February 9, 2018 Vol. 14, No. 2

Japan in the News

The Hill's Cate Martel joined a group of Congressional staffers transforming traditional sweet ingredients into beautiful shapes and going “hands-on” with the art of Wagashi Japanese sweets this week! Check out The Hill's 12:30 Report on the event for more photos and details. Under the guidance of expert confectioners and accompanied by delicious tea, the group helped kick off the Japan Information & Culture Center's new "Ocha & Wagashi: The History of Japanese Tea & Sweets" exhibition in partnership with Matsukawaya, Myokoen, and Teaism. The JICC’s exhibition opened to the public on Wednesday with a live-streamed lecture from Matsukawaya's head confectioner, Yoshitaka Nishino. Plan your visit to the JICC to learn more about aromatic Japanese tea and colorful sweets, and to see some of the tools that are used to create edible art that reflects the seasons!

Honoring True Friends at the Ambassador's Residence

“Why are we honoring these two men? We are honoring them because Japan trusted them. We could count on them.… We felt they understood the importance of the alliance to the safety of Japan and its people.” As Ambassador Sasae conferred Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley with the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun, he hailed the important work of these individuals who have made significant contributions to the Japan-US defense alliance.

During the recent Ambassador’s Residence event attended by family and former colleagues of both men, Ambassador Sasae specifically mentioned Secretary Gate’s leadership role for the Operation Tomodachi (PDF link) relief mission implemented by the US military following the Great East Japan earthquake in 2011, and Mr. Hadley’s continued advocacy of the Japan-US alliance and the importance of the Asia-Pacific Region.

36 Midshipmen from Class of 2018 Heading to Japan

For midshipmen graduating from the United States Naval Academy, their first warship assignment marks an important turning point at the beginning of their careers. The U.S. Navy makes this moment a major event, holding a Ship Selection "draft", and Naval Attaché Capt. Takuro "Rocky" Koroki was on hand last week in Annapolis to celebrate the surface warfare midshipmen who chose Japan for their first tour.

"It was a great moment when the first midshipman who picked a Japan-based ship picked the USS Chancellorsville out of Yokosuka, and the entire hall broke into a standing ovation for her," remarked Capt. Koroki. "I truly felt the fundamental strength of the Japan-US Alliance in that moment, and hope all of the elite sailors who will be stationed in Japan will have a chance to make that Alliance even stronger!" You can watch a replay of the event here; skip to 34:44 on the recording to see it for yourself!

A total of 36 midshipmen, 22 men and 14 women, picked ships based in Japan for their first posting during the Ship Selection event, which gives midshipmen a chance to choose in order based on their class ranking.

Dreaming Big With Baby Art

Photos of cute sleeping babies have always been popular, but the Nezo art and Ohirune art trends in Japan have brought a new level of creativity and originality to the genre. Created by adding props and decorations in the space around a sleeping child, or by visiting specialized photography studios, these overhead photography techniques make for lasting memories and give parents a chance to work together to create fun and adorable scenes. Learn how to make your own sleeping baby art and join the movement!