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Chicago Shimpo

CJC and NCJAA Together Celebrate 2018 New Year

The Chicago Japanese Club (CJC) and the New Chicago Japanese American Association (NCJAA) together celebrated the New Year on January 21 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Chicago - Arlington Heights, and about 160 people attended.

The party was led by the M.C. Donna Gerlich and Takashi Hirano and opened with the National Anthems of Japan and the U.S. sung by Hisashi Shoji.

In his greeting remarks, CJC President Manabu Yoshiike announced that Tatsu Aoki received the Foreign Minister’s Award and Jean Mishima received the Emperor’s Award, the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays in 2017. He congratulated them and talked about their achievements for the Japanese American and Japanese community. Mishima, President of the Japanese American Historical Society and former Chair of the Chicago Japanese American Council, was invited to the stage and received big flower bouquets from CJC and NCJAA. Aoki was unable to attend the celebration due to his concert in the Chicago area.

Jean Mishima and Tatsu Aoki’s achievements were reported in the January 8th issue of the Chicago Shimpo.

In her greeting remarks, NCJAA President Rie Katayama reported her group’s activities including spring and fall concerts to support young and talented musicians and holding Kimono Club to promote wearing kimono dresses to revive one part of Japanese traditional culture.

She spoke about NCJAA’s resolution for 2018. The key word was “harmony”, the harmony of music, the harmony of relationship, the harmony of Japanese culture, and the harmony of passion. “I hope that people take musical instruments instead holding missiles or guns, so that people can talk in harmony and smile at each other,” she said.

Consul General Naoki Ito praised the activities of CJC and NCJAA saying, “Organizing Chicago Japan Festival and other things have made you essential to our community in Chicago,” and talked about his Consulate’s plan to promote further cultural exchanges by focusing on three areas. The first was Japan festivals, the second was Japanese gardens, and the third was Japanese language education.

CG Ito mentioned about his initiative “Grass-root Caravan” which he had started last September to promote the understanding of the importance of Japanese companies’ economic contributions in local areas by visiting and meeting local people, officials, and business communities. The initiative also seeks further investment opportunities to boost bilateral trade relationship in the Midwest.

CG Ito thanked Arlington Heights Mayor Thomas Hayes for his hospitality to welcome Japanese and Japanese American communities. He also said that Japan and the U.S. leaders had made a spectacular progress on relation of trust, and he heard from people of the 10 states in his jurisdiction that they were confident in Japan’s alliance with the U.S. amid increasing concerns about the situation in North Korea.

At the end of his speech, he wished the year of the dog would bring a good fortune to everyone.

As a special guest of the New Year’s celebration, Thomas Hayes, Mayor of the Village of Arlington Heights, welcomed Japanese and JAs’ hospitality and friendship.

Mayor Hayes spoke about his village’s focus on furthering “the quality of life” that the residents and visitors have been enjoying: health, safety, welfare, and entertainments. He said, “It’s second to none.”

To continue improving the quality of life in Arlington Heights, he said that partners in the business community were very important. “We have a great relationship with the Japanese American community, and in 2018, we look forward to furthering the relationship with the Consul General, other associated agencies, the Governor, and all the state of Illinois to further establish relationships with everyone we can to make sure that Japanese businesses strive here not only in Arlington Heights but the state of Illinois and the United States of America. The Village of Arlington Heights myself as Mayor stand to help you so please let us know how we can help further partner with the United States,” Mayor Hayes said.

He also said, “Harmony, I think that is very important as we go forward 2018. Let’s put together, put aside the differences, and work together for common goals.”

He thanked CJC and NCJAA for inviting him and his wife to the party saying, “This is one of the events that we really enjoy and we look forward to seeing entertainments this afternoon.” The couple stayed to watch all of the entertainments.

Kazume Mizuki, a Master of Japanese-traditional-dance Mizuki School, danced a piece “New Year.”
Michael Takada, Chairman of the Chicago Japanese American Council, made a toast and a luncheon started.

After the luncheon, the entertainment started with koto music performance “Fujin” by the Chicago Koto Group followed by beautiful chorus of the Soyokaze Chorus Group.

Special guest performers, Emi Tanabe of violin, Guillermo Paolisso of guitar, Jun Takanarita of percussion, and Rie Katayama of castanet and flamenco dance, performed thrilling pieces of music and dances.

Children of the Chicago St. Matthew’s Eisah Team were invited to perform Okinawa dance with taiko drumming. The audience enjoyed their cute, yet valiant performance with smiles.

The finale of the gathering was a raffle prize drawing. The attendees swallowed hard every time Mrs. Susan Hayes drew a raffle ticket. An air ticket for a round trip to Japan and one-night stay at DoubleTree Hotel were big prizes among them. The attendees left the party with happy smiles

Participants make a toast for happiness and prosperity in 2018
Rie Katayama Manabu Yoshiike
Consul General Naoki Ito

Arllington Heights Mayor
Tom Hayes
Chicago Koto Group

Soyokaze Chorus Group

Children of the Chicago St. Matthew perform Okinawa dance