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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

FEBRUARY 2021

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  第四十七巻六七十号 トウキョウアメリカンクラブ  インタッチマガジン二〇二一年二月一日発行  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

Changing Tunes FEBRUARY 2021

Member Donna Burke and other performers on staying creative through uncertainty

THRILL OF THE HUNT + AMONG THE MONKS + ON THE NIHONBASHI MENU


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Contents

20

YUUKI IDE

With many music venues shuttered across Japan, Members and local performers discuss the pandemic’s impact on their industry and the future of the live experience.

5

LE ADER SHIP

6

DIGE ST

10

AGENDA

INDEPTH

17 RECIPE FOR SUCCESS

As the Club counts down the days to the opening of its Nihonbashi satellite hub, kitchen insiders share a flavor of what diners can expect to see on the menus.

15

OUTD O ORS

17

NIHONBA SHI

19

TOA ST M A ST E R S

20

FO CU S

15 GONE FISHING

Passionate fly-fisherman and Member David Badger explains why nothing compares to the thrill of the hunt in one of his favorite idyllic settings.

COMMUNITY

25

WELLNE SS

26

REGISTER

27

VOICE

29

HIGHLIGHTS

32

E S C APE

COVER IMAGE: CLUB MEMBER DONNA BURKE

FEBRUARY  | 1

FOLLOW US

THE SHOW MUST GO ON


TOKYO AMERIC AN CLUB

BOARD OF GOVERNORS

INTOUCH

Representative Governor Michael Benner (2022)

Editor Nick Jones

First Vice President Sam Rogan (2022)

editor@tac-club.org

Second Vice President Trista Bridges Bivens (2022)

Assistant Editor Owen Ziegler

Secretar y Jeffrey Behr (2021)

Designer Kohji Shiiki

Treasurer Kenji Ota (2021)

Designer Clara Garcia

Governors Michael Alfant (2021), John Flanagan (2021), Anthony Moore (2022),

Production Administrator Yuko Shiroki

Tetsutaro Muraki (2022), Catherine Ohura (2021), Alok Rakyan (2021)

GENERAL MANAGER

Heidi Regent (2021), Dean R Rogers (2022), Christina Siegel (2022)

Anthony L Cala

Statutor y Auditors Koichi Komoda (2022), 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 (Jeffrey Behr)

DIRECTORS

Finance Joe Moscato (Kenji Ota)

Recreation Susanna Yung

Food & Beverage Kristina Wright (Sam Rogan)

Member Services Jonathan Allen

House Douglas Hymas (Catherine Ohura)

Membership Mari Hori

Human Resources John Y Sasaki (Tetsutaro Muraki)

Interim Food & Beverage Suranga Hettige Don

Membership Risa Dimacali (Trista Bridges Bivens)

Finance Naoto Okutsu

Nominating Ray Klein

Facilities Toby Lauer

Recreation Nils Plett (Christina Siegel)

Communications Shane Busato

Risk Control Justin Keyes (John Flanagan)

Tokyo American Club Nihonbashi

TAC Digital Member-Engagement Task Force Jeffrey Daggett

Nori Yamazaki

TAC Nihonbashi Task Force Ginger Griggs (Alok Rakyan)

CONTRIBUTORS

TAC Sustainability Task Force Trista Bridges Bivens

Writers

Tokyo 2020 Olympic David Hackett (Dean R Rogers)

Bill Farrell

Parentheses denote Board liaison.

Blanka Kobayashi

SUBCOMMITTEES

Stefan Nilsson

Community Relations Hideki Endo

Catherine Ohura

Frederick Harris Gallery JoAnn Yoneyama

Reiko Saito

Golf TBC

Photographers

Squash TBC

Yuuki Ide

Swim TBC

Masanori Naruse

TAC Talk Simon Farrell

Noriyuki Yamamura

Wine & Beverage TBC

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


WINNER 2020 CUSTOM MEDIA Best Corporate Social Responsibility

Thrive with Us in 2021 and Beyond!

......................................... On behalf of the judges September 2020

Since we launched in March 2020, GoConnect has consistently achieved new heights—in the number and variety of businesses that we promote as well as the audience we reach. And we’ve made additions to the platform, such as:

A section for NPOs and businesses to connect with volunteers and interns A Stories feature that allows our Partners to spread the word about their products and services A Webinars section for online events

We are growing fast and we want you to be a part of it! Whether you are a B2B or B2C business, we invite you to list with us, share your story, feature your events, or promote your special offers to Japan’s international community.

Here’s What Some of Our Partners Have to Say about GoConnect

“I found that I had a couple of inquiries about my offer of a legal health check for businesses [on GoConnect] and one of those leads turned into revenue for me.” Catherine O’Connell Principal, Founder, and CEO Catherine O’Connell Law

“The GoConnect platform is a great initiative. It is user friendly, well marketed, and has helped raise awareness of our gugu sleep mattresses, generating sales.” Ken Gold COO & Co-founder gugu sleep

GoConnect is developed by Custom Media, an award-winning content-creation and digital marketing agency.

Joining the GoConnect Community is Easy!

Visit: www.GoConnect.jp


Find ďŹ nancial peace of mind Retirement and education solutions Regular and lump-sum investments Properties in Japan and abroad Life and health insurance US citizen solutions UK pension transfers

Investment advice for expats and Japanese nationals Contact us, fellow Club members, for a free consultation at your place, ours or the Club. tac@argentumwealth.com | 03-5549-9099 www.argentumwealth.com Licensed in Japan and established in 2007


LEADERSHIP

L Upsides and Silver Linings WORDS CATHERINE OHURA IMAGE KAYO YAMAWAKI

ast year was challenging, to say the least. But any set of trying circumstances also has the potential to force us to look at things in a different light and even reevaluate what we take for granted. The year certainly changed or reaffirmed a few of my long-held beliefs. Science was thrust into the spotlight from early on in the pandemic. Across the world, scientists and the pharmaceutical industry raced to find a vaccine for the Covid-19 virus. After working in the industry for more than 20 years, I know that vaccine development typically takes anywhere from five to 10 years. Seeing people receive doses in less than a year is incredible. This has happened thanks to the collaboration of several parties, including pharmaceutical companies, academia, governments, health organizations and nonprofits. New approaches, financial structures and coalitions were created specifically to address the challenge. I realized that anything is possible when we all work together. I also came to recognize how work can be done at home. After more than two decades of going to an office each day, discovering I could do everything remotely was an eye-opener. The world of work will never be the same again for many people. It was an unprecedented period for my kids, who studied online at home for three or four months. With my husband working from home as well, the whole family spent a lot of time together. We had never been together continuously for that long. Sure, we drove one another crazy now and then, but the time we spent together was priceless. Recently, it’s been a return to me and our other family member, a miniature dachshund, who has probably loved all the attention. Last year also reaffirmed the important role the Club plays in the life of my family. I’m deeply appreciative of the management team and staff for setting up services like Club Favorites to Go. I have to admit, I was ordering daily from the takeout service sometimes! The facility itself, meanwhile, has provided me with an important getaway when I’m in need of a fresh environment in which to work. Despite the upheaval of 2020, we have been able to adapt. We have seen that joining forces brings remarkable results and that the most important things in life are those close to you.

“LAST YEAR ALSO REAFFIRMED THE IMPORTANT ROLE THE CLUB PLAYS IN THE LIFE OF MY FAMILY.”

Catherine Ohura is a Club governor.

FEBRUARY | 5


D I G E ST E D I TO R

Cream of the Crop

Live Music’s Magic

JEFF GOLDBERG

AWA R D

The Club has made The BoardRoom magazine’s list of top membership clubs for a third time. It was awarded Iconic Distinguished Club status by the California-based Association of Private Club Directors. Distinguished Clubs is a program that recognizes private clubs that provide “a member experience at a level attained by only the finest clubs in the world.” Iconic clubs, meanwhile, are those institutions with “good standing” that were founded at least 75 years ago. The Club, which is the only Distinguished Club outside the United States, celebrates its 93rd birthday in May. Participating clubs are evaluated by a team of industry specialists. NJ NIHONBASHI

YUUKI IDE

Taking Form

The Club’s Nihonbashi hub is in its final phase of construction. Set to open in the spring, the Club’s distinct spaces on the sixth floor of Nihonbashi Muromachi Mitsui Tower are taking shape. “The project is making really good progress and I think it will be an incredible club,” says Daishi Yoshimoto, the architect behind the design of the Club’s first-ever satellite facility. With the custom-made furniture also being completed, Yoshimoto commends the teamwork shown during the project. “Despite the unusually large number of parties involved in this project and the many obstacles we faced,” he says, “we all came together to keep the project on track, even with the obvious challenges we faced with the pandemic.” NJ

6 | INTOUCH

The air is thick with anticipation. Your stomach is doing flips. Then the lights go out and the room erupts into a cacophony of cheers, shouts and whistles. Four silhouetted figures shuffle onto the stage. The atmosphere feels like it’s teetering on the edge of hysteria. As the first guitar chords erupt from the wall of amplifiers, the crowd surges forward. No matter how many times you attend a concert, gig or festival, the thrill of live music never diminishes. Whether you’re watching a garage band in a dingy basement bar or a soprano in an acoustically enhanced concert hall, the occasion can leave you delirious and breathless. Writing in The Atlantic magazine last year, Dave Grohl of the American rock band the Foo Fighters described live music as “the most life-affirming experience.” Few would disagree. Which is why the past year has been difficult for both music fans and musicians. In this month’s cover story, “The Show Must Go On,” local performers and Members in the pandemic-ravaged music business discuss their experiences of 2020 and what the future might hold for the live music scene. There’s little doubt that the livestreamed concert is here to stay, with virtual and augmented features becoming the norm. But the craving to congregate in person once again for shared musical moments will never recede. “We’re human,” Grohl wrote. “We need moments that reassure us that we are not alone. That we are understood. That we are imperfect. And, most important, that we need each other.”


L I B R A RY

From the Shelves Just as 2020 was a bumper year for books, as people sought refuge in reading, the Library saw a 10 percent increase in checkouts of physical and audio titles from 2019. A loyal Library patron, Member Elizabeth Coll shares her journey through the stacks.

What inspired your love of books? My mom has worked at our local library since I was 9, so I grew up there. All my transformations came to life in those stacks. I’d get curious about something then flip through the card catalog to find a book on the topic. I remember an old, oversized volume called Art of the Huichol Indians that inspired me to move to Mexico at 19. The book felt like a portal, the first step on a path. What genre do you most enjoy? I like books that read like documentaries. I used to work for an oral historian, and she showed me that pages are

Elizabeth Coll

a place to hunt for treasures. She especially loved out-of-print biographies, unpublished manuscripts, first-hand accounts by unknown bystanders. She’d stay up all night, mining books for any barely known detail of a historic event. What are you reading now? The One-Straw Revolution by natural farming pioneer Masanobu Fukuoka. Before doing anything, Fukuoka says, first ask, “How about not doing this?” Poet Wendell Berry likens his stance to the “instructive contrariness of chil-

KAYO YAMAWAKI

What was your favorite childhood book? The Encyclopedia Brown series, about a boy detective and his sidekick, Sally, who solve cases in their neighborhood. I love that some of my friends here also used to read those books, in Japanese.

dren and certain old people.” I have two young boys, so I know contrariness well. It’s not always wrong. When were you last unable to put down a book? When I first read Andrew Kahrl’s Free the Beaches. It’s a vivid account of my dad’s fight for equal access to beaches in Connecticut. It was published just as my dad started losing his memory. As conversations between us became a struggle, I got to meet him all over again in this book, as a young man even. Now I can read it as way to hear him talk.

S PA

Looking Good Put your best face forward this February with the help of The Spa’s skincare pros. Understanding that the combination of dry winter air and masks can play havoc with your skin, The Spa has a new treatment to return it to its natural glow. For all of February, receive 20 percent off The Spa’s Dermalogica Pro Bright facial treatment, with its brandnew, skin-boosting Biolumin-C Pro serum. Whether you book a 30-minute session (¥7,680) or a more leisurely one-hour pampering (¥12,800), you’ll discover there can be upsides to Japan’s colder months. NJ

FEBRUARY | 7


D I G E ST CHARIT Y

WINE

Shelter Help

Winter Winners WORDS BILL FARRELL IMAGE KAYO YAMAWAKI

Winter can mean more than harsh weather for pets in Japan. Abandoned by overwhelmed owners after the holidays, some cats and dogs start the year in pounds or shelters like Animal Refuge Kansai (ARK). The unfortunate annual trend makes the Club’s year-end ARK charity drive even more important. For a third year, Members donated animal food, toys and treats during the Connections-organized initiative that was launched at the Library’s Christmas Storytime event on November 29. Founded in 1990, ARK has shelters in Osaka and Hyogo Prefecture that can accommodate up to 400 animals until new homes are found for them. NJ Photo: ARK board member Julie Okamoto and Library manager Drew Damron

COMMUNIT Y

YUUKI IDE

Staff Support Thank you to all Members and staff who supported and participated in the Employee Appreciation Drive at the end of last year. We received 358 messages of thanks, including the one below, from 284 Members, more than ¥8 million in cash contributions and gift cards worth over ¥1.9 million. “My wife and I wish to express our appreciation for the entire cleaning staff. I am embarrassed to say that I don’t know any of their names, but they deserve the most appreciation this year. Without their efforts, we would not be able to feel safe at the Club. More importantly, the Club would not even be open without their dedication. And they do all of this while risking their own health and that of their families. Thank you for your selfless service!” We would like to extend a special thanks to the Board of Governors, committee chairs and members, Connections and Club management for their help in making the drive so successful. The Human Resources Committee will continue to find ways to encourage employees during the challenges of 2021. We appreciate your ongoing support for the mental and physical health of all staff. (RS)

A meal at Chez Kusama, a French restaurant in Karuizawa, led me to a wonderful, young Chardonnay from Nagano. Former track cycling champ Noriyuki lijima and his wife, Yoko, established their aptly named winery, Cyclo Vineyards, in Yaehara in 2014. Since his retirement from cycling, Noriyuki has turned his passion for competing around the world to wine production. As a keen cyclist myself, I am so pleased that he did. The 2019 Cyclo Pursuit Chardonnay—crisp and fresh with hints of stone fruit and a mineral texture—pairs well with sashimi, tempura or shellfish. Any cloudiness is down to Cyclo’s natural, unfiltered methods of production. Available at The Cellar for ¥4,500. Picardy, in the Pemberton region of Western Australia, was founded in 1993 to produce boutique wines sustainably. Located at altitude, surrounded by age-old karri forest and cooled by Southern Ocean breezes, the spot is perfect for growing Pinot Noir. Picardy’s 2018 Pinot Noir (¥3,900) is one of my all-time favorite wines. Although young, it has depth, finesse, balance and a memorable nose. With fruit flavors that remain on the palate, it comes into its own alongside a bonein rib eye or duck. Bill Farrell is a member of the Club’s Wine & Beverage Committee. For the month of February, receive a 10 percent discount on purchases of at least three bottles of any combination of the two recommended Cellar wines.

FEBRUARY | 9


AG E N DA

Events in February Since some events may be postponed or canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, please check the Club website for the most up-to-date information.

1

Sweet Treats for Valentine’s

ENRIQUE BALDUCCI

Melt the heart of that special someone this Valentine’s Day with a gift of luxury Lindt chocolates. Pick up a token of your affection from The Cellar’s selection of gift boxes and limited-edition Valentine’s flavors.  Through February 14  The Cellar

1

Wines of the Month On the lookout for something new to uncork? Member Bill Farrell shares his recommended Cellar wines on page 9. Purchase at least three bottles of any combination of the duo to enjoy a 10 percent discount.  Through February 28  The Cellar

1–28

Tokyo Bay Swim Challenge Select your distance challenge and swim your way to prizes and new personal bests—or maybe just the buzz of pushing yourself to new physical and mental heights.  Sky Pool  ¥3,000  Adults only  Details online

3

Wednesday Storytime Youngsters pick up a lifelong love of reading at this inspiring session of children’s tales from the shelves of the Children’s Library. Runs every Wednesday.  4–4:30pm  Children’s Library  Free  Ages 2–6

3 & 17

Toastmasters Luncheon Learn how to engage a room and feel comfortable at the podium with the help of the Club’s welcoming band of Toastmasters.  12–1:30pm  Washington & Lincoln rooms  ¥2,200 (online attendance: ¥500)  Sign up online

10 | INTOUCH

8

Weight-Loss Challenge Every January, millions of people promise themselves that they will exercise more or shed excess pounds over the coming year. But by the middle of February, at least 80 percent of them will have abandoned those resolutions. As part of the annual Weight-Loss Challenge, the Club’s fitness pros can help Members stay motivated on the road to a leaner frame. The Fitness Center’s 10-week program includes a weekly weighin and 60-minute session with a personal trainer. After an initial consultation with a trainer, each participant will receive a workout program designed for their fitness level and lifestyle. At the end of the challenge, the Member who loses the most weight in each of the male and female categories will win a one-hour treatment at The Spa. Before the participants start to work up a sweat, Club trainer and weight-loss expert Takeshi Hirata (pictured) shares his top tips for staying the course. NJ

1. Don’t worry about losing weight rapidly. Statistically, people who lose more weight in the beginning tend to stick to the program longer. 2. Increase your NEAT (nonexercise-induced thermogenesis). Basically, the energy we burn through activities like standing, walking and even fidgeting. This is really important in a time of WFH. 3. Eat enough protein. Protein preserves muscle mass and increases your satiety, so you don’t end up snacking on the wrong stuff. 4. Shape your surroundings to help yourself. Keep skipping workouts? Leave your exercise clothes by the front door. And block out the naysayers. 5. Pick a training regimen and diet that you will stick to. From cardio to CrossFit, keto to paleo, it only works if you can follow it.

 Through April 19  Fitness Center  ¥72,000  Ages 16 & above  Sign up online


6

Youth Toastmasters Club Youngsters pick up tips on public speaking, debating and holding an audience’s attention from members of the Club’s own Toastmasters group.  2–3pm  Washington & Lincoln rooms  ¥1,000  Ages 10–18  Sign up online

8

Super Bowl at Traders’

 7am  Free entry  Limited seating  Details online

9

Cocktail Connections Mask up and mingle with friends over happy-hour drinks during this monthly mixer.  5–7pm  Connections members only  Details online 

10

Online Skincare Seminar Find out how to keep your skin looking radiant—even in the dryness of a Japanese winter— during this free seminar of skincare tips with Dermalogica skincare specialist Jodi Ayre.  10–10:30am  Free  Details online

12

Board Together Test your wits at the Library’s newest (tech-free) tabletop game club. Enjoy an afternoon of strategy with old-school boardgames like Risk, Catan, D&D and chess. Continues every second Friday.  5–6:30pm  Teen Connection  ¥1,000  Recommended for ages 12–18  Sign up online

YUUKI IDE

Whether your team’s in the running or they crashed out weeks ago, there’s no excuse to miss football’s biggest game of the season. Catch the action live from Tampa Bay with drinks and a selection of hearty game-day eats like huevos rancheros and Denver omelets.

8

Super Bowl at the Club L o n g a s s o c i at e d w i t h p a c ke d stadiums, dazzling halftime shows and nationwide parties, football’s showcase event will, understandably, be a more muted affair this year. Just as Tampa Bay’s Raymond James Stadium will have fewer fans and less of the customary Super Bowl fanfare, so the Club’s annual viewing event in the New York Ballroom will be more low-key. “While we won’t have the usual buffet, cheerleaders, raffle prizes and other aspects of the traditional party,

Members will be able to watch the big game in a safe setting,” says Joseph Billi of the Club’s Culture, Community & Entertainment Committee. This adapted occasion will include socially distant seating, a cash bar, preordered brunch boxes and, of course, all the live action of Super Bowl 55 from Florida on three jumbo-sized screens. NJ  7:30am  New York Ballroom  ¥1,200 (walk-ins: ¥1,700); brunch boxes (advance orders): ¥2,000  Adults only  Sign up online

12–14

13

Whether you’re in the market for a new scarf from Fraas, shoes from Mephisto or Kennel & Schmenger, designer bags from Aigner or luxury goods from Porsche Design, enjoy discounts of up to 60 percent at this three-day sale.

Creative kids craft their own comic book with the Library’s Drew Damron. The fun continues every second Saturday of the month.

European Designer Sale

 10:30am–7pm  Beate Sirota Gordon & Haru Reischauer classrooms  Members only  Details online

12, 19 & 26

Winter Garden Melodies Kick back with the soothing sounds of pianist Karen Kamikawa and flautist Satoe Kida on February 12, followed by pianist Shunei Baba on February 19 and 26.

DIY Comic Book Club

 11:30am–1:30pm  Teen Connection  ¥2,000  Ages 6–14  Sign up online 

14

Sky Pool Splash-A-Round Club kids dive into an afternoon of aquatic fun with wet-and-wild games of volleyball and a free-for-all on a giant inflatable “iceberg.”  4–5:30pm  Sky Pool  ¥1,800  Ages 5 & above  Sign up online

 6–9pm  Winter Garden  Details online

FEBRUARY  | 1 1


AG E N DA

18

Book Lovers’ Group The Club’s bibliophiles discuss Yangsze Choo’s The Night Tiger, a fantastical tale of shape-shifting tigers, severed fingers and thwarted love set in 1930s colonial Malaya.  11am–12:30pm  Vista  Free  Sign up online  

20

Show & Tell Jamboree Ages 6 to 9 build confidence while learning how to wow a crowd at this afternoon of games, music and selfesteem-boosting activities.   2–3pm  Washington & Lincoln rooms  ¥1,000  Sign up online 

20

Riedel Reimagined Discover the sensory secrets of Riedel glassware and how the brand designs glasses for specific wine varietals at a seminar and tasting with Wolfgang Angyal, CEO of Riedel Japan, followed by a fourcourse dinner.  Seminar: 4:30–6pm; dinner: 7–8:30pm  Manhattan I & II  ¥10,000 (guests: ¥12,000)  Limit: one guest per Member  Sign up online 

20

Partner Yoga Grab a buddy—whether that’s a partner, spouse, son, daughter or bestie—for an invigorating session of easy-to-follow poses and meditation.

9

Gallery Exhibition: Sachiko Miyaki For millennia, poets, musicians, painters and artists of all disciplines have sought out the fountainhead of creativity. The ancient Greeks believed inspiration lay with the ethereal Muses. Modern aesthetes find the spark of an idea in nature, the news or other more decidedly worldly sources. Japanese abstract painter Sachiko Miyaki (pictured) relies on the fertile wellspring of her imagination. “My process starts immediately as colors touch the canvas and the energies reverberate,” says the

35-year-old Aomori Prefecture native. Miyaki, who studied at Joshibi University of Art and Design in Tokyo, exhibits her vibrant, inspired works at the Frederick Harris Gallery through March 1. OZ Moment I realized I wanted to become an artist. When I started to sell my work at my first solo exhibition [in Tokyo in 2013], I grew determined to become a professional artist.

Coffee Connections

What I would tell my 20-year-old self. A spark can come suddenly from anywhere. There’s plenty to be worried about, but please always trust your creative instincts.

Start the year as you mean to go on by meeting old friends and making new ones at this monthly get-together of Connections members.

My perfect creative environment. Somewhere I can spend all day thinking about my work.

 6–7pm  Washington & Lincoln rooms  ¥2,400  Sign up online

22

 10am  Connections members only  Details online  

27

Saturday Storytime Kids jump into the weekend with a book-inspired morning of magic, adventure and laughs.   11:30am–12pm  Children’s Library  Free  Details online

12 | INTOUCH

Artist, living or dead, I’d most like to share a meal with. Gerhard Richter, Jasper Johns [and] Lee Ufan.  Through March 1  Frederick Harris Gallery  Artworks available for purchase through The Cellar  Details online


KAYO YAMAWAKI

17

TAC Talk: Trista Bridges Bivens In 2015, 193 countries signed up to transform the world and the fortunes of its peoples by 2030. That was the pledge they made when they adopted the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). But what does this ambitious project have to do with corporations? According to Club governor Trista Bridges Bivens (pictured), a lot.

Those companies that do take up the 17 goals, she says, are setting themselves up for success amid a period of great change. “The companies that are really smart about this are saying, ‘OK, our future consumer is moving in this direction,’” she says. “‘We need to get this figured out.’” In Leading Sustainably, Bridges Bivens and her co-author Donald Eubank e xplore the triumphs and failures of industries and individual firms to adapt to the challenges of climate change and shifting social attitudes. At this month’s TAC Talk, Bridges Bivens will discuss a few of the more than 100 success stories featured in the book, which seeks to start critical conversations among business professionals on how best to embrace the SDGs. “[The book] is not really written for sustainability professionals,” says Bridges Bivens. “It’s written for people in marketing or in sales or in R&D—these parts of organizations that are increasingly being asked to do something with [sustainability]— so that they can have an idea of what’s going on and what they could draw on to make changes in their particular areas.” Sounds like advice that could help change the world. OZ

Welcome to your new office Peace, quiet and every amenity on your doorstep. From ¥15,000 per day (9am–5pm).

 7–8pm  Washington & Lincoln rooms  ¥1,500 (online attendance: ¥500)  Copies of Leading Sustainably available for ¥4,200  Sign up online

Coming up in March 2–3

5–7

Pick up invaluable tips on living in Japan from experts, expats and locals—while making new friends— during this two-day guide to making the most of life in your new home.

If you’re looking for cooking inspiration or motivation, you’ll find it at this three-day sale of top French kitchenware.

Tokyo Here & Now

 8:30am–2pm  Manhattan II & III  Members: ¥10,000 (guests: ¥15,000)  Sign up online

Le Creuset Sale

 10:30am–7pm  Beate Sirota Gordon & Haru Reischauer classrooms  Members only  Details online

Reservations: 03-4588-0381 tac@tac-club.org tokyoamericanclub.org

FEBRUARY  | 13


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INDEPTH | OUTD O ORS

Gone Fishing

One fly-fisherman and Member explains the thrill of the bite. WORDS NICK JONES

David Badger on New Zealand’s Matakitaki River

W

hy would anglers thousands of kilometers from New Zealand care about the country’s native beech trees? The answer lies in the extraordinary interconnectedness of nature. Every few years, the beech trees produce vast amounts of seeds, which leads to an explosion in the local mouse population. In turn, the rodents are gorged on by New Zealand’s famous brown trout. And it’s these larger-than-usual freshwater fish that draw fly-fishing enthusiasts from all corners of the globe. “The word goes out that it’s a ‘mouse year,’” says Member David Badger, who packed up his waders to take advantage of last year’s beech “mast” on New Zealand’s South Island. But turning up doesn’t guarantee trophy-fish snapshots, even for the most experienced of angler. That’s why Badger, 83, enlists the services of a local guide. “In New Zealand, you don’t cast blindly into the river and hope the fish sees your lure. You walk along the river with a guide and when he sees the fish, he points to it, gets you all prepared

and then you try and get that fish to take your fly,” he explains. Visiting New Zealand for the first time two decades ago, Badger has returned about 15 times. The opportunity to put his sight-fishing skills to the test (“The level of concentration required is extreme”) amid the country’s breathtaking scenery is irresistible, he says. Originally from Virginia in the United States, where he still has a home, Badger first tried fly-fishing when he lived in Britain in the 1980s. Describing that rookie experience as a “disaster,” he was, nonetheless, captivated by the technique and timing demanded by the sport. It wasn’t until he retired 20 years ago when he began to truly indulge his passion. Encouraged by his son-in-law and a Scottish friend, Badger traveled to the fishing mecca of Islamorada in the Florida Keys to try his luck with the mighty tarpon, which can weigh up to nearly 100 kilos. “It’s an incredible sport to stand on the front of a boat for six, seven, eight hours to try and catch one of these fish,” says the keen runner. “It’s a fight between the angler and fish. It’s wild and the adrenaline hit is what you seek.”

The thrill for Badger comes from hooking a fish, not killing it. All the angling he does is catch and release, where the fish is returned unharmed to the water. “No guide I’ve ever gone with wants to kill a fish. The fish are their livelihood,” Badger explains. “Many guides will kiss the fish before releasing it. Their love of nature is just infectious.” This spirit extends to Badger’s regular guide in Japan, Motohiro Ebisudani, who takes him to rivers in Tochigi and Gunma (and the odd stocked pond closer to Tokyo) a few times a year. “Ebi has taken me to places in the mountains that are identical to New Zealand—just spectacular,” he says. “The native trout are not big and not hard to catch and it’s a great day out.” While the pandemic has restricted Badger’s overseas adventures, the hiatus has reinforced his zeal for the “one-on-one.” “Fishing has given me great satisfaction, the chance to travel to different parts of the world and a skill that I’m still learning,” he says. “And experiencing the true beauty of Mother Nature has added a whole dimension to my life.”

FEBRUARY  | 15


A DV E RTO R I A L

Forever Together Buddhist monk designs a new tombstone with modern society in mind

A

s members of Japan’s foreign community who have truly made this country our home, many of us have decided that we will eventually be laid to rest here. But traditionally, graves in Japan are family affairs, passed down and maintained over generations. Meeting this challenge with a solution that is both emotionally and aesthetically satisfying is a product known as an Ando(&). It is a minimalist pillar made of white marble that is designed to hold the ashes of up to three people or pets. Its shape invites those paying respects to the departed to touch—or even embrace—the tomb. MEETING A NEED The product is based on the ideas of Joji Inoue, the chief monk at Shoudaiji, a Buddhist temple with locations in Tokyo, Funabashi in Chiba Prefecture and Shinrin Koen in Higashimatsuyama, Saitama Prefecture. The 48-year-old monk is married to a woman from overseas, and came to understand that it would be difficult for a foreigner married to a Japanese person to have a grave in Japan. In addition, at Japanese cemeteries, there might be resistance to burying people of different religions. Inoue added that there was another reason behind creating Ando(&): chang-

Shinrin Koen tomb monument

16

|

INTOUCH

es to Japanese society itself. “In Japan, where the birth rate is declining and the population is aging, it is becoming more difficult to maintain and manage traditional graves that are inherited by families from generation to generation,” he said. “Given this situation, I wanted to create a new grave where loving people could be interred together regardless of religion, nationality, gender or relationship. And where there is no need to worry about burdening the family members left behind with inheritance or maintenance.” Launched in 2017, Ando(&) has already been recognized for its unique design and concept: it has received the Good Design Award’s Gold Award, the Grand Award in the Design for Asia Awards and recognition in the iF Product Design Award’s concept section. Although many Japanese cemeteries have specific restrictions about the types of graves that can be placed on their premises, Ando(&) plots can be found at Shoudaiji’s locations in Funabashi and Shinrin Koen. Inoue explains that it is possible for a group to purchase a plot or section of the graveyard and arrange multiple pillars there, for communities or groups of friends. At both locations, there are sculptural monuments that serve as communal tombs. Seven years after ashes are placed in an Ando(&), they are reburied in these tomb monuments.

Tegami-dokoro writing table

A NEW START Having seen people fall into deep grief following a sudden farewell, the monk devised a system—called Last Letter—that conveys love even after death. When people buy an Ando(&), they write a letter that is kept for safekeeping and delivered to the remaining partner after the letter writer is buried. Inoue has seen that this final gift can be a great source of comfort. In addition, near the Ando(&) plots, there are buildings called Tegami-dokoro, where people can write letters to the deceased. The collected letters are burned once a month in a special ceremony. Inoue recognizes that considering one’s final resting place can be a somber topic, but he sees that his products foster a precious sense of lasting togetherness: “I believe that choosing an Ando(&) can be a new start for two people’s lives.”

and-ohaka.net

Tegami-dokoro


INDEPTH | NIHONBA SHI

Nihonbashi Club restaurant

Recipe for Success

Diners at the soon-to-open Nihonbashi Club can expect cuisine that wows, heartens and satisfies. WORDS OWEN ZIEGLER

M

oving into a new home usually means gulping down local takeout or delivery pizza amid stacks of half-empty boxes. But when the Club’s much-anticipated Nihonbashi satellite hub opens this spring, Members can expect an entirely different brand of cuisine from their first meal in the Club’s newest home away from home. “What I’ve seen the chefs do is look to raise the bar,” says Terry White of the TAC Nihonbashi Task Force member. “[They’ve] looked to create items on the menu and a style of cuisine that suits an urban, contemporary club.” With food available in the Club’s bar, Satchmo’s, Muromachi Lounge and the American Room, the main restaurant, there will be a host of dining options during the day. And befitting the cosmopolitan environs, the

inspired menus will reflect the Club’s unique heritage. “While [the menus] will have these Japanese inflections, the core of them will still be modern American,” says Lindsay Gray, the Club’s executive chef. This will mean the likes of locally made, organic yogurt in the morning before work or a pastrami sandwich with kimchi slaw in the afternoon. For dinner, imagine a beef tenderloin with shiso leaf chimichurri—an American classic with a Japanese touch. “We wanted [the menus] to be familiar yet different [from Azabudai] at the same time,” says White. With the Nihonbashi Club limited to adult Members, Gray and the Nihonbashi culinary team, led by chef Yasuharu Nakajima, set about exploring more mature flavor combinations when building the menus. So whether it’s tonkatsu pinchos with a cocktail at

the bar or a dinner of fresh seafood and a tableside-prepared Caesar salad, the epicurean offerings will lack nothing for originality. “The point is to create an element of surprise,” says White. Constantly challenging Members’ palates is no small feat for the Nihonbashi Club. Alongside White and the task force, Gray worked with suppliers of small batches of premium and niche ingredients. “A lot of these high-quality ingredients from local manufacturers are not available in high quantities,” White explains. “We’ve had to prove ourselves to some of these high-end suppliers in order to procure the volumes we want.” Combined with some kitchen creativity, such exceptional ingredients are at the heart of the Nihonbashi Club’s culinary soul. “I personally think that modern American food is represented by great quality product, prepared with a lot of thought and some character and personality,” says Gray. Within a matter of weeks, Members will be able to taste for themselves. Just be sure not to spoil your appetite before then. For more information on Tokyo American Club Nihonbashi, visit nihonbashi.tokyoamericanclub.org.

FEBRUARY  | 17


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I N D E P T H | TOA ST M A ST E R S

(l–r) Stefan Nilsson, Joe Peters and Risa Dimacali

Now We’re Talking

The Club’s band of Toastmasters offers warm words and support to those looking to raise their public-speaking game. WORDS STEFAN NILSSON IMAGE YUUKI IDE

I

was never shy about speaking in front of people, but I knew that I was far from a good speaker. I wanted to change that. So when I saw the flyer in my Club welcome pack, my interest was piqued. Keen to find out more, I attended my first Toastmasters meeting soon after. It has proved to be one of the most enjoyable and useful activities for me at the Club. For nearly a century, Toastmasters International has been helping people become more confident speakers, communicators and leaders. It is a nonprofit organization with more than 16,200 chapters around the world. The TAC Toastmasters Club is one such chapter. While I retired from investment banking a decade ago, I am now involved in different businesses, projects and associations. And since being alive means having to communicate, I know that communicating well can enable

you to find success in whatever it is you want to achieve. What particularly appeals to me about Toastmasters is its method of learning. There are no teachers, coaches or instructors, just fellow participants keen to improve themselves and help one another. Each of our twice-monthly lunch meetings contains a mix of prepared and impromptu speeches. Being able to share your thoughts coherently on the spot and deliver an engaging presentation are both indispensable skills. We offer one another instant and constructive feedback. We all have a lot to give and we don’t let it go to waste. I receive an enormous amount of unexpected inspiration from the people and stories shared during our meetings. The regular influx of new members to our club means fresh ideas and perspectives. There is real diversity among the group as well, from doctors and bankers to entrepreneurs and stu-

dents, with women and men of all ages and nationalities. The one thing we have in common is that we are Members of Tokyo American Club. The social aspect of the group shouldn’t be overlooked, either. The “Toasties” are a friendly bunch. Bowling, dinners, drinks and informal chats over coffee are all part of it. It’s a community. Only a year after I joined, I was elected president of our club. When an opportunity comes knocking, I raise my hand, especially when I am in doubt. I wasn’t going to put myself forward as a candidate but, when asked, I knew that I should help to make Toastmasters even better. Amid the pandemic-induced uncertainty and the resulting safety measures, we have managed to continue with our regular meetings. The hybrid format allows people to participate either in person or via webcam from their homes. The setup has worked out great and has enabled Toastmasters to not only survive but thrive. I’ll toast to that! Stefan Nilsson is a member of the TAC Toastmasters Club and the Club’s Membership Committee. TOASTMASTERS LUNCHEON  February 3 & 17  12–1:30pm  Washington & Lincoln rooms  ¥2,200 (online attendance: ¥500)  Sign up online 

FEBRUARY  | 19


I N D E P T H | FO CU S

The Show Must Go On The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t killed live music. It has just led to a change in beat for many performers and fans.

YUUKI IDE

WORDS OWEN ZIEGLER

20 | INTOUCH

Steve Gardner


I

t was shaping up to be a banner year for Crystal Kay. With 2020 marking the 20th anniversary of her debut as a pop idol in Japan, Kay had plans to record another album, which meant daily sessions in the studio. On top of all that, she had landed the part of Motormouth Maybelle in Japan’s debut production of the Broadway musical “Hairspray,” scheduled to open in June. But then the world had other ideas. “We were supposed to start rehearsing from April or May,” says Kay, whose given name is Crystal Kay Williams. “And I was just wondering, after everything else got canceled, I was like, ‘This is my one hope.’” When the spread of the Covid-19 virus finally forced the organizers to pull the plug on the musical, Kay was left with an empty calendar. “That was the last big thing scheduled that year,” says the Club Member, who turns 35 this month. “So now that it’s canceled, it’s like, ‘Oh, my god, I really don’t have work right now.’” With that, the singer joined the countless other musicians, performers and entertainers across the world who found their livelihoods put on ice by a rampaging pandemic.

More than a year after Japan recorded its first coronavirus case, live performances in Tokyo and beyond have settled into an uncertain equilibrium. Attendance at shows is capped at roughly 50 percent of the venue capacity and fans are not allowed to shout or sing along to their favorite songs. Merchandise, a major source of revenue for many performers, has moved entirely online. “Most artists that I produce, they’re all taking a hit,” says Member and music producer Jeff Miyahara. “Most of them are in the red. They’re basically taking money from their coffers to do these concerts anyways—just to maintain that performer status.” For smaller acts, Miyahara, 44, explains, it’s all they can do to use their savings to put on shows in an effort to stay visible in a notoriously fickle business. Add in a wave of closures of Japan’s so-called “live house” venues and you have a new level of precariousness for artists across the country. The Club itself has long welcomed musicians of all genres for evening events. While live entertainment was initially suspended last year, the Club later adapted its offerings to ensure a safe environment for performers and audiences alike.

MASANORI NARUSE

Crystal Kay

FEBRUARY | 21


I N D E P T H | FO CU S

“I DON’T THINK WE’RE EVER GOING TO SEE CONCERTS OF 50,000 [PEOPLE] AGAIN, AT LEAST NOT FOR THE NEXT FEW YEARS” –Jeff Miyahara

This month, the Winter Garden Melodies series continues, with local pianists helping Members unwind with Friday evenings of laidback vibes in the Club’s spacious lounge. “[The Club] has been impressed by the musicians’ passion,” says Miki Ohyama, chair of the Culture, Community & Entertainment Committee. “For young pianists, we just wanted to support them by offering opportunities.” Kotomi Hasegawa, 27, is one of those pianists. The soloist and piano instructor, who switched to teaching lessons online last year, says the opportunity to play at the Club (she next performs in March) “encouraged me and I enjoyed it very much.” Even when musicians do have the chance to perform live now, the ambience can be much more subdued, according to Steve Gardner, a Mississippi blues guitarist and longtime performer at the Club. “My whole goal is to be able to try and offer the opportunity for others to enjoy themselves with me,” the native Mississippian says of his performing ethos. “It’s more and more difficult to create that atmosphere with people so fearful [of the virus] all the time.”

Gardner, 64, who has played with such blues greats as BB King, says that the current restrictions on audience “participation”—with singalongs and dancing out—mean live shows can miss a degree of their natural free-spirited fun. For performers like Member and singer Donna Burke, the chance to connect with an audience trumps whatever precautions are necessary. Last autumn, she performed music from the Metal Gear series of video games with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra in front of a smaller audience at Tokyo International Forum. “There is something so magical about being in a group of attentive humans who all made the effort to come out and experience and feel something together,” says the 56-year-old Australian. “In October, fans were not allowed to cheer or speak loudly, but they were allowed to clap, and it was so thrilling to hear how loud everyone wanted to applaud as it was the only way to communicate.” With countries starting to vaccinate their populations, it’s natural to wonder when the music scene will return to normal. But Miyahara and his music executive colleagues believe that there will be some permanent changes to live music.

Kotomi Hasegawa

22 | INTOUCH


Donna Burke

“I don’t think we’re ever going to see concerts of 50,000 [people] again, at least not for the next few years,” he says. Burke, who has been collaborating virtually with other artists and releasing material directly online over the last few months, says the pandemic could leave a more enduring mark on the way artists and their fans interact. “Getting up close to fans will not be possible. Signing T-shirts and merch will be done remotely,” she says. “I think we’ll see people worldwide attending shows wearing a mask, not just Japanese fans with allergies!” Such drastic transformations to the industry mean that more and more artists and their labels are finding creative ways to reach their fans. Though livestreamed concerts were a thing before 2020, online platforms are likely to become an additional live option in the future. “You will never see a venue even now that has no cameras in it whatsoever,” says Miyahara. With every crisis comes opportunity, stresses the American, who highlights the example of K-pop group SuperM. After canceling a concert in front of 50,000 people at Tokyo Dome last spring, the all-male group reached 75,000 paying viewers in more than 100 coun-

tries through a new concert-streaming service. It’s one example of the accelerated adoption of technology in the entertainment sector. According to Miyahara, fans can expect more immersive music experiences through online features like virtual and augmented reality. Kay herself took part in a groundbreaking concert last year. Livestreamed from a Kanagawa beach in August, the event’s viewers at home were encouraged to purchase digital fireworks to “launch” on screen while their favorite artists performed. The evening culminated in a real fireworks display on the shore. “Fireworks are a huge part of Japanese summer culture,” says Kay. “So to be able to do an actual fireworks [show] and be connected at the same time through livestreaming, people could still feel like they were enjoying the summer.” Music may have “charms to sooth a savage breast,” as the English poet William Congreve once wrote, but it also has the power to always find its audience—no matter what the challenges.

“THERE IS SOMETHING SO MAGICAL ABOUT BEING IN A GROUP OF ATTENTIVE HUMANS WHO ALL MADE THE EFFORT TO COME OUT AND EXPERIENCE AND FEEL SOMETHING TOGETHER.” –Donna Burke

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FEBRUARY | 23


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

Ernesto A’ de lima

Food for Thought

A year after becoming vegan, Member Ernesto A’ de lima discusses his plant-based journey. IMAGE KAYO YAMAWAKI

L

ast February, I was having a conversation with my younger son. He said he wanted to go vegan. At first, I said, “Why would you choose to suffer?” Then, as our conversation continued that night, I felt like he had really thought about his decision. One of the key factors for him was because of environmental sustainability. In the end, I decided to join him. Since so much then was gray and uncertain, I thought it was a good time to make drastic decisions and to be in control of what I wanted to do. And because my son explained how this could have a very positive impact on so much, I thought it was the perfect time to do something like this. I didn’t know much about veganism before. For me, it was a learning process and something so contrary to my lifestyle. As a hotelier, I am always

entertaining people, eating meat, eating cheese, eating all these things you cannot have as a vegan. At first, I had to look at the key elements of veganism and what I was allowed to eat. I was a little confused at the start, but my wife, who didn’t become vegan, was very active in teaching us about menus and ingredients. She began to adapt recipes that could be vegan for us but that allowed her to easily add something for herself. From there, I began to learn more about vegan places and ingredients in Hokkaido, where I often visit for work. For example, I discovered a small shop in Niseko that makes fresh vegan power bars. With sustainability and veganism trends around the world, there has been a tremendous growth in vegan shops and restaurants in Tokyo. You can find so many more ingredients than three or four years ago. I think it’s because many more Japanese are taking veganism seriously. Just recently, we went to a Japanese kaiseki restaurant, with two Michelin stars, and my prepared meal was 100 percent vegan. It was unbelievable. Since becoming vegan, I can sleep much better. I’m sleeping deeper and not waking up during the night. Also, I don’t get an upset stomach at all and I never feel bloated or too full after a meal. And my weight is very constant now. Before, even with all my training, it would fluctuate a little. The effect on my digestive system has been very positive, and I still have the energy to do all my running, swimming and cycling. One other factor that has changed is my sense of taste. It has become a lot more sensitive. My sense of smell as well. I am enjoying being able to taste more delicate flavors like citrus, for example. The biggest challenge is when I’m socializing with people, especially when you are doing business and you have to find the appropriate dining venue. The more I think about the decision I made, the happier I am that I made it. It was a very confused, negative time but veganism is a positive thing. I think you will see it grow, particularly among young people who are incredibly well educated about sustainability. As told to INTOUCH’s Nick Jones.

FEBRUARY | 25


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

Arrivals

Up Close

US A Jeremy & Angela Curtis Edwards Lifesciences Ltd. Nanci & Colin Gandy BYT Services LLC Drew & Emily Huffman Hines Interests Limited Partnership Wayne & Amanda Wells Hitachi Ltd. Paul Wong & Kaori Maruyama EY Law Co.

JA PA N Shiro Honda I’s, Inc. Masato & Mai Hoshino Colt Technology Services Co., Ltd.

US A |

Toshiro Hosoya Nikon Corp.

Neal & Stephanie Rothfuss

Amazon Japan G.K.

“In the years prior to our move from Seattle, Neal made frequent business trips to Tokyo. While visiting, he often had dinner with business partners at the Club. So when we decided to make the move as a family, we knew right away we’d apply for membership. It’s a great place to meet with colleagues and friends, and we’re excited for our daughter to take part in the many activities offered.”

Yukihiro Isobe Okamura Sogyo Yuichi & Shiomi Kagami Mizuho Bank Ltd. Yasunori & Yuka Kawashima Kagiju Co., Ltd. Yoko Koizumi Orange Co., Ltd. Yukiko Matsuzawa C&L Co., Ltd.

(l–r) Stephanie, Senia and Neal Rothfuss

Shuya & Haruka Ogawa TMI Associates Motoaki & Naomi Shimizu Shimizu Corporation Shudai Shimizu Marubeni Corporation Sohkoh Tarumi Seilin and Co. Goji & Yoshiko Yoshino Vontobel Asset Management Pte., Ltd.

UK Steven Hunter Swiss Re Asia Pte., Ltd., Japan Branch

Departures SWITZERL AND |

David & Nancy Michels

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Yoshio & Minami Igarashi

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Kunio Kano

David & Michelle Blue

Paul & Rachel Martin

Ezra Borut & Lisa Cintron

Nicolas Menat & Kyomi Azuma

Chris Bowen & Carmen Liew

John Ho-Ching & Michele Mok

David Enloe Jr & Jana Enloe

Bradley & Mary Murray

Kohei Hattori

“Having spent the last 12 years in Zurich, Switzerland, we’re excited to be here in Tokyo. Together with Nathan, William and Meredith, we’ve appreciated the welcoming Club community and first-rate amenities in our first couple of months as Members. And we’re looking forward to enjoying much more!” (l–r) William, Meredith, Nancy, Elise, Nathan and David Michels

A new sake to savor Tokyo American Club x Hakkaisan Available from the spring | The Cellar

26 | INTOUCH


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

Enlightening Escape WORDS BLANKA KOBAYASHI ILLUSTRATION TANIA VICEDO

I

f there was one good thing about 2020, it was the extra time I got to spend with my family. Dedicating some of this newfound “together” time to exploring Japan, we headed to Yamanashi Prefecture for a few days last November. While scouring for a hotel online, I came across temple lodgings, or shukubo. I was intrigued and booked a stay at Kakurinbo in Minobu, an area dotted with temples. This particular centuries-old sanctuary in the foothills of Fuji is a satellite temple of nearby Kuonji, the head temple of the nearly 750-year-old Nichiren sect of Buddhism. Keen to jump into “temple life,” we attended 5pm prayers with the temple monks on our first day. This was followed by a dip in the lodge’s small hotspring bath before dinner. Like many shukubo, Kakurinbo serves shojin ryori: traditional temple food. The kaiseki courses were packed with local produce, and there was even a Yamanashi wine pairing option. But

the star of the culinary show was the yuba (tofu skin), an essential part of the Buddhist vegetarian diet. Sleeping in a temple lodge probably isn’t for those who fiercely guard their privacy. The rooms are separated by simple fusuma sliding doors, but this adds to the magic of the experience. The following morning, we woke up early for 6am prayers—definitely the highlight of the weekend. The chanting of the more than 50 monks could be heard well beyond the walls of the temple hall. We sat at the back of the hall, close to the gong, and were soon immersed in the hypnotic rhythm of the mellifluous murmuring and the gong’s sonorous tones. An hour later, we emerged with a beautiful memento of a paper leaf bearing a Buddhist sutra. Breakfast featured the local Akebono soybeans. Not as sticky as natto, they are a deliciously healthy way to start the day. A highlight of Kakurinbo is its immaculately manicured garden that was

designed in the 13th century and is recognized as a local cultural asset. You can even borrow the antique kimono hanging along the lodge’s hallways for photo shoots beside the koi pond. Before checking out, we picked up a packet of the temple’s own blended green tea. The surrounding area has plenty to offer the adventurous, from a hike to the temple at the top of Mount Minobu to trips to picturesque spots like Shiraito Falls or Lake Motosu. But if you prefer less strenuous sightseeing, you can rent an electric bike from Kakurinbo. No trip to Minobu would be complete without climbing the 287 Bodaitei stone steps that lead to Kuonji’s five-story pagoda and main temple buildings. The steps are steep, but the effort is worth it. After all, they are meant to represent the journey to enlightenment. And who couldn’t do with a little more of that? Blanka Kobayashi is a Club Member.

FEBRUARY | 27


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COMMUNIT Y | HIGHLIGHTS

December 13 Christmas Bonanza

Club families kicked off the festive season with a Gymnasium extravaganza of yuletide games, photo keepsakes and thrilling tricks from Mr Magicio. IMAGES NORIYUKI YAMAMURA

FEBRUARY | 29


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COMMUNIT Y | HIGHLIGHTS

December 15 Tochigi Sake Tasting

Members took a break from the seasonal turkey and trimmings to savor the flavors of four Tochigi sake breweries paired with Club-crafted cuisine. IMAGES YUUKI IDE

FEBRUARY | 31


COMMUNIT Y | ESCAPE

CLASS

Olimpyoga

Unsurprisingly, 2020 was a boom year for yoga as growing numbers of people turned to the ancient Indian practice to deal with stress and to stay in shape. In this class, students are guided through various yoga poses and breathing and meditation techniques. Wellness awaits.

INSTRUCTOR

Luiz Olimpio

Luiz Olimpio’s yoga journey began more than two decades ago. After training in India as a yoga instructor with the US-based Yoga Alliance, the Brazilian began teaching yoga, meditation and mindfulness in Tokyo. He is also a member of the Club’s recreation and fitness team.

STUDENT

Kanako Kitatani

“I have been taking Luiz’s class every week since last August to help with stiffness from looking after a small child and regularly training at the Fitness Center. Luiz teaches each pose slowly and carefully and he adjusts the class according to the needs of the participants.”

OLIMPYOGA  Tuesdays  9:30–10:40am  The Studio  two group fitness passes  Details online OLIMPYOGA HAPPY HOUR  Fridays  7–8pm  The Studio  one group fitness pass  Details online

32 | INTOUCH

YUUKI IDE

The Power of the Pose


Celebrate Valentine’s Day

Brought to you by Champagne Pommery

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


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

FEBRUARY 2021

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  第四十七巻六七十号 トウキョウアメリカンクラブ  インタッチマガジン二〇二一年二月一日発行  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

Changing Tunes FEBRUARY 2021

Member Donna Burke and other performers on staying creative through uncertainty

THRILL OF THE HUNT + AMONG THE MONKS + ON THE NIHONBASHI MENU

Profile for Tokyo American Club

February 2021 INTOUCH Magazine  

Tokyo American Club's Monthly Member Magazine

February 2021 INTOUCH Magazine  

Tokyo American Club's Monthly Member Magazine

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