Japan Society of Fairfield County
Oshogatsu 2010

     The Japan Society of Fairfield County welcomed 2010, the Year of the Tiger, with a traditional Oshogatsu Festival.  JSFC Director Diane Caminis served as our Master of Ceremonies and introduced JSFC president Harry Sakamaki. Mr. Toshiya Ito, Consul, Consulate General of Japan in New York, opened the ceremonies.  Mr. Gregory Boyko, Honorary Consul General of Japan in Connecticut, led a toast to the New Year.  We were also joined by Katsumi Machida, Consul for Economic Affairs at the Consulate General of Japan in Boston; Yoko Suzuki, Vice Consul for Cultural Affairs at the Consulate General of Japan in New York; and Tomoyuki and Keiko Mitsui, principal of the Greenwich Japanese School.
     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 the Consulate General of Japan in Boston.
Uezumi Award Presentation     Naoki Achiwa led the introduction of members and attendees. Harry Sakamaki recognized long time treasurer, Russell J. Handelman, for twelve years of service. Russ has transferred treasurer duties to Diane Caminis. Vernon Beck presented the first Uezumi Award to Dr. Susan G. Larkin, chairwoman of the Greenwich Historical Society.
Kumagai at the Koto      Ms. Michie Kumagai performed three pieces on the koto:  Sakura (Cherry Blossoms), Furusato (My Home Town), and Seoto (Sound of River Stream) 
     Long time Japan Society member and advisor, Kyoko Ohnishi, has been granted the professional name Fujima Konishiki by Soke Fujima School where she is a licensed instructor. She performed the classical Japanese dance Kotobuki, a congratulatory dance to wish everyone a long, healthy life and good fortune.Dancing Shichi Fukujin Kyoko was then joined by Fujima Nishikiyo, the professional name granted Yoko Shirakata and danced Shichi Fukujin (Seven Gods of Good Fortune).  This piece was specially composed and choreographed for the Soke Fujima IchiFuji-kai in New York by its grandmaster Fujima Kanjuro VIII.
Group sing     Naoki Achiwa lead us in a traditional group sing accompanied by Noriko Kumada. We performed Dokokade Haruga (Spring Somewhere), Kisha Poppo (Traveling by a Steam Locomotive), and Kawano Nagareno Youni ( As the River Flows)
    Marilyn Moore and Kazumi Inoue led the children in making origami tigers.
     The event ended with a mochitsuki led by Keiji Inoue, Kevin Theissen, and 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). Pounding mochi 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 katakuriko (now usually potato starch but traditionally from the corm of a lily). Children's program 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, Kazumi Inoue, and Hiroko Sakamaki.  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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