Thursday, March 26, 2015

Japan Festival in Boston & Brookline Sakura Matsuri Dates

I was wondering if the Japan Festival in Boston would be happening this year after last year's festival within a festival at the Cambridge River Festival which I didn't think worked very well. I just found out that this year's 4th annual Japan Festival will be held on Sunday, April 26, 2015 from 10am - 5pm on the Boston Common at the Beacon & Charles Street corner (near Frog Pond). JREX is crowdfunding with GoFundMe for the first time this year.

I also got word that the 4th annual Brookline Sakura Matsuri held at Brookline High School will be on Saturday, May 9, 2015 from 12-4pm. This is a small family-friendly matsuri organized by the Brookline High School & Genki Spark communities. Details to follow. Though you can definitely expect a lot of taiko!

See photos from last year's Japan Festival in Boston. 
See photos from last year's Sakura Matsuri.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Japonaise Bakery in Porter Closed

I tried to stop by Japonaise Bakery in Porter yesterday when they should have been open but was greeted by steel doors. I called the main store in Brookline today and was told that Porter was closed due to equipment issues. I asked if the closure was permanent and was told she hadn't decided yet. I told her that would be too bad. It wouldn't surprise me if they close permanently since they never have very many customers. It would be a real shame. Japonaise has been in the Porter Exchange for as long as I remember but it seems like they've struggled for business since moving to this less visible location (they used to have a kiosk in the main hallway outside Bluefin). I'm sure that Kotobukiya's closure has hurt them as well.

In the mean time if you want azuki creams or shoku pan you will have to head over to their St. Mary's location.

Update 3/19/15: Stopped by the Brookline location today and found out that the equipment that broke is used to make their bread so they had no bread or bread pastries (other than bread pudding), just cakes, flan, a lone tray of almond croissants, and a few onigiri. It seems they are also struggling with being understaffed.  They are hiring for all positions.

Update 3/20/15: Went back to the Brookline location today and they had azuki & ichigo creams (yay!) along with a few other pastries but still no bread and no word on when the equipment would be fixed.

Friday, February 20, 2015

2015 3.11 Events in Boston

If you're aware of a 3.11 event that I haven't listed, please post a comment with a link to the event or details if the info isn't on a public webpage. This page will be updated if I find out about more events.

March 11, 2015 will be the fourth anniversary of the historic triple disaster that Japan experienced in Tōhoku on March 11, 2011. Although the world's attention has moved on to other disasters, some groups in Boston continue to be involved in supporting Japan through this crisis and educating the public. If you're interested in learning more, please consider attending one of these events. Events are listed in chronological order.

Film Screening: Live Your Dream: The Taylor Anderson Story

In conversation with Film Director Regge Life

This remarkable documentary offers a glimpse into the life of Taylor Anderson (JET Program, Miyagi prefecture, 2008-11), a young American woman who dedicated herself to teaching Japanese children, through in-depth personal accounts from her loved ones. Laced with emotional recollections, moving photographs and home movies which are as many bits of the wonderful puzzle that was her incredible existence, the film walks the viewer through Taylor's 24 years on earth and untimely end caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011. In light of the tragedy, the film sends a message of hope for all to follow their hearts. [90 minutes. USA, 2012. BD.]

Regge Life has been making groundbreaking films for over two decades including the acclaimed Doubles: Japan and America’s Intercultural Children , and most recently Reason to Hope, which chronicles the events surrounding the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

Date & Time
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
6:00pm - 8:00 pm

Harvard University
CGIS South Bldg., 1730 Cambridge St., Tsai Auditorium S010, Cambridge, MA 02138


3.11 Japan Memorial Charity 2015: Remembrance of Earthquake and Tsunami

MIT Japanese Tea Ceremony will hold their annual remembrance and fundraising event at the Sanzashi-An Tea House on Showa Boston's campus. Each session is about 45 minutes, includes Japanese Tea Ceremony performance with Japanese confectionery and green tea. Children are welcome to join and babysitter available upon request.

Date & Time
Sunday, March 8, 2015
RSVP by Thursday, March 5, 2015

Showa Boston, Sanzashi-An Tea House
420 Pond St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

Free admission, with suggested donation from $20
*Donations without participation in Ceremony or at the door is also appreciated

All Proceeds from this event with be donated to Japan Earthquake Relief Fund, Japan Society of New York to support reconstruction of the disaster.

Cranes on the Square

This year is the third annual Cranes on the Square event organized by local teacher Tim Nagaoka with support from the Boston Parks & Recreation Department, the Japanese Consulate, and the Japan Society of Boston. Volunteers will teach people how to fold origami cranes which will form a temporary public art piece in Copley Square then be collected and delivered to people in the disaster area.

Date & Time
Sunday, March 8, 2015
11:30am - 4:30pm

Copley Square, Boston, MA

Survival and Recovery after the Great East Japan Earthquake

Survival rates and recovery rates from the Great East Japan Earthquake and resulting tsunami have varied tremendously across the coastal towns in Japan's Tohoku area. A few villages and towns have rebuilt all of their schools, repopulated homes, and reestablished businesses and infrastructure, while others struggle to do so.

Using quantitative data, Professor Daniel Aldrich of Purdue University will illuminate the factors responsible for these outcomes in a lecture, followed by a reception with light snacks.

Date & Time
Monday, March 9, 2015

Tufts University, Olin Center, 180 Packard Ave., Room 012, Medford, MA 02155

Survival and Recovery from the Tohoku Disaster

Daniel Aldrich, Purdue University
Chiaki Moriguchi, Stanford University

Weatherhead Center Program on U.S.-Japan Relations Spring Seminar co-sponsored with the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies and the Harvard Kennedy School Program on Crisis Leadership

Date & Time
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
12:30pm - 2:00pm

Harvard University
CGIS Knafel Building, 1737 Cambridge St., Bowie-Vernon Room (K262), Cambridge, MA 02138

Harvard has been doing a great job of hosting talks year-round about the problems Japan is still facing after 3.11. Talks are open to the public, though inconveniently scheduled for people with 9-5 jobs. Some of the talks are posted on the Program on U.S.-Japan Relations Vimeo page.

Meditation for Fukushima 

Tewassa, a Cambridge-based volunteer group that produces "message quilts" for schools and organizations in the Tōhoku region, will be holding a memorial event

Date & Time
Saturday, March 14, 2015
4pm - 6pm

GrayMist Studio & Shop
364 Huron Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Public Transit & Parking
GrayMist is accessible by the 72 and 75 buses from Harvard Square. There is free on-street parking along Huron Ave.

Updates from Tohoku & A Night of Remembrance

The MIT 3.11 Initiative's Shun Kanda will be speaking at this event.

"Updates from Tohoku, a journey to new life," is a commemoration of the fourth anniversary of 3.11, the disaster that occurred on March 11, 2011 in the northeastern region of Japan and affected nearly 500,000 people, including 20,000 deaths and missing.

Hosted by the Consulate-General of Japan in Boston, Berklee College of Music, Fish Family Foundation, Japan Society of Boston, and the U.S.-Japan Council/TOMODACHI Initiative, the event will be held from 6pm to 8pm on Tuesday, March 31, 2015 at Berklee College of Music.

With the purpose to not let Tohoku be forgotten, the event will celebrate the friendship between Boston and Tohoku, and showcase individuals and projects working on the disaster ground, including Shun Kanda of the MIT Japan 3/11 Initiative, Anne Nishimura Morse of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Megumi Ishimoto of Women's Eyes. Two Berklee students, recipients of the TOMODACHI - Suntory scholarship program, will also perform short pieces as tributes to Tohoku.

Date & Time
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
6pm - 8 pm

Berklee College of Music, The Red Room @ Cafe 939 
939 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02115

Free. Please register here.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Japanese are coming! Three Japanese chains to open in Boston this year

I really haven't been staying on top of the Japanese food scene much. It didn't actually seem like there was a whole lot going on anyway, although I've known for some time that Santouka Ramen was coming to Harvard Square. Eater seems to be on top of it though so if you want news, check here. They are reporting a February 11th opening. One of my friends wanted to know if I'd be first in line but frankly it's too damn cold this winter!

I heard tonight that Beard Papa's (Wikipedia), a Japanese cream puff chain, is returning to Boston! I went to their Faneuil Hall location once years ago and it seems they used to have a store in the North End as well but they'll be located in Chinatown this time. You can get updates on their Facebook page. Word in the Japanese community is that they will open in February.

Then there's Kyoto-based Japanese coffee chain, Ogawa Coffee. I hadn't heard of it, but apparently it's a big deal. See the Globe's: Ogawa Coffee planning to make US debut in Boston which reports they will open in Downtown Crossing. The Globe says they'll be the first Japanese coffee chain to open in the US and their reasoning for opening in Boston over New York City is interesting. One reason being that Boston and Kyoto are sister cities. No rumors of an opening date yet.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Local Nisei veteran Sus Ito to appear in Rose Parade

Sus Ito and George Takei
The New England JACL told us a few days ago that one of our members, 95-year-old Sus Ito, will be appearing in the Rose Parade on a "Go For Broke" float sponsored by the City of Alhambra in collaboration with the Alhambra Chamber of Commerce and the Go For Broke National Education Center. He'll join Mayor Gary Yamauchi and his wife, Linda, and other 442nd and 100th Infantry Battalion veterans. The 442nd was the only all Japanese American regiment in the US army during WWII and the most decorated. "Go For Broke," Hawaiian Pidgin gambling slang for wagering it all, was their motto.

Sus has had a busy year. In February, he was among a group of seven 442nd veterans who met President Obama (video below) and in November, he met George Takei at the Somerville Theater.

Within the local Japanese American community, Sus is known for his special spam musubi! You can read about his long career and many accomplishments at his Wikipedia page and in this Harvard Crimson piece.

If you're in the Boston area, you can watch the Rose Parade on WCVB beginning at 11am. The JACL said the Go For Broke float will be third in the parade line up.

Happy New Year!

Photo credit: New England JACL

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

BAAFF bringing George Takei to Somerville! + $5 discount code!

The 6th annual Boston Asian American Film Festival is running right now and they have their most high profile Japanese American guest coming next week - George Takei! I didn't get to see it in the spring at the Boston LGBT Film Festival so I'm really excited that the BAAFF decided to include To Be Takei in this year's festival. The BAAFF has kindly offered a discount code for Japanese-American in Boston readers (see below).

To Be Takei

Monday, November 3, 2014, 7:00PM
Somerville Theatre @ 55 Davis Square, Somerville, MA 02144
Tickets: $25 (+ $1.50 transaction charge) in advance, $30 at the door (though they are likely to sell out)
Use discount code BAAFFROCKS for $5 off! (enter on second screen before you check out)
Directed by Jennifer M. Kroot
2014 | 94 mins | Documentary
George Takei was always searching for the perfect role - only to find it within himself.

Jennifer Kroot's TO BE TAKEI follows Takei and his husband Brad, capturing their day-to-day as they prepare for Takei’s dream project, ALLEGIANCE, a musical based on his harrowing childhood experiences inside a Japanese American internment camp during World War II. Intertwined with this narrative is a look into Takei's life history, from his rise to fame as helmsman Hikaru Sulu on the iconic television series, STAR TREK, to his advocacy for marriage equality and civil rights across the United States. What emerges is a portrait of an outspoken activist who utilizes wit, whimsy, grace and humor to bring attention to the sorrows of his past and the joys of love and creativity in his present.

Featuring interviews with STAR TREK’s William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Nichelle Nichols, and Walter Koenig, plus journalist Dan Savage and radio host Howard Stern, TO BE TAKEI shows Takei as he's never been seen before.

Followed by Q&A with George Takei

Co-presented by QAPA, the New England JACL, and the Boston LGBT Film Festival.

Allegiance Original Cast Mini-Album Free Today!

I'm watching a special event with George Takei promoting his upcoming musical, Allegiance, about the Japanese American incarceration during WWII. They've made a mini-album available for free on Google Play today! (Even though it's free, Google Play requires a credit card - mine wasn't current and it wouldn't let me download until I updated it. :( )

Also, I've been meaning to post that the Boston Asian American Film Festival will be screening To Be Takei next Monday at the Somerville Theater and George will be there! Discount code to follow in another post.