Indiana State Fair: "Bridges to Japan" Exhibition

August 6 - 22, 2010

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For the first time in its history, the 154th Indiana State Fair will showcase Indiana’s relationship with one of its closest partners, the nation of Japan! An 8,000 square foot building, located on Main Street, will be devoted to the in-depth exploration of one country and its connections with the state.  The Indiana State Fair is expected to draw 1 million visitors, with the “Bridges to Japan” Exhibition anticipated to be one of the largest attended Japan events to take place in North America this year.

Indiana is the only state with three Japanese auto assembly plants, and has over 220 Japanese facilities in Indiana employing more than 43,000 Hoosiers, making Japan the clear front-runner among the state’s international partners.  We’re honored that Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has designated Japan as the featured country at the Fair.

“Bridges to Japan” is designed to appeal to a broad range of visitors who will visit the State Fair for two and a half weeks, from August 6-22.  It will feature traditional and contemporary components, a variety of performances and activities, and displays on the many connections between Indiana and Japan, such as the importance of the Japanese manufacturing presence, sister cities, educational exchanges, and the history of the Japanese in Indiana. 

The exhibition is organized by the Japan-America Society of Indiana, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (State of Indiana), and the Indiana State Fair, through the generous support of many companies and organizations. Within the Grand Hall, visitors will find a full-scale replica of a “Tochigi Inn” with a tatami room, a Japanese garden and koi pond courtesy of Engledow Group and designed by Dr. Takuya Sato, a Japanese stage, and a contemporary Japan area featuring pop culture.  It will also feature a Japanese food corner courtesy of Ocean World Restaurant, Sakura Restaurant, and One World Market.  The food corner will serve samples of traditional Japanese food and also a new specialty for the Fair --- “deep-fried sushi”.   

The “Bridges to Japan” Exhibition will feature one of the best lineups of Japanese robots ever to appear in the Midwest.  A very special highlight of the robot lineup will be the daily appearance of Communication Robot “Wakamaru”, generously donated by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries-Japan and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Climate Control, Indiana.  “Wakamaru” is considered one of the top-ranking communication and performance robots.  The Japan External Trade Organization of Chicago has facilitated the daily appearance of “Paro-chan”, the therapeutic seal pup courtesy of Paro Robots U.S. and the special appearance of the “I-Fairy” Receptionist Robot, which recently made headlines when it conducted a wedding in Japan, courtesy of the Kokoro Company.

Tochigi Prefecture, Indiana’s sister “state” in Japan, will be sending a group of sumo wrestlers, prefectural guest representatives, and a gourd-painter craftsman to the “Brides to Japan” Exhibition during the opening weekend of the Fair, August 6 – 9.

There will be a myriad of performances and demonstrations, including taiko (traditional Japanese drums), bunraku (Japanese puppet theatre), yosakoi dance (a high-energy fusion of tradition and contemporary Japanese dance), koto (a harp-like instrument), martial arts, and the ever-popular Candyman, Masaji Terasawa (One-man entertainer who makes intricate candy sculptures as the audience looks on).

The week of August 16 to 21 will be “Sister Cities Celebration Week” with guests from sister-cities in Japan, represented by: Carmel-Kawachinagano, Lafayette-Ota,  Shelbyville-Kambara, and Franklin-Kuji.

Sponsors include Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana, AISIN, Eli Lilly and Company, Honda Manufacturing of Indiana, Indiana Economic Development Corporation, Subaru of Indiana Automotive, and many others, including Takenaka Corporation, which has donated the architectural design of the exhibition.