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Being A Broad December 2009 #51

The monthly magazine for international women living in Japan

our cover girl: TOKYO PHYSIO’S ANNETTE CHASE

early PREGNANCY in JAPAN learning to COOK in a TINY kitchen LYNN MATSUOKA paints the world of Japanese SUMO enjoying WINTER in HAKUBA

giving NEW LIFE to old KIMONOS WAKING UP at just the RIGHT TIME CALM yourself through MEDITATION

www.being-a-broad.com


RELOCATION:

HEALTH & BEAUTY:


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Thanks to everyone who celebrated our 50th issue with us at Suji’s last month, whether you were there in person or in spirit! You can see a selection of photos in the middle of this month’s issue, and more online at: http://tinyurl.com/ yb64h4n. You may notice that we are four pages smaller in this issue; this is due to the fact that we no longer need to print a pullout poster supporting Lindsay Ann Hawker’s family and the police in their search for Tatsuya Ichihashi. For the few who may not know, Ichihashi was captured on November 10, and is now in police custody. Lindsay’s family will be sending a special message to you in a future issue, but for now I’d like to thank everyone, on the family’s behalf, for all your support. It has meant so much to the Hawker family to know that they have been in the hearts of so many who live here.

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image: Kerry Raftis/www.keyshots.com

image: David Stetson

message from the founder being a broad news BAB events, TAC Women’s Group preschool fair

our cover girl Tokyo Physio’s Annette Chase

women of the world news from around the globe

things we love

a special holiday gift guide

embracing your inner beauty

make waking up a little bit easier

10 Tokyo girl

11 health & wellness image: Mandy Kitchener

6 our cover girl

12 working

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we profile: Canning K.K.’s Anne Konishi

real-life story learning Indian meditation in Japan

14 50th issue celebration

Thank you. Caroline Pover BAB Founder

looking back at the BAB party at Suji’s

16 travel

• staying safe while travelling abroad

• making the most of winter in Hakuba

the broads (and boys!) 13 real-life story

image: Marbelle Photography, Maui

Publishers Caroline Pover & Emily Downey Editor & Designer Danielle Tate-Stratton Marketing Consultant Amy Dose Marketing, Sales & Distribution Consultant Sarah Baker Advertisement Designer Chris May BAB reps Kelsey Aguirre (Shonan) kelsey@being-a-broad.com Shaney Crawford (Tsukuba) shaney@being-a-broad.com Aiko Miyagi (Okinawa) aiko@being-a-broad.com Aurora Bonaiuto-Davi (Shizuoka) aurora@being-a-broad.com Contributors Gabbi Bradshaw, Gaby Sheldon, Louise Mutter, Anne Konishi, Mandy Kitchener, Leigh Wellsview, James A. Robb, Shana Graves, Suzanne Miyake Cover Model Annette Chase Cover Photographer Kerry Raftis, www.keyshots.com Cover Makeup Naomi Saito, Sin Den Proofreader Jane Farries Printing Mojo Print Opinions expressed by BAB contributors are not necessarily those of the Publishers.

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• Lynn Matsuoka explores sumo and kabuki • Crystal Morey’s inventive kimono pieces

food & dining learning to cook in a teeny, tiny kitchen

mothers enjoying pregnancy in Japan

22 she found love in Japan

love found in the classroom

22 she found love in Japan

Being A Broad magazine, editor@being-a-broad.com www.being-a-broad.com tel. 03-5879-6825, fax: 03-6368-6191 Being A Broad December 2009

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BAB NEWS

A quote from the BAB book: Cars:  Driving in Japan is not entirely the unpleasant or stressful experience that some would have you believe. In cities, yes, there are many awkward narrow roads—Tokyo’s road system is based on the idea than an enemy should be suitably confused and find it impossible to walk in a straight line to the Imperial Palace. There are traffic lights at every junction, but I like to think they make your journey a slower and more enjoyable one. The speed limit in built-up areas is 50kph but rarely will you get up to that speed. Expressways have an 80kph limit that most people ignore; however, there are some speed traps around Japan, so take care. The Japanese are generally careful, polite drivers, quite happy to let you go first, of-

Subscriptions

Being A Broad November 2009 #50

The monthly magazine for international women living in Japan

the

50

th

issue

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www.being-a-broad.com Thanks for picking up this issue of Being A Broad. Like what you see? Then why not subscribe today? For just ¥4,500 you’ll get one year (12 issues) of Being A Broad delivered to your door. Email: editor@being-a-broad. com to subscribe today! Plus, we now have the past six issues of BAB on our website and will be adding more soon. Check them out at www.being-abroad.com, and let us know what you think!

ten bowing in front of their steering wheels as you do so. Road-rage is nonexistent; you won’t hear drivers screaming obscenities out the window if a tense situation occurs. Gas stations provide impeccable service, cleaning everything in sight and stopping all the traffic to allow you back on the road. Although many major roads are signposted in English and Japanese, the main problem with driving in Japan is getting lost. Be sure to get a copy of the Japan Road Atlas and plan your route in advance. Remember that the officers at the police boxes will be happy to provide you with directions if you get lost. Contact the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) for an English-language brochure explaining the traffic rules. If you become a member of JAF, you can call them during a breakdown. The basic rules for cars and driving are: drive on the left; the driver and front passenger must wear seat belts; car seats are required for babies and small children; do not drive under the influence of alcohol; park only in designated areas or your vehicle will be removed; but, most important, you cannot buy a car unless you can prove that you have somewhere to park it. Unless your apartment comes with its own parking space, you have to rent one, which can cost from ¥100 a month in rural areas, to ¥60,000 a month in the centre of Tokyo. Parking is a problem in major cities in Japan and has led to maximum usage of parking space: cars stacked on top of each other on flimsy metal frames; narrow but high-in-the-sky and deep-in-the-ground parking buildings where you park your car on a metal circle and let the rotating machinery do the rest; as well as sprawling parking lots jammed full with cars and excessive numbers of attendants with whom you leave your keys and your faith... For more on cars and dozens of other subjects on Japan, pick up a copy of the BAB book, now back in print! BAB Readers’ Survey: Do you pick up BAB occasionally or subscribe to get every issue? Love the magazine or wish you could have a hand in changing it? Either way, we’d love to hear from you! Please take a minute or two to answer our brief reader’s survey, which can be easily accessed at www.surveymonkey.com/s/ NZF9NFV.  To thank you for participating, we’ll enter you into a draw for one of a few great prizes— and your answers will help us serve you even better!

“My encyclopedia, my translator, my phone book, my best friend!”

—Western woman living in Japan

514–page book including everything you need to make the most out of your life: case studies of Western women working in almost 50 different types of jobs; anecdotes from many of the 200 Western women interviewed; profiles of 23 women’s organisations; and essential Japanese words and phrases. An essential book for any Western woman living in Japan. Read about: • Coping with culture shock. • Finding clothes and shoes that fit. • Avoiding hair disasters. • Cooking Japanese food. • Telling a chikan where to go. • Dating and the singles scene. • Organising contraception. • Getting married and divorced. • Adopting a baby. • Educating your child. • Finding a job. • Teaching gender studies in the Englishlanguage classroom. • Coping with reverse culture shock when you leave Japan.

Alexandra Press, 2001, ¥3,000 (inc. tax) To order email info@being-a-broad.com

You can pick BAB up at the following locations: Shibuya-ku: • British School Tokyo • Boudoir • Sin Den

Notting Hill • Krissman Tennis • PAL International School •

• Furla Yoga • Nua Japan

ROTI Roppongi • Paddy Foley’s • Asian Tigers

Minato-ku: • Suji’s • Nakashima Dentist • TELL •

Kichijoji: Shinzen Yoga Koto-ku: Toho Women’s Clinic Bunkyo-ku: Joy to the World International School Suginami-ku: JUN International School Chofu-shi: American School in Japan Yokohama: Treehouse Montessori

Nishimachi International School • Gymboree • Global Kids Academy • Mitsubishi UFJ Azabujuban • Tokyo Surgical and Medical Clinic • National Azabu • Segafredo • Tokyo American Club • Nissin World Delicatessen • Crown Relocations • Temple University • Hulabootie •

Nagoya: St. George Academy Tsukuba: Through BAB Rep Shaney Shonan: Through BAB Rep Kelsey Okinawa: Through BAB Rep Aiko Shizuoka: Through BAB Rep Aurora (To contact your local BAB Rep for a copy, simply send them an email. All contact details are on page three.)


FEATURED COMMUNITY EVENT:

PRESCHOOL INFO FAIR by Gaby Sheldon

The Programme: • Does the programme have a clear written statement of its goals and philosophy? • Does the programme follow a particular country’s syllabus or combine several? 


Advice for Renegades, A Tip From Anna: Perfection vs Excellence=Embrace Failure! You’ve heard it before: perfection will permit no mistakes, while excellence learns from its mistakes. This means that if you’re doing it right, you will actually make—I’m sorry to break it to you— mistakes. And not theoretical mistakes; no, you’ll actually fall down hard a few times. On your rear. In public. You’ll be embarrassed, you’ll lose money, the business will fail, your proposal will be rejected, or you’ll torpedo a project. Congratulations!

• Do the goals address all areas of children’s development, including social, emotional, intellectual, and physical development? 
 • Does the programme offer a balance of individual, small group, and large group activities? 
 • Does it offer a balance of spontaneous play and teacher-guided activities? 
 • Are children provided regular opportunities for outdoor play? 
 • Do the activities encourage self-expression; allow for the development of various fine and large motor skills; and expose the children to literature, language experiences, music, art, science, and nature? 
 • Does the programme encourage and respond to children’s spontaneous interests in the beginnings of reading, writing, and counting? 
 • Does the staff solicit and follow up children’s interests in the world around them? 
 • Do the content and materials of the programme reflect cultural diversity and nonsexist attitudes? 
 • Is there a balance among small group activities, rest and quiet periods, and vigorous outdoor activities? 
 • How much Japanese is included in the program and is it in a structured format or a more ad hoc way? The Staff: • Are the teachers trained in early childhood education? 
 • Does the director have experience as a teacher? 
 • What is the adult to child ratio? 
 • What is the turnover of staff ? 
 • Do all the staff speak English (or whatever is the official language of the school) fluently? The Physical Environment: 
 • Is there an attractive, spacious outdoor area for safe and vigorous outdoor play? 
 • Is there a sufficient supply of equipment for the size of the group? 


With the help of the TAC fair, you can find the perfect preschool for your family. image: iStockphoto.com/Monika Adamczyk

T

he year may have just begun, but already parents of toddlers are looking ahead to September as they decide which preschool or kindergarten their children will attend. The decision isn’t an easy one, since there are a plethora of preschools in and around Tokyo. When I was looking for a preschool for my son (now three) over two years ago, I was amazed that I lived in walking distance of about ten of them. While the search took a while, it was great to have such a vast choice and I was able to find a lovely preschool that suited my child’s needs perfectly. If you are planning on visiting preschools or kindergartens, try to take your child with you to see if he/she seems comfortable in the environment and with the staff—although the latter may have changed by September. Aside from that, it is also advisable to have already considered what it is you and your child are looking for in a preschool. Nikki Sato, a mum of two young girls living in Minato-Ku, said that when she was looking for a preschool, being close by was high on her list of priorities. “I also wanted a bilingual program for my daughter because my husband is half-Japanese. It was also important that the teachers were caring rather than the academic side being the whole focus. At such a young age, children still need to feel loved and get hugs, even in a school environment.” Take note of whether the teachers express warmth, interest, and respect for the children and are engaged with them most of the time and try to meet the school head who sets the tone of the school. Bring a list of questions, covering the staff, the syllabus, and the physical environment, given that outdoor space is hard to come by in Tokyo. Here are some suggested questions (www. kidsource.com):

• Are the children always supervised when outdoors? 
 • Do the classrooms contain different kinds of spaces so that children can find small quiet places when they need to? 
 Visiting many schools is the ideal way to find the right one. However, you may prefer to narrow down your list at the start of your hunt by going to the International Preschool and Kindergarten Fair at the Tokyo American Club. Run by the Club’s Women’s Group, the fair will feature over 30 schools and staff will be on hand to answer any questions you may have. Don’t forget that list! Last year’s event featured preschools in the Tokyo and Yokohama area, with Montessori schools, play groups, Canadian, American, and French programmes, and more. Some schools were part of larger international school programmes, whereas others were smaller and limited to the younger ages. In addition to the schools, organisations, extra-curricular programmes, and resource centres for those with special needs were all present at the fair last year. The International Preschool and Kindergarten Fair is sure to include just as much valuable information, and will take place on January 26, from 10am–1pm at the Tokyo American Club in Minato-ku. This event is open to the public and entry is free. A regular shuttle bus runs from Shinagawa Station to the club. See www.tokyoamericanclubwomens group.org for more information.

Welcome to the road to greatness! Failure is part of the deal! You’ll cry. It’ll suck. And you can survive that. It feels awful, but it’s not fatal. In fact, it’s incredibly useful. Because you get a choice: to quit or to incorporate what you’ve learned in order to become excellent. And when you claim your failure and use it to get better, then you become not just great, but downright unstoppable. Anna Kunnecke is a life coach living in Tokyo. www.annakunnecke.com

Being A Broad December 2009

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CHASE

of Tokyo Physio, cover photography by Kerry Raftis

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have many good friends here, both foreign and Japanese, and that makes me very happy. It is a clean and safe country and, in general, the people are very welcoming.

image: Kerry Raftis/www.keyshots.com

our cover girl

ANNETTE

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Full name: Annette Chase Age: Late 20s Nationality: Australian Grew up in: Country New South Wales, but I’d been living in Sydney for the last 12 years. Time in Japan: This time I have been in Japan just over one year, but I lived some middle and high school years in Osaka in the ‘90s. Japanese level: I passed the level two proficiency test in 1997 but have forgotten a lot since then. In Osaka I went to a local Japanese public school and had to pass all my classes in Japanese. I have a lot of Japanese friends in Osaka, but am unable to regularly visit them, so don’t get to use my Japanese as much as I would like to. I would say my current Japanese level is somewhere between level two and three. I have weekly Japanese lessons, but because I mostly work in English, have a lot of international friends, and am very busy, it is hard to find the time to progress as far as I had originally hoped! Works at: Tokyo Physio Why did you come to Japan? After going to school in Osaka in the ‘90s, Japan has always held a special place in my heart and I have returned regularly to visit my many friends here. I returned to Australia to do my final year of school and earn my physiotherapy degree, which has been my ambition since I was very small, and I have

never regretted it. Unfortunately, physiotherapy and Japanese are not easily mixed! Over the years I have been lucky enough to work with many elite sports teams and people, which have been fantastic opportunities. But after finishing my Masters in Sports Physiotherapy, I decided that I was ready for a change of scenery and was lucky enough to manage to combine living in Japan with physiotherapy. I had always believed this to be impossible given the lack of awareness of physiotherapy and, in particular, sports physiotherapy in Japan! Tokyo Physio was established for that exact reason, the fact that there is limited access to physiotherapy for western people living in Japan, and I think it is fantastic. It is very rewarding to be able to help people and know that without your help they may be worse off. Why do you stay in Japan? I love being in Japan because it is the only country where I get to speak Japanese! I have many good friends here, both foreign and Japanese, and that makes me very happy. It is a clean and safe country, and in general, the people are very welcoming. I love being a physiotherapist and am very happy to be able to get the opportunity to do it in Japan. How do you manage to balance everything in your life? Sometimes I don’t

think I do! I have always been the sort of person who has to be busy and so I am used to a fast-paced life. Being a sports physio has always meant that you spend most weekdays in the clinic working and weeknights and weekends working with teams or at trainings, so I am used to my work being my life. I love being a physiotherapist and I would not be able to work the long hours that I do if I didn’t love what I do. I love the interaction and the ability to get to know a lot of interesting people, especially in an international setting like Tokyo. What do you do to relax? Going for a long run is the best way for me to unwind and relax. If I don’t run I am in a very bad mood all day! I also love to watch movies but this is a hard thing to find time for in the fast-paced city of Tokyo. Best thing about being a foreign woman in Japan? There are so many great things about being a foreign woman in Japan, but I enjoy the fact that women pay less for certain things here! I also like the fact that there is a women-only carriage on the train in the mornings! Japan as a country shows a lot of respect for women and I appreciate that. A Day in the Life: My schedule is very varied as I don’t start or finish at the same time every day. It is very hard to get into a regular routine. Also, I like to regularly meet up with my friends or do many social activities that may vary every week and will depend on what time my last client for the day is. In general, the clinic gets busy in the early mornings and in the afternoon and evening so it is hard to organise a social life around this! I have fantastic friends who are very flexible with me, which I am very grateful for. My day usually starts very early with either a run or getting to work for a 7am client. I will always try to fit in a run or exercise, whether it be in the early morning or in a lunch break in the middle of the day. I also try to swim and go to the gym a few times a week. My main routine is to be at work between 7am and 8pm and if I am lucky I am able to have some time in the middle of the day to meet a friend for lunch or do some exercise, which is nice. I often finish at 8pm so my nights are varied. I like to try new things and meet new people so my life can be very random at times but it keeps me on my toes! I will always finish my day with a little time trying to relax by watching TV or reading a book.


WOMEN OF THE WORLD

compiled by Danielle Tate-Stratton

image: LAExperience image: El_Enigma

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists recently released new cervical cancer screening guidelines, suggesting that women should wait until the age of 21 for their first Pap smear, and get retested every two years after that until the age of 30, when they say screening can be reduced to once every three years.

A study of HIV-positive women in Ontario, Canada found that 69 percent of those women of a child-bearing age wish to have children at some point, and 57 percent planned to become pregnant in the future. One of the lead researchers said that through a combination of medications and careful care, those with HIV now have a near-normal life expectancy and if precautions are taken, there is just a one percent chance to passing the virus on to their children. The study’s researchers said that more must be done to support women who wish to have children despite their HIV-status, as women often encounter roadblocks in the medical community.

Researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine have shown that increasing dairy intake reduces the risk of developing uterine fibroid tumours in black women, who are two to three times more likely to develop the benign tumours than Caucasian women. Over a ten-year period, having four or more servings of dairy per day was seen to reduce the incident of this type of tumour by thirty percent.

Statistics Canada recently reported that 18 percent of women in Canada are their family’s primary breadwinners, earning 55 percent or more of the total household income. This number is up from 14 percent in 1997 and seen as at least partially related to the economic crisis where maledominated industries were hit the hardest.

image: bravo_bravo

In honour of International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the UN has pledged over ten million dollars to support 13 projects in 18 countries, with the aim of helping to eliminate violence against women. The UN also launched an initiative known as the Network of Men Leaders, made up of prominent members of both the private and public sectors worldwide, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, and Brazilian novelist and UN Messenger of Peace Paulo Coelho. The Network will work towards eliminating violence against women.

The United Nation’s Population Fund (UNFPA) has found that women, especially those living in developing countries, are the most negatively affected by climate change. One reason for this is that women often care for family members, which can limit their ability to quickly leave an area damaged by climate-change related weather patterns. image:iStockphoto/ Izabela Habur

FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, has decided to expand the 2015 Women’s World Cup from its current 16 countries to 24 because of increasing popularity for the sport.

Researchers in Sweden have found that women with an apple-shaped body, or more fat around their waists, are at increased risk of developing dementia later in life than those whose bodies store fat in other areas, such as the hips.

Fifty women, most of whom have completed law school, recently became senior officers in Iraq’s national police force. These jobs are among the highest paid in the country, and next year an additional 100 women are expected to graduate and join the force.

image: iStockphoto.com/Pascal Genest

The Nigerian film industry, known as Nollywood, recently released three films to educate the world on the 144—or more—women who die from pregnancy related complications each day in Nigeria. As the films show, cultural and religious ideas, as well as a lack of infrastructure lead to this devastating loss of life, which activists state won’t improve until people start acting and thinking in different ways. They hope the movies will encourage the start of such a change.

An eight-year study led by scientists from Harvard and McGill universities looked at 190 of the 192 United Nations countries to examine family-friendly workplace policies, including things such as paid paternal or sick leave. The study, which looked at 55,000 households on seven continents, found that the US lagged behind most UN countries in many aspects. Data and further information can be found at http://researchtoaction.mcgill.ca.

Polish researchers used MRIs to determine that when faced with a dangerous situation, men and women react differently on a physiological basis. Brain scans show that when shown images suggesting danger a man’s automatic system reacts more than that of a woman, whereas females experienced more activity in the left thalamus region, which relays sensory information to the pain and pleasure areas of the brain. Saudi Arabia recently saw the opening of its first women-only hotel, the Lufthan Hotel and Spa, which is entirely staffed and run by women, down to the bell-women and all-female IT staff. The hotel is owned by 20 princesses and businesswomen and allows women to travel freely throughout without a guardian. Being A Broad December 2009

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THINGS WE LOVE TO BUY FOR THE HOLIDAYS gifts that also help support the BAB community

The holidays are nearly here, and for many of us the next couple of weeks will be full of frantic planning and shopping as we try and find the perfect gift for everyone on our lists. To help you out, and with the help of some of our supporters, we’ve compiled a list of gifts to help you take care of even the most challenging people on your list. Happy shopping, and have a great holiday, whatever you may be doing!

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holiday images: iStockphoto.com/Dawn Poland, iStockphoto.com/Farzin Salimi, iStockphoto.com/Jan Rysavy

Mojoprint suggests: An original desktop calendar (with jewel case). Create a smart calendar from your own photos or artwork. Simply send us thirteen images (one for each month plus one cover image) and we will put them into our standard template for you for free. From ¥36,700 for 100 copies. Order before December 21 for delivery before the holidays. Available sizes: 116 x 116mm (CD), 100 x 148mm (postcard), 113 x 210mm (wide). For more information or to order, visit: www.mojoprint. jp/products/item/case-calendars. Boudoir Day Spa suggests: Buy a gift voucher and get one of the same value for yourself free! This Christmas Boudoir Day Spa is the only salon that keeps on giving! As much as you may hate to think about it, Christmas is edging closer and once again the mad rush for finding the perfect gift begins. Another CD…? A new perfume…? All women love to be pampered and to feel special, so why not give the gift of indulgence and relaxation? Boudoir Day Spa gift certificates are voted the number one Christmas gift, guaranteed to put a smile on your loved one’s face. Be pampered in our luxurious beauty studios by Tokyo’s top beauty therapists. Boudoir has been serving the foreign community since 1999 and has the reputation of Tokyo’s premier beauty salon. Owned by Australian Marilyn Klein, full English service and attention to detail is what sets Boudoir apart from the rest. All therapists hold international qualifications and have experienced working overseas. Give your friends or family members the perfect indulgence. Give deserving staff some relaxation and pampering. Thank business associates or colleagues in a unique way. Don’t know what to choose? Choose an amount and the lucky recipients of your gift can choose for themselves. Select from our specially created Christmas packages or any other treatment on our menu. And don’t forget, Boudoir Day Spa will give you a present for buying a present. Hassle free, a gift voucher can be purchased over the phone and delivered to your door, beautifully gift wrapped and ready for giving. There is no better way to revive yourself than to get a top to toe makeover. So get yourself down to Boudoir Day Spa for the best Christmas gift and a pampering that will wake your inner goddess and have you on the right track for 2010! The perfect Christmas Gift packages… • Hands up Beauty package: ¥5,000: Boudoir Spa Manicure plus a shape and paint of toenails. • Sexy Feet Beauty package: ¥10,000: Boudoir Spa Pedicure, shape and paint of fingernails, pedi foot file. • Go Glow Beauty package: ¥12,000: Rescue Remedy facial and eyebrow wax. • The Ultimate Beauty package: ¥15,000: Rescue Remedy facial, shape and paint of fingernails, and toenails, paraffin wax treatment for hands and feet, eyebrow wax. For more information or to book, tel. 03-3478-5898 or visit: www.boudoirtokyo.com.

Kristin and Larry suggest you give the gift of Creativity for the holidays, or anytime! Creative Fitness Workshops are for people of all ages who want to change their life, who want to think more creatively, who want to get over their fear of not being creative, who want to get into “Flow State” whenever they want and not just by chance, who want to focus and communicate on a deeper level, and more. You can see more about it here: www. thecreativefitnessgroup.com or email us at: creativefitnessgroup@me.com.

For the art lover, a piece by American artist David Stanley Hewett, who has been living in Japan since 1992, would be perfect. Inspired by Japanese history, the Shinto religion, martial arts, and the Bushido code, Hewett’s paintings and ceramics are of interest to those who appreciate art with Japanese subtleties and Western dynamics. For more information and to view work, visit: www. davidstanleyhewett.com.

The holidays are almost here and 37 Frames Photography suggests you celebrate by giving a perfect, thoughtful, memorable present...a 37 Frames Lifestyle Photo Session. Give the gorgeous gift of photos with a beautifully presented 37 Frames Gift Certificate in 2010. Several packages available. This is one gift for the generations. Visit www.37framesphotography.com or email 37frames@tokyo.com for more details.


Evergreen Outdoor Center suggests an Evening Snowshoe Tour. A truly white winter gift! Treat your friends or that special someone to a unique snow experience. Experience the beauty of Hakuba’s snowy forests at night on snowshoes. Anyone who can walk can snowshoe! Stroll along with a local guide and enjoy a delicious chocolate fondue and hot spiced wine under the stars. Simply arrange your ideal tour date and let Evergreen handle the rest. Tours run every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday all winter season in Hakuba. For more information or to book, visit www. evergreen-hakuba.com, email: tours@evergreen-outdoors. com, or tel. 0261-72-5150

Letchford & Letchford suggest: For those who are looking for a truly unique Christmas gift, they simply don’t come more personalised than a photographic session with Internationally renowned photographer Geoff Letchford! From $600AUD give someone special the ultimate experience, specialising in children and family portraits. Voted top five in the world, it’s a Christmas gift that will truly last a The Meat Guy says: If you are not really so good at cooking but lifetime. For further information and bookings, visit: japan@geoffletchford.com want to have some friends over and want to impress them this set is or tel. 090-3100-7637. for you! You get heaps of good stuff, none of it requiring more effort than thawing and warming, but they will make your party hot, hot, hot! Karen Thomas says: Dinh Cong Dat is a The set includes: smoked turkey drumsticks (four sticks), Margherita sculptor who has created these fabulous pizza (one), Vili’s meat pies(160gm) (two), triple chocolate brownies inverse sculptural masks. Each of (four), and gooood times (lots!). For more information: www. the masks is unique and represents the themeatguy.jp/app/en/products/view/407#content-top. many faces of humanity—our emotions, thoughts, motivations, physique, Vijay Wadhwani from Noble House suggests a Classic Superfine origins…Quite possibly the perfect gift Cotton shirt from just US$89–$155, with over 2,000 fabrics to at ¥35,000 each from Toriizaka Art, choose from in any style. Vijay will be at the Hotel New Otani on www.toriizakaart.com. December 21 and 22 this year. For more details tel. 03-3265-1111, or visit www.noblehouse.us. Red Phoenix Emporium was founded in 2008 and began with our passion for world travel, photography, nature, Asian-inspired design, and collecting beautiful things to cherish. Our emporium celebrates beauty and simple luxury by offering a selection of thoughtful products for home, life, and you. We have an eclectic selection of original designs, including Karma Cards, hand-knitted baby sweaters, and designer jewellery. Visit www.redphoenixemporium.com to see the full range of unique and beautiful products. This season, we recommend the Red Phoenix Baby line of beautiful, carefully crafted and lovingly handmade adorable gifts to welcome a new little being to the world. Jumpies (or sweaters) in 100 percent Australian wool or the Lux Jumpies in 85 percent wool, 10 percent silk and 5 percent cashmere will keep baby snug during the cold wintery months. In celebration of the arrival of their wildly popular session stylist Roberto Perozzi and to welcome in the holiday season, Sin Den is giving away their popular two-step Wella professional treatments to the first twenty clients who try one of Roberto’s trademark styles. You can check out how cool they really are on his blog at http://robertoperozzi.blogspot.com. For more information on Sin Den or to book: www. sinden.com. Jun International Preschool suggests you give the gift of education at their school, where children learn through play and various activities, thus enhancing not only their social skills but also their ability to express themselves and interact with children of various nationalities and backgrounds using the English language. In particular, through playing and sharing with others in a multi-age classroom, younger and older children can develop together. www32.ocn.ne.jp/~jun_i_preschool/index.html

Kerry Raftis from Keyshots.com suggests sending out personalised holiday cards this holiday season. With a variety of Japense-themed designs, these cards frame a photograph on the cover (Come on down for a photoshoot!) and are a great way to send a taste of Japan to friends and family. For more information or to set up an appointment, email: info@keyshots.com or tel. 03-6426-7739. Lynn Matsuoka’s affordable art gifts are a great way to send a taste of Japan back home to friends or family or to incorporate as a corporate gift. Lynn’s work features sumo and kabuki and is truly unique. www.cafepress. com/sumoartist, www.traditions.jp. Being A Broad December 2009

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NEW BEAUTIFUL by Gabbi Bradshaw

“Although beauty is important in Tokyo, it comes in many shapes, sizes, and colour patterns.”

image: iStockphoto.com/anzelleti

Tokyo girl

UGLY IS THE

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eauty is important in Tokyo. Before living here, I never knew you could buy yourself eyelashes. Not only do my Japanese friends get them implanted, but so do my gaijin girlfriends. Before living here, I never knew that it was OK to wear open-toed sandals with white frilly socks in December. Before living here, I never knew that wearing shoes that were so big and so high that your knees buckled inward was fashionable. Although beauty is important in Tokyo, it comes in many shapes, sizes, and colour patterns. Not only for the girls, but the guys, too. The men appear to spend more time on their hair than the

I had braces, was a bit overweight, had a girl mullet, and tinted glasses. It didn’t matter that they were Gloria Vanderbilt frames (on clearance). Or that my favourite color was pink like the tinting. The problem was that my glasses were almost blood red because my lenses were so thick. I haven’t been able to see the “Big E” on the standardised eye chart since before sixth grade. I stop laughing. “What do you mean?” I ask. “Your eyes look brown.” “They were hazel,” I defended. “I think they changed colour in high school to blue.” She calls another Japanese colleague over to my desk. Walking in, she stops in her tracks and

women. The salarymen wear a mutation of the feathered-look and the ever popular faux-hawk. I didn’t know hair could do that. And I’m not exactly sure it should. My friends tell me that my ¥4,000 haircut is a bargain. It’s shocking for somebody who used to get her hair cut at the beauty school back home for $3.75. And their ¥20,000 colour jobs. My friend coloured my hair a beautiful, luscious espresso mocha for the mere cost of the dye, $7.75. I have never been one for products. And I have proof. In preparation for my high school reunion, my best school buddy Izzie emailed me a photo from eighth grade. I had it up on my computer screen in my office when my Japanese colleague came in to ask a question. She took one look and backed away from the hideous, blown up institutionalised photo. “It’s me in eighth grade,” I giggle. “Did you have surgery?”

says, “Did you have surgery?” I’m a pretty confident person. However, hearing that question twice is quite disturbing. She looks at me, then the picture. Then the picture, and then me. “Are you sure you didn’t have surgery?” The last of my colleagues, who is also a friend of mine, hears us giggling and stops by. She looks at the photo and asks, “What’s that?” Laughter rips through the office area. I can’t help it; I turn pink. “You?” I nod. “Did you have surgery?” “I did not have surgery. I was a cheerleader and had a lot of friends.” “Junior high is a very mean time. Did you get teased?” My friend ventures. “I did not. I was a nice girl and was liked by all. The only ones who teased me were my sister and my best friend.” My enemies didn’t tease me.

She] reminded me of what I already knew even as an awkward pre-teen. I’d rather be ugly on the [outside than the inside.

Actually, I didn’t have any enemies. Ironically, now that I wasn’t ugly, I was being teased. I flashed back to a pivotal tetherball game. It was getting late, and the street light had come on but because our tetherball was strung around the light pole, we continued to play. We were talking freely and honestly as young children do. Izzie said, “Just like the Ugly Duckling story, ugly people grow up to be pretty, and pretty people grow up to be ugly.” My sister and I nodded in agreement. We rarely doubted Izzie’s word. She was the queen of Little Debbies. If we wanted a Little Debbie processed chocolate cake thing with cream filling we had to agree. It made sense. I cherished books; Hans Christian Anderson was one of my favorite authors. She ventured, “So that means that Gillian and I are going to grow up to be ugly, and Gabbi is going to be pretty.” We all nodded again. Made sense. I had glasses, braces, and a Buddha belly even back then. And I was really smart. We all knew that someday, I would still be smart and hell, now I was going to be pretty. Not now of course. But when I grew up. When it really counted. Sitting at my desk, as a not ugly adult, my heart panged a bit. Maybe there were other times I was teased, and I didn’t remember. I quickly scanned my memory for other defacing experiences. I lifted my head and said to my colleagues, “Now you can see why I love the show Ugly Betty.” They looked up at my Ugly Betty calendar and nodded in unison. “MmmmHmmmmMmmmmm.” The one who isn’t very helpful and always makes little faces when I ask her for help and wears the fake eyelashes that you stick on yourself said, “I look at you differently now.” “For better or worse?” I asked. “Better.” Why is that? I wondered. I haven’t changed in the last five minutes. I turned away from them, minimised my junior high photo, and acted busy to deflect my hurt and disgust. I thought about all the kind things I had done for her. The time I took the blame for her mistake and the time I had seen she was busy so did a task I didn’t have time to do either. I had never been impressed with her demeanor or her lackluster attitude towards me and now I looked at her differently too. Worse. Her made-up face, Chanel No. 5 cologne, body draped in Armani and saddled with a Louis Vuitton bag reminded me of what I already knew even as an awkward pre-teen. I’d rather be ugly on the outside than the inside.


WITH SLEEPTRACKER by Louise Mutter

It looks like a watch, but SLEEPTRACKER actually helps you wake up feeling rested and refereshed.

he SLEEPTRACKER monitors your various sleep cycles and finds your most optimal waking T moments—the almost-awake moments—and gently

Image provided by Waverley Japan.

wakes you when you’re most alert.

eep beep beep, snooze, beep beep beep, snooze—it’s a constant battle every morning with the alarm clock. It can be a workday, an early morning training run, it can even be after eight to nine hours of sleep and it’s still a struggle to get out of bed feeling energised and ready to face the day. Often I’ll need a hot shower, two to three cups of coffee, minimal conversation, and an hour to really get moving and out the door. My roommate (a gadget extraordinaire), who was sick of walking on eggshells around me in the morning, convinced me to try this gadget that looks like a watch and is called the SLEEPTRACKER, hoping it would make the morning more bearable for both of us. Here’s how it works. You wear a machine that monitors signals from your body with  internal sensors that detect subtle physical signals and recognise your most alert moments during sleep.

to look at the clock, but then you usually drift back to sleep quickly, and sometimes you don’t even remember having vaguely woken up. The SLEEPTRACKER monitors your various sleep cycles and finds your most optimal waking moments—the almost-awake moments—and gently wakes you when you’re most alert. Sound a little far fetched? I’m not one for quick fixes, but curiosity did get the best of me, along with the possibility of waking up more refreshed and not so groggy. So I tried it for a week and was amazed at the results. I typically set my alarm for 7am during the week and on the weekends often just sleep in until I wake up. Per the SLEEPTRACKER, I am supposed to tell the machine what the last possible time is for me to wake up (in this case 7am) and then set a window of time beforehand (20 minutes is recommended). From this 20-minute alarm band it picks the optimal almost-awake time to sound its alarm and wake you up. The directions are pretty self-explanatory and it’s very user-friendly. For those who are interested, or anyone who suspects they may have a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea, the SLEEPTRACKER will track the number of almost-awake moments you have and can give you an overall idea of the quality of your sleep. Now, to try going off to bed...I have a pretty uneventful bedtime routine. I know what keeps me up at night: coffee after 5pm and running or exercising after 7pm, and I avoid them like the plague. I do enjoy watching TV at night before I go to sleep and am often on the computer checking email or surfing the internet. Sometimes I’ll even

Everyone has a unique sleep cycles, but the average sleep cycle has five stages and ranges from 90 to 110 minutes. During stage one, you sleep lightly, stage two, your sleep gets progressively deeper, at stage three and four (also called Delta Sleep) you sleep the heaviest, followed by stage five, which is also know as REM (rapid eye movement). During REM, various changes in the body occur: accelerated respiration, increased brain activity, rapid eye movement, and muscle relaxation; people dream during this stage. These cycles vary in length throughout the night as you sleep; each night there are multiple times of almost-awake moments. Almost-awake moments are times when you may move around or sit up

read, but for the most part I know when my body is tired and don’t see the point in fighting it. The first night I was in bed by 11pm and I think I read for about half an hour before turning off the lights. I remember waking up around 3am to go to the bathroom, and then it was about 6:57am when I finally awoke. I’m not sure how refreshed I felt, but since I didn’t have the option of hitting snooze, I laid there for a few minutes and then eventually got up. A creature of habit, the morning routine didn’t change—washing my face, putting in my contacts, having that first coffee, not saying much—but I guess I wasn’t unpleasant to be around. The next couple of nights were pretty much the

B

ften I’ll need a hot shower, two to three cups of coffee, minimal conversation, and an hour to reO ally get moving and out the door.

same: same bedtime and waking up about the same time. By morning three, it was easier to get up and get moving. I didn’t have the inclination to roll over and retreat under the covers when the alarm chose the best moment to wake me. Morning four would be interesting, as I would have to get up with my dad for a training run, which meant being out the door by 6am and ready to run 16 miles. If that doesn’t make anyone a tad grumpy I don’t know what else would! My dad, on the other hand, was visiting from the States and therefore still jet-lagged, which is why he wanted to get such an early start. Plus, he was eager to see as much of Tokyo as possible, and that meant getting a move on that day, with a run that followed part of the Tokyo Marathon’s course. We’d been chipping away at it since he arrived, and decided to spend our long run heading over the Rainbow Bridge and towards Odaiba. Training day came and went and again wasn’t nearly as bad as I had anticipated. I set my alarm to wake me around 5:30am in order to give it that extra window, and was gently woken at 5:23am. Of course, knowing I had to get up I did, at the time not really caring if it was an ‘almost-awake moment’ or not. I just got up. Was I more enthusiastic even though it was completely dark outside? Was I energised simply because I knew I got the right amount of sleep per the SLEEPTRACKER? Do I credit a fairly decent run with a good time and pace to the SLEEPTRACKER? It’s hard to say, but I got through it without feeling groggy and tired as I awoke, and that’s all that matters when you’re covering 16 miles before most people are even awake! Looking back at those seven days of SLEEPTRACKER, I do appreciate sleep more and recognise that there may be more ideal times to be woken than others. This gadget takes the guessing out of knowing when they are. Did I feel better? Yes, and like I said, getting up did start to become easier throughout the week. But don’t take my word for it. Dr. Phil, Good Morning America, and TIME Magazine all swear by it. The SLEEPTRACKER is available in Japan and you can find out more information about it at www. sleeptracker.jp. Though the website is all in Japanese, anyone interested in ordering or learning more and who would prefer to do so in English is welcome to contact Chris Phelan, the Business Development Manager of Weatherly Japan, at 03-4520-5430. Here’s to a better night’s rest and happy sleeping! Being A Broad December 2009

health & wellness

WAKING UP REFRESHED

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working

WE PROFILE

ANNE KONISHI of Canning Professional K.K.

Anne on her way to provide corporate training. Japanese requirement: Most of our training is delivered in English and I’m afraid I use this as my excuse for not being able to speak Japanese well. However, many of our client meetings are in Japanese and that keeps me motivated to continue to study. General conditions: Our work can be quite seasonal and busy periods can be stressful and tiring. Preparation for the training is vital and the work is very full-on. I have to be in the office very early most days to make sure everything is set up correctly for the trainers and to welcome the participants. If I’m the one training, I’m with the participants all day, even during lunches and breaks, so we’re always running the show. At the end of the training day, I have to review how things went with the trainers and discuss if any changes to the program are needed. So the hours can be long. How she found this job: I joined Canning in the UK as a trainer after seeing an ad in The Times newspaper. I spent two years working at Canning UK’s training centre in London, as well as running programs in Europe. After a series of personal crises (break-up with a boyfriend and getting burgled twice, amongst other things) it seemed fairly easy to decide to transfer to Japan for a couple of years. Before I made the final

here were about a hundred people in the room. I quickly realised that I was the only woman T present. What’s more I was a foreign woman—a total anomaly!

12

feedback on its client presentations, particularly in terms of their visuals. We’ve prepared some new and improved versions of the slides, which we’ll present to the participants during the workshop. We’ll then ask them to improve their slides according to the guidelines we’ve agreed on with their management team. Finally, we’ll run individual coaching sessions to address any remaining issues. After that, I’ll be heading back to Tokyo where I’ll be running a business writing skills program for an audit and accounting firm. General requirements: For training, business experience is a must to be able to understand what kind of situations our participants face in their jobs. I also have to be able to build trust with the people I’m training quickly so that they feel comfortable and can participate fully in the training. This is particularly important if I’m working with a Japanese group as it may take them a bit longer to warm up. In my management role, my training experience helps me design programs based on the information supplied by our clients. It also helps me select the right trainer from our team for each program and get them ready to deliver it.

decision I got a chance to come out here for a month to do some training for Canning’s Japanese subsidiary. I really liked it and I moved out here a couple of months after that. I was supposed to go back after a couple of years but I really felt that was too soon. I then met and married a local, got promoted, and had a baby all in quick succession. Japan has been very good to me! Best thing: Meeting people from many different companies, industries, and countries. We also have a lot of freedom in terms of course content as we adapt it to the participants’ needs. From the management side, I like dealing with the clients, particularly when we’re able to build a good relationship with them. We get a deeper understanding of their organisational culture and needs. And when there’s a certain level of trust, they accept our ideas and recommendations more readily. Worst thing: It’s probably when we pitch for a business and get a negative response. We are often given an explanation as to why we were not successful but we can never be sure if it’s the real reason why. Working in a different business culture means you always have to take into

Image provided by Anne Konishi.

Name: Anne Konishi Nationality: British Qualifications: MA in International Business with Languages, Diplôme de Management Internationale Job title: Training Director Employer: Canning Professional K.K. Salary: Just enough to survive in Central Tokyo! Time in this job: eight years Job description: We offer a wide range of training programs—from teambuilding to business English—as a result, my work is really varied. My main responsibility is to make sure that the right trainer is ready to deliver the right program for the right client. Since we’re busy at the moment I’m also doing a lot of training myself. Last week I was in Seoul at a medical conference working with various doctors to help them present more clearly and persuasively. Our slot was only two and a half hours, so the pressure was on to deliver something meaningful in such a short period of time. This week I’m in the office, catching up on emails, scheduling trainers, following up with clients, creating course plans and proposals, checking equipment, and interviewing prospective trainers. Next week I’ll be in Shanghai delivering a workshop to a client whose proposal team has received some negative

consideration the differing expectations of our clients and colleagues and that requires a lot of careful consideration and patience. As a manager, I’ve learned the hard way not to make any bold decisions without getting the consensus of the team first. Luckily, our Japanese team is great and they are quite used to dealing with many foreigners in the workplace. Interesting stories: I’ve trained in all kinds of places, from five-star hotels to a 13th century Swiss castle where the training rooms had no doors, only dungeon gates! My first course in Japan was residential, meaning that we ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner with the people on the course. I was so nervous about using chopsticks in front of my Japanese participants that I think I lost a couple of pounds in weight that week! Issues affecting her as a woman: About five years ago I remember waiting to go into a meeting at a very well-known Japanese company’s head office. There were about a hundred people in the room. I quickly realised that I was the only woman present. What’s more I was a foreign woman—a total anomaly! I think things have changed a bit since then, but still there are occasions now where I’m not invited to speak in client meetings and nobody makes eye contact with me. Overall, though, I think people are curious about foreign businesswomen simply because there aren’t that many of us around in Japan. Fortunately, in the training room the status of sensei seems to override any gender issues. Advice: This is an interesting job for anyone with good business experience who wants to do work with a stronger ‘people’ focus. Recommended resources: Have a look at our website in Japan www.canning.co.jp, or if you’re in the UK have a look at www.canning.com. Other jobs done in Japan: This is all it has ever been for me in Japan!


RAJA YOGA MEDITATION by Mandy Kitchener

I

ndia has been a place of intrigue for me ever since I was a child. I had read of Yogis who buried their heads underground and survived days without food or drink, as well as rich marvels of architecture devoted to love—and who hasn’t experienced the joyous colour and life in abundance that is Bollywood? Yet, first and foremost, it was, for me, a place of contemplation and spiritual reflection. I had always been interested in meditation and the spiritual life of the East, but had never gone so far as to delve deeply into the subject,

to be in good condition, mentally and spiritually. I wanted to have positive, intuitive responses to people, situations, and experiences. So it was with a warm sense of synchronicity that I later found out the name of the meditation I had chosen directly translated as ‘the natural path.’ When I first started meditating, I felt so light and immediately relaxed that it carried through into my day, my job, and my relationships. I found I was calmer and had more patience at work with my students. I seemed to have more space within

A great way to ground yourself while in Japan.

real-life story

SAHAJ MARG: A SYSTEM OF

meditation has been by far one of the best choices I have ever made. Starting myself to be able to cope with things. I wasn’t in so much of a rush anymore. I felt grounded, balanced, and the attachment to little things that were a previously a cause for concern or worry started to have less significance. I began to settle into myself in a way that I had only briefly touched upon before. I became able to identify and clarify existing problems and issues easily. Things would, of course, continue to pop up like uninvited guests, but they were dealt with accordingly and in a natural, easy, and simplified way that made life oh so easy and manageable. There are three main aspects of the meditation style that I chose. These are: morning meditation, evening cleaning, and night time prayer meditation. The thing that initially hooked me to this form of meditation, where I could instantly see improvement in myself, was the cleaning aspect. Every day I did a cleaning meditation at the end of my working day. I focused on letting go of all the things that had happened that day. All the scenarios, attachment to conversations, and encounters were released, so that every day I could start anew. Meditation gave me an opportunity to start fresh and from a clean slate. The change happened little by little from the inside; small, constant steps toward living naturally and being well. It’s so easy to get lost and distracted in these days of instant coffee, deadlines, and a thousand and one demands on our time. We get caught up in the everyday business of living, getting by on not enough sleep, and juggling a multitude of tasks and obligations. We forget how much more there is, how much more there can be. Our acquired habits can take us further and further away from our natural selves. Moreover, our memories become layered from life situations long forgotten, past hurts, and experiences lost to time. But ultimately, it is worth paying attention to our inner condition and gradually, these layers of impressions can be cleaned away.

image: Mandy Kitchener

which greatly appealed to me yet at the same time overwhelmed me. It was simply on my list of things to do. You know, once I had enough time after my job, keeping my house clean, trying to stay healthy, and of course catching up with friends. In other words, after the social arrangements were fulfilled and comfort was made, then I would have time for meditation… you have be happy first, right? The funny thing is, as soon as I started meditating I actually found more time to do everything—and do it better than I had before. Irony, it seems, has its rewards. Since I’ve been living in Japan, the proximity and abundance of temples and shrines has served as a daily reminder of spirituality, beauty, and ancient culture. These frequent reminders inadvertently and naturally brought me closer to what would eventually become a regular practice. After putting it on the back burner for quite a few years, an opportunity to learn more and— Shock! Horror!—actually start meditating, landed in my lap. When I first met Nithya, the lovely Indian lady living in Nagoya, she asked me why I wanted to start meditating. I told her that I wanted to be natural. I used to irritate myself with how I would react to certain situations and people. I wondered why I lacked the composure to deal with a particular situation in the present, and yet had it in abundance after the said event had taken place. It puzzled me as to why I would be so affected by a particular issue, yet at other times be blissfully unaware of things. I would get lost in my own emotions and easily overwhelmed. My patience was tested repeatedly and my tongue often bitten. Occasionally I would have the insight to understand that the issue at hand was a result of the ego, but more often than not, I would get sucked into playing exhausting games of manipulation and control. I was tired of overanalysing and wondering if I’d said the right thing at the right time, often mulling it all over long after it had occurred. I wanted to be natural. I wanted

I was quite nervous before I started meditating. What would I find in that scary, faraway depth of my mind? Would it be a friendly experience? A kind one? Would I be able to just sit there with myself in silence? Would I be able to tune out my thoughts? A million questions flooded over me, but curiosity pushed me forward. Starting meditation has been by far one of the best choices I have ever made. From my experience, I would say quite simply these are the things meditation isn’t: religious, boring, tiring, and there are things that meditation is: contemplative, relaxing, and grounding. You become what you meditate on. So in Sahaj Marg meditation, you focus on divine light; the aim to reconnect with your higher self. According to Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari, the current guide and guru of Sahaj Marg, it is: “A heart-based meditation and inner cleaning practice, which works in concert to free us from mental and emotional burdens, bringing about lightness, clarity, and an inner balance.” Nithya and her family have been in Japan for almost five years, helping people to start meditating and supporting them through their journey. If you are interested in trying it, there are other people just like Nithya in Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto. • Nagoya: nithya@izumiconsultancy.com • Tokyo: viveksjp@yahoo.co.jp • Kyoto: lamuredominique@gmail.com • Osaka: livnk@hotmail.com • For general information: www.sahajmarg. org/homepage

Being A Broad December 2009

13


50th issue celebration 14

50TH ISSUE PARTY AT SUJI’S IN ROPPONGI photography by Kerry Raftis, www.keyshots.com

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any thanks to everyone who came to Suji’s on November 12 to help celebrate the 50th issue of Being A Broad! Nearly 100 of our past cover girls, sponsors, readers, friends, and family members were on hand to help celebrate the big day. Special thanks to Suji’s for hosting, Kerry Raftis for taking such great photos, and all of our sponsors for contributing such great raffle prizes! To view more images, visit http://tinyurl.com/yb64h4n.


January 2008 #28 ¥500

Being A Broad Being A Broad Being A Broad Being A Broad Being A Broad Being A Broad Being A Broad Being A Broad January 2009 #40

April 2008 #31

March 2008 #30

The monthly magazine for international women living in Japan

The monthly magazine for international women living in Japan

The monthly magazine for international women living in Japan

The monthly magazine for international women living in Japan

SUPPORT for women with breast cancer

FEATURE

belly dancing with a social conscience

mothers

Japan’s lax laws on abduction

dealing with CHANGE s.z cairney on the NEW YEAR

FOOD

what to do with all of those greens?

ENTERTAINMENT

speed dating in Tokyo

STYLE

snooping out the best shops in Daikanyama

www.being-a-broad.com

POLARIS PROJECT

PLUS! feature Japan’s first foreign geisha mothers the name game travel relaxing at Koya-san

YURIKO KOIKE talks POLITICS

making a meal of KEDGEREE style super snoopers: Hiroo learning spreading AIDS awareness through Japan

a broad in the boonies: HACHIJO-JIMA a foreign female FILM-MAKER rebuilding THAILAND bilingual toddler TANTRUMS

www.being-a-broad.com

The monthly magazine for international women living in Japan

our cover girls: INGENIUM’S Laetitia Leconte and Jennifer Lladoc-Penaverde

finding the WRITER WITHIN s.z. cairney on KEEPING UP APPEARANCES broads who DIVE DEEP

www.being-a-broad.com

help do your bit to FIND LINDSAY ANN HAWKER’S KILLER with our pullout poster

picking the PERFECT PRESCHOOL

www.being-a-broad.com

help do your bit to FIND LINDSAY ANN HAWKER’S KILLER with our pullout poster

The monthly magazine for international women living in Japan

our cover girl: Tokyo Physio’s VANESSA COLLESS

how you can RUN for the CURE

SKINCARE tips for SPRING

a broad in the boonies: ICHINOMIYA s.z. cairney on TURNING 40 Meet the WOMEN of OLIVER! CARING for AGING PARENTS

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the life of a NAVY WIFE in Japan help do your bit to FIND LINDSAY ANN HAWKER’S KILLER with our pullout poster

spooky tales for HALLOWEEN

s.z. cairney on TAKING CONTROL of the mornings

ASIA’S new UNIVERSITY, just for women real-life story: the ONLY GIRL in the OUENDAN

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girls playing GAA

hit an ACE on the COURT and in the OFFICE honor dargan on how TOKYO beats SINGAPORE

s.z. cairney on going MISSING IN ACTION give HANGING TEN a try tasty TEMPURA

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November 2009 #50

October 2008 #37

The monthly magazine for international women living in Japan

our cover girl: the Tokyo Comedy Store’s SPRING DAY s.z. cairney on PACKING the PERFECT LUNCH

Tokyo’s ARTISTIC preschool

the boonies of SHIZUOKA

September 2008 #36

June 2009 #45

The monthly magazine for international women living in Japan

our cover girl: TOKYO INTERNATIONAL PLAYERS’ LOU McLEOD

escaping the WINTER BLACKS

dealing with DIFFICULT CO-WORKERS

our cover girl feeds Tokyo a taste of home

April 2009 #43

The monthly magazine for international women living in Japan

our cover girl: Refugees International Japan’s JANE BEST

our cover girl: Legal Future’s Amber Clinton

our cover girl: spinshell.tv’s Ai Uchida

BEAUTIfyING with BENI

SUCCESS on the ETP

the

50

th

issue

it’s a DOG’S LIfE in JAPAN

www.being-a-broad.com

www.being-a-broad.com

50th issue celebration

Being A Broad

15

Being A Broad December 2009


travel

STAYING SAFE WHILE TRAVELLING by Leigh Wellsview

least think through a few scenarios before you head out. Here are a few tips for female travellers: Hotels: • When looking for a hotel, try and choose one with a smaller lobby, as it makes it more obvious to staff when someone is loitering in the area that shouldn’t be there. • If you aren’t sure about the neighbourhood’s safety, especially after dark, speak to a female employee of the hotel and see if she would personally walk around the area, and under what circumstances. • In an elevator, stand with your back to the buttons and, should you feel threatened, use your back to signal it to stop on all of the floors, giving you plenty of opportunities to either get out or signal for help. • Increasingly, and especially in areas where there is a need for it, hotels are introducing

as it took me a few days to adjust to what a baseline level of caution might be in Japan, it took Jmeust a few days to adjust to what it needed to be

back home.

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When I first arrived, moving from a relatively rough area of Toronto, it look a little bit of adjusting to—“what? You want me to walk to the conbeni alone…at 2am?”—but I quickly got the hang of and grew to appreciate walking home from the station at all hours, staying alert but never feeling threatened. Travelling in Japan, I’ve enjoyed knowing that my bag isn’t likely to wander off on its own, have accidentally slept in a train station overnight without feeling the need to panic about who might be sleeping there with me, and even hitchhiked in the Japanese Alps, something I would never try at home. But it’s easy to fall into a feeling of complacency living here. The first time I went back to visit my family in British Columbia, I met up with a friend at Starbucks the day after I arrived. When we went up to order, I left my purse at the table to hold our spot, not thinking anything of it—after all, girls here leave their Gucci bags on a stool three floors up when they go to order a coffee and their purses are just fine—but my friend noticed it, ran to grab it, and teasingly scolded me, a reminder I wasn’t in Tokyo any more. Just as it took me a few days to adjust to what a baseline level of caution might be in Japan, it took me a few days to adjust to what it needed to be back home. As I’ve gotten used to going back and forth, the adjustment is much quicker, but it’s still worth thinking about issues of personal safety as you head home or off to a new, exciting destination for the holidays. There’s no reason to be paranoid, but at the same time, it never hurts to be prepared and at

female-only floors, or in some cases, entire hotels just for women. For a partial list of such accommodations, visit: www.travel-quest. co.uk/bd_womenonly1.htm. Typically, added security might include a special keyed entry to the floor and female-only staff in the area. As an additional bonus, plenty of properties offering these floors, such as The Premier in Times Square, also offer unique amenities to female travellers such as yoga mats and curling irons. On a flight: • As with a hotel, check with flight attendants who are based out of your destination to get their personal tips for staying safe in the area. • Write the address of your office, as opposed to your home, on your luggage tags. • Consider hiring a taxi to lead your rental car to the nearest expressway as opposed to getting lost in the area around the airport. In general: • Consider carrying a small, heavy flashlight around with you so that in a pinch you can light up a dark area, and also use it as a makeshift weapon. Of course, whenever possible avoid those dark, unfamiliar places! • Sew a small pocket into your bra to hold a couple of bills. Muggers know about money belts and will specifically try and look for them, but are far less likely to check in your bra. • Check what time the sun rises and sets when you are looking up the day’s weather in order to avoid getting caught out in the dark.

A few tips can make your holidays much safer. image:iStockphoto.com/Rhoberazzi

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wo of my favourite things about living in Japan are how safe it is and how easy it is to get to other countries in the region, ones that would take hours and hours to get to from Canada. It seems like every week one of my friends is popping off to Australia, Bali, Guam, Thailand, Cambodia, or Hong Kong, and the pace is only picking up as we move in to the holidays where lots of people who can’t go all the way home yet don’t want to stay in Japan pop off for the weekend to soak up some culture or relaxation. But as much as I love having the opportunity to pop down to Australia for a week without breaking the bank (or suffering from jet lag), I love the day-to-day safety of living here even more. I find it amazing, living in central Tokyo, how the population of my entire country can just about squeeze into the Metropolitan area and do it with so little crime.

• Depending on the culture of the place you are visiting, consider wearing a (simple) wedding ring, and when asking for directions, mention you are meeting your husband at the place you are trying to find, even if you are unmarried. • Where possible, approach other women for help and directions. • Have an idea of how to contact your country’s consulate or embassy, they can sometimes be more helpful than the police, though you should know the emergency number in whichever country you’re going to, as well. These are just a few tips to get you thinking about it—it only takes a few minutes online to gather a host of other ideas, many of which will be specific to the area you are travelling in. As women living abroad already, I think we tend to have the confidence, street smarts, and problem-solving skills that can help get you out of a tight spot while travelling, but there’s certainly no way to be overprepared in a case like this. If you have more time to prepare, or are interested in learning some physical techniques, consider finding a self-defense course. Though Sun and Moon Yoga occasionally offers bilingual courses (http://sunandmoon.jp) in selfdefense, there are a limited number of places offering courses specifically in self-defence as compared to the West, especially in English. However, Japan is host to numerous martial arts dojos, many of which offer classes in English. Martial arts are a great way to gain selfconfidence and the physical ability to defend yourself against attack should you ever need to do so. Depending on where you live, once you’ve decided which style of martial arts suits you the best, speak with other foreigners to get a recommendation for the best dojo for your interests and level of Japanese ability. Bon voyage!


FUYU IN HAKUBA

travel

FUNKY FRESH by James A. Robb

Hakuba has no shortage of fun activities and gorgeous views! All images provided by Evergreen Outdoor Center.

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y favourite season is, and I think always will be, winter. For many, winter is something you have to endure, suffer through. Not for me, though. When I see the first snowflakes of the coming winter I get giddy like a schoolkid, eager with anticipation of the fun-filled days to come. Seriously, when was the last time you played with your friends in the snow? Have you frolicked in deep powder recently? This winter might be just the right time for a few days of leisure that does not involve any technical expertise and lets you revert to being a kid again. Winter in Japan conjures up images of a snowcovered house with the family warming themselves under the ubiquitous kotatsu, staying inside, and making sure the pipes don’t freeze. This need not be the case, though! Winter means snow and Japan’s mountains have lots and lots of it. It is soft, powdery, and a perfect medium to get your groove on! If you are geared up and ready for the cold you can play outside all day long and still be warm and smiling at the end of the day. Anyone can easily find many places to explore, see some truly breath-taking views, and try some new forms of winter play. One such place that has a plethora of winter activities and is a massive outdoor playground is Hakuba village in Nagano prefecture. Hakuba lies at the base of the Northern Alps and has the benefit of being a true four season resort village. The ski season runs from December to May, and with ample snow you can try your hand at a variety of funky winter sports. It has now become quite a trendy hot spot to take a ski holiday, so large numbers of foreign tourists and expats are making the most of the international ski town services. From cozy cafés to fine gourmet cuisine; ski in/out accommodation to budget hostels and a lively nightlife scene, the town really comes alive in the winter. Choosing a good tour operator to guide you along your path of indulgent winter fun is also important. The Evergreen Outdoor Center has been operating in Hakuba for a decade and treats recreation in Mother Nature with a reverence verging on obsession.  They are dedicated to

creating a fun and exciting atmosphere with a high standard of safety and providing ecologically sustainable tours throughout the year. If you are more of an active person, there are numerous cross-country ski trails in the Hakuba Valley. On the courses at Snow Harp, the Olympic cross-country ski stadium, you can ski on perfectly groomed tracks and get a thorough workout with great scenery along the way. Another winter sport that virtually anyone can partake in, regardless of fitness level, is snowshoeing. Basically, if you can walk, you can snowshoe! Strap on some snowshoes and you

Evergreen’s friendly English-speaking instructors can get you on the right track. If you are looking for female instructors they have quite a few and they can definitely inject new life into your riding. Parents can also enroll their children in full day lessons where they are teamed up with others of the same age and ability. It is an ideal way to foster a love of skiing in the younger generation and parents can feel assured their kids are being supervised while learning new skills. Daycare services that combine indoor and outdoor playtime are also available for the little ones who are not ready for skiing just yet.

can access areas off the beaten track in tranquil forests with snow-laden trees, while checking out all the animal tracks along the way. Couples and families can also experience the beauty of Hakuba’s forests at night while on a snowshoe tour. If the sky is clear, there is nothing like seeing the stars while you sip hot spiced wine and enjoy a chocolate fondue. Another quintessential winter sport that anyone can do is sledding! The recipe has not changed since people first discovered it…find a sled, find a slope, hike it, slide it. Combine this with some snow fort building and a snowball fight and your afternoon is set! When sledding gets old, just hit up one of Hakuba’s ten ski resorts. Do you want wide open runs? They have them. Like bashing through moguls? Got those too. Mellow cruisers with almost no lift lines? Oh yeah! There are plenty of trees and powder, and the sheer amount of terrain boggles my mind! As a west coast Canadian raised with skiing in the Rockies, I can attest to the fact that Hakuba has comparable terrain to some of the top resorts in Canada, and what’s even better…it’s half the price! Lift tickets prices in Hakuba have not changed for 15 years and typical day passes are about ¥4,500. Getting the confidence and proper techniques dialled in while either skiing or snowboarding does take time, so taking a few lessons with

Probably the most impressive features one sees when coming into Hakuba are the huge peaks that tower above the ski village. Known as the Hakuba San-Zan, these three peaks reach up to 3,000 metres and the alpine area around them is simply epic terrain to ride off-piste. If you are heading backcountry, make sure you know about avalanche safety, have all the necessary rescue gear, and have good route finding skills and tools. If you have any qualms or want the security of a guide, Evergreen has professional guides who would be more than happy to safely lead you on your quest for powder. All the playtime in this winter wonderland can make you a pretty tired puppy, so when it is time to relax, the numerous onsen in town are your best bet. A rotenburo followed by a massage is a perfect way to wrap up a day in Hakuba’s winter wilderness. We all have a natural tendency towards pleasurable activities, and if we create free time in our lives to seek this, the results invariably make us smile. Winter climates are freaking cold, yes, yet within that climate is ample room to find things that will fuel your fire! For more information about Hakuba, visit www.hakubatourism.com, and for more information about Evergreen Outdoor Center, visit www.evergreen-hakuba.com.

alpine area around them is simply epic terrain to ride off-piste. The

Being A Broad December 2009

17


arts

LYNN MATSUOKA’S

LIFE AND ART OF SUMO by Danielle Tate-Stratton

Image provided by Lynn Matsuoka.

Day at Sumo.

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ver the course of the 35 years that artist Lynn Matsuoka spent living in Japan, she worked consistently to establish her place in a secretive world that most of us will never have more than a passing acquaintance with—the world of sumo. After completing her BFA at Temple University in Philadelphia and graduate studies in New York, Lynn was invited to Japan to work as a fashion illustrator for a major department store. It was a six-month contract that Lynn doesn’t have particularly fond memories of, decisively stating: “I was miserable and I had no intention of continuing after my six months were up. I couldn’t wait to get out of Japan.” That all changed one day as she watched TV and happened upon a channel showing sumo. Of that chance encounter and the journey it started her on, she says: “It grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. Every path led to sumo—everyone knew the right people…” One of those early people who knew people was the head of an important sumo organisation who invited Lynn to come and draw the wrestlers. Because of him, she says, as well as the fact that as a foreign woman, especially in the mid-’70s, she was somewhat of a novelty, she was permitted to go ‘backstage,’ somewhere no one would typically be allowed to go. Initially, and thanks to that invitation, she received plenty of hospitality, but after a few days everyone expected her to move on and the hospitality dried up. Luckily for the art world, by that point Lynn had “become totally committed” and returned day in and day out, typically with a translator, to carry on her work. Eventually, it was the quality of her art that helped her win the respect of those in the sumo world. Lynn works in a style known as reportage, which she describes as being “French for report. It’s visual reporting, where I document people in action and do it very fast. My intent is to capture

it as quickly and accurately as possible with no editorial—I’m not making things up.” The accuracy of her work is entertainingly summed up with one story of how she inadvertently got a young wrestler in trouble from his stable master: “I was doing a drawing of the wrestlers doing a particular exercise and the oyakata [an elder, retired wrestler/ stable owner] took a look at the drawing I had of this young sumo wrestler and he started to bellow at the young wrestler.” Totally shocked, Lynn discovered from her translator that the wrestler was being reprimanded for having his head in the wrong position, a fact the oyakata only picked up on because of the drawing. While the wrestler was most likely annoyed at Lynn for getting him caught, the incident had a greater effect on her status in the stable: “From that moment on, the higher ranking wrestlers came to see my work and from then on I was in. It was the craziest thing.” That’s not to say it was easy, in fact far from it. As a foreigner, and a woman at that, Lynn ran into constant challenges and suspicions: “People wonder why I’m there, what my motivation is. It’s hard to persevere through all the looks and suspicion.” Yet she did persevere, and has had some amazing experiences as a result of it—for instance spending twelve weeks every year for some two decades sitting in a dressing room at the honbasho (grand tournament) with the Grand Champions, always at their personal invitation, and only with their permission. Of course, officially Lynn wasn’t allowed in the dressing room at all, but “the Grand Champions would say: ‘sure come on in,’ so if the Grand Champion would say it was OK, no one could say boo to me.” This was also one situation where being foreign was an asset, as the father of Grand Champion Takanohana, once himself a sumo Champion, said to her in the ‘80s: “You know, if

you were a Japanese woman, you never would have been allowed in the dressing room.” Another factor quietly working in Lynn’s favour was Japan’s cultural consciousness when it comes to art, so very different from that of Lynn’s native US. She says, “In Japan people have a respect for art whether they understand it or not. They have a respect for the artist to such a huge degree compared to that of a North American… It’s part of the fabric of life in Japan.” Speaking with Lynn, it seems like no exaggeration to say that sumo has also become a part of the fabric of her life, so huge a part has it played in what she has accomplished over the past thirty-odd years: “Sumo became my life and there was never an easy day. Never. I had to gain their respect with commitment. And that’s what you have to do everywhere, but especially in Japan. I had to show up every day, if my kids were sick or my husband was upset, I had to show up. After years of every, every day they started to respect me.” In return for her dedication, sumo has also given Lynn “…what I felt was the most beautiful, daily entrée into the art around me. Working with sumo allowed me to feel what it was like to be a real artist…” A real artist indeed, Lynn has been called “probably the greatest living reportage artist” by Milton Glaser (who is perhaps best known around the world for his ubiquitous I [heart] NY campaign). In addition to her work in sumo, Lynn has also recorded the world of kabuki, as well as painting subjects from a diverse range that includes Hawaii, baseball, portraiture, and equestrian. Now back in New York, for the time being at least, Lynn continues to work as a portrait artist as well as continuing to expand her range of work related to Japan, currently working on three books related to sumo as well as looking for space in which to mount a curated exhibition in Tokyo. On her return trips to Japan, Lynn is eager to work with anyone interested in a lecture series, exhibition, or collaborative charity event, and is eager to share her knowledge with anyone interested, even offering to go to a sumo tournament (and possibly a practice) with those interested in learning more from an insider’s perspective. To get in touch with Lynn, anyone interested is encouraged to email artist@aloha.net or visit her website, www.traditions.jp. Additionally, those looking to finish up their holiday shopping will love Lynn’s art gift site, which offers several very affordable gifts for both corporate clients or personal presents. These unique glimpses into the most Japanese of traditions would make a perfect present for friends or family back home—a true taste of where you’ve been living. Learn more about these lovely, affordable gifts at www.cafepress. com/sumoartist.


CRYSTAL MOREY

arts

THE KIMONO ART OF by Aiko Miyagi

All images provided by Crystal Morey.

Crystal with her daughter, as well as several pieces of her artwork.

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utting up kimono can be a controversial issue—just recently in the BAB online forum there was a heated discussion as to whether or not it was cool to crop a kimono to knee length for better mobility and a modern flair. Some members applauded the idea for its cuteness and practicality, but others condemned it as a disgrace to Japanese tradition. So it took some guts for American artist Crystal Morey to promote her work—unique panels composed of kimono and furoshiki fabrics arranged on wooden frames. “I was

Exposure is essential for any artist, so it was important for Crystal to be proactive despite language and cultural barriers. “I did Design Festa here in Tokyo once but really had a hard time, standing around selling myself for a whole weekend, although it was great exposure,” she says. Now she mainly sells online and to friends. “I am involved with a friend’s gallery in Shinjuku and have shown there, and Sin Den asked me to do a show in their salon to kick off a series of artist’s nights they are hosting. Very cool.” She doesn’t limit herself to promoting her

o it took some guts for American artist Crystal Morey to promote her work—unique panels composed of S kimono and furoshiki fabrics arranged on wooden frames. really worried that the Japanese would be horrified that I actually cut up kimono,” she admits. “I tend to use old, used, and damaged kimonos, but you can’t really see that in panels. Unless I cut up a flag I don’t think I could really offend anyone at home.” Back at home in Texas, though, flags can be proudly displayed anywhere and everywhere. Crystal found it a shame that Japanese kimonos “are no longer worn very often, and the more beautiful silks are only brought out on special occasions—the rest of the time they sit in closets. I feel kimono should be displayed, and started piecing them into panels that are more wall-friendly (to display an actual kimono requires a lot of room).” Fortunately, though, her kimonos have been well received and people have even asked her to make custom panels using their own kimonos.

work only in Japan, either. “I have a show in Melbourne in February at a friend’s gallery. I’ve just met people here in the country and online and they’ve offered to host shows...many times it isn’t feasible to get out there—my panels are big and hard to ship, but if I can manage it I go.” Crystal’s adventurous spirit is reflected not only in her attitude toward her art but in her choice to come to Japan in the first place. She made the decision to move back in 1998. “I had an infant and I wanted her to learn Japanese. So she and I moved to Tokyo, I taught at an international school here, and we’ve been here since. She speaks Japanese, so mission accomplished!”  Does Crystal herself speak Japanese? “I learned Japanese from attempting to communicate and being constantly corrected by friends. Definitely not a recommended learning method. My Japanese has a lot of holes in it and

I cannot read at all.” Even so, she appears to be making the most of the opportunities available in Tokyo. She still teaches part-time and also has just started a tour company “for people who want to experience Japan’s underground culture, the arts, music, tattoos...” She gets to know her customers, foreign tourists to Tokyo, online and uses her knowledge of the underground scene to create custom tours tailored to their interests. With three jobs she loves, a solid network of connections, and an international environment for her daughter to thrive in, Crystal plans to remain in Japan for as long as she can. “I want to eventually buy a building here, possibly an old hotel where I can have a gallery downstairs and live upstairs. Hopefully with room for a studio and smaller rooms upstairs to rent out to visitors and the people on my tours. I want to have my own little art compound!” For more information about Crystal and her art, visit her website at www.moreyart.com. A day in the life: “I work a lot. I wake up at 6am and wake up my kid, run the dog, and get ready for work. I still teach part time, so I bike the 30 minutes into work, and work until 1pm. I bike home and go to my studio. I have an online shop and if I’ve sold merchandise I box it and ship it. If not, I panel for a few hours. Then home to make dinner, hang out with my kid, and walk the dog. Then I work online for a couple of hours promoting the tours and then go to bed around midnight.”

Being A Broad December 2009

19


food & dining

by Shana Graves

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lot of the challenges facing foreign women living in a country like Japan include not only the exterior struggles such as culture and language, but the challenges that also seep into ones home, specifically the kitchen. As Tokyo continues to grow as a metropolis, issues of space arise and residences must be built upwards in order to accommodate the enormous population. That means that in order to get the most out of limited space, corners must be cut, resulting in most apartments having diminutive kitchen areas that are much smaller then most of us are used to. Even outside of Tokyo, traditional cooking techniques limit kitchen appliances, and most kitchen don’t have ovens or more than one or two burners; quite a challenge when making a big meal! In Japan, since the workforce is so busy it’s quite common to eat out rather than cook at home and thus less focus is put on having a large kitchen. Meet Davide Maraschi, an Italian chef who has taken all of his gastronomy wisdom, combined it with his experiences living and cooking in Asia, and created a cooking class specifically suited to those with small kitchens. For the past year he has been helping struggling in-home cooks and aspiring chefs in Japan to utilise the tools (and ingredients) at their disposal efficiently while teaching them how to prepare delectable and traditional Italian dishes. I sat down with him to chat about his classes, life in Japan, and some tips for aspiring chefs. How did you learn to cook? I have always loved cooking. My grandmother had a restaurant in the North of Italy not far from Milan and I grew up helping her out in the kitchen during my free time. My grandmother had an amazing passion and love for cooking and somehow I have inherited that from her.

One of Davide’s students whips up a treat.

Newfound cooking skills in action. Tell me a bit about how you started a cooking school here: I came to Japan about three years ago for my job. I’m an IT consultant and as a result of the financial crisis one year ago I lost my job, and that’s when I thought about starting a cooking school. Do you have a specific style when it comes to cooking? My cooking philosophy is that food should be fresh and simple. I like to use the best natural ingredients available to enhance the flavour and eating experience. Cooking is a way of expressing my creativity and I also love to entertain people. Although most of my cooking classes focus on traditional Italian dishes I do also like to experiment in the kitchen. I spent ten years living in different Asian locations (Singapore, India, Manila, and Bangkok) and often when I am at home I like to blend the taste of Asian cuisine with a Mediterranean style. What is a typical class like? In my classes I cook traditional Italian dishes. After all, that’s my heritage and that’s what I am good at. I like to keep my classes interactive and ‘hands on’ as much as possible so that everyone has the chance to have a go. The kitchen I rent has four stoves and generally I don’t take more than eight people (two per cooking stove). The students who attend my classes vary in age from their early 20s to late 50s. Students are predominantly women, but recently more men are signing up for the classes. I usually decide the menu by myself but I am always open to suggestions. The classes are usually held in the evenings but if a group wants to book a class during the day it can be arranged, I just need to know in advance. How did you come up with the name You Can Cook? People often ask me about the name of my cooking school. Yes, Obama had a lot to do with it, but jokes aside I wanted to convey the message of empowering people to be able to cook at home. The idea is to teach students how to prepare dishes that the average person can cook at home. Often people lack the confidence to cook and I want to teach people that you do not need to be a professional as long as you have the passion and enthusiasm to try and give it your best. What is the biggest obstacle that you have had to overcome when it comes to cooking in a foreign country? As far as availability of ingredients and infrastructure (kitchen facility, tools, etc.) Japan is first class, so no problems there. Obviously, for me the language is the biggest problem. I would like to teach Japanese housewives during the day, but it would be very difficult. For the first two years of living in Japan I did not need to speak Japanese but now I am trying to catch up.

All images: Lalida Maraschi.

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MAKING THE MOST OF A TINY KITCHEN

How have you overcome this challenge? Having an assistant who speaks Japanese would help a lot sometimes. However, more than half of my students are bilingual and they always help me. The problem is that they are professional people who are only available in the evenings after working hours. What sets your classes apart from similar ones in Tokyo? Well I don’t think there are many Italians in Tokyo who teach Italian cooking. The fact that I am not a professional chef may actually be my strength. In my opinion professionals tend to take things for granted and teach complicated dishes, whereas my approach to cooking is simple. I learned how to cook from copying my grandmother and I feel that my students can learn as well just by observing my passion at work. I am also open to suggestions. So if you have a particular dish in mind that you want to try out, let me know and we will cook it together. What advice do you have for BAB readers? Start with easy recipes and build your confidence up. Try to use fresh ingredients as much as possible. For example, buy fresh herbs—they are more expensive but they taste much better than dried herbs, especially basil and sage. When you are done with them put them in the freezer, they will last for six months and still be quite fresh when it comes time to use them. Last but not least, come to my cooking classes and I’ll show you how it’s done. For more information about Davide or his classes, visit www.ucancook.homestead.com or email him at ucancooktokyo@gmail.com.


IN JAPAN! by Sarah Baker

foods or alcohol yet, although it now feels like I am battling a bad hangover every day as I am just starting the morning sickness phase and that reminds me that something is definitely going on inside of me. And yes, I told everyone the minute I found out I was pregnant. I know miscarriages are common and it is said to be taboo to tell people before the three-month mark, but there is no way that I could keep something that BIG a secret. I am getting more excited with each day that passes and should something unfortunate happen, like a miscarriage, then I accept that for what it is, too. It’s just as much a part of life as everything else. I would need my friends’ and family’s support through that, too.

few things are different about being pregnant in Yokosuka. Our baby will be exposed to Skype A communication immediately. knew this would be a good time to begin our family. Most importantly, we’ve been able to do a lot of fun things together as a couple prior to taking this big step. We have spent the past seven months travelling and reconnecting. A strong, communicative marriage is really important to us because it’s the foundation from which we build everything else. It’s our goal to make each other and our marriage a priority, even after life gets more chaotic with children. I don’t know what I expected I would feel like when I actually got pregnant. As a lot of women do, I have gone through many phases of growing into myself over the past decade. Some of those phases didn’t include marriage and children. Most of those phases focused on finding true love, purpose, and self-confidence; becoming a successful career woman, and continuing to travel the world to see as much as I can before I die. I am ecstatic to report that I was able to do most if not all of the above. I am living my dream. Although my career back home is temporarily on hold due to the relocation, I am confident everything will continue to work out as it should. My parents did a wonderful job of believing in me and teaching me that anything is possible. Despite the many phases I’ve gone through, deep down I knew that a family of my own was what I wanted, someday. So now that I’m pregnant, how do I feel about it all? I’m happy! I feel a satisfaction that I had never known before. This is what we wanted. With that said, I don’t think it’s fully sunk in yet. After all, I don’t see a bump yet… I think if I did, that would drive the point home a little faster. I don’t feel like an alien vessel carrying another creature around yet. That’s what I always imagined it to be like; a very foreign, alien feeling. I haven’t missed giving up certain

Sarah and her husband are ready to welcome a new arrival into their lives in Japan. Image provided by Sarah Baker.

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’m pregnant in Japan! When my husband and I relocated to Japan seven months ago from San Diego, we knew that attempting for our first child was in the game plan while abroad. Family planning is common among a lot of couples, but having a husband who is a Navy Officer makes planning all the more important, as long deployments away are more common than not. In fact, this is the first time my husband Jake and I have been under the same roof for any great length of time since we were married in September 2006. In sum, in our first three years of marriage we were together sixteen months and apart for twenty. Our life in Japan will give us three solid years together before our next relocation, so we

mothers

PREGNANT...

I am looking forward to the unique things that Japan has to offer when toting a little one around. The ease of going places with the stroller by train, the safe and clean environment, and the fun I’ll have picking out some of the adorable outfits Japan’s shopping scene has to offer. I’m also excited that our child will get to experience a different culture right away upon coming into the world. I want the world and all its countries to feel exciting, accessible, and familiar to our children, not big, scary, distant, and out of reach. I think it’s important in a child’s education to learn to celebrate and be tolerant of cultural differences rather than to judge other cultures negatively for being different. On the flip side, I am due in July. I am not looking forward to experiencing my eighth and ninth month of pregnancy during Japan’s hottest, most humid summer months. And there are a lot of things I miss about my old surroundings and the network of family and friends I had in San Diego. Our parents and siblings aren’t able to fly over for a short weekend. It’s not an inexpensive trip to jump over the pond and not possible without taking up some saved vacation

best husband in the entire world to help support me and although I really miss my best friend Karlee in San Diego, I was fortunate enough to be able to witness and participate in the birth and first four years of her first baby’s life. I was able to be there to see the good, great, bad, and the ugly! I learned a lot from Karlee and because of that experience I look forward to the challenges as much as the sweet and tender moments. A few things are different about being pregnant in Yokosuka. Our baby will be exposed to Skype communication immediately. We Skype family and friends and see their little ones on a weekly basis. I can only imagine the increased Skype traffic after our little addition is born! Other bonus features of being pregnant abroad are that no one will have to see any of my weight gain or the bad maternity outfits that I try to piece together! I won’t have to be the centre of attention at a baby shower or play annoying (to me) baby shower games, though I know some people love that stuff. I’m not the type to sit and pre-plan my kid’s life out, or to worry and dwell on the more serious aspects of how I can make my child’s life perfect in every way. I think perfect is scary and I look forward to doing the best job I can and watching

time. I have not yet built the same kind of friendships and network here as I have back at home, but I am comfortable now and have participated fully in my life in Japan so far. I hope to continue to look at this as an opportunity, because I know that being out of our comfort zones will allow us to grow and evolve in ways we never thought possible. As an about-to-be new mother, do I feel scared and isolated over here, or, do I feel prepared and optimistic? Perhaps foolishly, I feel more than prepared and completely optimistic. I have the

our child’s personality take shape on its own and for life to take its course. I do enjoy daydreaming about the dance parties we’ll have with our little peanut in the living room, while I introduce him/ her to Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Eric Clapton, John Fogerty, and all of the classic rock legends that seem to bring additional life and meaning to special family moments. As for pregnancy, it’s not every day you get to be pregnant in Japan. So I am going to make the most of it and have fun. I am going to enjoy every single minute.

s for pregnancy, it’s not every day you get to be pregnant in Japan. So I am going to make the A most of it and have fun.

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she found love in Japan

BASEBALL AND SUSHI by Suzanne Miyake

M

Image provided by Suzamne Miyake.

y first exposure to anything Japanese was in graduate school in California from 1999– 2001. At that time I met my best friend, Chigusa, a Japanese living in California, who introduced me to sushi for the first time. Japan was an exotic land to me and I hoped to go there some day for travel and possibly for work. After a few years of teaching English at American universities, I wanted the challenge of teaching abroad. Japan seemed the perfect choice as I could eat the best and freshest sushi anytime! I came to Nagoya in March 2003, intending to teach English for only two years. After Japan, I had hoped to return to the US and continue teaching English at the university level. It was towards the end of my stay here that I met the man I would marry. Isn’t it amusing how life can so quickly change its course? Hide and I met in a most unusual place: my university classroom. I was his third-year university writing professor. I had a hard time keeping my eyes off this cute, smiling male student on the first day of the new semester. He looked different from the other men in class. Please do not get me wrong; I do not pursue my male students! But this one was different for so many reasons. “So, who pursued whom?” you might ask. When this question arises, Hide and I both look at each other and point to the other person with a sly grin. He says me, and I say him. I guess we have compromised over the years and say it was mutual. Yes, I admit it, I did take the first little step, but he took an even bigger step after that. Hide joined my course midway through the academic year (he had been studying abroad in Australia), and I sent an email to all new students welcoming them to the class. Yes, Hide’s email had a P.S. at the end, and the others did not. That was my first little step. Then came Hide’s even bigger step. In his reply to me, he wrote (and I

Engagement weekend in Yamanaka Onsen.

Suzanne and Hide’s sunset beach wedding on Maui. image: Marbelle Photography, Maui

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IT ALL STARTED WITH

quote), “You are the most gorgeous teacher I’ve ever met.” And that is how we started going out. Our first date was in the evening after our second writing class. I remember it clearly: it was Friday, October 1, 2004. I had tickets to see the Chunichi Dragons baseball team and invited Hide

So far, I am ahead, but not by too many! After four years together, Hide and I got engaged in November 2008 in Yamanaka Onsen, north of Nagoya. It was a wonderful weekend getaway of enjoying the Sea of Japan coast and fall foliage. That Sunday evening, after a nice meal in

he night ended with the biggest and best bear hug in the world. It wasn’t one of those ‘I barely feel you’ T Japanese hugs. I knew then that this man was different. to join me. I even had an extra ticket so that he could invite a friend, but he told me he preferred that it be just the two of us. What a gutsy student! We didn’t pay much attention to the game, and instead talked for about four hours straight as the game went into overtime. While talking, we realised we had travelled to similar places, and we exchanged stories of our adventures abroad, such as surfing and skydiving for the first time in Australia. After the game, our first meal together was at midnight at a local sushi restaurant. The night ended with the biggest and best bear hug in the world. It wasn’t one of those ‘I barely feel you’ Japanese hugs. I knew then that this man was different. Starting a relationship with a student might have been against school policy, but my heart told me to ignore this rule of society and to simply go for it. I knew this wasn’t just a fling. We managed to keep our relationship hidden for one and a half years while Hide was still a university student. It felt so wonderful to finally hold his hand without worries in public after he graduated in March 2005. On a side note, Hide did get an A+ in my course! Hide and I share several of the same passions. We enjoy luxurious meals, adventurous travels, and relaxing nights in. We take pleasure in cooking together and travel as much as we can. I have been to 46 countries and Hide has been to a little over 40. Hide and I are in a bit of a competition in trying to see who has been to the most countries.

our tatami room, Hide handed me a gift-wrapped box stating it was a thank you gift for being such a nice girlfriend over the past four years. As I was opening the box, which was an urushi ( Japanese lacquer) wooden bowl, he asked me, “Will you?” As he was acting a bit nervous, I knew what it meant. But wanting to hear the full question, I replied, “Will I what?” with a smile. He said, “Will you marry me?” just as I lifted the lid off the bowl. Hide had cleverly hidden the engagement ring in the wooden urushi bowl! Always wanting to be different, we had three weddings in 2009. I love telling people that I was married three times; the look on their faces is priceless! Our first wedding ceremony was on our hotel balcony in Honolulu, Hawaii in a bilingual ceremony on May 1. It was just the two of us and it was beautiful. We exchanged $20 wedding bands bought at the hotel gift shop. Our second wedding ceremony was a Buddhist ceremony in a temple in Nagoya on August 1. It was fun dressing up in a kimono of my choice and my parents flew over for the event. Our third and final wedding ceremony was at Makena Cove beach on Maui on August 31 in front of our families at sunset. This was what I had always imagined: me in a wedding dress on the beach, barefoot. It was spectacular! Now, the big question is: when is our anniversary?


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GUIDE TO INTERNATIONAL

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www.internationalschoolsguidebook.com

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