manga artists, including Ishinomori, used to live from the 1950s to 1970s. Another popular manga author and director, Katsuhiro Otomo is also from Tome City. He is especially known for his work “AKIRA”.
Tome City’s pastoral scenery and peaceful atmosphere are a chance to get away from the hectic life and relax. The people of Tome warmly welcome visitors. Please visit Tome city and enjoy its nature, culture and food!
Photo Courtesy of Tome City
Photo Courtesy of Tome City
Haiku Poems in Translation
By Jane Reichhold
From Hasegawa Collection, Yamagata Museum of Art
Beginning in 1644 in Ueno, Matsuo Basho wandered north and south of Edo in search of places that would inspire his poetry. In his journeys he wrote 1,012 single haiku poems, which made him Japan’s most revered haiku poet. His journals serve as a beacon for writers of many genres in Japanese literature.
In the following article, Jane Reichhold, haiku poet, translator and the author of “Basho The Complete Haiku”, the first complete collection of Basho’s haiku in English, tells us about how she discovered the fascinating world of haiku as well as the 17th century haiku genius, Matsuo Basho, known as “haisei” (the saint of haiku).
furu ike ya
mizu no oto
a frog jumps into
the sound of water
From Hasegawa Collection, Yamagata Museum of Art
Thus the smallest ambassador spreads around the globe an exciting interest in Japanese culture. Haiku, which by its extreme brevity, is the perfect poetry form for these days of rapid information exchange. Because it looks easy to write, it has been said that more people have written a haiku than any other genre. However, its small form is deceptive, as anyone who tries it, soon learns. There is so much to learn about haiku that the serious student can have years in happy discovery.
Haiku have been translated from the Japanese into French since 1884 and into English since 1902 when Basil Hall Chamberlain first published an article on Basho.
This is one reason the greatest interest revolves around Japan’s Saint of Haiku, the best known writer - Matsuo Basho. Even though he would not recognize the term haiku - he called his poems hokku or haikai - it is his work that is translated most often by a long list of accomplished scholars who have attempted to shoehorn hokku/haiku into being English poetry.
From Hasegawa Collection, Yamagata Museum of Art
In spite of that honor, it is surprising that until now no non-Japanese has translated all of Basho’s poems. Over the years translators would pick and choose among his gems so that the same poems were repeatedly given new English, French, German, Dutch, or Spanish versions. These translators excused their behavior with the idea that not all of Basho’s poems could be understood in another language or even worse - were unworthy of being translated. However even the best translations of Basho’s work have not satisfied readers who long to know exactly what a haiku is and how it works in its original language.
I had been introduced to haiku through the Peter Pauper Series in 1967 and for over ten years wrote all my haiku in four lines and, because we were living in Germany, thought that my daughter and I were the only non-Japanese who were writing in this ‘new’ form. It felt like I was finding my tribe as I rediscovered the activity of others and could at last share and learn from others there and then in America and Canada.
There was so much to learn about haiku and much of the information conflicted. Some styles felt right to me; others were only a short experimentation. Still, I longed to know how a ‘real’ haiku - one written in Japanese - was envisioned, built, and conveyed. It was only when a Tokyo doctor, Tadao Okazaki, started a haiku magazine New Cicada in English in 1984, was he able to show word-for-word translations along with his version of an English haiku.
At that point I collected every translation I could buy and began to study Japanese, bought dictionaries, and sought out Japanese teachers and haiku writers to help me. One of these, Kenichi Sato, seemed surprised how quickly I could decipher the Japanese hokku into an English haiku by using the exact word needed to carry the meaning.
This was from my studies of Basho’s life, his teachings, but most of all the revelation of how he worked to create his poetry that made me able to codify and explain the various techniques he used. These techniques (given in the back of the book with examples of Basho’s poems) not only enable other haiku writers to gain an understanding of the genre, but also have greatly aided me in finding the best English words to carry the sense of Basho’s poems.
I would be the first to admit that a translation can never completely convey all the meanings and overtones even a Japanese child can find in a Basho verse. But by bringing non-Japanese readers a word-for-word literal translation as well as a modern haiku, along with copious notes, I hope to enable an even wider audience to experience the wonder and joy that all of Basho’s poems brought to the world with his heart and his genius.
kono tera wa
niwa ippai no
the garden is full
of banana trees
Photo by David Torres
Ms. Jane Reichhold is one of America’s leading haiku poets, recognized as one of the ten top haiku writers in English by the Shiki Team at Matsuyama University. She is the author of over thirty books, including Writing and Enjoying Haiku: Hands-on Guide, Tigers in a Tea Cup, Silence, and A Dictionary of Haiku. Ms. Reichhold has worked with various Japanese scholars for the past 25 years to translate every verse accredited to Basho. Her recent dedicated translation, “Basho The Complete Haiku” elucidates Basho’s life, bringing under one cover all of his poems in chronological order, a biographical sketch of the poet’s travels, and comprehensive notes on Basho’s techniques.
The year is coming to a close and I am sure all of you are quite busy. In Japan, we call December “shiwasu”, literally meaning “teachers running around,” because it is such a busy time of year.
2008 was certainly eventful. Both in Japan and the U.S. new leaders were born. In Japan, Prime Minister Aso took office in September and in November Mr. Barack Obama was elected president after a historic race. The past two years in Japan have seen prime ministers change frequently, but Japan’s basic foreign policy remains the same. The fact that the U.S. is an important ally for Japan remains unchanged, and under the leadership of our two new leaders, I hope the Japan-U.S. relationship will be further strengthened in 2009.
Looking back on the past year there were many memorable moments. Japan hosted the 4th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICADIV) in May and the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit in July, both of which produced significant achievements. Later in the year, the world experienced an unprecedented financial crisis. In November, leaders from 20 nations gathered in Washington to discuss emergency economic measures to overcome this crisis; and Prime Minister Aso announced Japan’s proposals to assist affected emerging and developing economies, while calling for further support from other participating countries. For 2009, I believe that Japan and the U.S. will continue to tackle global challenges facing the international community, such as the world economy, environmental protection, and development.
© Yasufumi Nishi / JNTO
Back here in New York, in June, the second Japan Day @ Central Park 2008 was a great success thanks to the participation of 40,000 people. Private, grass-roots level cultural exchanges like this one are a wonderful bridge between our two countries. Details on Japan Day 2009 will soon be updated through this website, so please check back here for more information.
In November, I hosted a reception at my residence for graduates of the Japanese Weekend Schools of New York and New Jersey, and the Princeton Community Japanese Language School. Former students from various fields - one is in the US Army and has just returned from Iraq and another is a popular animation artist - took part. I will report more details of the event soon, but let me mention that I was truly encouraged to see so many former students who continue to cherish their bonds with Japan. In 2009, I look forward to continuing to do everything I can in order to help increase the ranks of friends of Japan.
Finally, I am a Christian who attends church just a few times each year. Nonetheless, during this season, when I go to church, I feel real inspiration for the year ahead. I hope all of you and your families will also enjoy very happy holidays and a happy New Year!
Oshogatsu Events - Japanese New Year in New York
In the US, Thanksgiving and Christmas are important annual holidays. However, in Japan, one of the most important annual holidays is Oshogatsu, the celebration of the New Year. In the New York Metro area, there will be events in New York City and Fairfield, CT, where families are invited to share the customs and traditions of the Oshogatsu celebration.
The meal eaten during Oshogatsu is called Osechi-ryori, and the dishes are symbolic of longevity, health, and celebration. Mochi is also made before the Oshogatsu celebration. Mochi-tsuki (rice-pounding) is the traditional method for making mochi whereby rice dough is pounded with a large mallet. Other popular Oshogatsu activities are "Kakizome" (New Year's calligraphy), in which people write their resolutions on Japanese paper using a special brush, Takoage (kite-flying), Koma (top-spinning), and Fukuwarai (funny face), in which a blindfolded person places a nose, eyes, ears, and a mouth onto a blank paper face.
Two large Oshogatsu events will take place in Manhattan. On Sunday, January 18, from 1pm to 5pm, families may celebrate Oshogatsu with Mochi-tsuki, Japanese traditional performances, and arts and craft activities including Kakizome and Koma at the 14 Street Y in the East Village.
On Sunday, January 25, from 2pm and 3pm, The Japan Society will host an Oshogatsu celebration at their location in New York. Drawing more than 350 families, Oshogatsu is one of the biggest events in their “Japan's Annual Festivities Series”, offering Gagaku (traditional music of the Japanese Imperial Court) and Shishi-mai (lion dancing). In addition, children can participate in Kakizome, Takoage (Kite-making), Fukuwarai and Mochi-tsuki.
Those living north of New York City can join the Oshogatsu celebration in New Canaan, CT. On Sunday, January 11, from noon until 4pm, The Japan Society of Fairfield County will host an Oshogatsu celebration at the Plum Tree Japanese restaurant. The event will begin with a traditional Japanese New Year's meal Osechi-ryori, and continue with music and dance including a shamisen (Japanese 3-string banjo) performance and Mochi-tsuki.
Hogaku: New Sounds of Japan 2009
Re-envision Japanese classical music (hogaku) in a contemporary context, the popular Hogaku: New Sounds of Japan returns for a third installment. Two exciting new interpreters have taken the contemporary music scene by storm. The 4-member Hayashi Ensemble Fuji-Zakura, led by Harumi Mochizuki-consisting of shime-daiko (small floor drum), otsuzumi (large hand drum), kotsuzumi (small hand drum) and fue (flute)-breathes new life into shibyoshi (four rhythm), percussion music originally performed to accompany Noh and Kabuki theater. The duo Passion of Asia with Tetsuro Kawashima on tenor saxophone and Etsuko Takezawa on koto (zither) creates original sounds blending jazz and hogaku through versatile improvisation.
Takafumi Tanaka, Chief Editor of the Tokyo-based Hogaku Journal, will give a pre-performance lecture on the interface between art and entertainment, in classical and contemporary contexts, beginning at 7:00 p.m., followed by the concert at 8:00 p.m.
Hayashi is a percussive music that accompanies Noh, Kabuki, and Nagauta shamisen, which normally consists of a shibyoshi (‘four rhythms’) ensemble of shimetaiko, otsuzumi, kotsuzumi, and fue. Here we introduce to you Hayashi Ensemble Fuji-Zakura, an all-female shibyoshi performance, which is rare even in Japan. Building upon a foundation of a strictly traditional world, the group continually pursues new horizons. You can enjoy both the graceful and tense atmosphere that is woven through the music and voices of this Japanese percussive ensemble.
Passion of Asia presents a fusion of the saxophone and koto. Mr. Tetsuro Kawashima and Ms. Etsuko Takezawa, two leading musicians who together have the talent to seek new music surpassing genres, have gone beyond the boundaries of jazz and koto. The two excel at improvisation, but you can also feel the refined taste in through the combination of their fully calculated compositions. Their melodies are rooted in the music of mainland Japan, Okinawa, and even extending to nearby Korea, offering the possibility of East Asian music.
Takafumi Tanaka was born in 1955. In 1987, he founded the monthly magazine Hogaku Journal, and has been continuously working for the promulgation of Japanese traditional music, while settling the various associated issues. Tanaka acts as the liaison between artists and devotees and has introduced more than 1,400 titles of CDs and books through the journal and website (http://hj-how.com). In 2001, he organized the wide-ranging events, including Nippon no Oto Festival, Japanese traditional music festival. In 2006, Tanaka established the Hogaku Association and began publishing a monthly magazine of Japanese traditional instruments called Wagakki Bunka.