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

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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

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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


Manabiya Iowa

We are back in class!  After the long, long summer break, our second semester has started on August 18th.  Students brought their homework and they all looked great!  Reviewing the journals/diaries everyone was assigned this summer along with homework, it was nice to read what everyone did during their breaks.  In addition, the Manabiya students did a "Show and Tell" about their break time.

We had a couple of guests from Yamanashi.  When the students from the University of Yamanashi came, they did a small presentation about Origami..  Also, they helped us in the class by conversing in Japanese with advanced students, playing with them at recess, and making a poster and signs for our summer festival.  It was a great opportunity for both of us to learn and have fun!

Next Hiyoko Club (Undoukai, Sports day)

Manabiya Iowa Parking Lot in West Des Moines
Saturday, October 6th
9:30 - 10:30 am
Fee:  $5.00 per family

Let's have fun with outdoor activities before the cold weather gets here!

Manabiya Iowa
Chikako Brown


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August 2018


A message from the President:

It’s already August; peak school summer vacation time in Japan, some of you may be able to meet Japanese tourists, and possibly receive a gift with a traditional Japanese art cord wrapped with that gift. 
What is a traditional Japanese art cord?  It's called Mizuhiki, a specially designed cord derived from Washi (a traditional Japanese paper).  Washi is made from the inner bark of the kozo, gampi, and mitsumata bushes.  The fibers of the inner bark of these bushes are much longer than in barks from other tree and bushes allowing it to mesh together easily. Washi is one of the most durable and strongest papers in the world. 


In Japan, there has long been a custom of showing thanks or respect by wrapping gifts in paper, attaching a noshi (a type of white paper representing a dried abalone), and tying it with a colored paper cord, Mizuhiki.
Mizuhiki is often tied into a knot around gifts; with each knot having a particular meaning and each of these knots is tailored for a specific event such as a wedding ceremony or birth.  The word “Mizuhiki” (literally “Water-pull”) is said to come from soaking materials such as hemp in water and then pulling off layers to make cords.  In the Edo period (1603 – 1868), samurai and other townspeople used Mizuhiki for tying their hair in a topknot. 
A more modern use for Mizuhiki is using it to create jewelry and accessories, and it can be used to elaborately decorate a woman’s hair for special ceremonies, such as her wedding.  In more recent times, Mizuhiki has been adopted by artists who creatively use it to create original 3-dimensional works of art.
Have a wonderful month,
Chie Schiller
Board Chair / Executive President

Anime Iowa in Des Moines and Bon Odori Workshop

This event returns to Des Moines, Iowa at the Iowa Event Center from July 13 - July 15. Soten Taiko will be doing a Taiko performance on July 13. The following day, you can attended the following panel hosted by Tanis Sotelo, co-founder of Soten Taiko at the Family Programming Panel.

A select list of activities by day, as follows:

July 14

  • 11:30 a.m - Introduction to Taiko
  • 1:00 p.m. - Small drum workshop
  • 6:00 p.m. - Bon Odori workshop

July 15, 2018

  • 10:30 a.m. - Introduction to Japanese mask

Please to check out the Kyudo (Japanese Long Bow Archery) demonstration on Saturday, July 14 at 2:30pm. For more information, visit

Bon Odori workshop in Ames Public Library

Join JASI for a Bon Odori (Japanese Folk Dance) workshop at Thursday, August 23 at 6pm. The workshop is free and open to anyone who want to learn popular Japanese folk dances that are danced in Bon Festivals in Japan and the United States.

Tanis Sotelo
Soten Taiko co-founder

July 2018


Okonomiyaki at CelebrAsian was a great hit and received so much good feedback, so I’d like to share little more about this yummy dish with you this month. 
What is Okonomiyaki? (お好み焼き)….   It's a traditional Japanese food that is often explained as "Japanese Pancake" or "Japanese Pizza".  It's a savory dish that is a bit more like an omelet or frittata than a pancake and it's made with okonomiyaki dough, eggs, cabbage, pork (bacon), shrimp or other seafood, and topped with a variety of condiments like sweet sauce (Okonomi Sauce), mayonnaise, dried seaweed and dried fish flakes.   If you haven’t tried it yet, I highly recommend you to try one; it’s an incredibly delicious dish, crispy on the outside and soft inside.
History – “Yaki” means grilled or cooked & “Okonomi” means “what you want” or “what you like” meaning that there is no “one” way to make Okonomyaki and no “one” recipe that defines it.  Okonomiyaki was invented in Japan prior to World War II and evolved and became popular during and after the war.  The earliest origins of a basic crepe-like pancake date back to the Edo period (1683-1868) where these were a special desert served at Buddhist ceremonies called Funoyaki. This then evolved during the Meiji period (1868-1912) into a sweeter dish called Sukesoyaki. During the 20's and 30's the dish continued to evolve with more emphasis put on the sauces added and the name Yoshokuyaki began to be used. The name Okonomiyaki started in the late 30's in Osaka. In Hiroshima at this time a similar crepe-like food was popular - it was topped with onions, folded over, and served to children as a snack item. Okonomiyaki, in it's different variations, started to become more popular during the war when rice became scarce and residents had to be creative in using other more readily available ingredients. The simple wheat pancake fit the bill and during and after the war, people started to add more ingredients such as eggs, pork, and cabbage. A restaurant from Osaka claims to have been the first to add Mayonnaise in 1946.  
There are two significantly different types of Okonomiyaki.  First, the Kansai or Osaka style, in which the ingredients are all mixed into a batter and then grilled.  Second, the Hiroshima style, in which a small crepe-like pancake is grilled and then other ingredients are layered on top.  Whichever the style you use, the most important parts of Okonomiyaki is in mixed flour and sauce.  The mixed flour contains wheat flour and dried, ground Yamaimo powder in it as an added starch for additional binding power, and flavor.  Some already mixed flour contains powdered bonito as well.
We have a few Okinomiyaki ingredients at discounted prices for JASI members, so if you’d like them, please contact:

Discounted ingredients, as follows:
Ajinomoto Bonito Soup Stock, NET WT 4.23oz - $3
*Only 1 available and usually $5+ through Amazon or local Asian store
Shimaya Bonito Soup Stock, NET WT 1.4oz - $2
*2 available and usually $5+ through Amazon or local Asian store
Kewpie Mayonnaise, NET 17.64 oz – $4
*18 available and usually $8+ through Amazon or local Asian store
Otajoy (by Otafuku) Okonomi Sauce, NET WT 78.7oz - $10
*9 available and usually $40+ through Amazon or local Asian store

Have wonderful month and stay cool,
Chié Schiller
Board Chair / Executive President


June 2018

Japan America Society of Iowa (JASI) Members and Volunteers,

Thank you very much for your hard work over the 2018 16 th CelebrAsian event. I truly appreciate your time, talent and dedication for our organization. What an amazing team we have!

Even in very hot and humid weather, we’ve once again successfully completed this annual event. Our food tent’s new menu items, Okonomiyaki, Yakisoba, and Mitarashi-Dango, were a big success and we were able to share savory Japanese festival food to the Iowa community.

I’d like to send a special thanks to John Hurst and Brandon Akamine for long hours of planning and testing to perfect these special dishes. In addition, John and Brandon tirelessly worked the entire 2 event days including prep the day before! お疲れ様でした(Otsukaresamadeshita)!!!

I would like to recognize Ben Molloy for continued support for JASI as well. Despite his health,he continued to be a liaison between JASI and Central Campus Kitchen for ease of food storage and preparation, and generously letting us use his truck for transportation. Ben-san, please send my sincere appreciation to the 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.

I would also like to send appreciation to Teresa Aoki and all volunteers for the Gift Tent; Teresa always picks up such cute Japanese products for us. Chikako Brown and Manabiya families for the Culture Tent and main stage dance performance. Manabiya kids worked very hard developing cultural posters and game instruction. Fashion show participants: Victoria, Lisa, and Ayla- thank you very much for sharing Japanese traditional Kimono/Yukata on such a hot day, and thank you very much for Yurika Kanai-Molloy for dressing up Ayla and Lisa for the Fashion Show. Thank you Victoria for sharing your wonderful dance performance on the main stage again. Soten Taiko members- I’m so happy for you guys, we were able to share full performance this year without rain interfering.

For all members and volunteers, we were handing out a water bottle or a grocery tote as an
appreciation gift for 2018 CelebrAsian volunteers. If you did not receive one of these gift items, please reach out to me, so we can make sure everyone received one of these items.

In addition, we’re going to have 2018 CelebrAsian Post Event Party, so please mark your calendar and RSVP soon.

June 2018 Kizuna Meet / 2018 CelebrAsian Post Event Party
Date: Sunday, June 17 th , 2018
Time: 3:00pm – 5:00pm
Location: Air Lanes Bowling Alley at 4200 Fleur Drive, Des Moines


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Manabiya Iowa

We succeeded with our dance performance at CelebrAsian!  Regardless of the hot and humid weather, the kids did a wonderful job on the stage as well as being the hosts of the culture tent.

The last day of our first semester is June 2nd and we will resume on August 18th.
Our annual summer festival will be on September 1st this year.

Enjoy the summer!

Chikako Brown
Manabiya Iowa

New Official Sponsor of JASI

Iowa’s First Online Japanese Kimono Store- Now Open!

- Free shipping for all orders
- JASI members receive 10% off on all products
- Yumeya will donate 4% of the original purchase price to JASI. 
Contact to receive member pricing, and support JASI every time you shop at

The kimono is a traditional Japanese garment worn for important festivals or formal occasions in Japan.  It is a formal style of clothing associated with politeness and good manners.  Kimono and Obi belts are much more than just a piece of “clothing”; it’s an art, and the fabric used on antique Kimono and Obi are carefully crafted in Japan.

Yumeya' Kimono's Origin/Story:
In 1985, Yoshiko opened Yumeya "Shop of Dreams" in Kofu, Japan, specializing in the repair and fitting of Japanese kimono as well as the creating of wedding dresses and clothing using kimono fabric.  Our products are driven by her lifelong passion for the history and tradition of these elegant garments. Yoshiko’s shop of Dreams is now available online to the US through her daughter and associates.



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May 2018 Manabiya Iowa

Our new academic year started on April 7th with a new student.
We celebrated the day with fun activities and potluck with the students and their families.

Now we are busy getting ready for CelebrAsian.  Manabiya is in charge of JASI's cultural tent and the tent will be full of activities and decorations that our students creation. 

We will be also performing "Sakura Yosakoi" on the main stage at 2:00 p.m.
It is a collaboration with Taiko and we will be in costumes and dancing with handheld instruments.

For Hiyoko Club this month, we will celebrate "Kodomonohi" the children's day. 
May 5th is our children's day to wish them for a healthy growth and for their
happiness in their lives. 

Hiyoko Club "Kodomonohi"(Children's Day) 
Date: May 5th (Sat.) 
Time: 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. 
Location: Manabya classroom in West Des Moines
Fee:  $5.00 per family

Please come and join us to celebrate the day with a story telling, singing, 
crafts and more! 

Chikako Brown
Manabiya Iowa

May 2018

It’s May and finally spring is here in Iowa!!!  I hope you’re all enjoying this nicer and warmer weather.  This month in Japan, there are a multitude of fun things going on such as Hanami (cherry blossom viewing), Kodomono-hi (Children’s day celebration), and Golden Week (a long Japanese holiday week).  Most of you are already aware of these famous activities, so I’ve decided to talk about Sumi-é (Black Ink Painting) this month.
Sumi-é is the Japanese word for Black Ink Painting.  The Japanese term “sumi” means “black ink”, “é” means “painting”.  East Asian Painting and writing developed together in ancient China using the same materials, brush and ink on paper.  Emphasis is placed on the beauty of each individual stroke of the brush.  The subjects are painted with black ink in all possible gradations ranging from pure black to the lightest shades achievable by dissolving ink in water.   
The Kamakura era (1192-1333), when the power of the nobility was taken over by warriors (samurai), the Zen monks to China allowed Chinese paintings and artifacts to be brought back to Japan.  This is how
Sumi-é was introduced into Japan and it then became rapidly successful because in this painting-method, as in Zen practice, reality is expressed by reducing it to its pure, bare form.  Just as in Zen, few words are enough to express the meaning of many hours of meditation; in Sumi-é, few marks of black ink painted with a brush on a simple sheet of white paper, can represent the most complex model.  One must learn to capture the essence in order to get to the heart of reality as it is.
Have a wonderful spring month everyone, and hope to see you at CelebrAsian!!
Chié Schiller
Board Chair / Executive President


Manabiya Iowa

We have completed another successful academic year on March 24th.  We had a cooking party.  Manabiya students got to cook Japanese meal as a conclusion of their theme learning of this semester, "Let's cook Japanese meal and eat it together."

The students have learned about "Washoku"(Japanese meals), picked out the recipes, learned about the ingredients, cooking utensils/appliances, presentation of the meal and the table manner.  We invited the families and enjoyed the food and company.  It was the best way to end the year.

Our new school year will start on April 7th.
Since Hiyoko Club is a part of Manabiya program, we would like to celebrate the
day together with a potluck party.

There will be a story telling, singing, games and more!
This is a great opportunity for both Manabiya students and Hiyoko kids to get to
know each other, even for the parents for networking and to exchange

Hiyoko Club (New Academic Year Ceremony with Potluck Party)

Date: April 7th (Sat.)
Time: 9:30 a.m. to 1130 a.m.
Location: Manabya big class room in West Des Moines
Fee:  $5.00 per family

Let us know if you are planning to come and join us.
Please bring something to share!

Chikako Brown
Manabiya Iowa

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April 2018

So….  Where is the spring?  After months of snow and sleet, we can’t wait to welcome spring, green and little flowers, and have some sunshine.  In Japan, the 2018 sakura season is expected to be a little earlier both in central and southern Japan based on Japan Rail Travel Guides.

March was my birthday month, and I decided to treat myself with a new motorcycle.  Through this new motorcycle research, I found very interesting facts about Japan and Harley-Davidson, so I’d like to share about that.

In the 1920s, Japan hadn’t become a truly industrialized nation, and Harley-Davidson owned the lion’s share of the world market at that time.  H-D was the official mount of Japan’s police, army and even the Imperial Guard.  The demand for H-D motorcycles in Japan was so strong that Milwaukee established a complete system of dealers, agencies and spare parts, all of it under the banner of the H-D Sales Company of Japan. 
In 1929, the world’s economy got the staggers and the yen’s value dropped to the level where imported Harleys were too pricey for the market, so H-D USA shipped out plans, tooling, blueprints and built a factory in Japan with few restrictions, the product would not be exported out of Japan.

The investment capital came from Sankyo, and the plant was built next to that pharmaceutical giant’s headquarters at Shinagawa in Tokyo.  In 1931 Dabittoson Harley Motorcycle Co., Ltd was established in Japan and by 1935, the Shinagawa plant was building complete machines, assembled from parts made in Japan.  Eventually, Sankyo took full control of the Shinagawa plant and changed the brand name to Rikuo (Road King), the beginning of the H-D Road King Motorcycle.  There were approximately 18,000 Rikuo were built between 1937 – 1942, and most of which were sold to the Japanese military and Japanese police departments.  

There are currently 50 H-D Dealer Shops in Japan.  Japanese customers see H-D as an iconic American brand with a rich history and a unique brand heritage.  There ae also some people who connect H-D to wild images like riding on vast land of America as was depicted in the movie “Easy Rider” or to the tough images revealed in the movie “Terminator”, etc.  The H-D Sportster models are the one of best-selling motorcycles in Japan; it probably because the compact designed Sportster fit to the Japanese traffic environment and the physical size of Japanese people.

If you’re a motorcycle rider, please ride safe, and if you’re not please watch out for the riders out there.

Chie Schiller
Board Chair/Executive President

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Yayoi Kusama "Pumpkin (L)" sculpture

New Yayoi Kusama sculpture takes center stage in downtown Des Moines at the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park

Des Moines, IA (February 2018) – Philanthropists John and Mary Pappajohn have donated funds to the Des Moines Art Center for the purchase of a new sculpture, Pumpkin (L), 2014, fabricated 2018, by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, soon to be installed in the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park in downtown Des Moines.

Pumpkins are one of the artist’s most beloved motifs. Both endearing and grotesque, the giant gourds have been a source of inspiration for the artist since her childhood, when she was surrounded by her family’s seed nursery in prewar Japan. She sees pumpkins as representing growth, comfort, familiarity, protectiveness, nourishment, and whimsy. The element of dots, often seen in the artist’s work, suggests the notion of infinity, repetition, and obsession. For the artist, pumpkins also represent a source of radiant energy. She has written, “Pumpkins bring about poetic peace in my mind. Pumpkins talk to me.” Viewing the pumpkin as both humble and amusing, this whimsical vegetable comes to represent an alternative selfportrait of the artist.

Kusama is one of the most significant artists working today. At 88, she has been a working artist for 65 years. Currently, her five-city exhibition Infinity Mirrors is traveling North America to blockbuster attendance, and response from both the field and the public has been overwhelming. Requests for the Art Center’s four Kusama works currently in the permanent collections are constantly requested for exhibitions at other institutions worldwide.

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The Art Center is organizing a related exhibition, opening March 30, 2018, at the museum, 4700 Grand Avenue, Des Moines.

Manabiya Iowa

February was full of activities at Manabiya Iowa.  We started the month with the celebration of spring coming by bean throwing with Hiyoko Club kids.  The students of Manabiya had learned about soy beans and the soy bean products that would be used for cooking on our party at the end of year party.

They also had a chance to learn a little bit of Hayao Miyazaki and watched the movie "The Wind Rises" that he most recently created, fiction based on a real person who was the designer/engineer of Zero fighter.  To watch movies help them learn about the Japanese living, customs, culture and the way who they are.

For March, we will celebrate "Hinamatsuri" which is a girls/doll festival with Hiyoko Club.  We will pray for the healthy and happiness of young girls.
There will be a story telling, singing some songs, crafts and other activities.
Please let us know if you would like to join us.

Hiyoko Club (Hinamatsuri, the Girls/Doll Festival )
Date: Mar. 3rd (Sat.)
Time: 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Location: Manabya class room in West Des Moines
Fee:  $5.00 per family

Chikako Brown
Manabiya Iowa

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March 2018

March, the spring time, and the topic usually related to Cherry Blossoms or Girls Day in Japan, but I’d like to talk little about history of Kimono this time.

Originally, "kimono" was the Japanese word for clothing. But in more recent years, the word has been used to refer specifically to traditional Japanese clothing.  Kimonos as we know them today came into being during the Heian period (794-1192).  During the Kamakura period (1192-1338) and the Muromachi period (1338-1573), both men and women wore brightly colored kimonos. Warriors dressed in colors representing their leaders, and sometimes the battlefield was as gaudy as a fashion show.
During the Edo period (1603-1868), the Tokugawa Shogun ruled over Japan.  The Edo period was one of unprecedented political stability, economic growth, and urban expansion.  Kimono makers got better and better at their craft, and kimono making grew into an art form.  During the Meiji period (1868-1912), Japan was heavily influenced by foreign cultures. The government encouraged people to adopt Western clothing and habits.

The Taishō period (1912-1926) was one of confidence and optimism in Japan.  Industrial development was stimulated by the First World War, economic prosperity being matched by political democratization. It was a period of great urban growth.  The traditional cut of Kimono remained the same, but the motifs were dramatically enlarged and new designs appeared, inspired by western styles such as Art Nouveau and Art Deco. Their striking patterns reflected the confident spirit of the age and provided an exuberant visual statement for the modern, independent, urban woman of the Taishō and early Shōwa periods (1926-1989).

Today, there are kimono made with beautiful modern fabrics can be seen increasingly on the streets of Japan, while second-hand kimono are becoming popular with the young, who often re-style them or combine them with other items of dress.  Antique kimono and obi are also showcased as art form to enjoy its beauty and tranquility at home.

Stays warm everyone; the spring is around the corner!!

Chie Schiller
Board Chair/Executive President

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