On September 27, 2015, the Oshu City International Relations Association held the ASUPIA Festival, its yearly international fair. A wonderful early-autumn day greeted volunteers and guests alike. Festival goers were entertained by Filipino Gospel singers, Indonesian traditional dancers, and Japanese Hula, Hip-hop, taiko drumming, traditional dance and Belly-dancing troupes. On sale were various delicacies from across the globe, including chijimi (Korean pancakes), kimchi (pickled cabbage), spicy noodle dishes and plantains from the Phillipines (thanks to ISC Vice-Chair Perly Endo), Romanian treats made by ISC member and local entrepreneur Anca Stroe, and pirozhki cooked up by local residents from Russia and other Slavic countries.

Festival-goers enjoy some tasty food

Festival-goers enjoy some tasty food

Our Chairman Bill Lewis took on the role of English emcee, while Perly and Anca manned booths representing their own countries. As the ILC Support Committee’s sponsoring organization is the Oshu International Relations Association, we also thought it would be a good idea to put together a booth for the ILC this year.

The author and Anca at the Romanian booth

The author and Anca at the Romanian booth

Our hook was selling some classic Tex-Mex chili as our “international” cuisine, put together by members Kevin Price (a culinary school graduate), Mark Mino-Thompson (and his eleven year old son Conan), and Dean Ruetzler. Both Kevin and Mark are known in the foreign community as some of the best cooks in Iwate, so it was clear we’d have an awesome pot of chili. In the meantime, Conan helped some local university students with running the event.

The chili was cooked in two batches. We had your standard semi-spicy chili that can be bought at just about any “greasy spoon” in North America. There were an additional twenty servings allotted to a Ghost pepper degree of spiciness for those adventurous enough to try it. By the end of the day both types had sold out completely.

It was a long day of setting the booth up, selling quite a bit (about 100 bowls) of chili, and then taking the booth down. It was a beautiful, sunny day, hundreds of people came, the food (both ours and the other booths) was delicious and the entertainment was enjoyable to watch.

Dancing at the festival

Dancing at the festival

People attended the fair with the goal of having a good time, and I would call it a great success. By appearing at this popular event, we were able to talk to people about the ILC as well as just give residents a sense of what a more international Tohoku might look like. International and Japanese residents working together to put an event together is exactly the kind of international society we want to start building.


The ILC Support Committee is a group of volunteer foreign residents who are helping local governments create a more international Tohoku. Learn more by checking out our Facebook page.


Bill Lewis


Perly Endo

Supported by

The Oshu International Relations Association