2019 Annual Dinner & Meeting

The JAS Annual Dinner held on November 6 was another great success thanks to our members, guests, and a new venue, Third Degree Glass Factory. Around 100 people mingled and celebrated inside a unique venue that offered a glass gallery and cash bar. A silent auction featured generous donations of antiques, sake, event tickets, and various gift packages. 

Chef Naomi Hamamura of Chef de Art Catering created an elaborate display of sushi and traditional hot and cold Japanese dishes, as well as a beautifully carved ice sculpture. 

The Friendship Award was given to Mr. Hiroshi Abe, for his contributions to US-Japan relations, especially the St. Louis-Ishinomaki Friendship Program (2013-2016).

The 2019 Distinguished Service Award was given to Mr. Ken Kitajima as a symbol of our appreciation of his ongoing support as a Vice President, Member of the Board, and Corporate Member representative.

We hope 2020 turns out to be another fruitful and exciting year!

3rd Annual Trivia Night

Trivia Night was a great success with 15 teams competing to win the $500 cash prize. Steve Mitori was a wonderful emcee again this year, with Chip Meyer assisting. Premium tables enjoyed delicious bento catered by Chef d’Art, plus sake and free mulligans. Other tables brought their own goodies. Urban Chestnut Brewing Company and Lohr Distributing generously donated free beer for the occasion.

Many enjoyed a game of ‘jankenpon’ (rock-paper-scissors) after round 3, facing off with a leader until only one participant was left standing to win the pot of game money. Another favorite of the night was the 50/50 raffle. The winner graciously donated back part of her earnings to JAS – thank you, Megan!

The silent auction had numerous items, gift sets, tours, and tastings to bid on. The auction, along with the restaurant gift cards raffle, were a fun way to help support the mission of JAS to share culture and make friends.

As the night progressed, the rounds became more challenging and every table tried to strategically use their mulligans to gain the advantage. Some of the more difficult rounds were airport codes, military history, and sports. Ultimately it was Table 14 who won the game – congratulations to them!

Thank you to our corporate and round sponsors, to the restaurants who donated gift cards, and to all who donated auction items! You helped make this fun event possible! 

A Celebration of Japanese Culture and a Passport to Japan

On Sunday, May 5, JAS presented our annual “mini Japanese festival” for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. A good-luck lion dance by St. Louis Osuwa Taiko opened the program, then we focused on the “way of” meditative arts of ikebana flower arranging (kadō), brush calligraphy (shodō), and tea ceremony (chadō). A kimono show followed, then Zen meditation practice, kamishibai story-telling, and rakugo “sit-down” comedy. This year attracted the largest audience ever!

Also, JAS partnered with the St. Louis Art Museum on Sunday, May 19, to hold their annual Passport to Japan Family Sunday program. St. Louis Osuwa Taiko attracted a crowd, then the St. Louis Bon Odori group welcomed all to join in the bon dances. All ages enjoyed making origami.

Our thanks to the participants and volunteers, with special thanks to the Missouri History Museum and the St. Louis Art Museum for their continued support.

photo credit to Ash Webelhuth and Linda Austin


2019 Spring Japan Update: Entrepreneurship and Business Incubation in Japan & the United States

On Monday, February 25, JAS presented its Spring Japan Update program. Greg Gorman started the event by offering welcoming remarks. Guests were engrossed during the presentations while they sipped on their beverages donated by the local Urban Chesnut Brewing Company. The topic of business cultivation from a global to a local perspective captured the guests, as they asked several questions during the Q&A session following the panels. Mr. Kota Ura (Senior Consultant for Information Services International-Dentsu) started the panel by speaking about the Japanese side of business incubation in the United States. He was followed by Lia Camargo (Japan Desk Associate at Cambridge Innovation Center) who had the unique position of collaborating between Japan and the United States to garner new entrepreneurships for both countries. Dan Lauer (Founding Executive Director of UMSL Accelerate) brought the scope of our topic to a local level with business incubation here in St. Louis. Around 65 people attended this event and enjoyed a sake and sushi reception catered by Naomi Hamamura of Chef De Art Catering. The program and reception were graciously hosted by Cortex Innovation Center and funding was provided generously by NAJAS.


A Successful Shinnenkai event kicks off 2019 for JAS-STL

Despite the snowstorm over the weekend, nearly 70 attendees braved the weather to celebrate the New Year with JAS at Wasabi-St. Charles. Chip Meyer acted as the emcee and Vice President Toshio Kitamura gave a short speech. Rev. Daigaku Rummé of Confluence Zen Center in STL gave an uplifting New Year’s speech about new beginnings.

The kagami biraki was performed by Rev. Daigaku Rummé, Dr. Chikako Usui, and Mr. Koichiro Tago of Novus International. They opened the sake barrel to ring in the Year of the Boar, then everyone raised their full cups for a kanpai toast. The Wasabi-staff brought out bento with osechi ryōri and everyone enjoyed the traditional Japanese New Year’s meal.

The fukubukuro raffle for “lucky bags” was fun for all. Three beautiful kadomatsu, pine and bamboo traditional new year arrangements, created by Dr. Usui, were auctioned.

This year we even had a table of guests celebrating a birthday!

photo credit to Linda Austin


"Japan America Society of St. Louis" is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
University of Missouri - St. Louis
366 SSB
1 University Boulevard
St. Louis MO 63121-4400

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