On Thursday, February 27th Asia Society Texas Center hosted their annual Tiger Ball Gala. This event is a large scale fundraiser which sells tickets to raise money for the nonprofit organization.
The theme of the Tiger Ball marking the completion of the Asia Society Texas Center, which was designed by Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi, was “Celebrate Japan.” His Excellency Kenichiro Sasae, Ambassador of Japan to the United States, traveled to Houston to attend the Tiger Ball as the honorary chair of the event. The gala was co-chaired by two Japanese-American community leaders: Ms. Donna Fujimoto Cole, President and CEO of Cole Chemical and Mr. Glen Yoshiaki Gondo, CE of Gondo Company Inc.
At the Tiger Ball Opening Ceremony Consul-General of Japan Nozomu Takaoka recognized the business leaders and donors present at the gala who make Houston the dynamic city it is by contributing to “the happy marriage between economic prosperity and intellectual and cultural strength.” Consul-General Takaoka also praised the strong relationship between Houston and Japan citing the March increase to two direct flights per day between Narita and Houston offered by United Airlines, the plans to connect Houston and Dallas with high-speed rail (a technology from Japan), and the U.S. Department of Energy approved “Freeport Project” focusing on the exportation of LNG to Japan.
Consul-General introduced Ambassador Sasae who thanked both gala chairs for their invitation to the Tiger Ball, recalled his first visit to Texas State, and expressed his happiness at the chance to visit again. Ambassador Sasae also recognized Asia Society for their huge contribution to encourage mutual understanding between the United States and Asian countries. He also recognized the society’s role in deepening the friendship between Houston and Japan.
Although the season had already passed in Houston, the Asia Society Texas Center was decorated with cherry blossom bows, a symbol of Japan. Supporters of the Japan-America friendship, Asia Society Board Member Nancy Allen, and sponsors from United Airlines were among the 700 guests that gathered for the occasion.
On Friday, February 28th a luncheon was held at the Houstonian Hotel in recognition of the Tiger Ball contributors. At the luncheon Ambassador Sasae spoke of the key diplomatic issues for current day Japan. He touched on the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement and the importance of the collaboration between the United States and Japan to ensure stability in East Asia. The luncheon was also an opportunity to hold a conversation with the ambassador in which Asia Society Vice-Chairman Edward Allen asked Ambassador Sasae his opinion on environmental concerns and other major issues that affect Japan and the United States.
Asia Society is an organization committed to building a bridge between the United States and Asian Countries by sharing culture, art, business, and education. Through various events and programs Asia Society plays a lead role to bring Asia to the greater Houston community. Asia Society’s new Texas Center, which was completed in April of 2012, was designed by Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi who also helped to remodel the New York Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). It now stands as one of the most celebrated examples of Japanese style and traditional architecture in Texas.