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February 5, 2014 6:07 PM

Party known as 'shinnenkai' further unites Japanese, Kentucky cultures

When the Japan America Society of Kentucky sent me an invitation to the 2014

shinnenkai

, or New Year's party, at the Governor's Mansion, it prompted this vision: Gov. Steve Beshear, holding a 21-ounce bottle of Asahi Super Dry beer, filling my glass and urging me to drink. I imagined this because that was my experience with shinnenkai in Japan, where I taught English for three years. Such parties often featured men of local prominence (the principal, superintendent or mayor) walking around with open bottles, insisting on the honor of refilling everyone's beer glasses

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