Chicago Tomonkai

About the Chicago Tomonkai

Chicago Tomonkai was established in 1952, the next year when the Treaty of Peace with Japan was concluded in San Francisco. Japan was in the phase of reconstruction in the wake of World WarⅡ. The year 2012 marks the 60th anniversary of our Tomonkai. I feel nostalgic when I recall the time of its establishment. At that time, we had the members who graduated Waseda in 1910s.

In 1957, we welcomed the 6th President of Waseda, Koichi Shimada. Two big welcome parties were held for the former Prime Minister, Noboru Takeshita in 1988, and Keizo Obuchi in 1999. Tomonkai members reached to more than 120 people in 1990s when Japanese corporation’s entering into Midwestern market was at its peak. However, economic bubble burst, and Japan not being able to fend off “Lehman Brothers Shock”, we have about 50 members at present.

While we promote social exchange among members by holding various events (such as general assembly, New Year parties, year-end parties, and the events involving the family of members), we focus on interacting with other universities and institutions (please see the messages from our members). Waseda vs. Keio golf tournament was first held in 1970. Since then, the golf game has been one of the regular events.

I believe it is our responsibility to inherit Tomonkai, which boasts for its long history made by our seniors, to the next generation.
Tadayoshi Kojima, Chairperson

Chicago Tomonkai Website

Waseda vs. Keio Golf Tournament

The attractive points of Chicago

Chicago is the 3rd largest city in the U.S. located in the Midwest called “corn belt”. Many people may associate Chicago with “the city of gang” represented by Al Capone, but it is a thing of the past.

Chicago is a sister city of Osaka. Its manufacturing industry has been centralized these days. People in the city have a culture of simplicity and robustness where they can share the Japanese “Monozukuri” spirit. In January 2011, Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Chicago, which was a proof that China is paying attention to future development of the city.

The University of Chicago has produced many Nobel Prize laureates, including President Obama who served as a professor of the university. In 1910, the baseball game between Waseda and the University of Chicago started. After a long respite, the game was resumed in the spring of 2008 for the first time in 72 years. I understand Waseda’s school color, crimson, derives from the school color of the University of Chicago. Also, anchorpersons of the nationwide broadcast stations speak Chicago English which is said to be the standard language in the U.S.

Giant Marilyn Monroe Statue (8 meters tall), as of Oct. 2011

Lakeside Grant Park View from Lake Michigan

Message from the Chairperson

If we have Guinness “Waseda” Records, I am sure Chicago Tomonkai can be awarded as one of the oldest overseas Tomonkai. Given the history of Tomonkai, I cannot thank more to our seniors who passionately made every effort to make Chicago Tomonkai prosperous. In 2012, we are planning to release a commemorative issue of Tomonkai as well as the events celebrating its 60th anniversary.

As the members living in Chicago as expat have no choice but to accept their work shifts, resulting in frequent in and out of Tomonkai. However, the strong ties are still there. I hope Chicago Tomonkai will be the one where every member can naturally say “Being the member of Tomonkai made my Chicago life happy!” I also wish the history of Tomonkai will be succeeded to one generation after another.
Tadayoshi Kojima (Graduated in 1959, School of Political Science and Economics)

Messages from the Members

9 years ago, I was ordered by then company to go back to Japan. However, I turned down the order and determined to stay in Chicago. Then, I started nishikigoi (Japanese carp) business at the age of 54. In contrast with severely cold winter, Chicago’s spring and summer are great. I also like conservative, simple but strong-minded local people.

Nishikigoi was born in Japan, described as “koi”, not “carp” in English. There are several species in nishikigoi, all of which are called in Japanese like “Kouhaku” “Showa, “Utsuri” etc.Clubs for nishikigoi lovers are everywhere around Chicago, and the nishikigoi show is annually held. Season to enjoy koi is short. I have been struggling with unstable bottom line for 9 years since I started this business. However, I firmly believe nishikigoi plays an important role in disseminating Japanese culture. That is why I am working hard in Chicago with my adorable carps, with the lyric of the song “Jinsei gekijo” in mind which is said to be Waseda’s second alma mater.
Shinichi Kawayoke (Graduated in 1971, School of Science and Engineering)

We cannot play golf during the extremely cold winter. During the “golf season”, however, which is from April to October, golf course is full of people who want to enjoy golf every weekend! Our Tomonkai Golf Club members get together in the golf practice session in April, and play golf match with 4 universities; Doshisha University, Keio University, the University of Tokyo, Kwansei Gakuin University.

It was hard to gather even 10 members in 2007 when I was transferred to here in Chicago, but thanks to our passionate inducement for membership last year, the number increased to 26. During the golf season, we provide lesson for beginners every Friday evening. Everyone is enthusiastically enjoying golf.
Nobuo Kamazawa (Graduated in 1973, School of Science and Engineering)

In July 2011, I was assigned to overseas office, which was the 1st time in my 20-year history as an office worker. Moreover, I had to head to Chicago alone. When I was spending my life there feeling lonely and uneasy, I found Chicago Tomonkai and became a member of it. While I already knew how severe Chicago’s winter is, -as I have had a business trip to Chicago before- I savored great and refreshing summer here. I fully enjoyed when I participated in the event of Ravinia Festival Orchestra feeling classical music tunes and strong ties among Tomonkai members.

Given the hard time when I was overwhelmed by study for MBA, it is not so hard to work and live in a city I am not familiar with. I will continue to cherish ties with Tomonkai members, and enjoy my Chicago life.
Hiroto Ishiko (Graduated in 2010, Graduate School of Finance, Accounting and Law)

Event of Ravinia Festival Orchestra

My Nonsense
My class (in School of Commerce, 1977) was consisted of 60 students in total, of which only 4 were women! “Can you believe it!? I got plenty of men as a candidate for my boyfriend! Forget about “May depression” which most Japanese freshmen and recruits come down to. Waseda life is a paradise!”….Later, I found one “scary” thing. Waseda’s male student was so popular! They were so busy for mixed parties with female students of OTHER universities. You know, Waseda’s female students were the 2nd least popular following the female students in the University of Tokyo. Popular men and unpopular women in the same university?? What a great gap!My plight lasted even until the year when I went for job hunting.

At that time, women could only apply for companies which were located in commute distance from hometown. Therefore, I went back to my hometown out of Tokyo, decided to marry and become a housewife. However, my would-be husband said “I…feel uneasy with a woman who experienced Tokyo life” Period.Going through such predicament, I finally married a man who graduated from Keio University. Now my husband and I participate in various events of Mitakai (Keio University Alumni Association) and Tomonkai in Chicago, and actively enjoying a new encounter with people.
Hisae Shirai (Graduated in 1981, School of Commerce)

I think young people like me can get more benefits in Chicago Tomonkai. One of the benefits of Tomonkai is that we can meet and talk with presidents/CEOs of the American firm of major Japanese corporations and seniors who started business in Chicago. We cannot usually get acquainted easily with them in our daily work. We can learn many things through golf play and luncheon/dinner with them.

There is nothing like singing Waseda’s alma mater with everyone shoulder to shoulder and sending a shout-out each other, out of my hectic work,. We have many golf tournaments with other universities including Waseda vs. Keio tournament. I am practicing hard to win the game and sing “Konpeki-no-Sora”, one of the Waseda’s school cheer songs under the blue sky.
Tomonori Shibahara (Graduated in 1997, School of Political Science and Economics)

I have been working for the High School of Chicago Futabakai Japanese School for a long time. I have seen transformation of the quality and institutional changes of Japanese education through students in my school. In the past, we often heard “Learn from Japanese education” here in the U.S., but not much recently.

I understand university’s enrollment capacity for “returnee” has been expanding due to declining the low birthrate today. I am concerned about the Japanese students’ lower score of the American standardized test (which is one of the admission requirements for returnees), compared with other Asian students. Under the circumstance where Japanese companies are in need of outstanding Asian human resources, we aim for providing better quality of curriculums to send our students to Japan who fully acquired basic academic skills.
Natsuko Dunn (Graduated in 1984, School of Education)

List of Overseas Branches/
Overseas Tomonkai/
Overseas Tomonkai
Branches Located in Japan

Overseas Branches
Alumni Association in China / Alumni Association in Korea / Alumni Association in Taiwan
Overseas Tomonkai
Alumni Association in China, Overseas Branch /
Bangalore Tomonkai / Bangkok Tomonkai / Beijing Tomonkai / Cambodia Tomonkai / Dalian Tomonkai / Hanoi Tomonkai / Hong Kong Tomonkai / India Tomonkai /
Jakarta Tomonkai / Kanan (South China) Tomonkai / Malaysia Tomonkai / Manila Tomonkai / Mumbai Tomonkai / Myanmar Tomonkai / Saigon Tomonkai / Seoul Tomonkai / Shanghai Tomonkai / Singapore Tomonkai / Suzhou Tomonkai / Taipei Tomonkai / Ulan Bator Tomonkai
Brisbane Tomonkai / Melbourne Tomonkai / Perth Tomonkai / Sydney Tomonkai
North America
Boston Tomonkai / Chicago Tomonkai / Georgia Tomonkai / Hawaii Tomonkai / Los Angeles Tomonkai / Michigan Tomonkai / New York Tomonkai / San Francisco Tomonkai / Seattle Tomonkai / Toronto Tomonkai / Vancouver Tomonkai / Greater Washington Tomonkai
Central and South America
Brazil Tomonkai / Chile Tomonkai / Lima Tomonkai / Mexico Tomonkai
Belgium Tomonkai / Berlin Tomonkai / Denmark Tomonkai / Dusseldorf Tomonkai /
Frankfurt Tomonkai / Geneva Tomonkai / Moscow Tomonkai / Netherlands Tomonkai / Paris Tomonkai / Stockholm Tomonkai / UK Tomonkai
Middle East
Abu Dhabi Tomonkai / Dubai Tomonkai / Qatar Tomonkai / Tehran Tomonkai
Egypt Tomonkai / Johannesburg Tomonkai / Kenya Tomonkai
Overseas Tomonkai Branches Located in Japan
Bangkok Tomonkai Japanese Branch / Beijing Tomonkai Tokyo Branch / Dusseldorf Tomonkai Tokyo Branch / Gaoxiong Tomonkai Alumni Association / Hanoi Tomonkai Japanese Branch / Jakarta Tomonkai Alumni Association / Los Angeles Tomonkai Japan / New York Tomonkai Tokyo Branch /
Paris Tomonkai Tokyo Branch / Saigon Tomonkai Japanese Branch / Shanghai Tomonkai Tokyo Branch / Singapore Tomonkai Japanese Branch / Tokyo Brazil Tomonkai / Tokyo Hong Kong Tomonkai / Tokyo Melbourne Tomonkai / UK Tomonkai Tokyo Branch