Sumitomo Supports “TOMODACHI Initiative”

[English Edition]
the Four Seasons
Through Food and Fun
Travis Suzaka
A few months
ago, I was in
dire need of a
Japanese food
fix and decided
to make the trek
Hudson River to
Mitsuwa Marketplace. Upon entering the grocery store, I was welcomed by a whimsical display of
autumn delicacies. Marveling at
the prized matsutake pine mushrooms and dried persimmons dusted in snowy white sugar, I was
instantly brought back to when I
lived in a small mountain town far
in the Japanese countryside.
One aspect that continues to
fascinate me about Japanese culture is the admiration for nature
and emphasis on the changing seasons. The term “shun” is a common word used by grocery stores
and chefs to indicate when foods
are at their peak flavor—when oysters are the most plump and succulent in winter or for the sweet bamboo shoots that signal the start of
spring. I have fond memories hearing the echoes of sweet potato peddlers in autumn, chanting their tune
around town at dusk, and snacking
on tangerines in the winter while
nestled under the warm blankets of
the heated kotatsu table.
The Japanese people embrace
and celebrate the four seasons not
only through food, but also through
the arts and social activities as
well. On the night of the winter
solstice, I was told to visit the local
hot spring to bathe with hundreds
of yuzu citrons in the outdoor garden. The fruits bobbing around me
sent up a fragrant steam into the
chilly night. Gazing up at the
moonlit sky, I remember being
filled with a great sense of gratitude to be in a country that continues to take pride in preserving and
sharing its rich cultural treasures.
(Travis is a fourth-generation
Japanese American interested in
Japanese culture and art.)
COOL JAPAN from New Yorkers’ Viewpoints
Sumitomo Supports “TOMODACHI Initiative”
Three Exchange Students Undergo Training at U.S. Head Office
As a participant of
TOMODACHI Initiative, led by
the United States Embassy and
U.S.-Japan Council (a public interest incorporated foundation),
Sumitomo Corporation founded a
four-year program in 2014 called
Corporation Scholarship Program.
The program provides financial
support, namely travel and living
expenses, to undergraduate students who wish to study abroad
for one year under the mutual
exchange agreement between
American and Japanese universities.
Three Japanese exchange students who have been studying in
the U.S. since last fall received
short-term training at the headquarters of Sumitomo Corporation
of Americas (SCOA) in New York
during their winter break. Over the
five days of training, which began
on Jan. 5, the students toured the
Sumitomo offices in New York
and Washington D.C., as well as
its group companies. They also
attended discussions at the United
Nations, Columbia University,
Reuters, the Embassy of Japan and
the U.S. Congress in Washington
D.C. The students were also given
the opportunity to homestay with
SCOA employees in New York.
On Jan. 9, the participants met
with SCOA’s head executives,
including Kazuhiro Takeuchi,
president and C.E.O.; Toshikazu
Nambu, executive vice president
and C.F.O.; and Noriyuki
Maruoka, senior vice president of
Corporate Coordination Group, to
report on their achievements in
school and the training program.
Kazunari Tanabe from Kobe is
Participants meet with Kazuhiro Takeuchi, SCOA president and C.E.O.
Ayaka Ogita
Yukako Hirakawa
a 21-year-old junior majoring in
economics at Keio University
who has been studying at
Carnegie Mellon University. He
said, “I have gained firsthand
knowledge of economics as an
applicable and practical subject
by taking courses with
McCallum, an internationally
renowned advocate for the
inflation targeting policy, on
which Abenomics is based. I
was able to get a glimpse of
Kazunari Tanabe
how society works by being
given a chance to speak to people
in various fields such as the
diplomatic and private sectors. I
would like to take advantage of
my knowledge about economics
to be able to contribute not only
domestically but also internationally.”
Ayaka Ogita from Yamagata
is a 22-year-old literature major
at Tohoku University who currently studies at University of
Hawaii at Manoa. She said, “I
have been able to acquire knowledge about American and Hawaiian
society. I learned through my own
experience that the U.S. mainland
and Hawaii are both struggling
with different social issues such as
racial discrimination, gun control
and multiculturalism. I had the
chance to meet Ms. Irene Hirano
Inouye, whom I have great respect
for. I profoundly remember her
saying, ‘ a role as a Japanese
American is to act as a bridge
between Japan and the United
States.’ I think this enabled me to
picture my future career path. I
would like to apply this experience
to make a contribution to Japanese
Yukako Hirakawa from Tokyo,
a 21-year-old junior majoring in
law at Keio University, currently
studies at University of Wisconsin,
Madison. She commented, “I am
interested in journalism which
observes society from the outside
and I have been broadcasting information about Japan as a member of
a local newspaper circle. The various reactions we receive in
response to the broadcast allow me
to better understand American society. Through the training, I was
able to have a look at the broader
world. For example, I came to learn
that young Sumitomo Corporation
employees have big dreams in their
work. Through meeting a lot of
women who shine in their fields, I
now think I can manage to work
and raise children at the same
SCOA president and C.E.O.
Takeuchi encouraged the students
by saying, “It is very important to
have this kind of experience while
you are young and highly sensitive.
I myself had a similar experience.
Sumitomo Corporation will continue its support. I hope programs like
this will facilitate interactions
between Japan and the U.S., and I
hope you will be the bridges.”
(Ryoichi Miura/Translated by
NY COOL JAPAN is the English Edition of SHUKAN NY SEIKATSU
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Editor in chief: Ryoichi Miura, Associate Editor: Travis Suzaka, Editor: Sayaka Murayama
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