Featuring: Chef Rick Bayless Interview, Sen Rikyu Memorial Tea Gathering,"Kizuna 6: Resilience" Earthquake Commemoration Ceremony and Photo Exhibition, 31st Annual Speech Contest and more!
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March 2017
In this issue
"Kizuna 6: Resilience" Earthquake Commemoration Ceremony and Photo Exhibition

Read our interview with Chef Rick Bayless on "Craftsmanship, the Art of Fermentation and an Insatiable Fascination with Japanese Food Culture"

The e-Japan Journal is the monthly newsletter of the Japan Information Center (JIC) at the Consulate-General of Japan in Chicago. We hope it proves to be an informative window for you into Japan-related activities happening in our 10 Midwest states. 
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**We have made changes to our newsletter.  For instance, we no longer will have Political and Economic News because this can be viewed on our homepage at the bottom.  Please note that some email servers do not enable certain newsletter features, but subscribers should be able to access all content by scrolling.  If you are unable to, please let us know!**
■ JIC Announcements ■ Featured Interview
■ This Month in Japan

■ 10 States Events & Facebook Calendars

■ JIC Library ■ Fun Features ■ Editor's Note

■ Japan Topic Links


JIC Announcements

Arrival of Consul-General Naoki Ito


"Dear Friends:

On February 21, 2017, I assumed my new post as Consul-General of Japan in Chicago.

Having heard about Chicago’s bitter cold winters, I was most relieved to find an unusually mild winter upon my arrival here.

Last year, the Chicago Cubs clinched a brilliant victory with their first World Series Championship in 108 years. In addition to baseball, Chicago is a thriving center for sports with its hugely popular basketball, football, and ice hockey teams. The city is also famous for its world-class arts and music, including the celebrated Chicago Symphony Orchestra. I am most enthusiastic about my assignment in this city, which has so much to offer.

I am delighted that the ten Midwestern states in our jurisdiction (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin) are showing development in various fields from manufacturing and agriculture to tourism and finance. Japanese companies are actively expanding here as well."

Please read the rest of Consul-General Ito's English greeting or access the Japanese version of his greeting.  

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Rikyuki: Memorial Tea Gathering for Sen Rikyu


Each year, Urasenke members throughout the world host a memorial tea gathering for Sen Rikyu (1591). Rikyu's aesthetics and teachings are the foundation of Chanoyu (tea ceremony in Japan) as we know it today.

This year, we welcome Urasenke Chicago at the JIC for the special Rikyuki ceremony on Sunday, March 19 from 1:00 - 3:00 PM. This event is free and open to the public with no necessary RSVP. Tea and sweets will be available for all guests. We are able to provide discounted parking rates in our Olympia Centre parking garage on site.

For more information or to add this to your Facebook event calendar, please visit our Facebook event page.

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"KIZUNA 6: Resilience" Earthquake Commemoration Ceremony and Photo Exhibition


KIZUNA 6: Resilience is a series of events to commemorate the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.  The first event last month was the TOHOKU UPDATE Economic Seminar at the JIC. A Photo Exhibition will travel throughout the month of March at the following locations in Chicago:

A special commemoration ceremony will take place at the Japan Information Center on Thursday, March 23 at 6:00 PM and will feature Mr. Takuma Sato. Mr. Sato is a Japanese-born, world-renowned professional race car driver who started the charity With You Japan in response to the 2011 disaster.  His goal is to provide much-needed support to help the children of Japan recover and thrive.
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31st Annual Japanese Language Speech Contest

Group from the 30th Annual Japanese Language Speech Contest
The 31st Annual Japanese Language Speech Contest will be held at the JIC on Saturday, March 25 from 12:00 - 5:00 PM

The contest is open to all non-native speaking, young people within our jurisdiction who are studying the Japanese language at elementary, middle school, high school and college levels. All participants win a prize, with the Grand Prize being a FREE ticket to Japan. This is an event that is free and open to the public.

You may contact us with any further questions as well as visit our website or our Facebook event page for more information.
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Japanese Speech and Culture Contests

In addition to our own Japanese Language Speech Contest, there are other upcoming Japanese Language and Culture contests.
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Japan Foundation Events in the Midwest

The Japan Foundation helps bring a number of events to our jurisdiction annually.  Until April 30, there is one featured event in Illinois.

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Japan Foundation Grants and Other Programs

Every year, the Japan Foundation and other organizations offer several scholarship and grant opportunities that our readers can apply for. The following deadlines for applications are fast approaching this spring:

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Featured Interview

Craftsmanship, the Art of Fermentation and an Insatiable Fascination with Japanese Food Culture

Chef Rick Bayless, Image courtesy of Nagle Photography
Every month, I interview a person who is active with Japan-related activities and introduce them in our newsletter.  This is so our readers can learn more about the interesting people and groups within our community.  I interviewed Chef Rick Bayless who travels to Japan frequently and returned recently from Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. [Read the full interview]

Rick Bayless is an American chef who resides in Chicago, most known for his authentic Mexican cuisine, for winning the title of Bravo’s Top Chef Master, for his highly rated Public Television Series Mexico-One Plate at a Time and for the podcast The Feed with food journalist Steve Dolinsky.  In Chicago, he has eight popular restaurants and many have been voted the best in the city.  What, then, does a chef specializing in Mexican cuisine have to do with Japan?

Chef Bayless loves visiting Japan and makes it a point to go to the country at least once every three years. His main purpose of visiting Japan in January 2017 was to explore fermentation techniques, more specifically how to use koji (the mold that ferments foods like miso, soy and pickles) in different ways.  Chef Bayless took a class of Sandor Katz’s at a conference and he is the one who asked why Chef Bayless was not yet fermenting corn into miso.  Over the past year or so he has been “playing more in our restaurants with koji as a starter for fermentation because miso can be used in anything.”  About three months ago, he started a new project to make “miso out of an heirloom variety of corn from Mexico.”  He and his chefs made a couple of different batches and they were so successful, there is now “corn miso as one of the flavorings in one of the dishes at Topolobampo.”  He had the chance to do a bunch of miso tastings while in Japan to help perfect his recipe.  He says “it is one thing to taste things you don't know, it's another thing to taste things you have been working on yourself to get a new perspective.”  Plus, he really wanted to know more about the different fermentation styles of vegetables.

Visit one of Chef Bayless' restaurants today! [Read the full interview]
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This month in Japan

Yayoi is the lunar calendar name for March meaning "new life," symbolizing the coming of spring.

The only national holiday this month is Shunbun no hi, or Vernal Equinox Day, on March 20th or 21st. This is the official mark of the spring season as well as the unofficial start of the sakura (cherry blossom) season in much of Japan.

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10 State Events & Facebook Calendars

View our Monthly Calendar and our Facebook Calendar to see all events coming up this month within our 10-state jurisdiction! If there is a Japan-related event that you would like to have added to the calendar for this month or future months, please contact Amy.

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JIC Library

We have new books to vote for this month! Please vote for one of the following: which book would you like to see most in our library? 

Diary of a Tokyo Teen (Book Information

The Guest Cat (Book Information)

Tokyo Fashion City (Book Information)

キャンデイキャンデイ(漫画)Candy Candy Manga (Book Information)

Tokyo: A Biography (Book Information)

If you prefer to email us your choice, please do! 
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Fun Features

JIC Focus: Kizuna 6 – “Tohoku Update: What’s Being Done to Build a Positive Future” Summary

The three speakers from the Kizuna 6 "Tohoku Update" with event organizers
We hosted the Kizuna 6 "Tohoku Update: What's Being Done to Build a Positive Future" Economic Seminar on Tuesday, February 21. It was a well attended event that featured three guest speakers who provided first-hand insights on the work being done in the Tohoku region toward recovery efforts.

The speakers were Mr. Ichiro Sone, Chief Executive Director of JETRO Chicago, Mr. Yoshiyuki Takasago, Director-General of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Department from Miyagi Prefecture and Mr. Robert Priddy, Engineering Lead at Atkins Nuclear Solutions US.  Discussions centered on the topics of nuclear energy, changes in Japanese and U.S. relations and the impact of American and Japanese media on recovery perception. 
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JIC News Quiz

Back by popular demand for this month is our News Quiz on current events that happened in Japan during the month of February. Please submit your answers to for a chance to win a small prize! 
  1. What is the (English and Japanese) title of the Haruki Murakami book that was released in Japan in February?
  2. What non-national holiday is February 23 in Japan?  
  3. What non-national holiday is February 3 in Japan?
  4. Who is the Japan-born musician who won a Grammy this year?
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Editor's Note

Hello March, the start of spring is just around the corner!

Girls' Day, or Hina Matsuri, falls on March 3rd and is one of the most popular celebrations this month. In mid-February, it is customary for families with young daughters to set up doll displays of the imperial court. Families enjoy tasty delights like chirashi sushi and strawberry daifuku sweets while offering prayers for good health, fortune, and happiness for young girls.

Amy Klouse 
(Editor, IT Coordinator)

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Copyright © 2017 (Vol. 12 No. 3)

Consulate-General of Japan
Japan Information Center
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Suite 1000
Chicago, IL 60611
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