第 四 十 三 巻 三 十 七 号
TOKYO AMERICAN CLUB
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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
Club Members reflect on the highlights of their time in Takanawa
Issue 549 • December 2010
Sporting get-togethers at the Club make workouts enjoyable
The year-round Sky Pool is set to wow swimmers
An ancient Buddhist center offers a divine getaway
In Praise of the Past
Architect and author Mira Locher shares the significance behind her literary tribute to Japan’s historic structures and classically designed gardens.
Seeing the Forest for the Trees
With so much of Japan’s forests lying neglected, one Club Member ponders the ramifications for the country’s shrinking timber industry.
Board of Governors
7 Management 8 Food & Beverage 10 Library
Keeping the Music Alive
14 Video Library 16 Committees
As an infatuation with all things old takes hold in Japan, one youthful shamisen teacher spreads her passion for time-honored melodies.
18 Recreation 22 Women’s Group
32 Talking Heads
36 Genkan Gallery
Before the lights dim in the current clubhouse for the final time in late December, several Members contemplate the myriad memories accumulated over three years in their favorite spots in this month’s homage to the Club’s much-enjoyed home in Takanawa.
37 Member Services
40 Inside Japan
42 Out & About
iNTOUCH To advertise in iNTOUCH, contact Miyuki Hagiwara: email@example.com 03-4588-0976
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Editor Nick Jones firstname.lastname@example.org
Designers Ryan Mundt Jasmine Lai Production Assistant Yuko Shiroki
Assistant Editor Wendi Hailey
Tokyo American Club 4-25-46 Takanawa, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0074
Design Assistant Miki Amano
Communications Manager Matthew Roberts
44 Event Roundup 52 Tokyo Moments
Michael Bumgardner General Manager email@example.com
Shuji Hirakawa Human Resources Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Bob Sexton Assistant General Manager email@example.com
Linda Joseph Administrative Services Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Lian Chang Information Technology Director email@example.com
Mutsuhiko Kumano Finance Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Darryl Dudley Engineering Director email@example.com
Scott Yahiro Recreation Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Alistair Gough Redevelopment Director email@example.com
Getting in Touch Department/E-mail Banquet Sales and Reservations
Food & Beverage Office
Foreign Traders’ Bar
General Manager’s Office
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2 December 2010 iNTOUCH
As I was slipping on my shoes at the apartment entrance, Fred Harris asked me, “If you found out that you had just a day to live, what would you do?” Despite having talked for much of the afternoon about all aspects of his captivating life, including his debilitating illness, the question caught me a little off guard. I mumbled something about spending time with my family before turning the question on my inquisitor. “I would do what I did today, or any other day,” he said matter-of-factly. “You know why? Because if you have to think about that question, then you’re not doing what you really want to do in life.” Fred knew what he wanted from life, and it seemed to center on art and satiating his incredible hunger for knowledge and culture. During our interview for the April cover story of iNTOUCH, he relived pivotal moments in his life as he turned the pages of battered photo albums that had been transported from the family home in Brooklyn. Hip New York City jazz clubs, the Korean War, prejudice, art, Michelangelo (“He’s my god”), Japan, his wife, Kazuko, Vietnam, business, accolades, trips on aircraft carriers, literature and growing old, he told stories and opined about it all. A Member of the Club since the 1960s, Fred was eager to share his memories—and criticisms—of a place he cared for deeply. Although he was able to make it to the Club in Takanawa less and less over the past year or so, he still had strong feelings for the institution and what it should be. And while he won’t be at the opening in Azabudai in January, his legacy will live on at the Club and in the lives of the dozens of people he influenced over the years.
If you have any comments about anything you read in iNTOUCH, please e-mail them to email@example.com, putting “Letter to the Editor” in the subject title of the mail.
contributors Mira Locher
Mira Locher is an architect and professor of Japanese architecture. Currently teaching at the University of Utah, she was born in Pennsylvania and educated at Smith College and the University of Pennsylvania. Her interest in Asia began with a graduate architecture studio in Japan and continued when she moved to Tokyo to work with Team Zoo Atelier Mobile. Initially planning to remain only a year or two, Locher stayed in Japan for seven years. Since her return to the United States, she has been practicing, teaching and writing about architecture, as well as traveling to far-flung corners of Asia when possible. On pages 10 and 11 of this month’s iNTOUCH, she talks about the inspiration behind her book, Traditional Japanese Architecture. Irwin Wong is a Tokyo-based photographer from Melbourne, Australia. His specialty is in location editorial photography, although he also does wedding and commercial work. After completing his computer science studies at Melbourne’s Monash University, he relocated to Japan in 2005. When he is not running one of his weekly photography workshops on studio and location lighting as part of Japanorama.co.uk, a Tokyo-based website for photography enthusiasts, he can be found at home watching movies or updating his website (www.irwinwong.com). He shoots regularly for iNTOUCH and his photos can be found throughout this issue, including in this month’s cover story, “Takanawa Farewell,” on pages 26 to 31.
The Great Adventure unfolds
A realm of modern marvels awaits Members next month within the handsome new Club in Azabudai. Get a first peek at the eight-story facilities and browse interactive floor plans, images, opening schedules and other vital details on the Great Adventure portal of the Club website. Words from the editor 3
1–2 What’s happening in
Family Christmas Dinner Show This year’s festive program features a very plump Santa and other colorful characters, a delicious buffet and plenty of interactive fun for all ages. Find out more on page 16.
Merry Pairings Small holiday parties get a boost of flavor and fun with an exceptional wine and food pairing from Vineyards’ sommeliers. Flip to page 9 for details.
Deck the Halls The Club’s catering pros promise a merry, stress-free celebration filled with seasonal treats for families and friends. The lip-smacking lowdown is on page 9.
Gingerbread Factory Decorate your own confectioncovered gingerbread house during this sweet family tradition. Continues December 11 and 12. For details, head to page 9.
Recreation Christmas Sale Stuck for Christmas gift ideas? Then drop by the Recreation Services Desk and check out the wide selection of fitness- and sports-related items, including golf and Club apparel, at bargain prices. 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
Last Day for Letters to Santa Children can drop their Christmas wish lists in the Club mailbox for express delivery to the North Pole. Details on page 17.
In My Own Words Youngsters learn how to create journals, scrapbooks and diaries in this imagination-driven workshop with librarian Erica Kawamura. 11:30 a.m. Flip to page 12 to find out more.
Eat Right Spa Seminar This enlightening food tutorial and lunch from Ella Baché’s beauty-care pros will teach participants how to nurture a gorgeous glow from the inside out. 11:30 a.m. Details are on page 20.
Takanawa Club Closure The current Club structure shutters its doors permanently ahead of the move to bigger, brighter facilities in Azabudai.
Visit with Santa Kids chat with Santa Claus and snap a keepsake photo when he makes his second appearance at the Club this month. 2 p.m. Page 17 has more.
Coming up in
January 18 Azabudai Club ribboncutting ceremony and soft-opening kickoff For a full rundown of opening dates of the new facilities, turn to page 38.
4 December 2010 iNTOUCH
Yuletide Keepsake Creative kids make colorful Christmas tree pots to use for years to come with the artistic assistance of instructor Sanae Takahata. 3:15 p.m. For more info, turn to page 21.
Christmas Toddler Time With Christmas just around the corner, preschoolers enjoy holiday stories, crafts and candy. 11:30 a.m. Flip to page 12 for details.
Gift Basket Builder Create the perfect present for everyone on your list with readymade or customizable goodies, including great pampering items, sports equipment and athletic apparel. Page 21 has the details.
Monthly Fitness Menu These free workout sessions improve strength, stability and endurance through circuit training with efficiency-boosting tools. Learn more on page 21.
Kyoto Tour An overnight excursion, organized by the Women’s Group, takes participants on a charming winter tour of the ancient capital. Sign up at the Member Services Desk.
Visit with Santa Kids chat with jolly old Saint Nick and snap a keepsake photo when he makes an early appearance at the Club. 2 p.m. Santa returns on December 11. Page 17 has more.
Spring Classes Registration Dive into a new hobby with a range of satisfying programs, from basketball to creative crafts, at the brand-new Club in Azabudai next year. Check out page 21 for more.
Toddler Time The Library hosts a free, weekly session of fun activities for preschoolers. 4 p.m. Continues December 14 and 21, as well as a special festive get-together on December 12. Page 12 has more.
Champagne Tasting Explore the enchanting nuances of France’s most luxuriant bubbly at a tasting featuring 2002 vintages from Dom Pérignon, Veuve Cliquot and Moët & Chandon. 7 p.m. Read more on page 8.
New Moms and Babies Get-Together Qualified nurse Ann Tanaka explains the ins and outs of the first years of motherhood at this informative Women’s Group session. 3:45–5:15 p.m. ¥2,000. Sign up at the Member Services Desk.
Exhibition Opening Printmaker Sadao Watanabe depicted hundreds of extraordinary Biblical scenes, a sampling of which will be displayed in the Genkan Gallery this month. Learn more on page 36.
Monthly Luncheon: Christmas Choral Concert The British Embassy Choir performs an enchanting selection of seasonal classics during this intimate concert. 11 a.m. Learn more about the talented vocalists on page 24.
Women’s Group Office Closure The Women’s Group Office in Takanawa shuts its door for the final time. It will reopen in Azabudai on January 18.
Christmas Feast Families and friends gather for a festive final meal in Takanawa, an all-you-can-eat spread of succulent turkey and seasonal fare. For the full details, turn to page 9.
Bad Parking Day
Noteworthy dates for the month 5
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
A Lasting Impression
Board of Governors Lance E Lee (2010)—President Amane Nakashima (2011)—Vice President Jerry Rosenberg (2011)—Vice President Norman J Green (2011)—Secretary Dan Stakoe (2011)—Treasurer
by Barbara Hancock
e first felt Fred Harris’ impact on our surroundings before we had even met him. It was early in our time in Japan, and we wondered who this person who seemed to be so influential in so many corners of this international community could be. And while he is now gone, his contributions endure. He was always moving and put a lot in motion, and art was at the center of it. He knew it would be, he told us, even as a boy in Brooklyn. And though the Korean conflict seemed like a detour for the struggling artist, it brought him eventually to Japan, where he met his wife, Kazuko. She introduced him to Japanese art, and, before long, he had two inseparable loves. Kaz and Japanese culture would turn out to be the fuel for his engine of creativity and sharing. He was driven to not only absorb the visual world around him, but to share it with as many people as he could. Fred referred to himself as a “cultural ambassador,” and it was hard to argue that he didn’t have the credentials to appoint himself as such. If there was any doubt, you could ask the Japanese government (he painted Mount Fuji for a postage stamp to commemorate the 150th anniversary of US-Japan relations), the US Library of Congress (he served as an Asia consultant) or the US Navy (he was an official artist). Or ask the thousands of art students from Ohio to Ho Chi Minh or countless sailors far from home who ate their first squid on a stick or surfaced for a turkey dinner on Thanksgiving. He made all that happen, and so much more. As long as I’m on the subject of food, it has to be said that Fred personified the expression, “If you want to make omelets, you have
Tim Griffen (2010), William Ireton (2010), Hiroyuki Kamano (2010), Per Knudsen (2010), Jeff McNeill (2011), Brian Nelson (2010), Rod Nussbaum (2010), Mark Saft (2010), Mary Saphin (2011), Dan Thomas (2010), Deborah Wenig (2011), Ira Wolf (2011), Shizuo Daigoh— Statutory Auditor (2010), Barbara Hancock—Women’s Group President
to break a few eggs.” I know many of us experienced the high heat of his intentions. He was so driven to improve things that it was often difficult to get him to change course. I tried often. Sometimes he changed his mind, sometimes he didn’t. But his motive never wavered: whatever was best for the community. We joined TAC in 1997 because we wanted our young children to grow up in a community with some of the humanity I knew in my small New York town. Fred had already been a Member for 34 years at that time. It took knowing him over these many years to realize that he helped drive much of the richness that makes this the unique, multicultural home in Tokyo we enjoy today. I’m sure our family will continue to experience and benefit from that same force we felt, first at a distance, and then, over some years, closer to the source. We learned about art and culture, submarines, the imperial family and making things happen. I can’t say we’ll do it Fred’s way. He was unique. But I am sure that having known someone who could drive as many dimensions of a community as Fred did will inspire our family for the rest of our lives. o A former Club president and governor, Fred Harris passed away in Tokyo on November 1.
6 December 2010 iNTOUCH
by Wendi Hailey
A steady stream of inspections of the new clubhouse in Azabudai began in mid-November and will continue through the beginning of January, including internal checks by construction company Takenaka and architectural firm Pelli Clarke Pelli, health inspections and technical assessments. Takenaka performed corrective work as needed and cleaned the building from top to bottom last month, and the structure façade and eco-friendly landscaping will be finished ahead of the December 26 completion date. “Handover is a formal affair of paperwork and authority; TAC takes immediate responsibility for security, insurance [and the like],”says Redevelopment Director Alistair Gough. “From handover, we shall move into full swing for the relocation and delivery of new furniture.” Members are invited to tour the spacious building on January 18 before enjoying the facilities as they gradually start up over the coming months (see page 38 for a rundown of opening dates). o To browse interactive plans of the stunning eight-story facilities, visit the Great Adventure portal of the Club website. For an early glimpse at the year-round Sky Pool, head to page 34.
Adventure Abounds by Michael Bumgardner
Michael Bumgardner General Manager
s we take possession of our new facilities in Azabudai and bid sayonara to our temporary home in Takanawa, some would say it represents the end of an era; others see it as a new start. It has been a long journey to the culmination of our Redevelopment Project, but the great adventure is just beginning. After the doors to our home in Takanawa are closed for the final time on the evening of December 25, the staff will embark on the process of packing, moving, unpacking and then familiarizing themselves with the next Club in Azabudai. There is no doubt that we will be learning a little more about our new surroundings each day. January 18 will see a simple ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark our taking possession of the building. Members will be permitted to walk through the gleaming interior, but no services will be available on this day. Many facilities will open the following morning. (A list of the key dates can be found on page 38 and the Club website.) The planned phased opening of the Club is to ensure that each area and service receives the necessary testing and preparation so that it can be opened successfully. We will need the patience, cooperation and understanding of all Members to help us launch operations gradually and evolve the facility over the coming months and years. Besides the facilities themselves, there will be a host of changes to the way Members access and use the Club. Everyone, both Members and staff, will need to become knowledgeable
about these new approaches and procedures. From considering rules on strollers and access for registered domestic helpers to parking options and a shuttle bus service to Tokyo Tower, the various committees have been working for months to revise the numerous Club rules to make the facilities enjoyable for all Members and their guests. Obviously, these rules might need to be modified as the Club evolves. The combination of larger, more complex facilities with a reduction in staff due to the decrease in Members has made operating the Club a challenge. As usage patterns become clearer, adjustments to operation hours may become necessary. As you will have seen in announcements last month, the Club has decided to suspend the much-anticipated program to allow Members to pay their monthly bills by credit card. Originally due to start in January, the service, together with the associated 3 percent handling charge on all methods of payment apart from direct debit, is being reviewed by the Finance Committee following the emergence of complications. Despite this, there is much anticipation and excitement as we embark on our great adventure, and we expect many questions from Members as well as inquiries from people wishing to join the Club. In the meantime, we strongly urge everybody to familiarize themselves with the facilities through the new Azabudai website and to air their thoughts and suggestions on the Member blog on the regular Club site. Together, we can make our new home realize its full potential. o
Executive remarks 7
Bring on the Bubbles by Wendi Hailey
8 December 2010 iNTOUCH
parkling wines from regions as far flung as Arizona and England have become viable options on the bubbly scene in recent years, joining such European stalwarts as Cava in Spain, Italy’s Spumante and French alternatives Mousseux and Crémant. “The continuous growth of nonChampagne sparkling wine has been one of the less well-publicized developments of the wine world,” concluded a recently published report from Ireland-based Research and Markets. Champagne sales dropped 3.6 percent last year amid global economic woes, while sparkling wine slipped less than 1 percent. To stay ahead of the escalating competition, Champagne houses have opted, in some instances, to modernize the centuries-old luxury libation. In October, celebrated label Dom Pérignon unveiled a limited-edition version of its newly released 2002 vintage, paying tribute to pop artist Andy Warhol, who drank the bubbly during his nights at New York’s legendary Studio 54. The neon-hued red, blue and yellow labels and packaging, created by a London art college, were introduced as a playful way to appeal to American drinkers. This colorfully wrapped Champagne and other effervescent items from the Moët Hennessy collection, including the Veuve Clicquot, Krug and Moët & Chandon brands, will be uncorked at this month’s holiday tasting. Brand ambassador Vincent Agulhon will lead a horizontal sampling of the 2002 vintage, which is widely considered the best vintage since 1996. “There cannot be a better choice for a
toast, celebration or start of a fantastic meal than one of these Champagnes,” says Eric Simonet, marketing director for the brand. The parallel tasting will be matched with an ambrosial menu that fuses French and Japanese ingredients. “Champagne makes a sommelier’s life easy, as it truly goes well with anything,” Simonet says. Moët Hennessy has smartly tapped into the sparkling wine trend, producing bottles under the Domaine Chandon brand in Napa Valley, Australia’s Yarra Valley, Argentina and Brazil, mostly for the local markets. “This represents a more affordable, casual and informal everyday alternative to Champagne. As such, it is perhaps best seen as a complement rather than a competitor,” Simonet says. But for an unbeatable evening of toptier treats, it’s good, old-fashioned French bubbly that will enchant palates at the Club. “The key is to understand that each Champagne is made with a different style and occasion in mind,” he says. “There won’t be any winners and losers among the Champagnes, but each one of the participants will undoubtedly walk away with a stronger understanding of tastes and pairings, enabling them to pick the right— or favorite—bubbles for each occasion.” Perhaps attendees will even leave with a couple of seasonal gift ideas, too. o Champagne Tasting Wednesday, December 8 7 p.m. Vineyards ¥15,000 Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk
FOOD & BEVERAGE
Gingerbread Factory Build your own gingerbread house and garnish it with icing and colorful candies at this popular holiday event. Hot chocolate, cookies and cake will be on hand to inspire creativity and satisfy sweet tooths. December 4–5 and 11–12 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Women’s Group Classroom 3 ¥3,675 Sign up at the Member Services Desk
Merry Pairings End-of-year bashes get a boost of flavor and fun with the help of Vineyards’ friendly sommeliers. Enjoy spectacular pairings of wine and festive eats selected just for your small holiday gathering with friends or colleagues. December 1–24 Vineyards Contact 03-4588-0978 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Deck the Halls Serving up a delicious spread of seasonal treats doesn’t have to mean toiling away in the kitchen. The Club’s catering team promises a merry, stress-free celebration at home or the office—and will even take care of the cleanup. December 1–25 Call 03-4588-0307 to find out more
Christmas Feast Families and friends gather for a festive final meal in Takanawa, an all-you-can-eat spread of succulent turkey and other tasty fare within the warm, cheerful atmosphere of the Club. A special appearance by Santa himself is sure to delight youngsters at this holiday celebration. Saturday, December 25 Brunch: 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m. and 1:30–3:30 p.m. Dinner: 5–7 p.m. and 7:30–9:30 p.m. New York Suite and American Room Adults: ¥7,000 (includes bottomless Champagne) Juniors (7–19 years): ¥3,250 Children (3–6 years): ¥1,500 Infants (2 and under): free Call 03-0488-0977 to reserve
Club wining and dining 9
In Praise of the Past
10 December 2010 iNTOUCH
ÂŠ Ben Simmons and Periplus Editions (HK) Ltd.
Architect and author of Traditional Japanese Architecture: An Exploration of Elements and Forms Mira Locher explains her passion for Japanâ€™s buildings and gardens of yore.
t was an image of a stone lantern in a mossy Kyoto garden that convinced me to take my first trip to Japan. I was a graduate student in architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, and a new summer program was being launched. I was intrigued but unsure if I could afford to spend five weeks in Japan. Yet that image of the lantern, with its lichen- and mosscovered stone cap, surrounded by lush plants in innumerable shades of green, was unlike anything I’d ever witnessed. I knew I had to see it. Since then, I have encountered countless lanterns and my interest in the physical elements of Japanese gardens and buildings has continued to grow. After completing my studies, a poor US economy gave me the courage to move to Japan and work for a Japanese architectural firm. The initial year or two was filled with new concepts and ways of working, visits to traditional buildings and gardens, explorations of ideas and methods of connecting the old with the new. With so much to grasp and investigate, I stayed for seven years. Many teachers—master carpenters and plaster craftsmen, architects and designers, photographers and gardeners—shared their wisdom along the way. Traditionall Japanese Architecture is a result of all that they have taught me and all I have observed since that first trip to Japan more than 20 years ago. Although many wonderful and inspiring books about Japanese architecture and gardens have been written (and fill the shelves of my office), most focus on the unified whole of the building or garden. While this has been useful for my studies, as an architect I was intrigued with the role of individual elements within a building or garden. What was the origin of the lantern that first caught my eye and what role did it play in the overall design of the garden? Traditional Japanese Architecture is an exploration of these aspects that teases out the stories that encompass their particular development, construction, function and symbolism. From roofs, walls and floors to door pulls and kettle hangers, the book places the stories firmly within the natural environment and traditional culture of Japan. Living and working as an architect in Japan in the 1990s, I realized that the country
is one of only a few places with a high level of design literacy. People of all ages and backgrounds appreciate a well-designed building, garden or object and, because of this, the design arts flourish. Modern Japanese architecture is renowned for the quality of its concepts and construction materials and techniques. Traditional architecture is loved for these same reasons, as well as for its strong relationship with nature. Many contemporary architects have learned from the older methods and forms and utilize these ideas in their work. Meanwhile, traditional arts like tea ceremony and flower arranging offer many people moments of respite within their hectic daily lives. It is clear that classical culture and historic architecture are important components of life in Japan today, yet often they are separate rather than integrated. Increasingly, the schism between tradition and modernity is growing. Although many citizen groups work to save old buildings, the structures are difficult to maintain and challenging to live in—cold in the winter and hot in the summer. There is not enough support from the government to make the preservation and continued use of these buildings easy. At the same time, the recent trend toward the abstract in Japanese architecture (pure, white surfaces and a seeming lack of detail) represents a move away from incorporating traditional elements, as people opt for the current fashion, as well as the convenience of a bed over a futon and the sense of permanence of concrete over wood. I do not believe, however, that traditional architecture will disappear completely from Japan; it is too embedded in the national culture and psyche. The stories woven into the buildings and gardens, both symbolic and functional, may fade over time, though. There is much to learn from these tales and many concepts that can be integrated into buildings, gardens and modern ways of living. Traditional Japanese Architecture, with spectacular photos by longtime Japan resident and photographer Ben Simmons, is a first step in documenting these stories. o
Open For Enrollment
・Reggio Emilia-inspired school ・Outstanding second language program in Mandarin ・Offer after class Mandarin program ・Highly qualified international staff ・Parents welcomed as education partners ・Excellent teacher-student ratio
Traditional Japanese Architecture: An Exploration of Elements and Forms is available at the Library.
Literary gems at the Library 11
Christmas Cooking Cheat Sheets by Elena Connery
hristmas, as one of the biggest celebrations of the year, can be a stressful time, especially for wives and mothers. And much of the strain is derived from the Christmas Day menu. Together with the usual round of parties and gettogethers, everything can become a little overwhelming if you’re not prepared. For a little inspiration and help with the culinary side of the holiday season, the Library stocks plenty of cookbooks by many renowned chefs from around the world, including Nigella Christmas: Food, Family, Friends, Festivities by British food writer Nigella Lawson, Delia Smith’s Christmas: 130 Recipes for Christmas by best-selling cookery author Delia Smith, The Los Angeles Times Book of Christmas Entertaining: Creative Ways to Celebrate the Holidays by Dawn Navarro and Good Housekeeping Christmas Joys: Great Holiday Recipes and Decorating Ideas. For something different, why not take a look at Sarah Marx Feldner’s A Cook’s Journey to Japan: Fish Tales and Rice Paddies—100 Homestyle Recipes from Japanese Kitchens? Beautifully illustrated and featuring clear, concise recipes, this book makes Japanese cooking simple.
Although seasonal cookbooks are useful, everyday recipe guides are often invaluable. When so much thought goes into preparing for the 25th, it’s easy to overlook the basics. Fear not, the Library is well stocked with kitchen tomes from the likes of Jamie Oliver, Martha Stewart and Ina Garten, aka the Barefoot Contessa. Magazines like Bon Appétit and Good Housekeeping are also good sources of recipes. Such references can help to make life a little easier, leaving plenty of time for you to enjoy the festive period—and perhaps the odd glass of wine or two. o Connery is a member of the Library Committee. For a full list of cookbooks available, contact the Library.
s’ n a i r a r Lib C o rn e r a preview of what’s on for the Club’s inquiring minds
by Erica Kawamura
12 December 2010 iNTOUCH
Christmas Toddler Time Preschoolers get to make a Christmas tree, nibble on candy and enjoy yuletide stories at an activitypacked session to celebrate this magical time of the year. For ages 1 to 6. Sunday, December 12 11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. ¥525 The Studio Sign up online or at the Library
In My Own Words
Using the Diary of a Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book as a reference, children will have fun chatting about and exploring journals, scrapbooks and diaries. Discuss how they might be used before trying your hand at keeping a record of your own day. For ages 7 to 12.
Toddler Time A playful session of stories and songs aimed at fostering a passion for words at a young age. Sunday, December 5 11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. ¥3,150 The Studio Sign up online or at the Library
December 7, 14 and 21 4 p.m. Library Free No sign-up necessary
reads Hagakure: Code of the Samurai by Tsunetomo Yamamoto (adapted by Sean Michael Wilson and illustrated by Chie Kutsuwada) William Scott Wilson originally translated Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai, the 18th-century guide to Bushido, the code of the samurai, in 2002. Now Wilson gives it a fast-paced, graphic-novel treatment that is perfect for a manga-crazed, international audience. CM
The Secret to Lying by Todd Mitchell All his life, James has been the guy no one noticed. When the 15-year-old wins a place at an academy for gifted students, he decides it’s time to change, and starts his new school as a tough-guy fighter and rebel. For grades 9 to 12. EK
Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin
Spy Pups: Prison Break by Andrew Cope
In this luminous, multilayered novel, pediatric surgeon Nick Russo becomes infatuated with the mother of a young patient. A story about good people, caught in untenable circumstances, who ultimately discover what truly matters most. EC
Spud and Star are on a mission to save Laura from the evil Mr Big in this exciting, new installment from Cope. Short chapters and snappy dialogue make these titles ideal for children taking their first steps into independent reading. Spy Pups: Circus Act is also available in the Library. MC
The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure by Hans Magnus Enzensberger
Code Talker by Joseph Bruchac
Robert, a young boy who hates math, meets the Number Devil in a series of dreams and discovers the amazing world of figures. Who can resist the little red guy who calls prime numbers “prima donnas” and irrational numbers “unreasonable”? For ages 10 to adult. MC
Told through the persona of a Navajo Indian grandfather talking to his grandchildren about his experiences as a Marine in World War II, Bruchac relates the story of Ned Begay, who lies to enlist in the military and is subsequently trained as a so-called “code talker.” EK
Reviews compiled by Library Committee members Elena Connery and Melanie Chetley and librarians Charles Morris and Erica Kawamura.
member’s choice Member: Sam Homler Title: My Life in Dog Years by Gary Paulsen
What’s the book about? This book is about Gary Paulsen and the dogs that changed his life.
What did you like about it? I liked his stories about his dogs because they were funny and interesting. I also liked how each dog was important to him in different ways.
Why did you choose it? I chose this book because I like dogs and Gary Paulsen stories, and also because I have a dog.
What other books would you recommend? I would also recommend Holes by Louis Sachar, Cracker! by Cynthia Kadohata and On the Court with Michael Jordan by Matt Christopher.
Literary gems at the Library 13
ome animated films can leave children and adults alike enchanted, offering multiple generations their own share of chuckles, tears and wonderment, superbly showcased by Pixar in recent hits like Up and WALL-E and in such timeless tours de force as Charlotte’s Web and The Secret of NIMH. The boundless characters and imagined landscapes stick in memories for a lifetime, and the core lessons trustily tucked within the rich tales leave a permanent
impression. Walt Disney’s familiar library of masterpieces (as well as a few misses) houses obscure beauties, such as The Black Cauldron, alongside family classics like Dumbo and The Little Mermaid. Japan’s own ingenious animator, Hayao Miyazaki, has created a trove of imaginative, lovable films, from the Oscar-winning Spirited Away to the spellbinding Princess Mononoke. But which animated flick would our critics choose as the all-time greatest? o
“Let’s face it, cartoons are mostly for kids. And so, however great the recent films like those from Pixar may be (and many are superb), I keep coming back to Walt Disney’s Pinocchio, a film I first saw as a child and have never forgotten. Made in 1940, Pinocchio blew all previous animated films of its type out of the water and forever stamped Disney’s mark on the genre. At once epic in scope but intimate in detail and emotion, it has consistently been ranked by critics as the best in Disney’s body of work. I still marvel at the images and the feelings they evoke. I still get a pang of the fear a parent of a lost child gets when I see Pinocchio being carried away in Stromboli’s caravan. And I am sure that Lampwick’s turning into a donkey guaranteed that I never became a smoker and subliminally ruined what could have been my passable skill at pool!”
“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs takes me back to my childhood. This 1937 Disney classic wowed me as a youngster and remains my most memorable animated film. Sleepy, Sneezy, Happy, Bashful, Grumpy, Dopey and Doc are the adorable dwarfs who save the princess from the evilness of her stepmother, the queen, who is jealous of her beauty. This is a must-see for the little ones. It may not be flashy and technically advanced like current animated features, but it continues to be a true classic with beautiful images, unforgettable music and a storyline that pleases every generation and will forever stand the test of time.”
“Eight Crazy Nights is a hilarious, entertaining holiday movie about a wild and funny guy named Davey (voiced by Adam Sandler), who gets into trouble and is forced by a judge to live in the house of two weird, elderly twins, Eleanor and Whitey. Davey is a 33-year-old bum who likes to spend his time playing tricks on Whitey, while all Whitey wants is to be a good person and win the town’s Patch Award, his life’s dream. The honor is given each year to one person who helps the town become a better place for its residents. Davey thinks that Whitey is crazy for wanting so badly to win this award. Then something happens that changes the way he thinks. I liked every part of this movie, one of the best comedies I have ever seen. Adam Sandler voices most of the characters, and the songs he sings are great.”
Best animated adventure: Pinocchio
Best animated adventure: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Best animated adventure: Eight Crazy Nights
Club critic: Nick Johnson
Club critic: Akiko Arakawa
Club critic: Sam Homler
All titles mentioned are either available at the Video Library or on order.
14 December 2010 iNTOUCH
HE SAYS, SHE SAYS He is Club President Lance E Lee. She is Yuko Akisato, manager of the Video Library.
While John Malkovich and Evangeline Lilly put in fine performances, the story is abstract to the point of confusion. The many flashback scenes only make this movie even more difficult to follow. Still, the cinematography is beautiful and the opening scene is impressive in its own unexpected way.
give it a go
Initially dismissive of the claims of a doctor (John Malkovich) that he can sense when people are about to die, newly divorced lawyer Nathan (Romain Duris) starts to think that he may not have long to live. Malkovich perfectly portrays the mysterious Doctor Kay in this rather heart-wrenching and complex story.
I enjoyed the fabulous scenes of the architecture, life and food of Italy, India and Bali, but they stood out in a movie that is made up of mundane romances and Julia Roberts’ character’s “journey of discovery.” Roberts, though, does a good job of portraying the self-centered, wealthy divorcée.
While a little long, this is a beautiful film about a woman (Julia Roberts) who, after assessing her life, gets divorced and decides to travel the world. With a gorgeous cast and smorgasbord of food, exotic locales and love, I thought this movie would have been better.
A fantastic mix of action, comedy and romance combines for a truly delightful movie. The chemistry between Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz is terrific, as is the snappy dialogue and acting. This is a laugh-out-loud, feel-good movie.
After getting mixed up with a secret agent (Tom Cruise) who isn’t meant to survive his latest mission, June Havens (Cameron Diaz) ends up on the run with him. Although a fairly limited story, this action-comedy is pure entertainment.
This Canadian-Japanese co-production is about three siblings who live with their grandmother (“Baa-chan”) and their late mother’s cat. Full of wit, the story touches on themes of family, roots and what it takes to make relationships work.
A family drama by Naoko Ogigami about three dysfunctional siblings contemplating their lives and their collective heritage as they get to know their eccentric Japanese grandmother after their mother dies. An interesting story.
COM E DY
The Kids Are All Right Julianne Moore and Annette Bening drive this emotionally rich yet quick-witted film about a lesbian couple whose two teenage children (conceived by artificial insemination) invite their biological father into the family and set off a chaotic chain of events.
The Special Relationship The final offering in Peter Morgan’s commendable trilogy on Tony Blair, this HBO flick gives a fictionalized account of the bond between the former British prime minister (played again by Michael Sheen) and ex-President Bill Clinton (Dennis Quaid).
Christmas in the Clouds This agreeable 2001 holiday flick is a fun, contemporary twist on the classic story of mistaken identity and one of the first modern romantic comedies to feature a mostly American Indian cast.
Going the Distance After an enchanting summer fling, a New York City bachelor (Justin Long) and a bright-eyed charmer from the West Coast (Drew Barrymore) play the odds with a cross-country romance.
Lovely, Still With the yuletide season approaching, a lonely, gray-tufted man (Martin Landau) discovers the delights and perils of love in his kindhearted neighbor (Ellen Burstyn).
other new titles...
Ramona and Beezus High-spirited youngster Ramona Quimby’s thirst for adventure and mischief keeps her big sister, schoolteachers and everyone else she meets on their toes in this adaptation of author Beverly Cleary’s much-loved children’s books.
All movies reviewed are either available at the Video Library or on order.
TV and film selections 15
olly old Saint Nick’s belly has grown rounder and rounder since last Christmas, and now he’s lost the will to make and deliver toys to boys and girls around the world. But with the help of the audience and a fresh-faced elf named Newbie, there still might be time to rescue his holiday spirit (and waistline) during the Club’s annual Family Christmas Dinner Show, when the cast of the Tokyo International Players performs an original, holiday-themed play, “Shape Up, Santa.” The evening features colorful characters, a delicious buffet of festive treats and plenty of fun to kindle the yuletide spirit in children of all ages. o
Family Christmas Dinner Show December 1–2 6–8 p.m. New York Suite Adults (15 years and above): ¥5,800 Children (3–14 years): ¥2,600 Infants (2 years and under): free Recommended for ages 10 and under Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk (Select a table at the Member Services Desk only) Sponsored by the Entertainment Committee
16 December 2010 iNTOUCH
Guess Who’s Coming to Town? Visit with Santa December 4 and 11 2–4:45 p.m. Kids’ Zone ¥600 Sign up at the Member Services Desk Letters to Santa Through Sunday, December 5 Santa’s Mailbox (Family Lobby) Free (personal reply from Santa: ¥525)
anta has agreed to test-drive his sleigh ahead of his Christmas deliveries and will head to Takanawa for two special Club visits this month. Children can make sure he knows whether they’ve been good this year and tell him what goodies they hope to find in their stockings and under the tree. A candy cane and keepsake photo will be given to each young visitor before Santa heads back to his wintry workshop. For those unable to make it to sit on Santa’s knee, letters can be dropped in a special mailbox in the Family Lobby for express delivery to the North Pole. To receive a personal reply from Saint Nick himself, pick up a form from the Member Services Desk, Recreation Services Desk, Childcare Center or Library for ¥525. o
Joining a Committee Members interested in joining one of the committees listed should contact its chair or inquire at the General Manager’s Office.
Recreation Tim Griffen (Tim Griffen) Recreation Subcommittees Bowling Pam Jenkinson Fitness Jerry Rosenberg Golf Steven Thomas Library Melanie Chetley Logan Room Diane Dooley & Cathleen Fuge Squash Alok Rakyan Swim Jesse Green & Stewart Homler Video Jane Hunsaker 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 Miki Ohyama (Deborah Wenig) Culture Subcommittee Genkan Gallery Yumiko Sai Entertainment Per Knudsen (Per Knudsen) Finance Akihiko Mizuno (Dan Stakoe) 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 Alok Rakyan (Mary Saphin) Membership Subcommittee Marketing Mark Ferris Nominating Nick Masee
Names in parentheses denote Board liaisons.
Cornerstones of the Club 17
Team Workouts by Wendi Hailey
While some Members huff and puff their way through workouts in the Fitness Center, others prefer to get their fitness fix by sharing their enthusiasm for a particular sport. 18 December 2010 iNTOUCH
(lâ€“r) Dave Doyno, Alex Olson and Katsumi Okumura
n the day she gave up cigarettes for good, Laura Maeji laced up her running shoes for the first time and headed to the gym. “I’d always been a bit of a gym rat,” she says, “but the treadmill was for people who didn’t smoke. It was a huge challenge and intimidating.” Maeji recalls the self-consciousness that gnawed at her during that first session on the belt. But she was even more nervous to leave the gym. “I had never run before and was intimidated by the great outdoors,” she says, eight years later. “I felt comfortable in the gym, a safety zone—no fear of not being able to make my way home. I could run just as long or short as I wanted.” Eventually, Maeji grew confident enough to take her routine outside and linked up with the Club’s running group, which meets several mornings a week to pound the city’s pavements. At an early hour, anywhere between two and eight runners gather, mostly women, but with the occasional “stray man or husband,” while the routes vary to keep the fleeting scenery fresh. “Our motivation stems mainly from fitness, and we stay motivated with different races as goals,” says the classroom assistant and Club Member, 52. “We’ve traveled far and wide to run marathons and half marathons, from Hawaii to Sydney, San Francisco, Seoul and numerous destinations within Japan.” For William Liang, Ken Olson and hordes of other Members who have joined the selection of group sports offered at the Club, exercise and camaraderie are motivating factors as well. “Basketball is just a hobby of mine,” says 28-year-old Liang. “These days, I just play to get in shape. I find it a lot more entertaining than to come and run on a treadmill for an hour. It’s half for exercise, half for fun of the game.” The former investment banker, who is currently studying for an MBA, has been playing Club basketball since middle school. The long-standing group runs the court from 6:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, squeezing as many as six games into an hour before most players head off to work. “It’s a great way to wake up,” he says. “Surprisingly, there are a lot of people playing squash [and] using the gym. It’s probably the busiest time of the day.” Recalling a recent soggy morning, Liang admits that it can be a challenge to get out of bed sometimes. “That day, I woke up and it was pouring rain, but I knew if I didn’t come, they wouldn’t have
a game. And everyone showed up.” The regularly held activities are planned largely through e-mails in the days before. “The worst is when you come down here expecting to play and then you don’t have enough people,” says volleyball organizer Olson, 40. “We’ll have a stretch where it’s three-on-three for weeks, and then suddenly 14 people will show up and we have to rotate out the door because there’s nowhere to stand.” The Azabudai facilities opening in January will provide enhanced spaces and opportunities for the sports groups to pump up the level of play. Some of the organizers are hoping the custom-built, multipurpose gym, which will be equipped for basketball, volleyball, badminton, futsal, floor hockey and table tennis, will help attract new sports enthusiasts. “It’s very rare to see a full-size gym in the heart of Tokyo, so I’d like to see what TAC’s doing with the Squash Committee right now,” says Liang. “We’d like to have a TAC-sponsored event.” “We’re quite excited,” echoes Olson, an investment banker. “We’ve been excited for a couple years about the new Club. The gym is supposed to be massive and the ceiling is supposed to be high.” The sport is a popular pastime for Club players of all ages, who assemble Thursday and Sunday evenings for a couple of hours of intense matches. On Thursdays, the spikers head down to Traders’ Bar afterward for dinner and drinks. Most are experienced, but they “dial it down” for younger participants and novices. “It’s kind of an eclectic group,” says Olson, whose wife and 12-year-old son occasionally join the games. “I like the teamwork. When we get a rally that goes back and forth and people keep saving it, if it goes on long enough, in the end you really don’t care that much if you lose the point.” For most players, even those with sizable competitive drives, beating their opponents or best times is merely a windfall. They fortify their health, connect with other athletic aficionados and perhaps even get a couple of additional tasks accomplished in the process. “We talk non-stop [and] the runs fly by!” says Maeji, whose solo treadmill treks are a thing of the past. “Many a dinner has been decided, children discussed, problems pondered, celebrations planned.” o
To join one of the group sports on offer, visit the Health & Recreation section of the Club website or stop by the Recreation Services Desk.
Fitness and well-being 19
focus Step & Sculpt A longtime favorite of fitness-minded Members, this class rolls a fast-paced step routine, strength training and stretching into one satisfying workout. Tough cardio exercises are combined with ample sculpting moves to achieve noticeable results, while the intensity can be modified for intermediate and advanced levels. The choreography is enjoyable and easy for all levels to follow. Step & Sculpt sessions run every Saturday (9:30–10:30 a.m.) in the Recreation Room. Contact the Recreation Services Desk for details.
After completing an aerobic fitness instruction course at Boston University and studying step training under its American creator, Gin Miller, Mika Takemura became a teacher and personal trainer. The Aerobics and Fitness Association of America-certified instructor taught fitness classes extensively in the Boston area for a few years before returning to Japan in 1994, when she began working at the Club. Teaching a variety of exercise classes, including aerobics, dance and strength training, Takemura says that step remains her passion.
“Mika’s Step & Sculpt class is one of my favorite classes at TAC. It offers the best of both worlds: step aerobics for the cardio portion, with fun, uncomplicated routines, and weight training for strength. It is great for burning fat, as well as tightening and toning, and will get your heart pumping and your muscles working. It is the perfect way to start the weekend.”
Beauty Benefits of Food Nurture a healthy body from the inside out with an insightful food tutorial from the professionals at French beauty-care label Ella Baché. At this two-hour session, which includes a nutrition-packed lunch, Members will learn how certain foods affect appearances and pick up tips on how to create a beneficial daily diet that will cultivate youthful skin and a gorgeous glow. Eat Right Spa Seminar Friday, December 10 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. Women’s Group Classroom 3 ¥3,150 Sign up online or at The Spa
20 December 2010 iNTOUCH
The Spa is open daily from 10 a.m. Make an appointment at 03-4588-0714 or e-mail email@example.com, or visit the second-floor haven of relaxation to discover more about the pampering possibilities in store.
With December 25 just around the corner, pick up a plethora of wonderful gifts for family and friends under one roof. Ready-made or mix-and-match gift baskets are available with goodies for spa lovers, kids and fans of golf and swimming.
Discover efficient ways to improve your strength, stability and endurance through circuit training using such fitness tools as free weights, power blocks, kettlebells, medicine balls and body bars. Collect invaluable tips from our fitness pros during 30-minute sessions this month.
Craft a one-of-a-kind pot to hold your bedecked Christmas tree this year—and for many more to come. Using an assortment of colorful paints, glass mosaic tiles and other materials, children ages 3 to 9 can design their own tree pots with the help of talented instructor Sanae Takahata.
Gift Basket Builder December 1–25 Visit the Recreation Services Desk for details
Monthly Fitness Menu December 1–25 Saturdays (12:15–12:45 p.m.) and Thursdays (1:45–2:15 p.m.) The Studio Free
Christmas Tree Pot Workshop Sunday, December 12 3:15–4:30 p.m. Recreation Room ¥3,675 (includes materials) Sign up online or at the Recreation Services Desk
Father-Daughter Dinner Dance
Find inspiration and fun aplenty in Azabudai with the vibrant range of recreational activities and programs slated for next spring for youngsters and adults alike, including sports, music and crafts. Head to the brandnew Gym and visit with the instructors during an informative class fair on Sunday, January 30.
During this perennially popular tradition, dads and their little princesses (ages 5 to 13) enjoy great food, dancing, gifts and fun-filled photo sessions. Be sure to reserve your spot early.
Spring Classes Registration Monday, December 6 8:30 a.m. Sign up online, by fax or at the Recreation Services Desk
Father-Daughter Dinner Dance Saturday, February 12 5 p.m. Sign up online or at the Recreation Services Desk from Wednesday, January 19
Fitness and well-being 21
Culture Counselor A former writer whose column helped many new arrivals to Japan find their feet is one of five women being honored by the Women’s Group in the new Club. by Catherine Shaw
s the ship approached the port of Yokohama, one of its passengers, Jean Pearce, excitedly took in the scene before her. Surveying the skyline, she spotted a pagoda on a hilltop. “It was very beautiful and colorful, almost like a fairground it was so colorful, and it was just the most wonderful thing to me,” she recalls of that life-changing day in 1964. “I took that as a kind of symbol because I immediately became very excited about learning more about the country. Writing was my way to help others appreciate Japan, too.” Pearce arrived in Japan from the United States with her husband, who had been sent with his job. She was to stay for 36 years, during which time she wrote a regular column for The Japan Times.
22 December 2010 iNTOUCH
Titled “Getting Things Done,” it offered readers practical tips and useful information on making the most of life in Japan. From subjects as diverse as participating in local festivals and shopping to explanations of complex cultural issues and advice on setting up support groups, the column proved a lifeline for many newcomers to Japan’s unfamiliar culture, customs and surroundings. “I had wanted to write for the paper and had an idea of a column helping readers understand Japan through useful advice, but they already had a lady, [a US] Army wife, who was writing about shopping, so my first meeting was unsuccessful,” Pearce explains by phone from her home in
WOMEN’S GROUP Maryland. “Then, with perfect timing, that lady’s husband was transferred out of Japan the very week after I had approached the paper with my ideas. They called to ask me if I could cover the column with just a few days’ notice. My column was printed five days later. I was so happy to do it.” Since Pearce was learning about her new home herself, she depended on a group of Japanese wives for clarification and advice. “I was no expert on things Japanese, but writing provided me with the perfect excuse for me to explore Japan and its culture,” she says. “The two [American and Japanese] cultures couldn’t be more different from the inside and outside, so it was important to be able to explain how things worked.” The former journalist, who was born in 1921, even penned two advice-packed volumes, How to Get Things Done in Japan, in the mid-1970s. Her walking guide of interesting spots in central Tokyo, FootLoose in Tokyo: The Curious Traveler's Guide to the 29 Stages of the Yamanote Line, was Jean Pearce published in 1980. It is such efforts to help decipher Tokyo and the wider country for foreigners that prompted the Women’s Group to name one of its classrooms in the new Club after Pearce. “Our meeting rooms carry the names and tell the stories of influential women we want to pay tribute to,” explains Women’s Group President Barbara Hancock. “Jean Pearce was recognized for helping foreign women navigate the complexity of Japanese
culture as well as get the most basic but essential things done in their daily lives. She made a significant difference for many women over a long time period.” Pearce, who received the Club’s Distinguished Achievement Award in 1995, was thrilled when she heard the news. “I was so touched,” says the Indiana native. “It gave me a great glow of happiness to think that they would remember me in this way after so many years.” Although she returned to the United States in 2000, Japan continues to evoke strong emotions in her. “I know the country has changed a great deal since those days,” she says. “But something still holds the Japanese in a spiritual culture and because of that their ‘strictly Japanese’ way still holds. That is such a wonderful thing. That is what I remember. Now I treasure those memories.” At age 89, Pearce recalls vividly the moment her journey to Japan began. “When I was just a little girl, I remember having to embroider a pattern at school,” she says. “I chose one of a lady wearing a kimono and carrying a child on her back. Even then, I think I must have been subconsciously drawn to Japan.” o Shaw is a Tokyo-based freelance journalist. How to Get Things Done in Japan (Volume 1) and Foot-Loose in Tokyo: The Curious Traveler's Guide to the 29 Stages of the Yamanote Line are available at the Library.
An interactive community 23
Festive Voices by Nick Jones
inging can be something of an emotional tightrope walk for Junko Sato. When she is performing in a concert hall or church as a soprano in the British Embassy Choir Tokyo, she is careful not to become too consumed with thoughts of her father, a former amateur singer who died a few years ago. “For most of my performances, my mother is there” she says. “She is a music lover and she knew that her late husband loved music so much, and she knows he would have come to every one of my concerts if he were still alive.” In order to remain composed, the 53-year-old says she focuses on the music. “That’s really tricky,” she says, “because if I think too much about my father, then I start to get upset, and, in the worst case, I choke up and have to stop.” A keen singer and pianist since she was a young girl, Sato joined the British Embassy
24 December 2010 iNTOUCH
Choir in early 2003 after watching a Christmas concert at the traditional Women’s Group luncheon the previous December. “I really liked the performance and thought it was fun,” she says. “I have been singing all my life, so I was kind of looking for a choir to join.” This month, it will be Sato—together with a number of other vocalists from the 60-odd-strong choir—who will be offering the musical accompaniment to the festive fare on offer. With the choir staging two Christmas concerts for the public in early December, the Women’s Group performance will include a selection of pieces from that program, including the usual assortment of popular yuletide carols. Performing at the annual luncheon for the fourth time, Sato says she enjoys the relaxed, casual atmosphere. “The ladies are very warm and enjoy it,” says the Tokyo native. “They just enjoy sweets and coffee and the music.”
Although Sato has tried other pursuits, such as swimming and golf (at the request of her golf-mad husband), she has always returned to her primary passion. “I cannot imagine myself without music,” she says. “It is something that makes me, me.” o British Embassy Choir Tokyo www.bec.ac
Monthly Luncheon: Christmas Choral Concert Monday, December 13 Doors open: 11 a.m. Lunch: 11:30 a.m. Banquet Rooms Women’s Group members: ¥3,150 Non-Women’s Group members: ¥4,200 Adults only Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk
hen Punita Singh and her family relocated from Shanghai to Roppongi nearly two years ago, the downsized lifestyle was a colossal hurdle to conquer. “In Shanghai, we had a lot of space,” she says. “We were living in a house with a big backyard. The girls had a trampoline and there was a tennis court and a basketball court in our development.” Now, 41-year-old Singh, her husband and two daughters, ages 8 and 15, stretch their legs with weekend trips to such verdant locales as Hakone and Nikko. And she has even grown fond of the bustling capital. “I slowly started to like it,” she says, “and now I love it for its safety and convenience, and the people are so polite and understanding.” When Monday rolls around and her husband heads off to work and her daughters leave for school, Singh turns her focus to her crucial volunteer role within the Women’s Group. As director of finance, she balances the organization’s books and helps run charity sales and other fundraisers. “This is a wholesome job,” she says. “Professionally, I used to be confined to hardcore financial functions. This role gives me interpersonal relationships with other volunteers.” Singh, who formerly held the role of Women’s Group
Money Maven by Gaby Sheldon
treasurer, earned an MBA in marketing at the University of Indore in her native India and a master’s degree in business and finance from Delhi University. She worked as a mortgage and credit underwriter before moving to Hong Kong for her husband’s career in 2002, when she devoted herself largely to raising their children. As the current finance expert of the Women’s Group, she wants to link the organization’s goals more closely with those of the Club and to raise more funds for both the Club and the local community. “I have to take everyone’s perspective into account and move forward with it, so that all of us reach a common goal,” she explains. Besides the personal challenges, the position, Singh says, has offered her the opportunity to forge numerous new relationships. “I love meeting people from different countries and hearing their perspectives,” she says. “It’s quite an enriching experience being an expat in Tokyo.” o
Sheldon is director of communications for the Women’s Group.
An interactive community 25
26 December 2010 iNTOUCH
Takanawa Farewell Photos by Irwin Wong
xactly three years ago, the Club was in the midst of preparing to abandon its Azabudai home and move to a temporary site while the largest redevelopment project in its history got underway. Although there were some concerns about whether Members would venture a little off the beaten track to the Shinagawa area, the leafy environs of the Takanawa Club have continued to draw legions of fitness fanatics, diners, literature lovers, businesspeople and those just looking to hang out with friends. With the Takanawa doors set to be shut for good on the evening of December 25, a few Members offer their thoughts on the place they have called home for the last three years.
(l–r Sein Dee Konieczny and Dominick, Ava and Greg Lyon)
“My family and I have spent many weekends at the Club. My 3-year-old daughter, Ava, now starts her Saturdays by saying that she wants to go to the ‘E’merican Club. Until recently it was a toss-up between Garden Café and Mixed Grille, but as she has gotten older, her tastes increasingly have taken her upstairs to Mixed Grille. It also may have something to do with the cookies and Jell-O at the buffet, but that’s fine with me because the first thing I look for are the double chocolate cookies. I have also spent a good amount of time in the Takanawa parking lot because my children are highly skilled at falling asleep just before arriving at the Club. I am sure that even after the move to Azabudai, I will be sitting in our car occasionally, an Americano in one hand and a copy of the International Herald Tribune in the other, with at least one child asleep in the back!”
Takanawa Farewell 27
“My best memory of Takanawa has been the Pool, where I have been able to have my own time and swim. My brother-in-law, Quinn Riordan, suggested that I join one of the Club’s swim programs because I really liked swimming during elementary and middle school. I have enjoyed swimming in Takanawa while listening to the sounds of nature and the buzzing of the cicadas in the summer. In the winter, I kept telling myself that the water wasn’t too cold and bravely took the plunge. We have been Members for 10 years now and have a lot of good memories of the Azabudai Club, where we took part in many events with my daughter. She is older now and enjoys the Club with her friends and cousins. I will always remember Takanawa’s beautiful outdoor pool. I will miss it a lot, but I’m also excited about the new Sky Pool in Azabudai.”
“Like many Members, I was skeptical when I heard that the new (albeit temporary) Club would provide the same level of service and creature comforts as it had done previously in Azabudai. However, like nearly all the Members with whom I have spoken, I have been pleasantly surprised to see this promise actually surpassed. And now a part of me will actually miss the Takanawa facility that has been our home for so many months. For my wife and me, one of the many highlights has been The Spa. From easing aching joints to helping us to relax and recharge our batteries, the staff have been not only attentive and friendly, but have seemed to understand and anticipate our wishes. We shall miss The Spa in Takanawa and can only hope that the permanent Club in Azabudai will maintain the same standard of service and care with which we have been spoiled.”
28 December 2010 iNTOUCH
“TAC finally heads back to Azabudai next month. My family and friends are all looking forward to the new facilities, including the gym, pool, restaurants and bowling alley, which I’m sure we will use frequently. That’s not to say that we haven’t used the Takanawa facilities— far from it. As a family, we are at the Club at least once a week, whether it’s eating in Mixed Grille, Vineyards or Garden Café or using the Library, Squash Courts or Gym. As a Club governor, chair of the Compensation Committee and member of the Transition Working Group 2, I have been at the Club about three or four times a week recently. These meetings are usually followed by drinks in Traders’ Bar. As we all know, the staff at the Club are great. Almost without fail, I give the staff the highest score possible when I fill out one of the surveys with the bill. I want to make sure their managers know what I think. It’s time, therefore, to give thanks to the staff for the excellent job they have done in taking care of us while we have waited for our new home.”
“We live in Shirokanedai, so the Club’s Takanawa location has been a real blessing, especially as I use the Squash Courts and fitness facilities so much. With the Club nearby, we have been able to let my son, Max, go to his squash lessons and practice sessions without having to worry about the long journey. Before the Club moved to Takanawa, there was a sense of uncertainly about whether the building would be big enough to house all the facilities and whether the quality of service would be compromised. Aside from the absence of bowling, my concerns have been unfounded. The positive attitude and warm welcome of the staff have made the Club feel like a home away from home. We can’t believe that it is almost time to return to Azabudai. The Squash Courts have been the place my son and I have visited the most during our time in Takanawa, and I have been fortunate to play in some in-house tournaments and friendly competitions organized by the Club’s group of squash lovers. I look forward to the same kind of friendly and professional tournaments at the new Club, which is sure to attract even more squash enthusiasts.”
Takanawa Farewell 29
“Since I became a Member in 1956, the Club has had four facilities: one in Marunouchi, two in Azabudai and, most recently, Takanawa. In many ways, the Takanawa Club reminds me of the original Azabudai facility. With its compactness (but with more in the way of services and activities), Takanawa has the same private club warmth that existed in the first Azabudai building. Much of the credit for this belongs to the Club staff, from the shuttle bus drivers and front desk staff to the restaurant personnel and, especially, the folks in the Library and Video Library. All of them have embraced the situation with enthusiasm and friendliness. The overseas visitors I entertained at Takanawa were very complimentary about the quality of the food and service and were rather amazed that it was a temporary facility. During the time my children were in school, we lived in Takanawa, so there was an additional nostalgic pleasure for me to walk through the neighborhood, which is still one of the finest residential areas in Tokyo. I very much look forward to the opening of the new facilities in Azabudai, and hope that the vigor and enthusiasm established in Takanawa will continue.”
“While I can remember the Azabudai Club, we only spent a short time there after joining TAC in late 2006. The Takanawa location is the one that I most associate with the Club. And it’s during this time in Takanawa that I have come to know the Club staff and Membership. I am a frequent user of the Fitness Center at Takanawa and have probably logged as many hours and lost as much weight there as anyone. More importantly, though, most of the Members I know and many of the people I recognize on the streets of Tokyo also use the Fitness Center. It has been a place where I have made new friends and acquaintances. During a business trip back to San Francisco, for example, I saw a Japanese gentleman whom I recognized. I finally approached him. After he told me that he was from Tokyo, we worked out that we had seen each other at the Fitness Center. While we had traveled 8,000 kilometers to first speak to each other, we continue to do so to this day. The Takanawa location has not been the easiest location to get to but it has helped me to discover another of Tokyo’s distinct neighborhoods. Although I’ll miss Takanawa, I look forward to returning to Azabudai—and a new fitness center!”
30 December 2010 iNTOUCH
Angela Humair “At 7:30 p.m. every Friday, you can find us in Mixed Grille. This is where we come as a family to relax, reconnect and recount the highlights of the week. Sipping a glass of staff-recommended red and perusing the menu of new creations signals the beginning of a well-deserved weekend. In the restaurant’s walled booths, we’ve discussed science projects, crushes, career choices and, finally, the decision to relocate after four and a half years in Tokyo. While we won’t be able to enjoy the new Club, we will miss the genuinely friendly and professional staff that welcome us each time we step into Mixed Grille. Not only do they always remember our preferences, but they are extremely warm and engaging with our
(l–r Alexandra, Jean-Claude, Angela and Isabelle Humair)
daughters. The warmth and friendliness never compromise the professionalism and service. Earlier this year, we arranged an impromptu celebration for my husband’s 50th birthday, which happened to be on a Friday. Antonio Villasmil and his team prepared a special menu and flowers. It was perfect. We are also impressed with the diverse talents of the innovative chefs who work their magic behind the scenes. Takanawa will always hold special memories for our family. There is no doubt that the facilities will be superior in Azabudai, but for many Members it is the warm, professional service that truly makes the difference.” o
Takanawa Farewell 31
Seeing the Forest for the Trees
32 December 2010 iNTOUCH
Beyond its sprawling conurbations, Japan’s topography is dominated by coniferblanketed mountainsides and valleys. More than 60 percent of the country is covered by trees. Yet, despite this abundance of wood, less than a quarter of its timber needs are met domestically. Much of Japan’s timberland was established in the 1960s. But as cheaper logs and products from abroad flooded the market, the local forests became increasingly neglected. Nowadays, there are millions of hectares of woods that haven’t been thinned since the trees were first planted. Nagano-based environmentalist CW Nicol has described the condition of Japan’s forests as “very sickly.” Edward Matsuyama has almost 20 years of experience in the timber and paper industries in Japan and Canada. iNTOUCH’s Nick Jones sat down with the Club Member to discuss the future of Japan’s timber business. Excerpts:
iNTOUCH: How would you describe the state of Japan’s forests?
like cedars. What effect has this had on the industry?
Matsuyama: First of all, I think there seems to be a big mismatch between what the government is trying to do and the actual state of the industry. The government is trying to target a higher percentage of use [of domestic timber] to about 50 percent, as opposed to imported products, but, at the same time, in the forest sector the salary levels are not that great and then the bigger issue is that the labor force is aging tremendously.
Matsuyama: First, the cost of imported products has been very competitive relative to Japanese products. Attracting younger workers to the [timber industry] is an issue, and also productivity is low relative to North America. So, from that perspective, there has been a gradual shift to imported products.
Matsuyama: Japan typically requires between 80 million and 100 million cubic meters of logs for pulp and paper and timber. Right now, the forestry industry is estimating annual growth at about 80 million cubic meters, which will increase as the trees become more mature. On a macro level, Japan can actually be selfsufficient, but there’s a huge mismatch between, for example, the type of trees that are required to build a house and then the type of trees that are actually growing in Japan. Sugi [Japanese cedar] and hinoki [cypress] are probably the two main softwood species grown here, and hinoki is a very expensive species, which is generally only used for certain applications. Sugi is a cheaper product, but it doesn’t have the strength. So a big percentage of the components in a house are either made from Douglas fir from the United States or laminated products from Europe. On the two-by-four side, it would mainly be lumber from Canada.
iNTOUCH: Why is productivity so low in Japan compared with North America?
iNTOUCH: What is required to revitalize this industry?
Matsuyama: If you compare the size of the operation and the size of the timber holdings held by private landowners or what is available, everything is on a much smaller scale. Also, the cost to log here is more expensive because of the terrain. And then each of the sawmills is so small compared to the United States.
Matsuyama: Ninety percent of the demand for wood products would be somewhat related to housing and when you’re increasing the percentage of high-rise condominiums, you’re not going to use much wood. So I think the government has to try and stimulate more single-family housing. I think there is the intent to try and revitalize the industry; the problem is that quite often they’re looking at the supply side, not really the demand side. But if you
iNTOUCH: Why does domestic timber only account for between 20 and 25 percent of all wood use in Japan?
iNTOUCH: From the 1960s, Japan followed a policy of a replacing naturalgrowth forests with fast-growing trees
look at the numbers, the demand for housing just can’t increase based on the current population scenario, so, from that perspective, I’m not sure how much you can revitalize the industry. iNTOUCH: Was Japan’s postwar approach to creating a forestry industry poorly thought out? Matsuyama: I have heard some critical comments on the type of species that were planted after the war, but I don’t know whether it wasn’t well thought of or that’s where the demand was at the time. It turned out to probably be the wrong decision, I would think. iNTOUCH: How would you describe the state of Japan’s forestry management? Matsuyama: Generally speaking, it’s probably in something of a sorry state right now because, without demand, it’s very difficult to justify investment in your forests. But it’s a downward spiral for lumber prices right now, so rather than managing the forests, there are situations where people have just given up. iNTOUCH: Earlier this year, Japan’s forestry agency and ministry of land announced that they were considering imposing restrictions on foreign ownership of forests in Japan. What are your thoughts? Matsuyama: I think that more foreign ownership would help revitalize the industry. Having foreign ownership is something that is quite common in many parts of the world and generally helps increase trade and productivity. o Member insights on Japan 33
Sky-High Swim The Club’s gleaming, new facility in Azabudai opens next month, and many eyes will be focused skyward, on the much-anticipated rooftop swimming pool. by Wendi Hailey
orsing around with his pals at the former Azabudai Club pool one day, an adolescent Jesse Green caught the watchful eye of the lifeguard on duty. Instead of the usual punishment of sitting under the lifeguard’s chair for misbehavior, he had to stuff and label envelopes for the Club newsletter. “Back then, the guards would take a much more hard-nosed approach to discipline,” recalls the longtime Club Member, now 33. But even those disciplinary moments are tinted with fondness for a lifetime logged in and around the Club’s aquatic zone. At his parents’ urging, Green took his first swim lesson at age 5 or 6 in the old pool, which was unheated, and logged countless hours growing accustomed to the water. “Needless to say, I spent a lot of time in the pool with blue lips and chattering teeth,” says the Philadelphia native. Although the pool water in Takanawa was warmed, chilly temperatures, wind and rain made for less-than-ideal swimming conditions at times. Such weather-related 34 December 2010 iNTOUCH
woes will be absent when the glass-crowned Sky Pool opens in Azabudai next month. “The design is largely terrific, and I’m excited about being able to make use of the pool year-round,” says Green, who joined the Swim Committee in 2007 to help with the planning of the new pool facilities and became co-chair last year with Stewart Homler. “I got out of the pool this morning after our masters program and shivered as I rushed to grab my towel across the deck. This is something we will no longer have to contend with at the new Club.” Located on the fifth floor, the 25-meter, six-lane pool boasts panoramic views of Tokyo Tower and the surrounding cityscape, as well as Mount Fuji on fine days. The glass-walled panels on two sides slide open to welcome an unobstructed breeze during fine weather, while the spacious dome provides protection from UV rays and keeps temperatures from soaring in the summer. The original plans for a retractable roof were scrapped after the Tokyo government tightened its building regulations. Several plans for similar structures are still pending
approval, says Recreation Director Scott Yahiro. “I know originally we wanted to have a retractable roof, but if we took it to get approved within the city, it would have taken forever and would have held up the project,” he explains. “Otherwise, even today we’d still be waiting. A lot of people are happy that they can swim year-round.” “From a pure swimming perspective, I’m largely happy about what we will have,” Green says. “But the pool is more than just swimming. It’s a place to relax, sunbathe and congregate with friends, and while the pool will surely be beautiful, the restraints of the roof may make it less enjoyable for some. Time will tell, but while we didn’t get everything we wanted—a retractable roof—I hope that the Members will embrace the new pool and be very happy calling it their own.” Those who long to bask under the blue skies can take advantage of the open-air sun deck nearby, as well as a private terrace for adults on the floor below. In addition, there will be plenty of lounge spaces and shaded spots surrounding the blue-tiled
Some elements in the rendering may differ from the actual Sky Pool.
pool, which was designed by renowned American architectural firm Pelli Clarke Pelli, with input from the Club’s recreation team and the Swim Committee. “It’s unbelievable, this space—just beautiful,” Yahiro says. “And once the sides are opened up, it’s fantastic.” The hours will remain the same as in Takanawa, accommodating early-morning lap swimmers and those who want to take a dip under the stars and the faint glow of Tokyo Tower just a few blocks away. Closer by, the popular Splash! café will return with alfresco dining and a menu filled with nourishing, all-American nibbles. The Sky Pool’s uniform 1.4-meter depth will allow for competitive swimmers to dive off starting blocks while accommodating children and users who favor in-water walking exercises. For the youngest Members, the kids’ aquatic park encompasses a shallow, safeguarded wading pool, water slide, mushroom fountain, water spouts and colorful sea creatures to clamber over, as well as a lounge area for supervising adults.
Although it took years for Green’s enthusiasm to take hold following his initial foray into the Club pool, he devoted chunks of his summer breaks to diving, swimming and enjoying the energetic atmosphere. He eventually bloomed into a competitive swimmer and joined the Mudsharks swim team, then found himself sitting on the lifeguard’s perch and teaching others how to swim. “The TAC pool has a very special place in my heart,” he says. “I learned to swim at TAC. I first competed at TAC. My first summer job was at TAC, and I logged 12 straight summers at the pool as a lifeguard and instructor, giving back to the community that had previously given so much to me.” During more recent swim seasons, Green could be found at the pool three mornings a week “pumping out the meters” with his fellow masters swimmers. Come January, he will no longer have to worry about an off-season interrupting his practice routine—or icy lips and goose bumps, for that matter. o The journey back to Azabudai 35
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.
Watanabe by Fred Harris
Crafting vivid, simple imagery, printmaker Sadao Watanabe ingeniously depicted Adam and Eve, the Crucifixion and hundreds of other pivotal scenes from the Bible. The works have been acclaimed around the globe for their fresh perspective on long-established Christian themes and have left a visual and spiritual impact on the countless observers who have encountered them. Born in Tokyo in 1913, Watanabe began to study the traditional Japanese folk art of stencil printing, or katazome, with textile master Keisuke Serizawa in 1941. Adapting the technique to the medium of handcrafted washi paper, he created a new style of art with his stencil-dyed hanga prints, which abound in humor and freedom of expression (“The Last Supper” shows Jesus and the apostles dining on sushi). Several of these extraordinary works will mark the final Genkan Gallery exhibition in Takanawa. As a child, Watanabe suffered from tuberculosis and, likely influenced by a Christian teacher, vowed to study the Bible and spread its ideas through art if he recovered. Although only about 1 percent of Japan’s population is Christian, that hasn’t prevented Watanabe’s works from being well received. Watanabe garnered numerous accolades for his distinctive prints until his death in 1996. Many of his works permanently grace the world’s most prestigious art institutions, including New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the Vatican Museum of Modern Religious Art.
Editor’s note: Harris, a former Club president, governor and Genkan Gallery Committee chair, passed away in Tokyo on November 1.
36 December 2010 iNTOUCH
yokoso Thomas & Madelyn Iannacone United States— PricewaterhouseCoopers Aarata Patrick & Lisa Eyre United Kingdom—BNP Paribas Securities Ltd. Vernon Willis & Allison Jordan-Willis United Kingdom—UBS Securities Japan Ltd. Kurt & Debra Hollasch United States—Corning Holding Japan G.K.
Ravi & Sarita Mathur India—Embassy of India
Christian & Carol Sandric United States—Chartis Companies
Petr & Aimi Vyvial Germany—Meitan Tradition Co., Ltd.
Shigeru & Takako Yoshida Japan—Fuji Denko Company
Anders Land & Asae Takahashi-Land United States—Chartis Far East Holdings K.K.
Adrian & Yoriko Bell Australia—Meitan Tradition Co., Ltd.
David & Virginia Malinas United States—Thermo Fisher Scientific K.K. Hiromitsu Kuramoto Japan—Yusen Air & Sea Service Co., Ltd. Paul & Christy Ramos United States— PricewaterhouseCoopers Aarata
Joseph Venetico United Kingdom— Chartis Companies
Satoshi & Sae Saffen United States—TNP Co., Ltd.
Shigeo & Kazuko Yasuda Japan—Earthwatch Institute Japan Harrison & Rachel Smookler United States—Corning Holding Japan G.K.
Richard & Sarah Warley United Kingdom—KVH Co., Ltd. Richard Sleigh United Kingdom— PricewaterhouseCoopers Aarata
Adam & Maja Smith United States—Google Japan
Andy & Wakako Cheung United Kingdom—Johnson Controls K.K.
Makiko & Kazutoyo Yamamoto Japan—Space Create Co.
Akihide Kaneko South Korea—Ko-Shin Co., Ltd.
Masayuki & Yuko Fukui Japan—Yoko Co., Ltd.
Takashi & Rika Toyoda Japan—Nishi Waseda Orthopaedic Surgery
Hajime Kikuchi Japan—Master Consultings Co., Ltd.
George & Anna Zarifi Canada—Danone Japan
Seri & Akimi Inoue Japan—Camp
Il Sung Park South Korea—Chuo Tochi Co., Ltd.
Nobukuni Taneya Japan—Bals Corporation
Russell & Dawn Wager United States—TBWA/ Hakuhodo International
Yasumi Sawabe Japan—Sawabe Associates, Inc. Roger & Francesca Leek United Kingdom—Fujitsu Ltd.
Takeo & Keiko Suzuki Japan—TDK Corporation Daniel & Aska Kenny Canada—HSBC Japan
Patrick & Jane Maloney Ireland—Tullett Prebon (Europe) Ltd.
sayonara Randall & Lori Anstine Holger & Sylvia Beyer Jeroen Bloemhard & Caroline Roussel Marcus & Ulrike Desimoni Steve & Julie Dixon Susan Fallon
Glenville & Arlene Feist Peder & Isabel Jensen Sylvia Latimer Juan Leon III & Jamie Leon Joseph Light Peter Mackey Stephen & Kerrin Marcon
Paul Matheson & Lisa Stephens Kazumasa & Nobuyo Nishioka Edgar & Tiffany Nouss Jackson Alex Poon & Grace Yu Ka Wai Makoto Saji Saladin Sayyas & Etsuko Kasuga
Mokash Sharma & Angela Mason-Sharma Federico Spagnoli & Melisa Valle Leopold & Sarah Visser Paul & Andrea White Neil Clive Andrew Smith & Valerie Rita
stacks of services at the Club
JTB Sunrise Tours
Go Mobile Phone Rental
André Bernard Beauty Salon
Enjoy a 5 percent discount on all package tours and start making unforgettable memories. Tel: 03-5796-5454 (9:30 a.m.–8 p.m.) E-mail: sunrisetours@ web.jtb.jp www.jtb-sunrisetours.jp
The Club’s professional shoe repair and polishing service. Tel: 03-4588-0670 Family Area (1F) Sat & Sun 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
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.
Whatever your international delivery needs, FedEx can help. To find out more about the range of services and Member discounts available, visit the FedEx counter. Family Area (1F) Tue–Thu 12–4 p.m. (closed weekends and national holidays)
Services and benefits for Members 37
Go for Launch! With the Club set to embark on its great adventure in Azabudai next month, Members are invited to be a part of this exciting initial exploration between the much-anticipated open house in mid-January and the grand opening in May. Over the first several months, as the various Club areas and services are gradually unveiled, Members can settle into their new, evolving home and its vast array of top-notch facilities and activities.
January 18 Ribbon-cutting ceremony and start of soft opening Genkan Gallery opens January 19 Fitness, Sky Pool, Spa, Library, DVD rental and Childcare facilities open American Bar & Grill opens Foreign Traders’ Bar opens
February 7 Super Bowl Party February 12 Father-Daughter Dinner Dance February 28 Overnight guest suites open April 29 Splash! opens for weekends only
Café Med opens for breakfast only Rainbow Café opens for lunch and dinner
May 20 Grand opening gala
January 22 Café Med opens for lunch and dinner
May 23 Grand opening ceremony
January 31 Committee meetings and recreational classes resume
new member profile
Greg & Crystal Goodfliesh United States—RGA Reinsurance Company
Why did you decide to join the Club? “We joined TAC for the opportunities to make new friends and have new experiences. Many of our friends belong to TAC and we wanted to be able to share more experiences with them on an equal basis rather than feeling like a tagalong. The Club is a great place to go for answers, and the staff can help to plan your day, such as taking one of the Club tours. All you have to do is sign up and show up!” (l–r) Greg, Crystal, Nicole and Brandon Goodfliesh
June 20 Splash! opens daily October 3 Decanter opens
February 1 Banqueting and catering services resume
new member profile Rebecca Major & Richard Chotard United Kingdom—Herbert Smith
Why did you decide to join the Club?
Advertising Opportunities If you would like to advertise in iNTOUCH, contact Miyuki Hagiwara at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“This is the second time we have lived in Tokyo, and we visited TAC then for various birthday parties and other events. We were impressed with the amazing facilities the new development has to offer and the location in central Tokyo. Our kids are French and English and go to the Lycée FrancoJaponais de Tokyo. We are keen to ensure they get lots of access to the English-speaking world, especially through all those great English-language books and DVDs at the Club.” (l–r) Richard and Joseph Chotard, Rebecca Major and Isaac Chotard
38 December 2010 iNTOUCH
of the month
Ken Hiramoto by Nick Jones
ost lifeguards would prefer not to have to put their rescue and first aid training into practice. Whether they are overseeing a stretch of summer beach or a packed pool, these “guardians of the water” enjoy days dominated by smiling, sun-kissed faces. Occasionally, though, the rhythmic sloshing of water against the pool sides or the cacophony of children’s yells and laughter is broken by a shrill whistle blast or a cry for help. For Club lifeguard Ken Hiramoto, such a moment came in 2006 when his colleague shouted to him from the side of the pool in Azabudai. A Member had almost drowned, and Hiramoto was part of the team that
resuscitated him while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. The group later received a commendation from Tokyo’s fire department. Fortunately, such incidents have been rare at the Club pool, and Hiramoto, 42, likes it that way. “I like to help create a safe environment and help people,” he says. First lifeguarding at the Club for a short period in 2004, the Yokohama native has worked the full pool season, from March through November, since 2005. Rather than supervising people’s swimming, Hiramoto, who is also a licensed personal trainer, once managed the linguistic skills of those in his charge. As a Japanese language teacher in Tokyo,
he taught foreigners at a language school while visiting others at their offices. “It was pretty hard, but I liked teaching,” he says. Hiramoto is now studying for his master’s in Japanese language education at Kokugakuin University in Shibuya, but he says he’s looking forward to working at the stunning aquatic facilities at the new Club from next month. And after picking up October’s Employee of the Month award for helping to keep the Pool in Takanawa safe and comfortable, Members can expect an extra-motivated Hiramoto in the lifeguard’s chair in Azabudai. “I feel good and very happy,” he says. “But, on the other hand, I feel some pressure to be a good role model and work harder.” o
Employee of the Quarter
Suranga De Alwis
Some restrictions apply. Ask for details.
by Nick Jones
Suranga De Alwis was named the Employee of the Quarter for the period from July to September. Joining the Club in 2008, he started in the newly created cost controller position in the Club’s Food & Beverage Department in January 2009. “It has been a busy period of work with the implementation of new systems and preparations for our new Club, so it’s really great and motivating to receive recognition during this time,” the Employee of the Month for August says of his latest award. Having worked in the hotel industry in his native Sri Lanka and the Seychelles, De Alwis came to Japan for his wife’s graduate studies. He is an avid fan of cricket and field hockey. o
• Laser hair removal • Botox • Restylane • Retin-A • Liposuction, Eye, Nose, Breast, Facelift, Tummy Tuck • Laser (Titan, Genesis, Hair Removal, Tattoo, IPL) • Men’s (ED, AGA)
Services and benefits for Members 39
40 December 2010 iNTOUCH
Keeping the Music Alive One shamisen teacher in Tokyo is making the most of a boom in traditional culture. by Brian Publicover
hese are exciting times for Japanese history buffs and traditional culture enthusiasts. Comic books and TV dramas have rekindled popular interest in historical figures, such as Meiji Restoration hero Ryoma Sakamoto, while prefectural governments across Japan have started promoting previously overlooked historical sites to bring in the tourist yen. The trend is partly in response to the media-driven rise of young, history-obsessed women, dubbed rekijo, who have fueled a fad that some analysts say is now worth billions of yen a year. And Kumiya Fujimoto couldn’t be happier about it. “I can feel it. It’s amazing that so many people are showing interest in traditional culture, and I’m kind of trying to connect the shamisen to the boom,” says the 27-year-old shamisen teacher, clad in a kimono and geta sandals. “For 20 years now, I’ve been trying to place myself near those interests, like the rekijo boom, or interest in the shamisen and the popularity of traditional lessons in things like tea ceremony or flower arrangement.” A licensed shamisen master and teacher, Fujimoto is a member of the Fujimotokai, one of Japan’s largest schools for the study of the traditional, three-stringed instrument. “Fujimoto is my stage name,” explains the Tokyo native. “Stage names are the first step to certification as a shamisen teacher. You don’t really need a stage name, but it can represent your teacher or style, and my teacher gave me this name. Having a stage name is the first step in getting a master’s license.” While there are several different types of shamisen, they all feature long, fretless necks and box-like bodies. They are generally played with a large pick, or bachi, although practitioners of some styles, such as kouta, mainly pluck the instrument with their fingers. Fujimoto uses this method on her thin-necked hosozao shamisen, but she also plays other traditional styles, such as mingyo and nagauta. Shamisen are tuned and played according to the music to be performed. The hugely popular Yoshida Brothers, for example, made a name for themselves internationally with their unconventional musical style, which draws on a range of modern influences. “The Yoshida Brothers sparked interest in tsugaru jamisen,” says Fujimoto. “I don’t do the tsugaru jamisen style, but they introduced many new fans to the shamisen, both here and overseas. Their music
is aggressive, very different from mine, with a more Western style. They also play traditional styles very well. But I’m not really a fan; I prefer traditional styles.” A fluent English speaker, Fujimoto teaches both men and women, most of whom are young foreigners, primarily from the United States and Australia, but also from countries as diverse as France, Singapore and Peru. André Kenji Horie, a 24-year-old graduate student at the University of Tokyo, started studying with Fujimoto last year as a way to explore his Japanese roots. “When I was in Brazil, I took sanshin [an Okinawan-style shamisen] lessons and I felt really connected to it,” says the native of São Paulo, Brazil. “So I thought that when I arrived in Japan, I would try the nagauta shamisen. I looked on the Internet and found Fujimoto sensei’s website.” For Fujimoto, the shamisen is in her blood. “My grandmother and aunt used to take lessons from my master,” she says. “My grandma started taking me to her lessons and I fell in love with my master’s voice. I’m still taking lessons with her; it has been 20 years.” Although Fujimoto isn’t the youngest shamisen master in the country, she does much more than teach people how to play the instrument. Through performing and lecturing at embassies, nursing homes and high schools, she has emerged as a kind of ambassador for the shamisen. She also plays a regular monthly gig at the Pink Cow bar in Shibuya. “I organize the show there,” she says. “One of my students from Jamaica held a black history month event there once and the owner asked me if I wanted to hold a regular event based around traditional Japanese instruments. I’ve held 19 shows now, so I’ve been doing it for almost two years.” While passionate about Japan’s musical heritage (she recently became interested in the ichigenkin, a single-stringed zither), Fujimoto’s tastes extend to those of any average twentysomething woman. “I like Destiny’s Child,” she admits with a smile. “I like foreign and Japanese pop music—typical stuff for a 27-yearold girl.” o Publicover is a Tokyo-based freelance journalist. Kumiya Fujimoto http://shamisen-sensei.com
A look at culture and society 41
ne of Japan’s holiest sites, Mount Koya, in Wakayama Prefecture, is also a World Heritage site and a destination for those looking for a taste of the austere life of a Buddhist monk. A Buddhist epicenter ever since the monk Kobo Daishi founded the Shingon sect among the towering cedars in the 9th century, Koyasan, as the area is known in Japanese, is now home to some 120 Shingon monasteries. Clustered around the mountain’s main temple, they attract a steady stream of pilgrims, though it’s not just the pious that make the several-hour trip south of Osaka; many visitors come to spend a night living like a monk at one of the 50 or so monasteries that offer lodging. I checked into Eko Temple, a small monastery where the order’s younger monks are in charge of running the lodging. The accommodation, as is typical with shukubo, is rather spartan, with no more than a simple tatami mat room with a low table, futon mattress and small TV. The washrooms, with their deep, pipinghot baths, are communal. As you might expect at a monastery, everything is run on a rigid, almost military schedule: dinner at 5:30 p.m. sharp, bathing between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m., morning prayers at 6:30 a.m. and breakfast shortly thereafter at 7:30 a.m. There was a gentle knock on the sliding door of my six tatami-mat room at 5:30 p.m., right on cue. On the first of two red lacquer trays placed on the floor by one of
42 December 2010 iNTOUCH
the junior monks was a block of creamy tofu served with a dab of wasabi, several pieces of vegetable tempura with some finely powdered salt, a clear soup and a selection of pickles. Simple and strictly vegetarian, it was far less grim than I was expecting. The other tray had a small bowl of soba noodles alongside a wedge of persimmon and an assortment of tofu appetizers that all tasted as good as anything I’d eaten at a conventional Japanese inn. The highlight of my stay was early the next day. Entering the faintly lit inner temple for morning prayers, I was welcomed by the sight of monks reciting Buddhist sutra amid clouds of incense. A drum beat out a resonant rhythm as three monks led a hypnotic, droning chant that they punctuated occasionally with a collective, sharp intake of breath. The rituals continued in a smaller building in the temple compound, where a lone, seated monk burned 108 pieces of wood (each one representing a defilement to be overcome on the road to enlightenment) in a spectacular, intimate ceremony. The monastery experience is not the only reason to visit Mount Koya, however. With its tall cedars, moss-covered stone stupas and small jizo statues in their vivid red bibs, Okuno Temple’s sprawling, wooded cemetery has a wonderfully mysterious atmosphere. Located on the east side of town, it is Koyasan’s most sacred spot. At the cemetery’s eastern end is the Hall
of Lanterns, a richly decorated building lit by 10,000 burning oil lanterns. Behind the hall, almost obscured by incense smoke and dense woodland, is the off-limits mausoleum of Kobo Daishi. It’s also worth paying a visit to the other side of town and Kongobu Temple, the Shingon sect’s main sanctuary, which is home to a famed collection of 16th-century screen paintings. The ¥500 entry fee includes green tea, a sweet and the chance to take in the stunning landscaped rock garden. One of the largest in Japan, the large rocks form a cryptic puzzle against a backdrop of foliage. Nearby is Koyasan’s sacred inner precinct, the Garan. Consisting of several wooden halls and colorful stupa, the site is where Kobo Daishi erected the mountain’s first monastery. Though most of the buildings in this sandy complex are modern rebuilds, they do house some impressive antiquities. I paid ¥200 to pop my head into the towering, vivid orange Konpo Daito (Great Stupa) for a look at the five giant gilded Buddha, each of which sports the kind of blue-rinse hairdo typically spotted on old ladies shopping in Sugamo. Fortunately, for those looking for a tranquil break from the crush of the capital, that’s where the similarities between Mount Koya and Tokyo begin and end. o
Goss is a Tokyo-based freelance journalist.
OUT & ABOUT
About 2 hours, 30 minutes by bullet train from Tokyo Station to Shin Osaka Station, then take the Midosuji Subway Line to Namba Station and transfer to the Nankai Line. From there, take a rapid express train for the approximately 1 hour, 30-minute journey to Gokurakubashi Station. The last leg of the trip is a five-minute cable car ride from Gokurakubashi up to Koyasan. Koyasan Shingon Buddhism and Visitor Information www.koyasan.or.jp Koyasan Tourist Association and Shukubo Temple Lodging Association www.shukubo.jp Nankai Koya Hot Net www.nankaikoya.jp
Eko Temple www.ekoin.jp (Japanese only) Rengejo Temple (morning prayers explained in English) Tel: 0736-56-2233 Temple Lodging in Japan http://templelodging.com
Koyasan Cross-Cultural Communication Network www.koyasan-ccn.com
A center of spirituality for hundreds of years, Mount Koya is also a magnet for those looking for a serene getaway. by Rob Goss
Explorations beyond the Club 43
For more photos from some events displayed in these pages, visit the Event Image Gallery (under News & Info) on the Club website.
Special Storytime with Ken Cogger October 9
Longtime Member Ken Cogger dropped by the Club to host a highly animated session of storytelling and crafts. Children, along with many of their parents, listened closely as the multilingual American brought several bighearted tales to life, including Zak the Yak with Books on His Back by Room to Read founder John Wood. Afterward, participants decorated their own â€œyak bellâ€? and had the chance to purchase a copy of Zak the Yak (all proceeds went to the nonprofit organization) to take home.
Photos by Yuuki Ide 1. Laurens and Jules Receveur 2. Valerie Viana 3. Julie Defibaugh 4. Ken Cogger 5. Louis Kabe-Zadeh and Taiga Cogger
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Artist’s Reception with Eriko Furuwatari October 18
With about 60 Members and guests gathered in the Genkan Gallery, artist Eriko Furuwatari unveiled a compilation of her abstract, emotive paintings. Attendees enjoyed wine and hor d’oeuvres as they mingled and were later treated to a mesmerizing Japanese xylophone performance. Photos by Yuuki Ide 1. Junko Thomas and Yumiko Sai 2. Eriko Furuwatari 3. (l–r) Reiko Oshima, Junko Thomas, Yumiko Sai and Eriko Furuwatari 4. Takayoshi Yoshioka
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.
Disaster Awareness Day October 30
About 120 people attended this annual, family-oriented event promoting safety and emergency preparedness. Participants experienced a simulated earthquake and “smoke house,” observed a CPR demonstration and got an up-close look at a real fire truck. Expert speakers answered questions and dispensed invaluable advice that left Members of all ages better equipped to deal with disaster. Photos by Yuuki Ide
1. (l–r) Gina Capizzi and her children, Mia, Dean and Anthony 2. (l–r) Justine Jonas and Nathan, Sara and Geoffrey Dickson
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Snapshots from Club occasions 47
For more photos from some events displayed in these pages, visit the Event Image Gallery (under News & Info) on the Club website.
Monthly Luncheon: The Real Tokyo Hands October 18
Writer and longtime Tokyo resident Kit Nagamura gave luncheon-goers a dazzling glimpse into the lives of the cityâ€™s backstreet artisans. The enlightening presentation detailed ancient craft-making techniques that have been passed from one generation to the next and the colorful stories of these trade masters, including a candy sculptor, lacquer artist, chisel maker and washi paper craftsman who brought their exquisite wares to the event. One of the dayâ€™s highlights was an extraordinary demonstration of Edo-style sweet making. Photos by Hiroyasu Yamaguchi 1. Hiroko LePon 2. Haruno Akiyama and Kit Nagamura 3. Isolda Perez 4. Heidi Sanford 5. Miki Ohyama 4
48 December 2010 iNTOUCH
Ghosts and Goblins October 30
More than 200 children were brave enough to venture to the Club for a ghoulishly good time at the annual Halloween party. A frightening array of monsters, witches and creatures of the night enjoyed games, face painting, cookies, photos, crafts, spooky stories and goodie bags. Photos by Ken Katsurayama
1. (lâ€“r) Anthony, Mia and Dean Capizzi 1
Snapshots from Club occasions 49
Kamakura Samurai Archery Ceremony Tour September 30
From a thrilling front-row vantage point, 24 participants of this annual Women’s Group outing took in the spectacular yabusame archery competition in Kamakura, in which men in ancient warrior costumes aim their arrows at fixed targets from atop galloping horses. Before the contest, the group ate lunch at a quaint Japanese restaurant and then observed a Shinto blessing ritual with traditional gagaku music. Photos by Miki Ohyama 1. (l–r) Svein and Christina Tyldum, Toshiko Hobo and Deborah Ely 2. (l–r) Hayato Sekiguchi, Kazumasa Ohyama, Isako Sekiguchi, Julie and Anthony Ennis, Miki Ohyama, Ann Ritchie, Toshiko Hobo, Miriam Haldler, Allan Ritchie, Deborah Ely, Meg and Rob McCreery, John Delp, Alexandre and Radoslava Anguelov, Kyoko Odaka, Cristina and Svein Tyldum, Fumiko Hashimoto and Elisabeth Chang 3. Kazumasa Ohyama, John Delp and Fumiko Hashimoto
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Ticket Trials by Karen Pond Illustration by Akiko Sato
o I need to buy tickets?” I asked my friend with some hesitation. “I’m not sure if I have quite recovered from my last attempt to buy show tickets at a Tokyo ticket office.” The last time I tried to buy tickets to a show, I was taking Japanese lessons and was feeling confident of my communication skills. “Don’t worry,” I said to my sons, who actually looked worried. “Your mom’s got it all figured out. I will get you the concert tickets.” Admittedly, on my way to the ticket office, I was feeling good. I knew where to go to buy tickets. I knew the cost of the tickets. I knew the date of the show. I knew how to say “green” in Japanese. I knew how to say “day” in Japanese. I knew what to say, or so I thought. “Midori no hi o kudasai,” I said with confidence to the clerk behind the ticket counter. “Midori no hi o kudasai,” I said with rapidly waning confidence a moment later. Clearly, the clerk was trying his best to figure out what I was talking about. After a few more minutes of contemplation, he proudly presented me a flier to an upcoming show. “Mom!” my teenage son bellowed excitedly when I returned home from the ticket office. “Did you get tickets to Green Day?” “Well,” I replied. “Yes and no. The good news is that I was successful. I went there for tickets and I came home with tickets. The bad news is that there was a bit of miscommunication on my part. I don’t have tickets to Green Day, the award-winning American punk band. But, I do have five passes to a flower-arranging class, and I am pretty sure I signed us up to plant a tree.” “No,” my friend reassured me. “You don’t have to buy tickets.” “Do I need to dress up?” I asked. “No,” she said. “You don’t have to dress up.” “What about the seats?” I asked. “Can we get seats by the runway? I want to take photos.”
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“Photos?” my friend said, suddenly perplexed. “A runway? What are you talking about? There’s chicken. There’s pork. There’s seafood. There’s tea. There are baked goods. But there isn’t a runway. It’s simply a popular basement food court.” “What?” I asked. “The Tokyu Food Show is a basement food court?” I thought it was a fashion and food event sponsored by the department store. I thought we were going to see a parade of models walking down a runway with platters of the latest, greatest, newest and tastiest Tokyo food. Still, at least I didn’t need tickets. o
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TOKYO AMERICAN CLUB
毎 月 一 回 一 日 発 行
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iNTOUCH TOKYO AMERICAN CLUB
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Club Members reflect on the highlights of their time in Takanawa
Issue 549 • December 2010
Sporting get-togethers at the Club make workouts enjoyable
The year-round Sky Pool is set to wow swimmers
An ancient Buddhist center offers a divine getaway
Tokyo American Club's monthly member magazine.