Jun 15

WITLife is a periodic series written by professional Writer/Interpreter/Translator Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken CIR, 2000-03). She starts her day by watching Fujisankei’s newscast in Japanese, and here she shares some of the interesting tidbits and trends together with her own observations.

In a previous post about the recent Japan Day in Central Park, I mentioned the introduction of a samurai procession.  This was one aspect of celebrating this year’s 150’s anniversary of the first Japanese diplomatic mission to the United States and its enthusiastic reception in New York City on June 16, 1860.  According to a press release from the Japanese Consulate of New York, “the visit by a group of over 70 samurai was one of the greatest spectacles the city had ever seen: an estimated half-a-million New Yorkers jammed the streets to watch the Japanese parade up Broadway and two weeks of grand balls, celebrations, and non-stop press reports welcomed the visitors from across the sea.”  The samurai brought with them instruments of ratification for the 日米修好通商条約 (Nichibei shuukou tsuushou jouyaku) or U.S.-Japan Treaty of Amity and Commerce.

Another exciting promotional event commemorating this historical occasion is the lighting of the Empire State Building in Japanese colors tomorrow night sponsored by the Consulate.  On Tuesday, June 16 from sunset to 2 a.m. this landmark building will wear the colors of white-red-white resembling the 日の丸 (hi no maru, or Japanese flag).  When even Mother Theresa can’t receive recognition from the Empire State Building, this is a pretty big deal for Japan.

This big anniversary is being celebrated in other ways as well.  There will be a major exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York called Samurai in New York, the First Japanese Delegation, 1860 that will run from June 25 to October 11, 2010.  For those interested in checking this out, make sure to keep an eye out for the buy one, get one admission free flyers that are floating around.  Another opportunity to hear more about this diplomatic mission will take place tonight, June 15, at this museum.  The Vice President of Keio University, Naoyuki Agawa, will be on hand to give a lecture entitled “Samurais go to New York: 150 Years of US-Japan Relations across the Seas.”  Make sure to take advantage of all these amazing opportunities to learn about this special anniversary!

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