3rd Annual Hoshizora Gala

Aozora Community Foundation invites you to our 3rd Annual Hoshizora "Starry Skies" Gala. Come celebrate with us Thursday, April 19th at ShapeShifter Lab in Gowanus, Brooklyn. Grab some drinks, enjoy a variety of Japanese tapas, and witness some brilliant performances by some of New York's top artists.

Partake in our incredible silent auction, try your luck on one of our raffle baskets or take home one of our fukubukuro "mystery bags." 

Your ticket purchase will enable us to expand Aozora Community Foundation programming and services for our youth and families. This year, proceeds will go towards finalizing our Japanese lending library, building up our school holiday and summer camp programs for youth, expanding our workshop and class offerings for children and adults, and increasing outreach to the larger Japanese community here in New York.

This event is open to the public. Please feel free to spread the word!

Thursday - April 19, 2018 - 7pm to 10pm

ShapeShifter Lab, 18 Whitwell Place, Brooklyn, NY 11215 

Ticket price:
General Admission - $75

Please check out our ticket page to see other pricing and levels HERE


Kazunori Kumagai and Kaoru Watanabe will be sure to impress you with their artistry and rhythmic sensibilities. These award-winning and awe-inspiring performers will turn you into a groupie by the end of the night.

NEW! Let's welcome Nojo, an amazing female duo who will be adding some major flavor to the evening. Check out their profiles below.  

Kazunori Kumagai,  Tap dancer

Kazunori Kumagai, Tap dancer

Kazunori Kumagai was born in Sendai City, Japan. He started tap dancing at the age of 15 and came to New York at the age of 19. He trained at Funk University, the training workshop for the hit Broadway musical Bring in da' Noise, Bring in 'da Funk. He studied with Ted Levy, Buster Brown, Gregory Hines, Barbara Duffy, and Derick K. Grant. Since then, he has performed in many New York City downtown clubs, such as The Knitting Factory, Tonic, and just recently he performed his solo show at the Blue Note NY. Since 2002, he has performed in Tony Waag’s Tap City, the New York City Tap Festival and was dubbed by The Village Voice as the "Japanese Gregory Hines." In 2006, he was selected as one of Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch." In 2014, He received the Flo-Bert Award, a prestigious award that honors tap dancers for outstanding achievements. 

In 2008, he opened his first tap dance studio, KAZ TAP STUDIO, in Japan, and has subsequently taught throughout Japan including in his hometown of Sendai City, site of severe damage in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Kazu currently lives in Brooklyn, NY and tours all over the world. He recently won the "Bessie Award 2016" as an "Outstanding Performer." 


Kaoru Watanabe,  Musician - taiko drums & shinobue flutes

Kaoru Watanabe, Musician - taiko drums & shinobue flutes

Kaoru Watanabe is a Brooklyn based composer and musician, acclaimed for his innovative approach to powerful Japanese drums and the texturally rich melodies of the Japanese flutes with virtuosic, odd-meter improvisations. He has a passion for cross cultural and multi-disciplinary collaborations, working with such artists as National Living Treasure Bando Tamasaburo, Jason Moran, So Percussion, Adam Rudolph, directors Wes Anderson and Martin Scorsese and was a featured guest on Yo-Yo Ma's Grammy Award-winning album Sing Me Home. Watanabe was a performer and artistic director of the internationally acclaimed Japanese taiko performing arts ensemble Kodo for close to a decade.

Watanabe has performed his compositions at such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, Kabukiza and in Minamiza, has performed in all 47 prefectures in Japan as well as across the North, Central and South Americas, Europe, Asia and Australia.





Nonlee Saito
Born in Kamogawa, Chiba Japan. Started playing organ from age 4, started to compose songs. Learning piano from age6. Played recorder, flute, bamboo flute. Then, self taught guitar, bass, ukulele, keyboard, upright bass. Since 1995, started to play in NY punk and hardcore scene. Have her own band High Teen Boogie, also play in NYHC band, Urban Waste. Taught ukulele class at Aozora Gakuen 2015. She enjoys touring, playing, and writing.

Born and raised in Woodbury, Long island with an early connection to music, Jodi began playing piano at the age of 5 and picked up the drums at 8 years old. By 16 she was playing bass. In recent years Jodi has started plating the ukulele as well. In Jodi's early years, she had the honor of performing on the drums for President Clinton at his 1992 democratic convention in NYC. Jodi has a diverse playing style and has the ability to play in a wide variety of musical groups. She has the privilege of playing in a symphonic band, orchestra, drum corps, jazz, Latin, pop, R&B, as well as a few local punk bands. She has played in a couple of NY bands including Dirty Pillows, Greg Hoy and the Boys and The Kakistokrats. Jodi took a hiatus from music to pursue her education but is excited to be back playing with Nonlee in a new project. 



Put your auction boxing gloves on! Our auction is packed full of an amazing array of products, services and other offerings, many donated by local businesses and individuals who support the mission of Aozora Community Foundation. Check out our Facebook Event page to see periodic postings of photos of some of the items from our growing list of generous donors below. 

If you would like to donate an item to go towards our auction or raffle, please email us at info@aozoracommunity.org. No item is too big or too small. Thank you for your consideration. 



Honestly, we know how to feed people. No joke. Ask people who've come to our galas before and they'll tell you the food is deeeelish. Your ticket gets you access to some great Japanese tapas, locally made bites and our bottomless beer and wine bar. Don’t miss out on the sushi rolls, noodles, takoyaki and other noms and, as the Beach Boys might say, good good good good libations.




About Us

So, what's this gala all about?
Aozora Community Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit that dually aims to support Aozora Gakuen services and enhance opportunities for New York-area families to engage with Japan's unique language, arts, and culture. Thanks to our galas and to supporters like yourselves, Aozora Gakuen was able to open a new 3200-square-foot facility in nearby Clinton Hill, Brooklyn in 2017, which services over 60 children and their families. In the short time we've been around, Aozora Community Foundation has extended our Japanese community programming to include cultural and family education workshops and panels, monthly family film screenings and after school and weekend classes that serve children 0-7+ years old.

With your support this year, we can finalize our Japanese lending library, build up our holiday and summer camp programs and continue to reach out to our larger Japanese community with workshops and classes for children and adults. Together, let's build strong families and a strong community. 

Our galas are open to the public. Please feel free to spread the word!

Want to know more?
Check out our programs, discover other ways to support, follow us on Facebook or email us at info@aozoracommunity.org