Chicago Shimpo
Chicago Japanese Club Celebrates 2019 New Year
Japan Festival will be in Millennium Park in June

• Chicago Japanese Club celebrated the opening of a new year on January 5 at Hilldale Golf Club’s Nipponkan in Hoffman Estates, and 137 people including 20 members of Okinawa Kenjinkai gathered to make a fresh start.
• M.C. Donna Gerlich wittily opened the celebration, and Yukinobu Omura sang the National Anthems of the U.S. and Japan.

• In his greeting remarks, CJC President Manabu Yoshiike looked back his tenure of four years and said that CJC had hosted numerous events that brought CJC many new connections with other groups. For example, hosting a health seminar brought Dr. Shinichiro Imai, who was also President of St. Louis Japanese Club, and germinated a new tie between CJC and St. Louis Japanese Club. Yoshiike said that meeting new people would be a challenge, but it expanded a circle of people.
• Yoshiike thanked Consul General Naoki Ito for his support, especially, introducing Dr. Imai to CJC. Yoshiike said that CJC’s new President and board members were coming in April and wished them to make further success.

• As a special guest of the New Year’s celebration, Mayor Thomas Hayes of the Village of Arlington Heights attended the party. He said that the year of 2018 had been a productive year to welcome many new businesses, so people could see the flourishing business climate and economy in the Village of Arlington Heights. He also mentioned about a tax relief, which would help property taxes as low as possible. A significant village improvement was completion of a new police station that will serve for the Village residents for many years to come.
• Mayor Hayes has recognized and welcomed growing diversity in cultures, ethnicities, and nationalities that have contributed to his Village’s prosperity. “We appreciate the Japanese American community so much and we can’t thank you enough for your partnership moving forward, not just for our community but our countries to work together toward our common goals,” he said.

• Consul General Naoki Ito applauded the works of President Yoshiike and spoke about 2019 Japan Festival which will be held at Chicago’s Millennium Park on Sunday, June 16. He said, “We really want to have Japan Festival more open to the public people in Chicago and also travelers coming to Chicago so that Japanese culture will be better known to larger audience. That’s the idea why we want to have Japan Festival in Millennium Park this year. So I would like to ask you to understand and also support for this new challenge and new idea to stage Japan Festival in Downtown Chicago.”

• According to CG Ito, the number of Japanese nationals who live within his jurisdiction of 10 states, is 35,000 as of October, 2018. The number of Japanese who live in the Chicagoland area, has increased to 12,300 from 7,100 two decades ago. Japanese population in Arlington Heights is 913; the number exceeded 900 for the first time.

• CG Ito’s main job of the party was to present Consul-General’s Commendation to Stanley Yoshiro Fukai. He had been a traffic-regulations lecturer certified by the Illinois state government. As a volunteer for 22 years, he had helped Japanese and Japanese Americans to obtain or renew their driver’s license. He just retired from it last year due to his age of 93.

• The party’s special event was mocha-pounding ceremony by CG Ito and Mr. and Mrs. Hayes. Mayer Hayes said that he and his wife never did it in their lives, so they were looking forward to challenging it.

• Katsuji Takagi, Vice President of CJC, made a toast wishing good health of the attendees and great success of incoming new CJC leaders.

• Kazume Misuki performed Japanese New Year’s Dance with a layer of gorgeous kimono dresses followed by an osechi luncheon, a new year’s special meal, with zoni, a cup of mochi soup.

• Musicians and performers in the Japanese community entertained the attendees.
• Mariko Hosokawa, Kyoko Fujioka, and Yumi Fujimoto played koto music that created an atmosphere of a new year’s day.
• Yozakura Ohisa & Oniwaban Brothers played some pieces of Japanese music.
• Emi Tanabe and Gabriel Datcu, a violin and guitar duo, invited the audience to a world tour through folk music of Spain, Turkey, Bohemia, and a French-jazz-flavored Japanese popular song.
• The Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai brought a pair of lions to celebrate New Year’s Day, and kids performed Okinawan dances with taiko drumming.

• A raffle prize drawing thrilled the audience, and the party closed with laughter.

Koto music played by Mari Hosokawa, Kyoko Fujioka, and Yumi Fujimoto ads a special mood for the celebration.

Performances by the Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai

Chicago Japanese Club makes a toast to celebrate 2019 New Year

Arlington Heights Mayor Hayes (R) and his wife Susan challenge mochi pounding with Consul General Naoki Ito (L).

Stanley Fukai (C) receives Consul-General's Commendation.

Kazume Mizuki dances to celebrate a new year.

Yozakura Ohisa & Oniwaban Brothers perform some pieces of Japanese music.

Emi Tanabe and Gabriel Datcu invite the audience to a world tour through music.