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Japanese Culture Explosion
Court Pearman

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The Japanese Identity
Iron Chef Morimoto is coming, and who doesn't love the Iron Chef? The Smithsonian's Japan WOW! began March 31 and will continue through till early June.

This is the institute's first such exhibition featuring an Asian country. Past features have been mostly European, explained Christine Cimino, the public affairs officer of the Smithsonian Associate Resident Program. "Bringing presenters and finding sponsors from Japan was most difficult." But it was worth it, as many of the events have sold out weeks in advance, and so far the events have been a great success.

Japan WOW! Does it's best to capture everything enjoyable ranging from the island nation's ancient to contemporary societies, from kimonos to modern fashion, tea ceremonies to robots.

One of the programs Ms. Cimino was most proud of is the upcoming April 27th show "Bunraku: the Amazing Puppets of Japan." This ancient form of entertainment requires mastery to perform. Large puppets on rods move with such precision and understanding that they effectively evoke emotional responses. "Most people think 'puppet showóbig deal' but it was very hard to get them here; they are a fifteen person troupe," said Cimino.

The show that is generating the most interest, and still has tickets available, is "Beyond Sushi: Culinary Japan from Classical to Modern." An all-day event on May 12, it includes food and entertainment provided by world renowned Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto and other Japanese chefs. Chef Morimoto will give cooking tips, and cook up meals served with sake and other traditional drinks.

Speaking of food, on May 22 Michio Kushi, lecturer and prolific author, founder of the Kushi Institute and developer of the well-known macrobiotic diet, will talk about his life and career. He went from a life in Japanese law to one dedicated to food, and believes diet plays an essential role in the state of human harmony, including wars.

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