Chicago Tomonkai

About the Chicago Tomonkai

Chicago Tomonkai was established in 1952, the next year when the San Francisco Peace Treaty was concluded amidst Japan’s recovery from its defeat during World War II. The year 2023 marks the 71st anniversary of its establishment and, in looking back to the time of its establishment, when alumni who graduated in the eras of Meiji and Taisho (1868-1926) were members of the Tomonkai, I am impressed by the long history of our association.

We welcomed the sixth president of Waseda, Koichi Shimada, in 1957, former Prime Ministers Noboru Takeshita in 1988, and Keizo Obuchi in 1999, and held grand receptions for each of them. Our Tomonkai had over 120 members in the 1990s, when the number of Japanese companies entering the Midwestern market peaked. However, we currently have approximately 40 members after the bursting of the economic bubble, the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the subsequent global financial crisis, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chicago Tomonkai holds general meetings, New Year and year-end parties, and social gatherings for members and their families to promote interaction among members; we also focus on interacting with other universities and institutions. Since the first Waseda vs Keio golf tournament was held in 1970, the golf event has been one of our regular events. Today, Waseda-Keio picnics and gatherings for the Ravinia Festival have become our regular events.

We will pass the long-established Tomonkai, which has been supported and developed by our seniors, on to generations to come. As the third verse of Waseda’s alma mater states, “Yet all alike we seek to share / These ideals and their light,” we would like to continue to make contribution to the communities in Chicago as Waseda alumni of high ideals.

Natsuko Dunn (Graduated in 1984, School of Education)

A Halloween bowling event held in October 2022

The attractive points of Chicago

Chicago, known as the birthplace of skyscrapers, is located almost in the middle of the United States and has developed both as an important traffic hub and as an industrial city where manufacturing and food processing industries thrive. Facing Lake Michigan, the fifth largest lake in the world, Chicago is called the “Windy City” due to its strong seasonal winds. Winters are bitterly cold in Chicago, with some days below zero degrees Fahrenheit (-18 degrees Celsius.) However, the weather in summer is pleasant and dry, and people can enjoy various outdoor events and lake bathing, rather than sea bathing.

Chicago is a leading cultural city in the United States. The Art Institute of Chicago has the world’s largest collection of impressionist paintings, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is rated as one of the finest orchestras in the world. When it comes to sports, the city is home to globally popular teams, such as the Chicago Cubs baseball team and the Chicago Bulls basketball team.

Most Japanese companies have their offices in Schaumburg, near the airport, and many Japanese live in suburban areas, which have less of the hustle and bustle that downtown areas are known for, offering a calm and relaxing atmosphere in midwestern U.S. Since the Chicago-style pizza, the city’s specialty, is overwhelmingly hearty, you should try it on an empty stomach when you visit the city.
Koji Tateoka (Enrollment in 1994, School of Human Sciences)

Chicago is famous for its architecture.

The thick Chicago-style pizza, the city’s specialty

Message from the Chairperson

While our Tomonkai is one of the oldest foreign-based Tomonkai, we value a casual atmosphere in which all members, irrespective of whether they live with their families or whether they are single or married, can enjoy our association together without formalities. At present, the number of our members has declined slightly due to the pandemic, but we regularly hold get-togethers and other one-off events, as well as Waseda-Keio joint events (golf competitions, BBQs, concerts, and parties). We plan events focusing on the long-standing concept of members “enjoying their lives in Chicago with the Tomonkai while working in the city.”
Akihito Taira (Graduated in 1995, School of Science and Engineering)

Messages from the Members

When I was transferred to Chicago in the autumn of 2022, members of the Tomonkai helped me start a new life in the city. Looking back now, Chicago Tomonkai not only offered physical support for me, but was also something that I could rely on. The other day (in March 2023), I was invited by the Tomonkai members to watch the World Baseball Classic final at a sports bar. The exciting game between Japan and the United States was impressive, and watching it with other members became a good memory. I have been able to lead a fulfilling life in Chicago thanks to Chicago Tomonkai.
Hayato Shigefuji (Graduated in 2003, School of Social Sciences)

I have been living in Chicago for nearly 25 years and have celebrated my 60th birthday. Whenever I sing Waseda’s alma mater and fight songs at Tomonkai’s gatherings, various memories come to mind, such as myself in my school days, the four-and-a-half tatami room that I lodged in, my seniors and friends, the Jingu Baseball Stadium, and the Takadanobaba Station. I just feel “We have our home for heart and will / School, with kind maternal care!” as the alma mater says. Every time I participate in Tomonkai activities in Chicago, a city far away from Japan, I realize “Her students change from year to year / Meet and part with youth’s delight,” while the fact that I can talk with other alumni in Japanese in a friendly atmosphere remains special to me. I appreciate Chicago Tomonkai.
Hisae Shirai (Graduated in 1981, School of Commerce)

It has been some time since I graduated from Waseda University. I now work as an attorney at a law firm in Chicago, whose main clients are Japanese companies. It has not been long since I came to Chicago, but I really appreciate Tomonkai because it allows me to connect with the Japanese community through its efforts and associations. The network I built during my schooling at Waseda University has unexpectedly helped me in my work, and I am always surprised by the broad network of Waseda alumni. While the number of its members declined because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I would like to help the association regain the vitality it had before the pandemic.
Reika Alicia Nakayama (Graduated in 2017, School of Law)

At the end of 2019, I moved to Chicago with my family. At first, I wanted to immerse myself in the United States so that I could be Americanized. However, I came to think that I needed to feel connected to Japan and to be part of an easygoing community, so I joined Chicago Tomonkai. With members gathering in a foreign country under the common identity of Waseda alumni, I have much in common to talk about. Some senior members have lived in Chicago for several decades. Because I rarely meet such people, this is an invaluable experience for me.
Reo Tatsuhira (Graduated in 2010, School of Commerce)

Members took this picture after enjoying a Waseda-Keio golf event in June 2022.

List of Overseas Branches/
Overseas Tomonkai/
Overseas Tomonkai
Branches Located in Japan

Overseas Branches
Alumni Association in China / Alumni Association in Korea / Alumni Association in Taiwan
Overseas Tomonkai
Alumni Association in China, Overseas Branch /
Bangalore Tomonkai / Bangkok Tomonkai / Beijing Tomonkai / Cambodia Tomonkai / Dalian Tomonkai / Hanoi Tomonkai / Hong Kong Tomonkai / India Tomonkai /
Jakarta Tomonkai / Kanan (South China) Tomonkai / Malaysia Tomonkai / Manila Tomonkai / Mumbai Tomonkai / Myanmar Tomonkai / Saigon Tomonkai / Seoul Tomonkai / Shanghai Tomonkai / Singapore Tomonkai / Suzhou Tomonkai / Taipei Tomonkai / Ulan Bator Tomonkai
Brisbane Tomonkai / Melbourne Tomonkai / Perth Tomonkai / Sydney Tomonkai
North America
Boston Tomonkai / Chicago Tomonkai / Georgia Tomonkai / Hawaii Tomonkai / Los Angeles Tomonkai / Michigan Tomonkai / New York Tomonkai / San Francisco Tomonkai / Seattle Tomonkai / Toronto Tomonkai / Vancouver Tomonkai / Greater Washington Tomonkai
Central and South America
Brazil Tomonkai / Chile Tomonkai / Lima Tomonkai / Mexico Tomonkai
Belgium Tomonkai / Berlin Tomonkai / Denmark Tomonkai / Dusseldorf Tomonkai /
Frankfurt Tomonkai / Geneva Tomonkai / Moscow Tomonkai / Netherlands Tomonkai / Paris Tomonkai / Stockholm Tomonkai / UK Tomonkai
Middle East
Abu Dhabi Tomonkai / Dubai Tomonkai / Qatar Tomonkai / Tehran Tomonkai
Egypt Tomonkai / Johannesburg Tomonkai / Kenya Tomonkai
Overseas Tomonkai Branches Located in Japan
Bangkok Tomonkai Japanese Branch / Beijing Tomonkai Tokyo Branch / Dusseldorf Tomonkai Tokyo Branch / Gaoxiong Tomonkai Alumni Association / Hanoi Tomonkai Japanese Branch / Jakarta Tomonkai Alumni Association / Los Angeles Tomonkai Japan / New York Tomonkai Tokyo Branch /
Paris Tomonkai Tokyo Branch / Saigon Tomonkai Japanese Branch / Shanghai Tomonkai Tokyo Branch / Singapore Tomonkai Japanese Branch / Tokyo Brazil Tomonkai / Tokyo Hong Kong Tomonkai / Tokyo Melbourne Tomonkai / UK Tomonkai Tokyo Branch