Japan Society of Fairfield County
The bad weather that plagued JSFC events during the year of the dog
left with a bluster. Vice President Harry Sakamaki brought an
"Edo Yakko" kite decorated with a dandy of the Edo Period.
Japanese children often fly kites on New Year's Day. The
kite string is thought to carry wishes for a child's growth and a good
harvest to heaven.
Our event began with introductory remarks by Vernon Beck,
president of The Japan Society of Fairfield County, followed by
greetings from Jiro Okuyama, Deputy Consul General of
Japan in New York and Director of the Japan Information
Center. We were also joined by Shinkichi Takahashi, Vice Consul General
of Japan in Boston.
Harry Sakamaki, vice president, led us in a champagne toast to the new
year, the year of the boar
and the nineteenth year of Heisei. Our membership chair, Yumi
McDonald, led us in a group introduction to introduce new
members. We then enjoyed a fabulous
meal prepared by Hiroyuki "James"
his staff at the
Table gifts were provided by Zotos International.
Takeshi and Sanae Asai provided our main entertainment
Takeshi is a composer and leads the jazz ensemble WaFoo. He
played Rhapsody of Wa (Harmony) and Hana
no Machi (Town of Flowers) on the keyboard. His wife
accompanied him on the next piece Sakura Sakura, at the easel
doing a calligraphy, with a cherry (sakura) tree incorporated
into the calligraphy. Takeshi's final piece was Something
about America, which he composed himself.
Naoki Achiwa lead us in a new Oshogatsu activity, a group
traditional New Year's songs: Oshogatsu (New Year), Soshunfu
of Early Spring), and Ueo Muite Aruko (Sukiyaki).
We ended our event by making mochitsuki. Mochi balls are
traditionally made for the new year from sweet rice pounded into a
smooth paste. The pounding is done in an usu (mortar) using
(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. The rice is then pounded to develop the proper consistency.
Koito Karlon again had the somewhat hazardous job of turning the mochi
kine strokes. After pounding, the rice paste is squeezed
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
Photos courtesy Syd Greenberg
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