The Ventures receive the Emperor of Japan’s award

The Ventures receive the Emperor of Japan’s award
Posted on July 6, 2010 .

Last Monday, June 28, 2010 I had the honor and privilege of attending the ceremony in honoring the Ventures’ members, at the residence of the Consul General of Japan in Seattle, the honorable Mr. Kiyokazu Ota. There were well over a hundred people in attendance, along with members of the press, and local dignitaries. The Consul General and his wife hosted the event at their official residence. Don Wilson, Nokie Edwards, Leon Taylor and Nokie Edwards were present with their wives and family members. Also attending was the Lt. Governor of the State of Washington, the honorable Brad Owen and his wife.

The evening’s celebrations were started by Mr. Akira Takeda, Senior Aide for Information and Cultural Affairs who introduced the group members, and explained about their contributions to the world of Japanese music, and also about the significance of the award itself, The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette. It is a tremendous honor for non-Japanese citizens to be given this award by the Emperor of Japan, especially since The Ventures are the first group (of any kind) to be decorated – normally, this award is given only to individuals.

The Consul General then gave a wonderful speech, full of humor and interest. He mentioned that, when he was a young boy in school, The Ventures became so popular in Japan then he and his friends spent a lot of time pretending to play ‘teke-teke’ guitar, to copy The Ventures. In fact, he explained that, in Japan, the students are expected to clean the classroom at the end of the day: he grabbed a push broom to demonstrate how he and his fellow students used to play air guitar on the broom instead of doing their cleaning chores!

Lt. Governor Brad Owen gave a speech as well, recalling that he had known The Ventures’ members for many years, and had even opened for them with his band, on a tour of the Pacific Northwest some 20 years ago.

After the speeches, the award certificates and medals were given to each member individually, and they gave their own acceptance speeches.

During the evening, there were many references and remembrances of both Bob Bogle and Mel Taylor, and their huge contribution to the success of The Ventures and their influence in Japan.

At the end of the presentation, two wonderful Japanese ladies – Ms. Shiho Kurauchi and Ms. Chigusa Kitai, traditionally dressed in kimono, who play koto using the name ‘Silk Strings’, played a number of Ventures’ songs to the delight of the audience. It is truly amazing how well Ventures music translates to Japanese traditional instruments.

The evening concluded with a terrific reception enjoyed by all.

On the previous day, in Los Angeles on Sunday, June 27, 2010, Gerry McGee attended a ceremony held by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Southern California, at which he and other recipients of similar awards (including previously decorated recipients) were hosted by the JCCSC at a luncheon. Gerry was presented with a commemorative plaque by the JCCSC, and also received his medal from the Consul General of Japan in Los Angeles, the honorable Junichi Ihara.

Attached are photos of each honoree with their medals.

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Category: Music