Japan Society of Fairfield County
Oshogatsu 2009

     The Japan Society of Fairfield County welcomed 2009, the Year of the Bull, with a traditional Oshogatsu Festival.  Newly elected JSFC Director Diane Caminis served as our Master of Ceremonies and introduced JSFC president Harry Sakamaki. Mr. Akira Sugiyama, Director, Japan Information Center, Consulate General of Japan, opened the ceremonies with encouragement that the Bull is a sign of prosperity.
     We then enjoyed a fabulous meal prepared by Hiroyuki "James" Nagata and his staff at the Plum Tree Restaurant.  Our meal was patterned after the traditional Osechi-Ryori enjoyed at New Year's celebrations and included many foods with symbolic significance. Table gifts were provided by Shuichi Tanaka, Chairman & CEO, Shiseido International, Inc., New York, New York.
Konishiki dancing Kimonos    Long time Japan Society member and advisor, Kyoko Ohnishi, has been granted the name Fujima Konishiki by Soke Fujima School where she is a licensed instructor. She performed a classical Japanese dance performed called Kotobuki, a congratulatory dance to wish everyone a long, healthy life and good fortune. Kyoko also led a  kimono mini fashion show of our kimono clad members.
    Naoki Achiwa lead us in a group sing of traditional New Year's songs.
    Steve Scholle talked about the history and making of the Shakuhachi, a bamboo flute, and played a short folk tune followed by a piece called Ajikan.  Scholle has been playing for over 20 years and has been licensed through the New York dojo of Ronnie Nyogetsu Seldin, the most prolific teacher outside Japan.
Fukuwarai Game      Next the children played the “Fukuwarai” game which is similar to pin the tail on the donkey.  In this game blindfolded children take turns adding eyes, eyebrows, a nose, a mouth, and other features to a face.
Serving mochi      We ended our event by making mochitsuki led by Kaiji Inoue & Koito Karlon.   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 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 pounded with a mallet to develop the proper consistency.  Koito Karlon again had the somewhat hazardous job of turning the mochi between kine strokes.   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 mochiko (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 prepared by Junko Uezumi and Reiko Kawashima.  Mochi is best when fresh, and thanks to the help from the wives of the faculty of the Greenwich Japanese School, we were able to enjoy our own freshly pounded mochi this new year.
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