| Japanese (日本語)

Vol.28 November 2009


President Obama's Visit to Japan

© Cabinet Public Relations Office

President Barack Obama visited Japan on November 13th and 14th as the first destination during his trip to Asia. During his stay in Japan, President Obama had a bilateral summit meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, participated in a joint press conference with the Prime Minister, attended a working dinner hosted by Mr. Hatoyama, gave a speech on US policies towards Asia at Suntory Hall in Tokyo and was a guest at a luncheon hosted by Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress at the Imperial Palace.

During President Obama's visit, Japan and the US agreed to further deepen and develop the Japan-US alliance. The two leaders acknowledged that the partnership should be even more constructive and future-oriented by strengthening not only Japan-US bilateral relations but also their cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region and global agenda.

President Obama's visit to Japan produced positive results as follows: As 2010 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the revision of the Japan-US Security Treaty, Japan and the US agreed to begin a new process of talks to deepen the Japan-US alliance that would continue over the coming year. Both countries reaffirmed the conviction that continued progress in Japan-US cooperation throughout East Asia will contribute significantly to the peace and stability of East Asia as well as to its economic development. The two countries issued three joint documents for cooperation on climate change, nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and clean energy.

Japan highly appreciates that President Obama chose Japan as his first stop in Asia because it shows that the U.S. considers their alliance to be the foundation for security and prosperity, not just for the two countries, but for the Asia-Pacific region.

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Tottori, the Food Capital of Japan, Comes to New York

On October 28th, an exhibition promoting Tottori Prefecture as "The Food Capital of Japan" was held at Ambassador Nishimiya's residence on the Upper East Side. The event was jointly organized by the Tottori Prefectural Government and the Consulate General of Japan in New York.

This occasion gave the people of New York a rare opportunity to learn about the distinctive food, drink, and crafts of Tottori, and it was a valuable chance for the western prefecture of Japan to market its products in a city that launches new culinary trends and sets international standards of taste. Despite a steady rain that afternoon, the first floor of the residence was filled to capacity with more than 120 guests, including Tim and Nina Zagat, co-founders of Zagat Survey. The organizers were delighted that more than 80% of the invitees were able to attend the function.

During his opening remarks, Ambassador Nishimiya highlighted the importance of holding this event in New York, as it bolstered the government's effort to increase awareness of high-quality Japanese agricultural items and boost such exports. Later, Tottori Governor Shinji Hirai spoke about some of the notable attractions of his home prefecture and explained the background of the day's program.

The first featured activity was a cooking demonstration of madai (red sea bream) by two prominent chefs who visited from Tottori, Mr. Souichi Chikuma, Director & Executive Chef at Ryokan Ohashi, and Mr. Tetsuyoshi Hada, Director & Executive Chef at Kouraku. The madai weighed approximately 20 pounds; it was caught in the sea off the coast of Tottori and sent by airmail to New York. Chefs Chikuma and Hada demonstrated their advanced techniques of slicing fish and separating the skin from the flesh, and they created an elaborate decorative arrangement with the madai as a centerpiece. The guests were very impressed by this remarkable display of traditional culinary skills.

Another featured activity was a presentation and tasting event called "Tottori Cuisine vs. New York Cuisine," which was divided into two sessions. In Session I, Michael Cressotti, Corporate Chef at Sushi Samba, and Chef Hada showed off their cooking skills by preparing several styles of shiroika (white squid) and hatahata (sandfish). In Session II, Craig Hopson, Executive Chef at Le Cirque, and Chef Chikuma cooked nodoguro (blackthroat seaperch) and aji (horse mackerel). All the seafood ingredients were flown in from Tottori. Luckily, the guests, including Michael Romano, Chef/Partner at Union Square Café, were able to sample and compare all the creative dishes made by the participating chefs.

Governor Hirai talks with guests about the local specialty products from Tottori.

An additional feature of the program was a craft exhibition. A promotional video was shown near the reception desk, and elsewhere on the first floor attendees could find examples of kimono made with oyama-yuzen processed silk as well as a popular type of hygienic paper used to absorb facial oil. On the second floor, sixteen Tottori-based companies displayed a variety of local specialty products available for export, including items such as '20th century pear,' sushi, 'tofu doughnuts,' and sake. Some of these companies reported that they established potential new business relationships with guests at the event.

The Consulate believes it is very important to continue promoting authentic Japanese food ingredients in the New York area, in the expectation that this will spur even greater interest in the burgeoning Japanese food scene in the U.S. The Consulate enthusiastically supports Governor Hirai's efforts to market Tottori's agricultural goods abroad and looks forward to following the success of these products in the U.S. market.

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2009 Foreign Minister's Commendation

On November 17, Mr. Mamoru Takahara, Music Director & Conductor of The New York Symphonic Ensemble, was honored with the 2009 Foreign Minister's Commendation for his contribution to the promotion of mutual understanding and cultural exchange between Japan and United States of America through music.

During a conferment ceremony, Ambassador Shinichi Nishimiya presented a Certificate of Commendation on behalf of the Foreign Minister of Japan to Mr. Takahara. Ambassador Nishimiya expressed his sincere appreciation to Mr. Takahara for his tireless efforts in building harmony, promoting mutual understanding and encouraging cultural exchange between the two countries. He said, "this award is a well-deserved recognition of Mr. Takahara's outstanding career and the equally outstanding organization he founded. I sincerely thank him and the members of the New York Symphonic Ensemble for bringing music, harmony and joy to our lives."

After graduating from Kunitachi College of Music, Mr. Takahara was invited by Leonard Bernstein to study at the New York Philharmonic in 1972. He made his American debut in 1976, taking up the baton at the Philharmonia Virtuosi of New York, where he remained until 1979 as guest conductor. That same year Mr. Takahara founded the New York Symphonic Ensemble (NYSE). Today, NYSE has completed 23 concert tours in Japan and three South Asian tours. Mr. Takahara and his Ensemble enjoy bringing classical music to unconventional venues. Highlights include an unprecedented concert at historical landmarks in Japan like the Toshodaiji Temple in Nara, Izumo Grand Shrine in Shimane and Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima, as well as performances at Tokyo Station, a Noh theater, and Haneda Airport. In addition, Mr. Takahara has collaborated with Japanese community choral groups and dancers. He has also made important social contributions by way of benefit performances for the UN Habitat and AIDS charities.
(For more information on NYSE, please visit: http://www.n-y-s-e.org/)

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culture connection

The 20th Anniversary of His Majesty the Emperor's Accession to the Throne

© Imperial Household Agency of Japan

On 7 January 1989, upon the demise of Emperor Hirohito (posthumously Emperor Showa), His Majesty Emperor Akihito acceded to the throne as the 125th Emperor of Japan. The Ceremony of Enthronement was held at the Imperial Palace on 12 November 1990. From abroad, representatives of 158 countries, including monarchs, heads of state, and the heads of two international organizations attended the ceremony.

January 7 of this year marked the 20th anniversary of His Majesty the Emperor's Accession to the Throne. The ministries and agencies concerned, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, plan to organize various events to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of His Majesty the Emperor's Accession to the Throne.

We would like to take this opportunity to introduce activities carried out by the Imperial Family to foster friendly relations with foreign countries.

The Imperial Family, including His Majesty the Emperor, facilitates the fostering of good relations on an international level through visits to other countries and by receiving foreign monarchs and presidents.

They also receive other foreign dignitaries or leading figures from abroad, exchange correspondence and telegrams with foreign heads of state, dispatch representatives to foreign countries on the occasion of celebration or sorrow, and receive diplomatic missions residing in Japan.

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Ambassador and Consul-General Nishimiya's Award to Mr. Hideki Matsui of the New York Yankees

On November 13th, Ambassador and Consul-General Shinichi Nishimiya awarded the Consul-General's Commendation to New York Yankee and 2009 World Series MVP, Hideki Matsui at the Ambassador's official residence in Manhattan.

Matsui contributed to the promotion of friendship between the people of Japan and the United States and further inspired dreams and hope in the Japanese residents in New York and the surrounding areas through his remarkable achievements as a member of the Yankees, especially with a homerun, a double, a single and a record tying 6 RBI performance during the final game of the 2009 World Series.

Ambassador Nishimiya commended Matsui in his opening greetings by saying, "Mr. Matsui gave people both in Japan and in the USA reason to dream big. I also got excited about his extraordinary success." Matsui replied in his remarks, "I myself am still in the middle of excitement. I will be honored if I could impress both the U.S. baseball fans and Yankees' fans (and show) that Japanese baseball players can also do well here in the U.S."

Representatives from various Japan-related organizations such as the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of New York, the Japanese Educational Institute of New York, Nippon Club, Japan Society, the Japanese American Association of New York and the Japan Day Organizing Committee attended the award ceremony as well as local Japanese and American media who covered the event.

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From the Ambassador's Desk

© Cabinet Public Relations Office

Winter has arrived in New York, bringing with it very cold mornings and chilly evenings. I hope that all of you had a wonderful time during the Thanksgiving holidays.

November was full of important events. In Japan, we celebrated the 20th Anniversary of His Majesty the Emperor's Accession to the Throne and welcomed President Barack Obama as he visited Japan as the first stop during his most recent trip to Asia. In New York, I awarded the Consul-General's Commendation to New York Yankee and World Series MVP, Mr. Hideki Matsui and presented the 2009 Foreign Minister's Commendation to Mr. Mamoru Takahara, Music Director & Conductor of the New York Symphonic Ensemble.

At the bilateral summit talk during Obama's visit, Prime Minister Hatoyama and President Obama agreed to further deepen and develop Japan-US alliance to make the partnership even more constructive and future-oriented. I am confident that the Japan-US friendship will continue to flourish. Mr. Obama also gave a speech on US policy towards Asia in Tokyo. I strongly believe that the further development of Japan-US relations will continue to play an important and productive role in the Asian policy of US. I am always glad when I remember that I am actively involved in supporting the development of such bilateral relations as Consul-General of Japan here in New York.

During the award ceremony for Mr. Matsui, I had the opportunity to speak with him directly and was deeply impressed by his personality. With his remarkable achievements in the major leagues, his fame and popularity, he showed us modesty and politeness. I believe that he embodies traditional Japanese samurai values. I truly hope for his success as a baseball player so that he remains a bridge of friendship between the people of Japan and the US.

From Mr. Takahara, I felt the enviable unique artistic talent of Mr. Takahara. During his acceptance speech at the ceremony, he created music without any musical instruments. He divided the audience into three sections and had them play a musical canon by clapping their hands. There is a saying that there is no border for art, and I am strongly convinced that a person like Mr. Takahara will build a great deal of momentum in the promotion of mutual understanding between the people of Japan and the US.

The year is quickly coming to an end and I wish all of you a Happy Holidays! In Japan, we call this time of year "Shiwasu" and it is during this time that we Japanese remember how we spent the year, refresh ourselves and prepare to begin the New Year.

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Event Calendar

Miraculously Colorful Paintings by Irie Kazuko: Wonders of the Silk Road

Dawn in Istanbul, Turkey

T here was a time when Central Asia played the leading role in the exchange of ideas and culture. The now famous trade route known as the Silk Road was critically important to the development of China and India as well as to Persia and Rome. Tales relating to it conjure images of exotic adventure which have fascinated people around the world for centuries.

Kazuko Irie was mesmerized by the landscape of Harbin, in northeastern China, when she exhibited her work there shortly after graduating from college. Characterized by a vast plain with no trees or grass, and by a beautiful sunset over the Nen River, the expansiveness of the landscape captured the heart of young Irie, beginning her journey on the Silk Road.

At The Nippon Gallery, viewers are able to meet Kazuko Irie and view the art inspired by her experience during a limited engagement from December 2 to 15. Miraculously Colorful Paintings by Irie Kazuko: Wonders of the Silk Road, includes about 60 of her captivating works which will transport viewers to experience their own journey on the Silk Road.

Fairies in Dunhuang, China

Kazuko Irie was born in 1916 in Yamaguchi Prefecture as a daughter of merchant. She spent her childhood in Daegu, Korea and contrary to her family's wishes, attended Joshibi University of Art and Design (Women's Academy of Fine Arts) in Tokyo. After graduating, she returned to Daegu, before going to sell her art at the gallery in Harbin, China. It was then that she witnessed the sunset over the Nen River that changed her life.

Since 1969, she has visited more than 30 countries along the Silk Road. Starting out from Istanbul with her sketchbooks, watercolor pencils, and pastels, she painted images to preserve her impressions of the scenery that she saw as she traveled. In Dawn in Istanbul, Turkey, she captured the sensation of the burning red sunset from her hotel room over Bosporus strait, which reminded her of the sunset she had seen in Harbin.

Blue Poppies in Siguniang Mountain, China

The Magao Caves in Dunhuang, Western China, were like galleries for Irie. These 492 caves with 450,000 square feet of murals dating from the fourth to the fourteenth centuries were untouched until their discovery at the beginning of the 20th century. Their inspiration can be seen in Irie's Fairies in Dunhuang, China. With flashlight in hand and fierce determination, she delved into the darkened caves to capture the images that appear on the walls.

Uniquely composed and painted with vivid colors and bold brushwork, Wonders of the Silk Road will capture the imagination of viewers and create a cross cultural travel experience that transcends time.

Irie Kazuko

© Shotaro Akiyama Photo Art Museum

Miraculously Colorful Paintings by Irie Kazuko: Wonders of the Silk Road
December 2 - 15, 2009
The Nippon Gallery at The Nippon Club
145 W. 57th Street
New York, NY 10019
10am to 6pm (Closed on Sunday and Monday)
Admission : Free

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10/8 - 1/23/ 2010
"Six Decades"
           by Kazuo Shiraga

McCaffrey Fine Art
23 East 67 st. ,NYC

10/9 - 1/17/2010
Master of Japanese Textile Design

Japan Sociey
Art of the Samurai: Japanese Arms and Armor
Metropolitan Museum
Exhibitions Music
11/13 - 1/2/2010 Volcano Lovers ISE Cultural Foundation
1/9/2010 Hogaku: New Sounds of Japan Asia Society

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(c) Consulate-General of Japan in New York
299 Park Avenue 18th Floor, New York, NY 10171
Tel: (212)371-8222