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JAS “Hamakaze” Newsletter – Summer/Fall 2014

The Summer/Fall 2014 edition of “Hamakaze” (or “The Sea Breeze”), the newsletter of the Japan-America Society of Northwest Florida, has just been released.

Topics covered in this issue:

  • Events to Tie Our Community: Bon Fest & Film Festival
  • Sister City Gero Donated $12,837 to City of Pensacola for the April Flooding Relief
  • Shinji Nagashima, the Consul General of Japan in Miami, Spoke to UWF Students
  • We Miss You, “Tomo-san” (Tomoya Sato)
  • Listening to Momotaro Story
  • What is Mikoshi?
  • Japanese Culture & Language Classes
  • Upcoming Events & Conferences

Click here to download the newsletter in PDF format.

If you would like to be added to our mailing list, please contact us or become a member. Members may also choose to receive the newsletter mailed to their homes.

 

BonFest returns to Pensacola

A Japanese Festival of Music, Dancing, Crafts and Food

A taste of summer fun from old Japan comes to the Legion Field Resource Center Gymnasium from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 30. BonFest Pensacola 2014 is based on the Obon Festivals of Japan, which celebrate family and folk traditions in song and dance. Admission is free.

Bonfest will pulse with the rhythmic thunder of big taiko drums and flash with the whirl of dancers clad in colorful summer kimonos. And there’ll be plenty of opportunities for everyone join in.

  • Do you and/or your kids like those big drums? There will be a workshop to teach you how make them rattle and sing.
  • Do you like to kick up your heels? There’ll be Japanese folk dancing throughout the afternoon, simple enough for even beginners to join in. Strut your stuff…and maybe win an award!

Taking a break from their regular jobs at Disney World, the Matsuriza Taiko Drummers will put on a show that’ll make your pulse leap and your heart sing. And when it’s time for the traditional folk dances, everyone’s invited to join the chorus line. In fact, in Japan, it’s expected, and all part of the fun.

Japanese arts and crafts—much of it handmade—will be for sale from a variety of vendors. From origami creations to kimono fabric art, there’ll be something to satisfy everyone. (Early Christmas shopping, anyone?)

There will be a “Mikoshi Parade” for kids.. And you won’t go hungry, either. There will be plenty of Japanese treats on hand, from shaved ice to sushi, to help replace all those calories spent in drumming and dancing.

The Legion Field Resource Center Gymnasium is located at 1301 West Gregory Street, Pensacola FL 32502. The festival is supported by the Consulate of Japan, the Japan-America Society of Northwest Florida, Hilton Garden Inns, the Pensacola Department of Parks and Recreation, the Matsuriza Taiko Drums, the University of West Florida Japan House and BonFest Pensacola.

For additional information, go to the website at http://bonfestpensacola.weebly.com/

 

New Year Celebration to be held January 25

The Japan-America Society of Northwest Florida will usher in the “Year of the Horse” with its 21st annual Japanese New Year Celebration on Saturday, January 25, 2014, at the Bayview Community Center in Pensacola. Festivities will take place from 12 noon until 4 p.m. and will include performances by the popular Matsuriza taiko drummers, martial arts demonstrations, traditional Japanese dancing, music, food vendors, and other cultural displays. A silent auction will also be held, and ticket holders are automatically eligible for door prize drawings.

Ticket prices are $8 for adults, $6 for students, and $4 for Japan-America Society members. Children 12 and under enjoy free admission.

Contact us for more information, or click here to learn about becoming a JAS member.

RSVP on Facebook

 

BonFest returns to Pensacola

A taste of summer fun from old Japan comes to the Bayview Community Center from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 24. BonFest Pensacola 2013 is based on the Obon Festivals of Japan, which celebrate family and folk traditions in song and dance. Admission is free.

Bayview will pulse with the rhythmic thunder of big taiko drums and flash with the whirl of dancers clad in colorful summer kimonos. And there’ll be plenty of opportunities for everyone join in.

Do you and/or your kids like those big drums? There will be a workshop to teach you how make them rattle and sing.

Have you ever wondered how you’d look in a kimono? Volunteers will wrap you into one of the colorful costumes, ready for a photo opportunity you won’t soon forget.

Do you like to kick up your heels? There’ll be Japanese folk dance lessons, then a chance to strut your stuff…and even win awards.

Taking a break from their regular jobs at Disney World, the Matsuriza Taiko Drummers will put on a show that’ll make your pulse leap and your heart sing. And when it’s time for the traditional folk dances, everyone’s invited to join the chorus line. In fact, in Japan, it’s expected, and all part of the fun.

Japanese arts and crafts—much of it handmade—will be for sale from a variety of vendors. There will be a “Kids’ Land” with activities for the smaller set. And you won’t go hungry, either. There will be plenty of Japanese treats on hand, from shaved ice to sushi, to help replace all those calories spent in drumming and dancing.

The festival is supported by the Consulate of Japan, the Japan-America Society of Northwest Florida, Hilton Garden Inns, the Pensacola Department of Parks and Recreation, the Matsuriza Taiko Drums, the University of West Florida Japan House and BonFest Pensacola.

 

Michael Conrad reviews four Japanese films

Michael Conrad is the 2012-2013 president of the First City Art Center board of directors.

Since college, I have had a keen interest in non-mainstream movies. My roommate was the campus projectionist, and he would allow me to sit with him and watch some of the most obscure movies that had been made in the industry. Ever since then, Hollywood Blockbuster type movies seem boring and without flair.

I had the pleasure of seeing Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai” while in college, and this started my interest in Japanese Cinema. All things equal, I will choose a Japanese film over most others because of the combination of tradition, beauty of scenery, and unusual story matter. I have been happy to see that Japanese Cinema has continued to mature in the modern era, and I would like to share my thoughts on three recent ones and one older somewhat obscure film.

“The Taste of Tea”: (2004) Director Katsuhito Ishii

This is perhaps my favorite Japanese film, though the competition is fierce. In this film, Ishii profiles three generations of a family living on a common property in the bucolic countryside of Japan north of Tokyo. The anime-drawing grandfather has a magic allure to his grandchildren, each parent has found an unusual way to make a living, and the children are faced with social and mental challenges. Each character has to face their personal quest, and each meets it with unexpected yet glorious methods. This film is trance inducing, and many people complain that it is slow and boring. However, if each detail is observed attentively, the film, and particularly the ending of the film, will lift the viewer to a transcendent peace.

“Departures”: (2008) Director Yojiro Takita

This movie showcases the respect that Japanese culture has for its dead and departed, yet the taboo that still exists for those that complete the work on the corpses. A recently married cellist loses his job in the orchestra, and has to move back to his small village to live in the parental home and look for work. Thinking he is applying to a travel agency, he stumbles upon a job with a business that prepares the recently departed for burial for the families. At first repulsed by the idea, the main character begins to see the worth of his new role in society, though his wife and others are appalled by it. Sometimes comedic, the film never strays too far from its poignant task of looking at our views on death and dying.

“Tampopo”: (1985) Director Juzo Itami

This only at first brush appears to be a comedy, but tackles the importance of finding your calling and pursuing it with all of your energy. A widowed woman finds herself with her husband’s restaurant, and with the help of a trucker/cowboy friend that believes she can perfect the noodle dish; she rises to the occasion. This is a feel good movie with an offbeat, sometimes erotic twist.

“Woman in the Dunes”: Director Hiroshi Teshigahara

This creepy film is a metaphor for unhappy peoples’ lives. An Entomologist is studying exotic insects near the isolated coast of Japan, and is offered a night’s lodging at a woman’s shelter in the pit of a sand dune. Just like the insects that he studies, he becomes trapped in the sand pit with the woman. He realizes that this was her intent, as well as the intent of her villagers, all along. He struggles against the confines of the pit, all the while realizing that he is as helpless as an insect in a spider’s web. He must rely on her, and the villagers for his very survival for food and water, and he must labor to keep the sand from swallowing up his shelter. He eventually acquiesces to his situation over a long period of time, and the viewer is left to wonder if acquiescence is giving up or adapting.

 

Japanese Film Festival on May 11

The Japan-America Society of Northwest Florida will present a Japanese Film Festival on May 11 from noon to 9pm at the Movies 4 theater in Gulf Breeze. The three movies to be screened at this inaugural event are YojimboPing Pong and Summer Wars. There will also be food and drink tastings, short video segments about Japan’s recovery since last year’s earthquake, and a demonstration of the traditional Japanese tea ceremony by Kazuko Law.

Yojimbo, directed by Akira Kurosawa and starring Toshiro Mifune, is a classic 1961 jidaigeki (or period drama) about a wandering samurai (Mifune) who finds himself embroiled in a gang war and offers his services to both rival factions. The movie was the inspiration for Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars and Clint Eastwood’s “Man with No Name” character, and it continues to be an inspiration to Hollywood filmmakers. This screening will begin at 1pm.

Ping Pong, Fumihiko Sori’s 2002 live-action adaptation of a popular manga by Taiyo Matsumoto, follows the friendship and rivalry of two high school students who compete on their school’s table tennis team against a variety of memorable characters from other academies. The movie deftly blends humor with sentiment, and features thrilling, energetic competition sequences. This screening will begin at 4pm.

In 2009’s Summer Wars, writer-director Mamoru Hosoda imagines a world where nearly every aspect of people’s lives are linked to a giant social network called Oz. When part-time Oz employee Kenji visits a classmate’s family in the country, he is implicated in a cyber hacking scheme that could have dire global consequences. The film was awarded the Japan Academy’s Animation of the Year Prize in 2010 thanks to its stunning depiction of the Oz virtual world. This screening will begin at 7pm.

Admission to the film festival is $15 per person, or $5 for Japan-America Society members. Between each movie, guests will be invited to enjoy sushi and other foods in the theater lobby. Special wooden saké cups, called masu, will also be available for $15, or $5 for JAS members. Guests who purchase cups (and are at least 21 years old) may sample saké from the renowned Tenryou brewery in Gero, Pensacola’s Japanese sister city.

The Movies 4 theater is located at 1175 Gulf Breeze Parkway in the Live Oak Village shopping center. Space is limited, so guests are encouraged to RSVP in advance. RSVP by email or on the festival’s Facebook event page.

japanese-film-festival-2013

 

20th annual Japanese New Year Celebration on January 19

The Japan-America Society of Northwest Florida will usher in the “Year of the Snake” with its 20th annual Japanese New Year Celebration on Saturday, January 19, 2013, at the Bayview Community Center in Pensacola. Festivities will take place from 12 noon until 4 p.m. and will include performances by the popular Matsuriza taiko drummers, martial arts demonstrations, traditional Japanese dancing, music, food, and other cultural displays. A silent auction and raffle will also be held, and ticket holders are automatically eligible for door prize drawings.

Ticket prices are $8 for adults, $6 for students and Japan-America Society members, and $20 for families. Children ages 3 and under enjoy free admission. Advance tickets are available at the UWF Japan House or may be purchased at the event.

jas-poster-2013

 

Report on the 9th Annual Florida-Japan Summit

The 9th Annual Florida-Japan Summit was held in Pensacola, Florida, on June 14 and 15, 2012. It was funded by a grant from the Center for Global Partnership of the Japan Foundation. A welcoming reception was held at the Japan House and International Center of the University of West Florida. The master of ceremonies was Jim Hizer, President/CEO of the Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce. The group was welcomed by Dr. Angela McCorvey, Associate Vice President for Diversity and International Education and Programs, University of West Florida. The main feature of the formal part of the reception was an address by Counsel General Kawahara. During this portion of the program, he presented the University of West Florida with a Certificate of Commendation from the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs. This commendation was awarded for the University’s long time contribution to deepening the Japan-United States relationship and for promoting mutual understanding between the two countries. University President Judith Bense accepted the award on behalf of the University. She made a moving address that included a discussion of her recent trip to Japan. The beverages served included three bottles of Tenyo Sake, which is the choice of JAL for its business and first class cabins. This was a donation of the owners—long time friends of Pensacola’s various Japan programs. Six members of the University governing board were in attendance.

A welcoming dinner for speakers, panelists, and distinguished guests was held at the Hilton Pensacola Beach Gulf Front Hotel, hosted by Counsel General Kawahara.

The Friday activities began with a hearty breakfast. Participants took advantage of this offering, not only to nourish themselves, but also to network.

Following the breakfast, the summit meeting began. Dr. Marx served as master of ceremonies. The program was well received. The speakers and panelists gave an interesting diversity of views about Japan-US issues. Items of note were Peter Kelley’s discussion of the opportunities presented by Japan-America Societies, Counsel General Kawahara’s statistical overview of key indicators for Japan. The Business/Tourism panel provided insights into boosting Japanese investment in Florida, possible exports, and tourism opportunities. The Education/Tourism panel provided a passionate insight into the crucial importance of cultural understanding and appreciation and the role of education. The very existence of the Summit created interest among area residents. Twenty membership applications for our JAS were placed on the registration table, and all were taken.

The Summit closed with an enthusiastic endorsement of holding the 10th Summit at the University of South Florida and the 11th at the Morikami Museum.

 

Pensacola hosts Florida-Japan Summit

The 9th Annual Florida-Japan Summit is coming to the Hilton Pensacola Beach Gulf Front on June 15.

The Summit aims to foster business and cultural ties between Florida and Japan through presentations and networking opportunities. Past programs have been held in Tallahassee, Delray Beach, Miami, Orlando and Jacksonville.

Admission to this year’s Summit is free, but registration is required to reserve your space and admission credentials.

A welcome reception will be held on Thursday, June 14, 4:30-6:00pm, at the University of West Florida’s Japan House-International Center, where University of West Florida President Dr. Judith A. Bense will be presented with an award by the Honorable Eiichi Kawahara, Consul General of Japan in Miami. All registered participants are invited to attend.

The half-day program will begin at 9:00am Friday morning, June 15, and will feature keynote remarks by Consul General Kawahara, along with remarks by UWF President Emeritus Dr. Morris Marx and National Association of Japan-America Societies (NAJAS) President Peter Kelley. Other featured panelists will include Scott Luth, Senior Vice President for Economic Development at the Greater Pensacola Chamber, Dr. Tadayuki Hara, Associate Dean of Rosen School of Hospitality at the University of Central Florida, and Dr. Maria Cummett, Associate Vice President for Global Affairs at the University of South Florida.

Special room rates are available at the Hilton Pensacola Beach Gulf Front Hotel for Summit participants. For more information or to register, contact the UWF Japan Center at (850) 474-3363 or email japan@uwf.edu.

 

NAJAS chair to speak at UWF Japan House

Japan-America Society of Northwest Florida presents
From Black Ships to a Black President: Images and Reality in US-Japan Relations
By Dr. William R. Farrell, Chairman of the National Association of Japan-America Societies (NAJAS)
Friday, October 28, 2011
5:30 p.m.
University of West Florida International Center (Bldg. 71, Room 136)

From the arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry and the Black Ships in 1853 to the historic election of America’s first African-American president, Japan and the U.S. have looked at each other through stereotypical lenses. If misperceptions were commodities, each nation would have run a surplus.

Through the examination of woodblock prints, postcards (the internet of the 1890’s) and contemporary political cartoons, Dr. Farrell takes the audience on a lively tour through history.  Events such as Perry’s arrival, the road to Pearl Harbor, World War II, the Occupation, trade wars, and the current international situation are examined.

The program audience will be limited to 60 guests.