2018 Annual Dinner & Meeting

The JAS annual dinner held on November 28 was a great success thanks to our members and guests. Around 100 people (our largest dinner yet!) mingled and celebrated another prosperous year for JAS. A cash bar was offered at the new Wild Carrot venue, as well as a live string quartet to add to the warm atmosphere. A silent auction featured generous donations of 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. Yoshiaki Shibusawa, for his contributions to US-Japan relations. 

The 2018 Distinguished Service Award was given to Dr. Joel Glassman as a symbol of our appreciation for his pivotal role in the organization. 

And finally, a congratulations to the newly appointed board members, Cyndee Morton (Safety National), and Beth Eckelcamp (University of Missouri - St. Louis). They are wonderful additions to an already passionate and talented board!

We hope 2019 turns out to be another successful and exciting year!

Japan Update: Japanese Investment in St. Louis Through the Lens of Hussmann & Panasonic

On Thursday, November 8th, JAS presented its Fall Japan Update program featuring a three-speaker panel on Japanese Investment in St. Louis, followed by a Q&A session. Mr. Takeo Fujino(VP of Integration & Planning for Panasonic) and Mr. Tim Figge(CEO of Hussmann) spoke about the importance and commonalities between their respective corporate cultures and philosophies. This made for a good fit, and an easy decision for Panasonic Japan to acquire Hussmann. Around 70 people attended the program, followed by a delicious sushi and sake reception provided by Mr. Naomi Hamamura of Chef De Art Catering. The program and reception were graciously hosted by Hussmann Corporation, which continues to provide quality food display cases in major grocery stores across the nation. 

photo credit to Linda Austin

Celebration of Japanese Culture 

This year the celebration of Japanese culture at the Missouri History museum was a great success.  The guests enjoyed the many different performances including the Shishi-mai lion dance with St. Louis Osuwa taiko and a puppet show by St. Louis Japanese Language School. Dr. Chikako Usui did a wonderful Ikebana demonstration, demonstrating three different types of ikebana while explaining to the audience the importance each flower in the completed arrangement. The day ended with a full demonstration on the Japanese tea ceremony (Chanoyu) by Chado Society of St. Louis. Thank you to the many different performers, the Missouri History Museum, and the audience who took the time out of their beautiful Sunday afternoon to experience a mini Japanese Festival. We hope to see you all in September at the Japanese Festival at the Missouri Botanical Gardens. 

Photo Credit TIffany Seipel and Ashley Webelhuth 

JAS worked with the Pulitzer Art Foundation and NAJAS to bring a very interesting talk to St. Louis

Dr. Xiajin Wu from the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) presented a great talk about how the SAM has become one of the largest collectors of Asian art - mainly Japanese art - in the world. Dr. Wu described in great detail how the museum's founder, Dr. Richard E. Fuller, became interested in fossils of time and culture from Japan. After Dr. Wu's interesting talk, the audience explored more in depth about the materials presented during a Q&A and then a networking sushi and sake reception.  Thank you to the Pulitzer Art Foundation for hosting this incredible event and to the National Association of Japan America Societies for bringing Dr. Wu to St. Louis to speak with us. 

Photo credit to Tiffany Seipel

Passport to Japan at SLAM

On Sunday, April 29, JAS partnered with SLAM to host another exciting passport to Japan. This event has always been an educational and fun experience for the families who join us.  This year the origami table featured many different types of origami, mainly focusing on the year of the dog. Outside the Taiko drumming group returned for another year of great music and energy. After the performance the group allowed children to try hitting the drums and practice a fun beat. After the drummers finished it was time to head back inside to see the Bon Odori dancers, they did many dances alone to show the audience the art of the bone dance. At the end of the performance, the dancers invited the audience to join them in three simple dances.  The event ended with some more origami and also some carp coloring. 

photo credit to Tiffany Seipel

Japan Update: Urban Farming and Gardening in Japan and the United States

On Tuesday, February 20, JAS presented its spring Japan Update program featuring three expert speakers on urban agriculture. Professor Eiji Goto of Chiba University spoke about trends and technology in factory farming in Japan, highlighting the efficiencies and financial aspects of the industry. St. Louis's own Mary Ostafi of Urban Harvest STL focused on the specific efforts and adaptations required for urban farming in St. Louis and the broader social impact of this trend. And, Kevin Erickson of Loyola University in Chicago presented an overview of the challenges and opportunities of urban agriculture, from small-scale community gardens to the latest advances in aqua- and aeroponics. About 70 people braved the wind and rain to hear our speakers and enjoy our signature sushi and sake reception afterward in the gorgeous lobby of Novus International, Inc., one of JAS's corporate members who generously hosted the event.

photo credit to Linda Austin

Making It and Breaking It in Japan

On Thursday, February 15, JAS and UMSL's office of International Studies & Programs, the Department of Language and Cultural Studies, and the Japan-America Student Association hosted Mr. Steven Gan for a FREE talk and book signing chronicling his amazing experience. Mr. Gan ran a highly successful debt collection business in Japan for 12 years - the first foreign-owned business of its kind in Japan. He told the absolutely riveting story of starting his business organically and growing it to employ 30 people. His business was so successful, he drew the attention of the media, but also the ire of his competition, which used an obscure and ambiguous clause in the law to shutter his company. He now has a consulting business in Chicago, Stellar Risk Management. Following his talk, he took questions from the audience and offered autographed copies of his book, "Making it and Breaking it in Japan" for sale to about 30 audience members.

photo credit to Chip Meyer

The Japan America Society Successfully kicked off the 2018 New Year

The Japan America Society of St. Louis began the new year with a wonderful Shinnenkai at Sushi Sen in Lake Saint Louis on January 21. This year's Shinnenkai was well-attended, including Deputy Consul General of Japan from Chicago, Kenji Tanaka, and three full tables of our corporate members Nidec, Novus, and CSI. Once again, our attendees had the pleasure of hearing the insights of guest speaker Dave Lowry, an expert on Japanese culture. This year, Dave spoke of the concepts of omote, or "surface-level meaning," and ura, or "deep meaning." He explained this in the context of some interesting unpublicized (ura) Shinto practices concerning the emperor, as well as practices concerning the coming and unprecedented abdication, as Emperor Akihito will "retire" oApril 30 and Crown Prince Naruhito will become the new emperor.

photo credit to Linda Austin and Dan Lindsay

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

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