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spa facilities that will help you look and feel your best. If you’re looking for long-term lease properties with a full range of services in convenient locations around Tokyo, it’s time to upgrade to MORI LIVING.

www.moriliving.com

JULY 2020

INTOUCH

at one of the city’s hottest restaurants. On-site gym and

TOKYO AMERIC AN CLUB

An English-speaking concierge who helps you book a table

毎月一回一日発行  第四十七巻六六三号 トウキョウアメリカンクラブ  インタッチマガジン二〇二〇年七月一日発行  平成三年十二月二十日第三種郵便物許可定価八00円 本体七四一円

Time for an upgrade Time for MORI LIVING

TOKYO AMERIC AN CLUB

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T WO-WHEELED CONVERT + HELP AMID CRISIS + B O OSTING BUSINESS


Communicating with people, creating the city

Homat Viscount in Akasaka

Kara Blanc in Minami-Azabu

Homat Virginia in Minami-Azabu

We develop communities by building and nurturing neighborhoods for a sustainable future. Our Homat Series has been offering the best in modern and stylish rentals in top locations for the international community since 1965.

www.nskre.co.jp/english

From high-rises with sweeping panoramic views, such as Homat Viscount in Akasaka, to low-rise designs in quiet and green neighborhoods such as Kara Blanc in Minami-Azabu, we continue to develop luxury rentals for expat families living and working in the center of Tokyo.


Contents 18 STAR-SPANGLED SPECTACUL AR S

KATHRYN RIVET

FOLLOW US

For Uncle Sam’s 244th birthday, Members dig into family photo albums to share Fourth of July customs and memories.

5

LE ADER SHIP

6

DIGE ST

10

AGENDA

KAYO YAMAWAKI

INDEPTH

12

E D U C AT I O N

15

P O D C A ST S

16

CHARIT Y

18

FO CU S

12 D OWN TO BUSINESS

Club staff and their Member mentors explain the career-boosting benefits of a local, English-based business program.

COMMUNITY

BEHIND THE MIC

One Member breaks down how he went from listening to podcasts to producing his own in a little over a year.

WELLNE SS

25

REGISTER

27

VOICE

29

A RC H I V E S

32

E S C APE

YUUKI IDE

15

23

COVER ARTWORK BY KOHJI SHIIKI

JULY  | 1


TOKYO AMERIC AN CLUB

BOARD OF GOVERNORS

INTOUCH

Representative Governor Michael Alfant (2021)

Editor Nick Jones

First Vice President Jesse Green (2020)

editor@tac-club.org

Second Vice President Alok Rakyan (2021)

Assistant Editor Owen Ziegler

Secretar y Kenji Ota (2021)

Designer Kohji Shiiki

Treasurer Michael Benner (2020)

Designer Clara Garcia

Governors Jeffrey Behr (2021), Trista Bridges Bivens (2020), John Flanagan (2021),

Production Administrator Yuko Shiroki

Anthony Moore (2020), James Mori (2020), Tetsutaro Muraki (2020),

GENERAL MANAGER

Catherine Ohura (2021), Heidi Regent (2021), Christina Siegel (2020)

Anthony L Cala

Statutor y Auditors Koichi Komoda (2020), Paul Kuo (2021) Parentheses denote term limit.

ASSISTANT GENERAL MANAGERS Business Operations Wayne Hunter

CLUB COMMITTEE CHAIRS

Business Suppor t Lian Chang

Compensation Anthony Moore Culture, Community & Enter tainment Miki Ohyama (John Flanagan)

DIRECTORS

Finance Joe Moscato (Michael Benner)

Acting Food & Beverage Suranga Hettige Don

Food & Beverage Jim Weisser (James Mori)

Recreation Susanna Yung

House Douglas Hymas (Kenji Ota)

Member Services Jonathan Allen

Human Resources John Sasaki (Tetsutaro Muraki)

Membership Mari Hori

Membership Misuzu Yamada (Trista Bridges Bivens)

Finance Naoto Okutsu

Nominating Ray Klein

Facilities Toby Lauer

Recreation Bryan Norton (Christina Siegel)

Communications Shane Busato

Risk Control Sam Rogan (Catherine Ohura)

USA House & Nihonbashi Satellite Club Opening

TAC Nihonbashi Task Force Ginger Griggs

Nori Yamazaki

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Dean Rogers (Jesse Green)

CONTRIBUTORS

Parentheses denote Board liaison.

Writers

SUBCOMMITTEES

Risa Dimacali

Community Relations Hideki Endo

Kenji Ota

Frederick Harris Gallery JoAnn Yoneyama

Christina Siegel

Golf Charles Postles

Shruti Soni

Squash Richard Kenny

Photographers

Swim Nils Plett

Jonathan Allen

Wine & Beverage Michael Van Zandt

Enrique Balducci Stirling Elmendorf Yuuki Ide Kohji Shiiki Electra Vasileiadou Kayo Yamawaki Illustrator Tania Vicedo

ADVERTISING IN INTOUCH

JOINING TOKYO AMERICAN CLUB

Explore the Club’s range of advertising possibilities by talking to

To arrange a tour of the facilities,

the Club’s exclusive advertising agency, Custom Media.

contact the Membership Office.

Custom Media President Robert Heldt

Tokyo American Club

Custom Media Publisher Simon Farrell

2-1-2 Azabudai, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-8649

adver tising@tac-club.org

membership@tac-club.org

03-4540-7730 | www.custom-media.com

03-4588-0687 | www.tokyoamericanclub.org

All prices referenced in INTOUCH exclude consumption tax.

2 | INTOUCH


We design for ONE’S life and dreams.

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TOKYO OFFICE Ryoshin Onarimon Bldg. 7F 6-17-15 Shinbashi, Minato-ku, Tokyo Tel: +81 (0)3 6758 3535 For more information, please email: post-onesd@koyou.co.jp

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suits from $450; blazers from $300; tuxedos from $650; overcoats from $750; trousers from $150; shirts from $69 (minimum of four shirts) Other superfine quality suits from $650 to $3,900

Prices in US dollars (excluding shipping); delivery in three weeks

For trip schedule visit: www.euromerican.com


LEADERSHIP

I The Road Ahead WORDS KENJI OTA IMAGE KAYO YAMAWAKI

n the first week of June after the Club reopened, I was keen to jump back into Club life. I reserved a workout session in the Fitness Center and ventured onto American Bar & Grill’s terrace to enjoy a perfectly grilled lamb chop with a cold Traders’ Session IPA. It felt good to be back, and it was uplifting to see the smiles of fellow Members and the familiar faces of staff, guiding us through the rules of our “new normal.” It was reassuring to see everyone back and safe. Since then, the Club has moved into Phase II of its reopening, with further restrictions relaxed. The last few months have been tough. As a governor and member of the Board’s executive committee, I have learned a lot about crisis management and what drives value in private, member-owned clubs. Since the Club is on the top 100 list of Platinum City Clubs of the World, our management has access to data on the best private clubs across the globe. The first trend that stands out from this information is that clubs with higher entrance fees and dues tend to be places more people want to join. Secondly, clubs with more members active in governance do far better than those with passive members. These institutions are successful because the members are aware of their duty as owners of their club to continually update its offerings and the value of membership for present and future members. Before the pandemic, we had already started a review of the Club’s long-term fiscal position. The current situation has put short-term pressure on Club finances and has accelerated the need to bolster our long-term financial health. Previously, our private event and meeting business was a significant revenue generator and helped support Club operations. Naturally, this area will take time to recover. Over the next few months, we need to build a financial road map to ensure we not only survive as a community but thrive. Undoubtedly, this will require sacrifices from all of us: Members, management and staff. The Club as a safe place where we can relax in the company of like-minded Members feels more valuable now than ever. As we adjust our safety measures in accordance with expert advice over the coming months, it is critical that we continue to prioritize the health of all Members and staff. Challenges and opportunities lie ahead, and we will need the input and support of everyone who cherishes our very special community.

“THE CLUB AS A SAFE PLACE WHERE WE CAN RELAX IN THE COMPANY OF LIKE-MINDED MEMBERS FEELS MORE VALUABLE NOW THAN EVER.”

Kenji Ota is the Club secretary.

JULY | 5


D I G E ST E D I TO R

A New Club Normal

Fourths to Remember

YUUKI IDE

COMMUNIT Y

Following an eight-week closure in line with the Japanese government’s coronavirus-related state of emergency, the Club reopened on June 1. In a new, safety-focused environment of face masks and social distancing, Members began to acquaint themselves with fitness reservations, facility capacities and adjusted hours. Later in June, the Club moved into the second phase of its three-step return to regular operations. Formulated by the Club’s crisis response team and management, the plan is aligned with the Tokyo government’s strategy for reopening public facilities and businesses. Michael Alfant, the Club’s representative governor, said the gradual resumption of Club services allowed Members to “once again enjoy our vibrant community.” NJ TA K EO U T

Bigger Bites

Whoever said you can have too much of a good thing never ordered from the Club’s new takeout menu. Due to popular demand, the selection of Member favorites now available for pickup from Rainbow Café features the best of all the first-floor restaurants, including Café Med’s beef and mozzarella lasagna, craft pizzas from Traders’ Bar and American Bar & Grill’s classic Reuben sandwich (pictured). “Members loved the original, limited menu so much,” says Lindsay Gray, the Club’s executive chef, of the dishes offered during the Club’s temporary closure, “that we thought we just had to offer more.” OZ

6 | INTOUCH

It was the trash cans stuffed with ice and soft drinks that caught my eye first. Nearby, thick steaks and burgers sizzled on a series of oil-drum barbecues. Shouts and squeals filled the air as a grinning boy sprinted around the bases of a makeshift softball diamond. To a kid in late-70s Britain, the scene before me looked like something straight out of an American TV show or movie. McDonald’s had barely made inroads at the time and a visit to Disney World was the stuff of dreams. On the Royal Air Force base where I lived were also a few American military families. On this particular July Fourth, they had invited the “locals” to experience this summer tradition from back home. Being from a country with no national day (patron saint days don’t count), I was amazed that you could have this much fun at an annual event that didn’t feature a Christmas tree or chocolate birthday cake. Knowing little of the history behind the celebration at the time, I thought we should adopt it (as well as peanut butter cookies and tube socks). With this year’s Fourth of July celebrations curtailed by the pandemic, plenty of Members will be reminiscing about former festivities. In this year’s cover story, “Star-Spangled Spectaculars,” a few of them share family snapshots of American life from the recent—and not so recent—past.


BOOKS

Words of Wisdom I followed his methods and have benefited immensely. Highly recommended.” SS

Not everyone has spent pandemic-triggered lockdowns binge-watching Netflix shows or racking up Fortnite wins. According to a recent survey, Brits have nearly doubled the amount of time they spend reading books since March, with crime and thrillers the most popular genres. Christina Siegel and Shruti Soni, two Members who have made use of the Club’s reading resources in recent weeks, offer their own recommended reads from the Library shelves. NJ “Ruth Reichl’s Save Me the Plums is a delight. The former New York Times restaurant critic, who would dress up in elaborate disguises so as not to be recognized in restaurants, tells the story of the rise and fall of Gourmet magazine, where she was editor in chief for 10 years. Extremely entertaining, but you’ll be craving threestar food by the end.” CS “BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything is one book that will make you stick to

“Each chapter of Hans Rosling’s Factfulness starts with a simple question. The author then goes on to reveal how outdated our common knowledge of the world really is. Through data and evidence, Dr Rosling shares the story of human progress. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by untruths, half-truths and YouTube ‘facts,’ this book will leave you empowered and hopeful.” CS

your resolutions, and it feels particularly relevant at this time of crisis. Thinking small is the way to reach big goals—that’s the counterintuitive idea in this amazing read. Fogg explains the nuts and bolts of behavior change and habit formation.

“If Carmine Gallo’s The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs has been on your to-read list for a while, now is the time to pick it up. Besides being a testament to one of the greatest business tycoons in history and his messianic presentation skills, this book explores Jobs’ on-stage formula of creating a story and delivering an experience. The perfect guide to start you on the road to becoming a captivating presenter.” SS

DRINKS

Made in America The United States: birthplace of rock ’n’ roll, supersized burgers and fries and a limitless number of variations on the once-humble pint of beer. Through July 31, stop by The Cellar to celebrate the wonderful excess of America with 10 percent off any purchase of six brews or three bottles of wine or spirits made in the land of the free. Build your own star-spangled six-pack of Upslope Craft Lager, a premium ale The Beer Connoisseur magazine hailed as “a clean, easy, light-bodied lager for the ages,” or a few cans of the “rich, nutty flavor” of Rogue’s Hazelnut Brown Nectar (pictured) or Belching Beaver’s Me So Honey, a blonde ale with “a terrific balance of wheat, malt and hops.” When it comes to American-made grapes, why not taste your way through a tour of California wine country with the likes of Beringer’s 2017 Chardonnay and Josh Cellars’ 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, both 92pointers from James Suckling? And if you’re missing out on the hard seltzer craze sweeping the States, treat yourself to low-carb, calorie-light cans

of curiously delicious carbonated goodness from Colorado-based O&A. In the end, it doesn’t matter what you’re drinking on the Fourth—as long as Uncle Sam gets a glass, too. OZ

JULY | 7


Celebrate the Fourth of July America’s Independence Day

Brought to you by Champagne Pommery

Bespoke summer wine packages available for Club Members. Order online or purchase at The Cellar.


D I G E ST MEETINGS

DINING

Business as Usual

Take It to the Roof

Just because it’s time to get back to work doesn’t mean you have to throw health and safety out the window. Embrace the new normal of post-quarantine business through the Club’s specially priced meeting packages, with social distancing-appropriate room configurations and service. Available for both half- and full-day affairs (from ¥6,000 and ¥10,000 per person, respectively), all meeting rooms come fully outfitted with standard audio-visual setups, bottled mineral water and service from staff trained in the latest health and safety guidelines. Contact the Club today and spare yourself the trials of your next Zoom meeting. OZ

C H A M PAG N E

Cork Popper The sight of people quaffing champagne through a straw like a soda pop dismayed the connoisseurs of France’s famous luxury wine. But not long after Pommery released its Pop champagne in an unconventionally sized small bottle in 1999, other champagne houses followed suit. With Pop’s cobalt blue, 187-milliliter bottle, Reimsbased Pommery set out to attract new, younger drinkers. It proved a hit. Fr o m t h i s m o n t h , Members will be able to savor Pop’s lightly sweet and refreshing flavors in a

limited-edition bottle featuring the Club’s own logo. And the first 100 Members to order a bottle ahead of its arrival at The Cellar will receive a complimentary Pommery champagne flute. Available for ¥ 1,800 a bottle, Pop (product of Pommery) is a blend of the three classic champagne grape varietals of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Whether you’re looking for a summer gift with a little head-turning style or a talking-point aperitif to get the party started, think small. NJ

Members have long appreciated the joys of sharing a meal or drinks in the great outdoors. Terraces, poolside patios and lawns have been an integral part of the Club’s dining scene for decades. By the time the Financial Times reported in 2009 that Tokyo diners “still largely prefer indoor dining, though habits are changing,” alfresco eats and drinks were a well-established tradition at the Club. Members have once again embraced the restaurant terraces since the Club reopened last month, with Splash!, the fifth-floor outdoor café, now open from 11am to 10pm each day. A popular summer spot for a postswim snack or a casual family lunch, Splash! is expanding its offerings this season for Members looking for “a fun night out,” according to Antonio Villasmil, the outlet’s manager. Since outdoor dining during a Tokyo summer is often best enjoyed after dusk, with cooler temperatures and twinkling city lights as a backdrop, Splash! invites Members to enjoy weekday evenings of happy-hour drinks, from 5pm to 7pm. The menu has received a makeover, too. Such dishes as jalapeño poppers, shrimp cocktail, rib eye steak and chicken under a brick can now be savored under the stars. Summer just got even better. NJ

JULY | 9


AG E N DA

Events in July 1–5

Café Cookout What’s the Fourth of July without some classic American eats? Bring the whole family down to Rainbow Café and Café Med for hot dogs, fries and ¥100 ice cream and lemonade.  11am–9pm  Rainbow Café, Café Med  Details online

3–4

Rooftop Fourth of July Tuck into plates of barbecued brisket and baby back ribs or build your own Fourth of July spread with an à la carte menu of beef, seafood and city skyline views.  11am–10pm  Splash!  Details online

3, 10, 17 & 31

Winter Garden Melodies Fridays in July, kick-start the weekend with wine, cocktails and classical piano standards from professional performers Gen Tomuro (July 3 and 31) and Yuuka Murata (July 10 and 17) live in the Winter Garden.  6–9pm  Winter Garden  Free  Details online

4

Independence Day Celebration Whether you’re an American by birth or by heart, all are welcome at this day of online celebratory speeches and patriotic music and Club-prepared picnic spreads for delivery or pickup.  12pm  Details online

4–5

Stars ’n’ Stripes

1–31

Gallery Exhibition: Hiroyuki Tamba Impressionism invites audiences to view the world not as it is but rather how—for the briefest of moments—it feels to the artist. Hiroyuki Tamba chooses nature as his vehicle for his snapshots of scenes, suspended in time, and the emotions they evoke. Through July 31, his exhibition of paintings at the Frederick Harris Gallery encourages Members to reflect on their own impressions of the world around them. OZ Moment I realized I wanted to become an artist. I never decided to become an artist. In recent years, I have wondered about becoming a rakugo [traditional storyteller]. What I would tell my 20-year-old self. Don’t worry about the opposition of your parents. Push for success in the world of art.

American Bar & Grill and Traders’ Bar serve up a feast worthy of Uncle Sam himself. This multicourse selection features such American holiday classics as succulent pork ribs and smoked chicken wings.

My perfect creative environment. It would be a deep forest on an uninhabited island.

 Brunch & dinner  American Bar & Grill, Traders’ Bar  Details online

 Frederick Harris Gallery (B1 Formal Lobby & 1F Family Lobby)

10 | INTOUCH

Artist, living or dead, I’d most like to share a meal with. [Poet and sculptor] Kotaro Takamura. I might be able to have an intellectual discussion with him.


Independence Day Celebration

JULY 4

Mark America’s 244th birthday with pomp and a picnic.

TOKYO AMERICAN CLUB Check online for details

tok yo a m e r i c a n c l u b . org Organized by the Culture, Community & Entertainment Committee


I N D E P T H | E D U C AT I O N

(l–r) Joy Tolentino, Risa Dimacali and Masae Nakamura

D OWN TO BUSINESS 12 | INTOUCH


How do you get ahead in the business world? For committed Club staff, it takes some help from Members and a unique, local program. WORDS OWEN ZIEGLER IMAGE YUUKI IDE

T

he presentation hinged on a strong opening from Masae Nakamura. The client was desperately looking for ways to partner with more expat businesses in Tokyo, so it looked to its staff for ideas. But a lack of defined roles within the organization, Nakamura summarized to the panel of judges, meant there was no accountability. “Everybody’s doing everything, so nothing gets done,” she told them. After seven months of Saturday marketing and strategy workshops, after-work business plan meetings and weekends preparing for the official presentation, Nakamura and her group had finally completed their journey through the Japan Market Expansion Competition (JMEC). “In the beginning, I felt like, ‘You know, maybe I can’t do it,’” says Nakamura, a six-year veteran of the Club’s Guest Relations team. “But I was also thinking of the next step in my career.” Launched in 1993, the JMEC program leverages Tokyo’s standing as a hub for international business to provide real-world experience for young professionals eager to try their hands at what has been dubbed a “mini-MBA.” Though the timeline may be truncated, the work certainly isn’t. Organizers solicit projects for groups from international chambers of commerce and blue-chip companies. Participants come from a dizzying array of backgrounds. Nakamura’s group alone was comprised of a marketing specialist, a creative industry professional and an English teacher. Nakamura herself studied dental hygienics in college. Whether they cover the fees themselves or are sponsored by their employers like Nakamura, all participants leave with enough experience to eclipse any freshman marketing major, says Member and longtime JMEC consultant Terry White.

“It’s more than an MBA,” says White. “It’s more than one of those extension courses.” A large part of the program’s value comes from volunteers like White, who offer their professional expertise in the form of guided workshops during the early months and direct counsel to each of the dozens of groups competing. “I felt like this was a chance to work with younger people to help them get…a leg up and hopefully be successful in various companies and organizations,” says White. From January until the presentation in late May, Nakamura’s group worked hand in hand with their assigned mentor, Member Risa Dimacali—even after they were forced to switch to virtual meetups in March. “Before [the coronavirus disruption], we had constant meetings, you know, whiteboard sessions and discussions that we had to continue on video calls,” explains Dimacali. “The team had to make sure they used everything in their toolkit to come up with data gathering, analysis, recommendations and a solid presentation.” Competition in the program is fierce, and that’s due in no small part to how participants must meld their diverse backgrounds into a synergized working group. Applications aren’t limited to any particular prior field of study, but White notes that those Club staff who have taken part have historically possessed a perspective often lacking in others. “What they bring is a service attitude,” he explains. “While a lot of people have experience in marketing or sales or whatever it is, suddenly you’ve got somebody who actually knows what it’s like to deliver services to a group of very demanding people. Most of us, unfortunately, don’t get the opportunity to acquire that sort of knowledge.” It was exactly that sort of experience that helped Spa manager Joy Tolentino and her JMEC team take the top spot last year. “When I presented our product line, I had to do it like a mini-commercial, which I never thought I could,” says Tolentino. “I had to practice a gazillion times in front of the mirror and with my teammates to perfect my pitch.” This year, winners were gifted roundtrip airfare to Europe and a one-year membership of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan. But to call those rewards might be missing the point of the whole exercise, says Nakamura. “I’ve started to see things from the whole picture.”

“IT’S MORE THAN AN MBA. IT’S MORE THAN ONE OF THOSE EXTENSION COURSES.” –Terry White

JAPAN MARKET EXPANSION COMPETITION (JMEC)  jmec.gr.jp

JULY  | 13


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I N D E P T H | P O D C A ST S

Behind the Mic

Amid the golden age of podcasts, one Member explains his journey from studio greenhorn to seasoned podcaster. WORDS OWEN ZIEGLER IMAGE KAYO YAMAWAKI

T

his time last year, Clark Luby knew next to nothing about how to make a podcast. What he did have was plenty of motivation and a plan: record, edit and publish at least 20 episodes online. “We were into our seventh recorded episode before we actually even came up with a title,” says Luby, 48. Eventually, the Canadian Member settled on “We Talked About This,” a suitably laissez-faire label for the all-ideas-welcome show he records with a rotating cast of co-hosts (drawn from a pool of friends from back home). Topics run the gamut from items men over 50 shouldn’t own to goings-on in the worlds of sports and culture. The only thing Luby places out of bounds is the minutia of financial services, the domain of his nine-to-five life. “The randomness part of [the podcast] was appealing to me,” he explains. “I felt like if I go the business-and-interview route, it starts to become more, ‘I need to research people, I need to find folks.’”

Clark Luby

When Luby published his first episode in May 2019, his sights weren’t necessarily set on breaking through to the top of Apple’s podcast charts. Rather, the succeeding 22 episodes and roughly 14 hours of recorded material would be the best way to show himself the ropes of the rapidly expanding world of podcasting. “You can spend lots of money and many, many hours getting the podcast to start,” says Luby. “But until you actually start recording, it’s going to go nowhere.” The learning curve was steep. Luby realized that well-researched topics and tightly edited conversations led to a more polished product. Then there

“I ACTUALLY GREW UP WANTING TO BE LIKE PETER JENNINGS AND DAN RATHER AND TOM BROKAW.”

were the technical hoops of capturing clean audio from himself here in Tokyo and his co-hosts back in Canada. “The only way you’re going to get better at it is if you actually produce [something],” Luby says. “You’ve got to fall on your face a little bit. You’ve got to experiment.” Well before he was producing podcasts, Luby was a voracious consumer of them. He’s long been a devoted subscriber of anything by Tim Ferris, the noted business and lifestyle podcaster dubbed the “Oprah of Audio.” “I actually grew up wanting to be like Peter Jennings and Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw,” Luby says. “[Podcasting] has been a great way to scratch that itch.” Luby might be bidding adieu to Japan this month, but he plans to keep on podcasting. And now that he’s got more than a solid foundation on the technical side of things, he isn’t shy about letting his creativity run a little wilder for his next great idea. “Whatever it is,” Luby says, “there’s probably a podcast about it.”

JULY  | 15


INDEPTH | CHARIT Y

Critical

KOHJI SHIIKI

Support Charles McJilton

During times of unprecedented uncertainty, Club-supported charities have done what’s necessary to give Japan’s most vulnerable somewhere to turn. WORDS OWEN ZIEGLER

16 | INTOUCH

ELECTRA VASILEIADOU

Vickie Skorji


I

used to think that if my Tokyo phone room was in trouble, my Osaka phone room would be my backup,” says Vickie Skorji, director of TELL’s Lifeline, Japan’s only English-language, mental-health crisis hotline. “Of course, the coronavirus meant that all of those locations were off-limits [for our phone operators].” It was a worst-case scenario for Skorji and her team of volunteers. Unable to field their usual dozens of nightly calls and with major fundraising events scheduled for March indefinitely postponed, the future of TELL’s crucial service appeared in jeopardy at the exact moment Japan’s “at-risk populations” would need it most. But for some, giving up on those in crisis is never going to be an option. In a matter of hours, Skorji transferred calls to TELL’s chat-based platform, now with extended hours. She partnered with telecom giant NTT to have hotline calls virtually routed to volunteers’ homes, provided they had a secure and isolated area from which to work. Since March, TELL’s hotline service has been available every day. “We were madly trying to put messages out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to say, ‘Now this is where we are,’” says Skorji. There’s no doubt that the resourcefulness of TELL’s leaders helped the nonprofit keep its essential services running throughout the health crisis, as did the donations—like the ¥1 million provided by Connections in March at the onset of the Covid-19 emergency. “We are living in unstable times socially and economically,” says Connections President Heidi Regent. “Our charities have been significantly impacted by the pandemic as they are already serving the underprivileged.” According to Skorji, those contacting TELL in recent months have admitted to frequent bouts of pandemic-triggered anxiety. As schools and workplaces began to close and employees already living paycheck to paycheck saw their incomes vanish, reports of depression also skyrocketed. In some cases, these factors compounded to inflict desperate hardship. “The effects of Covid-19 have been stressful to everyone, but [domestic] abusers have used this stress to be more abusive to their family members,” explains Sachiko Nakajima, founder of Resilience, a support network for survivors of domestic violence in Japan. “Even if the victim wanted to call for help or to dial

a hotline, neither would be possible with the abuser lurking nearby.” With its facilities shuttered, Resilience has also taken a digital approach. Recently launched online classes and workshops have replaced the face-to-face meetings victims relied on to share their experiences and receive advice. “Survivors have told us that these online sessions have helped them with their anxiety, fear, insomnia and other emotional problems,” says Nakajima, a survivor of domestic abuse herself. Despite a ¥500,000 donation from Connections this summer, Resilience is struggling to replace its normal sources of funding for its support services and travel to trauma management workshops abroad. “Much of the information on trauma available in Japan is outdated,” says Nakajima. “We strive to share newly gained knowledge with not just professionals here...but with the survivors.” For those already struggling financially in Japan, the virus has unleashed further uncertainty and stress. The likes of Second Harvest Japan, a Tokyo-based foodbank, have seen demand on their services jump accordingly. “We call it a drive-thru pantry,” says Charles McJilton, founder of Second Harvest Japan, of the nonprofit’s adjusted logistics. “ We initially saw a huge increase in people coming down to receive assistance from us.” Access to Second Harvest’s warehouse is restricted, but that hasn’t stopped its volunteers from offering bimonthly care packages of staple foodstuffs, thanks in part to a ¥500,000 donation from the Club. For hundreds of people every day, such basic assistance can help alleviate the strain that can exacerbate other underlying issues during times of crisis. For those who have found cause to reach out to Second Harvest, Resilience, TELL or other sources of support for the first time, Skorji hopes they won’t feel the need to suffer in silence in the future. “There are good things to come out of this as well.”

“WE INITIALLY SAW A HUGE INCREASE IN PEOPLE COMING DOWN TO RECEIVE ASSISTANCE FROM US.” –Charles McJilton

TELL  telljp.com SECOND HARVEST  2hj.org RESILIENCE  resilience.jp

JULY  | 17


ARTWORK: KOHJI SHIIKI

I N D E P T H | FO CU S

Star-Spangled Spectaculars 18 | INTOUCH


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Members share the family traditions and vacation memories that make July Fourth America’s biggest annual bash. WORDS NICK JONES

F

ounding Father John Adams was remarkably prescient when he contemplated what future Independence Day celebrations might be like. “It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more,” he wrote in a letter to his daughter, Abigail, on July 3, 1776, the day before Britain’s 13 American colonies unanimously adopted the Declaration of Independence.

The following year, the Virginia Gazette described “the ringing of bells” and “a grand exhibition of fireworks” for Philadelphia’s July Fourth celebrations. More than two centuries later, the essence of the holiday remains largely unchanged, with parades, games, family cookouts, concerts and pyrotechnics taking center stage in towns and cities across the country’s 50 states. In this year of pandemic-disrupted celebrations and travel restrictions, Members share snapshots of memorable July Fourths and holiday rituals.

Donna Beeman (image 1)

“The photo is from an exciting weekend-long reenactment event in 2017 to commemorate the Battle of Ridgefield in Connecticut in April 1777. The event included encampments, artisans, history talks, historic home tours and fife and drum music. The Revolutionary War came to town and history played out before our eyes. It was magical. That was a one-time thing, but we go to the Fourth of July fireworks when we are there or at our summer home in Chatham, Massachusetts.”

“NOTHING ENCOURAGES FEELINGS OF NATIONAL PRIDE MORE THAN A JULY FOURTH SPENT ON THE NATIONAL MALL.” –Peter Thomas

JULY  | 19


I N D E P T H | FO CU S

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Kathryn Rivet (image 2) “This photo from Bellows Beach on Oahu, Hawaii, in 2014, signifies everything good in life at this age. We were celebrating the Fourth of July with the Springer and Graham families, who lived on the nearby Schof ield base. During that time, I became aware of the daily sacrifices they make serving our country. Our friendship began at Trinity Lutheran Church, where our kids went to school together. We have all moved on to other areas of the world but stay in touch thanks to the bonds that time and distance can’t break. The best of summer memories.” Peter Thomas (image 3)

“Working abroad in 2014, with close friends from the States, we planned a family-and-friends vacation to Washington, DC. Nothing encourages feelings of national pride more than a July Fourth spent on the National Mall. Hot dogs, hamburgers and grandma’s baked beans, coupled with a backdrop of gorgeous fireworks over the Washington Monument, made for a day that shall never be forgotten. Cheers from fellow Americans, smiles and nods of understanding as we struggled to contain the exuberance of our small children all contributed to the experience.”

Masahiro Miki (image 4) “Before I started my graduate studies in Arizona in 1969, I was hitchhiking from Salina, Kansas, down 20 | INTOUCH

4

to Houston, Texas. This old Texan couple picked me up on the road and gave me a ride. They kindly invited me to stay at their lovely home outside Houston for a few days. My hair was quite long, so they took me to the barber shop to straighten me out. On July Fourth, when the picture was taken, we attended a service at the local church.”

Heidi Regent (image 5)

“Every July Fourth, we decorate our house in Philadelphia in red, white and blue, attend the local parade and visit the New Jersey shore to stay at Congress Hall, America’s oldest seaside resort, to enjoy lawn games and a barbecue.”

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Krista Shelton (image 6) “This picture was taken seven years ago in Tybee Island, a small Georgia beach town with lots of charm. We spend most of the day on the beach, playing in the waves and sunbathing. In the evening, we grill hot dogs and hamburgers or make low-country boil with friends and our next-door neighbors. As the sun sets, we head back down to the beach and wait for the amazing fireworks that are set off from the pier. The cheers never fail to make me happy. One of my favorite traditions is the next morning


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that night, we’d cook barbecued ribs and many sides and then head out to watch the fireworks show.”

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when we get up just after sunrise to clean the beach. Revelers leave a lot of trash and it feels good to make sure our beach is clean.”

Kelsey Johnson (image 7) “Every Fourth of July, our family would travel to the small town of Bend, Oregon, to meet up with extended family and friends. During the day, we’d take part in the town pet parade, with decorated bikes and dogs, then enjoy popsicles and a festival in the park along the river. Later

Brenna Campbell (image 8)

“This photo won’t win any aesthetic awards, but it does show a slice of our family’s Fourth of July tradition in Texas. Hidden from view are the dogs swimming in the pool, the kids shooting hoops in the driveway, one dad trying to catch a nap in the hammock, girls giggling in the big oak treehouse, kids trampolining, the smell of meat on the grill and Bomb Pops melting by the pool. Such happy noise all day and into the night when the fireworks are joyously launched.”

Todd Moses (image 9) “This picture was taken at my dad’s

lake house in Indian Lake, Pennsylvania. It was my wife Yumiko’s first real July Fourth away from New York City or Tokyo. She came to appreciate the festive, summer lake culture in the United States, with boating, waterskiing, swimming, big family and neighborhood barbecues, fireworks and wide-open spaces.” INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATION An afternoon of online fanfare and Club-crafted spreads of American classics.  July 4  12pm  Details online FOURTH FAVORITES Limited-time menus of American holiday eats at American Bar & Grill, Traders’ Bar, Splash!, Rainbow Café and Café Med.  July 1–5  Details online

JULY | 21


C O M M U N I T Y | W E L L N E SS

Shifting Gears

A recent cycling convert, Member Spencer Wolfe shares his two-wheeled journey in Japan and beyond. IMAGE KAYO YAMAWAKI

I

t’s two years now since I got into cycling. A guy was coming out of the Club and he had a funky-looking, British [foldable] bike—a Brompton—and I thought, “What is that?” And it got me thinking that it would be nice to get out and do stuff. I ended up buying a Brompton. I use it a lot and travel with it. I’ve ridden it everywhere, from Sweden to Washington, DC, to Oregon. It’s really convenient because you can get on a plane, train or bus with it. And it’s the best design possible. I’ve always had a bike at the office in case there is a major event. I live in Saitama, and I thought if there were ever a 3/11 [earthquake] again, I would need something so I could get home. About six months after I got the Brompton, I bought a cross bike, which is faster around Tokyo. I started using it to cycle from my office to the Club to use the gym. I wanted to lose a few kilos, but I’m not into running or swimming. Cycling seemed the best way to get good exercise. I then bought a gravel bike, which is the one that does all the mileage. I bought it because it has slightly bigger tires [than a regular road bike] and I thought it would be less susceptible to a puncture. Nearly 3,500 kilometers later, that’s worked out. I started with short rides. I would ride 6 kilometers then 12 kilometers then 30 kilometers. I now do 20 to 40 kilometers on weekdays and 50 or 60 kilometers on a Saturday. Sunday

Spencer Wolfe

is our family day, so I try and get out super early and back home. If I leave at 4:45am, I do a 90-minute workout. There’s a sense of accomplishment. Japan is a really good place to ride. You can get a good, long ride in if you ride along the rivers. When the Club was closed, I was riding about 30 kilometers every morning along the Edo River. I ride year-round and so I’ve ridden in 35-degree weather and in minus weather. I’ve learned a lot about the countryside of Japan just by getting out and seeing it. I often cycle out to a feudal castle on the [border] of Ibaraki, Chiba and Saitama. Because you have to get back from wherever you go, you need to regulate your energy and fuel your body. My summer maximum is about 100 kilometers.

The highlights of the last two years have been getting to ride in any country and meeting different people. I go to Sweden every year for work, and since I’ve been taking my Brompton, I’ve really discovered the country. Cycling gives you the freedom to see what is around you. I went up to Nikko with the gravel bike at the end of last year. It’s really beautiful there. As a cyclist, you can [appreciate] a lot more around you than somebody whipping past in a car. Basically, it was the Club that got me into cycling because I got a lot of advice from other Members on bikes and what parts to buy. I would highly recommend cycling. It’s fun and it has made me wonder, “Why didn’t I start this sooner?” As told to INTOUCH’s Nick Jones.

JULY | 23


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C O M M U N I T Y | R EG I ST E R

Reflections

A Life-Changing Experience

Having left Japan with her family in March, Australian Skye Abernethy looks back on her years in Tokyo and at the Club. IMAGE JONATHAN ALLEN

What was your image of Japan before you moved to the country?

Our image was of a richly sophisticated, deeply mature and immensely proud culture. Moving there was a unique opportunity for us as a family to explore Japan’s diverse experiences and landscapes. How accurate was that image?

Japan presented itself as a cultural and living experience like no other. It never disappointed and was regularly challenging us to grow as individuals and as a family. We are so grateful for the three and a half years we lived there. Our image was pretty accurate. It is a sophisticated culture that sometimes was a challenge to interpret. That said, it was so important to encounter and appreciate [the culture] through full immersion. What were the highlights of your time in Japan?

Living and working in Japan was truly a life-changing experience. There were many highlights, including climbing Mount Fuji, last year’s Rugby World Cup, surfing and splashing at the beach at Shimoda, skiing at Myoko

(l–r) Thomas, Rob, Bridie, Edith and Skye Abernethy

in Niigata, our favorite ski resort and region, absorbing the all-pervading history and sampling the food. What did you enjoy about being Members of the Club?

We all loved so many aspects of the Club. The kids thrived in the swimming pool, including the programs and lessons. Our eldest passionately pursued his taekwondo classes and the school holiday program was a savior for working parents. The kids

always felt safe and happy and the customer service was excellent. The dining experience was first-class and fairly priced. The Club was a onestop-shop family oasis. Is there anything you wish you had experienced while you lived in Japan?

We had a trip planned to Hiroshima in March, but due to Covid-19, we had to cancel. Also, there were too many great restaurants to sample!

Departures Bradley & Naoko Belitz

Dustin & Keri Haines

Kota Kanematsu

Alison & Mark Espley

Sookyung Han & Brian Sungwook Jung

Hank & Paula Marcy

Gwyn & Judith Thomas

Robert Hayden & Tomoko Orui

Jason & Anna Rekate

Spencer & Haley Bryan

Shoichi & Takako Hikota

Mark & Hjordis Schultz

Carter Burns & Natsume Saito

Yoshiaki & Yukiko Ito

Martin Triggs

Amar & Patricia Darira

Wendy Jackson & Paul Vasquez

Stay Stocked Up Free delivery on orders over ¥10,000. tokyoamericanclub.org/wine-shop

JULY | 25


C O M M U N I T Y | VO I C E

My Shrunken World WORDS RISA DIMACALI ILLUSTRATION TANIA VICEDO

D

o we stay or do we go?” The warning from the US Embassy was ominous: if citizens didn’t leave Japan immediately, then we should plan on staying indefinitely. As the border closed to contain the virus, my husband and I wondered about the consequences of our decision. When could we leave? And could we return? When would we see our families again? Like a question mark hanging in the air, our world was on hold, with more questions to come as the weeks turned into months. “What are the numbers?” As the virus spread, my worry increased in line with my compulsion to check on cases where loved ones lived. I studied trend lines and medical commentaries throughout the day, hunting for signs of containment or recovery—only to be enveloped in sadness. For the Tokyo Olympics. For the elderly in nursing homes, and those living alone like my mother-in-law. For healthcare workers. For New York, Louisiana and on and on. I had to pull myself away from the relentless reports to keep my emotions

in check. Duties at home provided a strange relief from the surrealism. “What’s for lunch?” With the precision of a Swiss clock, my husband would pop his head into my home office at 11:45 each morning, mouthing his question while on yet another conference call. For the f irst time in our 20-year relationship, he was grounded, with no business trips in sight. To my surprise, he baked oatmeal cookies from his grandmother’s recipe and started an herb garden. I amazed myself at my growing culinary repertoire. We savored candlelit dinners at home to mood-lifting Spotify playlists. And we marveled at the parade of soiled dishes, beer cans and wine bottles. “What day is it?” Each day spent indoors seemed like the day before— or was it the week before? I took online classes and enjoyed Zoom “quarantinis” with friends and family across time zones. On my new minitrampoline, I jogged and danced each day to fight off fat and the blues. I learned how to style my hair (fabulous) and tried to trim my husband’s

(disastrous). We donned masks and went for “sanity walks,” gazing at diners in crowded restaurants with judgement and jealousy. During late-night strolls along deserted river paths, we relished the breeze on our faces, seeking an imprint of this feeling of freedom outside. “ What now?” With the world spinning as Mother Nature makes her demands, pundits and philosophers have challenged us to reflect on our lives, our cities and our planet. For now, my ambitions fall short of their pleas for action. After months at home, the somber experience has simply left me grateful. I realize I have more than enough. I have a partner with whom I can shelter for months (and we still laugh together). I cherish my travel memories more now that we’re confined indoors. I take advantage of this unexpected gift to slow down—to smell the roses, jasmine and rain. This article is an edited version of a speech Member Risa Dimacali made at a TAC Toastmasters Club luncheon.

JULY | 27


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C O M M U N I T Y | A RC H I V E S

Celebration Snapshots Just as July Fourth is the highlight of the holiday calendar in the United States, the day has traditionally been the Club’s standout annual celebration. Over the decades, various American ambassadors, imperial family guests and dignitaries have attended Club festivities to mark the date in 1776 when the US declared independence from Britain. Daylong events of pomp, ceremony, food and fun have allowed generations of Americans to celebrate this key holiday while introducing its traditions to the uninitiated. NJ

JULY | 29


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JULY | 31


COMMUNIT Y | ESCAPE

SERVICE

Virtual One-on-One Workouts

In the new normal of homebound Zoom meetings and meals to the door, it’s easy to let fitness goals slide. With the Club’s new virtual workout service, Members can stay in shape through online personal trainer-led workouts. Exercise tips, nutrition advice and words of encouragement are now just a click away.

TRAINER

Goichi Sano (pictured)

Goichi Sano is a certified personal trainer and a specialist in golf fitness, corrective and post-rehabilitative exercise and long-term weight management. An enthusiast for the Taikan Stream, Sano says the water-filled fitness tool is “great for home exercise” and can help people strengthen their core muscles and shed belly fat.

MEMBER

Jeff Watts

“I wanted to resume my training with Sano-san, my trainer for many years, during the lockdown, and I knew he would take an innovative approach. I have sessions weekly and they have been fun, convenient and safe. Sano-san chose exercises that work well at home and are tuned to my training needs.”

VIRTUAL ONE-ON-ONE WORKOUTS  Private session: ¥6,000 (up to 45 minutes); ¥8,000 (60 minutes); ¥12,000 (90 minutes)  Sign up online

32 | INTOUCH

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Profile for Tokyo American Club

July 2020 INTOUCH Magazine  

Tokyo American Club's Monthly Member Magazine

July 2020 INTOUCH Magazine  

Tokyo American Club's Monthly Member Magazine

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