The evening was so fun: I met some new friends, Natsuko and Hiroshi, and Shelley. And Bobby Watson, the director of Jazz studies in the music conservatory at UMKC not only performed, but delivered a heartfelt speech. He and 11 of his students had the opportunity to perform in Japan last year, and several of the students spoke as well. Paraphrasing Bobby, he said that America is a great country, but it is humbling to know how much we can learn and be inspired by places that are centuries older. Too true!
We all had lots of time to eat, drink, meet and visit, and it was a great way to kick off the new year. 開けましておめでとうございます！
Sachie was my very first Japanese teacher:
今晩はプラザのライトがまだとても明るいです。The holiday lights were taken down last weekend, but the Plaza is still pretty and festive at night: