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Being A Broad August 2010 #58

The monthly magazine for international women living in Japan

our cover girl: HOPE INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCY, JAPAN’S ERIN SAKAKIBARA

what’s it like to be a WINE IMPORTER?

PRACTICING REIKI in TOKYO

getting toned with TOKYO FIT MUMS

escaping to FUKUSHIMA

A girly GETAWAY at the CONRAD

FALLING for a CHEESY JOKE

www.being-a-broad.com


Online BAB members will have seen our new newsletter and email announcement systems, and we’d love your feedback! If you haven’t seen the new systems yet then bear with us as we import our thousands of members…our Twitter feed is up now so you can look out for us at BABBeingABroad, and also find the Being A Broad Group on LinkedIn. In this issue, we’re looking at lots of charitable endeavours, including that of our cover girl Erin Sakakibara, along with various organisations featured by Shana Graves on page 16. You can read about activist Matsui Yayori on page five, who we actually first featured in Being A Broad back in September 1998. There’s also plenty to keep you active, with stories of trekking adventures, Fuji-climbing, and Tokyo Fit Mums. And plenty more! And it’s farewell to Gabbi Bradshaw as she leaves Japan in search of new adventures. Thanks for your Tokyo girl column—we shall miss you! Caroline Pover, BAB Founder

ISSUE 4

being a broad news

BAB news, the 2010 Yayori Awards

Erin Sakakibara of HOPE International Development Agency, Japan

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7

8

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our cover girl women of the world news from around the globe

things we love the little things we love in Japan

Tokyo girl goodnight Tokyo

6 our cover girl

image: Ali Muskett

10 a broad in the boonies

a fish out of water in Kakegawa

• a girlie ‘staycation’ at the Conrad • a weekend trip to the greenery of Yakushima

11 travel 14

the broads (and boys!)

working

• we profile Leika Hancock of Pieroth Japan

practicing Reiki as a foreign woman in Japan

15 wellness 10 a broad in the boonies

image: iStockphoto.com/art-4-art

Publishers Caroline Pover & Emily Downey Editor & Designer Danielle Tate-Stratton Marketing Consultants Amy Dose & Katy Lowen Advertisement Designer Chris May BAB Managers Stephanie Kawai & Dee Green 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 Ali Muskett (Shizuoka) ali@being-a-broad.com Arwen Niles (Chiba) arwen@being-a-broad.com Wendy Gough (Nagoya) wendy@being-a-broad.com Contributors Gabbi Bradshaw, Tina Burrett, Leika Hancock, Tracey Taylor, Shana Graves, Karen Regn, Luisa Hawkins, Katie Earp, Jane Dwyer-Yamada, Alena Eckelman Cover Model Erin Sakakibara Cover Photographer 37 Frames Proofreader Jane Farries Printing Mojo Print Opinions expressed by BAB contributors are not necessarily those of the Publishers.

image: 37 Frames

image: David Stetson

IN THIS

message from the founder

16 community

• making a difference through NGOs • HOPE climbs Mt. Fuji

18 real-life story

19

an over-enthusiastic mammogram

mothers

Tokyo Fit Mums

she found love in Japan

falling for a cheesy joke on the train

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18 real-life story

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 August 2010

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BAB NEWS

From the BAB Message Boards: Member kimberlina81 asks: We are having a brief (just over two month) stay in Japan in November–January because unfortunately we just can’t move there at the moment. I want to cram as much Japan into that time as possible and I am an enthusiastic cook, so I wondered what regular Japanese people have for dinner? For example, in Australia things like a roast are common (especially on Sunday nights), so is meat and three veggies (e.g., corn, mashed potato, and peas), lasagne, pasta etc. We are an extremely multicultural society here in Oz, but usually Japanese food is not on the normal rotation (but Chinese, Thai, Indonesian, Indian, etc. would be)... well, at least where I live it is not as common. I menu plan and would love to use all the wonderful seasonal veggies that are available. When we were in Japan last I saw all these beautiful foods at the supermarkets and had no

Subscriptions Being A Broad June/July 2010 #57

The monthly magazine for international women living in Japan

our cover girl: OHANA INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL’S SHELLEY SACKS

what’s it like to teach people to HOOP DANCE?

THE OISHII! COOKBOOK

visiting THAILAND two very DIFFERENT WAYS

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TAKE the family CAR CAMPING in JAPAN

GRILLING is for GIRLS, too

FALLING in LOVE with the ADORABLE CO-WORKER

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! We now have the past several issues of BAB on our website—check them out at www.beinga-broad.com, and let us know what you think!

idea how to put them all together. We have several Japanese cookbooks (one in English), but they still don’t say what are typical meals in a Japanese household, which is understandable because most western cookbooks wouldn’t say that either. Member mediatinker responds: The most basic Japanese meal is rice, soup, and pickles. Without these three, it’s not a meal. On top of that, there are lots of side dishes, which will be everything from small individual portions of fish to salads. The traditional Japanese kitchen is quite frugal and almost every bit of food is used. These days, lots of people skip the traditional cooking style and just buy their side dishes at a deli... Japanese supermarkets are full of interesting and mysterious ingredients: freeze-dried tofu (for soups and side dishes) a huge range of miso paste, lots of different kinds of dried marine products. It is a lot of fun to figure out what they are for! I would recommend a copy of Elizabeth Andoh’s Washoku cookbook, which has a lot of theory and cultural explanation in addition to recipes. Erizabesu mentions: In the period of your stay, November to January, there are seasonal dishes that I make. One disclaimer—I’m not Japanese, and have enjoyed meals at home with friends and cooked for friends. So my cuisine is a bit hybrid. In the winter I make nabe—hot pot. There are whole cookbook/magazines that come out on newsstands in winter that have hundreds of variations on what to put in the nabe earthenware or iron pot. My favorite is veggies and gyoza in chicken broth with spicy miso sauce on the side. Kirsten mentions Elizabeth Andoh’s book. I second that! Also, have a look at www. justhungry.com for recipes. Obasan in Shikoku keeps a blog about food culture, gardening and cooking at http://kokonuggetyum2.blogspot. com.  I’d also recommend looking at Blue Lotus, the blog of a Canadian foodie who makes and photographs delicious meals—http://blue_ moon.typepad.com. To read the rest of the discussion or to offer your own suggestions, visit us online at www.being-a-broad. com/index.php/forums.

“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 here: Shibuya-ku: • British School Tokyo • Boudoir • Sin Den

New York • Beaute Absolue • Willowbrook International

• Nua Japan • Angell Memorial Central Hospital

School • ASIJ ELC • Tokyo International School • ABC Inter-

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

national School • The Montessori School of Tokyo • Isetan

machi International School • Gymboree • Global Kids

International Customer Counter • Homat Viscount Akasaka

Academy • Mitsubishi UFJ Azabujuban • Tokyo Surgical

Meguro-ku: Montessori Friends 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

and Medical Clinic • National Azabu • Segafredo • Tokyo American Club • Nissin World Delicatessen • Crown Relocations • Temple University • Hulabootie • Krissman Tennis • PAL International School • ROTI Roppongi • Paddy Foley’s • Asian Tigers • ai International School • Nirvana

Yokohama: Treehouse Montessori • St. Maur Saitama: Columbia International School Nagoya: St. George Academy • BAB Rep Wendy Tsukuba: Through BAB Rep Shaney Shonan: Through BAB Rep Kelsey Shizuoka: Through BAB Rep Ali Okinawa: Through BAB Rep Aiko Chiba: Through BAB Rep Arwen (To contact your local BAB Rep for a copy, simply send an email. All contact details are on page three.)


LIVING UP TO THE LEGACY

OF MATSUI YAYORI by Tina Burrett

T

he legacy of campaigning journalist and human rights activist Matsui Yayori is an inspiration to women both within and beyond her native Japan. Throughout her three decade-long career at the Asahi Shimbun—where in 1987 she became the first woman to serve as bureau chief—Matsui used her sharp and astute writing style to give voice to issues and individuals shut out of the mainstream media. In the early ‘60s, long before it was fashionable, Matsui became a pioneer of

other accomplishments include establishing the Asia-Japan Women’s Resource Centre (AJWRC), organising the Violence Against Women in War Network, Japan (VAWW-NET Japan), and, in 2000, acting as a key organiser for the Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery (representing the so-called ‘comfort women’). Recognising Matsui’s considerable contribution to improving women’s human rights across Asia, and hoping to encourage others to follow in her

Matsui Yayori still inspires women the world over.

Image provided by the Yayori Foundation.

atsui is perhaps most noted for her championing of women’s issues. In particular, the problem of M violence against women during armed conflicts and sex tourism.

Japan’s environmentalist movement, bringing to light environmental and health issues affecting communities across the country. In exposing mercury poisoning as the cause of unusually high numbers of birth defects in the Kyushu town of Minamata, Matsui revealed the negative consequences of Japan’s rapid post-war reindustrialisation. Later, she wasted no time in admonishing Japan’s business and political elite for attempting to circumnavigate this problem by exporting polluting industries to other parts of Asia. Matsui is perhaps most noted for her championing of women’s issues. In particular, the problem of violence against women during armed conflicts and through sex tourism. Matsui became an ardent internationalist and a feminist during her student years abroad. It was as an exchange student in the US, and later at the Sorbonne in France, that she first encountered the Women’s Liberation movement. During her journey back to Japan, witnessing the shocking poverty in Asia—in contrast with the prosperity enjoyed by the West—Matsui became determined to devote her life to challenging inequality and injustice. Alongside her journalism work, Matsui’s Advice for Renegades, A Tip From Anna: Exhaustion is Counterproductive The other day I found myself up past my bedtime, blearily folding laundry in front of the TV. I was exhausted, my back hurt, and I didn’t even like the show I was watching. But the worst part? This was by far the most pleasurable, relaxing, self-indulgent thing I had done in days. What the heck?! I’m a life coach. I know that pushing through exhaustion is counterproductive. Ease, bliss, joy along

footsteps, in 2005 the Women’s Fund for Peace and Human Rights established the Yayori Awards. The awards are presented in two categories: the first, the Women’s Human Rights Activities Award (known as the Yayori Award) is presented to a grassroots-level female activist, journalist, or artist working with socially marginalised peoples to tackle social problems. The second, the Yayori Journalist Award, is presented to female journalists or artists (an individual or group) promoting issues affecting women. Both awards are open to women from, or working in, any country. Past winners have come from a variety of professional and personal backgrounds. They include women supporting victims of sexual

separated from her family after losing her legal status to remain in Japan. Now based in California, Miho works to empower Japanese-descended individuals facing discrimination. In the same year, the Yayori Journalism award went to Osaka-born Nobuko Oyabu. Based on her own experience of rape, Nobuko started the photographic project STAND: Faces of Rape and Sexual Abuse Survivors for which she spent two years interviewing and

violence committed during Guatemalan civil war, a feminist photojournalist from Nepal, and a Japanese journalist fighting against nuclear power plants. In 2008, the Yayori award went to Miho Kim, a third generation Korean from Fukuoka. At just 13 she was denied access to education in Japan because of her nationality, and was later

photographing nearly 70 survivors, both male and female, in the US and Canada. Nominations for the 2010 Yayori Awards are open until the end of August. To make a nomination or to become involved with one of the many projects started or inspired by Matsui Yayori, please visit www.wfphr.org/yayori/ BAB English/top.html.

he legacy of campaigning journalist and human rights activist Matsui Yayori is an inspiration to T women both within and beyond her native Japan.

the way—this is how I get more done than is humanly possible. But I had forgotten. How about you? Is your to-do list so relentless that brushing your teeth qualifies as rest time? Take the August pledge with me. I pledge…to rest. To take care of myself. To have fun. Here’s the dirty secret: this’ll probably make you more productive. Besides, we can always go back to drudgery in September if we really want to. Anna Kunnecke is a life coach living in Tokyo. www.annakunnecke.com

Being A Broad August 2010

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our cover girl

SAKAKIBARA

of HOPE International Development Agency, Japan, cover photography by 37 Frames Full name: Erin Sakakibara Age: 43 Nationality: American Grew up in: Ottawa, Illinois—a small town about two hours outside of Chicago. Time in Japan: Hard to believe, but its been 18 years. Japanese level: Ashamedly, just ma-ma but always working on it! Works at: HOPE International Development Agency, Japan. Why did you come to Japan? I met my husband in Chicago and decided to get married and move to Japan as opposed to putting him on a plane and saying “sayonara.” So I guess the reason was ‘love,’ but youth (or naiveté?) and an adventurous spirit were precipitating factors. I can honestly say that I never thought about ever travelling to Japan before I met my great guy. Why do you stay in Japan? Definitely love… my husband is here because of his work and I’ve come to love Japan, too. However, it has also been a great place to raise my girls (17-year-olds Hanna, Emmy, and Rae and 15-year-old Maya). They’ve had a great experience in the Japanese school system through junior high and now they are getting in touch with their American sides while going to high school in my hometown. I always felt that, in some ways, Japan protected their childhood and let them be kids longer. I have my work too, and for the time being it is here. I was able to continue my graduate studies in International Development at Nagoya University and enjoy my work with HOPE International Development Agency, Japan, which is also here in Nagoya. About the scarves (pictured): The women of Cambodia weave beautiful scarves of cotton, linen, or silk and every time I travel there for work, I can’t resist bringing “just one more” back with me. I often bring extras back to use during our fundraising events. They are always a big hit!

How do you manage to balance everything in your life? Hmmm…can’t say that I’m ever “in balance.” Organised chaos is the best description, but my iCal is starting to help! In addition to work and home responsibilities, social organisations like the Cross Cultural Exchange Association in Nagoya and the national organisation of the Association of Foreign Wives of Japanese (AFWJ), have helped me to find my place here in Japan. They certainly make my life busy but help me to lead a very rich life. What do you do to relax? A good run or walk in the morning helps keep my mind balanced through the day, but true relaxation comes from a good massage or a glass of red wine at the end of the day. When life gets truly busy I find it is important for my husband and I to reconnect by grabbing dinner at one our favourite places, seeing a movie, or hitting the tennis courts together. After 18 years of marriage he is still the person I’d rather spend my time with, but sometimes that takes planning! Best thing about being a foreign woman in Japan? Meeting all the wonderful, and undoubtedly more interesting, foreigners that have crossed my path. I’ve made some lifelong BAB friends here!

About HOPE membership: HOPE International Development Agency, Japan is always welcoming new members into the HOPE family. A small donation on a monthly basis (an individual membership is ¥1,000 per month and a family membership is ¥1,500 per month) can help HOPE to make a big impact in places like Cambodia, Ethiopia, and the Philippines, among others. HOPE’s philosophy is to provide the first step to help people help themselves to realise their potential and work themselves out of poverty. This first step often has everything to do with having access to clean, healthy water. If you are interested in becoming a member of the HOPE family please visit our website, email, or call the office for more details. www.hope. or.jp, info@hope.or.jp, tel. 052-204-0530

All images 37 Frames.

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ERIN

A Day in the Life: I’m usually up at 5:30 or 6am and out the door for a walk or run, back in an hour to start the laundry, put the coffee on, get breakfast, and organise what didn’t get done the night before, usually in somewhat of a whirlwind, before heading out the door. I try to be at the office by 10am but some days I just work from home depending on whether or not I have outside appointments. Though I’ve been involved as a board member and volunteer with HOPE for the past eight years, I’ve just really started working for the organisation since graduation this past spring. My responsibilities include development of our membership program, overseeing Nagoya-area events, and coordinating the many volunteers that come our way. Regardless of what I’m working on, it usually entails explaining a bit of ‘why’ I do this job. It would be much easier to whisk everyone away to see, in person, the difference that HOPE is making in the lives of people in countries like Cambodia and Ethiopia. Mostly it starts with the ability to have clean water, something that we take for granted every day in Japan. I’ve been fortunate enough to do so and that is what helps motivate me to think of ways to attract new members, develop events that raise money for our projects, or help in motivating volunteers to do the same. When our girls are home from the States, my time is divided between them and any work that is a priority, since our time is fleeting and ever more precious. Regardless, I’m usually home in my kitchen by 6:30 or 7pm to prepare dinner by 8pm when my husband is home from work. Dinner, clean-up, and time spent on finishing up HOPE work and/or housework are what occupy my time until around midnight, at which point I’m in bed with one of my many books waiting to be read. It usually doesn’t take long before that book is on the floor and I’m out cold!


WOMEN OF THE WORLD

compiled by Danielle Tate-Stratton

image: zoostory

After Iceland legalised same-sex marriage in June, Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardotti married partner Jonina Leosdottir and became the world’s first head of state to enter into a samesex marriage. Sigurdardotti is also Iceland’s first female prime minister, having taken office in 2009.

image: Juan Rubiano

Syria has recently passed a ban on women wearing the niqab, or full-face veil, at universities, stating that the practice was “inconsistent with the values and ethics of academic traditions.” The ban does not pertain to women who wear headscarves as opposed to the face-covering veils.

Caster Semenya, the South African runner whose competitive career and previous results were called into question over the past year due to concerns over her true sex has been reinstated in competition, having been ruled “female enough” by track and field’s governing body. The practice of gender testing in athletes has been around since the ‘60s, and remains controversial as chromosomal abnormalities may cause a female to fail the test, even though she is receiving no benefits from her genetic variance. A study led by scientists at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre has shown that women who are more physically active at any point during their lives have a lower risk of developing dementia later in life, and also found that being active as a teenager has the most significant impact on lowering the risk of dementia in later life.

The Vatican recently stated that the attempted ordination of women is a “crime against the faith,” and that anyone who attempts to ordain a woman, as well as the woman seeking ordination, should be immediately excommunicated. This statement puts the ordination of women in the same category as clerical sex abuse of minors, heresy, and schism, and makes it one of the most serious crimes within the clerical system. Argentina legalised same-sex marriage in midJuly, making it the first Latin American country and tenth in the world to do so. The Senate voted 33–27 in favour of the bill.

Suraya Raml and Rafidah Abdul Razak recently became the first female judges appointed to Malaysia’s Islamic Court, presiding over Sharia law in that country, which ranked 96 in the 2008 Global Gender Gap Index. The appointments were made to help give equal voice to women and to appropriately mediate cases of family law. image: iStockphoto.com/kati1313

Researchers from Manchester Metropolitan University in the UK have shown that wearing heels five days a week for two years or more causes the Achilles tendon to thicken and stiffen permanently. Subsequently switching to flat shoes may cause calf muscles, which can be shortened by nearly 15 percent by regularly wearing heels, to stretch painfully. The researchers suggest alternating wearing heels and flats, or stretching calf muscles daily to avoid painful tightening.

Abortion in Pakistan is illegal unless the mother’s life is at risk and, as a result, many women die each year due to unsafe, back street abortions. To help combat this, a new telephone hotline has been launched by several Pakistani organisations and a Dutch nonprofit, Women on Waves. The controversial project plans to give women advice on how to safely and effectively induce abortion using a prescription drug meant for other purposes, as well as how to prevent haemorrhaging. The hotline also plans to make trained staff available to spread information about abortions to rural areas.

Researchers at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago studied mental sharpness in 8,700 women between the ages of 65 and 79 and showed that those who are apple shaped, that is heavier around their waists, are able to perform better on memory tests than those who are pear shaped and carry their weight around their hips. In both cases, women with higher BMIs had lower performance levels than those of a healthy body weight.

Certain doctors in Vancouver’s South East Asian community are seeing an increase in the number of requests for hymenoplasty, a surgical procedure which reconstructs a woman’s hymen, making her appear to be a virgin even if she is not. The procedure is typically carried out prior to traditional arranged marriages, often in the Muslim community. Women request the procedure to protect themselves from divorce or even physical abuse, repercussions they fear from their conservative communities for having had pre-marital sex. After four years of development, the UN recently created a new body for promoting equality for women around the world, known as U.N. Women. The organisation brings together four smaller, fragmented bodies into one unified group.

A survey of over 1,500 women in the UK showed that nearly 50 percent of women prefer to keep at least one piece of clothing on while having sex, with 56 percent of those women saying it is in order to improve body confidence. However, only 36 percent of the men surveyed said they preferred their partners to wear at least one item of clothing. JAL recently hired its first female pilot, JR East is now hiring female station masters, and the Bank of Japan now has its first female branch manager in its 128 years. Yet some critics worry that Japan’s gender equality measures are falling instead of improving, as suggested by a recent World Economic Forum ranking that placed Japan at 101 of 134 countries, down from 80th place in 2006. However, though women make up just 1.2 percent of all senior executive positions in Japan, Shiseido is hoping to have 30 percent of its senior leadership be women by 2013, up from a current 19 percent, a trend other companies are slowly BAB starting to follow. Being A Broad August 2010

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THE LITTLE THINGS

WE LOVE IN JAPAN I love Nirvana New York in Tokyo Midtown. I visited during the day and was really impressed with the range included in their lunch buffet. They don’t just serve your typical curries and their famous tandoori dishes certainly live up to their tasty reputation! It’s also fun to enjoy your meal with a fantastic view of Hinoki-cho Park without feeling like you’re paying for the privilege. Reasonably priced, Nirvana has a wide variety of dishes on both its lunch and dinner menus, including vegetarian options. I always enjoy finding a restaurant like Nirvana—delicious food, a great view, and it isn’t a huge stress on my purse! Serving its authentic, modern Indian food in the Big Apple for over 33 years with fantastic success, Nirvana has now been introduced to Tokyo. Nirvana New York is located in Roppongi on the Oedo and Hibiya lines. Learn more at www.nirvana-newyork.jp.—KL

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I used to live in Japan and recently passed through there again on my way to Europe so, of course, my friends wanted to take me out somewhere memorable. “You’ve been to lots of izakaya before,” they said. “We want to take you somewhere different...” Which is how I found myself at the Lock Up in Shibuya, a prison/ insane asylum-themed izakaya where, in order to get to the actual reception desk, you have to brave the, as I like to call it, “corridor of doom.” Strange ghoulies and visions of people attached to what appear to be electric chairs along with flash lighting make this place a sure hit for those who like scary things! Once safely at reception, you are then escorted by a Japanese girl in a very tight, short, police woman’s outfit complete with handcuffs to your prison cell. That’s right, your very own prison cell with all the expected mod cons such as closing barred gates and barred windows. One to two of the lucky guests may even get to be led there by handcuff if it’s a special occasion or birthday. The menu at Lock Up is pretty reasonably priced considering a lot of themed izakaya like to charge through the roof for both food and drink. The drinks are a little more expensive than your usual izakaya, but then again a typical izakaya doesn’t serve drinks in test tubes or with an eyeball in them. I’m not sure if it was seasonal, but the menu had an awesome selection of spicy dishes, which were delicious. You can get a good selection of food and have a couple of funny drinks for around ¥3,000–¥4,000. The waiters who serve the food

appeared to be normal ‘prisoners,’ but when it gets to show time the creepy ones come out. I, for one, was scared beyond reason but it was extremely entertaining. I wouldn’t recommend it for small children, however. You are notified of showtime by the lights going off in your cell and you then suddenly notice that one of the waiters has kindly closed your cell door. Lights start flashing and you see masked and cloaked characters running around, sticking their hands through your barred windows to freak you out, attempting to open your cell door, and basically trying to get you to scream and do something nasty in your underwear. Indeed, the table that freaks out the most gets a special visit by the scary guys after the show (just so they can hear you scream again, probably). The end of the show is signalled by police sirens and the police women coming in to save the day, complete with hero music. We seemed to be in the cell where they ended the show as both times show time occurred, I was summarily terrified by one of the escapee’s coming into our cell, roaming around, and then jumping over the wall and back into the corridor, where he was captured by a kindly tight-skirted police woman, much to everyone’s (AKA my) relief. In summary, Lock Up is definitely worth a visit for some fun entertainment and I can guarantee a good laugh, especially if you have at least one easily freaked-out friend with you. w w w. s u n ny p ag e s . j p / t r ave l _ g u i d e / t o k y o _ r e s t a u r a n t s / i z a k ay a / Lock+up+Shibuya/2629—SJ

I love Village Vanguard in Shimokitazawa for being one of those stores where you can get just about anything you want, as long as that something is slightly wacky. For example, when a couple of my best friends moved in together last summer, I found the perfect present—The Super Mario Bros. soundtrack CD—for my original-Nintendo loving friends. They have books (many of them in English), a stationery section, housewares (though many of them are quite cute or funny, such as Mickey Mouse-shaped waffle forms), some bits of clothing, the requisite lava lamps, and more. Plus, on the other side of Shimokitazawa is a great Village Vanguard burger shop, so you can stop in if you get hungry while shopping. www.village-v.co.jp—LW

A Tip from Sin Den: Have you ever wished that your hair was more manageable? Softer? Smoother? Had more shine? You’re in luck, as the Keratine Complex Smoothing Therapy by Coppola (Brazilian keratin straightening) is now exclusive to Sin Den! This revolutionary smoothing system infuses Keratin deep into the hair cuticle, reducing up to ninety-five percent of frizz and leaving your hair smooth, shiny, and luxurious. Results typically last three to five weeks depending on hair type. This treatment makes your hair: • Smoother and silkier • Straighter and shinier • Easier and faster to blow-dry • Close to being maintenance free Of the treatment, a Sin Den salon client says: “Keratin Complex has changed my life! My daily styling takes half the time. The results are truly amazing!” Special offer: when you have this treatment for the first time, receive ¥3,000 off on your manicure or pedicure services. For more about Sin Den, tel. 03-34054408, email hair@sinden.com, or visit www.sinden.com.

I love The Buried Life, a new show on MTV Japan. The show follows four 20-something guys from Canada as they work their way through a list of 100 things to do before they die, including ‘help deliver a baby’ and ‘play basketball with Obama.’ As they attempt to complete each item, they help a stranger complete an item of their own, such as reuniting a father and child. Part of MTV’s new push towards socially-conscious programming, the show is uplifting, inspiring, and yes, sometimes downright silly. www.mtvjapan.com/tv/ program/rg_tbl—DTS

Do you have a little thing you love in Japan? If you know of a product, place, restaurant, event, or service that our readers would love, please let us know! Send an email with 50–150 words describing your item and a photo, if possible, to editor@being-a-broad.com and we’ll use your suggestions in a future issue of the magazine.


TOKYO

by Gabbi Bradshaw

Image: hiromy

“Goodnight Hanegi Park...goodnight Kamakura...”

Tokyo girl

GOODNIGHT

Image: Leigh Wellsview

You said that at the rate you were going, you would be dead by the time you were 40.” “I said that?” My friend Catherine nods her head over a glass of pinot noir while overlooking the lights of Shibuya and a view of Tokyo Tower. “Well, cheers to that,” I reply. We clink glasses and I think back to what was happening back then. I was 29; I had a stroke. My dad was battling leukaemia. My grandma had lost her battle with lymphoma, and my grandpa had just been diagnosed with prostate cancer. At 29, I must have thought that 40 sounded old. And here I am. Two months away from 40. “Are you going to have a big 40th birthday party?” she asks.

neatly in the front flap of the journal. A reminder to live. “Sandboard in Namibia. Win a salsa (of the dancing kind) competition. Learn Spanish. Be somebody my niece and nephew could count on. Own a business.” It was then I decided that Tokyo was not where I wanted to spend my 40th birthday. I wanted to spend the day with my family. Eating my mom’s angel food cake with the extra chocolate frosting to cover the holes. Or drinking a glass of pinot grigio with my sister in Napa. Or tucking my niece into bed with her favourite book, Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. The first time I read the book, I didn’t like it. It was a simple, repetitive, blah book. But because it

“Nope.” “I’m going to celebrate the whole month when I turn 40.” She loves rubbing it in that I’m a month older than her. I don’t really care. I don’t feel 40; I don’t look 40. “What’s that?” Catherine leans in and points as I run my hand through my hair. “Grey hair,” I sigh. I have a slight greying at my crown. “It looks good. Keep it.” Yesterday, I noticed a grey eyebrow hair. I debated whether or not to pluck it. I had the tweezers out and then remembered all the damage I have done with the tweezers in my life and decided to wait. “You’re such a planner. You must know how you’re going to celebrate your 40th birthday…” Catherine probes. “I’m taking the year off,” I reply.

was one of my niece’s favourites, it soon became one of mine. In the book, the baby bunny says “goodnight” to everything in the room: the mouse, the socks, the stars, the cow jumping over the moon. As I read the “goodnights,” my niece would cuddle closer to me, suck her thumb, and welcome my goodnight kiss. Ready for sleep. Research says that when saying goodbye, you should decide which memories you want to keep. In Goodnight Moon fashion, here is my list. Goodnight Keio Line. The two sets of 16 stairs up and then down. With a 7-11 waiting at the end stocked with an ATM I could manage, cold Coke Zero, and Calbee olive oil chips. Goodnight chocolate chunk scone.  The motivation for many of my Tokyo Girl columns. And the reward for getting up at 5am to finish work from the night before. Goodnight Hangei Park. Where I trained for my Pink Run, Amelia Run, and recharged my soul with the laughing children, strolling grannies, and the three sets of stairs I ran to wear off the

oodnight Tokyo Girl. To the readers who shook their head in agreement or disgust. And for the chance to G reflect, learn and be a Tokyo Girl.

On my 39th birthday, I did what I always do. Reviewed my life’s To Do List. My list was printed

chocolate chunk scones. Goodnight fashion. To wear a brown, pilly, plaid wool skirt in 28 degree weather with a royal blue gingham short sleeve shirt. Entertainment. Goodnight Kamakura. My getaway from the fast and frenetic. The gulping of coffee, the pushing of the white gloves, the smell of alcohol, and the other passengers habitually picking at themselves. Goodnight toilet seat. Heated. Soothing after a long run. An escape after harsh words. And heaven in the freezing cold. Goodnight to Second Harvest. Where I learned to harvest rice, pick sweet potato, and understand the complexities of hunger and poverty in Japan and the world. Giving me a chance to serve and connect with people in need. Goodnight to the man who swept outside my door every morning. Who took the time to wish me a good day. He acknowledged me in a city of facelessness. Goodnight to the crew at my local Starbucks. The ones who wrote, in English, “Good morning,” “Have a :) day,” and “Thank you.” Who noticed when I changed my perfume or had a new haircut. Whose smile often helped me through those impossible mornings. Goodnight 1R apartment. It taught me to simplify. Since I don’t cook, I didn’t need a pot or pan. And I didn’t need forks; a spoon would work fine. While simplifying my wardrobe, I also learned to simplify my life. Goodnight friends. The one who listened more than spoke. The one who dyed my greying hair when I didn’t think it was distinguished anymore. The one who taught me about Japan. The one who dragged me to Muse. The one who made my work more fun. And the ones who helped me write. Goodnight Tokyo Girl. To the readers who shook their head in agreement or disgust. And for the chance to reflect, learn and be a Tokyo Girl. BAB Goodnight Tokyo. Being A Broad August 2010

9


a broad in the boonies

Saba in front of the natural beauty of Kakegawa.

OF WATER by Ali Muskett

S

aba (which, incidentally, means ‘mackerel’ in Japanese) is a 25-year-old American woman living in Kakegawa, Shizuoka. A California girl at heart, Saba loves exploring San Francisco with her friends. Back home, shops and entertainment were on her doorstep and every weekend was an opportunity to get dressed up, put on some heels, and hang out with her friends. However, here in Kakegawa, she is a lone foreign woman surrounded not by beautiful things, but by beautiful nature. Mountains and tea fields are the friends she spends her weekends with, and she’s more likely to be seen jogging through a rice field in sneakers than hanging out in heels. So how did she end up here? After graduating with a major in political economy, Saba worked as a tax collector. The job made her unhappy and she eventually decided she simply had to do something more adventurous

Saba with some of her students. with her life. Having never visited Japan before, she applied for a job as an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher), and told her new employer she was “up for anything, happy to live anywhere, and just wanted to experience traditional Japan.” They placed her in the agricultural city of Kakegawa, which is famous for the production of green tea and has an almost exclusively Japanese population. For the first week, she didn’t have a car and admits she probably would have gone crazy if she hadn’t gotten one. Luckily, her job provided her with a cute turquoise car, which happens to match her iPod, and with that she is able to remain connected to the rest of Japan. There are two supermarkets she can drive to, but unfortunately she has to go a bit further to obtain most of the “products essential to being a girl.” There are no coffee shops to speak of in Kakegawa, and not many restaurants either. There are some familyrun restaurants in the main street of her town, but recognising the difference between a house

and a restaurant is not an easy task. Most shops and restaurants don’t look like places of business, and without better Japanese skills (or someone to introduce her), Saba still feels too nervous to enter these establishments alone. In fact, if Saba wants to see her friends and speak English to other native speakers, she usually has to make a trip to nearby Hamamatsu, where she can socialise in an izakaya or one of the foreigner bars (there appear to be none in Kakegawa). However, the lack of bars is not something which bothers Saba at all. Saba is a Muslim, which means she is not allowed to drink alcohol or eat pork. Not drinking isn’t really a problem for Saba, as she feels she doesn’t need alcohol to enjoy herself, but it is something that makes her feel different, not only from the Japanese around her, but also from the other foreigners who, she comments, “want to drink every weekend.” The real problem that Saba faces as a Muslim in Japan is avoiding pork. The Japanese just love to put pork in everything— even if you can’t see any pork, it’s probably in the broth. On her first day in Japan, unable to read any Japanese on the menu, Saba accidentally ordered something with pork in it. Frankly, even if she had been able to read the menu, that still could have happened. Since then, she has made a concerted effort to learn more Japanese and to cook. The next major challenge Saba is going to have to face in her life as a Muslim in the Japanese boonies is Ramadan. “Most people in Japan don’t even know what it is,” she says. This year Ramadan begins in the second week of August and lasts one month. It is a time when Muslims can’t eat or drink anything (not even water) from sun up to sun down. Their aim is to use the daytime to be more religious, pray, or volunteer. August is the hottest month, and it will be the school holidays, so Saba won’t be working. “Won’t that be hard?” I ask. “Yes, but I’ll just try my best,” she replies with a smile. She admits that it is going to be scary, and says that she has never had to do this without a support group of some kind. Right now she’s trying to find a mosque, but even if she does find one, it will mean a journey to another town— probably Hamamatsu—where she will have to stay overnight. Saba knows she will have to find things to keep her entertained during the long, hot summer days. She hopes to do some volunteer work, including helping with her junior high school’s English speech contest, and teaching English conversation at the local community centre. Also, her sister will be coming to visit, and Saba can’t wait to show her the sights of her city. If someone visits Kakegawa, she recommends taking in the views of the tea and rice fields, going for a beach walk, enjoying

Images: Ali Muskett

10

A FISH OUT

the peace of the lake near her apartment, and then taking a trip to Hamamatsu to see the other side of life. The contrast is extreme! Standing by the lake, I couldn’t help saying to Saba over and over, “it’s so quiet here.” Living in the city, you sometimes forget how life can sound without the constant drone of traffic. Birds were singing in the mountain trees and I swear I heard a bullfrog croaking in the rushes. On the surface, Kakegawa seems to be a quaint, sleepy city where nothing much happens. However, there was a recent incident that fast became the talk of the town. There’s a small temple just across the street from Saba’s apartment, where she used to like to go to read. Unfortunately, her coworkers recently forbade her from going there, following some town announcements that a wild boar had been spotted. Wild boars usually stick to the mountain forests, but this one must have been hungry or gotten lost. One day, having nearly forgotten about the boar, Saba heard a gunshot. “It was the weirdest thing—I never expected to hear gunfire in Japan!” she says. She looked out of the window and saw a man shooting into the trees, and then walking into the dense forest. The next day at school one of the kids had brought in the tail of the now dead wild boar to show everyone (goodness knows how he got it). Wild boar aside, Kakegawa is definitely a safe town, but there is no privacy. People watch Saba wherever she goes because she is a foreigner. She doesn’t know everyone yet, but they know her. Saba enjoys her job, working as an ALT at four elementary schools and one junior high school, but it’s not a job she sees herself doing for more than two or three years. “It’s not challenging enough,” she says. But Saba didn’t come to Japan just to teach English. For her, coming to Japan was the first step on a journey of self discovery, and with each step she is thinking “how is this going to help me get a better job and get a better life from here?” Living in such a remote area certainly gives her time to think and time to write. Check out Saba’s blog at: http://sabayounus.com for more accounts BAB of her adventures in Kakegawa.


TEN MINUTES FROM HOME

travel

A WORLD-CLASS GETAWAY

by Jane Dwyer-Yamada

The Conrad offers both beautiful rooms and a sumptuous lobby.

Image: shinnygogo

Image: Ramiro Sanches-Crespo

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Image: shinnygogo

ew York, London, Paris...and of course Tokyo. Yes, it can be easy to forget that I live in a world-class city. At times, it can be a little too easy to take this wonderful place for granted. In reality, even after ten years of living here there is still so much I have not done that I feel like a tourist when I do make little day trips around town. Recently, due to an expanding family and demanding school schedules, it has been hard for me to jump on a plane and fly to far-flung destinations. Also, the cost is prohibitive, and with so many tickets to buy, it is hard to justify for a long weekend. Yet I still need that ‘getting away from it all’ feeling that only travel can give. After some thought I came up with the perfect solution—have a getaway ten minutes from home! It may sound crazy, but having done it twice now, I’ve confirmed what a great idea it is. Two best friends and I left all our baggage at home including two pampered dogs, five kids under six years old (including two brand-new babies), and three high-maintenance husbands. To be fair, we left them a couple of babysitters, and then hit the cabs, not looking back once. Ten minutes later, we ascended twenty three floors and entered the cool, practically ceiling-free lobby of the five-star Conrad Tokyo hotel. A young Japanese man with a British accent greeted us with “May I help you, Ma’am?” and it was at that instant that I was no longer in Japan; I could have been in any of the cities mentioned above, or anywhere in the world. It was only when I gazed out at the stunning city view, centered by Tokyo Tower, that I remembered home was an easy and safe ten minutes away.

The Conrad takes care of every detail.

We left our chic, packed-for-one-night bags at the front desk and headed straight to the Michelin-starred China Blue for a long, leisurely lunch. Thanks to one of our gang knowing the hotel manager, we got the best table in the house, corner-window, left side, overlooking the entire restaurant and the city below. Minutes later and expensive champagne (by the glass, thank goodness!) in hand, we savoured the ease of the set courses laid out in front of us. Superb Chinese fusion, which looked as good as it tasted, where texture, colour, and subtle flavours abounded. The vegetarian among us was thrilled with her meat-free selection, which was available without making any special requests, not always an easy feat in Japan. The only problem was that I got a taste for really good champagne, and any sparkling wine I have had since is nowhere near as satisfying. It was time to go up to our room. We were on the thirty-fourth floor, an executive one, in a tworoomed suite where a third of the space was for the bathroom. Perfect for three women planning to get very dressed and made up for a night at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant. First, however, we had a massage appointment at the spa, which took up a whole floor and had the most spectacular setting for a pool I have ever seen. Our trio hadn’t planned on swimming, but when we saw the pool, resistance was futile. It was right on the window’s edge and seemed to float among the surrounding skyscrapers. As it was early afternoon, we managed to have the whole place to ourselves and we felt like ultra-VIPs in our own private oasis. The next hour drifted away in massage, and we dragged ourselves back to the room. Time was going by too fast and I didn’t want it to end—ever. Soon it was time to dress for the evening and we stopped by the executive lounge to sample some complimentary drinks and appetizers. There were a lot of couples here and it was a little too quiet for our liking, so we ducked down to the lobby for some cocktails. A Bloody Mary and a Cosmo or two later, it was time for our dinner. I had been looking forward to this part of the weekend for weeks. I had been to Ramsay’s before and it was faultless in presentation, style, taste,

and service. I was hoping for a repeat performance, and, let’s face it, any dinner without trying to feed three open-mouthed, noisy children is a delight. Happily, we were not disappointed and I would go back here again and again. Also, this time around the prices were more affordable than in the past. The set menu is always the best option, as it showcases the chef ’s specialties and takes away the stress of deciding what to eat, leaving more time to talk. All we had to decide on was which wine we wanted, and even there the expert sommelier helped narrow it down to a few choices. Hours later, I was exhausted and in such a relaxed stupor that I hit the bed and slept undisturbed until mid-morning. Soon after waking, the most luxurious in-room Western breakfast was laid out before us, so vast that it covered all available surfaces in the living area. For the first time in our six-year friendship, we really got to talk with abandon, with no kids to pick up, companies to run, or needy husbands to tend. And talk we did, non-stop, until we checked out exactly four hours later. Time was our only enemy, and the burden of what lay ahead on our return to home was looming fast. They say time flies when you are having fun, but at the Conrad, time took on a whole new dimension of speed. Our overnighters packed once again, we headed back to the massive lobby and in a flash were checked out. As I walked toward the elevator, I couldn’t help but look with envy at the new arrivals coming to check in for the night. The only way to console myself was to say that we will do it again, and soon. Damn that short taxi ride, which was even shorter thanks to the lack of Sunday traffic. In no time I was opening my front door to a chorus of the wails and laughter of my brood, an exhausted BAB babysitter, and no husband in sight! Being A Broad August 2010

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travel

ONCE UPON

AN ISLAND

by Dee Green, photos by Tracey Taylor and Dee Green The forest that inspired Princess Mononoke.

All images: Tracey Taylor and Dee Green.

The bulging Shiratani creek.

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f “life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale,” as Hans Christian Andersen suggested, then a trip to the enchanted island of Yakushima is definitely a chapter. It’s a magical never-never land, but not too far-far away. A week is better, but a weekend is doable. In fact, from Tokyo it’s a quick one-and-a-half-hour flight to Kagoshima, then a thirty-minute propeller-fuelled rock and roll jaunt to the island—if you have weather like ours. Or you could take a ferry. However you get there, the spectacular beauty, pristine nature, and the dazzling fusion of mountains, water, and beaches is beyond breath-taking. Yakushima rises dramatically from the ocean to almost 2,000 metres. It is best known for the dense, unique 12 square kilometre core forest that covers most of the island and its magnificent old growth Japanese Cedars, or cryptomeria trees. It is a hiker’s paradise and the secret is out, with more than 90,000 walkers on the trails last year alone. The remarkable Yakusugi trees, some thousands and thousands of years old, cement Yakushima’s current status as a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site since 1993. Nature here packs a punch and, during any stay, it will more than likely rain. Locals say it rains 35 days a month. In our case it was more like 40. The sheer volume of cascading, seasonal spring water was simply staggering, so clean it’s drinkable directly from the source. It is certainly Japan’s wettest place and one of the world’s rainiest. But the rain brings a special kind of power and tranquility to the primeval show. Even if you arrive in the middle of a blackout. Which, of course, is what we did. We picked up a rental car from a local outfit, Matsubanda, which was considerably cheaper than the national brands (check out ToCoo! to compare prices and book easily online). A little yellow-plater is more than suitable to get around in and will help on the narrow one-lane mountain roads when the big green shuttle bus is coming the other way. There are also several alternative transport options including buses, taxis, cycling, and legs.

We then walked in waterfalls for a week. Whenever the rain stopped briefly, there was mist and rainbows. Clouds rolled in, covering, then, just as quickly, exposing the mountain tops. When the rain came again, there were sunshowers and fierce thunderstorms. There are plenty of accommodation options on Yakushima, mostly studded along the hydrangea-covered coastline, ranging from campgrounds to minshuku, more upscale hotels, and the finest luxury. We didn’t know it then, but we would experience it all. Tokyo was a world away as we checked into the family-run, super friendly Morinokokage: charming log-cabin cottages complete with wooden swings and an inside hammock. Roomy, yet feeling cozy with all the basic comforts, aircon, toilet, TV, and a separate bath. The power came back on. Swaying away in the hammock, we referred to the fabulous new Yakushima: A Yakumonkey Guide. This is the first comprehensive guide to Yakushima in English, published just last year. Our original plan was the three-day traverse trek starting south at Onoaida and working steeply north to explore Yakushima’s seductive, spiritual interior, peaking at Kyushu’s highest mountain, Miyanouradake, then exiting after visiting the mother of all cedars, Jomon Sugi. There are many options for those wanting a more relaxing, less active experience, who aren’t so much into long hikes, or who have less time and would like to soak up the beauty of Yakushima. Jomon Sugi is accessible in a one-day, ten-hour hike. There are also plenty of shorter walking courses starting at 30 minutes on walkways that require no special gear, particularly at Yakusugi Land. Drive-by options also abound and with a rental car, motorbike, or cycle, an afternoon exploring the blind, dramatic bends of the Seibu Rindo Forest Path is well spent (no buses are allowed here). This 26.5-kilometre stretch of wonderland wilderness road on the west side of the island takes you inside the World Heritage Protection Site—an amuse bouche of the island’s delights. A visit to the friendly guide centre in Anbo

and we were informed that the trail planned for our first hiking day was inaccessible because of its bad condition and that the bridge we needed to cross on the second day following the Yodogawa trail was also closed as a result of damage sustained this rainy season. New plan: we decided to start our journey at Shiratani Unsuikyo and set off in sprinkling rain. If time in Yakushima is limited, a visit to Shiratani Unsuikyo is a must. It is a landscape beyond dreamy and almost became cliché when we met the first of many petite, picture-perfect yakushika (deer). A rare and startling green moss meets tangled roots, ancient cedars play with light and ferns, rain makes random waterfalls, and broadleaf evergreens stand tall. We followed the Shiratani creek, which was simply bulging with water, until we crossed a bridgeless river, which I promptly fell in. But we still got the shot and saved the camera. The rain was relentless after this, which made it slow going, as our packs weighed more than 15 kilograms. Revered filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki was here before; his Princess Mononoke masterpiece is based on the area. We soon met up with the Aragawa trail, which follows the old (yet still in use) railway tracks to start the climb to Jomon via the Okabu trail. The trek to Jomon is well signed, not technically difficult, and just slow going, but has the potential to be dangerous and is certainly slippery in places when wet. It’s not to be underestimated. With so much precipitation at times, our path was a waterfall. On the way we met very few hikers, intertwined cedar trees some 3,000 years old, and a big stump called Wilson. From there the path became a series of walkways, wooden platforms, and steep steps leading up to Jomon. We had Jomon Sugi to ourselves when we arrived late in the rainy afternoon. We exchanged a few words and marvelled at the 7,200 year-old national treasure, a cedar almost 25 meters tall and 16 meters wide, with 13 different species sprouting from the weathered exterior, while thinking of all it had endured and all that had transpired during its


travel

life. Then it was off to the Takatsuka mountain hut 200 metres further up for the night. Hut is a relative term, and it was more like a concrete shed that we shared with nine new friends, soggy waterproofs dripping from the ceiling, but it was semi-dry and it was shelter. Just as sleep came, something with four rodent legs streaked through the hut and our gear and the most terrific thunderstorm lit up the night for hours. While I lay there I couldn’t help but think of Jomon Sugi in the face of it all. My magic, far-away tree. Morning came while the rain was still pouring hard. After a quick chat with our fellow hikers and a local guide, we decided to re-think our hike to the top of Miyanouradake. The weather was not on our side. Saturated and satisfied beyond words, we completed our 22-kilometre tramp. Before long, the onsen of our dreams was soaking our weary, water-logged bodies at the Hot Stone Spa in the Yakushima Green Hotel. We recovered the next day by exploring the island by car. We skirted the exterior, following lanes until dead ends and taking in the bountiful waterfalls—Ohko-no-Taki in the south west was especially impressive. Then it was off to gawk at the mixed seaside hot springs and the northern beaches around Nagata, where loggerhead turtles come to lay eggs from May to July. Locals extended warm hospitality, directions when lost, and egg sandwiches when restaurants were closed. Souvenirs were selected, including coveted bottles of the famous Mitake Shochu (distilled liquor), which is limited to one bottle per customer. We indulged in passion fruit and the famous, citrusy ponkan and tanakan, and appreciated the workmanship of the many handicrafts fashioned from old cedar stumps and remnants. Then it was time for a quick trip to the Yakusugi Museum to try lifting the 20-kilogram chainsaw left over from logging activities and to see a real branch that fell off Jomon Sugi several years ago.

All worth a visit. None more so than a night or three in the opulent luxury that is the new and exquisite Sankara Hotel and Spa. One night in a mountain hut and the next in a first-class private villa or signature suite with your own personal butler is quite a change. Sankara is eco-luxury at its finest and certainly the most luxurious accommodation available on the island. It opened in March this year and is firmly based on the concept of a modern day ryokan with all the trimmings; attention to detail, impeccable guest care, and dedication to service. With a sparkling infinity pool facing the Pacific Ocean, two finedining restaurants plus poolside service, and a full-service spa, this Asian-style resort is at the forefront of high-end eco-tourism and simply a world of indulgence. Mango farms and rainforests lead you to Sankara’s entrance, situated on elevated ground surrounded by more tropical rainforest and featuring five suites and twelve two-storey villas, one villa to each floor. All the vision of Sankara designer, Jiro Sato. In support of Yakushima and the local community guests are asked to donate ¥500 to an environmental fund, and all Sankara staff are registered residents and pay local tax. Styled in collaboration with a French designer based in Bali, Sankara is a blend of Thai, Indonesian, and Japanese influences. The little touches as well as the extraordinary service are memorable. Guests are welcomed in the glass-walled library upon arrival and are escorted through the resort via carts. Hybrid Prius cars are available to rent. Room amenities Broads would love abound, from boar-bristled biodegradable toothbrushes to organic herbal teas. There’s natural bamboo toothpaste, ecobeauty products, a divine day bed for lounging, herbal bath balls, and biodegradable trash bags.

Scenes from Sankara’s spa and hotel.

Tea cups from Kyoto’s famous Oku café delight guests, as does Sankara’s own spring water. Then there’s the food. Sankara has its own herb garden, tended by Executive Chef Chiharu Takei and his stellar staff. The inspired FrenchJapanese menu focuses on local, fresh, organic ingredients. The result is simply stunning, both visually and taste-wise. Chef Takei, with experience ranging from Joel Robuchon in Paris to Marunouchi’s Mikuni, will prepare dishes according to guests’ tastes, dietary needs, and requests. In collaboration with local farmers and producers this is fine dining, island style. Don’t even get me started on desserts…we sampled at least 11. Breakfast was a truly enjoyable taste sensation, the prettiest salad, condiments, and baked goodies paired with Chef ’s original Sankara jams. Then we were off to experience Japan’s first location of the Bangkok-based Asia Herb Association Spa. Ninety minutes of sublime massage featuring a steamed herbal ball treatment containing 18 different organic herbs. As a bonus, your bliss can continue as they give you the balls to take home. All too soon it was time to leave Sankara, Sanskrit for ‘bounty of heaven,’ a term just as applicable to Yakushima. It is an island so full of spectacular natural wonders and mesmerising beauty, equalled only by the many ways of experiencing it. As poet W.H. Auden wrote, “the way to read a fairy tale is to throw BAB yourself in.” For more information: • Sankara Hotel & Spa: http://sankarahotelspa.com/en • Yakumonkey Guide: www.yakumonkey.com • Morinokokage : www.morinokokage.net/ english.html • Tocoo! www2.tocoo.jp/?file=rentcar_ inbound/main • Find the unedited version, with photos galore on the 37 Frames blog: http://offtheplanet.\ typepad.com/37frames.

Yakushima teems with natural beauty. Being A Broad August 2010

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working

WE PROFILE:

LEIKA HANCOCK of Pieroth Japan KK

I think it’s one of the best products to work with! Like many companies we are encouraged to know what we are selling—a brilliant perk when you get free samples of the wine for research! It’s very exciting to work for an international wine importer and I’m proud to be able to introduce high quality wines to customers in Japan. I have always enjoyed the fast pace of marketing. The projects I deal with have a direct response, so I know almost immediately if the projects that I have managed are successful. Worst thing: I understandably need to know a lot about wine working for Pieroth: however, I am always learning. I find that once I tell people what I do, they immediately think I am an expert and ask me all sorts of questions that I can’t answer! Being a one-woman team also means that I am solely responsible for the less glamorous aspects of the job. Data entry and paperwork are not my most fun things to do! Whilst it is great

for me, it’s the product. I love wine and I think it’s one of the best products to work with! Personally

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Support Section, which is in turn part of the Marketing Department. My main responsibility is the creation of new customers through direct marketing methods. I am involved in all stages of the direct marketing strategy and am the project manager for the entire process. This requires great communication skills as I deal with everyone involved from designers and printers to data suppliers. With all new customers we conduct an initial survey. This is used internally for various purposes, such as future marketing strategies or for customer base analysis, and it is my job to make sure these are managed in an effective way, ensuring that they are used to their full potential. As part of the search for new customers, I inevitably find myself in the role of customer service representative, too. I am the first point of contact for any questions, issues, and thankfully to a lesser extent, complaints our customers may have. I find that being in charge of my own department means that I can usually help our customers quickly. This is because more often than not I have worked on their account from the beginning. Being part of an international company is great as I also get to work with other countries. Across Asia there is network of offices which all share successful marketing methods, as well as support. I tend to deal with South Korea on a regular basis and will often offer advice on generating new customers. Best thing: Personally for me, it’s the product. I love wine and

to have complete responsibility for my work, I do sometimes miss the office dynamic that comes from teamwork. General conditions: I work 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday. No overtime is paid, so luckily I very rarely have to stay beyond this. I get all of the Japanese bank holidays, plus 16 days of annual leave. General Requirements: My position is obviously very heavily led by marketing, so there is a need for real experience in that particular field. I found that when applying for this position my previous position as a market researcher really helped as it gave me a great

Leika is able to sample Pieroth’s products. Image provided by Leika Hancock.

Name: Leika Hancock Nationality: British Qualifications: BA Hons (2:1) International Business Studies with Japanese Job title: Manager Direct Mail Support Employer: Pieroth Japan KK Salary: ¥450,000 plus bonuses Time in this job: Over four years Job description: Japan was Pieroth’s first overseas venture. During the first years only four different kinds of German wine were imported by Japan. Little by little, wines became better known and more popular. Today Pieroth Japan imports over 1,700 wines from 17 countries and is the world’s largest wine sales company. It has its own vineyards and wineries in 5 countries, with more than 4,500 employees in more than 20 countries throughout the world. My role at Pieroth is quite varied, as I am technically a one-woman team! I am responsible for the management of the Direct Mail

me, Pieroth was introduced to me via Being A Broad, who encourage companies that support foreign women. There are a lot of female employees at Pieroth Japan, as well as a few Westerners present in the Head Office, so I have never felt out of place working here. Pieroth really prides itself on being an international family and I think that this attitude has really helped. Interesting stories On May 28, 2010, the Washington Wine Commission hosted the Washington Wine Month Promotion Award Ceremony at the Tokyo American Club. Pieroth were first time participants in the competition, which was very exciting for the company, and to make it even better we were delighted to be placed in the top three of the Best Importer category. How she found this job: I actually found this vacancy through the Being A Broad careers service! They were really helpful and gave me a lot of practical advice, and they even gave my CV a makeover. I found the Being A Broad network really helpful, especially when I was settling in to my new job.

ike many companies we are encouraged to know what we are selling—a brilliant perk when you get L free samples of the wine for research! insight into the Japanese consumer as well as developing great people skills. Considering that Pieroth is a wine importer, having an enthusiasm for wine also helps! Language requirements: Pieroth is a large multinational company and conversational English is generally required. Across the company, Japanese at a business level is needed in order to communicate with data suppliers, colleagues, and customers. I am a native English speaker and my Japanese is almost at a native level, so I know I am quite lucky to not have a language barrier. Issues affecting her as a woman On first coming to Japan I did have a few issues with a previous employer. However, luckily for

Advice: My advice is not to worry that you will never find the right job, as long as you have enthusiasm for what you love to do (in my case, a skill for marketing and a love of wine!) and are proactive about finding a job, something will eventually turn up. Recommended resources: www.pieroth.jp/en/index.html Other jobs done in Japan: When I first arrived in Japan I worked for the Board of Education in Kochi Prefecture as a Coordinator of International Relations as part of the JET Programme. Then after moving to Tokyo, I worked for four years as a market researcher specialising in commercial products such as luxury fashion brands, BAB alcoholic beverages, and cars.


by Alena Eckelmann

Petya is one of the few practitioners of Usui Reiki.

eiki—a Japanese hands-on healing modality and spiritual practice of channelling cosmic energy—has become an integral part of alternative medicine in the West, and the number of Reiki practitioners around the world is growing all the time. The practice of Reiki is believed to bring holistic healing on the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels. Practitioners are those who were attuned to the Reiki energy by a Reiki master/teacher. They are said to have the ability to receive the energy at will, let it flow through their body, and pass it on to a recipient via their hands wherever they place them. I talked to Petya Lowe, a Reiki master and teacher with 16 years of experience practising and 14 years of teaching this energy system. She is one of the very few foreigners who teach the original Usui system of Reiki. How did you get started with Reiki? As these things tend to happen, Reiki just turned up at my door one day in 1994. I was browsing through a magazine and I saw an advertisement for a Reiki class. I had no idea what Reiki was, but I was inexplicably drawn to it and two weeks later my partner, Hari Tahil, and I attended the class.

Japanese Reiki. My partner has interviewed the head (at the time) of the Kurama temple near Kyoto, the home of Reiki. No other non-Japanese Reiki teacher has ever mentioned having done this, let alone having learned information directly from the nuns and priests at the Kurama temple. As we have studied many Reiki systems, we feel qualified to say what is original and what is not. Is Reiki a New Age thing? I am very happy that over the last decade Reiki has been become very popular in the world and it is becoming more and more recognised outside of the so-called New Age circles as being something practical that can benefit everyone, no matter who they are or what they do. Increasingly, Reiki is getting more attention from medical practitioners, and several hospitals in the US and Europe have incorporated Reiki into their programs. As Reiki is one of the most simple hands-on healing modalities in the world, and is also one of the most effective, many doctors and nurses are now beginning to study and use Reiki to help patients heal faster. What can Reiki do and what can it not? Reiki energy is present everywhere and it can be used for a wide variety of purposes except for

We both had different but deeply transformative experiences and the rest is history, as they say. You teach Usui Reiki, which is said to be the traditional Japanese Reiki… My partner and I teach Reiki based on the original Japanese teachings by Mikao Usui, including information and practices not generally available outside Japan. I am always drawn to getting as close as possible to the source or origin of whatever it is I am learning and therefore I wanted to experience the original and undiluted Reiki teachings. Even though the history of Reiki is only about 100 years old, the truth about how Reiki started and about the life of its founder is hard to ascertain. There are a lot of stories about Usui, which have been proved to be untrue, and new information about him and the system of Reiki still surfaces from time to time. For me, personally, the important thing is my connection and relationship with the energy itself, not the stories people make about it. Amongst the non-Japanese who are teaching Reiki, only one or two out of hundreds have been to Japan, have a first-hand understanding of the Japanese language, and have met with teachers from the original lineage. Instead of relying on old, repeated, and inaccurate information, I teach ideas and techniques that are included in the original

anything that would be harmful. When giving a Reiki treatment, the Reiki energy flows through the practitioner before leaving via the hands and flowing into the client. Because of this, the practitioner also receives a treatment. As the Reiki energy flows through practitioners, they feel more relaxed and uplifted and can receive insights about the client and how they can heal better. Reiki complements and enhances all other disciplines and spiritual practices and has numerous practical uses in everyday life: • Reiki balances the physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental sides of oneself • Reiki purifies the body • Reiki releases blocked energy, enabling the body to heal itself • Reiki aids relaxation and promotes calmness and higher spiritual awareness • Reiki empowers personal goals such as relationships, careers, and lifestyles • Reiki has a positive effect on all forms of illness, discomfort, or negative condition, and works in conjunction with any other treatment. Can women specifically benefit from receiving or practising Reiki? Reiki of course benefits all living beings—men, women, and children, and also pets and plants. Both men and women are drawn to and can use Reiki freely to help with any health issue or disease.

me...the important thing is my connection and with the energy itself... Forrelationship

Image provided by Petya Lowe.

R

wellness

REIKI—HEALING ENERGY FOR LIFE

It is especially beneficial to people who take care of people and more often than not it is women who are the carers and they constantly deplete their own energy supply to give energy to people they care about. Being able to use Reiki allows them to care for others without depleting themselves, i.e., without giving of their own personal energy, as running the Reiki energy recharges the giver. In that sense it is especially beneficial for women. It helps women to stay well while taking care of their children and their family in Japan or back home. Can I become a professional Reiki therapist? For women who want to do Reiki professionally, it is easy and a form of self-empowerment and self-determination. Being a Reiki therapist is a wonderful vocation for a woman—there are no company policies regarding Reiki. Women can practice without any glass ceiling or age limits or inequality or male dominance. Women are said to be more intuitive, therefore maybe they can understand Reiki quicker than men, and many people are more willing to receive treatments from women than from men. Also, Reiki can be combined with any other technique or modality they are already using, for example massage, acupuncture, chiropractic, etc. What is the best way to get started with Reiki in Tokyo? The best place to start with anything is to experience it. In order to give people a chance to do just that, my partner Hari Tahil and I hold Reiki Share meetings every second and fourth Sunday of the month. Another way to experience Reiki is by receiving an individual treatment. Of course, learning to do Reiki yourself is a wonderful gift to yourself and to those around you. For more information about Lifeforces, their Reiki Share, Reiki treatments and classes, please visit their website www.lifeforces.org, contact Petya at petya@tokyo.com, or tel. BAB 03-3357-2067. Being A Broad August 2010

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community

MAKE A DIFFERENCE

THROUGH AN NPO by Shana Graves

Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something.” —Author Unknown Never has a quote rung so true as this one does today. In a world that’s in the midst of catastrophic oil spills, global warming, and continuing concerns of world hunger and poverty, it’s easy to say “I want to help,” but much harder to know where to start. When we get wrapped up in our own daily routines we often forget that there are others out there (millions of them) who may not have the opportunity to express themselves creatively, let alone feed and clothe themselves. It may not seem like a crucial part of comfortable human existence, but expression, whether it be artistic, poetic, or verbal, is the way that human beings best deal with life traumas and how we are able to begin on the road to healing our wounds. Meet Japan-based Soness Stevens, founder of Colorful Kids (www.hoorayfoundation. org), a non-profit organisation (NPO) aimed at encouraging creativity and providing artistic tools (which in this case are used crayons) to underprivileged kids in countries such as Rwanda. Colorful Kids began as a way to bring creativity to life in a world that was often dull and lacking in

out of this tragedy emerged the idea for the Tyler Foundation. This organisation is dedicated to offering support to children with cancer and their families who have to deal with this horrible disease and everything that comes with it. “We started the Tyler Foundation after we lost our son, Tyler, to leukaemia just before his second birthday. The inspiration for this organisation was our son—and it is the combination of our distinct talents and strengths that have enabled us to realise our mission of supporting children with cancer in Japan and their families,” Says Kimberly. “It was my experience of spending nearly two years in hospital with my son in Japan that has helped me to guide the creation of innovative and meaningful programs to improve quality of life and empower kids in hospital during cancer treatment. It was my husband’s business experience as an entrepreneur in Tokyo for over 18 years that has helped the Tyler Foundation manage its organisational and fundraising components. Therefore it’s our synergy as parents and individuals that makes the Tyler Foundation what it is.” Kimberly and her husband Mark are

colour. Many of the kids living in Rwanda today are plagued by images and feelings that are a direct result of what they witnessed and experienced during the genocides. Soness also organised Run for Rwanda in 2008, a ten-kilometre cycle and run to raise genocide awareness. On a more local level there are many Japanspecific non-profit organisations that have helped and continue to help people and animals here in Japan. Animal Refuge Kansai (www. arkbark.net) was founded by Elizabeth Oliver in 1990. She saw a growing problem of abused and abandoned animals in need of rescue. Elizabeth began her mission with little more than help from friends and generous donations. ARK has grown to include a shelter in Tokyo and, not to mention their rescue efforts, has saved 2,482 dogs and 962 cats. You can help by donating money and pet supplies, volunteering time, and of course by adopting a pet. Save The Kitty (http://savethekittytokyo.blogspot.com) is a similar organisation which is run strictly by volunteers and finds homes for rescued cats and provides trap, neuter, return (TNR) support to animal rescue organisations. Many other Japan-based NPOs are dedicated to helping people in stressful situations. Kimberly Forsythe-Ferris and her husband experienced a life-changing tragedy when they lost their two-year-old son to cancer. However,

always organising events to raise awareness about childhood cancer and raise money for their cause. In April they organised a concert featuring American Idol contestant Scott MacIntyre, which was a huge success. When starting a non-profit organisation, very little is required in the way of experience and background aside from ambition, resources, and support from family and friends. You don’t have to be an expert, you just have to be passionate about your cause and be willing to dedicate a lot of time and energy to making it happen. Before you decide to go ahead with your organisation idea, ask yourself: • Do I have an original idea? • Is a non-profit organisation necessary? • Have I done my research? • Am I passionate about and devoted to this idea and to starting an organisation? • Do I have the time and resources to devote to this endeavour? • Do I have money to invest? Can I get funding? • Who will be my supporters and volunteers? • Where will my home base be? If you have everything you need to start an NPO, once it is established you will soon see that the benefits far outweigh the risks. The feeling of helping to build a better world is hard to beat. You don’t necessarily have to start your own non-profit organisation to make a difference.

is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing you can only do little—do what you can.” “Itbecause

16

Volunteering your time is often enough. Here are a few NPOs that you might want to look into that can always use donations and usually have volunteer opportunities available. Second Harvest Japan: This organisation collects food from manufacturers, farmers, and individuals that would otherwise go to waste. The food is delivered directly to those in need, such as children in orphanages, women and children in shelters, migrant workers, and the elderly. Second Harvest Japan also operates a food bank. They’re always looking for people to volunteer time, money, food, and equipment. Visit www.2hj.org for more information. Tokyo English Life Line: This Tokyo-based support system offers services to the Englishspeaking community including free phone counselling and information, professional faceto-face counselling, and educational workshops. Volunteer opportunities include telephone counselling, graphic design, IT support, and editing, along with many other jobs. To apply for a volunteer position, visit www.telljp.com. Hands on Tokyo: This volunteer organisation works with individuals, groups, corporate teams, and students to connect them to meaningful service opportunities. You can register at www. handsontokyo.org to be included on their volunteer list. Salvation Army: As well as providing shelter for homeless people, and counselling and institutes for alcoholics, the Salvation Army distributes clothing, food, and daily necessities to those in need. For more information about volunteering or donating goods, visit www.salvationarmy.or.jp. Most large organisations such as Amnesty International, Habitat for Humanity, and the Polaris Project also have Japan chapters. For additional information or advice on starting a non-profit organisation in Japan, please contact Sarajean Rossitto through her website sarajeanr. wordpress.com. Ms. Rossitto is a Tokyo-based non-profit NGO consultant. Idealist.org also offers a large interactive network where people and organisations can exchange everything from resources and ideas to support. The Global Development Research Center website (www.gdrc.org) provides information and resources on non-profit organisations in Japan as well as other parts of the world. You can also find out about laws in Japan that govern nonprofit organisations. There a number of ways to get involved to help your community, so stop thinking about it and get out there and do it already. “It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do little—do what you can.” BAB —Sydney Smith


MOUNT FUJI

by Erin Sakakibara, leader of HOPE International Development Agency, Japan’s 2010 Charity Fuji Climb The whole group and an intrepid climber at the top.

am happy to report on the successful completion of the 2010 HOPE International Development Agency Charity Fuji Climb, sponsored by H&R Group. An enthusiastic group of 24 participants and 5 support staff from HOPE and H&R set off from Nagoya at 10:30pm on Friday, July 9.

I always try to share half of what I have with others. To join the Mt. Fuji Climb was a great opportunity “ for me.” We arrived at the fifth station at around 3:30am and set out to greet the impending dawn shortly before 4am. Though the climb was daunting and physically challenging, 23 out of the 29 climbers were able to summit! This included the youngest climber, Dymond Robinson, who is 11 years old and the youngest member of the charity climb to summit. As a fitting metaphor, participants set

support people while enjoying what we want to do. They gave me great motivation! From Karolina Rucinska: I have lived in Japan in different periods of my life (as a child, as a student, and as a trainee), but in all my past experiences I have never had a chance to climb Mt. Fuji. Hence, when I saw that I could combine the climb with support for

The group resting up.

Nearly there!

Dymond, the youngest climber.

All images provided by HOPE Japan.

I

out to climb Mt. Fuji not only to challenge themselves, but also to raise money to help the people of Cambodia climb out of poverty. Many of the participants asked their friends and families to sponsor their climb, thereby raising funds to promote projects for clean water in the Pursat region of Cambodia, where HOPE International Development Agency, Japan has many projects supporting sustainable livelihood development. Over ¥260,000 has been committed to these projects from funds raised through the climb. Below is a brief description of the event from two of our participants. From Miyu Suzuki: Charity definitely cannot be something we have to do, but rather something we want do. I always try to share half of what I have with others. To join the Mt. Fuji Climb was a great opportunity for me. Although I haven’t got a lot of money to share with others, I do have the time, energy, love, and networks. People around me, such as friends, colleagues, and business partners, including some that I’ve never met in person, may not have the time to spend with the poor who need help, but they can donate money. We should all do whatever we can. Climbing the highest mountain in Japan was absolutely tough, but it was still what I could do and love to do. I really enjoyed the experience and nearly forgot that it was our challenge for others. HOPE International Development Agency, Japan offers us the opportunities to

community

HOPE CLIMBS

a good cause, an opportunity created by Hope International Development Agency, Japan, I was thrilled to join. We set out from Nagoya in the late evening and got to the Fuji fifth station at 3am. Just as we started to climb, dawn came and it was really magical to see the light softly illuminate the villages and lakes at the foot of the mountain. I started to climb up, but very soon discovered how difficult a challenge it was. Despite the very good weather, the mountain was not too kind: the climb was steep, you had to zigzag your way up, climbing some rocks, and still could not see the end. The air got thinner and thinner, and I had to stop every 10 to 15 minutes to catch my breath. In the end, I only made it to the foot of the ninth station (3,250 metres) and decided not to go for the remaining 500 metres (there were two more hours of climbing to go). Still, I was very proud to have made it to that point. I found this climb a good way to make my friends aware of the issue of clean water access in Cambodia, and was pleasantly surprised that many showed concern and supported the cause. Not only did I manage to collect pledges for clean water in Cambodia from many of my international friends, but I also learned something new about them—that we have another thing in common, sensitivity to the poor of this world. It was wonderful to realise this as well. HOPE International Development Agency, Japan is a non-profit organisation in Nagoya that has two missions: to raise money to promote sustainable development projects in developing countries and to educate those living here in Japan about the needs of the people living in the developing world. Please see Erin Sakakibara’s cover girl profile on page six and www.hope. BAB or.jp for more information. Being A Broad August 2010

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real-life story

ARE THE SAME by Karen Regn

M

y friend Hiraki complains that her breasts are like a child’s. In onsen and shower rooms, I’ve seen Japanese women marvel at the breast sizes of Western women. I’ve even seen Japanese women ask to touch them, they are so curious. Some of us are blessed (or cursed) with a full head-turning rack. Our chests, perhaps the most ‘out there’ of our body parts, are typically larger. Our bodies are different. Of course there are advantages to having smaller breasts like Hiraki’s. The result of generations of women eating a low-fat diet, Japanese women are onethird as likely to get breast cancer as Western women. But it was in Japan that I went for my first mammogram. It was an experience that led me to doubt how prepared Japanese doctors are for treating Western breasts like mine. Last February, I’d been keeping watch on a small hard lump in my left breast, trying to heal it by giving up coffee, etc., when after a month I decided to have it checked by a specialist. I went to the Red Cross hospital because it was close to my home and I could easily get a referral from my neighbourhood doctor. I was indifferent as to whether or not my physician specialised in treatment for foreign women, because I felt confident in my Japanese speaking abilities. I was naïve as to what my examination would entail and the mistake I was making. After arriving at the hospital first thing in the morning, I waited about three hours. This I’d prepared for mentally by bringing things to do and had also made sure to eat well beforehand. However, I wasn’t prepared to receive, after the doctor’s brief physical examination, maps and instructions showing me where to queue up for two tests, a sonogram and a mammogram. How long will it take? I asked, checking my watch. I was due to go into work that afternoon and it was nearly lunchtime. “Not long at all. Right this way,” he said. The doctor indicated these tests could not wait. The sonogram was a lark, since I’d never seen the inside of my own breasts. It took about 30 minutes altogether. Since that had been pretty easy, I hopped over to the mammogram testing, hoping it wouldn’t take long. I was getting hungry. Unfortunately, the next test wouldn’t be so fast. With only one machine operating and a long queue, I waited for over an hour. It was well past lunch, and my stomach was growling. I kept hoping they would call me next, so I sat and waited. Finally, my name was called. A young nurse ushered me inside. She would be the one squeezing my breasts today, I figured. She instructed me to take off my shirt and my bra, then explained that she would be taking four photos, two on each side. We started the testing, and she started squeezing. It was incredibly

“the lump in my breast is benign...” painful. My mother had described a mammogram as a brief squeeze and release, but this young nurse was being very thorough, asking me to hold for long periods. She did the right breast first, then asked to switch to the left, the one with the lump. On the left side, the pain was even worse. Tears welled in my eyes. After what seemed like several minutes, she released me. I asked her if one picture on each side wouldn’t be enough. She insisted it needed to be done twice on each side. So in I went in again, and had a squeeze on my right breast. Even tighter this time, it hurt incredibly. The ordeal left me panting and I asked for a break. “Only one left to go,” said the nurse after a moment. I took a deep breath, and put my left breast against the machine. She started to squeeze it. This squeeze hurt more than the others. I started to get dizzy and asked the nurse to sit down. She pulled a chair forward from the back wall and placed it behind me. That’s the last thing I remember. I had fainted. When I opened my eyes, it was into the eyes of a Japanese man, centimetres in front of my nose, yelling loudly, asking me if I was all right. The room was in chaos. I’ve lost consciousness before, but I have never woken up to find a room totally different from the way it was when I had fainted. But the mammogram room was now filled with nurses. Everyone was yelling. A gurney was being wheeled in. Nurses kept running in and out of the room. “Do you know where you are?” The man at my nose asked me details about the moment. I supplied the date and the name of the hospital. He took my pulse and seemed satisfied. Next to me, the young nurse who had administered the mammogram was distraught, reporting the chain of events to a woman who appeared to be her supervisor. “She asked to sit down…then as she sat her eyes rolled back in her head and she was gone…” the young nurse was saying. I was fine, but my chest was sore and my head pounded. I was put on a gurney along with my belongings, my shirt clutched to my chest to cover me, and wheeled down the hall and into an observation room. I was told to rest, but it was nearly impossible because of the very bright fluorescent lights above me. After two hours without check-ins by any medical staff, I flagged down a nurse and asked if I could leave. She went away to check with my doctor and came back to tell me that it was OK and that I should call to make a follow-up appointment tomorrow. I dressed and collected my things, exiting the area without a glance in my direction from the staff. As I unlocked my bike, I realised I had been at the hospital for seven hours. Two weeks later…

Image iStockphoto.com/art-4-art.

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NOT ALL BREASTS

“The machine is American, and you’re American, so you should be fine with this test. In fact,” he tells me, “there was another American woman who also fainted taking this test a short time ago.” The doctor chuckles at the irony then shakes his head. “I don’t understand it. You Americans should be fine with this machine,” he insists. The doctor peers at me over his mask then swivels in his chair to point out parts of my anatomy in two huge monitors behind him. He informs me the lump in my breast is benign and should go away naturally. “Are you sure?” I ask him. “I wasn’t able to take the second picture of my left side.” “That’s OK,” he tells me. “The one picture was enough.” I’m sure he meant well, but I wonder how many foreign women will have similar mammograms in Japan. I should have considered a doctor specialising in the care of Western women. I could have brought snacks or taken a lunch break instead of trying to power through. It’s also possible they squeezed me a little too hard in the name of being thorough. Through this experience, I’ve made a new commitment to myself to go longer distances to find the right doctor. I may even have to pay more for a physician who specialises in foreign women’s health. To me, English language ability is important, but experience and willingness to personalise are even more crucial aspects. I wouldn’t like to find myself in the same position BAB as before—in a pinch. For a less stressful mammogram experience, BAB recommends the Johns Hopkins Clinic at the Tokyo Midtown Medical Center (www. tokyomidtown-mc.jp/en/about/jh.html) or the Parkside Hiroo Ladies Clinic (www. ladies-clinic.or.jp/e).


FIT MUMS

by Katie Earp with Luisa Hawkins

T

Some sessions include activities such as kick boxing.

Image provided by TFM.

okyo Fit Mums is a unique concept to Japan— it’s an exercise class that allows you, in fact encourages you, to bring your child! Until very late into my pregnancy I continued to exercise—much to the bemusement and astonishment of my fellow gym goers—quite often I wondered how I would be able to manage to exercise once I was a full-time mum. Over lunch with good friend and personal trainer, Luisa, we began discussing the opportunity for introducing stroller fitness to Japan, and we soon found that mother and baby fitness classes existed in every major city in the world—with the exception of Tokyo. Spurred on by several enthusiastic discussions with likeminded new mums, our coffee-chat idea quickly progressed into setting up Tokyo Fit Mums. From the very beginning our core aims were threefold. Firstly: help support mums to achieve their post-pregnancy goals, secondly: introduce a healthy lifestyle to our children from a young age, and finally: to provide a platform to enable like-minded mums to socialise together and allow babies to interact with one another outdoors. Purely by word of mouth we have managed to establish a good number of regular attendees and this has enabled us to slowly increase the number and also the locality of the sessions. As our groups are small we operate on a firstcome, first-served basis. Aside from fitness, the social network that TFM provides has quite taken us by surprise and many of our mothers have, since joining, formed close friendships together. You may well have bumped into a group of our mothers and babies all having a relaxing drink after their workout! Currently we are running two sessions a week, one on Tuesdays at Roppongi Midtown, and one on Thursdays in Hiroo, both from 10 to 11am. From July 23 we began a new Friday session at Midtown beginning at 10am, and furthermore, as requested by many of our mums, we will be running bilingual sessions in Komazawa and Tamafutagawa starting in mid-August. We intentionally keep our classes small so that each person gets tailored attention to take into account varying levels of fitness. Among our friends we have met some trusted and very experienced child minders, and with this most important piece in place we finally feel comfortable to begin a TFM running club. The club will initially begin at a good to intermediate level; however, you will be able to run with complete peace of mind knowing your child is in excellent hands. Sessions will start in October when it’s cooler. Although we’ve brought in ideas and knowledge from other classes abroad, Luisa and I have created our own style of class and have developed the structure of sessions using her post-natal fitness knowledge and my knowledge

mothers

TOKYO

of being a mum. Together we have designed a program that can cater to different levels of fitness to focus specifically on post-natal recovery. To ensure the safety of mum and baby, the babies stay in the pram for the first 40 minutes, but can come out at the end in our core conditioning and stretch time for a little more contact if they are getting fidgety. During the first 40 minutes, we keep them entertained with some peek-a-boo squats, walking lunges to a big tickle, and crab walks around them in a circle, among other things that they seem to find amusing! We mix up the exercises done in each class to keep it fun, interesting, and challenging every time. However, a class always starts with a warm up. In the warm-up we focus on posture exercises and give advice on how to push the stroller correctly while engaging the important core muscles to ensure that the body is ready and conditioned for the workout. For the next 30 to 40 minutes, we power walk and stop off at two to three stations along the way, where we focus on toning and strengthening key areas. This could be any combination of exercises for legs, bottoms, chest, back, and arms, and sometimes we mix it up with some cardio bursts to improve general fitness and increase the heart rate. It is amazing how creative you can be with benches, a step, a wall, and your own bodyweight! We often use exercise bands to increase strength and muscle tone. These exercises can include band rowing to increase upper back strength for improved posture, lateral raises to build shoulder and arm strength to help with lifting your little ones, and bicep curls, just to look better in those sleeveless tops! Sometimes Luisa will come along with some other equipment to mix up the workouts. This week we did a little bit of kick boxing! We then move on to the mats for core conditioning, which focuses on improving our mummy tummy. It is so important that these exercises be done correctly to ensure that we are helping to heal any diastasis recti (abdominal separation) that has occurred and aren’t making it worse with any common sit-ups. Core work focuses on the transverse abdominis, which is the corset-like muscle that wraps around our middle

from our ribs to our hips. It helps to provide back and pelvic stability, which is why it is so important for women, especially after birth. When this muscle is strong, it reduces back, hip, knee, and even shoulder pain. When it is stronger and tighter, it brings the abdominals together and tightens up the tummy, making it stronger and better looking, too. Double bonus! We then finish off with stretching and some relaxation time. It is great for all of us to have a bit of chill out time before we set off for the demands of the day! When performed correctly, the advantages of post natal exercise include: • Improvement to posture, which can assist with back, hip, and other joint and muscle pains • An increase of much-needed energy and strength so you can handle the physical challenges a baby can bring • Help with reduction of the post-natal depression known as the ‘baby blues.’ How to join: Please don’t hesitate to send us an email with any questions: tokyofitmums@ hotmail.com, or check out our webpage at www.tokyofitmums.com. We very much look BAB forward to you joining TFM. Here is what some of our mums have had to say: “TFM is a great way to challenge yourself and get some exercise without the hassle of finding child care. I have been surprised at how much my 14-month-old son enjoys watching all the activity. The workout is fun and it is a friendly group of mums. It is also much more reasonably priced than a personal training session but still in a small group, so some mums attend without their kids too. It has been great to get some tips on exercise you can do whilst pushing the stroller around town!”—Emma Williams. “It’s a much more intense workout than I ever imagined and a great way to get back into pre-pregnancy shape! The core exercises are specifically designed for new mums and are fantastic for getting stomach muscles back to full strength.”—Paula Tucker

Being A Broad August 2010

19


she found love in Japan

FALLING FOR A

CHEESY JOKE by Kelsey Aguirre

“It was on an early train along the Toyoko Line...when she met her now husband John Scott.”

W

hen Kate Scott came to Japan, the last thing she was looking for was love. In fact, she wasn’t looking for love at all. “Literally, I came to Japan as an English teacher because honestly it was the fastest, easiest, only visa to get,” Kristen explains, but adds “personally, I came because I’ve always loved Japanese history, culture, and art. It’s a relatively safe, clean, and hilarious country, and I have a lot of Japanese and non-Japanese friends from university living here.”

silly, made it amazing. It was then that she realised he was different from all of the other people riding the train with her. Fast forward a few months past the silly joke, and John and Kate were spending almost all of their free time together. Eventually he asked her to move in together closer to where his job was, in Yokosuka-shi, Kanagawa-ken. Living together was easy, even though he was gone a lot. Kate recounts, “His job took him away

someone almost piss themselves laughing at their own joke was a lighthearted trip to the moon.” “Watching

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It was on an early train along the Toyoko Line from Shibuya to Yokohama at 5:30am the morning after St. Patrick’s day when she met her now husband John Scott. Kate recounts their first meeting and the less than funny joke John told her: “We were waiting about ten minutes for an elevator in Yokohama station. He told me a punny joke and made himself laugh so hard he had to sit down on a bench and catch his breath. At the time, it seemed like life in Tokyo was really serious: long days, long faces, long suits...so watching someone almost piss themselves laughing at their own joke was a lighthearted trip to the moon.” John said: “So Burt and Ernie (from Sesame Street) are hanging out on a hot summer day, and Burt turns to Ernie and says: ‘Hey Ernie, want to go out and get some ice cream?’ and Burt replies: ‘Sure-Burt!’ (Sherbet). Hahaha...not.” Kate says that the joke is still terrible, and would be even if a little kid told it. But the fact that a rumpled guy with some serious eyebrows and a five o’clock shadow told it to her, while waiting for an elevator, and then laughed himself

for weeks at a time, but he was a faithful emailer and when he did come back, it felt like we were on vacation every couple of weeks.” She actually also encountered some other problems with him not being Japanese. “I feel like this may be taboo to say, but it was my experience, so here goes...his being a foreigner was

couples, but after they discovered my partner was a foreigner, we were uninvited from future gatherings because we “didn’t fit into their dynamics.” Never mind the fact that he extended his work contract to stay in Japan with me for an additional 18 months and said he’d be willing to stay in Japan as long as I wanted—never mind that I’d spent three years dating Japanese only to finally find a partner that didn’t compel me to choke on my table water with dinner intros like “I would like to introduce your hair to my parents,” or “When we have children, you won’t have to worry about going to work, but you should learn to cook Japanese.” Kate smirks, “Whoa, how did we get to cannibalism before the appetizers? Just when, during our second date, did you decide to impregnate me!?” So cultural differences were obviously a big problem in her past relationships. Ultimately, all those things made for much more interesting, fun, and hilarious relationships than the ones she’d had

Whoa, how did we get to cannibalism before the appetizers? Just when, during our second date, did “ you decide to impregnate me!?” definitely not a plus for my career advancement opportunities or most of my friendships, because most of my friends and coworkers were in relationships with or married to Japanese. I’d only dated Japanese before I met him and it seemed as though there’s a sense of stability achieved in the workplace for women in Japan if you settle down [with a] Japanese. Sadly, it was like only then are you, as a foreign woman, trustworthy and loyal enough to be considered for long-term employment and advancement.” Kate continues: When I was engaged initially, I was invited to several dinner parties with mixed

back home, but nothing compares to the amount of comfort and understanding she feels now. John just “gets” her. And Kate “gets” him. Right now the happily married couple are living in the San Juan Islands, a small group of islands off Washington State in the US. They are both looking to move back to Asia in the next couple of years. Kate added: “We’d both like to come back to Japan eventually after I’ve finished grad school and could explore a different career field, just not teaching. Not that I’m knocking English teaching...it’s just time to BAB do something different.”


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RECRUITMENT: BEAUTY:

PRINT SHOW: BEAUTY:

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BEAUTY & PAMPERING:

PRINTING:

DENTISTRY:


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RELOCATION: BEAUTY:

AUTOMOBILES: BEAUTY:

BEAUTY:

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COMMUNITY:

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FAMILIES:

FAMILIES:

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RELOCATION:

RELOCATION:


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FOOD & DINING: BEAUTY:

PRINTING:

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FITNESS & CREATIVITY:

BUSINESS & LIFESTYLE:

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ART & PHOTOGRAPHY:

ON THE iPAD:


> Cambodia > China

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RELOCATION:

> Hong Kong > Indonesia

Asian Tigers Move management specialists

> Japan > Laos

Asian Tigers Premier Worldwide Movers Co.,Ltd. 6th Floor, Nakata Mac Toranomon Building 1-1-10 Atago, Minato-ku Tokyo 105-0002, Japan Phone: 03-6402-2371 Fax: 03-6402-2305 sales@asiantigers-japan.com www.asiantigers-japan.com

> Malaysia > Philippines > Singapore > South Korea > Taiwan > Thailand > Vietnam

HAIR & BEAUTY:

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Profile for Being A Broad

BAB August 2010  

In this issue of Being A Broad we introduce you to Erin Sakakibara of HOPE International Development Agency, Japan, and also read about thei...

BAB August 2010  

In this issue of Being A Broad we introduce you to Erin Sakakibara of HOPE International Development Agency, Japan, and also read about thei...

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