Chicago Shimpo
101 Year Old Chang Congratulated by P.M. Abe
Busy, but Good Life Showing up on TV, Cooking for Emperor

• Shoju Chang, a resident of Evanston, was celebrated by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for her longevity on November 13. Consul General Naoki Ito and Consul Hideki Makino in Chicago visited Chang’s residence and presented a congratulatory message with a commemorative gift of a silver cup. The message reads “It is a great pleasure that I congratulate you on reaching venerable age of 100. In honor of your long life, I present you with this gift along with my sincerest well wishes. Shinzo Abe.”

• Chang was born in China on February 2, 1917, immigrated in Tokyo, Japan in 1952, and was naturalized as a Japanese person. Her son Hosho, daughter Miriam, friend Junko Yokota, and other family members and friends gathered around her and celebrated her 101 years of life. Chang and her children still speak fluent Japanese.

• According to Miriam, Chang was living in Seijo town in Tokyo, and opened seven Chinese restaurants in Seijo, Ochanomizu, Yokohama, Okinawa, and other places. The name of the restaurants was “Madam Chang”; one was located in the second floor of Meijiya Hiroo Store, and two others were located in Tokyu Department Store in Shibuya and Shufu-no-tomo building in Ochanomizu, Miriam recalled. Yokota remembered one Madam Chang was located in the first floor of Tokyu Hotel in Okinawa. At that time Yokota was five years old.

• While Chang was running seven restaurants, she showed up on the TV program, “Today’s Cooking,” broadcasted by NHK. The program, “Kyo no Ryori,” in Japanese, was very popular in the 1960s and 70s. She also cooked Chinese cuisine for Showa Emperor when he had his 60th birthday celebration which was a milestone of life accomplishment called “Kanreki” in Japan.
• According to Miriam, Chang was asked to cook Chinese dishes, so she went to a kitchen in the Emperor’s palace and supervised the people who were cooking there. Miriam said that her family had some photos of Chang in the Emperor’s kitchen, but they were lost over a long period of time.
• She said that Chang was really busy at that period, and she sometimes didn’t see her mother for a week, but her mother was sweet to her. She came to the U.S. in 1965 to attend an American college, so she said that she didn’t know well about how Chang’s daily life looked like.

• Yokota was close to Chang’s family because her grandfather was a teacher of Chang’s father-in-law, so the two family relations started in 1920s.
• Yokota said that Chang came to the U.S. around 1992 to stay with Miriam, who lived in Hinsdale at that time. Then Chang moved to Evanston in 1994 where her son Hosho was teaching at Northwestern University. In Evanston Chang taught drawing and painting and had private exhibits in the University. Chang is still a good artist and was doing art works until last year.

• Her son, Hosho, lived in Japan for about 10 years until he graduated from high school. He studied at MIT then obtained a Ph.D. from Princeton University. He worked at Bell Labs for 15 years and has been teaching at Northwestern University, Materials Research Institute for 36 years.
• Now Hosho is 77 years old and still active in the global business environment. “I often visit Japan, and just returned from Japan last week,” he said in Japanese. He recalled Chang in her young days in Tokyo and said, “She was always working, so I had little time to see her. Yes, she was sweet, but sometimes she was strict to me.”

• Chang was good at cooking on sweet and sour pork, chop suey, and mapo tofu. When Consul General Ito said, “My favorite is mapo tofu,” Chang responded, “Come to my house, I cook it for you,” in English.

• She was very good at playing mah-jongg and always won the game. She was enjoying the game until last year, but no other player is available now.

• Chang wakes up in the morning, dresses, and cleans up, then she has a breakfast. After that she participates in morning activities such as art, music, and exercises. After a lunch, she relaxes and sometimes takes a nap in the afternoon. After a dinner, she watches on TV, and goes to bed between 7:30 and 8:00 p.m.

Shoju Chang (C) holds a silver cup gifted from P.M. Shinzo Abe to congratulate her longevity. From left, CG Naoki Ito, her daughter Mirian, Mirian's husband, and her son Robert Chang.

Shoju Chang shows up on NHK's TV program, "Kyo no Ryori, Today's Cooking."

Shoju Chang's artworks