By Shihou Sasaki
The North American Post
The Japanese government announced last Thursday that Tom Brooke of Eastside Nihon Matsuri Association will receive the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays, “in recognition of his contributions in promoting the mutual understanding between Japan and the United States by introducing Japanese culture to Washington State.”
Brooke, 81, is one of the foreign award recipients of the 2016 Fall Imperial Decorations.
“I am truly humbled by this most prestigious decoration bestowed upon me by the Government of Japan,” he said. “It is a wonderful surprise, and I am very excited and happy to receive this award of recognition.”
Brooke established the Eastside Nihon Matsuri Committee in 1998 and led the group for 18 years to present the annual Aki Matsuri, fulfilling an aspiration of promoting Japanese culture for the citizens of Washington State. Under his leadership, the festival was joined by over 150 participating organizations and over 150 guests from 12 prefectures in Japan, and attendees have reached over 20,000 annually, according to the Consulate-General of Japan in Seattle.
Following the final Aki Matsuri in 2015, Brooke generously promoted its successor, Japan Fair, providing his full cooperation and support, the consulate stated.
“My motivation resulted primarily from an interest in learning more about the rich cultural heritage of Japan, and respect for the societal customs associated with the peoples of Japan,” he said.
Brooke was also president of the Seattle Japanese Garden Society in 2001 and has served for Nikkei Concerns (current Keiro Northwest) Bellevue Sister Cities Association, Japanese American Citizens League Lake Washington Chapter, Japan-America Society of the State of Washington’s Japan in the School Program, Japanese Language School and more.
He received the Foreign Ministry Award in 2015.
“During these past 18 years, Mr. Brooke’s efforts can be seen in the success of numerous special programs, where cultural ambassadors from all over Japan were invited to facilitate cultural exchange between regions of Washington State and Japan, respectively,” the press release states. “…Mr. Brooke’s longstanding and steady efforts have carved a path towards a strong and steady cultural exchange between Washington State and Japan that will continue to grow.”