Inku Our Dragon
Japan Society of Fairfield County
Oshogatsu 2012

Oshogatsu Dignitaries      The Japan Society of Fairfield County welcomed 2012, the Year of the Dragon, with a traditional Oshogatsu Festival.  JSFC Associate Director Naomi Manning was Master of Ceremonies and introduced JSFC president Vernon Beck. Mr. Fumio Iwai, Deputy Consul General and Director of the Japan Information Center at the Consulate General of Japan in New York, opened the ceremonies and was followed by Mr. Greg Boyko, Honorary Consul General of Japan in Connecticut.    Also attending were Mr. Nobuyuki Watanabe, Deputy Consul General at the Consulate General of Japan in Boston; and Mr. Masakazu Kigure,  Consul for Cultural Affairs at the Consulate General of Japan in New York.  Mito Mardin, our new membership chair, introduced two new member families, the Lewis's and the Dan's. We honored outgoing JSFC President Harry Sakamaki with a plaque and sake cup for his four years of service. Yumi McDonald, vice presidentm of JSFC led a sake toast to the new year.
     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 Ron Krassin, Chairman and CEO of Zotos International.
Ame no GoroProf.
      Nakanishi      Our entertainment program began with classical Japanese Dance by Fujima Konishiki, our own Kyoko Ohnishi, licensed instructor of the Soke Fujima School of Dance which is over 300 years old.  The New York chapter of the school has just celebrated its 50th Anniversary Gala. Performance last month.Her first performance was Chiyo no Kotobuki (Longevity of One Thousand Years) to wish us longevity and good health. The second piece was Ame no Goro (Goro in the Rain). This dance used exaggerated expressions suitable for a young man to show off his strength. This the aragoto style, which is peculiar to Kabuki dance, in which arms are extended and legs spread.
     This was followed by a Magic Performance by Prof. Emeritus Koji Nakanishi of Columbia University.  Professor Nakanishi came to our annual meeting in October and made a presentation on his chemical research on the separation and structure of natural compounds but time constraints preventing his doing his magic performance. He is perhaps the only magician ever asked to perform at the Imperial Palace at Tokyo for Her Majesty.  
Dep. CG Watanabe pounding mochi       Atsuko Giampaoli, Jim McDonald, and Koito Karlon simultaneously led a 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 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 katakuriko (now usually potato starch but traditionally from the corm of a lily). Anko (red 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.  Red and white are the traditional colors of celebration in Japan. 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 Hiroko Sakamaki.  This year one of our three batches of mochi was pink, symbolizing ...  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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