By Betsy Thorpe
On June 4th Juan Gipson and Mohd Fareneh of the Shoney’s Company hosted a private luncheon in Bellevue to welcome Consul General Hiroshi Sato, Mrs. Yoko Sato and Vice Consul Takeshi Kodo to Nashville. Retired Marine Major, Jack Spence and his wife Sue Spence were also in attendance.
After completing his term of service in Hong Kong Consul General Sato arrived in Nashville to establish Tennessee’s first foreign consulate. The General Consulate of Japan, located at 1801 West End Avenue opened last October. Vice Consul Takeshi Kodo joined Sato in Nashville following the closing of the consulate’s southern post in New Orleans.
One important mission of the new consulate is to promote and assist with cultural and grassroots exchanges between the people of Japan and Tennessee.Consul General, Mrs. Soto and Vice Consul Kodo are leading the mission by enjoying and embracing Nashville’s rich and varied culture. Sato, who as a teenager in Japan joined a folk band with a repertoire that included songs by the American folk trio, Peter Paul and Mary, is now improving his musical skills by taking guitar lessons at World Music in Bellevue. Mrs. Sato is a certified teacher in Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement and is interested in Tennessee’s natural resources and flowers. She recently visited the Warner Nature Parks and Montgomery Bell Park and plans to visit other city and state parks soon. Vice Consul Kodo has expressed interest in Nashville’s Civil War history and will soon be led on a guided tour of Nashville’s historic battle sites by one of Nashville’s Civil War era historians. On Saturday, June 27th at Greer Stadium, Consul General Hiroshi Sato will throw out the ceremonial first pitch to open the game between the Nashville Sounds and the Oklahoma City Redhawks.
Following Thursday’s luncheon one attendee stated that is was a “cheerful” event and Mrs. Sue Spence said “it is very exciting that here in Nashville we can learn and experience the Japanese culture, I was very pleased to be able to meet Consul General and Mrs. Sato and I was happy to be part of the welcome extended to them by Shoney’s .”