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毎 月 一 回 一 日 発 行 

TOKYO AMERICAN CLUB

第 四 十 三 巻 三 十 三 号 

ト ウ キ ョ ウ ア メ リ カ ン ク ラ ブ 

August 2010

The Future Takes Form

i N

Construction of the Club’s spectacular new home in Azabudai ramps up

T O U C H

イ ン タ ッ チ マ ガ ジ ン 二 〇 一 〇 年 八 月 一 日 発 行 

iNTOUCH TOKYO AMERICAN CLUB

平 成 三 年 十 二 月 二 十 日 第 三 種 郵 便 物 許 可 定 価 八 0 0 円 本 体 七 七 七 円

Issue 545 • August 2010

Comforting Calls

Foundation of Hope

Found in Translation

A Tokyo helpline gets a boost from the Women’s Group

One couple honors their son with a thriving charity

One Member helps ink a manual to local culture


16

recreation

Running Japan recreation

Seeking a motivating challenge, Member Christopher Lewis laced up his running shoes and clocked longdistance races in all 47 prefectures of Japan.

redevelopment

A Passion for Tokyo’s Piece of America

32

2 Contacts

A former Club governor, Kei Kosaka shares his reminiscences of four decades spent eating, drinking and meeting within this unique haven and his desire to preserve its American core. out & about

contents 4 Events

6 Board of Governors 7 Management 8 Library

40

12 Video Library

Exile Isle

14 Committees

With a rich past as a domicile for banished emperors and artists, Sado’s lush coastal vistas are now home to temples, museums, sleepy fishing ports and a world-famous drum festival.

16 Recreation

feature

20 Women's Group 24 Feature 30 Talking Heads

24

32 Redevelopment 34 Genkan Gallery

Construction of a Community With hundreds of workers assembling the pieces and adding the finishing touches, the Club’s next incarnation in Azabudai grows ever closer to completion. This month, iNTOUCH assesses the bustling site with a few Club leaders to give Members an exclusive peek at the ongoing progress.

35 Member Services 38 Inside Japan 40 Out & About 42 Event Roundup 48 Tokyo Moments

iNTOUCH

Editor Nick Jones

To advertise in iNTOUCH, contact Miyuki Hagiwara: marketing@tac-club.org 03-4588-0976

Designers Ryan Mundt Jasmine Lai

For Membership information, contact Mari Hori: mari.hori@tac-club.org 03-4588-0687 Tokyo American Club 4–25–46 Takanawa, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108–0074

www.tokyoamericanclub.org

editor@tac-club.org

Production Assistant Yuko Shiroki Assistant Editor Wendi Hailey Design Assistant Miki Amano Communications Manager Matthew Roberts

Management Michael Bumgardner General Manager gm@tac-club.org

Shuji Hirakawa Human Resources Director hum_res@tac-club.org

Bob Sexton Assistant General Manager agm@tac-club.org

Linda Joseph Administrative Services Director gmoffice@tac-club.org

Lian Chang Information Technology Director itdir@tac-club.org

Mutsuhiko Kumano Finance Director finance@tac-club.org

Darryl Dudley Engineering Director eng@tac-club.org

Michael Marlay Food & Beverage Director fboffice@tac-club.org

Alistair Gough Redevelopment Director projdir@tac-club.org

Scott Yahiro Recreation Director recdirector@tac-club.org

Cover photo by Ayano Sato (l–r) Vice President Jerry Rosenberg, Governor Rod Nussbaum, President Lance E Lee, General Manager Michael Bumgardner and Redevelopment Director Alistair Gough


Getting in Touch Department/E-mail

Phone

Banquet Sales and Reservations

4588-0977

banquet@tac-club.org

Beauty/Hair Salon

4588-0685

Catering

4588-0307

banquet@tac-club.org

Childcare Center

4588-0701

child-care@tac-club.org

Communications

4588-0262

comms@tac-club.org

Engineering

4588-0699

eng@tac-club.org

Finance

4588-0222

acct@tac-club.org

Fitness Center

4588-0266

fitness@tac-club.org

Food & Beverage Office

4588-0245

fboffice@tac-club.org

Foreign Traders’ Bar

4588-0677

fb_bar@tac-club.org

Garden Café

4588-0705

gardencafe@tac-club.org

General Manager’s Office

4588-0674

gmoffice@tac-club.org

Library

4588-0678

library@tac-club.org

Logan Room

rec@tac-club.org

Membership Office

4588-0687

membership@tac-club.org

Member Services Desk

4588-0670

tac@tac-club.org

Mixed Grille

4588-0676

mixed.grille@tac-club.org

Pool Office

4588-0700

pool@tac-club.org

Recreation Services Desk

4588-0681

recdesk@tac-club.org

Recreation Office

4588-0240

rec@tac-club.org

Redevelopment Office

4588-0223

redevelopment@tac-club.org

Special Events

4588-0204

specialevents@tac-club.org

The Spa

4588-0714

spa@tac-club.org

Video Library

4588-0686

video@tac-club.org

Vineyards

4588-0978

vineyards@tac-club.org

Weddings

4588-0671

banquet@tac-club.org

Women’s Group Office

4588-0691

wg@tac-club.org

Youth Activities ya@tac-club.org

2 August 2010 iNTOUCH

4588-0250


from the

editor

Occasionally, that first minute of sitting back and savoring the cool, air-conditioned interior of a taxi on a sweltering summer day is broken by the jarring voice of the driver as he asks me which road I would like him to take. I have never understood this request. This seems akin to going in for surgery and being asked by the doctor, just before the anesthetist puts you under, where you would like him to make the first incision and whether you had a preference for the type of suture to be used. My instinct in these kinds of situations is to defer all the decision making to the professional. Are there people who actually have certain streets they like to travel along in taxis? Actually, it seems that there are. According to a dispatcher with one of Tokyo’s largest taxi firms, drivers pose the route question because, besides wanting to avoid accusations of trying to ratchet up the fare by driving around in circles, some passengers do have a preference. The odd superstitious person, the dispatcher said, doesn’t want to pass a particular temple on the way to a business meeting, for example. The route pop quiz situation was complicated even further after the Club first moved to Takanawa, since most cabbies had no idea that the old Club was a demolition site. (You can find out how the new Club in Azabudai is progressing in this month’s cover story, “Construction of a Community,” on pages 24 to 29.) It became not only about deciding the route, but also about pinpointing the exact location of the Club’s home in Takanawa. In some cases, it would have been easier if we had just swapped places and I had gotten behind the wheel. The good thing is a majority of taxi drivers now know exactly where the Club is. Unfortunately, that will be useful knowledge for just another four months. If you have any comments about anything you read in iNTOUCH, please e-mail them to editor@tac-club.org, putting “Letter to the Editor” in the subject title of the mail.

contributors Wendi Hailey

Gaby Sheldon

Born and raised in Cassopolis, Michigan, a one-stoplight village whose most famous resident was kitty litter inventor Edward Lowe, Wendi Hailey leapt across the Pacific for a 12-month teaching stint in Tokyo, where she has lived for more than five years. Working as assistant editor in the Club’s Communications Department, she has an uncanny knack for spotting spelling errors and turning a catchy phrase. With the Club set to open the doors to its impressive, new facility next January, in this month’s cover story, on pages 24 to 29, Hailey accompanies the Club president and other members of the Board of Governors as they survey the construction progress. Outside of the office, she can be found debating over whether to go for a jog or order a dirty martini. When not running after her two small children, teaching English or drinking coffee, Gaby Sheldon likes to write. Having worked as a journalist and editor in London, she moved to Tokyo in March 2007 with her family. She says writing for iNTOUCH and other publications catering to Japan’s expat community allows her to learn more about the country while satisfying her natural curiosity. Sheldon, who has a penchant for karaoke and “The X Factor” (Britain’s answer to “American Idol”), also volunteers as director of communications for the Women’s Group, and in “Hotline Help,” on pages 20 to 21, she takes a look at the counseling work of Tokyo English Life Line, one of the many nonprofit organizations supported by Women’s Group funds.

www.tokyoamericanclub.org For the latest Club news, schedule of events, class registration and more, check out the Tokyo American Club website. And remember, you can read this month’s iNTOUCH there, as well as previous issues, too. Words from the editor 3


2 What’s happening in

August

16

Monday

Monday

Sunday

In My Own Words Children ages 7 to 12 learn how to create their own journals, scrapbooks and diaries in this imagination-driven workshop with librarian Erica Kawamura. 2 p.m. Flip to page 10 to find out more.

16

23

28

Monday

28

30

4 August 2010 iNTOUCH

15

Fall Enrichment Classes Registration With a dazzling lineup of activities and classes on tap this fall, kids can find something to stimulate their minds and keep fit. 8:30 a.m. For more information, head to page 19.

Women’s Group Office Hours The Women’s Group Office resumes its normal hours of operation. 9 a.m.–1 p.m. Check the Women’s Group section of the Club website for details.

An Evening of Jazz with Hiroko Williams Well-established on the Tokyo circuit, jazz singer Hiroko Williams mesmerizes the Traders’ Bar crowd with a laidback session of jazz classics. 7:30 p.m. Find out more on page 15.

Thursday

Swim Lessons Registration Extend the summer with extra sessions in the Pool this fall. Group and private lessons are available. 8:30 a.m. Check out page 19 for more.

Summer Hoops Little hoopsters of all abilities hone their on-court talents during intensive, one-week sessions of Summer Basketball Camp. The lowdown is on page 19.

Saturday

5

Monday

Coffee Connections Meet new people and learn about the Women’s Group at this relaxed gathering. 10:30 a.m. Banquet Rooms. Contact the Women’s Group Office to organize free childcare.

Monday

Women’s Group Classes Exhibition Spectacular works from the students and instructors of these inspiring courses are displayed in the Genkan Gallery ahead of fall registration. Learn more on page 34.

Saturday

Judo 101 Ahead of the 10-week class, aspiring black belts can check out the martial art during an exciting demo with expert instructor Chuck Wilson. 2 p.m. Flip to page 19 for the full scoop.

Coming up in

September 9 Ladies’ Golf Group Kickoff Luncheon 16 Women’s Group Classes Registration 25 Welcome Back Party 30 Kilikanoon and Majella Decadent Dinner


EVENTS

7

Saturday

Bon Odori The Club’s annual summertime celebration is back with traditional Bon dancing, taiko drumming, a hula performance, carnival games, karaoke contests, tasty treats and more. Put on your colorful yukata and join in this fun-filled festival for the whole community. 4–8 p.m. Free. Flip to page 14 for details. No parking available

Noteworthy dates for the month 5


BOARD OF GOVERNORS

Changes for the Better

Board of Governors

by Norman J Green

A

s you all probably know, the proposal for a one-year assessment of ¥9,500 per month was defeated at a Special General Meeting on June 4. The evening was a highly charged one, as were some of the town hall meetings in the preceding weeks. Many who spoke out at the meeting asserted that our management and elected leadership had not done enough to control costs, professionally market the Club, recruit more Members, improve Member satisfaction and stimulate greater Member usage of the Club. Some offered concrete suggestions, and I suspect that we may see increasing participation in the Club’s future by such Members through involvement on key committees. A number of people also questioned transparency in communications with the Membership. It’s hard to conceive that the subject of transparency could be a source of dissatisfaction in an 82-year-old institution. The reference to a transparency deficit mostly concerns where our money goes, how decisions are made and manpower issues—all matters we don’t readily see from day-to-day. The Board of Governors is now addressing this need for greater transparency, and you can count on a better flow of easily assimilated information. I’m hopeful that this will lead to wider participation by our Members in the Club’s evolution. Did you know that this magazine introduced a letters page some time ago? The trouble was that practically no one sent any letters. Most magazines, including club publications, have a letters page where readers and the publisher or leadership meet in a forum. In principle, a page for such exchange in iNTOUCH should contribute materially to broader insight into matters influencing the Club’s policies, its current priorities and vision and future strategies. A letters page might have served as a practical medium for discussing the many dimensions at issue in the recent referendum.

Lance E Lee (2010)—President Amane Nakashima (2011)—Vice President Jerry Rosenberg (2011)—Vice President Norman J Green (2011)—Secretary Dan Stakoe (2011)—Treasurer Tim Griffen (2010), William Ireton (2010), Hiroyuki Kamano (2010), Per Knudsen (2010), Jeff McNeill (2011), Brian Nelson (2010), Rod Nussbaum (2010), Mary Saphin (2011), Dan Thomas (2010), Deborah Wenig (2011), Ira Wolf (2011), Shizuo Daigoh—Statutory Auditor (2010), Barbara Hancock—Women’s Group President

Its regular use would also add value to this magazine, to your and my better awareness of our fellow Members’ feelings and the Club’s institutional thinking. It’s up to those of us who want to air our opinions to make use of this open invitation to transparency. Write to Nick Jones at editor@tac-club.org if you have something you would like to see published. If you are on a Club committee, you know how extensively our management has been working on current priorities while also elaborating the complexities demanded in setting up our move back to Azabudai. Besides keeping control on this tough challenge, management will be working intensively with committees and the Board to fully scrutinize all expense items in every department and our future structural needs. The goal remains to find the most painless path to reaching critical mass and grow cash flow while raising Member satisfaction. In the process, benchmarking in related service businesses will, no doubt, be researched, and the outsourcing of some functions deserves to be studied. One Member concluded the evening’s commentary in June with an appeal for a return to the Club spirit many of us remember from the “good old days,” when we were all one family and created so many great memories together. There was so much goodwill then. Our staff were as highly motivated then as they are now. It is we who have changed, and I hope we can get back to who we once were. o

azabudai

update

by Wendi Hailey

Ayano Sato

At 8 a.m. every morning, some 850 construction workers gather at the Azabudai site to begin their day with traditional rajio taiso, or radio exercise, which is performed daily by schoolchildren, factory workers and many others around the country. Developed in 1928 by an insurance company to celebrate the coronation of Emperor Hirohito and improve general health, the routine is still broadcast on the radio and TV several times a day. The site workers twist, turn, bounce and stretch to a chirpy melody and recorded instructions for several minutes. “It’s a chance to relax and warm up before the day begins,” says Fujio Koyama, construction firm Takenaka’s project leader for the Club building. “Eye contact is also important during the exercises, and the interaction among workers improves communication throughout the day.” o

6 August 2010 iNTOUCH

To get an in-depth look at the daily evolution of the new Club in Azabudai as the interior work kicks into overdrive, turn to page 24.


MANAGEMENT

Home

Building by Michael Bumgardner Michael Bumgardner General Manager

O

ne issue that has been discussed a great deal recently is the need to attract more new Members to the Club. To achieve this goal, we could use the help of the entire Membership. Bringing more people into the fold is not just about money, though, it’s about the Club’s very vibrancy that stems from the diversity, camaraderie and enthusiasm of its Members. Encourage your friends, coworkers and acquaintances to join by showing them what Membership has to offer and telling them about the exciting, new facilities set to open in January in Azabudai. (You can learn more about how the construction is progressing by turning to page 24.) You may need to let them know that the entrance fees will increase in January, so now is an opportune time to join. For expats on short-term assignments, the Club has created a new category of Membership. Called Regular Term Membership, it has a much lower entrance fee and is limited to three years (although it has provisions for extension and conversion). Contact the Membership Office for details. Since June, we have been periodically checking Membership cards in the Family Lobby. You would be surprised at the number of unaccompanied non-Members who enter the Club, particularly during the summer. Since we predict that this trend will likely continue at the new Club, it will be necessary to use your new Membership cards to access more areas of the Azabudai facility.

Incidentally, thank you to all those Members who provided us with photos for the new cards. Ahead of the move to Azabudai, the House Committee has been considering a number of rule changes and policies affecting different elements of the Club, including the use of strollers. Our aim is to provide outdoor stroller parking in Azabudai to avoid congestion in the hallways. From this month, you will be able to find out more about the Club’s stroller policy for our next home by browsing the display in the Family Lobby. August at Tokyo American Club means the annual celebration of summer, Bon Odori. This melding of Japanese matsuri and American carnival traditions offers a wonderful opportunity for Members, guests and the local community to get together and have fun on a warm summer evening. More than 2,500 people enjoyed last year’s festivities and a similar number will likely attend this month’s fiesta on Saturday, August 7. A mix of games, entertainment, food and drink stalls and yukata and karaoke contests, Bon Odori is always a lively affair. Find out more about this year’s exciting lineup on page 14. Remember that since Bon Odori will be staged in both of the Club’s parking lots and the driveway, there will no parking available. Please use public transport or park at the nearby Hotel Laforet and use our shuttle bus, which will be running all day to the hotel and Shinagawa Station from the Club. See you there! o

Executive remarks 7


W

Reiko Matano

8 August 2010 iNTOUCH

Kayo Yamawaki

hy does everyone eat noodles on New Year’s Eve? What’s that sticky candy that children eat for Shichi Go San? Whenever I field these kinds of cultural questions from my foreign friends, I find myself mumbling incoherently and hoping that they will move onto a more answerable subject. So, when I learned that Wa no Gyoji no Ehon, a bestselling guide to Japanese culture and traditions, was available in English, I drew a sigh of relief. Written and illustrated by Noriko Takano in 2006, the book was translated into two volumes by longtime Club Member Reiko Matano and Margaret Breer. Published earlier this year, Annual Events in Japan: Spring and Summer and Annual Events in Japan: Autumn and Winter are packed with fun illustrations and explicit descriptions of the many seasonal events that are an integral part of everyday life in Japan. Originally approached by Keiko Komatsuzaki, the president of Ehon Books Publishing, to translate the series, Matano says she saw the opportunity as a way to pass on the legacy of her late husband, who spent his life as a diplomat building bridges between cultures. “Having lived on all continents but Africa and encountered many different cultures and people, I’ve learned that to be international, [you need to] be national first,” says Matano, 68. “I should have studied our own culture deeply first and used the most suitable language, English, to tell it to the international community.” After agreeing to take on the task, Matano enlisted the help of Breer, an old American friend and former Japan resident, who now lives back in Washington, DC. Together, the pair worked on the text, tackling linguistic challenges, as well as issues of space. “Contractually, I couldn’t move or change the pictures of the original Japanese books,” explains Matano. “Sentences in English tend to become far longer than their Japanese equivalent. Yet, I had to add extra explanations for foreign readers. To find a happy translation for the limited space was the hardest part.”


LIBRARY

Creating a Cultural

Cheat Sheet

After years of explaining her homeland as a diplomat’s wife, one Member helped to produce two English-language guides to Japanese culture. by Chisa Fujita

Translating the often vague Japanese grammar presented its own set of difficulties, too, and Matano recalls her constant e-mail exchanges with Breer as they tried to figure out the subject of sentences or just exactly how many objects were being discussed. Then there was the hurdle of interpreting the terminology associated with cultural events. While the pair were determined to “speak from the heart of the Japanese,” they didn’t want to lose any nuance and spent innumerable hours debating the best English word for encapsulating the meaning of a Japanese term. When they were at a loss, they turned to Matano’s daughter, a returnee. Growing up in Hyogo Prefecture, Matano studied at Tsuda College in Tokyo, where she later taught English and foreign culture to Japanese children heading abroad. A winner of the Yomiuri Education Prize for her picture dictionary and ABC keyboard, she is currently a culture curriculum adviser to

an elementary school in Azabu Juban. Some of the books’ touches added by Matano and Breer include presenting key events and words in kanji, hiragana and roman characters, allowing Japanese learners to confirm the reading of the Japanese, a chart detailing Japan’s historical periods in volume one and a map of Japan in the second volume, which targets a slightly older readership. While intricately illustrated, both carefully translated and edited books, which Matano and Breer have already begun revising ahead of the second edition, should appeal to readers of all ages, whether they are discovering the culture and language for the first time or Japanese looking for a tool to explain their country’s traditions. ® Fujita is a Club Member. The Library stocks Annual Events in Japan: Spring and Summer and Annual Events in Japan: Autumn and Winter.

Literary gems at the Library 9


off the

shelf

Bibliophile Banter by Kimberly Fiorello

Yuuki Ide

R

eading doesn’t have to be a solitary experience. The Library Book Group brings together literature lovers and bookworms with different reading interests for a lively discussion on one particular title each month. “We’re all there for the book, that’s what brings us together,” says Tracy Flannery, the group’s former organizer, who recently returned home to the United States. Getting together on the second Friday of each month, the group gives Members the opportunity to meet others with a similar passion for books within a relaxed yet stimulating environment. With learning at its core, the Library Book Group allows participants to express opinions, analyze passages and wording, ask questions and have points clarified about a book, all while digesting new ideas and perspectives. Since the group’s selected titles (see page 11 for the lineup) are varied in author, genre and style, members are often introduced to books they might not normally read. And, as one person is chosen each month to lead the following month’s discussion, everyone has the chance to enhance their leadership and communication skills. So, rather than shelving that latest read and swiftly moving

(l–r) Marianne Uppal, Karen Thomas, Katherine Forelle and Mary Oliver

on to the next title, head to the Club for an animated chat with a band of likeminded bibliophiles. ® Library Book Group Friday, September 10 12 p.m. Vineyards No sign-up necessary Fiorello is a former member of the Library Committee.

s’ n a i r a r b Li C o rn e r

events

a preview of what’s on for the Club’s inquiring minds

Asian Dumpling Tips If you liked Andrea Nguyen’s Asian Dumplings, a guide to the continent’s tasty stuffed parcels, check out the author’s website for new recipes, video instructions, restaurant reviews and even “semi-homemade” tricks. www.asiandumplingtips.com

Picks and Pieces by Dan Cherubin

The Library’s cookbook collection has hundreds of items, with recipes from all over the world. Why not use them as a jumping-off point for some great online cooking guides?

10 August 2010 iNTOUCH

Just Bento The Manga Cookbook has some nifty ideas for mouthwatering lunchboxes, but why not expand on that with Just Bento? This beautiful site has recipes, tips and links to accessories, and it’ll make you long for funny-shaped food! http://justbento.com

In My Own Words Librarian Erica Kawamura hosts a fun, intriguing session about journals, scrapbooks and diaries using the Diary of a Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book. Kids chat about keeping mementos and writing journals before trying their hands at recording their own. For ages 7 to 12 (level J). Sunday, August 15 2–3 p.m. Women’s Group Classroom 3 ¥3,150 (includes a copy of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and a blank journal) Sign up online or at the Library


LIBRARY

book group

titles September

January

Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

After aging patriarch Nariman Vakeel breaks his ankle, his bedridden state and advancing Parkinson’s disease threaten to tear apart his large Parsi family. Set in a corrupt, poverty-stricken and teeming Mumbai in the 1990s, Family Matters is a beautifully crafted, emotionally charged book that deals with the engaging subject of family history and memories.

Almost 200 years after her death, Austen’s works are experiencing an unprecedented boom, with many of her novels having being adapted for TV and the silver screen. Set in early 19th-century England, this particular piece of romantic fiction centers on Elizabeth Bennet as she deals with such pressing aristocratic concerns as manners, education, marriage and whether her first impression of the wealthy and handsome Mr Darcy was absolutely correct.

October

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers In this well-received work of fiction, Eggers takes on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Abdulrahman Zeitoun is a Syrian-born painting contractor, who decides to stay in New Orleans to protect his property. Traveling about in a battered canoe, Zeitoun

February

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

helps out the stranded and homeless until he finds himself arrested as a suspected terrorist and mired in a system of opaque bureaucracy.

In this, Ishiguro’s sixth novel, the narrator, 31-year-old Kathy H, reflects on her days as a student at Hailsham, a strangely sheltered boarding school in the English countryside. After she reconnects with old classmates Ruth and Tommy, the three explore their shared youth and the underlying feeling that they were always different from those outside their cloistered world.

November

March

The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

Solar by Ian McEwan

The winner of this year’s Orange Prize, the most prestigious literary award for women writers, this hefty novel follows the life of Harrison Shepherd from his teen years in Mexico to fame in America during the McCarthy-era Communist witch hunts. Kingsolver’s first novel since 2000’s The Poisonwood Bible, The Lacuna was described by Daisy Goodwin, the chair of the Orange Prize’s panel of judges, as “a fascinating and beautifully constructed book.”

Described by the Financial Times as a “stunningly accomplished work,” McEwan’s latest, well-researched novel tackles the climate change debate through the human foibles of his protagonist, Michael Beard, a philandering physicist who has been wallowing in professional mediocrity ever since his Nobel Prizewinning discovery of the Beard-Einstein Conflation several years before.

April: Confucius Lives Next Door: What Living in the East Teaches Us About Living in the West by TR Reid; May: TBD

Literary gems at the Library 11


critics’

corner

Cinematic Champs

T

he gritty blend of sweat, blood and muscle of most sports contests is perfect for the silver screen. Whether it’s played out in the ring (Rocky, Raging Bull, Million Dollar Baby), on the field (Rudy, The Longest Yard, Bull Durham), on the court (Hoosiers, Hoop Dreams) or on the ice (Miracle, Slap Shot), the primal athletic battle is a metaphor for life, filled with character-defining challenges, soul-

crushing mistakes, drama, elation, heartbreak and heroes. Most sports-themed movies portray the personal odyssey of an athlete or team through competition, climaxing with one particular pivotal showdown. Competitors mature and, ultimately, triumph (this is Hollywood, after all) on the field of play as well as off it. But in a tournament of sports flicks, which one would be crowned victorious? ®

“My 7-year-old daughter was torn between The Blind Side (2009) and Invictus (2009) on this one. Although she hasn’t seen many sports movies, I believe they can teach us about the wider world. The Blind Side, for example, shows us that not everyone is born within a supportive, loving family, while Invictus, through the recent history of South Africa, reveals a world where some people judge others by the color of their skin, and a man called Nelson Mandela used rugby as a tool for forgiveness and reconciliation. It’s difficult to single out one from my list of favorite sports films, so, instead, I’ll just offer my thanks to Hollywood for the great parenting tool.”

“My choice is 2002’s Bend It Like Beckham, an incredibly entertaining comedy about Jess, a teenage girl who dreams of emulating her soccer idol, David Beckham, and playing her obsession professionally. Her conservative Sikh family, however, is firmly against the idea. Going beyond the formulaic sports flicks, Bend It Like Beckham echoes My Big Fat Greek Wedding in parts, as Jess’ life is thrown into chaos when she realizes that her sister’s wedding will clash with an important soccer tournament. A very talented cast includes newcomer Parminder Nagra as Jess, a beautiful Keira Knightley and hilarious Juliet Stevenson and Shaheen Khan.”

“I believe cinema’s best sports movie is Invictus, directed by Clint Eastwood. It’s 1994. Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) is president of South Africa. During a South Africa-England rugby match, he notices whites cheering for South Africa and blacks for England. It’s obvious that rugby is a symbol of apartheid. But Mandela challenges a unanimous vote to rename the Springboks, meets team captain Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon) and develops an enthusiasm for the sport that extends to cabinet meetings, as black kids are filmed learning rugby from Springbok players. The following year, South Africa hosts rugby’s World Cup, defeating New Zealand’s All Blacks in the final for a memorable movie climax.”

Most inspirational sports flick: too tough to call

Most inspirational sports flick: Bend It Like Beckham

Most inspirational sports flick: Invictus

Club critic: Abby Radmilovich

Club critic: Lisbeth Pentelius

Club critic: Sara Sakamoto

All titles mentioned are either available in the Video Library or on order.

12 August 2010 iNTOUCH


VIDEO LIBRARY He is Club President Lance E Lee. She is Yuko Akisato, manager of the Video Library.

HE SAYS, SHE SAYS abort

give it a go

smokin’

A nice sequel to 2008’s Iron Man, with great performances from Robert Downey, Jr, Mickey Rourke and Jon Favreau. The fight scenes, especially those with Scarlett Johansson, are well choreographed and the special effects are adequate. The casting of Don Cheadle as Jim Rhodes is clever because he adds a slightly comedic dimension to the role.

Billionaire Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey, Jr, is forced to deal with new problems and enemies as his Iron Man alter ego attracts increasing amounts of attention. An enjoyable sequel to 2008’s blockbuster based on the Marvel comic superhero. Another winner from Downey, Jr.

There’s not too much “City” (New York, that is) here because most of the film is set in Abu Dhabi. Sex and the City staples of marriage, relationships, motherhood and menopause are all mulled over by the enduring foursome. And Samantha is, as ever, well, Samantha (you know what I mean).

The famous Manhattan four decamp to the desert of Abu Dhabi after Samantha secures them an all-expenses-paid trip. While this second cinematic installment of the popular TV series might lack any real story, as a huge fan of Sex and the City, I’m just happy to see the return of the fashion, fun and friendships!

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A funny, well-paced and truly refreshing film, starring John Travolta. The action scenes are good and Travolta, who teams up with Jonathan Rhys Meyers, is hilarious as the loose cannon special agent. If you’re not looking for anything too serious, this is definitely worth a watch.

An overly violent flick about an ambitious aide to the US ambassador in Paris (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), who is partnered with a foul-mouthed, eccentric agent (John Travolta) to stop a terrorist attack in the city. However, with all the high-speed car chases and shooting, you won’t be enjoying any of the Parisian scenery.

Developed from a video game, Prince of Persia isn’t bad and definitely better than this year’s Clash of the Titans. Good special effects and an unpredictable storyline, such as the feud between the brothers, make for an entertaining film.

Gamers might enjoy this movie about a rogue prince (Jake Gyllenhaal) and mysterious princess (Gemma Arterton) who must stop dark forces from acquiring an ancient dagger with the power to reverse time. For me, even the special effects didn’t really appeal.

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This provocative biopic about ’70s teenage band The Runaways, starring Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie and Kristen Stewart as Joan Jett, is a pleasurable piece of rock ’n’ roll entertainment.

ACT ION

The Runaways

A beer-soaked trip to an old haunt hurtles three lifelong friends back to the 1980s—à la The Wedding Singer—in this frothy, time-warp flick.

SUSPE NC E

COME DY

Hot Tub Time Machine

D R AM A

other new titles... The Bounty Hunter “Gerard Butler and Jennifer Aniston remain as attractive as ever.” That’s the bottom line of this tired, odd-couple-on-the-lam flick for the film review website Rotten Tomatoes.

Chloe Suspicious that her husband’s (Liam Neeson) frequent dalliances have turned into adulterous encounters, a doctor (Julianne Moore) hires a highclass call girl (Amanda Seyfried) to seduce him and their seemingly charmed lives begin to unravel.

The Last Station Russian author Leo Tolstoy struggles to balance riches and fame with his austere lifestyle and a 48year marriage that is coming unhinged by greed and deception in this impeccably cast tapestry of fact and fiction. Starring Christopher Plummer and Helen Mirren.

Mother A desperate mother hunts for the killer who framed her mentally disabled son in the murder of a young girl in this slow-burning Korean thriller from director Joon-ho Bong (The Host).

All movies reviewed are either available at the Video Library or on order.

TV and film selections 13


Summer Festival Fun by Wendi Hailey Photos by Ken Katsurayama

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n celebration of Japan’s centuries-old Bon holiday, the Club will host its ever-popular Bon Odori festival for the final time at its Takanawa home this month. The whole community is invited to join Members and their guests as they commemorate the three-day Buddhist celebration with an exuberant evening of intercultural revelry. The entertainment will include a taiko drumming performance, hula dancing, karaoke contests for children and adults and prizes for the best yukata, the colorful, lightweight kimono traditionally worn in the summer. Kids can enjoy an assortment of exciting, American-style carnival games, clowns, face painting, balloon sculptures and a fire engine slide. And, of course, nimble-toed celebrants can join the costumed dancers in a twirl around the yagura tower before refueling on a mouthwatering selection of festival staples like yakisoba stir-fried noodles, hot dogs and ice cream. Rain or shine, grab the family or a few friends and come soak up this much-cherished summer tradition at the Club. Ž

Bon Odori Saturday, August 7 4–8 p.m. Parking Lot Free Open to the public Sponsored by the Community Relations Committee

14 August 2010 iNTOUCH


COMMITTEES

Smooth Tunes

Members interested in joining one of the committees listed should contact its chair or inquire at the General Manager’s Office.

by Nick Jones Recreation Tim Griffen

Years after first singing in a band as a junior high school student, Williams, accompanied by a pianist and double bassist, is set to wow Members the way she was mesmerized by the vocals of a jazz diva from Chicago. ®

(Tim Griffen) Recreation Subcommittees Bowling Pam Jenkinson Fitness Jerry Rosenberg Golf Steven Thomas Library Melanie Chetley Logan Room Diane Dooley Squash Nelson Graves & Alok Rakyan Swim Jesse Green & Stewart Homler

An Evening of Jazz with Hiroko Williams Saturday, August 28 7:30–9:30 p.m. Traders’ Bar ¥2,500 Adults only Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk Sponsored by the Entertainment Committee

Video Lisbeth Pentelius Youth Activities Jane Hunsaker Community Relations Stan Yukevich (Jeff McNeill) Community Relations Subcommittees Distinguished Achievement Award Jeff McNeill Independence Day Stan Yukevich & Barbara Hancock Sportsman of the Year Jeff McNeill Culture Eiji Arai (Per Knudsen) Culture Subcommittee Genkan Gallery Fred Harris Entertainment Per Knudsen (Per Knudsen) Finance Akihiko Mizuno Food & Beverage Craig Saphin (Amane Nakashima) Food & Beverage Subcommittee Wine Mark Baxter House Mary Saphin (Ira Wolf) House Subcommittee Architectural Michael Miller Human Resources Victoria Muir (Barbara Hancock) Membership Mark Saft (Mary Saphin) Membership Subcommittee Marketing Mark Saft (Nick Masee) Momokoogaki

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raders’ Bar takes on the ambience of a cool Shinjuku jazz club later this month as vocalist Hiroko Williams hosts a laidback evening of mellow jazz standards. A regular performer at such Tokyo live music spots as Body & Soul in Aoyama, this appearance marks her first at the Club. After years singing at various live venues in her hometown of Shizuoka City, Williams’ interest in jazz was piqued by a recording of the dulcet tones of the legendary American jazz singer Anita O’Day. Then, about six years ago, she decided to try to forge a full-time career in music. “I had auditions at some jazz clubs after moving to Tokyo and I passed,” she says. Since then, she has performed widely with a variety of talented musicians, appeared on television and released two albums, “From The Musicals” in December 2008 and “From The Movies” a month later. Her passion for performing for audiences, though, hasn’t dimmed. “When people listen to my singing and they have a good feeling,” she says, “I feel really good, too.”

Joining a Committee

Nominating Nick Masee Names in parentheses denote Board liaisons.

Cornerstones of the Club 15


Running Japan One Member’s passion for running led him on a quest that took in the highways, byways and mountain trails of all 47 of Japan’s prefectures.

Christopher Lewis

16 August 2010 iNTOUCH

Irwin Wong

by Nick Jones


RECREATION

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our hours, six minutes and 58 seconds after setting off from the town of Kaiyo in southern Tokushima Prefecture in February, Christopher Lewis completed a quest that had taken him to tracks, trails and roads across the country. The Kaifugawa Furu Marathon represented the climax of his challenge to tackle a long-distance race in each of Japan’s 47 prefectures. Carrying a nagging groin injury (that flared up again a week later during the Tokyo Marathon), the 55-year-old was forced to walk the final 14 kilometers of the picturesque course that followed the Kaifu River as it wound it way through the lush Shikoku mountains before spilling into the Pacific Ocean. “In one sense, I was very pleased to do it, it was great,” Lewis says of his accomplishment. “At the same time, for the last year, year and a half, I had been running marathons just to tick off the prefecture and that’s the wrong way to do it.” A keen runner since his days as a young lawyer, Lewis has competed in hundreds of races around the world, including marathons, half marathons and a few grueling 250-kilometer ultramarathons through sun-baked deserts. But it was a question from a friend three years ago about the number of prefectures he had traveled to for races that proved the trigger for the Welshman’s marathon mission. “Well, having had that conversation, I actually started totting them up and by then I was on about 25,” says Lewis, sitting in the Adult Lobby one midweek morning in June. “And I thought, ‘Well, I’m about halfway there, so I might as well finish the job.’” Although his first race in Japan was in Kanagawa Prefecture in the late 1980s, it wasn’t until Lewis returned here in 1998 for his third stint that he began to take his running more seriously. Traveling to races predominantly in the Kanto region, Lewis would occasionally clock up the kilometers farther afield, too. But over the last three years, he has found himself on Saturday morning flights to various destinations around the archipelago more than ever before. “One of the reasons behind this has been to travel to and see places I hadn’t been to,” he explains. “It has taken me to places like Hakodate in Hokkaido, which is a very pleasant city, Kanazawa, again, a lovely city, Hagi in Yamaguchi, a lovely, little town. Sometimes the races themselves are, frankly, very dull. They just run you around the streets of a suburban city or wherever, and you could be almost anywhere.” Despite having had to endure the odd slog through drab

surroundings, Lewis says there have been many memorable races. “The nicest race I have run is in Nara, which is a beautiful city, and it is actually run around the area that is a UNESCO World Heritage site, so you run past the shrines and temples,” he says. Other highlights include a 60-kilometer trail along the stunningly beautiful Shimanto River in Kochi Prefecture, the 50K Aso Caldera Super Marathon that takes in Japan’s largest active volcano, Mount Aso in Kumamoto Prefecture, and the Iwate Ginga Marathon, another 50-kilometer event that he ran last year in Iwate Prefecture. Notching up around nine races a year in Japan for the last two years, Lewis, a trail run enthusiast, says the more challenging courses involved scrambling up mountain flanks, such as the Oyama Tozan race in Kanagawa’s Tanzawa Quasi-National Park. Although relatively short, it is renowned for its jaw-droppingly steep trail. “It’s only 9 kilometers, and it starts flat,” says Lewis, “but goes up and up and up and up, and basically finishes with about 400 steps to a shrine.” And while that 680-meter-high goal leaves most competitors gasping, the event’s physical demands pale in comparison with the Ontake Sky Race, which Lewis entered in 2006. The 35-kilometer workout has runners scale one of Japan’s highest peaks, the 3,067meter Mount Ontake…twice. “That’s a tough race,” he says, “but the scenery is fabulous because you can see the Southern Alps.” With his mission complete, Lewis says he can move on to new challenges. “Towards the end of the quest, it was just a question of finding a race and doing it,” he says. “Now I’ve finished, I can start choosing races on their merits again. Some of these races I’ll happily do again, some, frankly, I won’t.” Having finished another 250-kilometer ultramarathon in April, this time in the energy-sapping humidity of Western Australia, Lewis is in the middle of training for possibly his greatest test yet. Réunion, a small volcanic island in the Indian Ocean, is home to one of the world’s most rigorous endurance races: the Grand Raid de la Réunion. Runners, who need to be cleared by a doctor to take part, have to cover 150 kilometers in no more than 63 hours. “It will probably be the toughest race I have ever done,” says Lewis. “It’s 150K. There are more than 9,000 meters of vertical gain. You climb four peaks of more than 2,000 meters. That’s a serious race and that’s the next major challenge.” Social joggers need not apply. ®

Fitness and well-being 17


class focus KM Imi Self-Defense Krav maga, which means “contact combat,” is a simple style of hand-to-hand fighting that was derived from techniques developed by Hungarian Jew Imi Lichtenfeld in the 1930s. Used by military units and law enforcement agencies around the world, krav maga is taught in the Club’s KM Imi Self-Defense class to men, women and children of all ages and fitness levels.

Irwin Wong

The krav maga approach provides students with invaluable self-defense skills and techniques for escaping assault, all while boosting confidence. Participants acquire “muscle memory,” rather than form, to overcome inhibitions and transcend perceived limitations through the repeated practice of basic yet highly practical techniques and strategies. For details of the upcoming fall sessions of KM Imi Self-Defense for kids and adults, contact the Recreation Services Desk or check the Health & Recreation section of the Club website.

Boaz Hagay

The Instructor

Boaz Hagay began learning krav maga from founder Imi Lichtenfeld and grand master Yaron Lichtenstein in Tel Aviv in 1978. After earning a black belt and teaching certification, Hagay moved to Japan a decade later to study martial arts philosophy, which has been incorporated into his programs. He has been teaching krav maga for 20 years.

Carolyn Summers

The Student

“Since beginning krav maga study, I have become physically stronger and feel more relaxed and confident. I’ve learned strategies for diffusing confrontations, as well as fighting and evading techniques. Krav maga doesn’t depend upon your being big or strong; it teaches you to quickly and effectively extricate yourself from danger.”

Wellspring of Well-Being The luxury services of The Spa offer an instant escape from city stress, with a range of relaxing massages, manicures, facials and other treatments that are designed especially for women, men and teens. Here’s what one happy patron had to say about a recent treatment: “Being a mother requires a lot of power and energy, and sometimes the task of the day leaves me without energy and vitality, which may show on my face. Time is very precious, so I’m always on the lookout for a secret quick fix. I believe that the Eternity Facial is that quick fix that will appeal to anyone. It’s an unforgettable, 75-minute journey that leaves your skin relaxed, balanced and glowing for the rest of the day.” Member and Spa patron Michal Platek

Tel: 03-4588-0714

18 August 2010 iNTOUCH

E-mail: spa@tac-club.org

The Spa is open daily from 10 a.m. Make an appointment at 03-4588-0714 or e-mail spa@tac-club.org, or visit the second-floor haven of relaxation to discover more about the pampering possibilities in store.


RECREATION

youth spot Judo 101 Discover the sensational moves of this martial art during a handson demonstration with sixth-grade black belt and Club instructor Chuck Wilson on Saturday, August 28. 2–3 p.m. ¥525. The Studio. A new, 10-week session of the energetic, confidence-boosting class kicks off September 4. Sign up for the demo or class online or at the Recreation Services Desk.

Summer Hoops From dribbling to defense, young Michael Jordan wannabes hone their skills on the court during the Club’s Summer Basketball Camp. Players, ages 6 to 12, of all skill levels are invited to attend intensive, one-week sessions that begin from August 16. Monday–Friday. 11 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Gym. ¥12,600. Sign up at the Recreation Services Desk or check the Health & Recreation section of the Club website for details.

Autumn Enrichment Kids can add zing to the new school year with nearly two dozen exciting Club activities and programs. Sign up for the range of Fall Enrichment Classes online, at the Recreation Services Desk or by fax from 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, August 5.

Swim Sessions Sign up for fall group swim lessons online, at the Pool Office or via e-mail at pool@tac-club.org from 8:30 a.m. on Monday, August 2. To enroll in private lessons, visit the Health & Recreation section of the Club website.

what’s on Water Workout Beat the Tokyo heat by taking the plunge and joining the Pool’s aqua aerobics program. The eight-week course combines drills, rhythmic movements, stretching and strength training and is suitable for all ages and fitness levels. September 1–29. Mondays and Wednesdays. 8:30–9:30 a.m. ¥12,600. Sign up online, at the Pool Office or via e-mail at pool@tac-club.org.

Perfect Form Make the most of the Pool this fall. Novice swimmers learn the basics of swimming and develop confidence in the water in a small group setting. September 1–29. Mondays and Wednesdays. 10–11 a.m. ¥10,080 (eight lessons). Sign up online, at the Pool Office or via e-mail at pool@tac-club.org.

Fitness and well-being 19


Hotline Help by Gaby Sheldon

With the support of the Women’s Group, one Tokyobased organization is able to help thousands of people in need each year.

Jason Chare

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itting in front of the telephone, Sarah waited for her first call. She was eager to hear the initial trill, but part of the volunteer counselor also dreaded the arrival of that moment. “I remember…jumping out of my seat when finally it did ring,” recalls Sarah (who asked that her real name not be used) of her first shift with Tokyo English Life Line (TELL). “I felt both nervous and excited, and just hoped I was going to do the right thing.” After more than two years as a regular phone counselor at the help center in Tokyo, Sarah readily handles her share of the 5,000 to 7,000 anonymous calls that the center receives each year. These cover a broad range of issues, including people searching for English-speaking doctors and lawyers, but the majority of callers—about 70 percent—are seeking serious counseling. “These calls could be from someone who is in an abusive relationship, someone who needs help since they are pregnant, or someone who is dealing with grief,” says Sarah. “We get calls from people who are depressed and feel suicidal.” All TELL counselors go through a rigorous, 12-week training course, with about 70 percent finally making it through to the help desk. “It is very important that our counselors are highly trained and well supported and feel confident to handle any situation,” says Jason Chare, director of the lifeline services. “If they feel unprepared, they won’t stay.” This year, the Women’s Group will donate ¥550,000 to support TELL’s training efforts. Using techniques developed by American psychologist Carl Rogers and adapted by lifelines worldwide, the

20 August 2010 iNTOUCH

training includes classroom-based instruction, role playing and finally an apprenticeship with supervised shifts. “We are trained to actively listen to someone, not just to stay silent on the other end of the phone,” says Sarah. “So, we try to pick up on feelings they have expressed and help them to seek some connections between the things they are saying.” “[We don’t] try to diagnose the problem or tell the caller what to do,” explains Chare. “It is about listening and empowering callers, providing a good environment for them to talk and hopefully take a tiny step to find some improvement.” Founded in 1973, TELL’s services now encompass professional, multilingual face-to-face counseling, educational workshops and assistance for families, in addition to free phone counseling and information services. The organization was granted nonprofit status in Japan in 2006. It was when the Japanese-language suicide prevention hotline Inochi no Denwa opened in 1971 that missionaries, counselors and other Tokyoites began pondering the need for a similar support network in English. Pooling together their resources, they started an experimental emergency phone counseling program headed by Carl Westby. In its first eight months of existence, TELL received 1,016 phone calls. Over the past decade, there has been a notable demographical shift in the callers. At the end of the 1990s, 20 percent of the callers were Japanese; by last year, that figure had almost tripled. Chare suggests that with more Japanese now living abroad, many


Kayo Yamawaki

WOMEN’S GROUP

experience reverse culture shock when they try to re-assimilate into Japanese society and are more comfortable expressing themselves in English. To deal with the emotionally charged work, Sarah, like many other seasoned counselors, has learned to develop a “TELL persona” that she can leave behind at the end of her shift. But the gravity of some encounters is hard to shake off. “The suicide calls can be quite difficult and you can be left with a feeling of, ‘What’s going to happen now?’” she says. “But, you have to remember that as a phone counselor just being on that line for someone who has no one else to turn to is help within itself.” The Japan-wide lifeline is open 365 days a year, from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Chare hopes eventually to provide a 24-hour service. “When people can’t sleep, they might need someone to talk to. That’s when there might be suicidal issues at stake,” he says. TELL currently is staffed by 70 counselors, who mostly work two four-hour

shifts each month in addition to a two-hour supervisory shift. To operate around the clock, it would need to add about 40 more counselors to its books. Given the transient nature of the English-speaking community in Tokyo, the goal to build up its volunteer numbers remains distant. But for counselors like Sarah, helping people out of dire situations when the calls come in and the personal growth triggered by the work have been richly rewarding. “[I’ve] become a better person,” she says. “I’m a much better listener, so I’m a better friend and a better mother.” ® Sheldon is director of communications for the Women’s Group.

Tokyo English Life Line www.telljp.com For more information about this and other charities supported by the Women’s Group, visit the Women’s Group section of the Club website.

An interactive community 21


Sinduja Raghunathan

Parting Words Three departing members of the Women’s Group board reflect on their time in the dynamic Club organization.

22 August 2010 iNTOUCH

Irwin Wong

Beth Cohen

Irwin Wong

Nobue Shiozawa


WOMEN’S GROUP

Nobue Shiozawa

Beth Cohen

Sinduja Raghunathan

Director of charities

Editor

Director of finance

“Joining the Club in 2005 as a representative for the real estate company where I work, I met the then director of charities at my first Get Acquainted Coffee. I soon joined both the charities and tours committees, but had to resign from the tours committee because of work commitments. The Women’s Group was an oasis for me. I volunteered with many events, parties, luncheons and other committees. None of them were boring and all were eyeopening. During my time with the charities committee, I learned that Japan has some serious problems that many Japanese are unaware of. The Women’s Group helps to make sure the problems are not forgotten. I am proud to have been a part of a group of such talented, warmhearted and glamorous women that achieved so much. I don’t know where I will be able to find a similar oasis, but I will continue to help in whatever way I can in the future.”

“When I moved to Japan from Baltimore, Maryland, I wanted a hiatus from my work as a graphic designer. Learning a new culture and focusing on my family’s adjustment was enough to keep me busy for our three-year stay. Within six months, however, I joined the Women’s Group communications committee and began designing spreads for its monthly newsletter. Shortly after that, I created WG Connect, a twice-yearly publication promoting the Women’s Group’s amazing activities and charitable accomplishments. Although being a stay-at-home mother in a foreign country was all-consuming, it was important for me to promote an organization that kick-started my Tokyo life through its programs. Working for the Women’s Group also allowed me to meet and work with some extraordinary women and keep my professional skills fresh. Repatriating this summer to Philadelphia, I reenter the workforce with no gap in my résumé and many fond memories. I want to thank all my Women’s Group buddies for enriching my time here.”

“The interesting work and exciting aspects of running the finance side of fundraisers aside, I take with me the wonderful friendships I made with members of the Women’s Group board and the various committees over the last two years, which I hope to continue from Singapore after three and a half years in Tokyo. One thing I managed to do before I left and am proud of is to clean up the finance files and manuals, leaving behind a pristine set of documents for my successor and for the comptroller and treasurer positions. I wish all the best to whoever takes up the mantle.” ®

To find out how you can volunteer with the Women’s Group, please contact the Women’s Group Office or visit the Women’s Group section of the Club website.

An interactive community 23


CONSTRUCTION of a COMMUNITY by Wendi Hailey Photos by Ayano Sato

With construction of the Club’s new home set to enter its final phase, iNTOUCH dons a hard hat for a peek at the future in Azabudai.

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n a brilliant Monday in early June, Dan Thomas arrives at the construction site of the new Club in Azabudai just after noon. It is the first time the Board governor and former Club president has stepped foot on the property since the old building shuttered its doors in December 2007. Now, dressed smartly in a black suit, he has just a few hours to spare before catching a flight from Narita Airport. “It’s breathtaking,” he says, as the ground trembles under the intense load of construction work and heavyweight trucks rattle in and out of the driveway. “It’s better than I expected.” Along with Club President Lance E Lee, Vice President Jerry Rosenberg and Governor Rod Nussbaum, Thomas stands at the edge of the four-story site office and surveys the guestrooms, the terraces and other elements of the new structure hidden beneath the muted scaffolding. The graceful arch of the glass-and-steellatticed pool roof undoubtedly will be the hallmark of the building and a lustrous adornment to the Tokyo cityscape. “You know, I’ve seen the drawings so

August 2010 24February 2007 iNTOUCH

many times, but until you actually see it, you can’t imagine what it’s really like,” Rosenberg says as the crowd winds its way through the carcass of the eightstory building, up the noisy construction elevator and out onto the sun-soaked roof. “I’ve been looking at the drawings since day one, so I’ve got a pretty good idea. [But] it’s hard as users to really take a look at an open space, because usually it’s really the final finishing of what it looks like, the colors and those things, that really give it its dynamic.” The small group of Tokyo American Club leaders is on-site to attend the traditional Japanese ceremony that marks the completion of the structural work, along with Club management and senior executives from the redevelopment partners. After the ritual ends and the final beam of the swimming pool roof is lowered into place, Redevelopment Director Alistair Gough shows them through the shells of the formal dining bridges, gym and scaffolding-filled pool. “We’re six months until completion, and there’s still a lot of work to do,” notes Nussbaum.


FEATURE

Construction of a Community 25


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FEATURE

The bottom of the pool, Gough points out, overhangs by several centimeters the support beams on the level below in a unique twist to maximize space. “Nothing in this Club is common,” he says, grinning. Scheduled for a phased opening beginning January 18, 2011, the eightstory, 25,787-square-meter building was designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects (PCPA), the lauded American architectural firm behind the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Osaka and New York City’s Bloomberg Tower. The building, designed to feel like a large home for its Members and their guests, combines sleek Japanese design and cozy American elements. Inside, a chic ballroom, separate formal and family areas, rooftop pool, bowling center, plush guestrooms and restaurants serving

You always wonder if the realization of what you’ve planned will be what you were hoping for, and, in this case, it really turned out to be everything we hoped for and more. up tantalizing American classics and innovative global cuisine are among the much-anticipated facilities and amenities. “I am interested in seeing the pool area, because it was such a hotly contested and debated item during the planning phase,” says Nussbaum. “To a lesser extent—that is, a lesser debate—I am interested in seeing the guestrooms for the same reason.” In addition, green elements, from terrace gardens to sustainable materials to energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, are gently incorporated throughout the design of the Club facility. Fujio Koyama, project manager for construction firm Takenaka, is tasked with bringing those PCPA concepts to fruition. “We have to keep Pelli’s original concept and meet the image, look and feel of the master design,” he says. “That’s our No. 1 objective. The complex design is

difficult to coordinate with the actual work, though. At the beginning, you see the rendering, just a 2-D picture. I have to turn that into a viable structure.” The roots of the Redevelopment Project reach back more than a decade. In 1997, the Club’s Long Range Planning Committee (LRPC) was rebooted as a House subcommittee to find an enduring solution to the escalating problems with the 23-year-old facility, such as the uncomfortable mix of casual and formal spaces, inadequate family facilities and lack of parking. Due to its vast scope, the LRPC gained full committee status a decade ago. The group guided the Membership through a series of significant decisions, including the appointment of Mitsubishi Estate as development partner, the relocation to Takanawa during construction and the naming of PCPA in 2005 as the lead design firm. Committee members also waded through various redevelopment options, visited dozens of potential new sites, consulted with experts and gave recommendations on how the Club should proceed into the future during a series of heated town hall meetings in May 2006. Following the voting Membership’s overwhelming approval of the proposal to rebuild in Azabudai, the smaller Redevelopment Project Committee (RPC) was spun off by the Board of Governors that July as an 11-person taskforce, which consisted of many active LRPC members, to steer the project through to completion. Now, around 350 construction workers of the total 850 who pour through the gates in Azabudai each day are dedicated to shaping the Club as time marches toward the December completion date. The number is expected to swell as work on the Club’s interior builds from the bottom up. “Because of the situation where TAC is located close to the Russian Embassy, we’ve used reverse construction,” says Ryota Sekiguchi, Takenaka’s project coordinator for the adjacent condominium complex. “The condos are using regular construction, so it looks like the condos are ahead of TAC, but that’s not the case.” The last of the design details were set to be finalized by the end of the summer, and, after a full year of meticulous planning, the final piece of the exterior was added in July. At the end of last month, installation began on the overhead pool lights. Near the end of August, the basement levels will be nearly finished, including the installation of the carpets. And by early September, the scaffolding that currently envelops the building will be dismantled. “It’s coming down area by area,” says Koyama. “We’ve already taken it down in sections where it’s not needed anymore.” The pool will get its first test of water in late September, then emptied and filled again. Every toilet will be flushed, all faucets run and each cable, wire and outlet checked throughout the autumn. The work requires considerable coordination with the numerous direct vendors for audio-visual, information technology, restaurants and other areas. Unlike an office building, where most of the rooms are virtually replicated

Construction of a Community 27


from floor to floor, the assortment of unique spaces in the clubhouse means that features have to be pored over and synchronized throughout. “Everyone in charge can imagine the final rooms, even though right now it is a skeleton,” says Hidehisa Kataoka, Takenaka’s mechanical and electrical manager. “During this coordination period, everyone is thinking about the users’ experience.” In late September, the B3 level will be fully outfitted, and the work will swing up from one level to the next until the pool area is polished in the final days of November. A heavy succession of official inspections is slated to begin in midNovember, making the need for a flawlessly orchestrated schedule crucial. Takenaka management, the site engineers, the Club, fire department, architectural authorities and health officials for the spa, kitchens, pool, childcare center, salon and other areas are among those who will take sharp-eyed laps around the building in its final phase. The handover of the keys around Christmastime will be a milestone for the construction crew, with the site, sloping 90 meters from top to bottom and sitting in close proximity to neighboring buildings and streets, garnering the industry’s most difficult designation. “This type and size of building should be built on flat land,” says Koyama. “After the completion of this project, it will be a career highlight.” Because the visible progress will dramatically escalate in the coming months, Lee is considering increasing his monthly site tours as Club president to twice a month. “The goal of my visits is to keep Members up to date,” he says. “It’s difficult to get access to the site because of safety concerns.” A Member since 1988, Lee walks out onto the fourth-floor balcony of the site office and points toward the area where his wedding reception was held many years ago. As much as he laments the fact that that spot has been permanently erased, he and other longtime Members are shrugging off the nostalgia and embracing the next chapter—the “bigger and better,” the “new and improved”—of

August 2010 28February 2007 iNTOUCH

the Club’s future. “You always wonder if the realization of what you’ve planned will be what you were hoping for, and, in this case, it really turned out to be everything we hoped for and more. I think it will be really popular with the Members, we’ll have great utilization and it’ll be a great place to continue the mission of the Club and the community of the Club,” says Thomas, before saying his goodbyes and heading for the airport. With numerous Members having been repatriated during the global economic slump and others tightening their purse strings, utilization of the temporary facilities in Takanawa has slipped in recent months. But with the gleaming offerings in Azabudai aimed to lure back old Members and entice new ones to join, some view the opening as a turnaround point. Lee expects the modern building, which is the Club’s This type and size of building sixth incarnation in should be built on flat land. After its 82-year history, to act merely as the completion of this project, it a springboard for the 3,300will be a career highlight. strong Membership, from families to corporations, to bring its longlasting mission of cultivating a vibrant multicultural community into contemporary times. “I always say that the Members are what increase the value of the Club,” he says. “The Members will push up the Membership.” The Azabudai clubhouse is designed for flexible use that will last from generation to generation, as demographics of the community evolve and Members discover new ways to use it. For the next few turns of season, the project will grow ever closer to that reality. “I think [the changes are] going to be very, very drastic between now and then,” says Lee. “It’s going to be well worth the wait.” ®

For more on the Redevelopment Project, visit www.tokyoamericanclubredevelopment.org.


FEATURE

Construction of a Community 29


Going Global

30 August 2010 iNTOUCH


TALKING HEADS When new regulations requiring Japanese companies to disclose the annual compensation of executives receiving more than ¥100 million came into effect at the end of June, most of the headlines focused on the pay of foreign bosses of Japanese firms. While the compensation packages of the likes of Nissan Motor CEO Carlos Ghosn and Sony chief executive Howard Stringer were revealed to be significantly larger than those of their counterparts in many other Japanese companies, the disparity highlighted the difference in attitudes toward corporate leadership between Japan and the West. With many Japanese corporations struggling to globalize and reform their rigid corporate systems in an increasingly competitive business world, some have turned to foreign expertise in recent years. Such moves have been far from painless for some companies as foreign bosses have challenged local management ideas and practices. Hiroshi Kanno is a professor at Hitotsubashi University’s Graduate School of International Corporate Strategy in Tokyo. iNTOUCH’s Nick Jones sat down with the Club Member to talk about the state of Japan Inc. Excerpts:

Hiroshi Kanno

iNTOUCH: How has Japanese corporate leadership changed since the collapse of the economic bubble? Kanno: Many leaders are quite old, you know, and most of them had quite a nice time in the ’70s and ’80s during the high-growth economic era. Almost any business grew at 10 percent, 20 percent, even 30 percent a year. At that time, business was pretty easy. They had to work pretty hard to keep up with growth. However, strategy-wise, they didn’t have to think much. All they had to do was work harder than their competitors, not wiser than their competitors. The problem was it was difficult for them to unlearn what they had already learned. The human being is not a perfect animal. If you keep doing the same thing for 20 years, it’s quite difficult to change it. iNTOUCH: So companies have continued to run as before? Kanno: Yes, because it’s like trying to quit smoking. And in a corporation you have to change the minds and values and culture of sometimes 10,000 people under you. iNTOUCH: How would you define Japanese corporate culture? Kanno: With one language, one culture, one race, it’s easier for us to assume that people are the same. If you have the assumption that people are different, then your strategy might be to take the good performers and let them run the community or business. If you believe people are all the same, then your thought might be to improve everyone. If you

compete, you create winners and losers. And if you are under the assumption that people have to live in this community forever, you have to live with your losers. iNTOUCH: How does this affect the way Japanese managers make decisions? Kanno: If you believe that people are not replaceable and that you have to live with these people until retirement, you can make a long-term investment and you know that your employees won’t demand short-term returns. I think Japanese corporations have a bias toward longterm goals and investment and, so long as the total return is larger, they don’t mind if the return comes later. iNTOUCH: But aren’t some corporations moving away from this notion of lifetime employment? Kanno: It’s changing quite rapidly. Some companies have had no choice but to abandon this lifetime employment system. Since some larger companies went bankrupt, employees don’t believe that companies will remain forever. Plus, the constant economic growth is over, so you can’t assume that the economy will keep getting better and you will keep getting paid more. If there’s no guarantee for the future, [people think,] “I want my money now!” iNTOUCH: What is this going to mean for the corporate future of Japan? Kanno: It’s going to be a huge challenge. What makes things more complicated is that the total population of Japan is declining and, worse, the working population is declining faster. From corporations’ point of view, they have no choice but to go global, simply because the Japanese market is shrinking.

iNTOUCH: Why are we seeing more and more Japanese companies hiring foreign executives? Kanno: I think Japanese managers have to go through the pain of transforming themselves. The biggest challenge for them is making themselves understood with a non-Japanese boss. iNTOUCH: If Nissan, for example, had continued with a Japanese executive at the top, would the company be in the position it is today? Kanno: No. I think Carlos Ghosn cut down the number of suppliers by about 50 percent, cut unnecessary expenses and closed some factories. I think the old Japanese managers at Nissan were at the mercy of the traditional Japanese way of thinking. I think when it comes to firing people Japanese senior managers are still very reluctant to do that. Many Japanese companies are already global, but most of them are still managing their businesses and operations in a Japanese way with Japanese managers. iNTOUCH: Why are they still running their businesses along the same lines? Kanno: I think intuitively they believe that non-Japanese don’t share the same assumptions, such as prioritizing longterm benefits over short-term benefits. iNTOUCH: Is corporate change in Japan going to require the accession of a new generation of leaders? Kanno: Yes. The average age of Japanese CEOs is much higher [than elsewhere], and they are at the mercy of their success 20 years ago. Maybe we need to radically replace senior management with a much younger generation of managers, who are willing to take risks. ®

Member insights on Japan 31


A Passion for Tokyo’s Piece of America Ahead of the opening of the new Club in Azabudai, one Member reflects on his being a part of the unique multinational community for almost four decades.

Kei Kosaka

32 August 2010 iNTOUCH

Irwin Wong

by Kimberly Fiorello and Wendi Hailey


REDEVELOPMENT

A

fter studying ways to get the most out of the existing Club spaces, a team of dedicated Members, including Kei Kosaka, commissioned architects to draw up plans for a new building in Azabudai. The action by the Long Range Planning Committee (LRPC) was to address such plaguing issues as insufficient parking and recreation facilities. That was in the late 1980s, nearly two decades before the Club moved temporarily to Takanawa to rebuild the outdated facility and unveil a solution to those problems. “The plans that we came up with then did not materialize, but I think the current project is a kind of continuation of everybody’s past work,” says Kosaka, 72, one afternoon in Vineyards. The year the Tokyo native joined the Club, in 1971, the LRPC was established to create a plan for expansion after the Board of Governors ruled that the Club “must provide space for any US Citizen who wishes to join.” A limited number of Japanese and other nationalities were also welcome to join the Club’s ranks. Back then, Kosaka was working as a shareholder representative for the Oklahoma-based company Phillips Petroleum in a local enterprise. It was his American predecessor who first took him to the Club, which has undergone numerous renovations and growth spurts since. “I’m an old man now,” he says. “When I joined the Club, it was just a small two-story building, very simple. It felt like going into someone’s home.”

“It is only my personal opinion,” he emphasizes, “but the backbone of this Club is its being American. People come here because it offers them a little taste of being in America. It’s this slightly different atmosphere and feeling that we all enjoy.” For Kosaka, that distinctively American experience sends him back to his younger years. He spent nearly a decade in the United States as a student, attending high school in Arizona before going on to New York’s Colgate University and receiving a master’s degree in physics from Michigan State University. He returned to Japan in 1964. Keen to further his involvement in the Club, the amiable and thoughtful Member served on the Board of Governors for eight years through 1995. The group dealt with such familiar issues as “how to pay the bills, how to maintain the quality of the Club services [and] how to address issues of dissatisfaction.” “Being on the Board, you got involved with everything from the hiring of the general manager to other, smaller details,” he says, recollecting how meetings often stretched to three or four hours. “The point was that you got to know a lot more about the Club in detail. You felt much more close to the Club.” A highlight of that period, he says, was the opportunity to organize the visit of Prince Hitachi, the current emperor’s younger brother, to the Club for the traditional Fourth of July festivities one year in the 1980s. “I went to the imperial household office in the palace to put in

Kosaka worked at the oil firm for 23 years, finally as president of the Far East division, before joining his family’s women’s apparel retail business. He serves still as president of Komatsu Store, which has a flagship boutique in Ginza. Soon after receiving his Membership card, the businessman was enjoying regular golf outings and joined the LRPC and wine group, while his young family enjoyed the various facilities. “The Club was a very big part of my everyday life before. It was convenient for business lunches, my wife enjoyed it, my children came here,” he says. “Now I come around every so often for a meal or to have a drink. I don’t know many of the new Members, but that doesn’t bother me much.” As Membership numbers hover around the 3,300 mark and its modern identity is pooled from more than 50 nationalities, Kosaka believes that the Club should strive to retain its American essence while embracing the evolving community.

the official request for his attendance,” recalls Kosaka. “There is a lot of protocol involved when you are inviting the prince. I was at the Club to welcome him when he came.” Those occasions in which Members play an active role in molding the Club are one of the community’s biggest strengths, he says. Looking ahead to the January move, which will mark his fourth clubhouse, Kosaka is unsure at the moment how he will use the next facility. But he hopes to see it retain its uniqueness and American character. “Even if you are from another nationality,” he says, “you can still enjoy a bit of America in Japan at the Club.” ® Fiorello is a former Member of the Club. For a detailed update of the Redevelopment Project in its final phases, turn to pages 24 to 29.

The journey back to Azabudai 33


GENKAN GALLERY All exhibits in the Genkan Gallery are for sale and can be purchased by Membership card at the Member Services Desk. Sales of works begin at 6 p.m. on the first day of the exhibition.

Women’s Group

Classes by Wendi Hailey

While some people frequent museums and galleries for an inspiring dose of art, others take a decidedly more hands-on approach. Each spring and fall, scores of Members join the dazzling array of creative classes on tap from the Women’s Group to fashion their own works of art from paint, silk, clay and other materials. The Genkan Gallery celebrates those efforts with an exhibition of marvel-worthy pieces produced by students and their instructors. The display features such traditional arts as ikebana, calligraphy, sumi ink painting, quilt making and embroidered tsuribina objects made of colorful kimono fabric, as well as contemporary crafts. “The traditional style of tsuribina showcases dolls and objects representing parents’ wishes for their children to lead happy, healthy lives,” says instructor Mariko Yoshino, who started teaching at the Club this spring and will offer two unique classes in the fall, including one to make Halloween-inspired figurines. In another modern spin on Japanese kimono, blue and white quilts are patched together from gorgeous cloths collected by instructor Dianne Conroy over the past 20 years. “They are a celebration of Japanese fabric and a way to preserve this fabric for generations,” she says. “They are an heirloom item.” After browsing the items on display, Members who are interested in creating their own unique keepsake, gaining a richer understanding of Japanese culture and exploring a new creative outlet can sign up for the upcoming batch of classes next month.

Exhibition

August 23–September 19

Fall Classes Registration Thursday, September 16 11 a.m.–1 p.m. Women’s Group Classroom 2

34 August 2010 iNTOUCH


MEMBER SERVICES Being a Member of Tokyo American Club allows you access to a network of more than 200 reciprocal clubs across the globe.

reciprocal

clubs

For a full listing of reciprocal clubs worldwide, check out the Club website.

Beverly Hills

Location: Beverly Hills, California Founded: 1926 Members: private

Located between the 20th Century Fox and MGM movie studios, Elmer Griffin, the uncle of entertainment legend Merv Griffin, founded the club as a convenient spot for Hollywood executives and stars to socialize and do business. The private retreat features indoor and terrace dining, a game room, massage center, saunas and steam rooms, gym, 10 tennis courts and a spectacular outdoor pool area with a poolside snack bar.

www.beverlyhillscc.com

Círculo Ecuestre

Location: Barcelona, Spain Founded: 1856 Members: 1,500 An architectural gem set along the Spanish city’s bustling Avenida Diagonal, the 6,000-square-meter institution boasts magnificent facilities that include a reading room, art gallery, fine dining and 16 bedrooms. Those seeking an invigorating workout can head to the fitness center or heated swimming pool before indulging in the solarium, saunas and massage rooms. The club provides a modern environment conducive for both enjoying family time and doing business.

www.circuloecuestre.es

stacks of services at the Club

JTB Sunrise Tours

Spica

Go Mobile Phone Rental

MyToyota.jp

André Bernard Beauty Salon

Five percent discount on all package tours. Available at the Member Services Desk.

The Club’s professional shoe repair and polishing service. Tel: 03-4588-0670 Family Area (1F) Sun: 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. (Closed August 22; open August 28)

Need a rental mobile phone or help with translation? Want to find useful English mobile sites? Go Mobile—more than just a phone. www.gomobile.co.jp

English support for all your Toyota and Lexus needs. Available services: Q&A by e-mail; dealer visit assistance; and translation of estimates, contracts and other related documents. www.mytoyota.jp/english

Hair care for adults and kids, manicure, pedicure, waxing and more. Tel: 03-4588-0685 Family Area (2F) Tue–Sun: 9 a.m.–6 p.m.

Services and benefits Member 35


yokoso

Daniel & Elizabeth Wheeler Australia—UBS Securities Japan Ltd. Norman Hadley Canada—Deutsche Securities, Inc. Kiyomi Saito & Kenji Takei Japan—JBond Totan Securities Co., Ltd. Michiko & Shigeki Matsuda Japan—Michiko Selection Iwao & Tamako Maekawa Japan—Television Niigata Network Co., Ltd. Omar & Najia Chaudhary United States—Goldman Sachs (Japan) Holdings Toshiaki & Hitomi Yokozawa Japan—Asahi.Ecocarry, Inc. Lee Merchant & Nicola Melly United Kingdom—Deutsche Securities, Inc. Michael & Christine Doludda Germany—Nippon Aerosil Co., Ltd. Nippei & Kyoko Yasuoka Japan—Deutsche Securities, Inc. Yoshihisa Tanaka Japan—Nikken Sekkei Ltd.

Craig & Sharon Naylor United States—Nippon Sheet Glass Co., Ltd. Darren Puglia & Nina Robinson Australia—Philip Morris Japan K.K. Takayuki & Satoko Kasama Japan—Goldman Sachs Japan Co., Ltd. Geoffrey Dickson & Justine Jonas Australia—Unisys Japan, Ltd. Joy & Primoz Klemencic United States—Hill’s-Colgate (Japan) Ltd.

new member profile

David & Jennifer Peacock United Kingdom—Banyu Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.

Why did you decide to join the Club? Mark & Miwako Drabkin United States—Goldman Sachs (Japan) Holdings Sheila & Harry Hamblen United States—Walt Disney Attractions Japan

“After living in both Singapore and Ho Chi Minh City, we know how much more fun living in a foreign county can be if you meet likeminded people to share the experience of exploring a new place and culture. By taking advantage of some of the many events that TAC offers, we have had the opportunity to meet a diverse group of people and we look forward to participating in more events and making new friends in the future.” Jennifer and David Peacock

David Wong & Cheris Yuen United Kingdom—The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp. Akira & Etsuko Yoshida Japan—Tetsudo Kiki Co., Ltd. Takayuki & Ai Takinami Japan—Keiyo Country Club Eiichi Ida & Naomi Shiga Japan—Ida Building Co., Ltd.

Hideo Haruta Japan—Haruta Tax & Computer Office

Shinichi Takeyama Japan—Angle & Bridge Co., Ltd.

Yuki & Toshi Hayashi Japan—Osato Research Institute Jason Navarette & Alice Wei United States—Chevron International Gas, Inc. Walter Bolzer & Kuniko Bolzer-Hattori Germany—SKW East Asia Ltd.

Mataichiro Yamamoto Japan—Tristone Entertainment, Inc. Kohei Hattori Japan—Hattori Kogyo Co., Ltd. Paul & Maricel Bailey United Kingdom—Totan Capital Markets Co., Ltd.

Advertising Options If you would like to advertise in iNTOUCH, contact Miyuki Hagiwara at miyuki.hagiwara@tac-club.org.

36 August 2010 iNTOUCH

new member profile

James & Stephanie Mark United States—Walt Disney Attractions Japan

Why did you decide to join the Club? “We wanted to join Tokyo American Club primarily to help us become integrated into the community. We can meet new people, make new friends from all over the world, network with other professionals and explore the country on organized tours. Additionally, with three kids, the facilities at TAC allow us all to enjoy some of our free time, specifically at the Pool and utilizing the Library to get magazines and books that we used to get in the States. The Club has been great, and we look forward to enjoying it over the years to come.” (l–r) Lily, Stephanie, Ben, James and Charlie Mark


MEMBER SERVICES

employee

of the month

Sachio Ohkura by Nick Jones

I

t’s difficult to find even a tenuous link between towering concrete dams and cooking. But somehow Sachio Ohkura made the leap from programming software to regulate the flow of water through dam sluice gates to marinating and garnishing in the Club’s kitchens. For six years, after moving to Tokyo from his hometown in the mountains of Fukui Prefecture, he worked as a programmer on various projects. Ohkura knew, however, that his unplanned computing career wouldn’t hold his attention indefinitely. “I felt like programming wasn’t something I would do forever,” says the 37-year-old. Working part-time at a café, he became increasingly interested in the restaurant business. “I liked the simple idea of cooking

good food for people,” he explains. When a friend offered him a job in the kitchen of a café he was opening in Chigasaki, Ohkura jumped at the opportunity. “That’s when I realized I had to study—for the first time in my life!” he says. “I bought lots of cooking books, after only ever reading manga. I felt like I really wanted to do this.” Eventually packing up his knives and taking them to a hotel restaurant in Kamakura, he later edged his way farther along the Shonan coast to a restaurant in Hayama, where he cooked classic French cuisine for four years. “I had studied the fundamentals of cooking, but I wanted to take the next step,” he says of his move to the Club in 2006. After a year in the hectic lunchtime

environment of Garden Café, Ohkura was transferred to the American Room, where he excelled. “Extremely hard working, flexible and dedicated to quality, he is also passionate about food and has creativity not common amongst his peers,” says Michael Marlay, the Club’s Food & Beverage Department director, of Ohkura’s talents. Now a part of the Mixed Grille team, Ohkura, who won last year’s Club culinary competition, says he has no regrets about leaving the Kanagawa shore, or, no doubt, the highly technical world of programming. “If I hadn’t come here,” he says. “I wouldn’t have had the chance to learn about other types of cuisine and other countries’ food.” ®

sayonara CK & Keiko Akana

Matthew & Nicole Jones

Katsuei & Midori Aoyagi

Karsten & Hilde Kallevig

Christopher & Cynthia Armacost

Rahul & Nirupa Kulkarni

Klaus & Janet Beck

Hikari & Kei Kurube

Andrew & Elizabeth Blanchard

Arie & Sachiko Lukkassen

David & Terri Bloshuk

Elias & Chizu Mendoza

Donald & Dana L Brannon

Michael & Katherine Modena

Timothy S & Barbara Carr

Kiyoshi & Keiko Namba

Gavin & Kate Catto

Thomas & Chika Nevins

Yu-Jan Chen & Yu-Ping Hu

Christopher & Lynne O’Donnell

Jeff Dailey

Ritu Rana

Philip Fernando de Souza

Emily & Eric Sipe

Thomas & Lucy Durkin

Jeffrey & Meg Sutherland

Bret & Kate Eliason

Christopher & Mary Swift

David Friem & Kim Bradley

James & Sarah Varley

Luc & Amy Grenon

Peter & Jane Walshe

Fiona Hermsen

Victor Wan & Edith Au-Yeng

Paul Hidaka

Shawn & Ebba Wexler

Troy Hopps & Nathalie Roy

Mark & Teresa Wright

Services and benefits for Members 37


Kim Forsythe and Mark Ferris

38 August 2010 iNTOUCH

Following the death of their son, one couple’s charitable work is changing the way hospitals in Japan care for children with cancer. by Wendi Hailey

Irwin Wong

A

spray of sunflowers arranged in a vase adorns the dining table, a bright but poignant reminder of the approaching anniversary. On the wall nearby, pictures of a smiling, vibrant-eyed boy that capture the two short years of his life are displayed behind plastic in a homemade memorial. “The five-year anniversary of his passing is tomorrow,” says his mother, Kim Forsythe, “and it’s very easy for us to start thinking about that and feeling horrible. But that’s not helping anybody.” Instead, the Club Member awoke at 5 a.m. that summer morning, turned on her computer in the Yoyogi Uehara house that she shares with her husband, Mark Ferris, and their 9-year-old daughter, Natalie, and spent a few hours working on an upcoming fundraiser for the Tyler Foundation, the charity started by the couple after Tyler’s death. “We didn’t know that we were starting a foundation until we started one,” says Mark, 43, seated beside his wife, whom he married in 2000 after meeting her at a toastmaster event in Tokyo. “We thought, ‘Let’s raise some money and give something back to commemorate his life.’” When Tyler was born in 2003, Kim knew quickly that something was wrong. The newborn didn’t feed as much as his sister had done, he slept too much and his complexion was pale. In spite of reassurances, she took

Turning Grief Into Hope


INSIDE JAPAN

him in early for a checkup when he was three and a half weeks Kim and Tyler old. The doctor suspected anemia and sent him to the hospital for tests on a Saturday afternoon, while Natalie and Mark were off playing together. “The attendee just took one look at him and said, ‘Your child has cancer,’” recalls Kim. “It was not even on the radar of what was in the field of possible ailments. I didn’t even know babies could get cancer. I still can’t get my head around it. I’m still angry.” As many as 3,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year in Japan. Most forms of leukemia have an 80 to 85 percent cure rate. Tyler, however, had the highly aggressive infant leukemia. Over the succeeding months, Tyler endured a bone marrow transplant, intensive therapies and a string of infections as Mark and Kim battled through the facets of grief and reconstructed their lives around the pediatric oncology ward of a Setagaya Ward hospital. “He was always happy and smiling,” Kim, 45, says. “It was amazing. Everyone imagines that kids in the hospital are sad and sick, but these kids are lively and happy.” The Tyler Foundation concentrates on aspects of patient and parent support that Kim found lacking during that period, such as an on-staff psychologist, support groups and childcare for siblings. It also has introduced a therapy dog, beads of courage, which are designed to empower the children, and other programs that have proven successful in other countries. “Cancer in Japan is still a very, very bad word,” says Kim, a Pennsylvania native. “Pediatric cancer is about as scary as it gets for a lot of parents. They don’t even want to tell anyone, their family, friends, sometimes even the child that they have cancer.” But a more open acceptance seems to have taken root, and the programs are spreading to hospitals throughout the country. One doctor had sent an e-mail to Kim earlier that June day to say the bead program was “magic.” “We thought maybe it’d just be at one hospital doing one small little bit to make life better, and that would’ve been achieving our goal when we started,” says Kim. “We had a track record where we

had succeeded in projects and we thought, ‘Hey, we can do more here,” adds Mark. “And we are talking now in terms of fundamentally changing the way patients’ care is administered throughout Japan in the pediatric oncology wards.” In the months that followed Tyler’s death, the couple began planning a small fundraiser that grew to three days of major events. An avid cricket player from Zimbabwe, Mark witnessed a friendly match turn into a celebrity event with 12 professional players flying in from five countries. A formal ball drew 350 attendees, and the weekend concluded with a golf outing. It was this generous outpouring from friends, colleagues and strangers that led them to a more long-term mindset and lightened their anguish. “It was Mark who said, ‘Let’s do this. Let’s start a foundation,’” says Kim, who serves as president of the organization and does freelance voiceover work, while Mark oversees various enterprises. “I was quite distraught. It wasn’t until we started getting involved in planning our first fundraiser…it was what got me out of my gloom.” Instead of putting as much distance as possible between themselves and the children’s oncology wards, they constantly share Tyler’s story and have contact with hospitals. They have learned not to project their feelings onto those families, but in some instances the sting remains fresh. “I do go to the hospital a lot,” says Kim. “I hate driving there. I hate going there. I hate looking at Tyler’s room. I hate seeing the nurses that I used to know. It’s very hard to, even though I’m there doing positive things, it’s very hard not to think, ‘I’ve been here.’ So I don’t know when that goes away.” After commemorating the somber anniversary and taking a family vacation, approaching fundraising events, from the annual gala in October to a spring marathon, will require their attention. “It’s kept me busy and it’s kept me focused on the goals that are ahead,” says Mark. “There’s a lot to be said of making something positive out of it, and I think that’s what we tell ourselves. His life ended there, but this is part of the cause.” ® Tyler Foundation www.tylershineon.org

A look at culture and society 39


Exile Isle by Rob Goss

S

ado draws on a rich and distinctive history. Once considered suitably wild and remote enough to make it a place of exile for former emperors, outcast religious devotees and common criminals, the island later became the site of an Edoera gold rush. Today, it’s known as much for its tempestuous beauty and performing arts as its past. An hour’s ferry ride off the coast of Niigata Prefecture, Sado is a fairly large island, almost 30 kilometers wide at its thickest, with two low mountain ranges protecting its central plain from the brutality of the Japan Sea. With its harsh and unforgiving winters and sweltering

40 August 2010 iNTOUCH

Home to a fascinating history, abundant greenery and a world-famous drum festival, the island of Sado is perfect for a weekend getaway or a longer stay. summers, Sado’s previous function as an exile spot seems understandable. But don’t let that put you off; a trip to Sado can be spectacular in rain or shine. To make the most of the island, it’s worth renting a car and spending several days exploring Sado’s small ports and villages, ancient temples and shrines and rugged coastline. Don’t worry if you have less time because the isle’s highlights can be covered easily in a weekend jaunt from Tokyo. For many visitors, a Sado trip begins with Kompon Temple, the most compelling remnant of Nichiren, founder of the eponymous Buddhist sect, and his

three-year exile on Sado in the late 13th century. The tranquil temple compound, defined by its thatched roofs, oversized wooden gateways and giant, robed statue of Nichiren, was built by the monk’s followers not long after he was allowed to return to the mainland. The temple is one of several in central Sado with Nichiren connections. This area is also home to one of the island’s more intriguing museums, Nogaku no Sato, which has ties to another of Sado’s illustrious exiles: Zeami. Credited with formalizing Noh theater in the 15th century, Zeami spent the last eight years of his life on Sado, after falling from grace at


OUT & ABOUT

www

Around two hours by bullet train from Tokyo Station to Niigata Station. Then take a hydrofoil (1 hour) or passenger ferry (2 hours, 30 minutes) from Niigata to Ryotsu port on eastern Sado.

Sado Tourism Association www.visitsado.com Sado Island www.mijintl.com

Sado Royal Hotel Mancho www.sado-royal.co.jp (Japanese language only)

Sado City www.city.sado.niigata.jp (Japanese language only)

Hotel New Kihachiya www.kihachiya.com (Japanese language only)

SADO ISLAND

Sado Kisen Ferry www.sadokisen.co.jp

Kodo/Earth Celebration www.kodo.or.jp

TOKYO

Kompon Temple www.sado-konponji.com (Japanese language only) Sado Kinzan Museum www.sado-kinzan.com

court. The theatrical traditions he brought to the island are celebrated here with a fascinating collection of Noh masks and costumes, though the stars of the show are the robots that give short, yet unnervingly realistic performances. Leaving the central plains, many visitors head to the tiny village of Ogi on the southern coast. It’s here, every August, where visitors congregate for Earth Celebration. The three-day drum festival brings Ogi’s otherwise sleepy streets to life with pulsating, primeval rhythms. The event was established by the island’s renowned Kodo taiko drum troupe, whose dynamic performances are a highpoint of any visit to Sado. It might even inspire you to try your hand at taiko at one of the regular workshops at the Sado Island Taiko Center.

Ogi is also well known for one of Sado’s more unusual traditions: tarai bune. Taking to the water in what resembles half a Kentucky whiskey barrel might not seem the steadiest way to stay afloat, but for centuries these distinctive boats

were the vessel of choice for islanders collecting seaweed and shellfish from the treacherous, jagged shoreline. Today, Ogi’s fisherwomen earn their living taking visitors out for 10-minute spins on the water. For something far less touristy, venture to the less-populated northern coast,

where you’ll be rewarded with stunning coastal vistas and ample opportunities for picturesque cliff-top walks. Although it’s quiet now, the population of northern Sado rocketed to almost 100,000 after gold was discovered in the then hamlet of Aikawa in 1601, two years before the onset of the Edo era. With the gold gone, Aikawa slumbers once again, and the former mines have become the Sado Kinzan Museum, where the only prospectors are mechanical robots who offer a glimpse at the horrific conditions Sado’s largely convict miners were forced to endure. Fortunately, more than 400 years later, conditions on this beautiful island are far more appealing. ® Goss is a Tokyo-based freelance journalist.

Explorations beyond the Club 41


For more photos from some events displayed in these pages, visit the Event Image Gallery (under News & Info) on the Club website.

Napa Valley Wine Tour May 22

Nearly 170 wine lovers took a tantalizing “locomotive” tour of 19 of California’s premier wineries without leaving Tokyo. The Club’s third-floor outlets were transformed into Napa Valley “refueling” stops as participants started in the south and tasted their way up through the lush basin’s offerings with help from the friendly reps from Rubicon, Silverado Trails and other top labels. Photos by Yuuki Ide

42 August 2010 iNTOUCH


EVENT EVENT ROUNDUP ROUNDUP

Snapshots from Club occasions 43


For more photos from some events displayed in these pages, visit the Event Image Gallery (under News & Info) on the Club website.

1

Meet the Author: David Benjamin May 20

David Benjamin, writer of The Joy of Sumo and the recently published Sumo: A Thinking Fan’s Guide to Japan’s National Sport, dropped by the Club to share satisfying stories and an infectious enthusiasm for the country’s most revered athletic spectacle. Photos by Yuuki Ide

2

1. David Benjamin 2. (l–r) Club President Lance E Lee, David Benjamin and Michelle Arnot 3. David Benjamin with Kimberly and Jon Fiorello

3

44 August 2010 iNTOUCH


EVENT ROUNDUP

From Kolkata to Kyoto: Indo-Japanese Music Recital May 26

Musician TM Hoffman and friends hosted a cozy night of impressive, multicultural melodies for the Club’s music lovers and their guests. The trio played classical Hindustani tunes, Japanese poetry set to music and other compositions on such traditional instruments as the shakuhachi flute, 13-string koto and Indian tabla drums. Photos by Yuuki Ide

1. TM Hoffman

1

Snapshots from Club occasions 45


For more photos from some events displayed in these pages, visit the Event Image Gallery (under News & Info) on the Club website.

1

Distinguished Achievement Award Dinner June 1

At an elegant celebration in the American Room, Julie Fukuda was recognized as this year’s recipient of the prestigious Club honor. She is well known for her tireless work around the Tokyo community, including with the local Boy Scouts and the American School in Japan’s Early Learning Center, over the past two decades.

2

Photos by Yuuki Ide

1. (l–r) Club President Lance E Lee, Julie Fukuda, Jeff McNeill and Donald Soo 2. Ryusuke Fukuda 3. Marsha Rosenberg (right) 4. Jerry Rosenberg and Courney Singer 5. Club President Lance E Lee and Julie Fukuda 6. Yoshiko and Ricky Sarani Segawa 3

4

5

46 August 2010 iNTOUCH

6


EVENT ROUNDUP

Ella Baché Beauty Seminar June 4

1

Members discovered their own fountain of youth during a two-hour workshop with beauty pros from French firm Ella Baché. The beautycare insiders revealed the secrets to a radiant, age-defying complexion, provided a hands-on demonstration for home facials and gave away sample kits filled with Ella Baché products. Photos by Venice Tang

1. (l–r) Mary Saphin, Assistant Recreation Department Director Susanna Yung and Ella Baché’s Keiko Inoue 2. Keiko Inoue and Spa receptionist Joy Tolentino

2

Rice Campaign Donation July 1

The Women’s Group’s annual Rice Campaign, which ran through May 31, raised ¥385,000 for non-profit food pantry Second Harvest Japan. The 770 donated rice coupons will help deliver muchneeded food to people across Japan, including orphanages, emergency shelters, single parents, the elderly and homeless. (l–r) Deb Wenig, Barbara Hancock, Hiroko LePon, Second Harvest Japan’s Ruby Sakuma, Bianca Russell and Miki Ohyama

Snapshots from Club occasions 47


TOKYO MOMENTS

On the Mint Money Trail by Karen Pond Illustration by Akiko Saito

C

an you repeat that?” I said to a Japanese friend of mine. “I don’t think I understood you.” “The money,” she repeated. “The money must be fresh.” “Fresh money? Is there actually stale cash in Japan?” I pondered. In my attempt to avoid making any mistakes (or, at least, obvious mistakes) at an upcoming Japanese wedding ceremony, I asked my friend to give me a rundown on wedding customs. “As a guest, please wear a formal dress,” she explained. “And your husband needs to wear a suit.” “Got it,” I thought. “Seems easy enough.” “You need to say ‘Omedeto gozaimasu [congratulations]’ to the newly married couple and their families,” my friend added. It all appeared straightforward. “But don’t bring a present,” she went on. That was actually good news. I wasn’t looking forward to running around Shibuya searching for blenders, waffle makers or matching salt and pepper shakers. “In Japan, we give gifts of money,” she said. “Back home,” I thought, “I would write a check, but here you present cash. Sounds simple to me.” “Please put the notes in a special wedding envelope.” “There’s a special envelope?” I asked.

48 August 2010 iNTOUCH

“I guess a Hello Kitty or Snoopy card is out then.” “Also—and this is very important,” my friend said, her voice suddenly taking on a serious edge. “The money must be fresh.” Fresh money? “Can you repeat that?” I said. “I don’t think I understood you.” “The money,” she said again. “The money must be fresh. New cash. No wrinkles. No creases. No dog-eared corners.” It was at that point that we both noticed the clothes I was wearing: a wrinkled shirt and a creased skirt. “Well, at least no dog-eared corners...” I

mumbled, trying to smooth my outfit. “To be safe,” my friend suggested, “I think you should iron the money.” “Iron money?” I thought. “What happens if I burn it? If it’s bad luck to present wrinkled notes, it must be one of the worst faux pas imaginable to present charred, smoking yen.” “Here you go,” I said to my dry cleaner the following morning. “Five men’s business shirts, one suit jacket, one pair of men’s trousers, one dress and one bundle of wedding gift money. Little starch, please, and definitely no wrinkles. See you Wednesday.” ®


毎 月 一 回 一 日 発 行 

TOKYO AMERICAN CLUB

第 四 十 三 巻 三 十 三 号 

ト ウ キ ョ ウ ア メ リ カ ン ク ラ ブ 

August 2010

The Future Takes Form

i N

Construction of the Club’s spectacular new home in Azabudai ramps up

T O U C H

イ ン タ ッ チ マ ガ ジ ン 二 〇 一 〇 年 八 月 一 日 発 行 

iNTOUCH TOKYO AMERICAN CLUB

平 成 三 年 十 二 月 二 十 日 第 三 種 郵 便 物 許 可 定 価 八 0 0 円 本 体 七 七 七 円

Issue 545 • August 2010

Comforting Calls

Foundation of Hope

Found in Translation

A Tokyo helpline gets a boost from the Women’s Group

One couple honors their son with a thriving charity

One Member helps ink a manual to local culture


iNTOUCH Aug 2010