The new “Bridges to Japan” exhibit will show Indiana State Fair visitors what Japanese culture is all about, as well as the many connections between Indiana and Japan.
This year, in what is expected to be an annual international exhibition, the 154th Indiana State Fair will showcase Indiana’s relationship with one of its closest partners, the nation of Japan. The International Pavilion/Grand Hall, an 8,000 square foot building located on the Fair’s Main Street, is devoted to the in-depth exploration of Japan and its connections with Indiana.
The exhibit honors the fair’s goal of being a platform for education and showing visitors the strong ties between Indiana and Japan and in particular, Indiana’s Japanese “sister state” Tochigi Prefecture.
The “Bridges to Japan” Exhibition, organized by the Japan-America Society of Indiana (a member of the Nationalities Council of Indiana), the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (State of Indiana), and the Indiana State Fair, through the generous support of many companies and organizations, will appeal to a broad range of visitors who will visit the State Fair for two and a half weeks, from 6-22 August. “Bridges to Japan” will feature traditional and contemporary components, a variety of performances and activities, and displays on the relationships between Indiana and Japan, such as the importance of the Japanese manufacturing presence, sister cities, educational exchanges, and the history of the Japanese in Indiana.
The exhibit features traditional Japanese customs such as tea ceremonies, Japanese calligraphy, sumo wrestling, and a myriad of music and dance performances. In addition, representatives from Tochigi Prefecture and guests from the Japanese sister cities of Carmel (Kawachinagano), Lafayette (Ota City), and Shelbyville (Shizuoka City) will lead numerous cultural activities.
Once inside “Bridges to Japan” guests will pass through a bamboo grove and garden, created by the Engledow Group and Litchfield Landscaping, with advisory support from Dr. Takuya Sato, or cross over a koi pond on a traditional Japanese bridge. Japanese architectural styles will be readily apparent with a traditional inn featuring tatami (pron. tuh-tommy) mats and a Japanese stage, designed by Takenaka Corporation and constructed by nationally-recognized McGuire Scenic. An area devoted to contemporary Japan will help visitors delight in the fun of Japanese pop culture. Some of the programs and demonstrations scheduled for the stage include:
* Masaji Terasawa (pron. muh-sah-jee terra-sow-uh), the popular Candy man who makes intricate candy sculptures and entertains audiences of all ages
* Martial arts demonstrations
* A gourd painter craftsman from Japan (opening weekend)
* Taiko (pron. ty-koh) – traditional Japanese drum performances
* Bunraku (pron. bun-rah-coo)– Japanese puppet theatre
* Sumo wrestlers from Japan (opening weekend)
* An open audience-participation fashion show featuring Japanese pop culture (Cosplay) and the comic Japanese band Peelander-Z
The exhibit also features daily appearances of the top-ranked Japanese robots, including Wakamaru (pron. wok-uh-mah-roo), a communication and performance robot, sponsored by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries-Japan and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Climate Control, Indiana. The Japan External Trade Organization of Chicago has facilitated the appearance of “Paro-chan”, the therapeutic seal pup courtesy of Paro Robots U.S., and the special appearance of the “I-Fairy” Receptionist Robot, which recently made headlines when it conducted a wedding in Japan, courtesy of the Kokoro Company.
Other special “Bridges to Japan” features fairgoers won’t want to miss are:
* A Japanese food corner offering traditional fare including Japanese pork cutlets (made possible by through the generous support of Indiana Packers Corporation), Japanese noodles, green tea ice cream and sushi (including a new “deep-fried sushi” specialty) provided by popular local Japanese restaurants Ocean World, Sakura and One World Market.
* A large-scale replica of a Tochigi Inn where guests will be able to participate in hands-on activities while sitting on tatami mats.
* A display of the Shinkansen bullet train with the topography of Japan passing by at 200 mph
The “Bridges to Japan” Exhibition is sponsored by a host of corporate partners and organizations, including: Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana; AISIN, Eli Lilly and Company, Honda Manufacturing of Indiana, Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Cummins, Delphi Corp., Duke Energy, Indiana Packers Corp., Kikkoman Corp., NTN Driveshaft, TOA (USA), Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing, and the United States-Japan Foundation, among many others.
“Yoroshiku!” “We hope to see you there!”
The Indiana State Fair takes place tomorrow through 22 August at the State Fairgrounds, 1202 East 38th Street, Indianapolis.