“A beautiful evening . . . a terrific event . . . Takuma was remarkable, an inspiration . . . the entire evening had a great vibe . . ."

Held at the historic Indiana Roof Ballroom, the Gala was attended by business and community leaders from across Indiana and the Midwest.  Beginning with the Patron and General Receptions, guests had the opportunity to meet IndyCar champion, Takuma Sato.  Takuma-san demonstrated his warmth and congeniality by inviting the attendees for autographs and photos.
Takuma-san, Driver of the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda/Dallara, Verizon IndyCar Series, gave keynote remarks, describing his early life and how he overcame challenges to begin a career in racing in Japan.  The champion driver spoke at length and without notes, sharing his story and dream, and the importance of perseverance in the pursuit of a dream.  The audience was touched by the heartfelt explanation of his “No Attack, No Chance” philosophy and his efforts to help children in the recovering Tohoku region of Japan.  It was a memorable presentation. 

Mitsuhisa Sato, Senior Vice President of Honda Manufacturing of Indiana, gave comments on behalf of the Greensburg automaker and Title Sponsor of the Gala.  He thanked JASI for its work in bridging Japan and Indiana.  HMIN assembles the award-winning 10th generation Honda 4-door Civic sedan and employees over 2600 associates.

Victor Smith, Secretary of Commerce, State of Indiana, celebrated the strength and vibrancy of Japan in Indiana in the kampai toast. 

Melanie Hart, President of the Japan-America Society of Indiana and President of Tsuchiya Group North America, served as the Master of Ceremonies.  She introduced The Honorable Toshiyuki Iwado, Consul-General of Japan in Chicago.  Consul-General Iwado spoke on the importance of the relationship between Indiana and Japan.  He then introduced Pete Morse, newly-appointed Honorary Consul of Japan in Indianapolis, who is Chairman of the Global Services Practice Group at Barnes & Thornburg.  

The Iibada Dance Company kicked off the evening with “Wanna Be Startin’ Something” by Michael Jackson, and later in the program followed with “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough.”  The dancers were then joined by three special performers, Yuka Shibano, newly-arrived Indianapolis Colts Cheerleader, Chiaki Tokiwa, JASI’s JOI Coordinator, and volunteer Takeru Shinozaki as they led the dancers in the Japanese folk dance, “The Soran Bushi.”  They concluded their performance with the song “As” by Stevie Wonder.   

A gift of recognition was presented to Chiaki Tokiwa, for her great work in serving as JASI’s Japan Outreach Initiative (JOI) Coordinator.  Chiaki has served in the position for the past two years.  Her award was entitled “Super Road Warrior” for her dedication in driving to cities and towns throughout the state introducing Japanese language and culture to Hoosiers. 

The Japan-America Society of Indiana is extremely thankful to Title Sponsor Honda Manufacturing of Indiana and the many corporate sponsors, guests, and volunteers who made it such a special evening. 

Corporate sponsors included:  AISIN; Barnes & Thornburg; BKD, LLP; Cornerstone Environmental, Health and Safety; DEEM; Duke Energy; Eli Lilly and Company; Elwood Staffing; Enkei America; Fifth Third Bank; Force Construction Co., Inc.; Gaylor Electric; GECOM Corporation; Greenville Technology; Hoosier Energy; Indiana Economic Development Corporation; Indiana Packers Corporation; Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis; Ivy Tech Community College; JA Benefits; JPMorgan Chase; Keihin North America; KYB Americas Corporation; Mainscape; Nachi America; NTN Driveshaft; Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart PC; Old National; Plante Moran; SMC Corporation of America; Subaru of Indiana Automotive; TASUS, Tsuchiya Group North America; TOA(USA), LLC; Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing; Toyota Material Handling, U.S.A.; Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana; Vectren Corporation.

Photographs by Zach Dobson.