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Vol. 6 No. 4 - April 2011

The e-Japan Journal is the electronic webletter of the Consulate General of Japan at Chicago (CGOJ) and the Japan Information Center (JIC). We hope it proves useful, interesting, and exciting as a window into Japanese culture in the Midwest. As always, your feedback, comments, and suggestions are encouraged and can be sent to our editor, Daniel Drake, at jic@japancc.org.

In This Issue
Tohoku Pacific Earthquake and Tsunami
This Month in Japan
What's New in the Library?
Special Announcements
  • Fundraising Events for the Tohoku Pacific Earthquake
  • 25th Annual Speech Contest Results
  • April 9: Central Kansas Japanese Festival
  • April 19-23: Japanese Magic Lantern Troupe Minwa-za at the University of Chicago
Highlighted Cultural Events
  • April 2 and 16: Shamisen Master Hiromistu Agatsuma Continues Midwest Tour
  • April 3: English Rakugo Performance with the Japan America Society of Minnesota
  • April 9: Spring 2011 Open House at University of Illinois' Japan House
  • April 17: Independence, Missouri's Annual Cherry Blossom Festival
  • April 23: Japanese Film Tetsuo: The Bullet Man at Indiana University - Bloomington
  • April 30: Japanese Language Education Workshop for K-16 Teachers at Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis
Economic News
  • Monthly Economic Report (March, 2011)
Political News
  • First Press Conference by Minister for Foreign Affairs Takeaki Matsumoto
  • Courtesy Call on Mr. Takeaki Matsumoto, Minister for Foreign Affairs, by The Honorable John V. Roos, Ambassador of the United States of America to Japan
  • Japan-U.S. Foreign Ministerial Telephone Conference
  • Courtesy Call on Mr. Naoto Kan, Prime Minister, by Dr. John V. Roos, Ambassador of the United States to Japan
  • Telephone Talks between Prime Minister Naoto Kan and US President Barack Obama
  • Dispatch of experts by the United States
  • Japan-U.S. Foreign Ministerial Telephone Talks
  • Courtesy call on Mr. Takeaki Matsumoto, Minister for Foreign Affairs, by Dr. Kurt M. Campbell, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, and Mr. Wallace C. Gregson, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense
  • Press Conference by Minister for Foreign Affairs Seiji Maehara
Japan Brief by Foreign Press Center, Japan
  • Estimated Earthquake Losses Could Reach 16-25 Trillion Yen
  • Overview of Tohoku - Pacific Ocean Earthquake (Part 2)
  • Major Newspaper Editorials Comment on the Tohoku-Pacific Ocean Earthquake (Part 2)
  • Major Newspaper Editorials Comment on the Tohoku-Pacific Ocean Earthquake
  • Overview of Tohoku - Pacific Ocean Earthquake (Part 1)
  • Japanese Government Calls Off This Season's Research Whaling Mission in Consideration of Crew's Safety
Fun Features
  • Last Month in Japan
  • Upcoming School Visits
  • Website Highlight
Editor's Note
 
Tohoku Pacific Earthquake and Tsunami

On Friday, March 11, at 2:46 PM Japan Standard Time, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake occurred offshore in the Sanriku region of Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. Waves from a tsunami then swept across cities and villages on the coast of the Tohoku region in northern Japan. In the wake of the earthquake and tsunami, thousands of people have lost their lives, and many more have been left homeless.

The Government of Japan is doing everything possible to address the disaster quickly and effectively. We deeply appreciate all the support we have received from the United States, and from the people of Chicago and the Midwest.

For up-to-date information on the earthquake, including the government's response and resources for finding loved ones in Japan, please go here:
http://www.chicago.us.emb-japan.go.jp/about/news/eqinfo.html

For information on how to make a donation for the relief effort, please go here:
http://www.chicago.us.emb-japan.go.jp/about/news/eqdoninfo.html

For a schedule of fundraising events in the Midwest, please go here:
http://www.chicago.us.emb-japan.go.jp/about/news/eqfundraising.html

 
This Month in Japan

Uzuki, the old Japanese name for the month of April, means "hare month." One theory for the origin of this name is that April is the 4th month of the year, and the 4th year in the 12-year Chinese zodiac cycle is the Year of the Hare.

For many years, the only national holiday in Uzuki was Greenery Day, on April 29. This was the birthday of the late Emperor Showa and continues to be observed based on his great love and appreciation for nature. This holiday is the start of "Golden Week," which includes a cluster of important holidays (May 3 is Constitution Day, May 5 is Children's Day) and is the busiest vacation time in Japan. However, in 2007 Greenery Day moved to May 4, and April 29 was renamed Showa-no-hi, or Showa Day.

Uzuki is also the month when sakura trees begin to bloom throughout most of Japan. This blooming is considered an auspicious time to start new things, including school, which begins on April 1.

 
What's New in the Library?

New Books at the JIC Library in April!

Our 2011 book order just arrived at the JIC this week, and we have some exciting new additions to share with you!

If you’re an intermediate student of Japanese who wishes to improve your reading skills but you don't have the courage to tackle a full-length Japanese novel yet, then Read Real Japanese Fiction at Call #530010 is just for you. The book contains short stories by six contemporary Japanese authors including Banana Yoshimoto and Shinji Ishii. Japanese text appears on the right side, with English explanations on the left, and a dictionary of Japanese terms appearing at the back of the book. The book even comes with a CD narration, so you can practice pronunciation as well!

The popular Japanese manga Oishinbo at Call #560182 (which translates loosely to "Foodie" or "The Gourmet") was released in English by Viz a few years ago, and we recently acquired the first volume, with more to come. The book opens with two recipes for sea bream that are featured in the stories. Fans of Japanese food will enjoy this manga, and if you’re feeling really ambitious you can read the Japanese editions at Call #s 560163-179.

Gamers and MBAs alike will enjoy reading Nintendo Magic: Winning the Videogame Wars at Call #422041. Nintendo has been an outlier in the Japanese video game industry for years, beginning as a playing card company in the late 1800s, then dabbling in taxi cab and love hotel businesses, before finally entering the video game market in the 1970s. They have maintained their offices in traditional Kyoto when most large industries are based in Tokyo, and they not only pioneered early video game systems, but revolutionized video games with the Wii system, released in 2006. This book provides a comprehensive overview of what has made this unique company work so well in the competitive trenches of competitive business.

Most students of Japanese history know of Commander Perry's "Black Ships," but Native American in the Land of the Shogun: Ranald MacDonald and the Opening of Japan at Call #341007 tells "The true story of a half-Chinook, half-Scot adventurer who entered feudal Japan in 1848 and helped pave the way for its modernization." Japanese history buffs will enjoy this exploration of one of Japan's lesser-known Western explorers.

Happy reading!

What's New in the Library is a monthly feature by esteemed JIC librarian Bianca Jarvis. Stop by the JIC anytime to ask for book recommendations!

 
Special Announcements
 
Fundraising Events for the Tohoku Pacific Earthquake

The sheer number of fundraising events planned for disaster relief in Japan is heartening. It is also too high to fit all of them in the webletter. We have set up a page on our main site listing charitable events for those affected by the earthquake and tsunami, from movies to dinners to concerts, planned for the coming months. Please go here for more information:

http://www.chicago.us.emb-japan.go.jp/about/news/eqfundraising.html

 
25th Annual Speech Contest Results
Spikon
Above, a group picture of all the participants
with Consul General Hisaeda and the Judges
The 25th Annual Japanese Language Speech Contest in Chicago was held on March 26, and featured an impressive 39 speeches from elementary, junior high, high school, and college students. The array of funny, touching, and smart speeches touched on topics ranging from komodo dragons to the difficulty of learning Japanese to the meaning of happiness.

In recognition of the contest's 25th Anniversary, Dr. Jason Jones, a professor of Japanese film at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the 2000 recepient of the Sister City Osaka Award, spoke to the contestants about the value of Japanese language education. It was an exciting day all around! The top awards were as follows:

The Grand Prize (Round-trip Airfare to Japan, Donated by Japan Airlines Co. Ltd., $200 Gift Certificate donated by Nippon Steel, USA, and a $200 Gift Certificate donated by Mitsubishi International Corporation) went to Haneol Nam, a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, for his speech ”幸せ”の意味 (The Meaning of Happiness).

The Sister City Osaka Award (Round-trip Airfare to Osaka and a 3-week homestay in Osaka, donated by the City of Osaka Chicago Office and the Chicago Sister Cities International Program Osaka Committee) went to Katharine Snyder, a student at the University of Chicago, for her speech 卒業前に考えていること (Thoughts Before Graduation).
 
April 9: Central Kansas Japanese Festival

On Saturday, April 9, Kansas State University will hold its annual Japanese Festival at the Kansas State University Student Union. The Festival is put on by Japanese language students at KSU, and will feature demonstrations and workshops of Japanese folk dancing, tea ceremony, yosakoi dancing, and many other perennial Japanese favorites.

Date Saturday, April 9, 12:00 PM - 5:00 PM

April 12 - Central Kansas Japanese Festival 2008
Photo Credit: Caroline Delandre

Place Kansas State University
K-State Student Union
Manhattan KS 66506
(Map)
Info
The Japanese Festival's website hasn't been updated for 2011, but most of the details on the 2009 site (seen below) are accurate, and the pictures are informative!
http://www.k-state.edu/jaa/festival/
 
April 19-23: Japanese Magic Lantern Troupe Minwa-za at the University of Chicago

Tokyo theater troupe Minwa-za gained international recognition in 1993, after 15 years of painstaking research and rehearsal of the lost art form of utsushi-e culminated in their first public performance of the "magic lantern" puppetry. Since then, they have toured the world with productions of this 18th century Japanese (by way of the Dutch) art form, which uses light boxes, music, narration, and more to tell some of the most popular stories from Edo Japan.

Minwa-za will be bringing their unique art to the Midwest for a limited engagement in the city of Chicago from April 19 to 23. Check the University of Chicago's Center for East Asian Studies website (linked below) for more details.

Date Tuesday, April 19 - Saturday, April 23, various times. See below website for more details.

Image courtesy of Minwa-za
Place Various venues, see the below website for more details.
The two main performances will be at:
Rockefeller Memorial Chapel
5850 South Woodlawn
Chicago, Illinois 60637
(Map)
Info
Check below for tickets and more information:
University of Chicago's Center for East Asian Studies
 
Highlighted Cultural Events
Following are some of the upcoming events taking place in our 10-state jurisdiction. For a complete listing of all events known to the JIC, see the Calendar of Events on our website.
 
April 2 and 16: Shamisen Master Hiromistu Agatsuma Continues Midwest Tour

Hiromitsu Agatsuma continues his Midwestern tour with stops in Minnesota and North Dakota. In both places, Mr. Agatsuma will be capping a week of music workshops at local schools with a public concert of his shamisen mastery. As he is an artist in his touring prime, these shows should not be missed!


Date Alexandria, Minnesota:
Saturday, April 2, 7:00 PM
Valley City, North Dakota:
Saturday, April 16, 7:30 PM
Place Discovery Middle School Auditorium
510 McKay Avenue N.
Alexandria, MN 56308
(Map)
Vangstad Auditorium
Valley City State University
101 College Street SE
Valley City, North Dakota 58072
(Map)
Info
Arts Midwest World Fest
 
April 3: English Haiku Contest and Rakugo Performance in Minneapolis

The Minneapolis-Ibaraki Sister City Association is sponsoring an English-language haiku contest, perfect for prospective poets, to be followed by an English language rakugo perfomance, helpful for hopeful humorists. The rakugo comedians are in town all the way from Ibaraki City, Japan!

Date Sunday, April 3, 2:00 PM
Place Minneapolis Central Library
Doty Board Room
300 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, MN 55401
(Map)
Info
Event Information and more can be found at the Japan America Society of Minnesota website.
 
April 9: Spring 2011 Open House at University of Illinois' Japan House

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Japan House will be having its semi-annual open house on April 9. This is a great opportunity to tour the beautiful grounds for free, with gardens designer and builder Jim Bier as your tour guide. Additionally, this year's open house will have a free demonstration and lecture about wagashi, or Japanese sweetmaking, by Glenn Sorei Pereira. And if that isn't enough, the Urbana-Champaign Association of Chado Urasenke Tankokai will be performing tea ceremonies throughout the day!

Date Saturday, April 9, 10:00 AM - 4:00PM
Wagashi Presentations at 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM
Garden tours at 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM

Photo Credit: Japan House, UIUC
Place Japan House
2000 S. Lincoln Avenue
Urbana, IL 61801
(Map & Directions)
Info
Admission: FREE!
Event Details
 
April 17: Independence, Missouri's Annual Cherry Blossom Festival

Independence, Missouri's Annual Cherry Blossom Festival honoring its sister-city relationship with Higashimurayama, Japan is right around the corner, which can only mean we are finally on the verge of spring. The celebration includes a number of Japanese activities and games, ranging from ikebana and bonsai demonstrations to handmande jewelry and kimono booths, not to mention an array of Japanese food and drink. All proceeds from the festival go to support the annual and venerable exchange trip between the two cities.

Date Sunday, April 17, 10:30 AM - 4:00 PM
sakura
Place Roger T. Sermon Community Center
201 North Dodgion Street
Independence, MO 64050
(Map)
Info
Admission: $2
Festival Information
Festival Flier [PDF]
 
April 23: Japanese Film Tetsuo: The Bullet Man at Indiana University - Bloomington

Indiana University Bloomington's IU Cinema has been running an East Asian Film Festival all semester, and this April 23 they will arrive in Japan with Tetsuo: The Bullet Man. The film tells the story of half-Japanese, half-American Anthony who gradually transforms into a literal man of steel after witnessing the death of his son. The story, clearly, is exciting enough already, but take this opportunity also to visit IU Cinema's pristine screening facilities!

Date Saturday, April 23, 6:30 PM
sakura
Place IU Cinema
1213 East 7th Street
Bloomington, IN 47406
(Map)
Info
East Asian Film Series at Indiana University
 
April 30: Japanese Language Education Workshop for K-16 Teachers at Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis

The East Asian Studies Center, together with the Association of Indiana Teachers of Japanese, will be holding a Japanese language education workshop at Indiana University - Purdue University's Indianapolis campus on April 30. The workshop will focus on the skills necessary to advocate for Japanese language classes and resources in an environment of shrinking budgets and shifting priorities at schools. The registration deadline is this Friday, April 1, so head over to the below website quickly!

Date Saturday, April 30, 8:30 AM - 4:00 PM
sakura
Place IUPUI
Business/SPEA Building Room 2007
801 West Michigan Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
(Map)
Info
Conference Information and Schedule
 
Economic News

Monthly Economic Report (March, 2011)
http://www5.cao.go.jp/keizai3/getsurei-e/2011mar.html

 
Political News

First Press Conference by Minister for Foreign Affairs Takeaki Matsumoto
http://www.mofa.go.jp/announce/fm_press/2011/3/0309_01.html

Courtesy Call on Mr. Takeaki Matsumoto, Minister for Foreign Affairs, by The Honorable John V. Roos, Ambassador of the United States of America to Japan
http://www.mofa.go.jp/announce/announce/2011/3/0324_09.html

Japan-U.S. Foreign Ministerial Telephone Conference
http://www.mofa.go.jp/announce/announce/2011/3/0323_09.html

Courtesy Call on Mr. Naoto Kan, Prime Minister, by Dr. John V. Roos, Ambassador of the United States to Japan
http://www.mofa.go.jp/announce/announce/2011/3/0319_06.html

Telephone Talks between Prime Minister Naoto Kan and US President Barack Obama
http://www.mofa.go.jp/announce/announce/2011/3/0317_07.html

Dispatch of experts by the United States
http://www.mofa.go.jp/announce/announce/2011/3/0315_05.html

Japan-U.S. Foreign Ministerial Telephone Talks
http://www.mofa.go.jp/announce/announce/2011/3/0312_03.html

Courtesy call on Mr. Takeaki Matsumoto, Minister for Foreign Affairs, by Dr. Kurt M. Campbell, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, and Mr. Wallace C. Gregson, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense
http://www.mofa.go.jp/announce/announce/2011/3/0310_03.html

Press Conference by Minister for Foreign Affairs Seiji Maehara
http://www.mofa.go.jp/announce/fm_press/2011/3/0306_01.html

 
Japan Brief by Foreign Press Center, Japan
A handy report which gives up-to-the-minute background information with comments of major Japanese newspapers, in plain and concise form, on news items on the Japanese economy, politics, diplomatic activities, society, business, culture, and other matters of interest. Japan Brief is expanding its target readership and is now available in nine languages: Japanese, English, Chinese, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, and Arabic.

Estimated Earthquake Losses Could Reach 16-25 Trillion Yen (2011-03-25)

Overview of Tohoku–Pacific Ocean Earthquake (Part 2) (2011-03-23)

Major Newspaper Editorials Comment on the Tohoku-Pacific Ocean Earthquake (Part 2) (2011-03-22)

Major Newspaper Editorials Comment on the Tohoku-Pacific Ocean Earthquake (2011-03-16)

Overview of Tohoku - Pacific Ocean Earthquake (Part 1) (2011-01-27)

Japanese Government Calls Off This Season's Research Whaling Mission in Consideration of Crew's Safety (2011-02-24)

For more backnumbers, please visit the following FPCJ website:
http://fpcj.jp/modules/news8/index.php?storytopic=1
 
Fun Features
Last Month in Japan

There will be a short moratorium for the news quiz this month.

Answers from the March Quiz:
And a further hearty congratulations to Larry Smith, who answered all the questions from last month correctly!.

  1. How has Nintendo reached new depths in portable gaming? Depth in the 3D effect and Dolby sound on the new Nintendo 3DS.

  2. Why was Joseph Tame's run in the Tokyo Marathon a little burdensome? He was carrying 4 iPhones, 2 for video and one for GPS and one for tweets. With 3,000 people viewing it, it could be heavy. But the windmills on his helmet and pick bunnies on his sneakers helped I am sure.

  3. Speaking of marathons, how are researchers in Osaka making them easier than ever for humans to participate in without actually running? By building robots to do it for them in the Robo Mara Full.
 
Upcoming School Visits

The following is a list of all educational visits the Japan Information Center will make in the next month. For more information, or if you would like to register for a cultural presentation, please visit our website.

  • April 5: Kennedy King College at the JIC
  • April 7: Eli Whitney Elementary School at the JIC
  • April 14: At John Coonley Elementary School
  • April 15: At Sprague Elementary School
  • April 19: Carthage College at the JIC
  • April 26: At Langston Hughes Elementary School
  • April 28: Kershaw Elementary School at the JIC
 
Website Highlight

InterAction Members Support Japan Tsunami Response

Via USAID, the InterAction organization has a list of member charities doing good work in Japan.

 
Editor's Note

The tremors from the Tohoku Pacific Earthquake were so strong that they were literally felt around the world, so strong that they shortened the length of the year. The full extent of the disaster remains unknown, and may never be known. These, I think, are the few things that can be drawn as meaning from the midst of unintelligible tragedy. There is not much to be said about devastation.

What is remarkable, where meaning gets created, is the work done in the vacuum after the disaster. At the Japan Information Center, we were immediately overwhelmed with the volume of offers of assistance and donation, with the hundreds of phone calls from people who wanted to help. The Village of Tinley Park mailed us a beautiful bouquet of flowers. People came from all over to sign their names to a condolence book, offering words of solidarity and sorrow.

Each of us at the Consulate donated to the Red Cross, or attended fundraisers, or did what we could to get people in touch with friends and family living in Japan. But we were deeply heartened by the gestures, big and small, from strangers and friends across the Midwest.

Thank you,

Daniel Drake, Editor

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