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Vol. 10 No. 11 - November 2015
The e-Japan Journal is the electronic webletter of the Consulate-General of Japan in Chicago and the Japan Information Center (JIC). We hope it proves to be a useful, interesting, and exciting window for you into Japanese cultural activities happening throughout the Midwest. As always, your feedback, comments, and suggestions are encouraged and can be sent to our editor, Amy Klouse, at jic@cg.mofa.go.jp.

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In This Issue
This Month in Japan
Special Announcements
JIC Library
Fun Features
Editor's Note  
Cultural Events
Please click through to our Events Calendar for a full list of events, as well as information about events in the coming months!

Economic News
Political News
Tomodachi Abenomics

Government Northern

Takeshima JapanChina

Abduction Highlighting

This Month in Japan
Koyomi “Frost month” or Shimotsuki is the old name for November. This is because in many parts of Japan, frost becomes visible in the mornings and this is the month when colder weather begins to set in.

During this month, there are two national holidays: Culture Day (Bunka no hi) on 11/3 and Labor Thanksgiving Day (Kinro kansha no hi) on 11/23. Culture Day is a special day where achievements in culture, the arts, and academic endeavor are recognized. Award ceremonies, festivals, parades, and art exhibitions are part of the celebrations that occur to honor professionals in these fields as well as to maintain local culture traditions in general.

Labor Thanksgiving Day is something I talk about in more detail in the Editor’s Note section, but it is a time where Japanese people express their thankfulness for employment.

While shichi-go-san on 11/15 is not an observed national holiday, it is a popular day throughout Japan where 7 (shichi) year-old-girls, 5 (go) year-old boys, and 3 (san) year old boys and girls visit shrines wearing traditional clothing. The purpose of the holiday is to celebrate the growth and well-being of children.

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Special Announcements
Francis P. Lemery and Edward A. Grant Conferral of the Order of the Rising Sun
Congratulations to Mr. Francis P. Lemery, Honorary Consul-General of Japan in Kansas City and Former President of the Heart of America Japan-America Society and Mr. Edward A. Grant, Former President of the Japan America Society of Chicago for their Conferral of the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette! Please read the offical press releases here for more information.

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Feature Interview: Dr. Masami Takahashi, chair of the Chicago Sister Cities International Social Services Exchange Program between Chicago and Osaka
Professor Masami Takahashi
Welcome to the new interview section of the newsletter! This section was created so that readers can learn more about individuals in the Chicagoland area who promote Japanese culture through groups, organizations, and businesses. It is through their efforts that our city becomes more vibrant and we learn more about Japan but oftentimes we do not know much about how their organization formed, what their mission is, or about their personality. I will select individuals who have upcoming events during the newsletter month so that readers can learn more about the event itself and the person.

For this month, I interviewed Dr. Masami Takahashi, chair of the Chicago Sister Cities International Social Services Exchange Program between Chicago and Osaka, Japan. Please read the full interview here as this is only a small portion of what we discussed!

AK: So, how about the Social Services Exchange between Chicago and Osaka? Can you just talk about the program a little bit?

MT: Sure. So, Chicago and Osaka have a Sister City Relationship that Ms. Yoko Noge oversees. I chair one of the programs dealing with social services. The program we have here is the second oldest of its sort. We interview and select a group of people from Chicago who are involved in social services related work, and we send delegates on alternate years to Chicago and Osaka. So last year, ten people came here from Osaka and this year, we are sending six to Osaka. They visit different sites in each city.

AK: What is a goal of the program? Is it for each culture to go learn how social services are handled in the other country?

MT: Yeah, that too. But I think the overarching purpose is to broaden the horizon of people who are involved in social services. You can't transport what is being done in Osaka to Chicago, but at least you see it from a different perspective. The particular application may be different to address an issue. For example, when the ten people came from Osaka last year with about three or four in the aging field, I created an agenda. One thing that struck me was when we went to a housing facility for the elderly in the Boystown area of Chicago, which caters mostly to gay populations. This was a total shock for the Japanese visitors. They had never heard of gay elderly housing. But it's an issue in America. This year, we are sending the American delegation to Osaka, and they will meet with and interview two famous gay lawyers in Osaka who are advocating for equality for really the first time in Japan to facilitate discussion.

AK: In line with elderly people, do you see a major difference in elderly care facilities here and in Japan? As in, treatment towards aging and services offered?

MT: It is an intertwined issue with pros and cons. I think Japan has a basic system in place. In the U.S. if you have money, you can receive the best care, but if you don't, there are some basic options available as well. The sheer proportion of people in need of elderly care in Japan is astronomical compared to the United States. Roughly 25% of Japan is older people, and the fastest segment of population that is increasing is 85+. So it's just the number of people who need the care versus the number who are able to provide. That is an issue, and Japan is struggling. In the meantime, pay and social security income is dropping. I understand that the Japanese economy is not doing well, but this is difficult for elderly populations to live with.

AK: I read in the news, there are a lot of cuts in social services where a lot are nonprofit based social services are being hit hard. What do you think could be done to help the situation?

MT: So, one of the themes of this year's exchange is service sustainability. In the US, at least nonprofit organizations can raise their money, and citizens are accustomed to donating partly because of the tax benefits. In Japan, giving donations is not something that people do, whether culturally, religiously, or taxation system wise. So fundraising is not really an option in Japan while here, it is a huge part of an organization's work. It's pros and cons...Americans are willing to donate because they are accustomed to this here, but because the economy is not doing so well, they have less money to do so.

As always, your feedback on the interview format or other aspects of the newsletter are always appreciated! Contact Amy.

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November 7: JETAA Chicago Career Development Workshop @ JIC
CareerWkshp Join JETAA Chicago for their annual Career Development Workshop hosted in the Japan Information Center!

Looking for a job? Thinking about making a career change? Wondering what skills you need to get that promotion? Get tips and tricks from the experts to build a pathway to success from the guest speaker, Peter Diamond:

Peter is an author, and professionally trained certified coach who helps clients improve work performance and derive a greater level of career fulfillment. His ability to listen and guide clients to successfully determine the direction of their professional careers is based on his ability to initiate open, honest and meaningful dialog focusing on the practical matters of career and leadership development. He is your supporter, your promoter and your champion. Learn more about our guest speaker at his website: http://www.petercdiamond.com

  • 2:30-2:45 Arrival/Introductions from roundtable guests
  • 2:45-3:30 Keynote speaker: Peter C. Diamond, Author of "Amplify: Your Career and Life"
  • 3:30-4:00 Introductions from roundtable guests
    -Mark Scott: Graduate School
    -Jessie Dunbar-Bickmore: International Business/Marketing
    -Briana Cox: Non-profit/Higher Education
    -Christina Theodorou: Medical Career
    -Ella McCann: US-Japan work
  • 4:00-5:30 Roundtable + Reception
All are welcome! Bring a friend or colleague and take home one of our JETAA Chicago reusable tote bags!

Date and Time Location Information
November 7 (Sat)
2:30 -5:30 PM
Japan Information Center
737 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 1000
Chicago, IL 60611
Facebook Event

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November 12: Japanese Picture Book Reading Group @ JIC
A group of parents and children gather monthly in the JIC 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 like parking is outlined when accessing the link below.

Date and Time Location Information
November 12 (Thurs)
10:30 AM-1:00 PM
Japan Information Center
737 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 1000
Chicago, IL 60611
Reading Group Flyer

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November 13: 2016 JET Application Deadline
JET Are you a U.S. citizen and a college graduate with a bachelor's degree in the upcoming year? Have you considered applying to the JET Program? We hope so!

The JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) Program is a government sponsored program that promotes internationalization and language education at the grassroots level. It was established in 1987 and is one of the largest educational programs of its kind. Recent college graduates and young professionals from over 40 countries are invited annually to share their language and culture with Japanese youth.

JETs participate in the program in one of two ways: as Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs), who team-up with Japanese colleagues to teach English in primary or secondary schools or as Coordinators of International Relations (CIRs), who perform various international and inter-cultural related functions in local government offices. CIRs must be fully proficient in the Japanese language.

Please visit the JET Program website to take the first steps toward becoming a JET! The deadline is 5:00PM EST November 13, 2015. Please note that this application should be sent to the Embassy of Japan in Washington D.C. Consulates WILL NOT accept applications.

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November 14: Walter Mondale Dinner with the Japan America Society of Minnesota
Governor Mark Dayton
Image courtesy of
Japan America Society of Minnesota
This year, the Japan America Society of Minnesota will celebrate its 18th Annual Mondale Award and Scholarship Dinner Gala! The event celebrates and strengthens the ties between Minnesota and Japan, as embodied by Walter Mondale, the former Minnesota Senator, United States Vice-President, and Ambassador to Japan. The keynote speaker for the event is Mark Dayton, Minnesota’s 40th Governor.

The Mondale Award for Japan – Minnesota Partnership honors an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the building of understanding between Minnesota and Japan. Moreover, the Mondale Scholarship recognizes three undergraduate students who attend Minnesota universities and demonstrate a commitment to studying Japan.

Proceeds from this fundraising event will enable JASM to continue to offer fascinating social and educational programs that promote cultural exchange between Minnesota and Japan, including the merit-based Mondale Scholarship. All payments and registration are required before the event and can be accessed from the below website.

Date and Time Locations Information
November 14 (Sat)
5:30 - 9:00 PM
Oak Ridge Country Club
700 Oak Ridge Road Hopkins, MN 55305
Event Website

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November 17: Bibliobattle @ JIC
Biblio Bibliobattle is an intellectual entertainment competition, founded at Kyoto University, that is growing in popularity in Japan. Though the event itself is quite simple and easy to host, Bibliobattle's popularity has grown in Japan to a point where they host national championships with representatives from across the nation.

  • 6:15pm: Doors Open
  • 6:30pm: Bibliobattle Start!
  • 7:30pm: Reception & Networking
  • 8:00pm: End

-Rules of Bibliobattle-

The format of the event is, each contestant chooses a book of their interest (in this case a piece of Japanese literature) and gives a 5 minute presentation in English explaining the appeal and significance of the book to the audience. Immediately following the presentation he/she will carry out a 3 minute Q&A with the audience, answering any questions that the audience has on the book. Part of the challenge is that the presentation must be exactly 5 minutes, no longer or less. The content of the presentation is completely up to the discretion of the contestant.

The overall objective of the contestant is to make the audience want to read the book they are presenting and ultimately the winner will be chosen by the audience based on a vote of which book they are interested in reading the most.

Examples of Bibliobattle

We are excited to be able to entertain you and demonstrate how simple and accessible Bibliobattles can be and hopefully this can spark interests to host your own Bibliobattles in your own communities. Please feel free to invite your family, friends, colleagues, and students.

Date and Time Location Information
November 17 (Tues)
6:30 - 8:00 PM
Japan Information Center
737 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 1000
Chicago, IL 60611
Facebook Event

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November 21: US-Japan Relations Symposium: 70 Years and Beyond
Symposium Sponsored by the Consulate, the Chicago Japanese American Historical Society, Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Chicago, Japan America Society of Chicago, Chicago Japanese American Council, Japanese American National Museum, UIC Asian American Studies Program, and DePaul Global Asian Studies Program, this one-day Symposium is intended for a diverse audience to engage in a series of topics over four sessions:
  • History and Culture that Shaped the Chicago Japanese American Community
  • Issues that Affect and Concern the Japanese American Community
  • Japanese Americans in the Pan-Asian Movement
  • The U.S., Japan, and Japanese Americans
Each session will have a set of expert panelists and a moderator to engage in lively debate and discussion. Lunch and coffee will be provided.

Registration is free and can be found on the Chicago Nikkei Forum site.

Date and Time Location Information
November 21 (Sat)
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Northwestern University
Harris Hall
Evanston, IL 60208
Event Page

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November 21: Anime DeMoii with the Japan America Society of Iowa
AnimeDeMoii Anime DeMoii is a free, Des Moines-based, all-ages anime and Japanese culture convention that is hosted annually in collaboration with the Japan America Society of Iowa (JASI) and Drake University’s Anime Club. The event is co-sponsored by the Consulate and others. With activities for both the young and old, it is always a blast and all are encouraged to come!

Date and Time Locations Information
November 21 (Sat)
11:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Drake University
Olmsted Center
2875 University Avenue Des Moines, IA 50311
Anime DeMoii Website

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**Event** October 30-February 6: "Japanese Design Today 100" Japan Foundation Exhibit on display at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design
100Design The Japan Foundation, the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD), and the Consulate-General of Japan in Chicago are excited to announce "Japanese Design Today 100," a world-touring exhibition, will be on display in MIAD's Brooks Stevens Gallery from October 30, 2015 - February 6, 2016.

Everyday products can offer tremendous insight into a culture, providing a glimpse of what everyday life may entail. The "Japanese Design Today 100" traveling exhibition allows viewers to explore 100 works that represent Japanese product design, ranging from innovative designs to those that are more modern.

These designs feature 100 objects, 89 that were created since 2010, as well as 11 objects that represent Japanese post-war modern product design. These designs can be separated into 10 categories: classic Japanese design, furniture and housewares, tableware and cookware, apparel and accessories, children, stationery, hobbies, healthcare, disaster relief and transportation.

Biography of Design Director Mr. Shu Hagiwara, a curator of the exhibit:

ShuHagiwara Shu Hagiwara was born in 1961. He graduated from Musashino Art University’s Visual Communication Design Department and was employed at Dai Nippon Printing and Living Design Center OZONE until he began working independently in 2004. He has started and maintains several original projects including the stores KAMI NO KOUSAKUJO, Codo mono Coto, Chuo Line Design Network, Kunitachi Honten, Nishi-ogi Shiten, Kokubunji Sanchi, TENUKORE, and KAMIMINO. Books he has authored include Nine Tsubo House and Design Stance. He currently is the shopkeeper of TSUKUSHI Stationery, a representative of the public company SHUHENKA, and a professor in the Design Department at Meisei University in Tokyo. http://www.shuhenka.net/

Dates Location Information
October 30, 2015 - February 6, 2016 Brooks Steven's Gallery of Industrial Design
Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design
273 East Erie Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Facebook Event

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Japan Foundation Grants and Critical Language Scholarship

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JIC Library

Highlighted Resources
This month's Highlighted Resources was written by JIC Librarian Ella McCann and features a notable library item we are recommending this month.
Have you heard of 'Dokusho no Aki'?

In Japan, autumn represents the changing of the leaves, longer nights and cooler temperatures, the ideal settings to read a book in. This is why fall is known call it ‘Dokusho no Aki’, or fall reading. For this month’s selection, I chose two books that look at Japanese culture through the lens of family and friends.

The first one is Twenty Four Eyes by Sakae Tsuboi. This book tells the story of 12 school children who must navigate life during a over a span of two decades in Japanese history. At the beginning of the story, the students are entering the local school in their village. A new teacher, Ms. Koishi (known in the book as Ms. Oishi) has just arrived in town to teach. When she arrives, she makes quite the first impression on the students and the village. Not only does she come by bike, in a time when many people cannot afford them, but she also comes in Western style clothes. As such, the village people are hesitant to accept her. However, the students are excited to meet someone new and quickly grow attached. As the story carries on, we learn more about the students and more about Ms. Oishi and their parallel paths during critical periods of their lives and in Japan. This book is at times funny and at times sad, but it has a good message about friendships and how important they are. Fun fact: The book was also made into a movie!

AtHomeJapan The second book, At Home in Japan by Rebecca Otowa, details the story of an American woman who thought she was going to Japan just to study abroad for a year, but ended up living there. She starts the book with a history of the family she married into, one that has owned a traditional home for over 350 years in the Inaka (countryside) near Kyoto. There are illustrations and photos that emphasize her story, but it is how she describes her emotions, that really capture the reader. She describes cultural differences and similarities and how she learned to deal with some of the norms expected of her as the woman of a traditional Japanese household. This book not only discusses Japanese culture, but also the beauty around maintaining tradition for so many years.

Be sure to stop by the library to find the perfect book for your fall reading!

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New Additions
New Additions, compiled by Ella McCann, showcases the latest materials we have received in the JIC collection.
Title Author Language Call Number
Cool Japan Guide: Fun in the land of Manga, Lucky Cats and Ramen Abby Denson English 172047
A Year in Japan Kate T. Williamson English 173069
Women in Japanese Religions Barabara R. Ambros English 200023
The Japanese Mind: Understanding Contemporary Japanese Culture Roger J. Davies, Osamu Ikeno English 471071
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up Marie Kondo English 142016
A Tale for the Time Being Ruth Ozeki English 552427
The Red Kimono Jan Morrill English 552428
Where the Dead Pause and the Japanese Say Goodbye Marie Mutsuki Mockett English 310092
At Home in Japan Rebecca Otowa English 310093

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Fun Features
Last Month in Japan
Here are some questions about current events in Japan. Email your answers to Amy Klouse at amy.klouse@cg.mofa.go.jp for a chance to win a small prize!
  1. Which Film Festival started this month in Japan?
  2. Researchers from Egypt, Japan, France, and Canada are taking part in what project that utilizes advanced technology to look inside ancient pyramids?
  3. According to a Japan Pet Food Association survey, by the end of 2015, which animal will be the most popular to own?

Congratulations to John Caster, the winner from our October issue! Here are the answers:

• Since being promoted to Yokozuna, what is the name of the Yokozuna who clinched his first tournament victory this month?
Grand Champion Kakuryu

• Japan is starting a licensing system to give to foreign chefs for what type of cuisine?

• How old is Hidekichi Miyazaki, a Japanese man who set the 100-meter shot-put world record this month?

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Website Highlight
WebHighsakeFan World

sakeFan World is a new website and application project commissioned by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) as a part of the Cool Japan policy to promote Japanese sake across the globe. It truly is an innovative and interesting application for both sake fans and those who are just first being introduced to this type of alcohol and is available in a number of languages. The application is equipped with features like the ability to provide information like alcohol content, the type of sake-brewing rice used, the rice-polishing rate, and more when a smartphone is held above a sake label. It also suggests suitable ways of serving and dishes that go well with particular brands. Users can also view stories about how types of sake have been made through videos and photographs with information on the region of Japan where the sake is produced, the intentions of the maker, and the process of cultivating sake in a brewery. Take a look and learn more about this unique beverage!

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Editor's Note
For many of the American readers of this e-newsletter, Thanksgiving is the first thought that comes to mind when hearing the word “November.” Once Halloween passes, so begin the months of pumpkin or cinnamon-flavored drinks and snacks, holiday music, shopping shopping shopping, and cozy nights spent inside. And for the Thanksgiving holiday, together with family and friends, many enjoy a bountiful feast of turkey, mashed potatoes, green-bean casserole, and other delectable home-cooked goodies. But, did you know that a Thanksgiving celebration exists in Japan called Kinro Kansha no Hi (Labor Day Thanksgiving)? The holiday is very different in Japan because it is a day to be thankful for the labor of others and to be grateful for one’s own employment. Children write letters to police officers and other civil servants while some cities even throw a large festival. In a sense, it is similar to Labor Day in America, but gestures of respect and appreciativeness are more highly valued in Japan. Enjoy the season!

Amy Klouse (Editor, Technology and Information Coordinator)

Image courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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