Typhoon Hagibis Devastated Japan: Support Rescue and Clean-up!!

Want to join us in supporting a good cause? We're raising money for Japan Typhoon Hagibits rescue and clean-up effort. Your contribution will make an impact, whether you donate $5 or $500. Every little bit helps. Thank you for your support.

Hagibis, the 19th named storm of the season, tore through Japan's main island of Honshu on Saturday, October 12th 2019. The winds of up to 144 kph at landfall, killing 35+ and leaving 17 unaccounted for as of Sunday afternoon, NHK reported 166 people were injured.

Nagano, Niigata, Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Kanagawa and Saitama prefectures were inundated by flood waters after levees failed in the face of record rainfall, forcing many people to abandon submerged homes.

The death toll from the powerful typhoon that hammered Japan continues to rise. Japan America Society of Iowa sends condolences for all those who lost their lives and offer our sympathy to those who all those impacted by Typhoon Hagibits.

All Donation made to JASI between 10/14/19 - 10/28/19 will be donated to Japan Typhoon Hagibis Rescue and Clean-up Support. Click Here to make your donation now.

You can also donate through Facebook page.

September 2019

30 years ago, on January 29, 1989, the first meeting of Japan America Society of Iowa (JASI) was held by eight members. The group was led by Ikebana master, Ms. Hiroko Sogi (1931 – 2012). The first members shared one of traditional Japanese art of Ikebana (Japanese flower arrangements) with the community of Iowa. Over the years, JASI members’ interests have grown and evolved, and today the organization’s standing committees reflect diverse interest in Japanese culture that exists in Iowa. Our 30th Anniversary Year theme is “Miyu, 深結– Me and You, Celebrating 30 years of what ties us together” to enrich Japan-America relations. The JASI 30thAnniversary will be the wonderful opportunity to continue strengthening over 60years of sister city/state relationship, and we hope that the event participants could share and learn from each other, expand our networks, and becoming more active in an ever-growing diverse world.

We’re welcoming a guest performing group, Theatre Nohgaku to share one of the oldest Japanese entertainments. Noh, or Nohgaku, emerged over six centuries ago under the patronage of the Shoguns, and it continues to thrive today. A refined synthesis of poetry, dance, drama, music, and costume, Noh was one of the first arts designed an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. It is sustained in Japan by performance guilds whose members have mastered the intense concentration and physical discipline demanded by the form and have passed down their art through many generations.

Please save the date to join our 30thAnniversary Event that will take place at the Grand View University Student Center on Saturday, October 12th2019. It would be a privilege to have you with us for this special occasion.

Have a wonderful month,

Chié Schiller
Board Chair / Executive President

August 2019

One of the most attractive things about summer in Japan is traditional summer festivals “Matsuri”. From traditional regional events such as Nebuta Festival to spectacular fireworks events such as Tokyo Sumida River Fireworks, there are numbers of special events to enjoy in August.

My daughter, her friend and I went Otaru Ushio Matsuri, the one of the biggest festivals in Otaru City, Kokkaido prefecture this year. This festival is held every year on the last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of July in Otaru, a prosperous trade port known for its canals and historic buildings. This festival started as a way to show appreciation to the ocean from the Otaru citizens. It also passed on the history and culture to the next generation, and prays for the continued development of Otaru city. On the first day, “Tide Flow” dancing is performed. “Tide Entrainment” dancing is performed on the second day while participants dance from the city center to the port. On the final day, fishermen join in on the maritime parade. Other various activities are held including a fireworks display that adorns the night harbor, Mikoshi Parade, as well as many “Demise”, street food and entertainment in the form of colorful pop-up stalls.

Enjoy the short summer of Iowa, and have a wonderful month,

Chié Schiller
Board Chair / Executive President


Manabiya Iowa

It is already August which means that we will be back in class soon!
The first day of our second semester starts on August 17th.

Our annual summer festival will be on August 24th. This is a fun time for both Manabiya and Hiyoko kids and families. There will be traditional festival food to taste and different games and activities to enjoy.

Manabiya Iowa is looking for volunteers for the summer festival.
The volunteers will be asked to help setting up and taking down the site also being at the game or food stations during the event.

Natsumatsuri with Hiyoko Club (Summer festival)
Date: August 24th 2019 , Saturday
Time: 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Location: Manabiya Iowa building parking lot in West Des Moines
(Big Room in case of rain)

Fee: $5.00 per family for Hiyoko Club

Please let us know if you would like to join for summer time fun!

Chikako Brown
Manabiya Iowa


July 2019

How’s everyone’s Summer going so far? In July, there are many Matsuri (festival) begins in Japan. It is time to wear a Yukata (summer kimono) and experience a one-of-a-kind street food fair and here are a couple of the popular Japanese festival foods enjoyed in Japan.

Where there is a lot of people on the streets, there will be a lot of street food to savor. You will see endless yatai (屋台), mobile food stalls, occupying the matsuri venues and offering a delicious variety of foods.

Takoyaki (たこ焼き) – originated in Osaka, grilled octopus balls, are tiny wheat flour balls filled with cubed octopus (tako), tempura scraps (tenkasu), pickled ginger and green onions. When the balls are cooked, they are topped with sprinkles of shaved bonito flakes, dried green seaweed, and drizzled with a sweet-tangy takoyaki sauce and a squirt of Japanese mayo. With crispy skin and a soft-gooey inside, these octopus balls are literally one of the best street food inventions. At a matsuri, you get to watch the takoyaki vendors flipping the balls on rows and rows of hemispherical cast iron pans with their deft bands. It’s mesmerizing to watch.

Taiyaki (鯛焼き) – Made using a waffle-like batter and a red bean filling, Taiyaki is a classic matsuri snack that comes in an attractive sea bream shape. When it’s freshly made, the crispy exterior surrounding the warm soft cake with sweet red bean filling is simply delectable. You can also find other flavors like chocolate, custard or sweet potato.

Have wonderful month and stay cool,

Chié Schiller
Board Chair / Executive President


We Support Franklin Junior High Project

Be there to support investing in Des Moines' future!!

Monday, June 24
4:30 p.m.
400 Robert D. Ray Drive, Des Moines
Council Chambers

Japan America Society of Iowa (JASI), a Des Moines based non-profit, community friendly organization supports the vision of Franklin Jr. High to become a vibrant gathering place for the surrounding neighborhoods and beyond by re-using the existing campus in a manner that preserves history and creates a diverse community.

A newly renovated Franklin Jr. High would provide but not be limited to office spaces, class rooms, music practice studios, event venues, we believe that this project would provide neighbors a place to congregate, strengthen relationships, and develop a stronger community.  Within the 213,000 square foot building, JASI is visioning our future office, class room for our Japanese language learners, studio for our Taiko group rehearsals and classes, a large enough space to hold our historical Japanese Tea House, various event spaces and auditorium for our future events, cultural demonstrations and performances.  The Franklin Jr. High project plan is about bringing a community together, serving neighborhoods’ need for office, event and hotel space while preserving history and bringing a property tax revenue to the city of Des Moines.  

We hope that the Des Moines City Council will see this wonderful mixed-use vision as a place that unites the people in this neighborhood project as a positive addition to the city of Des Moines, and that the City Council would vote in favor of rezoning for our future.

Visit their website for more detail:

Upcoming Volunteer Opportunities

2 - 6 volunteers needed for JASI 30th Anniversary PR
 AnimeIowa, Iowa Event Center
Date: Friday, July 12th 2019 - Sunday, July 14th 2019
Anime Marketplace hours: 
Friday: 3:00PM - 8:00PM
Saturday: 10:00AM - 6:00PM 
Sunday: 10:00AM - 4:00PM

1 - 2 volunteers needed for JASI 30th Anniversary PR
 Des Moines Arts Festival (invitation by Iowa Sister Cities Commission)
Date: Saturday, June 29th 2019
Time: 11am - 5pm

1 - 2 volunteers needed for
VA Hospital Des Moines Weekly Cultural Spotlight and Education Day

  • On Thursday of each week in June, July and August

  • Display, performance or speaker at the VA hospital to highlight a culture

  • They’ll purchase food for samples of each culture they highlight.

  • The series would start on June 20, 2019 (no activities week of July 4th)

*Based on participations, we'll select one of Thursday in June, July or August to provide Japanese cultural activities and education.

If you're interested in any of these volunteers opportunities, please contact info@japaniowa.org

JASI New Officers Election Committee Members

Please welcome our 2019 JASI New Officers Election Committee Members:  Ben Clerk & Yoshimi

Based on our by-laws, Article IV, section 3, Election of officers shall be in November of odd years, and especially this year’s election would be an important one since we’d need to elect the new president. 

If you'd like to nominate someone or nominate yourself for:

  • President

  • Vice-President

  • Secretary

  • Treasurer

You'll be sending your nomination email to Ben & Yoshimi: elections@japaniowa.orgincluding the following information:

  • Name of nominee

  • Position you're nominating to

  • Qualification of nominee


  • All officers of the Society must be members of the Society.

  • Election of officers takes place in November 2019.

  • Elected officers of the Society take office on the first day of January immediately following the election.

  • The term of service for each elected officer is two fiscal years.

June 2019

Thank you very much for your hard work over the 2019 CelebrAsian event.  I truly appreciate your time, talent and dedication for our organization.  

We all were uncertain about the weather, but it turned out to be a wonderful weather, the perfect festival weather!!

As the featured village of CelebrAsian, we’re once again successfully completed this annual event. Our food tent’s menu, Okonomiyaki, Yakisoba, Gyoza and Mochi Ice cream were a big success, and we were able to share Japanese festival savory food for Iowa community.  This year, our Okonomiyaki was made with the pork meat donated by the Berkwood Farms, Bacon Festival Host company, and this brought up a notch of our featured food, Okonomiyaki for sure. 

Most amazing part of this year’s CelebrAsian was that our dedicated volunteers designed and built our own Mikoshi.  Thank you very much for Kiyo Matsuyama to bring up the crazy but wonderful idea of Mikoshi, and thank you very much for Ben Molloy for tireless work to made that happen.  Without Ben Molloy’s skill in carpentry, none of this would have happened.  Ben Molloy is also being a liaison between JASI and Central Campus Kitchen for ease of food storage and preparation, and he generously rend us his track for transportation.  Ben san - Please send our sincere appreciation to Central Campus chief for letting us use their kitchen, and thank you for been a liaison between the organization and the Central Campus.  We were able to efficiently operate the food tent because of the generosity of you and the Central Campus chief.  To show our appreciation, JASI will be donating $100 to the Campus Kitchen and $100 to the Workshop.  I’d also like to recognize Tanis Sotelo for being there helping Ben Molloy from the beginning to end of process of making Mikoshi.  Tanis is the guy that always there before everyone and stays until the end, and your hard work is being recognized and appreciated.  

I also would like to send appreciation to Chikako Brown and Manabiya families for Culture Tent and main stage dance performance.  Manabiya kids worked very hard developing cultural products and practiced long hours to perfect their dance movements.  Fashion show participants: Victoria, Miki, Brandon, Ayla, Josh, Emiko, Yoshimi and Ben, thank you very much for sharing Japanese traditional Kimono/Yukata on such a hot day.   Thank you, Victoria for sharing your wonderful dance performance on the main stage again.  

Soten Taiko members – Your group’s amazing performance was very well received by the Consulate General of Japan in Chicago, Mr. Ito.  Thank you very much for accommodating and being flexible to coordinate your group’s performance with the opening ceremony, Manabiya kids’ dance and multiple performances throughout the CelebrAsian event.

Thank you very much for Racoon Valley Kenodo group for your powerful demonstration on Saturday!!  We appreciate your continued partnership with Japan America Society of Iowa.

For those of you carried Mikoshi, volunteered food tent, gift tent or cultural tent, thank you, thank you and thank you.  We truly appreciate all of you, and I hope everyone had a wonderful time at the event and enjoyed the grate weather, food and culture.

For all members and volunteers, we are handing out a water bottle or a grocery tote as an appreciation gift for 2019 CelebrAsian volunteers.  If you did not receive one of these gift items, please reach out to me, so we can make sure all received one of these items.  In addition, we’re going to have 2019 CelebrAsian Post Event Party, so please mark your calendar and RSVP soon.

June 2019 Kizuna Meet / 2019 CelebrAsian Post Event Party
Date:Thursday, June 27th2019
Location:Smash Park, 6625 Coachlight Dr. West Des Moines
Chié Schiller 
Board Chair / Executive President

There are lots of photos taken by Tanis Sotelo; use the link below and check them out.


2019 CelebrAsian

Japanese Village is the featured village this year!!  

As always, JASI is facilitating Cultural tent, Gift tent and Food tent.  Soten Taiko, Manabiya Iowa kids dance, a dance performance by Victoria, Japanese Cultural presentation and Kimono fashion show will be at the main stage on Saturday.  There will be lots more additional Japanese performance and presentation.

Here is the list of performances and demonstrations you'd not want to miss:

  • Raccoon Valley Kendo Club, Kendo demonstration - Friday, 5/24 (starting at 2:30pm) at the small stage.

  • Opening Ceremony - Saturday, 5/25 (between 11:00am - 11:45am) - Remember!  We're the featured village this year, so Soten Taiko is performing and we're going to kick-off this day with Japanese Mikoshi.  at the main stage.

  • Victoria Alfano dance performance, Manabiya Iowa Kids dance performance, and Soten Taiko Performance - Saturday, 5/25 (2:00pm - 3:00pm) at the main stage.

  • Soten Taiko Performance - Saturday, 5/25 (5:30pm - 6:00pm) at the small stage.

  • Kimono Fashion Show - Saturday, 5/25 (approx. 5 - 6pm) at the main stage.

Volunteer Opportunities Date/Timeframe and brief task descriptions:

  • Thursday, 5/23, 5:30pm - 7:30pm

    • Event site set-up

  • Friday, 5/24, 8:00am - 10:00pm

    • Food Tent prep, cook, serving, and cleaning

    • Gift Tent prep, item sale, and customer service

  • Saturday, 5/25, 9:00am - 10:00pm

    • Food Tent prep, cook, serving, and cleaning

    • Gift Tent prep, item sale, customer service, and clean-up

  • Sunday, 5/26, Noon - 2:00pm

    • JASI event supplies clean-up and put them in storage.

Thank you for your generous gift of time and talent, and being part of this wonderful organization. 😉 
If you’re interested, please contact info@japaniowa.org

Event Location: Western Gateway Park – Downtown Des Moines
Date: Friday, May 24th& Saturday, May 25th
Time: 11:00AM - 10:00PM

2018 CelebrAsian.jpg

May 2019

It’s May and finally the spring is here in Iowa!!!  
In Japan, May 1, 2019, Japan’s new emperor, Naruhito, ascended the throne as the 126thEmperor of Japan.  Emperor Akihito abdicated the Chrysanthemum Throne on April 30, 2019, making the end of the Heisei era.  The year 2019 corresponds to Heisei 31 until April 30, 2019, and Reiwa 1 from May 1, 2019.
Reiwa (令和) represents “a culture being born and nurtured by people coming together beautifully” / “Beautiful Harmony”.  The kanji characters for Reiwa are derived from the Manyoshu, an eighth-century anthology of waka poetry, and the poetry translation to English as:
It was in new spring, in a fair ("Rei") month,
When the air was clear and the wind a gentle ("wa") breeze.
Plum flowers blossomed a beauty's charming white
And the fragrance of the orchids was their sweet perfume.
Emperor Naruhito promises to continue the path walked by his father, “sharing in the joys and sorrows of the people”.  Please join us celebrate and welcome the new Reiwa era, and the Emperor Naruhito will be the new symbol of Japan and Japanese people, and he will be with us for a journey uniting us together and building our new culture.
Have a wonderful spring month everyone, and hope to see you all at CelebrAsian!!
Chié Schiller 
Board Chair / Executive President

Reiwa (令和) represents “a culture being born and nurtured by people coming together beautifully” / “Beautiful Harmony”. 

Reiwa (令和) represents “a culture being born and nurtured by people coming together beautifully” / “Beautiful Harmony”. 

April 2019

Spring at last!!  
You’re all receiving this monthly announcement a little earlier than usual because I’ll be off to vacation tomorrow!!  I’m going to Las Vegas for an entire week.  Exciting?  Well… believe or not, I DO NOT gamble, so I’m not sure what I would be doing the entire week.
So, how about gambling in Japan?  Gambling in Japan is generally banned by the Criminal Code; however, there are several exceptions, including betting on horse racing (keiba), certain motor sports.  Public sports and lottery (takarakuji) are held under special laws in order to increase the income of national and local governments as well as to offer a form of entertainment for many people.  Pachinko is a pinball-like slot machine game, and it is officially not considered gambling because Japanese laws regard pachinko as an exception to the criminal code on gambling for historical, monetary, and cultural reasons.  
It appears there would be “Strip of Japan” casinos could rival Las Vegas by 2025.  What do you think about that??  There was an article published in 2017 that reported a strip of full-scale resorts on Osaka’s Ymeshima Island in Japan could generate $10.9 billion a year in gaming revenue and rival Las Vegas.  Osaka is diligently preparing for the 2025 World Expo.  This related news, updates were released recently, and the Japantimes reported that there is a growing confidence the man-made island, Yumeshima island to be the one of Japan’s first casino resorts, and Kansai’s business leaders are stepping up efforts to win local approval and central government funding for major transportation infrastructure projects over the next two decades.
Another fun fact about this Yumeshima island is that there is an underground network currently in progress, too.  This project has begun in 2018 and is set for completion in 2024, will conclude in a futuristic social life infrastructure, comprising a 55-floor skyscraper that will reach about 250 meters in height, and will contain entertainment facilities, offices, retail spaces, and a hotel.  Additionally, the plan includes the renovation of 15 existing stations on the midosuji and chou lines, self-driving vehicles, underground streets, and new digital functions and services.  

Chie Schiller
Board Chair/Executive President

Future of Yumeshima island

Future of Yumeshima island

March 2019

Message from the President:

Matcha ( 抹茶), Japanese Green Tea is the must have item for Tea Ceremony.  The Tea Ceremony is a result of the Zen concept of greatness in the smallest incident of life.  In 16thcentury in Japan, Tea Ceremony was indurated by Rikyu Sen (1522 – 1591) as the Wabi Cha style, which emphasizes nature and simplicity.  The Tea Ceremony is the appreciation of tea, art, natural beauty, and simplicity of the four seasons.

Matcha is rich in natural elements and nutrients that are good for health.  Matcha contains Catechin, also called Tannin, which is a bioflavonoid that has both antiviral and antioxidant qualities.  It helps to prevent cancer by inhibiting the growth of cancer cells.  Catechin also has many positive cholesterol-lowering effects. It helps to clear blocked veins and arteries, allowing your blood to flow more smoothly.  Other beneficial effects of Catechin are: removing free radicals, reducing cholesterol, reducing fat, antibacterial and sterilizing effects, prevent infections, moderating allergies, oral care agent, and prevents dental cavities.  Matcha helps relax the mind and allowing one to focus on the task at hand, so try a cup of green tea approx. 40 minutes before work or study.  Matcha contains caffeine, yet it also contains Theanine, and Theanine tempers the effects of caffeine; therefor, Matcha does not cause nervousness or excitability because of Theanine contents.

We certainly don’t have to hold a Tea Ceremony to enjoy Matcha.  In general, Matcha is prepared in a Chawan (tea bowl) and use a bamboo Chasen (whisk) until it has a rich form on top; however, there is a bottle shaking method you can use for a casual preparation, so that you can enjoy drinking genuine Matcha anywhere, anytime, freely.  

1.    Put 1 teaspoon of Matcha into a pet plastic bottle or your preferred container with a capacity of approx. 17fl oz and a lid.

2.    Pour 7 – 12fl oz of cool or room temperature water into the container.

3.    Shake the bottle quickly and boldly 10 – 20 times. 

I hope you’d enjoy many benefits of Japanese Matcha, green tea at your home, and stay healthy,   enjoy the long and happy life.


Chie Schiller

Board Chair/Executive President


February 2019

Crazy cold temperature of -40F˚ last week; I hope everyone stayed safe and warm.  This is the time of year that we all need to pay attention to eating well and washing hands to avoid getting sick.  There are many healthy Japanese foods that keep us warm: Oden, Sukiyaki, Shabu-shabu, and other Nabe dish. 

“Nabe” dish is a typical Japanese dish that is very popular in the wintertime and very easy to make.  Yosenabe (寄せ鍋), literally means “put-together pot”, this dish is cooked by all kinds of different ingredients cooked together in a miso or soy sauce based broth: meat, seafood, vegetables, tofu, and egg.  It is a hearty meal that will keep you warm in the cold season.

Long ago, a sunken fireplace called an “irori (囲炉裏)” was at the center of Japanese homes.  Families would place a cast iron hot pot above the fire to cook their feed, eating from the pot while periodically adding new ingredients.  This is thought to be where hot pot cuisine first originated.  Time has passed and kitchens were added to the home, irori fireplaces largely disappeared, replaced with simpler shichirin, clay charcoal stoves.  Today a simple portable burner is often used for table-top cooking.

Please try this dish at your home, stays warm everyone; the spring is around the corner!!
Chie Schiller
Board Chair/Executive President


謹賀新年 / A Happy New Year!!

The New Year is undoubtedly the most anticipated and important holiday for the Japanese.  It is a long celebration that runs December 31 to January 3.  During this period, all sorts of ceremonies and customs are practiced.   Shimekazari 注連飾りis one of the many fascinating and unique New Year traditions that are still being followed even in modern times in Japan. Immediately after Christmas all associated decorations, most of which are international such as Christmas tree, are removed and replaced by various traditional symbolic objects with deep auspicious meanings. Shimekazari consists of shimenawa (a sacred rice straw rope), pine, and a bitter orange as a symbol of posterity, combined with various other good luck charms and adornments such as a crane made of Mizuhiki cord. When hung above the entryway of a site, it marks the border to pure space to a shrine precinct or a ritual site.  The term shimenawa is the combination of shime, or items used in ancient times to symbolize ownership, and nawa, or rope, which was the most common way to mark an object or space.

2019 is a very special year for Japan America Society of Iowa (JASI).  30 years ago, on January 29, 1989, the first meeting of JASI was held by eight members.  The group was led by Ikebana master, Ms. Hiroko Sogi (1931 – 2012).  The first members shared one of traditional Japanese art of Ikebana (Japanese flower arrangements) with the community of central Iowa.  Please mark your calendar now for our celebration event day: Saturday, October 12th, 2019

Our 30th Anniversary Year theme is “Miyu, 深結 – Me and You, Celebrating 30 years of what ties us together” to enrich Japan-America relation.   


今年もよろしくお願いします / Thank you for your continued support for JASI,

Chie Schiller

正月(shogatsu)、Shimekazari 注連飾り — New Year decoration to bring luck and ward off evil spirits.

正月(shogatsu)、Shimekazari 注連飾り — New Year decoration to bring luck and ward off evil spirits.


December 2018

2018 is almost over, and it is also an end of Heisei era in Japan.  Japan is the only country in the world still using Chinese-style imperial calendars.  It is “2018” for the rest of the world, but in Japan it is Heisei 30, or 30 years into Akihito’s reign.

While the Gregorian calendar is widely used in Japan since 1873, imperial dates feature on government documents, newspapers, and commercial calendars.  The Japanese date system of designating years as era names based on the reign of Emperors still remains in place and runs concurrently along with the Gregorian system.  Each Emperor is designated an era name (gengō) which commences the day the Emperor ascends to the throne and ends on the day of the Emperor’s death.

When an Emperor dies mid-year, that year can therefore have two names.  The year 1989, for example, can historically be referred to as “Shōwa 64” or “Heisei 1” as Emperor Shōwa passed away on January 7th during the 64th year of his reign.  However, specific events that fall on a set date can only have one year.  If you were born between January 1st and 7th 1989, for example, you would say you were born in Shōwa 64 and any date after that, Heisei 1.  It means that the year 2019 will have two names: “Heisei 31” and the new era name.

In December 2017, it was officially announced that Emperor Akihito will abdicate the throne on April 30, 2019 and his son, Crown Prince Naruhito will immediately succeed him on May 1, 2019.  This is the first time that the Emperor abdicating the throne in modern Japan’s history, the last being 200 years ago.  In fact, as per Article 4 of current Imperial Household Law, the throne may only be succeeded upon the current Emperor’s passing. 

Emperor Akihito, who is now in his 80s and been Emperor of Japan since his father Emperor Hirohito, passed away in 1989, expressed his desire to retire via a television address to the nation in August 2016, citing his declining health over recent years and worry over being able to continue with his duties, all be they largely ceremonial.  In response to the Emperor’s wishes and support from the nation, a special one-off law was granted allowing Emperor Akihito to abdicate.

The name of the new era has yet to be released.  The Japanese government will begin preparations for the change of era names on the assumption the new one will be announced about a month ahead of the new emperor’s ascension.  Under usual circumstances, the new era name is only released on its first day; for example, the day after the Emperor’s passing.  For this reason, it would be considered very impolite to publicly anticipate the passing of the country’s figurehead ahead of time.

Have a wonderful month, and Merry Christmas!!

Chie Schiller

Board Chair/Executive President

Heisei Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko.jpg

November 2018

November is the month of Shichigosan (literally means 7-5-3); it is to celebrate the growth and good health of children ages 3, 5 and 7 through the Sinto ritual.  It’s also to celebrate the Labor Thanksgiving Day (not to be confused with the same Thanksgiving here in the US), called kinrōkanshahi - 勤労感謝の日 , which takes place annually on November 23rd.

With similar roots as Thanksgiving here in the US, it was once a fall harvest festival, and it has since changed in meaning over the years. Its history goes back to around 480 BC and celebrates the year’s hard work.

The modern holiday was established after World War II in 1948, and became Labor Thanksgiving Day, the holiday celebrating workers in Japan.  The day is about being thankful for workers who do their jobs well.  Sometimes you literally thank those people, school kids make thank you cards and gifts for municipal workers like police, firefighters, and hospital workers. 

Have a wonderful month,

Chie Schiller

Board Chair / Executive President


October 2018

Yotsuya Kaidan.jpg

With Halloween right around the corner, I started wonder if Halloween is conducted in Japan.  Well, the answer is “yes”.  Within the past ten years, Japan has shown a gradual increase of interest in Halloween, and with that an increase in commercial hype.  Japanese Halloween is very much focused on commercialism and costumes only.  No “trick or treating”.
Halloween is a celebration observed on October 31st, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed.  This sounds more like the “Obon” in Japan….
The dead, refers to Yūrei (幽霊) in Japan.  It’s meaing “soul” or “spirit”.  There are few other alternative names, and they are thought to be spirits kept from a peaceful afterlife.
According to traditional Japanese beliefs, all humans have a spirit or soul called a 霊魂 (reikon). When a person dies, the reikon leaves the body and enters a form of purgatory, where it waits for the proper funeral and post-funeral rites to be performed, so that it may join its ancestors. If this is done correctly, the reikon is believed to be a protector of the living family and to return yearly in August during the Obon Festival to receive thanks.
However, if the person dies in a sudden or violent manner such as murder or suicide, if the proper rites have not been performed, or if they are influenced by powerful emotions such as a desire for revenge, love, jealousy, hatred or sorrow, the reikon is thought to transform into a yūrei, which can then bridge the gap back to the physical world. The emotion or thought need not be particularly strong or driving, and even innocuous thoughts can cause a death to become disturbed. Once a thought enters the mind of a dying person, their Yūrei will come back to complete the action last thought of before returning to the cycle of reincarnation.
The yūrei then exists on Earth until it can be laid to rest, either by performing the missing rituals, or resolving the emotional conflict that still ties it to the physical plane. If the rituals are not completed or the conflict left unresolved, the yūrei will persist in its haunting.
Oftentimes the lower the social rank of the person who died violently, or who was treated harshly during life, the more powerful as a yūrei they would return. This is illustrated in the fate of Oiwa in the story Yotsuya Kaidan, or the servant Okiku in Bancho Sarayashiki.
Have a wonderful spooky month, :)
Chie Schiller
Board Chair / Executive President


Manabiya Iowa

We are back to our full swing of learning!  
One of our biggest cultural event, the summer festival was full of joy,
tasty food and networking for all of us.  The participants had a chance 
got to see how our students were learning.  After this summer festival, two new students joined us.

We also had our second Hiyoko Club in this semester.  This is where the younger kids to enjoy language and cultural learning through songs, story telling, crafts etc with their parents and Manabiya students.  The theme was mini Sports Day and they had fun with some traditional activities.

Next Hiyoko Club will be on November 10th with the theme "Shichi-go-san."
This is a celebration for seven, five and three year old kids for wishing their healthy growth.
There will be a story telling, singing some songs, crafts and more!

Hiyoko Club (Shichi-go-san) 

Date:  November 10th, Saturday 
Time: 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. 
Location: Manabiya classroom in West Des Moines
Fee:  $5.00 per family 

See you all there!

Chikako  Brown
Manabiya IOWA


Soten Taiko

Soten Taiko has added an additional practice time:

Wednesdays from 8:00 - 9:00 pm
Practice will continue to be held on Sundays at 1:00 pm 

Upcoming performances:

World Food & Music Festival
Sunday, September 16
4:30 - 5:00 pm 

White Eagle Pow-Wow 
Iowa State Fairgrounds
Saturday, September 22
2:30 pm

Heavenly Asian Cuisine & Lounge in Valley Junction
Sunday, September 23
4:50 pm