A Godzilla Gala Celebration!

The 2019 Gala was a colossal, fun-filled celebration!  Held on August 7th at the Indiana Roof Ballroom, the Gala celebrated the cultural impact of one of Japan's and the world's most recognized and beloved characters, Godzilla. Guests enjoyed the sights, sounds, and even tastes of the star of the world's longest running film franchise, including bubbling Godzilla cocktails.  Attended by business and community leaders from across Indiana and the Midwest, the JASI Annual Gala continues to grow in popularity, with this year's event setting new records.   

Jim Riggs, newly-elected President of the Japan-America Society of Indiana's Board of Directors; and President and CEO of NTN Driveshaft, served as Master of Ceremonies.

Guests enjoyed the reception attended by "Godzilla", who drove from Texas with his family to appear at the event.

Dr. William Tsutsui, President of Hendrix College, Arkansas, gave the featured presentation entitled "Godzilla, Japan, and Globalization". Dr. Tsutsui is an award-winning scholar and researcher, specializing in the economics, environmental, and cultural history of modern Japan. Educated at Harvard, Oxford, and Princeton Universities, he is the author of Godzilla on My Mind: Fifth Years of the Kings of Monsters which was called a "cult classic" by the New York Times. Dr. Tsutsui covered not only the history of the Godzilla movie franchise, but also its place in global pop culture as well as how Godzilla movies have represented cultural, political, and environmental issues throughout the years.

The evening began with remarks from The Honorable Eric Holcomb, Governor of the State of Indiana. Governor Holcomb remarked on the strong and ever-growing relationship between Japan and Indiana, mentioning his upcoming trip to Japan.  He commended and thanked JASI for its service and leadership of the Indiana-Japan relationship on an ongoing basis.   

Governor Holcomb presented one of the State's highest awards, the "Honorary Hoosier" to Consul-General of Japan Naoki Ito, thanking him for his support and personal commitment to strengthening Indiana's relationship with Japan at every level, in particular his grassroots community outreach.

Consul-General of Japan Naoki Ito gave the Kampai Toast, reaffirming the importance and magnitude of the Japan/Indiana relationship. His participation in the JASI Gala marked his thirty-eighth trip to Indiana, a new record number of visits.  He hopes to be able to make two more trips before his term ends at the end of August, to reach a goal of forty visits.

The JASI Gala received generous support from Title Sponsor Barnes & Thornburg, represented by Peter Morse, Honorary Consul of Japan in Indianapolis.  On behalf of the Japan-America Society of Indiana, Pete thanked Consul-General Ito for his friendship and support, and presented him with a JASI commemorative gift.  

The JASI "Bridge of Friendship Award" was presented to Melanie Walker, President & CEO of Tsuchiya Group North America and TASUS Corporation, and Past President of the Japan-America Society of Indiana's Board of Directors, where she has served on the Board for more than twenty years.  Melanie has been one of the organization's most dedicated leaders, and has been instrumental in the growth of JASI, as well as of Tsuchiya, and also the Bloomington community.  The award was presented to Melanie on behalf of JASI by Millie Marshall, President of Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana, and Theresa Kulczak, Executive Director of the Japan-America Society of Indiana.

John Teramoto, Curator of Asian Art for the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, gave an overview of the Museum's "Seasons of Japan", a series of significant exhibits and events in 2019 focusing on both traditional and contemporary Japanese art. 

The evening was highlighted by a thunderous performance of taiko drums by Chicago-based drum group Tsukasa Taiko, led by Tatsu Aoki. Tsukasa Taiko is one of the largest professional and community taiko groups in the Midwest. The group was joined by Godzilla who danced to the final song of the performance.  

The Japan-America Society of Indiana is deeply appreciative to Barnes & Thornburg for its generous support at the Gala Title Sponsor, and also to the Indiana Economic Development Corporation which served as Platinum Sponsor.  JASI thanks the many corporate sponsors, guests, and volunteers who made possible such a special evening.

Corporate sponsors included: Barnes & Thornburg, Indiana Economic Development Corporation, AISIN, BKD CPAs and Advisors, Cornerstone Environmental, Health & Safety, Daviess County Economic Development Corporation, DEEM, Duke Energy, Eli Lilly and Company, Elwood Staffing, Enkei America, Fifth Third Bank, Force Construction Company, Inc., Gaylor Electric, Greater Columbus Economic Development Corporation, Green Metals, Greenville Technology. Gregory and Appel, Heartland Automotive, Honda Manufacturing of Indiana, Hoosier Energy, Indiana Municipal Power Agency, Integrity Metals, INzone, IUPUI Office of Community Engagement, JA Benefits, Keihin North America, Kimura Foundry America, Nachi America, Nippon Steel North America, Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, NTN., Ogletree Deakins, Old National Bank, Pike County Economic Development Corporation, Precision Tools Service, Radius Indiana, Regions Bank, Rush County Economic & Community Development Corporation, Ryobi Die Casting (USA), SMC Corporation of America, Stratosphere Quality, Subaru of Indiana Automotive, TASUS; Tsuchiya Group North America, TOA (USA), Toyota Boshoku Indiana, Toyota Material Handling U.S.A., Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana, United Airlines, USI Insurance Services, Vectren, a Centerpoint Energy Company.