Held at the historic Indiana Roof Ballroom, the 2017 JASI Gala set a record attendance of nearly 600 business and community leaders from across Indiana and the Midwest.  Beginning with the Patron and General Receptions, guests had the opportunity to greet The Honorable Tomikazu Fukuda, Governor of Tochigi Prefecture, Indiana's Sister State-Prefecture, with the Tochigi Prefectural Assembly Delegation.  The Honorable Suzanne Crouch, Lieutenant Governor of the State of Indiana, attended the receptions.

The Honorable Eric Holcomb, Governor of the State of Indiana, kicked off the dinner with a kampai toast of sake from the Tentaka Brewery in Tochigi Prefecture.  Governor Holcomb spoke on the magnitude of the relationship between Indiana and Japan both economically and socially.  He expressed excitement for his upcoming first trip to Japan this September and looks forward to continuing the State's relationship with one of its most important international partners.  

The Title Sponsor of the Gala was Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc., which was also celebrated for its thirtieth anniversary, and the first of three major Japan-invested assembly plants in Indiana. Tom Easterday, Senior Executive Vice President, Secretary, and Chief Legal Officer, gave a brief history of the company since its establishment, and shared the video of SIA associates in the plant, called "Put A Little Love In Your Heart."

The Honorable Tomikazu Fukuda, Governor of Tochigi Prefecture, gave the keynote address. His remarks provided an overview of Tochigi business and industry, as well as on the natural highlights of Tochigi Prefecture, such as the beautiful nature, food, history, and hot springs. Melanie Walker, President of the Japan-America Society of Indiana and President of Tsuchiya Group North America, served as the Master of Ceremonies. Melanie and Governor Holcomb then presented Governor Fukuda with JASI's Bridge of Friendship Award.

Honorary Consul of Japan in Indianapolis Pete Morse introduced the Honorable Naoki Ito, Consul-General of Japan in Chicago. Consul General Ito spoke on the many connections between Indiana and Japan, commending JASI for its vision and leadership. 

Indianapolis 500 Champion and last year's Gala Keynote Speaker, Takuma Sato, recorded a special video greeting for the Gala highlighting his recent victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  He gave special thanks to JASI members for their support and well-wishes.  

JASI Executive Director Theresa Kulczak gave a presentation on JASI's new Japan Culture & Information Center; sharing the vision for Society's new and expanded offices in Union Station designed by Takenaka Corporation. The new space will serve as a welcome and information center for the public, with more capacity for cultural programming, educational training, and tea ceremonies, and workshops.   She encouraged the members to consider the JASI Culture Center Campaign - "Into The Light" - in future giving plans.
"Samurai Sword Soul" brought an exciting end to the evening with a dynamic and witty performance of samurai sword duals and dances. The New York City ensemble brought their talent, humor, and wonderful storytelling to Indiana and the Gala stage for the first time.

Delta Air Lines representative Ted Furuyama drew the raffle ticket for three Delta roundtrip tickets to Japan which capped off the evening.  

The Japan-America Society of Indiana is deeply appreciative to Title Sponsor Subaru of Indiana Automotive and the many corporate sponsors, guests, and volunteers who made possible such a special evening. 

Corporate sponsors included: AISIN; Barnes & Thornburg; Batesville Tool & Die; DEEM; Honda Manufacturing of Indiana; Indiana Economic Development Corporation; TASUS; Tsuchiya Group North America; TOA (USA); Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana; Apex Benefits Group; BKD, LLP; Butler Toyota; Cornerstone Environmental, Health & Safety; Delta Air Lines; Duke Energy; Eli Lilly and Company; Elwood Staffing; Enkei America; Falcon Manufacturing; Fifth Third Bank; Force Construction Company., Inc; Gaylor Electric; Greater Lafayette Commerce; Gregory & Appel Insurance; Heartland Automotive; Hoosier Energy; Indiana Packers Corporation; Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis; Integrity Metals; JA Benefits; JP Morgan; Keihin North America; Nachi America; NTN Driveshaft; Ogletree Deakins; Old National; SMC Corporation of America; TOA Winchester; Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing; Toyota Material Handling, USA; Vectren Corporation

Photos by Zach Dobson: