Ken Ujie, associate professor of Japanese language at Washington and Lee University, has received a Sakura Grant from the JCAW (Japan Commerce Association) Foundation to conduct classes on understanding and making nigiri-zushi, a hand-pressed style of sushi.
Ujie will present the classes at George Mason University and the Governor's School at Randolph-Macon College. He previously has held several similar demonstrations at Virginia Tech. The grant will allow him to give additional demonstrations at schools and colleges around the region on making authentic sushi.
While teaching history and culture through hands-on sushi preparation, Ujie hopes also to promote Washington and Lee's Japanese language program to potential students. While the project is focused on high school students, his efforts will go hand-in-hand with the University's emphasis on expanding global learning.
Ujie learned to make sushi while he was a student living in Japan. During a New Year's break, he delivered sushi for a restaurant where the chef taught him the art of making nigiri-zushi. In the 30 years since, he has practiced and enhanced his skills. Since moving to the United States in 1978, he has prepared nigiri-zushi at his home every Friday night for Japanese people seeking authentic food from Japan, as well as Americans wanting to learn about sushi and practice conversational Japanese.
The JCAW Foundation was created by the Japan Commerce Association of Washington, D.C., to promote charitable work and education. It seeks to deepen economic and cultural communication between Japan and America through activities that promote increased mutual understanding. The Sakura Grant Program supports Japanese language and cultural education in K-12 schools in the greater Washington, D.C., and New York areas.