February 2024 INTOUCH Magazine

Page 1



Going Deep Ahead of football’s finale, Member Mark Militello ref lects on the sport and his days of gridiron glory

Welcome Home

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As the Club prepares for its Super Bowl bash, former Duke wide receiver Mark Militello shares football memories and thoughts on a changing game.


Ahead of his workshop at the Club, Japan’s most dominant karateka talks about his journey to Olympic gold and what he has learned from years in the dojo.



Members will soon see, feel and taste their recommendations as the Club rolls out dining upgrades.





























Cover illustration by Kohji Shiiki







Representative Governor Jesse Green (2025)

Darren Morrish

First Vice President Reiko Saito (2025) Second Vice President Ginger Griggs (2025)

ASSISTANT GENERAL MANAGER Business Suppor t Lian Chang

Secretar y Nils Plett (2025) Treasurer Rune Sølvsteen (2025)


Governors Trista Bridges Bivens (2024), Justin Keyes (2024), Mihoko Manabe (2024),

Facilities Toby Lauer

Tetsutaro Muraki (2024), Sam Rogan (2024), Dean R Rogers (2024), Edward Rogers (2024),

Finance Naoto Okutsu

Nathan Schmidt (2025), Vanessa Thomas—Connections president (2025)

Food & Beverage Suranga Hettige Don

Statutor y Auditors Koichi Komoda (2024), Paul Kuo (2025)

Human Resources Jason Dominici

Parentheses denote term limit.

Marketing & Communications Shane Busato Member Services Jonathan Allen


Nihonbashi Noriaki Yamazaki

Compensation Sam Rogan

Operations Thomas Zaleski

Culture, Community & Enter tainment Matthew Tappenden (Trista Bridges Bivens)

Recreation Susanna Yung

Finance Patrick McLeod (Rune Sølvsteen) Food & Beverage Mark Spencer (Nathan Schmidt)


House Adam Donahue (Justin Keyes)

Editor C Bryan Jones

Human Resources Ken Cogger (Sam Rogan)


Membership Justin Negron (Tetsutaro Muraki)

Communications Manager Nick Jones

Nihonbashi Geoffrey Bowman (Ginger Griggs)

Designer Kohji Shiiki

Nominating Grace Lee

Designer Clara Garcia

Recreation Shinji Yamasaki (Nils Plett)

Production Administrator Yuko Shiroki

Parentheses denote Board liaison.

CONTRIBUTORS Writers Sue Connolly Barbara Hancock Sagen Johnson Mai Otsuka Lauridsen Kathy Russo Photographers Clara Garcia Jeff Goldberg Yuuki Ide Takumaru Suzuki Kayo Yamawaki Illustrator Isaac Zamora i Sitjà

INTOUCH is printed on Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper, harvested from sustainably managed forests.



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


03-4540-7730 | custom-media.com

03-4588-0687 | tokyoamericanclub.org

All prices referenced in INTOUCH include consumption tax.




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Now Accepting Applications for the 2024 –25 School Year 1 minute from Tokyo American Club

A School for Joyful and Resilient Children The early years (3 to 6) are a time to bring the world to the child in their classroom, to instil in the child a sense of joy, wonder, and awe for the world—their home. Choosing the right school for your child is an important decision, and we invite you to visit us to see the benefits of a Montessori education. At Dandelion Montessori School, we are dedicated to providing a nurturing and stimulating environment where each child can thrive. Our Montessori programme is designed to meet the unique needs and interests of each child, providing a personalised educational experience that fosters independence, resilience, creativity, and a love of learning.

In our multi-aged classroom, children are able to learn at their own pace and in a way that is meaningful to them. Our experienced, Montessori-trained teachers provide guidance and support, allowing the children to direct their own learning and make their own discoveries while encouraging them to live together harmoniously in our small community. We look forward to welcoming your family for a visit.

Dandelion Montessori School 62-3 Azabu-Mamianacho, Minato-ku, Tokyo www.dandelion.tokyo office@dandelion.tokyo


Where Art Meets Culture WORDS BARBAR A HANCOCK

The Frederick Harris Gallery is a cherished haven

within the Club. Its two art spaces, in the B1 Formal side and first-floor Family Lobby, showcase a diverse array of quality art and provide a platform for Members to connect with, and acquire works from, both emerging and renowned artists. The gallery also serves as a window into Japanese history and culture. Past exhibitions have featured Japanese swords, dolls, pottery, lacquerware, nengajo, ukiyo-e and even a look at the history of the Club itself. The Frederick Harris Gallery Committee strives to curate collections that resonate with the diverse aesthetic and educational interests of our membership. Each month, we review artist submissions and discuss which to feature. While we usually reach consensus, the final decision is made through a vote by secret ballot. Financial sustainability is crucial, and the Club earns a commission on each artwork sold. But our primary objective has always been to cultivate a distinctive space where art and culture converge, offering Members enriching experiences and insights.

Last year was an exciting one for the gallery. The inaugural “For Art’s Sake” showcased a stunning collection of member-owned art and brought much positive feedback. Together with Pasona Heartful, we reintroduced “Talent Knows No Handicap,” a celebration of the artistic talents of individuals with disabilities. The CWAJ Associate Show returned with “Color Blast!”, an exhibition originally curated for the Smithsonian. And acclaimed artist Shingo Francis brought his blend of abstract minimalism and colorful chaos to the Club. While the 2024 lineup is mostly set, our commitment to enhancing the gallery experience continues. The committee is working to foster increased Member participation and involvement by introducing new twists, including more cultural displays of Japanese arts and crafts as well as shows that support the Club’s social responsibility. As I work to create the best experience for Members, I keep in mind the words of Frederick Harris himself. “Do you like the piece?” This was always his response when asked if an artwork was collectible. This has guided my appreciation for art, reinforcing the notion that true value lies in personal connection, not the monetary value ascribed to a piece. Fred was a good friend, and I served on the committee when he was chair. We all learned a great deal from him. I am grateful that the Club named the gallery after him in honor of his many artistic and cultural contributions. I encourage everyone to take a walk through the Frederick Harris Gallery, and to join us at our opening receptions for exhibitions. Come enjoy a glass of wine and meet the artists as we continue to promote a shared appreciation for the vibrant art scene in our community. Barbara Hancock is chair of the Club’s Frederick Harris Gallery Committee.

“Our primary objective has always been to cultivate a distinctive space where art and culture converge.”




digest DINING

Bean Brilliant


Steadfast in its mission to tantalize

your taste buds, the Club has teamed up with Streamer Coffee Company for a java upgrade with two distinctive signature blends sure to strike the right chord with drip and espresso enthusiasts. Available in outlets at the Azabudai

clubhouse, and brewed to perfection from 100 percent Arabica beans, locally roasted in small batches, the new coffee will energize your mornings. Complementing the crafted brews are stateof-the-art semi-auto and full-auto machines, spilling over with delightful aromas. KR


The Book of Love Love is in the air this month as the Club

celebrates Valentine’s Day by sending Members on a blind date with a book. Through February 29, Members aged 16 and older are invited to pick up a young adult novel from the shelves in front of the second-floor Library’s bulletin board. Younger Members can participate with their parents’ permission. Each book is carefully wrapped to keep the title and author a secret. Will it be a match? If not, pick up a new one each day and see if the story sweeps you off your feet. After reading, rate the book and share your thoughts with other Members on the bulletin board. And to add a little extra sweetness, if you find your true love—a book that steals your heart—you’ll be rewarded with a free coffee, tea or hot chocolate in Rainbow Café. SC






From the Shelves Atsushi Watanabe fell in love with reading when he was introduced to two of Oxford University Press’ most loved children’s series in preschool. Encouraged by his parents to keep exploring, the 10-year-old Member now scours the second-floor Library’s shelves every day in search of new adventures. What was your favorite early childhood book?

I liked the My Weird School series, a beginner chapter book by Dan Gutman and Jim Paillot, and the Big Nate comic books by Lincoln Peirce. I loved My Weird School because it was very funny. Most of the happenings were very realistic. I really liked the Big Nate series because I could read it at any time as a refreshment before I went to sleep.

What inspired your love of books?

One of my preschool teachers helped me learn to love books. He was my first reading teacher, and he let me read the Biff, Chip and Kipper stories and Oxford Reading Tree, a beginner series by Roderick Hunt and Alex Brychta. I read the Oxford Reading Tree with him once a week. When I transferred to a new kindergarten, my parents bought me the series and I kept reading it.

What genre do you most enjoy?

I enjoy realistic fiction as well as humor and comic books. I love realistic fiction because I can easily imagine what’s happening, and sometimes I can make connections which help me decide what I should do when the same thing happens to me. I love humor and comics because I can read a comic strip or two in a short time and I can laugh at the things the character does.

What are you currently reading?

Currently, I am reading the Vanderbeeker series by Karina Yan Glaser and the Mr Terupt series by Rob Buyea. The Vanderbeekers are stories about a family


with one boy and four girls. The Mr Terupt books are about seven students and a special teacher. I started reading these because my teacher and a classmate recommended them. When were you last unable to put down a book?

Once I get ahold of a book, I can never let it go unless my mom or dad tells me to put it down. I have a book in my hands almost everywhere, including when I’m eating a meal. You might be thinking, “What about when you can’t find a book?” Well, whenever that’s the problem, I just get a random book from the shelf and read it. Image: Atsushi Watanabe


Rock of Ages When Native Americans sought relief from aches and pains, their tribal healers would heat smooth river rocks and place them on the body. The stones were seen as not only physical tools but also as spiritual objects that could transfer the healing energy of the earth and fire. The essence of this approach continues today in the form of Sabai hot stone treatment, one of the rejuvenating options on offer for 20 percent off this month at The Spa. The selection also includes deep-tissue, Swedish, cupping, aromatherapy and oil-free treatments. Ease muscle tension, boost circulation and chase away the winter blues through February 29 with discounted 60- and 90-minute sessions. CBJ




digest R EC O G N I T I O N


Rainy Day Rescue




We’ve all been caught in one of Minato Ward’s signature downpours, but for Yukari Ida, an autumn soaking almost derailed the workday. “I was coming from Azabu Juban Station when it started to drizzle,” explains the Member liaison. “Then the weather took a sudden turn, and I was caught in what we call a ‘guerrilla rainstorm’ in Japanese. I was quickly drenched.” As she made her way into the Club, Mitsuko Toda from the laundry team saw her predicament. “Are you okay?” asked Toda-san with alarm. She then invited Ida to the laundry room. “I don’t usually wear a uniform, so I didn’t have a change of clothes,” Ida explains. “When I entered the laundry room, [Reiko] Hikosaka-san and the other ladies were so kind and worried about me. They prepared a uniform and handed it to me with a big, warm smile.” Hikosaka, who has been working at the Club since 2011, remembers that day well. Her reaction, she says, was natural. “I always try to understand someone’s needs as quickly as possible and respond beyond their expectations.” Grateful that she was able to start her day and avoid catching a cold, Ida wants all Members to know about the dedication of staff they may never see. “To have wonderful people like Toda-san and Hikosaka-san working hard behind the scenes really makes the Club special.” CBJ

Members can recognize Club staff by submitting an online Tell TAC through the Club website. Image: (l–r) Yukari Ida and Reiko Hikosaka

After much feasting over the holidays and fussing over perfect pairings, it’s time to sit back and enjoy simple wines that stand on their own. I have selected three Cellar bottles for a month of relaxing sips. Manicor’s 2021 Der Kiel (¥4,200) is a gem from the terroirs of TrentinoAlto Adige in northern Italy. With vibrant red fruits and a pronounced cherry palate, its finesse lies in the interplay of these jubilant fruit notes with a discreet earthiness. Definitely an Italian flavor, but the soft tannins won’t require accompaniment. From France comes Armand Heitz’s 2021 Bourgogne Rouge (¥5,700), a congenial entry-level red that is highly drinkable. You are greeted by a mélange reminiscent of cooked fruit, which evolves into a vibrant embodiment of classic burgundy, with jubilant raspberry notes, subtle floral whispers and an earthy mushroom undertone. Domaines François Lurton’s 2021 Les Fumées Blanches Vin Orange (¥2,500) is also a winner. Not as intense as many of its Italian counterparts, this wine delights with a complex yet approachable profile. It dances on the palate with notes of white peach and orange blossom, while a nuanced bitterness reminiscent of grapefruit zest lingers. An exemplary aperitif. Mai Otsuka Lauridsen 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 of these recommended Cellar wines.





What’s on in



Exhibition: Gyokusen Kasagi Gyokusen Kasagi says that each sumi-e painting she creates is a dialogue with herself. “I want to express on paper the reality that I feel in my heart, rather than the visible reality,” the Sapporo-born artist explains. She does this using only ink and raw washi paper. Using natural materials, which contain soot, fiber and minerals from the land, Kasagi says, allows her to depict the myriad aspects of nature. “How the result is received is up to the viewer, and there is no right or wrong,” she adds. “If it evokes something in the heart of each viewer, it is a joy for me as the creator.” Kasagi will exhibit a selection of her works at the Frederick Harris Gallery through March 4. Learn more about the gallery’s mission on page 5. CBJ

Moment I realized I wanted to become an artist. I became one before I knew it. What I would tell my 20-year-old self. Life is full of unexpected things, but it’s not a bad life. My perfect creative environment. Do everything you can in any environment. I’ve never thought about an ideal environment. Artist, living or dead, I’d most like to share a meal with. Katsushika Hokusai • Through March 4 • Frederick Harris Gallery • Artworks available for purchase through Member Services • Details online





1673 Special Offer Host a business breakfast, working lunch or client dinner in the Nihonbashi Club’s VIP space and receive a dining voucher worth up to ¥30,000. Continues through March 29. • Details online


Blind Date with a Book Unwrap a tome from the Library and find out if Cupid’s arrow has led you to your next literary love affair. Learn more on page 6. • Through February 29 • Library • Free • Ages 16 & above • Details online


Tokyo Bay Challenge Select your distance and swim your way to prizes and new limits at this annual Sky Pool event. • Through February 29 • Sky Pool • ¥2,750 • Sign up online


Movie Night Club kids kick back with pizza and flicks while moms and dads mask up and cut loose at this month’s Venetian Carnival-themed First Friday.


St Andrews first welcomed its residents to Scotland’s famous links in 1552, although golfers had likely been making use of the grounds since the early 1400s. Records of the game became spotty after King James II banned golf in 1457, concerned that men were favoring tee times over their mandatory archery practice and thus endangering the security of the country. Since officially opening to the public 472 years ago, St Andrews has become known around the world as “the home of golf.” Contributing to this legacy is course architect Scott Macpherson, author of the book St Andrews: The Evolution of the Old Course. His work, including the design of Golf It!, a vast family-focused indoor and outdoor attraction which opened last August, has helped broaden the area’s appeal. “Regardless of what age you start playing, golf is a game for life, where long and lasting friendships can be made,” says the New Zealander who now resides in Edinburgh. “It is the most heartwarming experience to see families and first-time golfers experience the thrill of the game.” Macpherson, known for designing or renovating numerous championship courses, will share his creative process at the Club on February 8, discussing the challenges of creating the perfect golf experience and the evolution of the famed Old Course. CBJ

Sculpting the Perfect Course with Scott Macpherson

• 5:30–6:30pm • Toko Shinoda & Yukiko Maki classrooms • Free • Sign up online

• 6–9pm • Washington & Lincoln rooms • ¥2,750 (guests & walk-ins: ¥3,300) • Ages 5–12 • Sign up online


First Friday: Venetian Masquerade Pay homage to the Italian city’s centuries-old festival season of parties, masquerade balls and elaborate adornments. • 7–9pm • Winter Garden, American Bar & Grill • ¥2,750 (walk-ins: ¥3,850); guests: ¥7,150 (walk-ins: ¥8,250) • Limit: five guests per Member • Sign up online


A Night with Chef Kellan Hori Enjoy a selection of California delights crafted by the winner of Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen. • February 3: 7–9pm; February 4: 6–8pm • CHOP Lounge • ¥16,000 • Adults only • Details online Image: Macpherson on the St Andrews Old Course







Introduction to Squash Club instructor Rico Cheung introduces families to the basics of squash.

Super Bowl at the Club

• 4:30–6:30pm • Squash Court 1 • Free • Members only • Ages 6 & above • Sign up online

David Hackett has fond memories of the big game. When he was 12, he watched the hometown Vikings take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl IV. It was the last AFL–NFL World Championship Game before the two leagues merged to form today’s NFL. “Everyone in Minnesota got together to watch: non-fans and fans so enamored that they bled Viking purple, partygoers and curmudgeons, kids and grannies,” recalls the Culture, Community & Entertainment Committee member. “It wasn’t just a sporting event, it was a part of our identity.” Gathering in the New York Ballroom has become a similar February tradition for Club Members and guests, and a morning of live Super Bowl action is once again in the playbook. Catch every pass, kick and commercial from table seating while breakfasting from a buffet spread of prime-time Kobe burgers, crispy onion rings, house turkey chili bowls and more. You can even flaunt your passing skills in the game zone. Traders’ Bar will also be open with a selection of breakfast eats and drinks, including the special Hail Mary Bloody Mary. CBJ

7 & 15

Ladies’ Squash Clinic Learn the fundamentals of squash or give your game a boost with Club pro Rico Cheung. • 9:30–11:30am • Squash Courts 1 & 2 • Free • Sign up online


Cub Scout Meeting Elementary school kids are introduced to the exciting world of Scouting through the Club-sponsored Pack 51. • 7–8pm • Toko Shinoda & Yukiko Maki classrooms • Details online


Super Bowl at the Club

Miharu Kids Ambassadors

• 7:30am • New York Ballroom • General seating: ¥5,500 (guests: ¥7,700) • End Zone seating: ¥8,800 (guests: ¥11,000) • Adults only • Details online

The Club welcomes 12 young ambassadors from the town with historical ties to the land beneath the Azabudai Club. • 1:30–4pm • Toko Shinoda & Yukiko Maki classrooms, Bowling Alley • Details online

Super Bowl at Traders’ Bar • 7:30am • Traders’ Bar • Adult Members only • Details online


Valentine’s Day in the City Celebrate this day of love with live music, cocktails and a special fivecourse dinner for two. Regular menu also available. • American Room, Muromachi Bar & Lounge • Dinner: ¥25,000 per couple • Details online


Suntory Tipples Tour Get a firsthand look at how some of Japan’s award-winning libations are crafted on this daylong adventure to Yamanashi Prefecture and western Tokyo. • 7am–6:45pm • ¥3,000 • Adults only • Sign up online


The Nihonbashi Club pairs a selection of the Sonoma Valley winery’s 2016– 2021 vintages with a course meal of exquisite flavors. • 6:30–9pm • 1673 • ¥25,000 (guests: ¥28,000) • Sign up online





Vivier Wine Dinner


Toastmasters Luncheon Hone your public speaking and presentation skills at regular meetings of the Club’s cohort of Toastmasters. • 12–1:30pm • Washington & Lincoln rooms • ¥2,420 (guests: ¥2,900) • Sign up online


Show & Tell Jamboree Ages 6 to 9 build confidence at an afternoon of games, music and selfesteem-boosting activities. • 1–2:30pm • Toko Shinoda & Yukiko Maki classrooms • ¥1,000 (guests: ¥1,200) • Sign up online


Ryo Kiyuna Karate Workshop The Tokyo 2020 Olympic gold medalist demonstrates basic kata karate techniques with the Club’s junior karate students. No experience necessary to join. • 1–3pm • Gymnasium • Free • Ages 7 & above • Details online MORI BUILDING CO., LTD.


Beneath the buzzing streets of Roppongi is an immersive lair of visual spectacle that presents Tokyo in a way you’ve never seen it. On this 90-minute tour, Members can get a bird’seye view of the city through a meticulously detailed 1:1000-scale model. The miniaturized landscape accurately reproduces building exteriors, landforms, trees, signboards and road signs, allowing you to quickly grasp Tokyo’s overall composition, scale and diverse spatial relationships. A massive 360-degree panoramic screen and projection mapping bring the model to life as an interactive canvas that can take you through time for a glimpse of how the region has changed over centuries and millennia. “At Mori Building Urban Lab, you will be able to deepen your understanding about the past and present of Tokyo,” explains Masa Yamamoto, the urban landscape developer’s senior manager of corporate communications. “You can also consider what needs to be done to make Tokyo a more attractive city globally that can attract even more people to live and work here.” CBJ

Mori Building Urban Lab Experience

• 2–3:30pm • Free • Members only • Ages 12 & above • Sign up online


Youth Toastmasters Club Youngsters pick up tips on public speaking and how to engage an audience. • 3–4pm • Toko Shinoda & Yukiko Maki classrooms • ¥1,000 (guests: ¥1,200) • Sign up online


Cocktail Hour Budding mixologists learn how to craft a “Drive Me Crazy,” a blend of Remy Martin VSOP, Chambord, Grand Marnier and lemon juice. • 5:30pm • Muromachi Bar • ¥2,200 • Members only • Sign up online


Exploring Crafts, Culture and Cuisine in Gunma Discover the world of wooden kokeshi dolls and 400-year-old noodles on this tour of the ancient province. • 8am–6pm • Connections members: ¥14,500 (non-Connections members and guests: ¥15,950) • Sign up online

Check the Club website for the most up-to-date information on events and programs.




adver torial

Wellness Evolution Cryo Tokyo’s latest location shines a light on holistic health


hether we’re trying to reach a personal best in the gym or just trying to battle aches and pains, finding a wellness routine that offers outstanding results can make all the difference. And when you can add a new wrinkle to that routine? All the better. A perfect example of this is Cryo Tokyo Neo, which is bringing yet another cutting-edge treatment to Japan. Cryo Tokyo has already made a name for itself with its cryotherapy treatments, which expose the body briefly to ultra-low temperatures. The three-minute sessions can burn up to 800 calories,




help to treat knee or back pain, relieve stress and improve mood. As General Manager Michael Suwa explains, this combination of powerful results and short treatment sessions have made it an ideal fit for executives without a lot of time on their schedules. “Busy people, like the CEOs of large companies, don’t have time to get massages for one to two hours. That’s why a treatment like cryotherapy can be excellent.”

BRIGHT IDEA However, Suwa was looking for another way to help his clients achieve even greater well-being. This led him to discover light therapy. As the name implies, the treatment uses light sources such as lasers and LEDs to trigger healing responses in the body. It rapidly became a treatment of choice for top athletes and Hollywood celebrities, but hadn’t arrived in Japan. That changed with the opening of Cryo Tokyo Neo in Azabu Juban last month. The salon offers the cryotherapy

treatments that have put the business on the map for those looking to feel their best, while also introducing clients to the Neo Light. The unit uses three colors of light for various effects: red, to reduce pain and inflammation; green, to relieve stress and improve sleep quality; and pink, for detoxing effects. Suwa says the light therapy sessions last about 10 minutes and serve as an ideal complement to cryotherapy treatments. Or they can provide many of the benefits of cryotherapy without the ultralow temperatures. The new salon, which is about double the size of the original location, also serves as a showroom for people interested in buying either cryotherapy or light therapy units for their own clinics or even private homes. And as Suwa explains, it will introduce clients to the next step in a journey towards feeling their best. “We hope this salon can be a location where the new stage of wellness evolution can take place.” cryo.tokyo/en



While the Duchess of Bedford is credited with establishing the concept of afternoon tea, it was Queen Victoria who elevated it to a more formal social event. She would host lavish afternoon tea parties at her palaces where guests would enjoy a wide selection of teas, sandwiches, cakes and pastries. The American Room’s own take on this elegant ritual has become a popular modern-day retreat in Nihonbashi. Available each weekday between 2pm and 5pm, the restaurant’s selection of savory and sweet bites sits perfectly alongside robust teas like Kandy, British Brunch and Lord Bergamot to keep you warm on cold February afternoons. Seasonal items change regularly, so enjoy this month’s sips and bites while they last. • Nihonbashi Afternoon Tea • ¥3,300




indepth dining

TASTY TWEAKS Based on Member feedback, the Club is rolling out an enticing slate of upgrades for diners. CLARA GARCIA


The annual membership survey, conducted each

September, allows Members to offer feedback that helps the Club craft an experience that exceeds expectations. More than 2,000 suggestions for improving food and beverage services were received, along with hundreds more through the online Tell TAC portal. With so many ideas circulating, the Club’s assistant Food & Beverage director Antonio Villasmil shares changes that will be rolled out in the coming months.

What changes are planned and how has Member feedback guided them?

Villasmil: Member suggestions are critical to helping us provide the best possible service. While we are pleased to see the high overall score on the latest survey, there is always more we can do to improve the experience. When it comes to our restaurants, Members have told us that they would like better service, greater variety and more distinction among outlets. We’re responding to this with a series of changes to menus and offerings, as well as enhanced training for our teams.




Are these changes permanent?

Villasmil: That will depend on how Members feel about them. Feedback and suggestions helped craft the changes, and the same will be true of how they evolve. March will serve as a trial period during which we will gather input through a questionnaire, easily accessed through a QR code available at all outlets. We will use this feedback to determine if a particular change was well received, needs adjustments or if we should go back to the drawing board. What new flavors and offerings can Members expect?

Villasmil: If you’ve been enjoying the regularly changing chef specials at Rainbow Café, you’ll be pleased to know that our culinary team will now create biweekly themes, such as East Coast eats or Southern sensations. A unique sandwich will be crafted for each. Image: Antonio Villasmil; Rainbow Café

We will upgrade the breakfast bar to include a choice of bacon or sausage with two eggs in any style. Assorted pastries will be added alongside the Club’s new small-batchroasted Streamers coffee. Lunch and dinner combos will also be upgraded. Another addition will be a new Family Sunday Brunch buffet with a spread of flavorful delights. Will it be easier to get a table in family dining?

Villasmil: This is one of the most frequent questions we receive. We’re thrilled that these spaces are so popular with Members and have looked at ways to shorten the often-long wait list during busy periods, such as weekends and holidays. To ensure that space is available, beginning March 1, we will kindly ask Members to limit groups to 12 people. For larger groups, the events team can make arrangements in one of our private spaces, where we can cater to your specific needs and ensure the very best experience for your gathering.

“Members have told us that they would like better service, greater variety and more distinction among outlets.” Will there be changes to restaurant hours?

Villasmil: While certain outlets will be closed during idle time so that we can focus on staff training, Rainbow Café, the Winter Garden and Traders’ Bar will operate as usual. In fact, Traders’ will have extended hours on Fridays, staying open until 11pm. The Cellar will also keep its usual schedule for your grab-and-go needs. Although we realize the reduced hours at some outlets might be an inconvenience, we ask for your support during this period so that we may work to improve our team. The result will be better overall service and increased efficiency. Are these changes going to cost more?

Villasmil: With new and improved coffee, expanded product offerings, other enhancements and adjustments for inflation, Members will notice some small price increases. We feel strongly, however, that the experience and value these additions will bring will make up for any price changes. How can Members continue to shape the Club’s dining experience?

Villasmil: I’d like to stress again that these changes are being rolled out on a trial basis. We look forward to hearing what Members think and if we are JEFF GOLDBERG meeting expectations. When a Member suggests something to me, I’m always looking at how we can put that in action, so that they can see, feel, taste and enjoy the impact of sharing feedback. So, please be sure to complete the questionnaire during March. Your voice will determine how we evolve the Club’s dining options in 2024.





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indepth music


A brush with Mozart and a stay in Salzburg have Member Aadi Kazu Duarah setting sights on a career in music. WORDS C BRYAN JONES

When Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was 4 years old, it was clear that he was destined for musical greatness. His father, Leopold, took the young Wolferl under his wing and taught him to play violin. He was soon performing with others and, at age 7, composed the first of his famous violin sonatas. Aadi Kazu Duarah aspires to follow in his footsteps. The 11-year-old even had a brush with history when he played one of Mozart’s childhood violins at Ginza’s Daiichi Seimei Hall last Golden Week. “I was so scared I would drop it,” he says of the historic instrument brought to Japan by Daiichi Life Insurance Company and the Salzburg Mozarteum Foundation. The momentous event highlighted the progress the young Club Member has made. He first picked up the violin at age 5. While waiting for his older brother to finish a robotics class, Aadi went with his mother to an instrument shop. The clerk showed him a violin. “I tried it out and I was like, ‘I want to do it,’” he recalls. The shop paired Aadi with a teacher. After a couple of years, the teacher suggested that he enter a competition. “The first time, I didn’t make it to the finals. I was sad, so I practiced more,” Aadi says. Since 2021, he has won five major competitions in Italy and Japan. As the first prize and Cecilia International Music Award winner at the 23rd Osaka International Music Competition, Aadi will travel to New York City in May to perform at Carnegie Hall. “It’s a big thing, but still a small thing,” he says of the grand opportunity. “I want to improve, do some difficult international competitions and grow up to play as a soloist with orchestras.” Last year, Aadi spent a month at the Mozarteum University in Salzburg, where he studied with Paul Roczek, one of the world’s most acclaimed teachers of young violinists. In the long term, he has his eyes set on Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music. The renowned conservatory, founded in 1924, has an acceptance rate of

just four percent. “It’s really hard to get in, and you can’t if you just do violin,” he explains. During the daytime at the British School in Tokyo, Aadi supplements violin with music theory. After school, he practices at home two and half hours each day, making sure to wrap up by 8pm to avoid disturbing neighbors. On weekends, he stretches those sessions to four hours. He often records his practice and shares the clips on Instagram (@kazu_violin), where he has amassed a following of more than 25,000. Many of those are violin teachers from India, the Middle East and South America who are interested in how kids in Japan practice and perform. As Aadi prepares for Carnegie Hall and takes aim at grander goals, he has some simple advice for others picking up an instrument for the first time. “When you start, find a good teacher, someone who suits you,” he says. “Some people are really good at music but end up not liking it, because their teacher pressures them too much.”

Image: Aadi Kazu Duarah in his classroom at the Mozarteum University in Salzburg




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indepth karate

How did you get started in karate?

When I was 5, I had a kindergarten friend who was doing karate. And growing up in Okinawa, the birthplace of karate, I often saw it on TV. I became interested and told my parents that I wanted to do it.


What role did your mother play in your success?

From when I was little, she was always there to cheer me on. She let me do everything I wanted and followed me wherever I went to compete. It’s thanks to her that I’ve been able to achieve the things I have.


What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in karate?

The first time I competed at the World Championships as a member of the Japanese national team, I finished third. There was a champion from Venezuela named Antonio Díaz. I competed against him for two or three years, but I couldn’t beat him. I worked hard to improve, and eventually I became a champion.


What was it like to compete in the first Olympic karate competition?

As the Club hosts the 2nd National Karate Tournament this month, Japan’s most dominant karateka talks about his journey to gold. WORDS C BRYAN JONES IMAGE JKFAN KAR ATEDO MAGAZINE

As Ryo Kiyuna looked up at the Olympic rings on the Nippon Budokan, he knew this time was different. The famous venue is sacred ground in the world of martial arts, but never had it hosted karate as an Olympic sport. Tokyo 2020 would mark karate’s debut, and Kiyuna had a chance to make history. Two days later, he did just that. Standing on the podium, holding a framed portrait of his late mother, he became the first Okinawan to win an Olympic gold medal. On February 24, the kata master who won 19 straight gold medals in international competition will share his experiences and demonstrate techniques with the Club’s Junior Karate students.

I had competed at the Budokan before, but this time the atmosphere was totally different. There was just one competition mat. Usually there are a few. I felt that this was a special moment. Everyone knows the Olympics, and I could sense from the foreign karateka a strong desire to win, more so than usual. What is your greatest memory from a competition other than the Tokyo Olympics?

I had a goal to finish first in both individual and team kata at the World Championships. I was first able to achieve this in 2016, at the competition in Linz, Austria. What are your plans now that you’ve retired?

I want to help my students become champions. I’ve learned a lot in my life through karate. I want to share what I’ve learned with kids and help them understand that it is important to continue working towards your dreams. What advice do you have for a young karateka?

The most important thing is to continue. It’s not easy, but you must keep going day after day to achieve your goals.

Ryo Kiyuna’s Karate Workshop • February 24 • 1–3pm • Gymnasium • Free • Details online Image: Ryo Kiyuna




indepth super bowl

AIR FORCE FOUR Ahead of the Super Bowl, Member Mark Militello reflects on his days as a wide receiver and the evolution of football. WORDS C BRYAN JONES

Images: (top) Mark Militello hauls in a touchdown pass against Clemson as future Bears legend William “The Refrigerator” Perry (#66) watches from the sideline; (right) Militello at the Club in December




Mark Militello knew he had to run fast. As the

ball fell into his outstretched hands, a Clemson defender was closing in quickly. Wrapped in a flak jacket—Militello had broken a bone a few games earlier in the 1983 season— the Duke wide receiver wanted to avoid a big hit. Swiftly, he made his escape. The results that day didn’t play out in Duke’s favor. The Blue Devils fell 38–31 to the rival Tigers. But the offensive output showed why Militello and teammates Ben Bennett, Chris Castor and Carl Franks were known as “Air Force Four.” Guided by a young, innovate offensive coordinator named Steve Spurrier, they anchored one of the most prolific air attacks in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). Sitting in the Club’s first-floor family lobby in December, Militello reminisced about those days. Growing up in St Louis, Militello played baseball as a kid. He didn’t join the football team until high school. But in his senior year, Duke came calling. “I was recruited as a football player,” Militello says, “but I was probably a better baseball player.” The scholarship he was offered would allow him to play both. Militello excelled in Durham and was named AllACC in both baseball and football. After graduating, he dabbled with the NFL, signing a free-agent contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers. “I lasted two exhibition games,” he recalls.

One of the things Militello remembers about the experience is how much faster the pro game was compared with college. “We were doing a drill against the linebackers, Mike Merriweather and [Super Bowl champion] Robin Cole. I thought, ‘This is going to be a real challenge.’ Today, things are much faster.” The game is more dangerous as well. As the speed, strength and size of players have increased, hits have become harder and concussions have plagued the sport. During last month’s wild-card battle between Miami and Kansas City, the front of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ helmet shattered following a hit by Dolphins safety Deshon Elliott. He escaped without injury. Opposing quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was less lucky last season, when he was almost forced to retire in just his third NFL season after multiple concussions. Militello recalls the risks he faced. “I was sort of the possession receiver over the middle, so I took my fair share of hits. But you just do it. You don’t think twice,” he explains. “When you’re removed from the game for a decade or two or three, you look back and it’s like, ‘Wow, that was pretty crazy to do that.’ It’s very dangerous. Would I do it again? I don’t know.” Last September, Militello had the chance to return to Duke for their game against Clemson, a contest they won 28–7. While there, he was reunited with Spurrier. “He

remembered everything—every game, every play, every score,” Militello says of his former coach, now 78. “We were talking about a Virginia game, when we beat the Cavaliers at their stadium, and I said ‘38–31.’ Coach quickly shot back, ‘No, 29–24. But good guess.’” They also talked about 14 Pass Millie, the play Spurrier named after Militello and kept in his playbook even when he made his historic run at the University of Florida, where his offensive philosophy came to be known as the “Fun ’n’ Gun.” The football they played together in the 1980s has changed drastically, however, moving from a sacred amateur sport to something increasingly akin to NFL lite. Since 2021, the transfer portal has allowed players to move from school to school after each season and play right away instead of sitting out a year. And the name, image and likeness, or NIL, concept has essentially introduced pay-to-play, with some student athletes earning millions of dollars if they sign with a particular school. The result is uncertainty, parity and a business atmosphere that is bringing the college game closer to its pro counterpart. “Can schools afford to play the arms CLARA GARCIA race?” Militello asks. “At what point will there be pushback? At what point will there be disruption at the university level? Where do you draw the line?” One thing that is undeniable is that the system is producing amazing athletes, and innovative college offenses continue to transform the NFL as new players and coaches enter the league. Those competing for a spot in Super Bowl LVIII reflect this. Who will win? While it’s still too early to know who will reach the conference championship games, Militello has his chips on Mahomes. “I’ve been hoping the Chiefs will pull it together, just being a Missouri guy. Even with the Taylor Swift distractions, they’re still okay. They’ll do it, I think.” Whoever takes home the Lombardi Trophy, Militello is sure it will be a wild ride. “In the NFL playoffs, it’s ratcheted to a different level,” he adds. “The star performers make unbelievable plays. The great athletes, they elevate. That’s why I watch.”

Super Bowl at the Club • February 12 • 7:30am • New York Ballroom • General seating: ¥5,500 (guests: ¥7,700) • End Zone seating: ¥8,800 (guests: ¥11,000) • Adults only • Details online

Super Bowl at Traders’ Bar • 7:30am • Traders’ Bar • Adult Members only • Details online




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Connect with


community wellness

Diet Matters

Faced with a terminal diagnosis, Member Daniel Desmarais transformed his lifestyle to defeat cancer.


In my early 70s, I started to tell myself that I had better do checkups. I had recently had hip replacements, and everything was fabulous. But little by little, when you’re that age, you’ve got to check, because different things are creeping up. I thought it would be a good idea to get ahead of anything that might be coming. That turned out to be good thinking, because, as I was doing the tests in 2022, the doctors informed me that I had bladder cancer. Somewhere between stages three and four. And it was spreading. “Oh God, not cancer,” I thought. “I’m going to die.” The doctors told me that they would have to cut my bladder and attach a plastic bag that I’d wear daily to collect waste. “There’s no way I’m going to spend the rest of my life with a plastic bag around me,” I said. “No way.” I got a second, third and fourth opinion. There was one doctor I talked to who I knew was not going to be the one, but I wanted to ask him a question: “You are what you eat, right? So why don’t you suggest dieting?” He explained that doctors can control surgery 100 percent. And they can control medicine 100 percent. But dieting? That’s something they cannot control. They can tell patients what they need to do, but most people are going to lie about their lifestyles. The day I learned of the diagnosis, I went back to the Club, where I’ve been a Member since 1971. It’s like home. I went to our Thursday-night cigar gathering. I don’t smoke, but I enjoy the smell and the guys and all that. I decided to tell them. “Hey guys,” I said, “I got cancer, okay. Bladder. Stage three. Aggressive.” They didn’t cry or anything, but one of them stood up and said: “No glucose. You don’t eat glucose, you kill the food for the cancer.”

Others told me to take vitamins and watch my calories. Determined to live, I decided to change the way I eat. In conjunction with talking to doctors, I made the shift to a vegan diet. I also decided to fast 16 hours and drink at least two liters of water a day. It’s fantastic for your body. All your organs get cleaned because they’re not functioning to digest food. I followed this regimen. When you have cancer, you do it or you die. After two and a half months of going vegan, and taking vitamins plus other natural anti-cancer supplements like fucoidan seaweed, my cancer came down to stage two. A couple of months later, only a little remained in my bladder. Still cancerous, but not aggressive. And the doctors were able to clean it up. It can take many things to defeat cancer. Doctors are essential. Diet matters. And so does exercise. I watch what I eat and put time in at the Fitness Center. Two years ago, I thought I was going to die. I’m 76 now and feeling better than I have in years. As told to INTOUCH’s C Bryan Jones.

Image: Daniel Desmarais




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New Members



AUST R A L I A | Lachlan & Vivien Clancy

JA PA N | Mitsuki Yoshioka

Herbert Smith Freehills Gaikokuho Jimu Bengoshi Jimusho

SMBC Nikko Securities

“We are excited to join the Tokyo American Club community. The Club has so many wonderful facilities for children and adults alike; our two boys are going to enjoy the swimming and other seasonal events. Having moved to Tokyo from Singapore, we look forward to making new connections and friends.”

“It was when I first had the chance to experience the sophisticated service that I was fascinated with the Nihonbashi Club’s combination of Japanese and US culture. The location is ideal, considering where I live and work, and I’m thrilled to make more connections though activities and have a wonderful time at the Club.”

Image: (l–r) Vivien, Julian, Lachlan, Arthur and Julia Clancy.

Image: Mitsuki Yoshioka





Wing Keung Wong & Ayaka Kitagawa E-Partner

Milica & Roland Abella Philip Morris Japan Limited

Ria & Shigeharu Ko Adam Schmitt & Azusa Tanaka Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Yin Yang & Ikushin Tsuchida


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Deven & Emi Chachra Satyam Autoserve Pvt Ltd (Satyam Toyota)



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Hayato & Kyoko Kondoh Bain Capital


Shotaro & Mami Michishita Medical Wellness Partners

Shengqian Qi Demay Education

Yoshiro & Kimie Nakamura Orchestra Holdings Inc.

Lei Ye & Yang Wang Ikegai Corp.

Hirohito & Hiroko Namiki InvesCore Japan Co., Ltd.

Haiping Zhou & Yanfang Zhao Baytec Ltd.

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community voice


My journey with little league baseball started a

long time ago, back in Georgia. The experience prompted me to introduce my son, Mugen, to the game here in Japan. One sunny day in July 2020, I took him to the green field adjacent to Yoyogi Park to teach him the basics of baseball. He was 7 at the time. Coincidentally, a local little league team arrived a short time later to use the same grounds for practice. I had no knowledge or whereabouts regarding little league baseball in Japan, but the manager walked over and asked if we wanted to practice with them. That’s the day we joined Shibuya Onwards. Onwards has a long history. They have won many local tournaments and placed high in Tokyo-wide tournaments. But that was a decade ago. When we joined, there were only six players on the roster and no championship was in sight. As an American, it was an interesting experience joining a local Japanese baseball team. It felt like I was stepping into one of the inner layers of this sometimes-hard-to-crack society. The coaches were all very receptive and supportive

of us being on the team, and the manager always asked me to help with practices. By the end of the year, all the kids were calling me coach Sagen. I never saw that coming! I embraced the new role, and relished in supporting the kids as they developed and became better ballplayers. Baseball in Japan is quite the commitment. We had practice most weekends and holidays. The sport is approached as a martial art, with reverence to the grounds of play and a focus on repetition drills to improve gameplay. Each practice starts with a greeting to the grounds: “Gurando aisatsu!” After hearing this rally cry, all the kids—ages 5 to 12—line up on the baseline and ask to be welcomed to the grounds by yelling “yoroshiku onegaishimasu!” as they bow with caps off. After practice or a game has ended, the kids line up on the baseline again and yell “arigato gozaimashita!” Thank you for letting us use the grounds. These rituals of Shinto or Bushido, I reckon, harness team unity, respect and gratitude. The kids on the team play hard, but also have fun, throughout practice. After recruiting other international school kids and also receiving new local ones, Onwards now has a roster of more than 25. The team has become competitive and quite international in composition. English has become the second language. In a possible twist of fate, the future Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto may actually be international kids on a local Japanese little league team. One day, they may don a Dodgers jersey. Or, preferably, one emblazoned with “Braves.” Sagen Johnson is a Club Member.




An art of Precision and Synchronization 一致が生み出す圧倒的芸術 THE 2ND NATIONAL KARATE TEAM KATA TOURNAMENT February 24

Venue: New York Ballroom, Tokyo American Club Organized by the Japan Karatedo Federation

Tickets: event@tac-club.org

community highlights

December 8 Nihonbashi Bonenkai With music that charmed, flavors that thrilled and high-spirited toasts, the final soiree of 2023 at the Nihonbashi Club was a night to remember. IMAGES YUUKI IDE




community highlights

December 8 Holiday Glee The atmosphere buzzed with holiday music, delectable courses and heartwarming recognitions during Connections' annual luncheon. IMAGES YUUKI IDE




December 17 Christmas Splash-A-Round Splashes of fun, a trail of inflatable adventures and the delight of a festive gift was on the agenda for Club kids at the Sky Pool during the holiday season. IMAGES YUUKI IDE




community highlights

Christmas at the Club Christmas took everyone at the Club on a sleigh ride of delight, combining visits with Santa, mouthwatering holiday buffets, the warmth of roasted chestnuts and Janat’s festive tea. IMAGES TAKUMARU SUZUKI







community pursuit



Tea Ceremony Experience When Sen no Rikyu refined Japanese tea ceremony in the 16th century, the tea master infused it with the principles of wabi-sabi. By emphasizing rustic simplicity, directness and understated elegance, he created an approach that departed from the more lavish styles of earlier periods. In this Connections enrichment class, Members will learn the history, etiquette and rituals behind the centuries-old sado ceremony while trying their hand at making a bowl of matcha with such utensils as a chasen whisk.


Sohki Watanabe While in the UK, Sohki Watanabe was asked about wabi-sabi. She didn’t know what to say. “I was ashamed of my lack of knowledge about Japanese culture, despite being Japanese and having practiced arts such as calligraphy since I was a child,” she reveals. “I thought if I did tea ceremony, I would know the answer.” After studying at Urasenke, one of the largest schools of tea ceremony, Watanabe has spent the past 20 years using her language skills to introduce the tradition and Japanese culture to visitors from overseas.

Tea Ceremony Experience • March 15 • 2:30–4pm • Toko Shinoda & Yukiko Maki classrooms • Connections members: ¥6,500 (non-Connections members: ¥10,000) • Sign up online

Image: Sohki Watanabe




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