Featuring: Obihiro Art Exhibit @ JIC, JET Program information session, Panel Discussion on Japanese Cuisine @ JIC, Interview with Chef Takashi Yagihashi of Slurping Turtle for Chicago Gourmet
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September 2017
In this issue
Obihiro Conteporary Art exhibit at the JIC

Read our interview with Chef Takashi Yagihashi, Chicago Gourmet


The e-Japan Journal is the monthly newsletter of the Japan Information Center (JIC) at the Consulate-General of Japan in Chicago. We hope it proves to be an informative window for you into Japan-related activities happening in our 10 Midwest states. 
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■ JIC Announcements
■ Featured Interview
  • Interview with Chef Takashi Yagihashi, Chicago Chef and Restaurant Owner
■ This Month in Japan

■ 10 States Events & Facebook Calendars

■ JIC Library
  • Featured Book Review: Amrita: A Novel by Banana Yoshimoto
■ Fun Features
  • JIC Focus: Film Screening, Ginkenshibu and Summer Festivals
■ Editor's Note

■ Japan Topic Links


JIC Announcements

Holiday the Consulate is Closed

The Consulate will be closed on Monday, September 4 in observance of Labor Day in the United States.  Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.  
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St. Louis Japanese Festival


From Saturday, September 2 - Monday, September 4, attend the Japanese Festival, a three-day cultural adventure at the Missouri Botanic Garden. It is one of the largest and oldest festivals of its kind in the United States.  

Access the festival website and program to see what is in store for this year's celebration, including guided walking tours of the Japanese gardens, cooking demonstrations, martial arts, crafts, candlelight walks and live music performances!

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Japan's Foreign Policy Options in the Trump Era 


On Thursday, September 7 the Chicago Council on Global Affairs welcomes Toshihiro Nakayama, Professor of American Politics and Foreign Policy, Faculty of Policy Management from Keio University to speak on "Japan's Foreign Policy Options in the Trump Era" from 4:00 - 5:00 PM at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs' Conference Center.

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Obihiro Contemporary Art: Our Art Working 2017 Close-Up of Hokkaido in Chicago @ JIC


We will have an art exhibition at the JIC from September 8-15, titled "Obihiro Contemporary Art: Our Art Working 2017 Close-Up of Hokkaido in Chicago." #JICChicago #Obihiro2017

The opening reception will take place from 5-8 PM on September 8 with a Calligraphy demonstration featuring artist Natsuko Kubo. Moreover, the exhibit will be open on Saturday, September 9 from 12-5 PM but will be closed on Sunday, September 10. You can RSVP to this exhibit on our Facebook Event Page but an RSVP is not required.

Featured Artists from Hokkaido include: 
Michiyo Ito (Sculpture/ Contemporary Art), Masanori Umeda (Painting/ Contemporary Art), Kaori Kato (Origami/ Contemporary Art), Shinsuke Asachi (Japanese painting/ Contemporary Art), Natsuki Kuno (Calligraphy), Akemi Kai (Ball-jointed Doll), Daisuke Ueno (Pottery/ Contemporary Art), Shinichi Yura (Painting)

Guest Artist from Chicago:
Colette Wright Adams (Painting)

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Parent & Child Reading Group @ JIC

Parents and children from the JIC picture book reading group

A group of parents and children will gather on Tuesday, September 19 from 10:30 AM - 1:00 PM in our space to promote reading Japanese books together! 

The focus is mostly on elementary picture books and it is requested that all who wish to participate bring one of their favorite (or their child's favorite!) books with them to the meeting. You may also bring in light snacks and drinks for children to enjoy. 

More information regarding details including parking is outlined here

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Chicago Gourmet @ Millennium Park


For its 10th year, Bon Appétit presents Chicago Gourmet is a fine-dining affair that highlights the foods and accomplishments of chefs in Chicago.  From September 19-24, watch your favorite chefs from the city present lively demonstrations, taste gourmet creations and more!  

This year, the Consulate-General of Japan in Chicago will host a Panel Discussion on Japanese Cuisine and Sake Tasting with food specialists on September 22 from 6:00 - 8:00 PM. This event is FREE, all that is required is an RSVP and your photo ID for the sake tasting.

A Japan Booth will also be at the event to promote Japanese cuisine, sake, culture and travel from 12:00 - 6:00 PM on September 23 and 12:00 - 5:00 PM on September 24.

Then, Naoyuki Yanagihara, Culinary Specialist of Kinsaryu Japanese Traditional Cooking, Chef Takashi Yagihasi from Slurping Turtle and other Japanese chefs from around the country will cook for a Japanese Dinner on the Pritzker Pavilion Stage on September 23 from 7:30 - 10:30 PM.

On September 24, enjoy a cooking demonstration with Naoyuki Yanagihara titled "Understanding Japanese Fish and Its Aesthetics presented by City of Tokyo and the Consulate-General of Japan" from 2:30 - 3:00 PM.

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JET Program Information Session @ JIC

There will be a Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program information session at the JIC on Saturday, September 30 from 12:00 - 3:00 PM.  

The JET Program is a competitive employment opportunity that allows young professionals to live and work in cities, towns, and villages throughout Japan. Being a JET is an opportunity to work and to represent the United States as cultural ambassadors to Japan. Most participants serve as Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) and work in public and private schools throughout Japan; some work as Coordinators for International Relations (CIRs) as interpreters/translators.  For more information, please visit the JET Program website.

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Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT)

Registration for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) will be open until Friday, September 29Register for the test now! 

The JLPT measures comprehensive Japanese-language communicative competence through three elements: "Language Knowledge," "Reading," and "Listening." The JLPT is offered in five levels (N1, N2, N3, N4, and N5, in order from most difficult to least difficult). For American learners of Japanese, the JLPT offers a way to test your language skills and evidence of achievement that is comparable with other Japanese learners around the country and the world.
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Japan Foundation Grants, Programs and Events

The following programs are sponsored by the Japan Foundation. Additionally, the Japan Foundation and other organizations offer several scholarship and grant opportunities that our readers can apply for. Deadlines for applications listed are fast approaching this fall:

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Featured Interview

Chef Takashi Yagihashi, Chicago Gourmet

Every month, the JIC interviews a person who is active with Japan-related activities and introduce them in our newsletter.  This is so our readers can learn more about the interesting people and groups within our community.  We interviewed Chef Takashi this month in light of his participation in the upcoming Chicago Gourmet event. [Read the full interview]

Ramen to Chef Takashi is like his soul food and he explains that is why he wanted to bring it to America.  “It’s because when I was a kid, I would go to ramen shops all of the time in my neighborhood.  I was always hungry and it was an inexpensive option for a quick, filling meal.  My mom worked so would sometimes come home late to prepare dinner and this was a great way for me to enjoy a savory snack.”
Chef Takashi is involved with Chicago Gourmet for their seminal 10th Anniversary celebration.  It is a special year because the City of Tokyo is aligning with the festival to have a special Japan Booth to promote Japanese food, sake, culture and travel while the main cooking event is a dinner on the Pavilion Stage of Millennium Park.  “The fact that Japanese food is a focus this year is important because compared to when I first came to Chicago in 1982, Japanese food, drinks and restaurants have markedly grown in popularity.  It’s phenomenal really,” says Chef Takashi.  “Most people in Chicago are open to trying new things and not adverse to eating raw fish or other Japanese staples like seaweed.”

What has contributed to his success in the United States is his drive to make less traditional and more imaginative dishes that still manage to maintain a Japanese taste and soul.  His Japanese roots are very intentionally brought into the flavor of all that he cooks.  While Japanese and French cuisine are very different, the two cultures share immense pride in their gastronomic contributions.  Chef Takashi works to fuse these highly respected food cultures together to make something new while maintaining the integrity of both.

[Read the full interview]
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This month in Japan

Nagatsuki, or Yonagazuki, means “long-night month” and was the lunar calendar name for the month of September.  Respect for the Aged Day and Autumnal Equinox Day are the two national holidays of September. 
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10 State Events & Facebook Calendars

View our Monthly Calendar and our Facebook Calendar to see all events coming up this month within our 10-state jurisdiction! If there is a Japan-related event that you would like to have added to the calendar for this month or future months, please contact Amy.

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JIC Library

JIC Intern Grace Bologna wrote this month's book review on Amrita: A Novel by Banana Yoshimoto. [Read full review]

The start of September signals the end of summer. It also marks the end of my time here at the Japan Information Center. Luckily, the bittersweet end of my summer internship has been aided by the need to complete one final book review. Banana Yoshimoto’s hauntingly endearing Amrita soothes the boundaries of time and memory, making it the perfect read for anyone anxiously anticipating the future.  “Amrita” refers to the nectar Hindu gods and goddesses drink, the key to immortality. Yet rather than immortality as an unchanged eternity, Yoshimoto conceptualizes immortality as an ever-changing cycle of days, lives, and experiences.

This unending flow of time is disrupted when protagonist Sakumi falls down a flight of stairs and breaks open her head, erasing her memory. Thus we begin the story as blind as the main character. The reader shares her lack of prior memory and connection to those around her, creating a need to build character to character relationships alongside Sakumi in order to fully enter the novel. Sakumi is placed in the odd position of a fully grown newborn—a young woman with no history or life experience to speak of. Yet Sakumi’s missing memory does not establish her as the strangest character of the novel. Sakumi’s family unit includes a twice-divorced mother with a far younger boyfriend, an actress sister who killed herself before the novel’s start, and a near-clairvoyant elementary school half-brother with a talent for picking up on the other-worldly. Sakumi lives with her mother, brother, cousin, and mother’s coworker before moving in with and developing a relationship with her deceased sister’s boyfriend.

[Read full review]
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Fun Features

JIC Focus: Film Screening, Ginkenshibu and Summer Festivals

(From left) Ginkenshibu, booth at Japan Festival and film screening
On August 2, we sponsored the screening of the Japanese film Little Forest: Summer/Autumn at Cinema Chicago's A Taste of Cinema.  It was well attended and the audience responded positively to the film.

On August 21, we held the Ginkenshibu demonstration in our space. Ginkenshibu is a collective term for the traditional Japanese performing arts “Gin-ei” (recitation of classical Japanese and Chinese poetry) and “Ken-shibu” (Gin-ei recitation accompanied by dance).

Throughout August, the JIC also had an informational booth with samurai armor for the public to try on at several events including Matsuri! A Japanese Festival at Japan House and the Japanese Summer Festival at Anderson Japanese Gardens.
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Editor's Note 

Fall is here (already)! The JIC will be busy this season with several art exhibitions, film screenings, festivals and of course, we will be actively promoting the JET Program! If you would like to receive an email notification when the application opens this fall,  please sign up on this website.

On a personal note, yours truly will be taking temporary maternity leave at the end of September until mid-December. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the newsletter at that time, please send them to our general email account at jic@cg.mofa.go.jp.  Thank you!

Amy Klouse 
(Editor, IT Coordinator)
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Copyright © 2017 (Vol. 12 No. 9)

Consulate-General of Japan
Japan Information Center
737 North Michigan Avenue
Suite 1000
Chicago, IL 60611
**for consular services and other general inquiries**

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