A Message From Consul General Ken Okaniwa

"An important time
in Japan"

In January, I hosted a New Year’s celebration at my official residence. Traditionally, the New Year is an important time in Japan, so I invited many esteemed Japanese living in Florida to attend the reception. At the residence, Shishi-Mai (Lion Dance) and Taiko drumming was performed by Fushu Daiko. Ikebana flower arrangements by Mieko Kubota, vice president of Ikebana International Miami, were displayed for the New Year. Guests were also able to enjoy osechi ryori (Japanese New Year’s food) throughout the evening. There were several Japanese New Year events throughout January. I hope you had a chance to enjoy them.

I recently visited Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach with one of its founders, Rabbi Solomon Schiff. It was a truly humbling experience. Rabbi Schiff explained how thousands of holocaust survivors and their descendants settled throughout Florida, establishing the strong Jewish community that exists today. It is important to remember the memory of the tragedy so that it is never repeated. I reminded the Rabbi about the story of Consul Sugihara, who courageously issued visas to help thousands of Jews fleeing Europe during World War II. I also on February 5, look forward to saying a few words on the occasion of the Palm Beach Jewish Film Festival screening of the Japanese film Persona Non Grata, which depicts Consul Sugihara’s story.

I had a chance to talk to four students along with their teacher and JET assistant from Sagano Prefectural High School in Kyoto this month. The selected students are participating in a program to learn about environmental protection in Florida. During their stay, they had exchanges at Jupiter High School and made visits to various sites including the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens.

On January 25, I toured a new Connected City development in Pasco County, Florida with Commissioner Mike Moore. I would like to thank Pasco EDC President/CEO Bill Cronin for arranging my visit. I was very interested to know that Japanese technology would be a part of the project. I also met with Pasco Commissioner Kathryn Starkey and visited Clark-Dietrich, a Marubeni-Itochu Steel’s subsidiary in Dade City with Pasco Commissioner Ron Oakley.

On February 25, the Consulate General of Japan will co-host an Ikebana Demonstration and Lecture featuring Director of Sogetsu Ikebana Florida and Delray Beach resident Chieko Mihori. Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arrangement. It is also known as Kado. During the demonstration, Mihori will create more than ten Ikebana arrangements before the audience, answering questions and explaining the rich history and cultural significance of Ikebana in Japan and around the world. We hope to see you at this event!

Ken Okaniwa

Consul General of Japan

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