Sunday, April 09, 2006

A Taste of Japan Experience: What was it?

Special "ARIGATO" to
Benefactor, Japan Foundation, Center for Global Partnership, grant
Please take a look at the article on Taste of Japan that appears on the CGP website. Here is the link:
Patron Super Cao Nguyen Market :

The Beginning: Participants enjoyed melodies performed by Casady's String Quartet as they entered Calvert where the opening of the Taste of Japan took place.
Jerad'08 and David'08 greeted the Taste of Japan participants with a PowerPoint, designed by Ye-geun'07. Jerad and David took participants through the Taste of Japan entertainment, workshops, schedule, and thanked speakers, guests, donors, and partners.
Thank you's
Jerad and David had a special thank you to Mr. George Tomek, former Oklahoma City anchor personality who helped them prepare for this occasion. They also gave a special "Arigato" to Dr. Robert Woolsey, former Casady Headmaster and Tozan Yumi Yogiku (Mrs. Mari Leslie) for the Japanese clothing and make-up they were wearing. Dr. Robert Woolsey also donated the Japanese kites flying over Primary, Lower, Middle, and Upper Division flag poles. The kites will be a resource for future multicultural weeks at Casady Schools. Dr. and Mrs. Robert Woolsey also donated several Japanese items for the silent auction and a wedding kimono coat that was displayed at the tea ceremony room. The coat will be part of a Casady permanent display in the future. Mr. Lloyd Hardin, incoming Honorary Consul General of Japan in Oklahoma City attended the Taste of Japan opening in an unofficial capacity. Jared and David thanked Mr. Hardin for his donation of a dinner for four at a local club for the silent auction to help fundraising efforts.

Jared and David also thanked Mrs. Etsuko Blackburn and her sales manager, Mrs. Boone for a donation of a percentage of the sales of Mrs. Etsuko art to cover Taste of Japan expenses. Special "Merci" was also given to Mr. Stdrovia Blackburn of Digital DK. LLC for the generous donation of his time and professional knowledge shared in the production of the beautiful Taste of Japan flyer and program.

Welcome Speeches
Jerad and David did a great job introducing the Taste of Japan speakers, Casady Headmaster, Mr. Charles Britton, and our former Oklahoma Governor, George Nigh.
Mr. Britton, Governor George Nigh and Mr. Lloyd Hardin, incoming Honorary Consul General of Japan in Oklahoma received Ikebana arrangements made by Mrs. Yukiko Burnett as a thank you for their presence and time at the Taste of Japan opening. Miss Elizabeth Larsen, Middle Division Director also received an Ikebana from Mrs. Burnett as a thank you for allowing the Taste of Japan to use her beautiful McClendon Middle School building for the workshops.
Opening Performances and Workshops

After Taste of Japan participants registered or picked-up pre-registration name tags and listened to opening remarks. Then Okii Taiko Drumming Performed. For some of the participants, it was the first time to see Taiko drums. Then participants went to their first scheduled workshop.
Sumi-e and Ikebana were 90-minute workshops. The Tea Ceremony and Kimono demonstration was a 45-minute workshop. The rest of workshops were 30-minutes long.
The workshops were facilitated by teams of Japanse experts in the field and Casady students as helpers. Here are pictures of Anisah'07 helping
the Sumi-e workshop whose instructor was Ms. Etsuko Blackburn.

Participants enjoyed the magic of Japan in workshops that lasted from 3:15-5:15 with 15- minute breaks when they could taste Mochi, donated and made by Mrs. Kimie Warm, Okii Taiko performer, wasabi and Japanese crackers donated by Super Cao Nguyen Market, and tea and water courtesy of the Casady Kitchen.
The food sampling and wasabi -Japanese crackers and tea breaks were possible thanks to the efficient and organized volunteered force from the Okii Taiko Group and members of the Oklahoma City University Japanese Student Society. Thank you Mrs. Kimie Warm and her Okii Taiko Crew and OCU students: Junko Tanaka, Ai Kuroda, Miki Matsumoto, Hishako Nagata, and Tersurou Hara.
If participants had a long break between sessions, they had the option of viewing Kabuki films, ongoing at Fee Theater. Thank you to Mrs. Etsuko Blackburn for allowing us to use her Kabuki DVD's. "Un Millon de Gracias" to Mr. Larry Bruce, Technology Director, for setting up all the equipment for entertainment and workshops in Fee Theater, Calvert, and McClendon buildings. and to Mr. Randy Fresonke and crew for the extra work they had to do to prepare and clean-up McClendon and Calvert before and after Taste of Japan.
16 workshops took place at the same time from 3:15-5:15. Participants evaluations said that they wanted longer workshops and the opportunity to see more. One even suggested a two day Taste of Japan
The End of Taste of Japan

At 5:30, participants returned to Calvert where Ikebana arrangenments, made at the Ikebana workshop, decorated the tables. The Ikebanas were for sale as part of the silent auction.

The Grand Finale

Jerad and David welcomed the participants back to Calvert and to the grand finale: Food sampling by Sumo Steak House and Suchi Bar (Gyoza, California rolls, teriyaki chiken, fried rice) and cold refreshing tea donated by Super Cao Nguyen Market were first in the program. Jerad and David had to do some quick problem-solving when the Japanese Bento-Obento boxes from Sumo restaurant were late to arrive. They did such a good job entertaining and changing the schedule of performances that only organizers were bothered by this unforseen difficulty. Special thank to Mrs. Geni Thomas Woodward, Casady Chef, who came to our rescue when Sumo forgot to bring eating utensils and napkins.
Fashion Show
Jared, David, and Junko Tanaka started the fashion show modeling their Yukatas. Jared and David explained the meanings of the Japanese garments as models parade by the Calvert stage. Thank you to Miss Yukiko Yokono for her guidance in the explanation of the garments being worn by Taste of Japan volunteers.
Happi Coats were modeled by Mrs. Lynn Taylor and Deepika'08. The happi coats were created by Tozan Yumi Yogiku for the final dance and workshop, Tanko Bushi. The Fashion show ended with a Kimonos Parade. Sarah'07 and Mary'09 started the parade followed by our official Japanese consultant, Ms Yukiko Yokono; and the creator of the Fashion Show idea, Mrs. Yukiko Burnett. Since time allowed it, every Taste of Japan participant wearing a Kimono was welcomed to join the parade of kimonos.
Japanese Classical Dances
The classical dance performance followed the Fashion Show. Botanzishi was performed by Tozan Yumi Yogiku and Yozakura Oshichi was performed by Tomomi Nakashima. the dancers transported participants to the world of geishas and their magical dance performances.
A Casady Surprise for the Japanese citizens in our audience
The Casady six grade chorus followed the dances with two enchanting songs in Japanese, Hotaru Kai and Sakura, Sakura. Students voices (Emily, Blane, John, Shelby, Allison, Khadik, Hilary, Chandler, Karalyn, Gabrielle, Rachel, and Megan) echoed in the audiences hearts under the direction of Casady's chorus Middle Division teacher, Mr. Karl Hedlund.
The food arrived and as it was being distributed, Yeguen'06, youth leader of the Taste of Japan took the opportunity to thank the audience. She also provided Mrs. Clay with a wonderful bouquet of flowers from the Ikebana workshop.
Tanko Bushi
Taste of Japan ended with an interactive folk dance, Tanko Bushi, led by Casady Middle School French Teacher and dance club sponsor Lynn Taylor, Deepika'08 and a group of Middle Division students dressed in happi coats designed for their dance by their Japanese sensei, Tozan Yumi Yugiko.
Thank you Casady Youth and Adult Advisory and Action Council (YAC) for undertaking such a huge project. We met our goal of helping develop awareness of the Japanese culture, alive and well in our city.

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