Japan Society of Fairfield County
Before our Oshogatsu
nature paid us a visit that won't soon
be forgotten. A blizzard struck southwestern Connecticut leaving two to
six inches of snow and taking away trees and electric power. Greenwich,
the home of many of our members, was especially hard hit. The storm
stopped just in time for our event and of the 80 who reserved, 73
safely arrived to
celebrate the beginning of the year of the dog.
January 15, 2006 was definitely a day for Connecticut's Huskie
than the Japanese Shiba or Akita.
Our event began with introductory remarks by Vernon Beck,
president of The Japan Society of Fairfield County, followed by
greetings from Masayuki Takashima, Deputy Consul General of
Japan in Boston.
Harry Sakamaki, vice president, led us in a champagne toast to the new
year, the year of the dog
and the eighteenth year of Heisei. We then enjoyed a fabulous
meal prepared by Hiroyuki "James" Nagata and his staff at the
Plum Tree Restaurant (www.plumtreejapanese.com/index2.html).
gifts were provided by Shuichi Tanaka, Chairman and CEO of Zotos
International who was present for the first time.
Ms. Yoriko Endo
volunteered to perform the koto. She is a licensed instructor in
the Ikuta school of koto, one
of the two major styles of koto performance. She expertly
performed two traditional pieces. The first was
Chidori no Kyoku (Song of a Plover); which is taken from an old
Japanese poem. The second was Haru no Yo (Spring Night).
One night in early spring, a man in a guest house heard a nice
tune from a nearby
room. He sneaked near and found that a beautiful woman was playing a
and fell in love with her.
A superb classical Japanese dance performance of Ayame (Iris
patterned summer kimono) was presented by Alice Kaori McDonald.
The performance was introduced by Kyoko Ohnishi,
her dance instructor.
Classical Japanese dance originated on the Kabuki stage in the 16th
century. The Soke Fujima School has been a leading force within
Japanese dance and its grand masters have choreographed Kabuki
and Kabuki dance-drama for generations. Kyoko Ohnishi holds a master’s
certificate from the Soke Fujima School and gives lectures,
demonstrations, and performances for educational institutions, and
teaches dance in Connecticut and New York.
Harry Sakamaki then led us in a
demonstration. Mochi balls are traditionally made for the new
year from sweet rice pounded into a smooth paste. This is done in
an usu (mortar) using kine (mallets). Our
usu was made from the trunk of a tree and
loaned to us by the Greenwich Japanese School. The steamed rice grains
are first broken up by essentially stirring them with the mallet head.
Vernon Beck and Nobuhiro Osa are shown doing this in the first
photo below. The rice is then pounded to develop the proper
Koito Karlon has the somewhat hazardous job of turning the mochi
kine strokes. Vernon Beck and Deputy Consul General
are shown pounding rice in the right two photographs with the
of Koito Karlon. After pounding, the rice paste is squeezed off
into small balls. In order to prevent the rice paste from
sticking to the hands of the persons working, it is sprinkled with mochitoriko
(rice) flour. Anko (bean paste), prepared by Atsuko
Giampaoli, can be rolled into the center of the mochi ball, but ours
were served with the anko on the side. Plain balls were
also served after being rolled in kinako , which is a
mixture of sugar and ground soy bean. Plain balls were
also served with nori (seaweed). Mochi is best when
and we were able to enjoy our own freshly pounded mochi this
Koto and dance photos courtesy of James McDonald
Garden, bento, and mochi photos courtesy Syd Greenberg
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