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Review: "Bridges to Japan" at the ISF

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4 stars

Indiana State Fair; Grand Hall. Was it bad karma to open this exhibition of things Japanese on the 65th anniversary of Hiroshima? No, perfect timing. The pavilion, which really does include a Japanese bridge, showcases the strength of today's Japan-Indiana commercial and cultural connections. Marvel at displays of the Japanese pop culture that has seduced America's youth. Boggle at the number of Hoosier schools offering Japanese language and exchange programs. See your name, written in Japanese! Pout over the Japan Railways exhibit that rubs our noses in what REAL public transit looks like, then be consoled by Paro-chan, the therapeutic baby seal robot. Chat with communication robot Wakamaru, Japan's answer to C-3PO. Live entertainment ranges from traditional Japanese performance and martial arts to "action comic band" Peelander-Z. No pork tenderloin sandwiches here, but try the katsu (pork cutlet) curry. Or the deep-fried sushi. Through Aug. 22; daily schedule at www.japanindiana.org.

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