Sushi for the Senses – Off the Menu with Kusakabe Mitsunori

Date has changed from April 24th to June 16th.  This event is sold out.  Please call Asia Society at 415-421-8707 to be added to the wait list.

Sushi has become wildly popular in the U.S. since its introduction in the 1970s, but few Americans have had the opportunity to sample truly world-class sushi or to learn its intricacies. So much more than raw fish over rice dipped in soy sauce, great sushi is subtle, refined, not always raw or fresh, and prepared by a master chef with decades of experience. Join the Asia Society for a sneak peak at KUSAKABE, opening in April 2014 and changing the rules of the game for high-end sushi in San Francisco. The restaurant’s dishes will be prepared kaiseki style, with an exquisite sense of balance, taste, texture, and appearance, emphasizing seasonality and mindfulness. KUSAKABE will feature not only Edo-mae (nigiri) sushi, but a range of classical techniques and presentations. Guests at this standing-room-only program will enjoy 13+ passed courses, sake pairings, and other offerings.


Kusakabe Mitsunori is chef and co-owner of KUSAKABE, opening in San Francisco in April 2014. He was previously executive chef at Michelin-starred Sushi Ran in Sausalito and executive chef at Nobu in Miami Beach. He is a past Grand Winner of the World Sushi Award and All U.S. Sushi Technical Skill Champion. Born and raised in Osaka and Kyoto, he trained at Jun-tei, a kaiseki restaurant in Kyoto.

Eric Gower is an expert on Japanese and contemporary cuisine. He is the author of “The Breakaway Cook” column in the San Francisco Chronicle and three cookbooks: The Breakaway Cook, The Breakaway Japanese Kitchen, and Eric’s Kitchen (in Japanese). Eric also runs Breakaway Matcha, a specialty tea company focused on hyper-premium matcha.

Program Agenda:

5:30 – 6:00 p.m. Registration/Reception
6:00 – 8:00 p.m. Dinner/Sake Pairings & Discussion


  • $50 for JSNC & Asia Society Members
  • $65 for Non-members
  • Limited capacity & Off the Menu events sell out quickly; please rsvp early!




Japanese Toys! From Kokeshi to Kaiju: Discussion & Guided Tour

The Japanese imagination has led to many of the world’s most extraordinary toys. Japanese toys span an unparalleled gamut—from a centuries-long practice of traditional doll making to whimsical folk toys, such as ghostly mechanical kobe figures and papier-mâché guardian dogs.  Japanese Toys! From Kokeshi to Kaiju provides a feast for the eyes and the imagination. This exhibition captures the remarkable evolution of Japanese toys.

We will hear from Ultraman and Alien Baltan figures  1966–67toy collector Mark Nagata and Bandai toy designer Tsuyoshi Nonaka on the history of Japanese toys and their influence in today’s culture.  If you’re not flying out of SFO’s United Terminal before the exhibit closes on April 30th then this will be your one chance to see it in person!  Kokeshi dolls, menko playing cards, and battery-operated robots are among the quintessential toys on display. Vinyl kaiju figures, Ultraman novelties, and a dress made entirely from plush Hello Kitty dolls are some of the unexpected items on view.

SFO Museum curator Nicole Mullen will moderate.

More info on the exhibit here!


About Mark Nagata:

marknagataOver the years Mark Nagata has collected thousands of toys and a fair amount of titles. The man behind San Francisco-based Max Toy Company is widely known as: Toy Collector. Illustrator. Magazine Founder/Publisher. Toy Designer. Artist. Author. Husband. Father. But the one description that might fit best is an unofficial one – Kaiju Toy and Art Ambassador.

Trained at the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, Mr. Nagata honed his skills working for himself and for some of the most notable businesses in the country. As a freelance commercial illustrator, he completed works for such prominent companies as Lucasfilms, DC Comics, Hasbro Toys, IBM, Sony, and numerous advertising and design firms, both national and international.  Mr. Nagata’s colorful style graces over 40 cover paintings for R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps book series – Give Yourself Goosebumps.

After hundreds of assignments, Mr. Nagata made the decision to move in another direction, and that choice has led to whole new career as a successful businessman. For four years, the owner of one of the largest Ultraman toy collections in the world co-published Super 7 Magazine showcasing the finest in Japanese toy collecting.  His devotion to presenting collectors with a selection of original figures inspired by classic Japanese toys from the 1960s and ‘70s as well as new versions of licensed Japanese characters is at the heart of Max Toy Company.  Named for his son, Max Toys specializes in custom and limited editions of “kaiju” (Japanese monsters) toys and artwork.  Many of the original toys produced are hand painted by Mark, a tradition that goes back to Japanese toy makers of the past.

About Tsuyoshi Nonaka:

Tsuyoshi Nonaka has been a devoted to toy producer who has been working in the Boy’s Toy Business Nonakaat Bandai Co. LTD (Japan) as a toy designer and planner for more than 20 years. While working for them, he was responsible for creating and designing Heroes, Robots, Vehicles and Weapons for kid’s TV series and turning them into TOYS.

His masterpieces are Toei “Metal Hero Series” and “Super Sentai Series”. (a.k.a Power Rangers) It is needless to say that Tsuyoshi is known as the original designer of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (a.k.a Kyoryu Sentai ZyuRanger) in Japan as well as several Kamen Rider series. In addition, he has also created a successful toy series-brand for adults in Japan called “Chogokin-Damashii (a.k.a Soul of Chogokin) and recreated his childhood favorite character Mazinger Z (a.k.a Tranzor Z) as part of collectible die-cast Robot toy series towards the collector, high-end market which are still growing today. Not only this , he has provided mechanical designs for Mazinkaiser SKL, Shin Mazinger Shōgeki! Z-Hen and DICE.

From 2011, he has shifted his creative base from Asia to North America where he has become the head of “PLEX International Design, US division” working for Bandai America Inc. (Cypress CA).

 Gallery2  Gallery4  Gallery3

Photos Courtesy of SFO Museum


  • $10 for Japan Society Members & Students (Please show ID at time of check-in)
  • $15 for Non-members
  • At time of registration please be prepared to provide your passport or driver’s license number for TSA purposes.  Due to the location of the exhibit inside the United Terminal we must enter through airport security.
  • For those registering children without a passport or ID card please call Briana Burrows at (415)986-4383 to register by phone.
  • Online registration closes at 2:00 PM on Friday, April 18
  • No refunds after Monday, April 14
  • Space is limited, first come first served.


  • Currently we are unable to permit walk-ins due to airport security issues, however, please check back for updates.  We strongly encourage registering early due to the limited capacity.


  • 6:00 PM – 6:30 PM       Registration/Reception
  • 6:30 PM – 7:15 PM       Panel Discussion
  • 7:30 PM – 8:45 PM       Q&A and Guided Tour

Light appetizers and drinks provided.


International Terminal, San Francisco International Airport

At the entrance to Boarding Area A, just before the security check point, turn to the left and proceed a few steps to the aviation museum and library entrance.


Please use the International Garage and take your parking ticket with you to the event to have it validated for free parking.  You must use the REGULAR LANE when entering the parking garage.  Credit card and FasTrak lanes do not issue garage tickets.