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TOKYO AMERICAN CLUB

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ト ウ キ ョ ウ ア メ リ カ ン ク ラ ブ 

May 2009

N T O U C H

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iNTOUCH

i

イ ン タ ッ チ マ ガ ジ ン 二 〇 〇 九 五 月 一 日 発 行 

TOKYO AMERICAN CLUB

Japan’s Pitching Pioneer

本 体 七 七 七 円

Star hurler Hideo Nomo reflects on his playing days on both sides of the Pacific

Issue 530 • May 2009

Countertop Cuisine

Paradise Found

Nostalgic Notes

One American chef brings his take on ramen to the Club

The nearby Izu islands offer a dazzling escape from the city

Member Shinichi Mori sings the soundtrack to a generation


12

library

Architectural Aspirations

recreation Club Member, architect and author Naomi Pollock explains her transition from designing buildings to writing about them in Japan.

recreation

20

The Greatest Game After playing some of the world’s most spectacular courses, Golf Committee chair Steven Thomas describes the pure contest and camaraderie of an afternoon on the greens. redevelopment

38

contents

4 Events 6 Board of Governors 7 Management 8 Food & Beverage 12 Library 16 Video Library

All in a Day’s Work

18 Committees

With an endless agenda of meticulous planning and progress at the Azabudai site, project manager Ryota Sekiguchi punches the clock every morning to oversee the colossal creation of the new Club.

20 Recreation

feature

28

24 Women's Group 28 Feature 34 Genkan Gallery 36 Talking Heads

The End of Tornado Season

38 Redevelopment

Once ostracized by Japan’s baseball establishment over his radical departure from the country’s game, Hideo Nomo finally hung up his glove last year after 13 seasons in the majors. The man nicknamed “The Tornado” for his unorthodox pitching style talks exclusively to iNTOUCH about his years on the mound.

40 Member Services 47 Contacts 48 Inside Japan 50 Out & About 52 Event Roundup 56 Tokyo Moments

Car Care with Heart

Select the exceptional range of auto services from Mick Lay and help make a difference in the lives of children with cancer and their families. A portion of the cost of all door-to-door car maintenance and mechanical and body repairs will go to the Tyler Foundation. To learn more about this special partnership, please visit http://www.micklay.com/cars4kids.html or http://www.tylershineon.org/index.php/whatcanyoudo/cars_for_kids. For market-priced car sales, short-term leasing, support in English and more, contact Mick Lay for top-notch service, the best deals in Tokyo—and the potential to bring joy to a child.


iNTOUCH Magazine 005. 2009 W : 118 mm x H : 257 mm

iNTOUCH Editor Nick Jones editor@tac-club.org

Designers Ryan Mundt Jasmine Lai Production Assistant Yuko Shiroki Assistant Editor Wendi Hailey Design Assistant Miki Amano Communications Manager Matthew Roberts Management Michael Bumgardner General Manager gm@tac-club.org Bob Sexton Assistant General Manager agm@tac-club.org Lian Chang Information Technology Director itdir@tac-club.org Darryl Dudley Engineering Director eng@tac-club.org Alistair Gough Redevelopment Director projdir@tac-club.org Shuji Hirakawa Human Resources Director hum_res@tac-club.org Linda Joseph Administrative Services Director gmoffice@tac-club.org Mutsuhiko Kumano Finance Director finance@tac-club.org Michael Marlay Food & Beverage Director fboffice@tac-club.org Scott Yahiro Recreation Director recdirector@tac-club.org Cover image by Ayano Sato

To advertise in iNTOUCH, contact: marketing@tac-club.org 03-4588-0976 For Membership information, contact Mari Hori: mari.hori@tac-club.org 03-4588-0687 Tokyo American Club 4–25–46 Takanawa, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108–0074 www.tokyoamericanclub.org

2 May 2009 iNTOUCH


from the

editor

We demand a lot from our sporting heroes. Besides expecting them to wow us with feats of superhuman dexterity, skill and endurance every time they step out onto the pitch/court/field, we want them to pursue squeaky-clean lives as society’s custodians of morality. And when they open their mouths to speak, we expect thought-provoking soliloquies and poignant insights into their performances. That’s not, of course, what we get. We get rap sheets, paternity suits, lengthy stays in expensive rehab clinics, drunken antics and cliché-ridden, predictable comments that sound identical to what was said after last week’s game. Yet, at the same time, we say we’d like to see more “characters” in sport. Mavericks. We want to be mesmerized by hugely talented, tactless dissenters. Sport brings out the animal in all of us. There is something bestial about large crowds at sports games. They urge the athletes on to glory and destruction in equal measure. We celebrate their power and strength, but insist on drama and even tragedy as well. It’s not difficult to work out why the Romans packed the Colosseum every time the gladiators played at home. When baseball pitcher Hideo Nomo found a backdoor way to get to the majors in 1995, he discovered quickly how fickle the public and media can be, particularly in a country that demands loyalty and perseverance from its subjects. He was vilified and castigated from all corners for his “selfishness.” But as soon as he signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the nation embraced him as its own brave, battling son, heading off to claim his piece of the American dream. Naturally, Nomo was less than enthusiastic to talk to the same reporters who had been so critical of him only weeks before. The media complained about his unwillingness to comply, and the love-hate relationship continued for the duration of Nomo’s 13-year stint in the United States. For this month’s cover story, “The End of Tornado Season,” Nomo was generous in his time and honesty as he talked to iNTOUCH about his illustrious playing career. In fact, it was the things he didn’t do or say that proved the most telling. For almost 90 minutes, he sat, perfectly composed, politely answering questions in his native tongue and breaking out the occasional smile. He didn’t crack one-liners or animatedly talk up his achievements. That’s not what real heroes do. If you have any comments about anything you read in iNTOUCH, please e-mail them to editor@tac-club.org, putting “Letter to the Editor” in the subject title of the mail.

contributors Tim Hornyak

Hilary Wendel

Canadian freelance journalist Tim Hornyak’s writings on Japanese culture, technology and history have appeared in a number of publications, including Wired News, Scientific American and the Far Eastern Economic Review. The author of Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots, which was selected as one of the top 10 science books of 2006 by Amazon.com, Hornyak recently returned to his native Montreal after almost a decade in Japan. Having traveled to all 47 of Japan’s prefectures, he contributes to Lonely Planet guidebooks. In this month’s Out & About, he heads south of Tokyo for the first in a two-part guide to the Izu chain of islands. When not immersing himself in the sci-tech scene, he enjoys hiking and cross-country skiing.

Hilary Wendel has lived in Tokyo for eight years. While her parents live in Bangladesh and her in-laws reside in Germany, California’s Napa Valley is her other home. In recent years, she has also lived in Frankfurt, New York City and Miami Beach. Wendel, who has a master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, used to work in the auto industry in Europe. Despite being a busy stay-at-home mom with three children, she still finds time for writing (she interviewed enka singer Shinichi Mori for this month’s Inside Japan on pages 48 to 49), running, tennis, exploring Japan with friends and being a member of the Women’s Group.

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


2 What’s happening in

May

94

Tuesday Saturday

Early Pregnancy and Pottery Festival of Mashiko Tour Birth Planning This unique festival of more than Qualified nurse Ann Tanaka helps 100 local potters and their finely parents-to-be to prepare for crafted wares is not to be missed. the arrival of their bundle of joy WG members: ¥5,000. Non-WG during this Women’s Group class. members: ¥5,250. Sign up at the 10 a.m.–12 p.m. ¥7,000. Sign up Member Services Desk. at the Member Services Desk.

12

Tuesday

Tuscan Wine Tasting Pioneering winemaker Paolo De Marchi introduces a range of enchanting Tuscan wines from his Isole e Olena estate and other wineries. 7 p.m. More on page 9.

19

Tuesday

Nearly New Sale Pick up an assortment of gently worn clothes, books and more during this popular annual Women’s Group event. Turn to page 27 for details.

25

Monday

Artist’s Reception Adventurer Anthony Willoughby brings a remarkable photo collection from his expeditions around the world to the Club. Learn more about the energetic camera hobbyist on page 34.

4 May 2009 iNTOUCH

Saturday

2–6

Saturday– Wednesday

5

Tuesday

Just for Mom Delight Mom this Mother’s Day with a beautiful handmade apron. Session 1 (3–8 years): 12:30–1:45 p.m. Session 2 (9–12 years): 2:15–3:30 p.m. The Studio. ¥3,300. Sign up online or at the Recreation Services Desk.

Golden Week Fare Enjoy a mouthwatering brunch during the long Japanese holiday at family-friendly Garden Café. Page 11 has the full scoop.

Toddler Time The Library’s Erica Kawamura hosts a fun session of arts, crafts and storytelling every Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. and Thursday at 4 p.m. Children’s Library. No sign-up necessary.

9

9

10

Saturday

Saturday Morning Reading Club Children explore masterpieces of art, styles and ideas from around the world during this hands-on program, titled “Painters and Paintings.” 10 a.m. For more, turn to page 14.

12

Tuesday

Chinese Yum Cha Night Garden Café’s “themed cuisine” nights continue with a satisfying spread of Cantonese dim sum and tea. Continues May 19 and 26. For more, flip to page 11.

20–21

Wednesday– Thursday

Kiso Valley Tour Participants can enjoy the natural beauty, delightful villages and local craftsmanship of this stunning piece of Nagano Prefecture. Sign up at the Member Services Desk.

28

Thursday

Open Mic Night Budding rock stars can chase the limelight during this laid-back evening of good vibes at Traders’ Bar. Find the full details on page 18.

Saturday

Mother-Daughter Tea Party Celebrate this special occasion with a charming afternoon of tea and snacks. Ages 4 and above. Sign up online or at the Recreation Services Desk.

13–14

Wednesday– Thursday

Mad Shark Hamburger Night Savor a helping of juicy burgers at this evening of “themed cuisine” in Garden Café. Wednesdays and Thursdays. Get the lowdown on page 11.

21

Thursday

Meet the Author: Naomi Pollock Join the American architect and writer for a fascinating look at Japanese design and architecture during this literary evening at the Club. Learn more about Pollock’s works on page 12.

30

Saturday

Takanawa Fire Station Tour Kids get to try on uniforms, watch a real fire drill and pick up valuable safety tips on this exciting and educational trip. Get the details on page 18.

Sunday

Parent-Child Book Group Kids and parents bond over their love of words at this fun-filled monthly gathering. 4 p.m. Find the details on page 14.

14

Thursday

Filmmaker Nick Bonner presents A State of Mind A compelling documentary offers an unprecedented look at North Korea through the lives of two young gymnasts preparing for the Mass Games. Find out more on page 26.

22

Friday

Salvation Army Charity Drive Clean out your closets and donate clean clothes, linens and household items in clear plastic bags to this annual cause. 9–11:30 a.m. and 2–3:30 p.m. Parking Lot. Check the Women’s Group website for details.

30

Saturday

Club Idol Aspiring superstars take center stage for a fun-filled, kids-only Karaoke Party in the Kids’ Zone. Flip to page 23 for more.


EVENTS

6

Wednesday

6

Wednesday

7

Thursday

7

Thursday

ABCs and 123s Learning English is a blast with this weekly half-hour of games, songs and crafts for children with English as their second language. 4 p.m. Page 14 has the details.

Boys' Day Display The final day of a display of expertly crafted ornamental dolls in the Family Lobby to celebrate Boys' Day on May 5.

New Moms and Babies Get-Together Qualified nurse Ann Tanaka explains the ins and outs of the first years of motherhood at this lively Women’s Group meet and greet. 3:45–5:15 p.m. ¥2,000. Sign up at the Member Services Desk.

Toddler Time The Library’s Erica Kawamura hosts a fun session of arts, crafts and storytelling every Thursday at 4 p.m. and Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. Children’s Library. No sign-up necessary.

10

11

11

11

Sunday

Monday

Mother’s Day Brunch Treat your mom to an elegant buffet brunch and show her your appreciation for her enduring efforts and affections. Turn to page 11 for more.

Monthly Program: A Ramen Junkie’s Journey American chef Ivan Orkin explains how he went from cooking French cuisine in Manhattan to opening his own noodle shop in Tokyo. Learn more on page 24.

15

16

Friday

A Taste of Beringer Winemaking luminary Ed Sbragia showcases his highly acclaimed range of Beringer vintages at this relaxed Club dinner. Learn about Sbragia’s legacy on page 8.

22

Friday

Kita Kamakura: Art, Zen and More Tour Explore the art museums, Zen temples, back alleys and quiet charm of this ancient capital. Sign up at the Member Services Desk.

30–31

Saturday– Sunday

Recreation Summer Sale Pick up a variety of Clubemblazoned gear, specially priced Callaway golf clubs, athletic accessories and more from the Recreation Services Desk and The Studio. 10 a.m.–4 p.m.

Vietnamese Noodle Night Garden Café kicks off a new month of all-you-can-eat “themed cuisine” nights, serving up delicious Southeast Asian cuisine every Monday. Details on page 11.

Taste Napa Preview Sample wines from one of the world’s top regions at a spectacular tasting this month. Details on page 11.

Saturday

Secrets of the Stage Kabuki star Matsuya Onoe II reveals fascinating tales of the theatrical art form, along with a demonstration, at this exclusive Club event. More on page 18.

Sunday

Azuma Odori Step into Tokyo’s historic geisha quarters for an afternoon of glamorous, tradition-steeped entertainment. Discover the roots of this annual performance on page 19.

Sunday

24

Youth Biathlon Kids ages 7 to 15 can run and swim their way to fitness at this inaugural Club competition. 4 p.m. Flip to page 23 for details.

31

Saturday

16

Saturday

Fun Family Bingo An evening of wholesome fun, prizes and light refreshments for all. Details on page 19.

23

Monday

Monday

Water Aerobics Mie Tsutsui launches her fun aquatic workout sessions for the season. 8:30–9:30 a.m. Through October 26. Find out more at the Recreation Services Desk.

16–17

Saturday– Sunday

Birth Preparation for Couples Two invaluable days that will get you ready for labor, birth and beyond. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. ¥36,000. Sign up for this Women’s Group class at the Member Services Desk.

25

Monday

Get Acquainted Coffee Meet new people and learn about the Women’s Group at this relaxed gathering. 10 a.m. Banquet Rooms. Contact the Women’s Group Office to arrange for free childcare.

Coming up in

June

6

Yakult Swallows Baseball Game Trip

29 Get Acquainted Coffee

Noteworthy dates for the month 5


BOARD OF GOVERNORS

A Club Fit for Families Board of Governors

by Monica Hobbs

Lance Lee — President (2010) Tim Griffen — Vice President (2010) Jerry Rosenberg — Vice President (2009) Thomas Brown — Treasurer (2009) Monica Hobbs — Secretary (2010)

T

he first time I visited the Club, I was still single and had a hard time sitting in a place like Garden Café. I preferred the adult atmosphere of the other dining outlets, believing that children should be neither seen nor heard. Now I have two young children of my own. They have almost grown up at the Club and see it as a kind of second home. We particularly enjoy the family events, with many now an annual tradition, including the Father-Daughter Dinner-Dance every February, March’s chilly Polar Bear Swim (see photos from this year’s event on pages 54 and 55), the Mother-Daughter Tea Party, which is on Saturday, May 9, this year (see more on page 4), the Club’s summer festival, Bon Odori, and the Family Christmas Dinner Show. Whenever I sign up for an event, I know that we will likely bump into friends there. We usually come away with new friends, too. This is one of the rewarding sides to being a part of such an active community, even if I do see more of Garden Café now than I would perhaps prefer! I sometimes wonder where I would be without the Video Library, Children’s Library, Fitness Center, Pool, restaurants, play areas for kids, array of sports and cultural programs and special events. They have become integral elements in the lives of my family. But more than the facilities and services, the Club is a

William Ireton (2010), Thomas Jordan (2009), Hiroyuki Kamano (2010), Per Knudsen (2010), Gerald McAlinn (2009), Jeffrey McNeill (2009), Amane Nakashima (2009), Brian Nelson (2010), Mary Saphin (2009), Mark Schwab (2010), Dan Thomas (2010), Ira Wolf (2009), Shizuo Daigoh — Statutory Auditor (2010), Barbara Hancock — Women’s Group President

community of people, many of whom are moms, dads or working parents, who give an hour or so a month to serve on one of the many committees and, together with the staff, help shape the Club and its activities. This community is made up of many multitalented Members who can contribute so much to the Club experience for families. Since the Club is currently trying out new family programs and services ahead of the move back to its permanent home in Azabudai, now is a great time to get involved. If you would like to play a part in the future of the Club, check out the list of committees and chairs on page 19. In particular, there are a number of committees that have a hand in children’s or family activities, including Youth Activities, Library, Swim, Entertainment, Culture, Recreation and even the Women’s Group. Joining a committee is also an excellent way to make new friends if you’re new to Tokyo or the Club. As for dining at the Club, I’m happy to see that Mixed Grille is open to families on the weekends. While my children enjoy sitting at the sushi bar counter, I get to relax in the peaceful atmosphere of one of the Club’s popular adult dining spots. It really is the best of both worlds. o

azabudai

Ayano Sato

update

6 May 2009 iNTOUCH

by Wendi Hailey

With the construction at Azabudai segmented into 10 zones, concrete is being poured in some areas, scaffolding is being erected in others and excavation work continues in certain pockets. The displaced soil is hauled out by the truckload to one of several locations, including a nearby river and dirt stockyards in Chiba and Saitama. “There’s 800 cubic meters of dirt going out every day,” says project supervisor Ryota Sekiguchi. But it is glimpsing the initial signs of foundation work that delights the 18-year Takenaka veteran. “Actual construction is better for me,” he says. “Demolition is destroying something, not creating anything.” In a far corner of the tract bordering the Russian Embassy, reverse construction is beginning to form. The crew will complete the first floor to use as a type of construction platform from which to build the two basement levels. This method is common in big cities where buildings are frequently assembled close to existing structures, Sekiguchi says, estimating that half of the construction projects in Tokyo use it.


MANAGEMENT

Your Home

for the Holidays by Michael Bumgardner Michael Bumgardner General Manager

T

he Golden Week holidays in Japan offer the perfect period to take in the city. Since so many people head out of Tokyo for a few days, the usual hectic hot spots around the capital will be rendered surprisingly quiet. There’s no better time to wander around those landmarks you have been meaning to see or revisit for a while. This series of national holidays includes Children’s Day, or Boys’ Day, on May 5, when Japanese families pray for their sons’ health and happiness. Much like in some Japanese homes, the Club has an impressive display of ornate samurai dolls in the Family Lobby to celebrate the day. In addition, you will notice the colorful carp streamers—symbolizing strength, courage and determination—in the Parking Lot. Shortly afterward, on May 10, many people across the world will show their appreciation to their mothers. The Club, too, will be joining in the celebration with a special Mother’s Day Brunch. Turn to page 11 to learn more about reserving a table for your family. And the Club hasn’t forgotten fathers, either. Flip to page 23 to find out how you can put a smile on Dad’s face in June. With summer approaching, our younger Members will be energized by the chance to play outside more often. It is every

Member’s responsibility to help us protect our children, especially around the Parking Lot or Pool and play area. We should also be considerate of our Takanawa neighbors. With all the extra fun and exuberance, the noise levels will inevitably rise. We do have an obligation to respect our neighbors’ right to peace and quiet, so please help us honor this. As a further effort to enhance the Club’s relations with its neighbors and the community at large, we will soon be mailing out the invitations to 500 Japanese high schools to participate in our annual English Essay Contest. Established as part of the Club’s mission to encourage cultural interaction between the citizens of Japan and the United States, the competition, which is in its third year, calls for Japanese students to write an essay in English. The winners receive money toward their college studies. As the Redevelopment Project continues on track (see page 6 for an update), Mitsubishi Real Estate, which is building a condominium complex next to the new Club in Azabudai, will open its model condominiums exclusively to Members this month. Those Members who have already mailed out a request for a viewing should have received an invitation by now. If not, please contact the Member Services Desk to arrange for an invite. o

Executive remarks 7


wine

dinner

A Return to Roots by Wendi Hailey

T

he son of a diligent, Tuscan-born grape grower who frequently poured his own flavorsome Zinfandel at family meals, Ed Sbragia envisioned in his youth a future far removed from agriculture. He left the family estate in Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley as a teenager in pursuit of a chemistry degree from the University of California, Davis, only to find himself eventually drawn back to the vineyards. “Fate brought me back,” he says. “My first job was with a large winery as a research chemist. Then I realized my calling was winemaking and went back to school to get a master’s in winemaking.” Sbragia auspiciously fell under the tutelage of legendary Napa Valley winemaker Myron Nightingale at Beringer in 1976, gleaning the knowledge and experience that would ready him to take charge of the winery eight years later. His immense talents as chief winemaker have polished Beringer into one of Napa’s most highly regarded estates and captured numerous awards, including Wine Spectator’s wine of the year for its 1986 Cabernet Sauvignon and 1994 Chardonnay and top honors on the Wine & Spirits Annual Restaurant Poll for 11 consecutive years. The 60-year-old vintner remains modest about his achievements, however. “I think winemakers take all the credit for

 May 2009 iNTOUCH

wine,” says Sbragia, who will showcase a remarkable range of Beringer vintages at the Club this month. “With having our own vineyards, I have learned that wine is made in the vineyard and only great wines can be made when the vineyard and winery are the same.” The storied winery, which began with the purchase of 215 acres by Frederick and Jacob Beringer in 1869 and produced its first crush seven years later, now comprises 2,000 acres of its own vineyards. Having been allowed to continue production during Prohibition by selling sacramental wine, Beringer is Napa Valley’s oldest continuously operating winery. In recent decades, Sbragia and his team have worked to integrate tradition and technology into their winemaking. Sustainability has been a key focus, with such initiatives as rooftop solar panels on the winery that Sbragia says will reduce carbon dioxide levels by an amount equivalent to yanking 549 cars off the freeway. “As more and more pressure is put on our environment, it is increasingly important for agriculture and industry to be aware of our effect on the environment,” he says. “Without that, we will lose the resource that has allowed us to produce great wines.” Last year, Sbragia ended his illustrious

32-year career at Beringer’s helm in order to focus on the family plot in Dry Creek Valley. While still a consultant with Beringer, he now makes wines alongside his son, Adam. “Being able to start a winery with my wife and children is a dream come true and also fulfills a promise that I made to my father that I would take what he had started with the vineyards and make wine out of our own vineyards.” ®

Ed Sbragia

A Taste of Beringer Friday, May 15 7 p.m. Mixed Grille ¥9,000 Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk


FOOD & BEVERAGE

wine

I

talian Paolo De Marchi is a vinicultural explorer. He has been making wines in central Tuscany for four decades, but since 1976 he has been on a quest to produce evermore exceptional Chianti Classico vintages and a truly “typical” Tuscan wine. Initially experimenting with foreign grape varietals, De Marchi has turned to clones of the Sangiovese grape— indigenous to Tuscany—in more recent years. At a special wine tasting this month, Members will have the opportunity to sample the lauded results of his work, as well as the wines of other producers in the region. Originally from a wine-producing family in Piedmont, in northern Italy, De Marchi discovered his passion for the grape at his grandfather’s estate. He went on to study enology at the University of Torino before immersing himself in the worldwide wine industry, including a stint in California. Purchased in the 1950s by the De Marchi family, the Isole e Olena estate started out with only two plots. Situated

among the hills of the central Chianti Classico region south of Florence, the winery has grown steadily both in size and reputation over the years. It is on this land that De Marchi started his mission. He planted vines, modernized the old cellars and began to use his technical acumen to develop noteworthy wines. Over time, his grape blend evolved from the light-bodied mix of red and white wines once proscribed for Chianti to a fullerbodied red with better aging potential. Then, in 1980, De Marchi released what has become his signature wine: Cepparello. Besides the name, this “Super Tuscan” also stands out for the fact that it is made solely from Sangiovese grapes. Isole e Olena grows Sangiovese, Canaiolo, Trebbiano and Malvasia, as well as Cabernet, Chardonnay and Syrah grapes, while maintaining some undeveloped land for future plantings. The vineyards are dotted with olive groves for the estate’s olive oil production. In fact, Members at this month’s tasting will not only get to try Isole e Olena wines, but a few delicious olive oil varietals as well. ®

tasting

Tuscan

Pioneer

by Madeleine Seward

Paolo De Marchi

Tuscan Wine Tasting Tuesday, May 12 7–10 p.m. Banquet Rooms ¥10,000 Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk

Wines of the Month Red Cantina Bruni Prestigio 2005, Tuscany, Italy This blend of 85 percent Sangiovese and 15 percent Cabernet Sauvignon from the Maremma region of Tuscany is deep purple with tinges of garnet. It has a well-balanced, fruity nose and is full and harmonious on the palate.

White Cantina Bruni Plinio IGT 2008, Tuscany, Italy Intense and persistent, with an exotic fruity scent, this straw-colored blend of 85 percent Vermentino and 15 percent Sauvignon will be appreciated even more after a little aging. A real winner from a winery that devotes itself to the pursuit of quality.

Bottle: ¥4,000 Glass: ¥800

Club wining and dining 


behind the

scenes

Straight from the Vine by Wendi Hailey

Not that he has to worry much about failure these days. With Vine Cliff’s Cabernet Sauvignons, Chardonnays and Merlots continuing to rise in prominence, the label saw its best performance ever in 2008. Sweeney attributes the results to its momentum as a brand and the accomplishments of detailoriented head winemaker Rex Smith, who joined the winery in 2001. “He’s done a terrific job,” Sweeney said. “We’ve always made good wine, but we’ve made probably the best wines we have ever made in the last two releases.” Since 1993, Sweeney has touted his wines and forged new acquaintances on regular visits to Japan, which accounts for as much as 10 percent of total wholesale sales (25 percent of all wine is sold at the winery). “This is a trip that I like to take each year,” said the father of two young boys. “And because I’ve been coming to Japan so much for so long, there’s a lot of Japanese visitors who come to the winery.” It is a combination of these aspects, he noted, that have helped build Vine Cliff into a solid, praiseworthy label. “You have to do more than just make good wine,” Sweeney said. “Of course, making good wine you have to do.” ®

Yuuki Ide

W

hen his alarm clock trumpets its 5:30 a.m. wakeup call six days a week during harvest season, Vine Cliff Winery owner Robert Sweeney is surprisingly eager to get out of bed and into the vineyards. “At harvest, it’s easy, it’s exciting,” he said one Friday evening in February at the Club, prior to hosting a dinner in the American Room. “It’s fun, it’s challenging, it’s different every year.” Sweeney uncorked a range of Vine Cliff vintages for 16 of the Club’s most loyal restaurant users and their guests. “It’s always nice to have an opportunity to meet new people and to have a chance to showcase our wine, which I’m so passionate about, with food,” he said. “In just a wine tasting, wines never show as well as they do with food.” For Member Philip Rossiter, the intimate evening offered an exploration of delicious wines, cuisine and new acquaintances. “I had never tried Vine Cliff wines before,” he said. “Mr Sweeney was very cordial to us and unassuming, [and he] told some great stories of his experience as a vintner.” Tucked away in Napa Valley’s Oakville appellation, the idyllic, family-owned Vine Cliff winery has an original history dating back to the 1870s, when two prominent locals purchased the site and constructed a winery and series of tunnels. Its present-day incarnation produced its first vintage in 1990 and has maintained an unwavering focus on sustainable viticulture. Sweeney, who spent a few summers in Tokyo studying at Sophia University, says the label’s approach has always been determinedly no-frills. “We try not to be too trendy in terms of style,” he said. “We try to be more classic. We move slowly when we change style. But if there’s something new that can improve [the wine], we’re not afraid of change.” Aside from his long-standing enthusiasm for creating noteworthy wines, which stems back to part of his youth spent on his grandfather’s farm in Virginia and later sharing in his father’s fondness for wine, the 48-year-old has another incentive for success. “It’s one of the things, more than most businesses you can think of, that what you put in is what you get out of it,” he said. “And you’ve got to put your name on it. Can you imagine making a mistake and then being embarrassed for a whole year? It’s very motivating. Your competitive spirit is challenged because you’re tasting that wine hundreds and hundreds of times with people throughout the course of the year as you’re introducing it.”

Robert Sweeney

10 May 2009 iNTOUCH


FOOD & BEVERAGE

Into the Valley Celebrate one of the world’s finest wine-producing regions at a special Taste Napa Preview this month. Sample vintages from some of the area’s highly regarded wineries as well as a few lesser-known rising stars. Saturday, May 16 6 p.m. Banquet Rooms ¥1,050 Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk

Mother’s Day Brunch A glass of Champagne and the Club’s special buffet brunch is the perfect way to show Mom your appreciation this Mother’s Day. Sunday, May 10 1st seating: 11 a.m.–1 p.m. 2nd seating: 1:30–3 p.m. New York Suite and American Room Adults: ¥6,500 (includes all-you-can-drink Champagne) Juniors (7–19 years): ¥3,000 Children (3–6 years): ¥1,500 Infants (2 and under): free Reserve at 03-4588-0977

Garden Café Specials There’s only one place to dine in May as Garden Café introduces a mouthwatering brunch for Golden Week and yet more themed nights. Holiday Brunch May 2–6 7:30 a.m.–3 p.m. Garden Café Adults: ¥2,000 Juniors (7–19 years): ¥1,200 Children (3–6 years): ¥800 Infants (2 and under): free

Themed Nights Monday (May 11, 18 and 25): Vietnamese Noodle Night Tuesday (May 12, 19 and 26): Chinese Yum Cha Night Wednesday and Thursday (May 13, 14, 20, 21, 27 and 28): Mad Shark Hamburger Night

5–8:30 p.m. | Garden Café Adults: ¥2,000 | Juniors (7–19 years): ¥1,200 Children (3–6 years): ¥800 | Infants (2 and under): free

did you know... that Mixed Grille offers a children’s buffet on weekends and national holidays for just ¥1,500 per child? Club wining and dining 11


© Shunichi Atsumi

Architectural Aspirations

Club Member Naomi Pollock details how her life as a writer grew out of her career as an architect.

Miyagi Stadium

I

n March 2007, Hitoshi Abe boarded a plane at Narita bound for Los Angeles. Just 45 years old, the Sendai-born architect was on his way to assume the chairmanship of the department of architecture at UCLA—the school’s youngest chair ever and its first from Japan. Since I was in the midst of writing a monograph about Abe (then relatively unknown internationally), this appointment could not have been better timed. While working on my book, I had hoped that the designer would land a juicy commission for an attentiongrabbing project. I never dreamed he would be promoted to a position of this prominence. Knowing that Abe tends to swim against the current, his job offer didn’t really surprise me. Most budding architects in Japan flock to Tokyo for graduate degrees, followed by apprenticeships with established firms. Abe, however, attended school in California and then stayed on to work. This overseas stint came to a screeching halt when, on a lark, he entered a government-sponsored competition to design a soccer stadium back in his hometown. The 30-year-old designer beat out famous architects and construction companies alike. It was a truly remarkable feat but it required that he relinquish LA. What captivated the competition jury was Abe’s clever reinterpretation of an ancient building type. By incorporating the hilly

12 May 2009 iNTOUCH

topography of the surrounding park into his stadium, Abe turned a closed arena into one that melds with the landscape. And by inserting a gym beneath the stands, he created an athletic facility that could benefit the public daily, not just when the local team plays at home. This phenomenal achievement demonstrated Abe’s inventive spirit and his exceptionally strong design sensibility. It was these traits that caught my eye in 1996. As a guest curator at the Art Institute of Chicago at the time, I was organizing an exhibit, titled “Japan 2000: Architecture and Design for the Japanese Public.” Abe’s stadium was perfect for the show since it featured the best post-economic bubble new works commissioned by the Japanese government. During that period, my husband and I were on our second posting to Tokyo and I was already established as an architectural writer. But in 1988, when we first came to Japan, my professional future was far from set. A newly minted architect with a large firm in Manhattan, I won a scholarship from Japan’s Ministry of Education and went back to school instead of working in a design office. Shortly after enrolling at Tokyo University, my academic adviser asked what I planned to research. At that time, I knew very little about Japan, let alone Japanese architecture. But it was clear that buildings here were a different species. They were oddly shaped,


crammed together and, for the most part, did not relate well. To understand the new, my adviser encouraged me to look at the old, so I chose traditional minka houses as the subject of my thesis. While tromping around investigating thatch-roofed homes, I received countless invitations from architects to visit their brand-new steel-and-concrete creations. When a journalist friend back in New York got wind of this, she asked me to write an article about architecture in Tokyo. I gladly accepted and quickly learned that publications beget publications. Before long, I became the Tokyo correspondent for Architectural Record, the leading American magazine for the profession. As I reported on new buildings popping up around Asia, I noticed that libraries, museums and office towers had begun to look increasingly alike, whether they were in Seoul, Tokyo or Hong Kong. Yet houses remained stubbornly rooted in their context. I felt a need to get to the

Shinkenchiku-sha

© Shunichi Atsumi

LIBRARY

F-town: South facade

bottom of this. Published in 2005, Modern Japanese House summed up my findings. It seemed that where houses were concerned, local lifestyle rather than overseas influence drove design. Divided into five chapters, each one devoted to a different house type, the book profiles 25 recent Japanese houses. Midway between a coffee table portfolio and an academic tome, it also contains a wealth of historical, cultural and social information. Shortly after Modern Japanese House was released, my publisher proposed the idea of a monograph. This idea appealed to me since I was keen to delve deeply into the work of a single architect. The question was, who? Though there were many possible candidates, Abe had an impressive body of completed work. Plus, we sensed that he was destined for success. Over the next couple of years, I made numerous trips to Sendai, visiting several projects with the architect and his assistant. At each stop, I peppered Abe with questions

and during the long car rides in between we discussed everything from his childhood to his love of soccer. Fortunately, by the time Abe was on his way to UCLA, I had almost completed my research. And, as I had predicted, Abe triumphed in a major competition—just as Hitoshi Abe was published. Further interest in the architect from Sendai is bound to follow and, hopefully, in my book, too. ® The Library stocks Hitoshi Abe and Modern Japanese House.

Meet the Author: Naomi Pollock Thursday, May 21 7–8 p.m. Women’s Group Classroom 3 ¥1,050 (includes one drink) Sign up at the Library or e-mail library@tac-club.org Cancellations after 9 p.m. on Tuesday, May 19, will incur a ¥1,050 charge

A unique bilingual and bicultural education system An independent, co-ed private secondary school chartered by the New York State Board of Regents Authorized by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in Japan as an overseas senior high school educational institution American and Japanese faculty members Classes taught in English, Japanese or both ESL and JSL classes available 3 opportunities to apply via the entrance examination: • March (regular exam): test and interview • Fall/Spring (AO exam): essay and interview 3 College Road Purchase, New York 10577 USA July 25 to August 8 • A sleep-away camp for ages 13 to 15 designed to enhance cross-cultural understanding and communication skills by creating digital media projects.

Literary gems at the Library 13


writer’s

block

Philippa Gregory by Elena Connery

Sigrid Estrada

P

hilippa Gregory is an English historical novelist, whose academic background has given her a knowledge and enthusiasm for British history and, in particular, the Tudor period of 16th-century England. This passion for the past led to her best-selling Lacey trilogy of Wideacre (1987), The Favoured Child (1989) and Meridon (1990). She is also well known for such novels as The Wise Woman (1992), The Queen’s Fool (2003), The Virgin’s Lover (2004) and probably her most famous work, The Other Boleyn Girl, which was published in 2002 and adapted for BBC television the following year. The book, which was named the Parker Romantic Novel of the Year in 2002, was also made into a Hollywood film starring Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman. Another of the 55-year-old’s works to make it to the screen was 1992’s A

Respectable Trade, a novel about the slave trade, set in 18th-century England. While Gregory’s script for the BBC drama was nominated for a prestigious Bafta award, the work also won an award from the Committee for Racial Equality. Born in Kenya in 1954, Gregory moved to Britain with her family at the age of 2. Although reportedly a rebel at school, she completed her education and went on to study history at the University of Sussex. She worked in BBC radio for two years before returning to university and earning

kid s' co rn e r

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

Saturday Morning Fun Club by Charles Morris

Using the impressive collection of art books at the Library, participants at this session, titled “Painters and Paintings,” will travel through the creative landscape of painting and learn about the ideas and styles of many of the world’s masters. Saturday, May 9 10–10:45 a.m. Women’s Group Classroom 3 Free Sign up at the Library

14 May 2009 iNTOUCH

a doctorate in 18th-century literature. Gregory is a regular contributor to several magazines and newspapers and works as a Tudor expert for a British historical documentary series. She has also written several children’s books. She lives in the north of England with her husband and six children. ® The Library stocks Meridon, The Other Boleyn Girl, The Virgin’s Lover, The Constant Princess (2005), The Boleyn Inheritance (2006) and The Other Queen (2008).

events

ABCs and 123s Learning English is so much fun at the Library’s weekly sessions of games, songs and crafts for children with English as their second language. Numbers, letters, shapes and colors are just some of the exciting elements of this entertaining curriculum. Wednesdays 4:30–5 p.m. Children’s Library Free No sign-up necessary

Parent-Child Book Group Children in grades three to six and their parents get together for a lively discussion of a book each month. Check out the Club’s website for details of this month’s title. Sunday, May 10 4–5 p.m. Free Sign up at the Library


LIBRARY

new

reads The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures by Dan Roam A picture really might be worth a thousand words, according to this gem, which details how non-artists— whether drawing on a scrap piece of paper or a whiteboard—can learn to make their points using visual thinking tools. (EC)

Can I Bring My Own Gun? by Seth Freedman A former banker and soldier in the Israeli army, Freedman’s frontline accounts, which started as a blog, from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have been both praised and condemned by thousands of readers across the globe. (ES)

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith

This prize-winning debut novel tells the story of city-bred Laura and her struggles to adjust to farm life in the Mississippi Delta with her husband and daughters. Set at the end of World War II, it follows the vastly different homecomings of two returning war heroes— one black, one white. (EC)

Meet Zachary, a guardian angel. Well, a demoted one. What did he do? Just broke a few rules to save his charge, which led to her to become a vampire. Now all he has to do is save Miranda from becoming an evil demon—but without the use of his angelic powers. (EK)

Gerhard Richter: 100 Pictures by Gerhard Richter

Small Spaces: Stylish Ideas for Making More of Less in the Home by Azby Brown

Regarded as one of the world’s greatest living artists, Richter has created a compact overview of his work from 1993 to 1996. With styles ranging from austere photorealism to satirical pop to pure abstraction, Richter is most known for his out-of-focus images that capture abstract details yet remain nostalgically real. (ES)

This acclaimed architectural writer focuses on the Japanese home in seeking out the best practical and original ideas for living in small spaces. With chapters like “Under the Floor,” “Odd Corners” and “Just for Children,” this book could open your mind to some great possibilities for Tokyo living. (CM)

Reviews compiled by Library Committee members Elena Connery and Emma Sanekata and Club librarians Erica Kawamura and Charles Morris.

member’s choice Member: Joyce Okupniak Title: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

What’s the book about? A teenager moves to Washington State to live with her dad and, while dealing with all the normal challenges of life in a new school, falls in love with a modern-day vampire.

What did you like about it? The author is such a great writer. She helps the reader visualize the feelings, emotions and struggles of first love, all the while working the twists and turns of suspense and fantasy into the story. It’s a great read that is hard to put down.

Why did you choose it? It was highly recommended by a friend.

What other books would you recommend? I like the books of James Patterson, Joyce Carol Oates, Chris Bohjalian, Stephen White and Jan Karon.

Literary gems at the Library 15


Homegrown Hit by Lisbeth Pentelius

t v

L

ittle-seen Japanese film Departures, or Okuribito, caused waves overseas and astounded movie critics when it snagged the Academy Award for best foreign language film earlier this year. In the lavishly scored tale, directed by Yojiro Takita, cellist Daigo Kobayashi (played by Masahiro Motoki) loses his job, returns to his hometown in northern Japan and reluctantly enters the mortuary business, becoming a “gatekeeper” between the living and the dead. While Kobayashi has to deal with the disapproval and eventual estrangement of his wife and small-town acquaintances over his new profession, he begins to feel pride in his work and sets out to perfect the art of traditional undertaking. While preparing the body of the deceased mother of his childhood friend, the former instrumentalist finally gains the respect and understanding he has longed for in this weighty journey of wonderment, pleasure, life and death. “It’s not just about the negative aspects of death,” Motoki said of the film after picking up a best actor trophy at the recent Asian Film Awards. “It’s also about how you can accept death in a peaceful way and move on positively.” Despite its lengthy running time (130 minutes) and “emotional manipulation” at times, Variety writer Eddie Cockrell concludes that the compelling look at an eccentric profession, showy soundtrack and realistic-looking corpses make the film a solid triumph. “TV scribe Kundo Koyama’s first big-screen script peppers the proceedings with rich character detail and near-screwball interludes that shouldn’t fit but somehow do, owing to Motoki’s appeal,” he writes. “Departures is a delightful journey into the heartland of Japan, as well as an astonishingly beautiful look at a sacred part of Japan’s cultural heritage.” ®

s e r i e s

Burn Notice

by Lisbeth Pentelius

“Spies don’t get fired, they get burned.” So goes the tagline of this American comedy-action series starring Jeffrey Donovan as Michael Westen, a highly trained American secret agent cut loose by his superiors while on assignment in Africa. With no money and zero resources to turn to once he has returned to his hometown of Miami, Westen is marked as a hazard for other government jobs. The show follows its protagonist as he works as a freelance private eye to fund his own investigations into the people and reasons behind his “burn notice.” In the meantime, he must stay several steps ahead of old enemies looking to exact revenge for previously committed grievances. His support team is formed by ex-lover Fiona, a dynamic reconnaissance and surveillance specialist, and semi-retired mole Sam Axe, who has accumulated an arsenal of “mementos” from his espionage days. With a mingling of fast-paced action and deadpan humor, “Burn Notice” is a wildly entertaining hunt for justice. ® The Video Library stocks season one of “Burn Notice.”

16 May 2009 iNTOUCH


give it a go abort

Set in wartime Australia, an English aristocrat (Nicole Kidman) inherits a sprawling ranch and hires a stockman (Hugh Jackman) to help her fend off a plot to take over her business. While the cinematography is beautiful, the film is too long. Jackman, however, is delightful eye candy, as are Kidman’s dresses.

You won’t help but be consumed by the fascinating and very real themes of this touching, sentimental movie about a man (Will Smith) who sets out to help seven strangers. The stellar performances of Smith and the rest of the superb cast top it off.

Will Smith plays an ex-aeronautical engineer looking to redeem himself after causing the deaths of seven people in a car crash. A touching but heavy movie that is carried well by Smith.

An exceptional performance by Daniel Craig as a Jewish resistance leader in German-occupied eastern Poland during World War II. Although a little slow in places, this film, based on reallife events, portrays the anguish and tolerance of the Jewish people. The cinematography is magnificent.

Based on a true story, Defiance follows the story of four Jewish brothers from Poland who escape Nazi persecution to fight back and rescue fellow Jews. A must-see movie for Daniel Craig fans who know him only for his action flicks.

A beautiful and rare movie that puts a lot of emphasis on body language, gestures and imagery. Ben Kingsley’s every move and look help tell the story, and his seemingly effortless performance is simply beyond words. The cinematography makes this a visually attractive film, too.

Elegy charts the passionate relationship between a New York college professor, David Kepesh, and a beautiful Cuban-born student, Consuela Castillo, superbly acted by Ben Kingsley and Penélope Cruz. A rather slow, adult-oriented film that focuses on the protagonists’ inner struggles.

smokin' give it a go abort

She is Yuko Akisato, manager of the Video Library.

smokin'

Paying homage to the war romance genre, Australia, with its strong cast (Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman) and touch of mysticism, is well worth watching. You’ll be swept away by the incredible landscapes in this epic World War II drama.

SHE SAYS

He is Club President Lance Lee.

HE SAYS

VIDEO LIBRARY

new titles Comedy Bedtime Stories Extravagant tales spun by a handyman each night for his niece and nephew begin to come true in this Adam Sandler adventure, the product of his promise to make a movie his own kids would like. Yes Man Jim Carrey shines as a despondent bank clerk who ignites an unrestrained enthusiasm for life with a simple new mantra. Hotel for Dogs Two orphaned siblings establish a secret, fullamenity refuge for stray dogs inside a vacant hotel. Bride Wars Lifelong best friends (Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway) engage in an all-out battle for their dream weddings on the same day in this frothy bridezilla flick.

Drama The Secrets Three women embark on intertwining journeys of spiritual and sexual awakening within Israel’s rigid societal confines. The Wrestler With his time in the ring ticking down, oncerevered pro wrestler Randy “The Ram” Robinson, portrayed by Oscar-nominated Mickey Rourke, faces the formidable tangles of his career aftermath. Frost/Nixon The electrifying on-camera battle of wits and agendas between ousted President Richard Nixon and breezy British TV personality David Frost in 1977 is masterfully recounted by screenwriter Peter Morgan (The Queen, The Last King of Scotland) and director Ron Howard.

Action The Spirit This stylized, over-the-top pulp film, directed by Sin City’s Frank Miller, contains the classic comic-book combination of shadowy villains, sultry vixens and embattled, goldenhearted heroes.

TV and film selections 17


Kabuki Confidential by Nobuko Hirata

W

hile its 400-year history is steeped in rich tradition and national pride, Kabuki is one art form that cannot be adequately admired or observed within the confines of a museum display. Instead, the all-male performance art is best experienced live. Club Members and the public will be afforded an exclusive look at the World Heritage-designated theatrical genre this month when 24-year-old star Matsuya Onoe II makes his second appearance at the Club. He will share fascinating behind-the-scenes tales of Kabuki’s evolution and training methods with an engaging presentation that includes slideshows, acting demonstrations and a question-and-answer segment. The promising young actor made his stage debut at the historic Kabukiza theater in Ginza at age 5. Though acquiring skills to perform both male and female roles, his ultimate goal is to become an accomplished onnagata, or female impersonator. Having recently performed in London on his first

overseas Kabuki tour, Matsuya II also takes on occasional roles in modern theater, film, radio and television. Kabuki has inspired audiences across countless cultures over the centuries with its brilliant colors and costumes, stylized movements and remarkable portrayals of feminine grace and beauty. Experience the rare aesthetics of this unique Japanese stage show for yourself during this enchanting evening of culture at the Club. ® Secrets of the Stage Sunday, May 24 Doors open: 6:30 p.m. Show begins: 7 p.m. Members: ¥2,100 Non-Members: ¥2,500 Open to the public Cash bar available Recommended for ages 12 and above Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk Sponsored by the Culture Committee

Rock the Club

C

alling all rock star wannabes! Musically talented Members and their guests can savor their 15 minutes—or longer—in the spotlight at Traders’ Bar’s inaugural Open Mic Night this month. The exciting evening of melodious entertainment will be hosted by Member Jonathan Kirkwood, formerly of the US garage band Hot Jon Travolta. Kirkwood

and his new electro-acoustic group, Boken, are set to play as much or as little as needed to keep the evening alight and will happily accompany other musicians taking a turn onstage. An assortment of instruments and equipment will be on hand, but performers are encouraged to bring their own. So grab your guitar and gumption and get ready to rock! ®

Firehouse Fun

K

ids get an exciting peek inside a real working fire station and pick up some valuable safety tips this month. Youngsters on this fun, informative visit to Takanawa Fire Station will have the chance

18 May 2009 iNTOUCH

to admire the emergency trucks close up, observe a fire drill, try on firefighters’ gear, use a fire extinguisher and practice making an emergency phone call. English translation will be provided. ®

Open Mic Night Thursday, May 28 7 p.m. Traders’ Bar Free Adults only Performers can sign up online or at the Member Services Desk Sponsored by the Entertainment Committee

Takanawa Fire Station Tour Saturday, May 30 10:30 a.m. ¥300 per child (children must be accompanied by an adult) Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk Sponsored by the Culture Committee


COMMITTEES

Joining a Committee

Lucky Numbers

G

rab your luckiest charms and head to the Club for an evening of delightful, wholesome fun for all ages when the American Room transforms into a festive bingo hall. Members Penny Poe and Denise Kennerley will be hosting the event as players contend for winning combinations and an assortment of prizes. Admission includes all games, as well as light refreshments. ®

Fun Family Bingo Saturday, May 16 4 p.m. American Room Adults: ¥2,100 Children (3–15 years): ¥1,050 Infants (2 and under): free Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk Sponsored by the Entertainment Committee

Stage Delight

F

Recreation Tim Griffen (Monica Hobbs) Recreation Subcommittees Bowling Pam Jenkinson Fitness Jerry Rosenberg Golf Steven Thomas Library Michelle Arnot Brown Logan Room Diane Dooley & Susan Higgins Squash Nelson Graves & Alok Rakyan Swim Jesse Green & Lydia Woodard Video Lisbeth Pentelius Youth Activities Monica Hobbs Community Relations Scott Hancock (Jeff McNeill) Community Relations Subcommittees Distinguished Achievement Award Jeff McNeill Independence Day Sportsman of the Year Jeff McNeill

by Makoto Sasayama

or more than 150 years, the Shinbashi neighborhood has served as one of Tokyo’s most celebrated geisha districts. For a long time, only Japan’s elite were able to enjoy the company, conversation and music of elegant, kimono-clad entertainers at exclusive ryotei restaurants. But with the setting up of this karyukai (“world of flowers and willows”) in 1849, the general public was afforded access to this rarefied pocket of society. At the turn of the century, one band of geisha desired a venue that would display their talents on a larger scale than their typical private audiences. The Shinbashi Enbujo Theater opened its doors in 1925, allowing the women to stage grand performances of traditional dance, song and shamisen music to enthusiastic audiences. The theater’s annual Azuma Odori has continued to grow in sophistication and glamour over the years. Today, it is a form of top-rate cultural entertainment in Tokyo and tickets are difficult to obtain. The

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

Culture Committee has secured a limited number of seats to one performance in May, granting Members the opportunity to witness this time-honored display. This year’s Azuma Odori will recount a selection of famous Kabuki scenes, drawing to a close with a finale that will bring together on stage some of the karyukai’s most notable geisha. Members will also have the option of partaking in a tea ceremony performed by the women during the intermission. Don’t miss your chance to spend an afternoon immersed in this exceptional world of perfection and privilege. ® Azuma Odori Sunday, May 31 Doors open: 3:20 p.m. Show begins: 3:50 p.m. Shinbashi Enbujo Theater ¥6,000 (optional tea ceremony: ¥1,000) Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk Sponsored by the Culture Committee

Culture Eiji Arai (Per Knudsen) Culture Subcommittee Genkan Gallery Fred Harris Entertainment Barbara Hancock (Per Knudsen) Finance Akihiko Mizuno (Thomas Brown) Food & Beverage Craig Saphin (Amane Nakashima) Food & Beverage Subcommittee Wine Mark Baxter House Mary Saphin (Ira Wolf) House Subcommittee Architectural Peter Jay & Michael Miller Human Resources Victoria Muir Membership Mark Saft (Mary Saphin) Nominating Nick Masee

Names in parentheses denote Board liaisons.

Cornerstones of the Club 19


The Greatest Game Golf Committee chair Steven Thomas explains his love for the game that American writer Mark Twain once described as “a good walk spoiled.”

T

he Men’s Golf Group (MGG) recently held its Spring Stag at Mission Hills Golf Club in Shenzhen, China. Twentyfour golfers enjoyed five rounds in three days, reveling in the pleasures and frustrations of the game. Truth be told, there were many more wayward shots than perfect ones and more lost balls and three-putts than we all would have liked. But there are also the memories of a lifetime-first hole in one for Bruce Wade, a superb sub-par, last round back nine for runner-up John Vaughan and the champion’s green jacket for Steve Saruwatari. This annual weekend away is one of the main events on a calendar that brings together our band of keen golfers every two weeks for some serious but always friendly competition. In recent years, even as the expat cycle inevitably sees members leave Japan, we have welcomed a steady stream of newcomers. The MGG continues to offer Club Members excellent opportunities to play during their time in Tokyo, both in organized events and with discounted rates at selected courses. So why do we do it? What attracts men and women to what

20 May 2009 iNTOUCH

golfing legend Jack Nicklaus called “the greatest game” and what South African Gary Player referred to as “a difficult game, a frustrating game, but truly a lesson in life”? For myself, it all started at the age of 4 or 5 when my dad would go to the field next to the local municipal course to hit balls. I would tag along, spurred on by his offer of six pence (about ¥5) if I could fly a ball over the hedgerow with my cut-down hickoryshafted club. Then, after a few years of intensive school football and cricket and just before my 12th birthday, Dad paid for me to become a junior member of his club for the princely sum of 13 British pounds a year. It meant I could play as much golf as I liked and did I ever take advantage of that. Like many golfers who played in their early years, I have happy memories of endless summer days spent cycling to the course with my clubs slung over my back and practicing for hours. I would often play 54 holes until 10:30 at night, competing fiercely with the other young lads as our handicaps tumbled away month


RECREATION

by month. At the time, I guess we were just enthralled to be playing another sport alongside cricket, tennis, rugby and soccer. Little did we know that we had actually caught the golf bug and there was going to be no shaking it for the rest of our lives. Nearly 40 years later, I often reflect on how fortunate I was that my dad introduced me to golf at a young age and how the game has opened up so many avenues for me over the years. Not only have I enjoyed playing a wonderful sport, but I have also forged many great friendships and experienced tremendous camaraderie. Along the way, I have been fortunate to have had the chance to play some of world’s best courses, following in the footsteps of golfing legends and spending hours on the links in beautiful locations I would not have ventured to otherwise. During this time, I have experienced many different aspects of golf—rounds with my father on lazy summer evenings, receiving my golf education from experienced players as a youngster, the high-pressure environment of university competition, discovering the charms of golf in Japan, meeting up with former MGG members for biennial global tours and, recently, the honor of chairing the MGG. While some critics say golf takes too long and costs too much, in what other sport

can an older player still be competitive, be it a 53-year-old Greg Norman at last year’s British Open, one of our own stalwart group members shooting 71 gross a few days before his 50th birthday or somebody playing regularly into his seventies or eighties? And it’s certainly the only game in which players of different skill levels can compete easily against one another, thanks to the well-honed handicap system. All in all, though, golf for me has proven to be about friendships, shared experiences and a dedication to the traditions and spirit of the game. It is always a joy to meet and play with rookies who are just starting out on their golfing “journeys” and who have so much to look forward to as they gain experience, improve their scores and come to understand the vagaries and pleasures of the game. And frustrating though golf may sometimes be, just as you think nothing is going right and you begin to wonder if you’ve lost your edge, you hit the sweetest, purest shot exactly as you intended. It’s at moments like that you realize that Jack Nicklaus was right. ®

For more information on golfing opportunities through the Club, check out the Club website or inquire at the Recreation Services Desk. Steven Thomas

Fitness and well-being 21


Core Conditioning for Juniors The Class Designed specifically for children, this class helps improve participants’ core strength, upper- and lower-body coordination, body awareness, postural control and flexibility. Through a series of challenging but fun exercises, this class for 9- to 13-year-olds also increases the overall fitness level of students. Core Conditioning for Juniors runs every Wednesday, 5:05–6 p.m. Contact the Recreation Services Desk for details.

The Instructor Kiyotaka “Taka” Komatsu has a degree in human performance and sports. A certified strength and conditioning specialist and sports performance coach, he has been teaching movement skills and sports conditioning to children of various ages and abilities, as well as to professional athletes, for many years. He is also a frequent speaker at fitness conferences on the subject. Komatsu, who is a personal trainer at the Club, also teaches Junior Fitness, Core Conditioning and Kickboxing at the Club. The Student “I really like Taka’s class because it is hard but fun at the same time. I am stronger and I can jump higher, which is good for basketball. Taka makes the class a lot of fun.” (Jackson Hunsaker)

wellness

tip

by Steve Terada

Low carb? Low fat? High protein? Which diet is the best? According to a study published in the February issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, all diet plans yield similar results. It’s not what you eat but how many calories you consume that makes the difference. For the study, researchers followed subjects

22 May 2009 iNTOUCH

on four different diets. After six months, the dieters had lost about the same amount of weight—around six kilograms. After two years, they had kept off an average of four kilos. During the course of the study, the subjects kept a food diary, attended counseling sessions and engaged in moderate physical activity. All four diets reduced the risk of a heart attack by lowering triglycerides, bad cholesterol and blood pressure and boosted levels of good cholesterol. So while it seems that there is no superior diet plan, if you stick with any calorie-reduction diet, it can help you lose a moderate amount of weight and keep it off.

class

focus


RECREATION

what’s

on

Getting Started Unsure how to get the most out of the exercise tools at the Club? Let a member of our professional staff explain everything to you at a free, 20-minute instruction session in The Studio. From the Swiss ball to the Bosu to the foam roller, you’ll become a master of the exercise apparatus. Session dates and times are posted in the Fitness Center. Find out more on the Club website or by inquiring at the Fitness Center.

Pampering Dad Help Dad really relax this Father’s Day with a gift certificate for a special treatment at The Spa. Choose from three revitalizing options, ranging from a refreshing, one-hour facial and massage to a two-hour, head-totoe makeover. Talk to one of the professional therapists at The Spa to find out more.

Sports Gifts for All If you’re looking for a little something for Dad for Father’s Day or a gift for someone back home, be sure to drop by the Summer Recreation Sale on May 30 and 31. Check out the impressive range of sporting apparel by such makers as Nike and Callaway, which will host its own sale in The Studio.

youth

spot

Club Idol If you think you’ve got what it takes to wow an audience or just simply enjoy belting out tunes, sign up for the Karaoke Party on Saturday, May 30, in the Kids’ Zone. 5–6 p.m. (9–12 years); 6–7 p.m. (13–15 years). ¥1,470 (includes popcorn). Sign up online or at the Recreation Services Desk.

Handmade for Dad Use your creative flair to make Dad something he’ll treasure—and wear—for years to come. Sign up now for one of two tie-making sessions on Sunday, June 7, ahead of Father’s Day on Sunday, June 21. Session 1 (3–8 years): 1–2 p.m. Session 2 (9–12 years): 2:30–3:30 p.m. The Studio. ¥3,300 (includes materials). Sign up online or at the Recreation Services Desk.

Get Set Get set to run and swim your way to fitness at the Club’s inaugural Youth Biathlon for 7- to 15-year-olds. Saturday, May 23. 4 p.m. Sign up online or at the Recreation Services Desk.

Fitness and well-being 23


Reinventing Ramen Ahead of speaking to the Women’s Group this month, American chef Ivan Orkin discusses how he made the jump from haute cuisine to Japanese noodles. Words and photos by Brett Bull

Monthly Program: A Ramen Junkie’s Journey Monday, May 11 Doors open: 11 a.m. Program begins: 11:30 a.m. Banquet Rooms WG members: ¥3,150 Non-WG members: ¥4,200 Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk

24 May 2009 iNTOUCH

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efore opening his noodle shop in Minami Karasuyama in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward, Ivan Orkin’s goal was simple: to create an eatery that anybody would feel comfortable entering. “There are so many smoky, dirty, musty places serving ramen,” says the 45-year-old American chef, sitting in his 10-seater restaurant. Everything, from the dishware to the aluminum edging on the counter to the pumping background music (“Torture” by The Jacksons is playing) to the yellow paint on the walls, is Orkin’s doing. “I wanted people to walk away saying, ‘That was a great ramen shop,’” he says. The bespectacled, animated Orkin opened Ivan Ramen in 2007 and has subsequently combined handcrafted dishes with a pleasing environment to garner popularity that exceeds his wildest dreams. “I have had nights where I might have two 12-year-olds next to an 80-year-old couple,” says the native of Syosset, New York, of the broad clientele the place attracts. “Then next to them is another young couple in very expensive clothes. Then there are guys covered in paint from the nearby construction site.” The restaurant’s popularity, the father of three believes, can be found in its fresh ingredients. Orkin knew that if he opened a runof-the-mill ramen shop, he would be busy for the first month or two simply because the Japanese love a gaijin-does-Japanese-culture story. To succeed long-term, however, would require a quality product, and one that remained in the generally acceptable ¥1,000 price range. With this in mind, he simmers his chickens (Orkin avoids the standard pork broth, opting instead for his own blend of chicken and seafood), sources his garlic and meat from nearby shops and his flour from Hokkaido and Australia, and makes his own noodles on the premises. All of the ingredients are natural and unprocessed. Customer favorites are the handmade shoyu (soy) and shio (salt) dishes, both of which are lighter than regular ramen. A bit different, too, is the vibe. The restaurant’s interior is brightly lit and free of clutter, with music selections playing slightly louder than normal. “It gives the I-am-not-at-home feeling,” Orkin says of the tunes. “I think it sets a nice pace.” Orkin’s artisanal-like devotion to cooking is embodied in the first part of his motto, featured on his menu, which reads, “slow food… fast.” The latter is made possible partly through his use of noodles that aren’t too fat. “Thin noodles cook fast,” he says, adding that his average serving time is five minutes. “If you come in without anyone behind you or in front of you, I can feed you in two minutes.” As a result, his four employees serve between 100 and 160 people on weekdays. That number jumps to about 200 on weekends. Twohour waits, with lines extending 60 people deep, are not unusual. While Orkin’s interest in Japanese culture was nurtured during his time teaching English in Japan in the late 1980s, his cooking pedigree is founded in his training at the Culinary Institute of America, New York. After graduating in 1993, he worked at the famed French restaurant Lutèce in Manhattan and then Mesa Grill, operated by celebrity chef Bobby Flay. At the age of 40, Orkin returned to Tokyo with the idea that he wanted to do something different. “Ramen is people’s food,” he says. “Open a burger joint, open a taco stand, whatever, you have regular


WOMEN’S GROUP

people with regular money. But if you eat French food, you have to have the cash, you have the clothes on, the whole thing. For ramen, tacos and burgers, you just go. That is what led me into ramen.” Despite Orkin’s commitment to fresh ingredients, he has recently branched out into the instant ramen market. In January, the Circle K Sunkus convenience store chain began selling a ¥250 version of his shop’s shio bowl. Orkin, who had a Japanese-language book published about him last year, sees no contradiction. “The Ivan Ramen brand is important to me,” he says. “I have no aspirations of being a movie star and I don’t want to be on a variety show, but I do want people to enjoy my food. For any creative person with a product, you need people to use it or taste it in order to have a chance to have a repeat customer. You have to get them in the door.” With one Japanese magazine placing Ivan Ramen among the 10 best ramen joints in Tokyo, Orkin is satisfied with his success. “I think when you open a restaurant, you are making food that you think is great,” he says. “It is something you would like to offer people because you think it is so wonderful.” Plenty of the city’s ramen lovers would likely agree with him. ®

Ivan Orkin

Ivan Ramen www.ivanramen.com

An interactive community 25


film

presentation

Nick Bonner

More Than Just a Game by Wendi Hailey

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s the North Korean capital of Pyongyang prepared for the 2003 Mass Games, two child gymnasts tirelessly practiced for the chance to perform in the world’s most elaborate human spectacle. For eight months leading up to the event, filmmaker Nick Bonner captured the lives of the young girls and their families, along with an unprecedented look at day-to-day living in the closedoff country, for his award-winning documentary, A State of Mind. “We realized we really did have to make a film on the Mass Games,” Bonner, 47, says. “We wanted to get in and see what it’s like as a person, as an individual.” The 90-minute film, directed by Daniel Gordon, weaves together uncensored, unadorned observations of compelling practices and performances, family bonds, nationalistic pride and anti-American sentiment in the hard-line Stalinist state. “It’s a country that remains one of the leastknown places in the world,” says Bonner, who has been making monthly treks from his home in Beijing to North Korea with his travel firm, Koryo Tours, since 1993. In a special evening at the Club, Bonner

will screen the documentary and address questions afterward. For him, the movie is a chance to enlighten audience members on the heavily veiled state through a simple human interest story. “We strongly believe in engagement,” the British native says. “We make our films very, very objectively. It’s up to you to come up with your own opinion.” The colorful Mass Games have been staged regularly since 1946 to commemorate national holidays and have grown increasingly lavish with each production. They comprise tens of thousands of rigorously trained schoolchildren and other participants who perform intricate dance routines and acrobatics and form a massive wall of animated murals. Bonner and Gordon have also teamed up to produce the 2002 documentary, The Game of Their Lives, which chronicles North Korea’s celebrated 1966 World Cup team, and 2006’s Crossing the Line, about the first American soldier to defect to North Korea while serving in the demilitarized zone that still separates the two Koreas. Next on their cinematic agenda is a romantic comedy to be shot on location in Pyongyang with a

Nick Bonner, Daniel Gordon and Nick Bennett

local cast and crew. For those curious to explore this “secret state,” Bonner and his film will provide plenty of food for thought during this remarkable program. ®

Filmmaker Nick Bonner presents A State of Mind Thursday, May 14 Doors open: 6:15 p.m. Program starts: 6:30 p.m. Women’s Group Classroom 2 ¥1,500 (includes one drink) Children (18 and under): free Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk

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New Moms and Babies Get-Together

Early Pregnancy and Birth Planning

Monthly Program: A Ramen Junkie’s Journey

Filmmaker Nick Bonner presents A State of Mind

Birth Preparation for Couples

Board Meeting

Nearly New Sale

For more details, check out the events on pages 4 and 5, the Women’s Group page at www.tokyoamericanclub.org or the Women’s Group website at www.tokyoamericanclubwomensgroup.org.

26 May 2009 iNTOUCH


WOMEN’S GROUP

up close

and personal

What Culture Shock? by Gaby Sheldon

Samantha Verplank

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any new arrivals to Tokyo take time to soak in their unfamiliar surroundings and find their footing. Not Samantha Verplank. Not long after stepping off the plane from the United States, the plucky 23-year-old was immersing herself in the running of the Women’s Group, taking on the role of director of community events at the start of the year. “When I first came to Tokyo, I was very impressed and inspired by the women who put together [the expat guide] Tokyo: Here and How and I wanted a chance to be involved in the community and, more importantly, meet great new friends,” she says. The Michigan native is certainly fulfilling the latter goal. Shortly after helping out at the spring session of the three-day Tokyo: Here & Now orientation program, Verplank organized a night out for some of the program’s participants to get to know each other further. “My favorite part of the Women’s Group is that I have a great network of friends and support, as well as a chance to interact with people I wouldn’t otherwise encounter,” she says. “I’ve also enjoyed having the opportunity to participate in events where I feel as though I’m not only giving something, but I’m also getting something out of the experience.” Verplank is currently putting her energies into organizing this month’s Nearly New Sale, an annual event at which people sell their own items, from baby clothes to jewelry. “This is a great event to bring out the bargain hunter in all of us,” she says. As the youngest member of the Women’s Group Board, Verplank says she is keen to put on events catering to Members in their twenties and thirties. “I’m hoping that we can hold events that appeal to young professionals and their partners, such as the

Champagne and Pearls evening held at the start of the year.” Away from her Women’s Group commitments, Verplank is busy acquainting herself with her new home, whether that means skiing in Hokkaido or exploring Tokyo by bike with her husband, Kyle, and their 2-year-old daughter, Brooklyn. Acclimatization is obviously going just fine. ®

Nearly New Sale Tuesday, May 19 10 a.m.–2 p.m. New York Suite and Women’s Group Classrooms Open to the public (children under 12 must be accompanied by a parent at all times) To book a vendor’s table, contact the Member Services Desk

june

22 Salvation Army Charity Drive

20–21 Kiso Valley Tour

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Get Acquainted Coffee

Extended Board Meeting

New Moms and Babies Get-Together

Get Acquainted Coffee

Kita Kamakura: Art, Zen and More Tour

An interactive community 27


The End of Tornado Season In an exclusive interview with iNTOUCH, former pitching ace Hideo Nomo looks back on his days playing in Japan and the dream move to the majors. by Nick Jones

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t was a fine and sunny California day on May 2, 1995, when a 26-year-old Japanese rookie pitcher stepped out onto the mound at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. Apart from the brisk wind that was blowing in off San Francisco Bay, the conditions that Tuesday afternoon were perfect for the more than 16,000 fans to enjoy a game of baseball. Many of those who had come to watch the local side, the Giants, take on Californian rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers had traveled from the right-hander’s homeland. They waved hastily scribbled signs bearing his name, Hideo Nomo, in Japanese and shouted gleeful words of encouragement. They were there to witness a fellow countryman living out his American dream of playing in the majors. Others were just curious about this relatively unknown hurler who had received a $2 million bonus after signing with the Dodgers three months earlier. The Giants’ leadoff batter Darren Lewis stepped up to the plate. Nomo started his trademark windup, for which he had earned the nickname “The Tornado.” Arching his back, he raised his hands high above his head. Then, after a dramatic pause, he turned his back toward the batter, his left foot pointed at second base and right arm wrapped around his body, before uncoiling himself and launching a fastball toward Lewis. “I was thinking I had to throw the ball as fast as I could,” Nomo says of those

28 May 2009 iNTOUCH

first nerve-racking Major League Baseball moments as he looked at his mustached catcher, the legendary Mike Piazza. A decidedly heavier 40-year-old Nomo is sitting in the Club one weekday afternoon in March replaying that momentous debut. “It’s difficult to put into words, but it was an incredible moment,” he says. “Of course, it was an away game, we were playing in San Francisco at Candlestick Park, but I remember a lot of Asian fans cheering for me. I’ll never forget stepping onto the mound.” Although the Dodgers went on to lose the game 4-3 in extra innings, Nomo made an impressive start, pitching five shutout innings and permitting only one hit. Jon Weisman, who writes about the Dodgers for the Los Angeles Times newspaper, recalls listening to the game on the radio at the beach. “It was a day game, and Nomo was unhittable,” he says. “He did walk some guys, but he was also fooling a lot of Giants. Because it was his first game, Nomo was taken out after only five innings, but it definitely felt like the start of something big.” The season unfolded in a way few could have predicted. Nomo led the National League in strikeouts that year, going 136 with a 2.54 ERA. Consequently, he picked up the league’s Rookie of the Year award, becoming the fourth consecutive Dodger to win it (another Dodger, Todd Hollandsworth, was chosen the following


Ayano Sato

FEATURE

Hideo Nomo

The End of Tornado Season 29


year, too). “When I won it,” Nomo says, “I felt it was proof that I was good enough to play in the majors.” Plenty of fans, however, had already seen more than enough evidence that the former Kintetsu Buffaloes pitcher had what it took to perform on the sport’s biggest stage. This was reinforced when Nomo started for the National League in the All-Star Game that year, striking out three of the six batters he faced. Back in Japan, an estimated 15 million people tuned in to watch their national hero, gathering around large public screens and television sets in electronics stores, while an army of Japanese reporters filled the press seats at the stadium in Arlington,

he says. “It was a really good experience to play against teams from around the world.” He was selected by an astounding eight clubs in the 1989 draft, the Kintetsu Buffaloes of his native Osaka eventually striking a deal with him. Suddenly, the reticent player found himself thrust into the media glare. He was uncomfortable with the attention and the disruption it was causing the start of his career in the pros. “I didn’t communicate well with the players at first because I was in the media spotlight so much,” he says. “Everything I did or said became front-page news.” Nomo never did warm to the Japanese media during his years playing, but he learned how to handle—or avoid—them.

well as the Sawamura Award, presented each year to the best pitcher. His impressive figures continued for the next three seasons. But it was while playing against a group of major-leaguers during a post-season exhibition game that the 1.88-meter-tall ace began to consider his future. “The first year I played in the Japan-US game, I starting thinking about moving to the majors, and then I found this agent,” Nomo recalls. “He told me that I could possibly become a free agent.” That player agent was a tenacious, half-American, half-Japanese man by the name of Don Nomura. Together, they would change Japan’s baseball landscape forever. Under the Japanese Uniform Players Contract at the time, there would be little chance of Nomo realizing his dream of playing in the majors for a few more years. Nomura, with the help of an agent in California, found a loophole in the document. A voluntary retirement clause in the contract technically allowed a player to retire from the Japanese game but still play in the US. When post-season contract discussions with the Buffaloes broke down, Nomo declared his retirement from the game in Japan. Mayhem ensued as the Buffaloes scrambled to salvage the situation, but it was too late. “In the wake of all this, the Japanese sports press went into its DEFCON 4 mode, labeling Nomo an ‘ingrate,’ a ‘troublemaker’ and a ‘traitor,’” Whiting writes. “Everyone had turned against him, baseball officials, fan groups and big names like Nagashima and Oh.” Nomo wasted no time in setting his MLB career in motion. After traveling down America’s West Coast meeting with

Back in Japan, an estimated 15 million people tuned in to watch their national hero. The country was firmly in the grip of “Nomomania.” Texas. The country was firmly in the grip of “Nomomania.” It was quite an about-face by the general public and, in particular, the media, who, barely a few months before, had branded Nomo a “traitor” for exploiting a loophole in his contract with the Buffaloes to seek his fortune in the United States. The nature of Nomo’s move to America had caused much gnashing of teeth and strain in cross-Pacific baseball relations. An up-and-coming pitcher in Japan’s semiprofessional industrial leagues, Nomo had shone during the Seoul Olympics in 1988 when Japan lost to the US in the final. Earlier in the year, he had received a taste of the life that was to come when he traveled to Italy for the Baseball World Cup. “It was my first time on a plane and my first time abroad,”

30 May 2009 iNTOUCH

Writing in his book The Samurai Way of Baseball, Robert Whiting notes that while with the Dodgers Nomo threatened to blackball any journalist who came too near the dugout. “It did not seem like much of a threat because the recalcitrant Nomo seldom talked to them anyway,” he writes. “Yet when an NHK crew ventured forth across the line, Nomo, true to his word, initiated a boycott against them which would last for three years.” On the field, he began his career in Japan’s Pacific League in stunning fashion, dispatching opposition with his deadly arsenal of forkballs, fastballs and occasional curveballs. He finished the season top of the league in wins, ERA and strikeouts and bagged the Rookie of the Year honor, as


FEATURE

A Career on the Mound TEAMS Kintetsu Buffaloes (1990–94) Los Angeles Dodgers (1995–98) New York Mets (1998) Milwaukee Brewers (1999) Detroit Tigers (2000) Boston Red Sox (2001) Los Angeles Dodgers (2002–04) Tampa Bay Devil Rays (2005) Kansas City Royals (2008)

HIGHLIGHTS MLB All-Star selection (1995) National League Rookie of the Year (1995) Sawamura Award (1990) Two career no-hitters National League (September 17, 1996) Los Angeles Dodgers vs Colorado Rockies, Coors Field, Denver American League (April 4, 2001) Boston Red Sox vs Baltimore Orioles, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore

CAREER STATISTICS Win-loss record: 201-155 (MLB: 123-109) Earned run average: 3.86 (MLB: 4.24) Strikeouts: 3,122 (MLB: 1,918)

The End of Tornado Season 31


teams, he was finally convinced by the words and checkbook of the president of the Dodgers, Peter O’Malley. “I had been to meet Seattle and San Francisco before the Dodgers, but at the Dodgers, O’Malley talked to me passionately about Dodger Stadium and I was moved by his devotion to the team,” he says. Nomo signed with the club on February 13, becoming only the second Japanese player ever—after Masanori Murakami, a Giants pitcher in the mid-1960s—to ply his trade in the majors. Following the catastrophic destruction wrought by an earthquake on the city of Kobe just a month before, Japan finally had something to smile about. Leaving his wife and child in Japan, Nomo headed to LA alone. Immediately, he says, he was struck by the sharp contrast in team facilities from back home. “It was a huge difference from Japan,” he says. “At training camp in Japan, we would have one practice field, but at the Dodgers, there were seven or eight. Even the owner had a place to stay at the training grounds. The accommodation, facilities, everything were great compared with Japan.” While some assumed that he would struggle with a new culture and language, Nomo praises the Dodgers for their immense support that allowed him to concentrate fully on his game. Even after he left the Dodgers and moved on to a series of different teams, he says the only frustrations he faced were physical ones in the form of injuries. “I thought it was going to be tough after the Dodgers,” he admits, “but everywhere I went the people were supportive and I would hear cries of encouragement in Japanese.” Much of Nomo’s determination and subsequent success in the majors can perhaps be traced back to his childhood and early career, which seems as unorthodox as the pitching style he doggedly refused to change. But it’s this mental toughness and self-belief that likely proved instrumental in his later achievements, such as his two no-hitters (one in each league) in the US. The first of these, which he threw at Coors Field in Denver in 1996, is ranked by the baseball website The Hardball Times as

He absolutely opened the door for Ichiro and Matsui and Matsuzaka. Before Hideo, playing in the majors was a dream. After him, it was a possibility.

32 May 2009 iNTOUCH


FEATURE

the all-time second-best no-hitter. The son of a postal worker, Nomo grew up in a working-class area of Osaka. Although he played for his school teams, he says his true ability didn’t really develop until he was 18. “For a long time, I just played without thinking too much about how I should play,” he says. “But at the company team, I started thinking about my game a lot more.” During his three seasons toiling in Japan’s farm system, Nomo had his eye on the pros. “My first goal was to get to the Olympics,” he explains, “because I knew that if I could play there, I could get noticed.” It was a very different route from that taken by the likes of Seattle star Ichiro Suzuki and Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka. They had attended top baseball high schools, excelled in the hallowed national high school championship and then entered the draft. But, according to Jim Small, MLB vice president for Asia, the recent rash of moves by Japanese players to the majors wouldn’t

have been possible without Nomo. “I think it is difficult to underestimate the impact that [Nomo’s] move to the Dodgers had not only on future Japanese players, but on the popularity of MLB in Japan,” Small says. “He absolutely opened the door for Ichiro and [Hideki] Matsui and Matsuzaka. Before Hideo, playing in the majors was a dream. After him, it was a possibility.” For the likes of Jon Weisman and other American baseball fans, Nomo will be remembered for his prodigious efforts on the mound. “I think people here have nothing but good feelings for Nomo, and we think of him as someone who really gave his all, and then some—a warrior,” Weisman says. “And he was also very entertaining to watch, from his pitching style to the huge number of strikeouts he racked up.” Finally, after being released by the Kansas City Royals in April last year, Nomo announced his retirement from baseball. He had played 13 seasons in the

major leagues with eight different teams. Walking away, he says, was far from easy. “I didn’t think I could perform at major league level,” he says. “Plus, I didn’t have an offer from a team. I still wanted to pitch, but I wasn’t performing well. It was a big decision to retire.” Most of his time now is spent running his own team in Japan’s semi-professional league. The club’s slogan is, rather fittingly, “Never give up your dream.” Returning to his roots to help players make the most of their careers is enormously rewarding, he says. Nomo retains links to the pros, too, having been approached by two ex-Kintetsu teammates, now coaching the Orix Blue Wave, to step in as technical adviser. Looking back on his playing career, is he satisfied with his achievements? “I would have liked to have been a world champion and to have continued to play,” he replies, “so I didn’t achieve everything.” Unfortunately, everyone has to quit eventually—even warriors. ®

The End of Tornado Season 33


All exhibits in the Genkan Gallery are for sale and can be purchased by Membership card at the Member Services Desk.

Anthony

Willoughby by Wendi Hailey

When adventurer and entrepreneur Anthony Willoughby embarks on one of his explorations, there are two essential items he never fails to bring along. “I’ve always got my camera and a few bottles of wine,” says the former Club Member. It was the latter that prompted him in part to form his first venture, I Will Not Complain, while living in Japan in 1988. Faced with dwindling food supplies but an abundance of wine on one expedition to Papua New Guinea, the incessant grumbles of a fellow traveler sparked the idea of a leadership and team-building training program that would guide professionals through African mountains, the deserts of China and jungles of Papua New Guinea. “People have to reestablish what is important in life, reassess their values and morals,” he says. “The executives learn a lot from the tribespeople and the tribespeople then have their value and way of life confirmed, in a sense.” It was those remarkable “warrior school” journeys that the 59-year-old globetrotter captured through his camera lens for a series that will be shown at the Genkan Gallery later this month, marking his first exhibition at the Club in two decades. “I purely take photographs for fun,” Willoughby says. “I’ve been doing it since I was 9.” Born in Britain and raised in Africa, Willoughby has spent 25 of the past 35 years in Asia developing his businesses and beefing up his inventory of extraordinary feats. After moving back to the UK for several years to pilot a business-refocusing enterprise, the energetic businessman is back at the helm of his first undertaking. Among his current crop of endeavors, Willoughby is preparing to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his trek up Mount Fuji with a second Champagneand-caviar ascent this summer. His trusty camera, no doubt, will be close at hand to record the journey.

Exhibition May 25–June 21

Wine and Cheese Reception Monday, May 25 6:30–8 p.m. Adult Lobby Open to all Members Free

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GENKAN GALLERY

Exhibitions of art 35


Table Talk

36 May 2009 iNTOUCH


TALKING HEADS With its estimated 160,000 eateries, ranging from high-end French restaurants in Ginza to backstreet noodle joints in Shinjuku, Tokyo has long been regarded by food lovers as a culinary treasure trove. This was made official in 2007 when Michelin launched its first restaurant guide to the city. The venerated French guidebook awarded an astounding 191 of its highly prized stars to 150 restaurants, eclipsing Paris as the world’s culinary capital (previously, Paris had the most stars, at 65). Michelin Guides Director Jean-Luc Naret declared the city “the world leader in gourmet dining.” Michelin reinforced Tokyo’s standing with the release of its 2009 edition. This time, 173 restaurants received 227 stars. Eateries specializing in a range of different international and Japanese cuisine were recognized. But the guide has attracted its fair share of criticism, with some detractors claiming that the French are unable to fairly judge Japan’s rich culinary traditions. Yoshiki Tsuji is president of the Osaka-based Tsuji Culinary Institute, Japan’s largest professional cooking school. iNTOUCH’s Nick Jones spoke with the Club Member about Japanese food and the culinary delights of Tokyo. Excerpts:

Yoshiki Tsuji

iNTOUCH: How would you define Japanese cuisine? Tsuji: It’s a craft that combines seasonality and festivities and appeals to all five senses. I can’t think of any other cuisine that has a sense of smell, sound, vision, touch and taste. When it comes to the highest cuisine level, the look, sound, smell and touch affect taste vastly. iNTOUCH: The sound of food? Tsuji: When the server brings in the simmering pot as the third, fourth or fifth dish, that [bubbling sound] is very appetizing. You certainly don’t find that sound in French cuisine. iNTOUCH: Does this have any meaning for everyday Japanese, though? Tsuji: I think you’ll find that lots of younger Japanese people have never eaten Japanese food in its highest haute cuisine form, just as many younger French people don’t have the opportunity to eat at three-star restaurants often. So it’s very important for us to let younger people experience this kind of cuisine and have some pride in their country. iNTOUCH: So we’re talking about kaiseki cuisine, the kind served in ryotei restaurants? Tsuji: Yes, but you’d be amazed at how many large haute cuisine, grand maison restaurants are going bankrupt in Japan as the decline of the economy continues and corporate expense accounts continue to shrink.

iNTOUCH: So is the future bleak for this kind of Japanese cuisine? Tsuji: Only the best will survive. Even though it’s bleak, there is still the possibility for restaurants to flourish. There is still a lot of young talent…this craft will never diminish. iNTOUCH: How difficult is the training for chefs in Japan? Tsuji: The majority of the chefs that I know, who are now at the top of their careers, realize that the system they had before takes too long to train younger members. In the past, they would do five years of washing dishes, but when I say washing dishes I don’t mean putting things in a machine. It’s about touching and getting a sense for ceramics all day long, appreciating them for their beauty and importance. It’s difficult to find young people who are willing to endure this kind of apprenticeship. iNTOUCH: Why is that? Tsuji: Because of the image. You might have washed vegetables for three years then grilled fish for four years. Whereas now, you [change sections] much earlier on, and [senior chefs] have to nurture…and make sure [trainees] don’t quit. Just as they are less patient, we don’t emphasize the beauty of our craft enough. Although there are many, many talented, young, ambitious chefs, because of the decline in population the choices are becoming fewer. iNTOUCH: What was your reaction to the huge number of Michelin Guide stars bestowed on Tokyo restaurants? Tsuji: By just coming here, it shows

that the Michelin Guide appreciates the food culture in Japan, but then again it is predominant in Tokyo. I wish it were done all over Japan. iNTOUCH: Most people would agree that the overall standard of restaurants, from high-end restaurants to ramen shops, in Japan is very high. Why is this? Tsuji: It’s an approach that chefs have taken to learn their cuisine as a higherlevel skill. They want textbooks and rules to follow, particularly when creating international cuisine and, in particular, French. For example, those chefs who want to learn how to cook Chinese food will go to Hong Kong to get trained and study at a deeper level, come back and cook at a high level. It’s the same with French cuisine, Italian cuisine, so you have a very high standard of world cuisine here. iNTOUCH: But there was some criticism of the Michelin Guide coming to Tokyo, wasn’t there? Tsuji: Japanese people just love evaluations. Even restaurants were evaluated by the same system as sumo wrestlers during the Edo period. So when they say that Japanese people are not accustomed to a restaurant being evaluated, this is totally wrong, so false. The critics just didn’t like French people evaluating Japanese food. iNTOUCH: I understand that some restaurants that were going to be awarded stars refused. Is that right? Tsuji: Yes, many. Japanese restaurateurs and chefs treasure regular clients and won’t take unknown clients unless they are being introduced by regular customers. ®

Member insights on Japan 37


7:45 a.m. A typically early start at the office commences quietly for Sekiguchi as he sits at his desk on the third floor sipping green tea and catching up on his e-mail.

8 a.m. An estimated 130 workers gather outdoors to take part in the morning exercise ritual— traditional rajio taiso, started by NHK in 1928. “This is a Japanese custom,” Sekiguchi says. “Before we start working, everyone does the exercises. This is the same thing I did when I started working for the company 18 years ago.” Attendance is then taken before the day’s agenda and safety notes are announced.

8:15 a.m. The 41-year-old supervisor conducts his first of two daily site walkthroughs, noting problem areas that need to be corrected and pointing out various stages of development. A narrow walkway with a 22-meter drop to one side offers a bird’s-eye view of the site’s lower levels. “I like to see the progress every day, the change—it’s always different from yesterday,” he says, before spraying off the soles of his sturdy black shoes and heading back to the office.

11:15 a.m. Poring over color-coded sketches spread across a table, Sekiguchi and two other Takenaka managers verify the routes and schedules that workers will adhere to that week. With several groups of subcontractors and a staggered work timetable to coordinate, much of his time is spent making meticulous arrangements.

11:45 a.m. Sekiguchi rushes downstairs for the second of several meetings sprinkled throughout the day. Two dozen section leaders listen to brief presentations, including one by Sekiguchi, as laughter occasionally erupts from otherwise serious faces. Having worked many years in the United States for Takenaka, the Tokyo native at times laments the strict Japanese work ethic. These moments of cheery camaraderie clearly lift the mood. “We are not workaholics,” he says. “[There are] just too many things to do!”

12:25 p.m. Following a few phone calls and hurried tasks, he grabs a bento lunchbox from the dozens delivered to the site each day and sits down to

38 May 2009 iNTOUCH

All in a Day’s Work A day on the Azabudai site is a wellchoreographed yet ever-changing routine of construction, meetings, planning and progress. iNTOUCH takes a peek at the daily habits of hardworking site manager Ryota Sekiguchi. by Wendi Hailey Photos by Ayano Sato


REDEVELOPMENT lunch alongside his colleagues, many of whom also squeeze in a few minutes of shuteye.

12:45 p.m. The momentary inertia ends as Sekiguchi scoops up his hardhat to obligingly escort photographer Ayano Sato around the site for the Club’s monthly record of progress (see page 6).

1:05 p.m. Back at his desk, he checks over the detailed monthly schedule, broken into 10 areas to allow workers to shift seamlessly from one task to the next. “Sometimes I have to check drawings, sometimes I have to send a progress report to TAC and our consultants, sometimes I have to make a schedule chart or meeting minutes or respond to e-mails,” he says of his daily paperwork demands.

3 p.m. As an eight-man meeting for the condominium project kicks off, Sekiguchi and his team of planners and drafters look drowsy. A sudden clatter outside, sounding like the construction equivalent of a waiter dropping a tray of dishes, jolts the men upright as they formulate an agenda for the coming months.

5 p.m. His final meeting of the day, this time with a Mitsubishi consultant, gets underway. Sekiguchi practices karate at a local dojo to unwind after work whenever his schedule allows. “I have had no chance to go there yet this year,” says the second-degree black belt.

6 p.m. These hushed office afterhours give the father of two girls the chance to catch up on paperwork. “Stressed?” he ponders. “Yes, every day.” Yet his even countenance and diligent attitude reveal little anxiety, just the consequences of a long day’s work.

10 p.m. Ryota Sekiguchi

With everything in order, Sekiguchi packs up his satchel and heads out the door. A few others lag behind him in the four-story office building overlooking a darkened worksite. After a latenight meal and a bit of sleep, he’ll be back in the office for another full day at the helm of this colossal project in Azabudai, the biggest task of his career so far. And, it seems, he wouldn’t want it any other way. ®

The journey back to Azabudai 39


The Rewards program gives Members access to exclusive discounts and great deals. Simply present your Membership card before you receive the service from any of the vendors listed. All offers are valid for the

INTERIOR

A Cut Above Cut, color, perm, etc. for the entire family. English-speaking stylists. Find us in Hiroo, up the hill from Segafredo and National Azabu. Tel: 03-3441-7218 www.above.co.jp Reward: 10% off introductory services

B U SI NE S S P HO TO GRAP HY

M

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adidas PERFORMANCE CENTRE Check out adidas Premiumstyle, Porsche Design Sport, adidas by Stella McCartney and mi adidas, our unique shoe-customizing service, at our Roppongi Hills Metro Hat/Hollywood Plaza B1F store. Tel: 03-5771-1020 www.adidas.co.jp/shopnews Reward: 10% discount on cash payment

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The Meat Guy Get a head start on the barbecue season with one of our new gas grills. Tel: 052-618-3705 www.TheMeatGuy.jp Reward: ¥2,500 worth of free meat with every grill

Carpet Doctor Carpets, oriental rugs, upholstery, mattresses or car seats—Tokyo’s licensed, English-speaking cleaning professionals can get the job done. Tel: 0120-520-225 E-mail: info@e-carpetdoctor.com www.e-carpetdoctor.com Reward: Free Biokleen natural cleaning products

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D E NT A L

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40 May 2009 iNTOUCH


HOM E

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Ken Corporation Ltd. Being a resident of a Ken Corporation apartment gives you exclusive membership to the KEN Green Golf Club. Tel: 03-5413-5666 www.kencorp.com Reward: Special packages for Club Members

Jaguar Land Rover Japan Ltd. Visit our website for details on vehicles or call English-speaking sales adviser, Masanao Hariu. www.jaguar.co.jp Tel: 03-5470-4211 E-mail: mhariu1@jaguarlandrover.com Reward: Original lacquer plate and Arita porcelain plate with every new Jaguar

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Kool Co., Inc. From selling your car to buying a new or used one, we can guide you through the entire process—in English. Tel: 048-451-8888/Fax: 048-451-8889 E-mail: kool-inc@glim.jp Reward: 10% discount on repairs and maintenance

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Tokyo Car Club: Auto Sales and More When English counts, count on us! Auto sales and buying, service, export, shipping, shaken and more. Just call us. Tel: 03-3495-0393/090-8773-0907 E-mail: motors@gol.com Reward: ¥10,000 discount on an ETC system

Dr Drive Car Wash Treat your car to a pampering with a full wash and wax at Dr Drive in Higashi Gotanda. Just drive into the Eneos gas station on Sony Dori and show your Club Membership card to receive a special discount. Tel: 03-3442-5867 Reward: 5% discount on car wash

M ED I C A L

AUT OM OT I V E

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Roppongi Hills Clinic We offer full medical checkups, using the latest medical equipment. Tel: 03-3796-6006 www.66clinic.com Reward: 5% discount on Super Medical Checkup

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

Services and benefits for Members 41


sayonara Jeffrey & Graziela Barrette

Philip Jones

John Regur

Noelle Colin-Asano & Fusakazu Asano

Chikara Kennedy

Marc-Oliver & Julie Ann Rosenthal

Stuart Cox & Rebecca Broadley

Anna & Robert Klavins

Federico & Wendy Sacasa

Jason Evans & Emilie Adams

Noboru & Nanko Kobayashi

Paul & Lyn Santina

Daniel Ghelman & Patricia Jaegerman

Yukio & Masako Kurita

Shuya Shibasaki

Richard & Justine Harman

Chikako Miyamoto

Thomas & Lucretia Skoda

Kelly & Junko Hayes

David & Donna Lucovich

Todd Smith & Laura Campbell

Muneki Hirayama

Stephen Monaghan & Tong Ling

Fumitaka Sodeyama

Andrew & Marissa Hughes

Tetsuzo Nakajima

Yukio Yanase

Jonathan & Laurence Hughes

Tomokazu Oishi

Toshio Tsukada

Masatoshi & Alisa Inouye

Brian & Amy Pfautsch

yokoso Adam & Diane Simons

Wataru Horie

Mateen & Angelika Chaudhry

United Kingdom—Merrill Lynch Japan

Japan—General Electric International, Inc.

United Kingdom—Deutsche Securities, Inc.

Kazuhiko & Naoko Kawabe

Clement Tang & Patsy Yuen

Japan—Exeno Yamamizu Corporation

Australia—Deutsche Bank A.G.

Janet Corstorphin & Akiyoshi Matsumoto

Paul & Lisa Winslow

Australia—State Street Trust & Banking Co., Ltd.

United States—Toys “R” Us Japan Ltd.

Securities Co., Ltd. Laurent Dubois & Nicola Earley Belgium—Deutsche Securities, Inc. Brooks & Michelle Herring United States—Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K. Chris Marshall

Paul & Andrea White

Takeshi & Noriko Fukuda

United States—Mitsubishi UFJ

United States—Hong Kong

Japan—Nippon Kanzai Co., Ltd.

Securities (USA), Inc.

and Shanghai Banking Corp., Ltd.

Prue & Jens Holstein Australia—Government of Victoria

new member profile

James & Sue Jamison United Kingdom—Clifford Chance Why did you decide to join the Club? “When we took our first posting abroad, to Hong Kong, we decided not to join a club and later we came to regret that decision. When we were posted to Tokyo at the start of this year, we decided that joining a club would be an important part of putting down roots in Japan and making new friends. That has already proven to be true; a lot of the people we know in Tokyo we have met through the Club.”

new member profile

Mitsuko Miyagawa & Genna Tanaka Japan—TMI Associates Why did you decide to join the Club? “My old friend, an international lawyer, recommended the Club to me. ‘At the Club, you feel as if you are back in America,’ he told me. It’s true. The friendly smiles and greetings of the Club staff and Members remind me of my life in America more than 10 years ago. My exercise partner, Genna, used to be a member of the Clark Hatch Fitness Center in Azabu Towers and knows many Club Members from that time. We are looking forward to working out at the Club, using the restaurants and being a part of a club that promotes friendship among different nationalities.”

42 May 2009 iNTOUCH


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reciprocal

clubs

Being a Member of Tokyo American Club allows you access to a network of more than 200 reciprocal clubs across the globe. For a full listing of reciprocal clubs worldwide, check out www.tokyoamericanclub.org.

Seoul Club

Location: Seoul, South Korea Founded: 1904 Members: 1,350

Established by Emperor Kojong to encourage intercultural connections, the historic club provides countless business, recreational and social opportunities to its diverse membership. The institution, now situated in the picturesque foothills of the capital’s Namsan Mountain, offers a range of services, including world-class dining, a scenic outdoor pool, vibrant youth center and plenty of daring programs, such as white-water rafting, rugby, go-kart racing and hiking.

www.seoulclub.org

The National Club Location: Toronto, Canada Founded: 1874 Members: 950

Located at its present address for more than a century, the club affords members and guests ample occasions to mingle and explore a range of pursuits, with such colorful events as theater nights, oyster parties and scotch tastings on the calendar. The elegant brick façade encompasses six luxury guest rooms, a library, billiard room, fine dining options, banquet and conference facilities and a vast wine cellar stocked with more than 50,000 bottles from which to select.

www.thenationalclub.com

stacks of services at the Club

André Bernard Beauty Salon

Go Mobile Phone Rental

JTB Sunrise Tours

MyToyota.jp

UPS

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.

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

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

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

For all your delivery needs, the express counter offers discounts to Members. Family Area (1F) Weekdays: 2–6 p.m.

44 May 2009 iNTOUCH


box

seat

Big, Bold and Beautiful by Wendi Hailey

S

tar-struck teenagers vie for the spotlight on a local Baltimore dance show in 1962 Baltimore in the musical “Hairspray,” an offbeat, Tony Awardwinning Broadway production coming to Tokyo for a not-to-be-missed run this June. Based on the 1988 movie written and directed by cult filmmaker John Waters, the colorful, larger-than-life musical follows Tracy Turnblad, a spirited girl with an equally robust hairdo and waistline, as she endeavors to racially integrate “The Corny

Collins Show,” best her scheming rival for a spot on camera and nab her dream boy. The original Broadway production ended its seven-year run in January after more than 2,500 performances. The show, directed by Jack O’Brien and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell, has captivated audiences in venues across the United States and abroad, and was adapted for the silver screen in the 2007 smash-hit musical film. Grab your tickets in advance at the Member Services Desk for this deliriously delightful

production and enjoy a true, toe-tapping Broadway treat. The Club sells discounted tickets for rock, pop, jazz, classical, dance, opera and sporting events around Tokyo throughout the year via its BoxSeat service. For more information on tickets to various events available at the Club, check out the weekly BoxSeat guide (updated every Friday) in the Member Services’ Concierge section of the Club website or inquire at the Member Services Desk. ®

Services and benefits for Members 45


employee of the

month

Kaori Shibazaki by Nick Jones

T

he photography paraphernalia gathering dust in Kaori Shibazaki’s closet represent a period when taking pictures dominated her life. Her ¥500,000 medium-format camera from Swedish manufacturer Victor Hasselblad, which provided the cameras for the Apollo moon landings, and Nikon SLR now lie dormant. “I have no interest,” she says of her former passion. After taking a few lessons as a teenager from a professional photographer at her local community center back home in Aomori, in Japan’s far north, Shibazaki, 37, was inspired to learn more. She enrolled in a three-year photography course at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia. “I loved it,” she says of the city. “It was a good place to study—not too big and not too small.” She graduated in 1998. Rather than diving headlong into work, a spirited Shibazaki packed her bags and set off to travel alone. Lured by the exoticism of far-flung locales and the promise of new and exciting material

Some restrictions apply. Ask for details.

• 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)

46 May 2009 iNTOUCH

to photograph, she visited Europe and the United States before attempting to find a job in photography in Canada. “It was a hard time,” she says, referring to her six-month stint in Toronto. While a return to Australia did reap some work in her chosen field, including a job taking shots of Japanese tourists during the Sydney Olympics in 2000, she eventually headed back home, joining the Club in May 2003. Despite having to wake up at the obscenely early time of 3 a.m. in order to open up the Club’s Recreation facilities, Shibazaki, who was named the Employee of the Month for March, says she enjoys her job at the Recreation Services Desk. “It’s hard, especially during the winter, but I get energy from the Members every day,” she says. Shibazaki continues to travel, venturing overseas at least three times a year, including an annual trip to her favorite city, Paris. Whether she will pick up her cameras again, however, seems as unclear as the reason why she put them down in the first place. ®


CONTACTS

Getting in Touch Department

Phone

E-mail

Operation Hours

American Room

4588-0675

americanroom@tac-club.org

Mon–Fri

6–10 p.m.

Banquet Sales and Reservations

4588-0977

banquet@tac-club.org

Mon–Fri

9 a.m.–7 p.m.

Beauty/Hair Salon

4588-0685

Tue–Sun

9 a.m–6 p.m.

Catering

4588-0307

banquet@tac-club.org

Mon–Fri

9 a.m.–7 p.m.

Childcare Center

4588-0701

child-care@tac-club.org

Mon–Thu Fri Sat Sun NH

9 a.m.–5:30 p.m. 9 a.m.–9 p.m. 9 a.m.–9 p.m. 9 a.m.–5 p.m. 9 a.m.–3 p.m.

Communications

4588-0262

comms@tac-club.org

Mon–Fri

9 a.m.–6 p.m.

Engineering

4588-0699

eng@tac-club.org

Mon–Fri

9 a.m.–5:30 p.m.

Finance

4588-0222

acct@tac-club.org

Mon–Fri

9 a.m.–5:30 p.m.

Fitness Center

4588-0266

fitness@tac-club.org

Mon–Fri Weekend/NH

6:30 a.m.–10 p.m. 7:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m.

Food & Beverage Office

4588-0245

fboffice@tac-club.org

Mon–Fri

9:30 a.m.–6 p.m.

Foreign Traders’ Bar

4588-0677

fb_bar@tac-club.org

Mon–Thu/Eve of NH 12–11 p.m. Fri 12 p.m.–12 a.m. Weekend/NH 12–10 p.m.

Garden Café

4588-0705

gardencafe@tac-club.org

Daily

7:30 a.m.–8 p.m.

gmoffice@tac-club.org

Mon–Fri

9 a.m.–5:30 p.m.

library@tac-club.org

Daily

9 a.m.–9 p.m.

rec@tac-club.org

Daily

10 a.m.–9 p.m.

General Manager's Office 4588-0674 Library Logan Room

4588-0678 —

Membership Office

4588-0687

membership@tac-club.org

Mon–Fri Sat

9 a.m.–6 p.m. 9:30 a.m.–6 p.m.

Member Services Desk

4588-0670

tac@tac-club.org

Daily

7:30 a.m.–11 p.m.

Mixed Grille

4588-0676

mixed.grille@tac-club.org

Mon–Fri Weekend/NH

11:30 a.m.–3 p.m. 6–10 p.m. 11 a.m.–9:30 p.m.

Pool Office

4588-0700

pool@tac-club.org

Daily

9 a.m.–5 p.m.

recdesk@tac-club.org

Mon–Fri Weekend/NH

6:30 a.m.–10 p.m. 7:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m.

Recreation Services Desk 4588-0681 Recreation Office

4588-0240

rec@tac-club.org

Mon–Fri

8:30 a.m.–6 p.m.

Redevelopment Office

4588-0223

redevelopment@tac-club.org Mon–Fri

9 a.m.–5:30 p.m.

Special Events

4588-0204

specialevents@tac-club.org Mon–Fri

9 a.m.–5:30 p.m.

The Spa

4588-0714

dayspa@tac-club.org

Mon–Sat Sun/NH

10 a.m.–8 p.m. 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

Video Library

4588-0686

video@tac-club.org

Daily

9 a.m.–9 p.m.

Vineyards

4588-0978

vineyards@tac-club.org

Mon–Fri Sat Sun/NH

9 a.m.–10 p.m. 10 a.m.–10 p.m. 10 a.m.–9 p.m.

Weddings

4588-0671

banquet@tac-club.org

Mon–Fri

9 a.m.–7 p.m.

Women's Group Office

4588-0691

wg@tac-club.org

Mon–Fri

9 a.m.–1 p.m.

Youth Activities

4588-0250

ya@tac-club.org

Mon–Fri

8:30 a.m.–6 p.m.

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Club numbers to know 47


A Career

in Crooning

by Hilary Wendel

I

f you have ever flicked through the channels of Japanese television, chances are you will have caught sight of a cabaretstyle stage show in which a kimono-clad female vocalist croons into the camera with a plaintive look on her face. This is the Japanese musical phenomenon of enka. Often compared with country music in the United States, enka (literally, “performance singing”) is particularly popular with Japan’s older generation. Walk through any Tokyo entertainment district late at night and you’ll inevitably hear the drunken warblings of salarymen emanating from various hole-in-the-wall hostess clubs and so-called snack bars. These ballads’ themes are typically concerned with romance, lost love and general melancholy. One of Japan’s most famous enka singers is Shinichi Mori. A dapper and charismatic 61-year-old, he has been entertaining audiences for more than 40 years now. Discussing his career over tea in Vineyards one mid-week afternoon, the Club Member is animated in his expressions, looking appropriately pensive or concerned one moment, amused the next. Mori, whose real name is Kazuhiro Moriuchi, wonders whether foreigners are able to truly grasp the nuances and nostalgia at the heart of enka. He explains that the attraction of the music lies in the way it evokes the past. “All of our memories go back to our younger years, and enka brings back these good memories,” he says. “Even if they were hard times, it feels good to remember and be nostalgic.” Enka fans continue to flock to Mori’s regular concerts for a chance to relive their younger days through the singer’s unique voice and lively facial expressions. Like a method actor, Mori immerses himself emotionally in the songs he sings, often reducing himself to tears by the end of a number. Such open displays of passion have earned him many adoring fans. Certainly, Mori has plenty of life experiences of his own to draw

48 May 2009 iNTOUCH


INSIDE JAPAN

upon. Born in Kofu, Yamanashi Prefecture, Mori and his two siblings were raised by their mother who, divorced from their father, was the sole breadwinner—all at a time when divorce was frowned upon in Japan. Twice divorced himself, Mori is no stranger to heartbreak. Yet despite such upheaval, friends and colleagues describe him as having a happy and bubbly personality. After winning a talent competition in 1965, he released his first single, “Onna no Tameiki,” the following year. Two years later, he made his debut at NHK’s annual New Year music show, “Kohaku Uta Gassen.” Mori has since performed on the program another 40 times, most recently in 2008 when he sang his signature song, “Ofukuro-san” (“My Dear Mother”). He was able to perform the ballad after a dispute with the song’s composer, Kohan Kawauchi, who demanded that Mori stop singing it after the enka star made changes to the lyrics. Although Kawauchi died last year, his son and lawyer, Haruki Iinuma, settled the issue with Mori last November. “It is my fault because I didn’t care about Mr Kawauchi’s wishes,” Mori said at the time. “After he passed away, I felt I would carry guilt for the rest of my life. But I will sing the song again out of my deep gratitude.” Although young singers like American

Jero and Kiyoshi Hikawa have given enka a boost in recent years, the genre’s popularity continues to dwindle. Mori, whose son, Takahiro Moriuchi, is the vocalist of Japanese rock band One OK Rock, says that he hopes “the older generation will watch enka together with their children to teach them about the past.” Mori’s own popularity, however, seems as strong as ever. He has sold more than 75 million records and last year became the first Japanese artist to have 100 singles in Oricon’s top 100 chart. When asked for the secret to this phenomenal success, he smiles before replying, “I am a passionate singer… putting my heart into the words and music…not everyone can do that.” ®

Ticket Giveaway Mori is giving away six pairs of tickets to Members for his concert on Friday, June 19, at Nakano Sun Plaza Hall in Tokyo. There are three pairs for the 1 p.m. performance and three pairs for the 4:30 p.m. show. To receive a pair of tickets, simply visit the Member Services Desk and tell a staff member the title of Mori’s signature song. Tickets will be distributed on a first come, first served basis.

Shinichi Mori

A look at culture and society 49


Tokyo’s Pieces of Pacific Paradise Words and photos by Tim Hornyak

J

apan is an island nation, but that’s easy to forget in the seemingly endless urbanization of Tokyo. Some of the most rewarding getaways, though, can be found in the smaller chains dangling from the archipelago like tails on a kite. Getting to these dots in the Pacific is half the fun. The closest island to the capital is an excellent jumping-off point. Oshima, 120 kilometers southwest of Tokyo but still under its jurisdiction, is part of the Izu chain of islands stretching south from the Izu Peninsula near Mount Fuji. Though commonly referred to as the “Izu Seven,” there are actually nine inhabited islands in the group, the farthest being tiny Aogashima, Japan’s least-populous municipality. I arrived in Oshima by helicopter. It was my first time in a whirlybird and I’d just left volcanic Miyakejima, still reeling from its spooky post-eruption wastelands. We hung over the dazzling ocean like a bubble blown by a child, whirring above conical Toshima along the way until we flew alongside the massive crater of Mount Mihara at the heart of Oshima. Trekking up to its gullet the following day, I realized that Oshima (literally, “large island”) is a large and quite active volcano. The bus leaves from sleepy Motomachi, where ferries from Tokyo’s Takeshiba

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dock at the end of their two-hour voyages, transporting day-trippers through lush forests to the top of the 764-meter stratovolcano. At the summit, the trail winds through an ashy moonscape punctuated with concrete lava shelters, which didn’t reassure me. It looked like a Toho movie set, and I half-expected Godzilla to leap out of Mihara’s maw, but there were only a few tendrils of smoke. Back in Motomachi, I watched the sun sink over the distant Izu Peninsula from the fabulous outdoor Oshima onsen hot spring, a mixed bath where bathing suits are de rigueur. I began chatting with Masao Iwase, a local artist who fashions picture frames from driftwood. He told me about the numerous tsubaki camellia trees on Oshima, which bloom in late winter, and Habu Port on the southern tip of the island. When I visited the following day, I found a delightful fishing harbor that seemed to have been stuck in a 1940s time warp. I barely had time for a lunch of exquisite sashimi in a retro sushi restaurant right out of the Tora-san series of films and a quick peek at the Minatoya, a preserved ryokan from the early 20th century that helped inspire Yasunari Kawabata’s The Dancing Girl of Izu, before I was island-hopping again. I took a ferry south to Niijima, a kidney-shaped dollop Niijima


OUT & ABOUT

Tokai Kisen (www.tokaikisen.co.jp) operates a ferry and hydrofoil service to the Izu islands from Takeshiba Terminal in Tokyo. Night ferries leave at 10 p.m. and arrive at Oshima at 6 a.m. Thirty-five minutes from Haneda Airport to Oshima Airport. New Central Air Services (www.central-air.co.jp) also runs semi-regular flights from Chofu Airfield.

www

Oshima Tourist Association www.town.oshima.tokyo.jp Niijima www.niijima.com (Japanese language only) Niijima Tourist Association www.kanko-kyokai-niijima.net (Japanese language only) Shikinejima www.niijima.com/sh/ (Japanese language only) Islands of Tokyo www.tokyo-islands.com

Niijima Glass Art Center www.niijimaglass.com

Izu Seven Islands Tourist Federation Tel: 03-3436-6955

of green with an airstrip between Mount Mukai and Mount Miyatsuka. I had an irrepressible whim to rent a scooter and motor up the latter, where I discovered a navigational transmitter as tall as a skyscraper. Niijima is famous for two things: its beaches and its glass. I quickly found out why Habushiura beach on the eastern coast is so popular with surfers. The waves there pack such a wallop that I was soon scootering to the west coast’s Niijima Glass Art Center and Contemporary Glass Art Museum. Once a destination for Japanese criminals and exiles, the island now attracts artists from around the world. They arrive in search of kogaseki, a rare sandstone prized for yielding gorgeous olive-green glass. The museum’s gravity-defying artworks, such as US sculptor Dale Chihuly’s brightly colored, sea anemone-mimicking vases, were still vivid in my mind as I boarded my next ferry. Smaller Shikinejima, which is home to just 600 residents, is practically within spitting distance of Niijima, but it’s very much its own island. Beaches there like Tomari and Oura are sheltered in pine-studded coves with clear waters and feature excellent snorkeling and seaside camping. Catching the moon rise over one of these can be a magical experience, like looking at a real-life Hiroshige woodblock print. Since the island is only four square kilometers, walking or cycling its foothills makes for a perfect day trip from Niijima. Tourist facilities are pretty limited and local inns and campgrounds can be booked solid in holiday seasons. Shikinejima’s real charm, however, lies in its natural hot springs. They offer some of the most dramatic onsen experiences in Japan. Astride a regular shopping bike that had corroded in the sea air, I set out to find Jinata onsen on the southern coast. I understood why its name means “cleft land” when I descended a long defile in the rocks to the crashing surf. There, I found a collection of pools fed by scalding underground springs and cool ocean waves. Between the two, the temperature was just right. With the sea surge gently coming over the top of the rocks and regularly raising the surface of the brackish water, the open-air pool was the perfect tonic after a day of bicycling up and down the surrounding hills. And best of all, I had it all to myself. ® Watch out for the second part of this guide to the Izu islands in next month’s iNTOUCH.

Ryan Mundt

Toho Air Service (www.tohoair.co.jp) runs a helicopter service between islands.

Shikinejima

Matsugashita onsen (Shikinejima)

Explorations beyond the Club 51


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Distinguished Achievement Award Presentation March 12

Thirty-five Members, friends and dignitaries were on hand in March to congratulate long-time Member Fred Harris as he was bestowed the Club’s prestigious Distinguished Achievement Award. A highly respected artist, Harris was honored for more than 45 years of cross-cultural work educating foreigners about Japanese art, culture and aesthetics. The lively evening included speeches and a slideshow presentation of some of the more notable moments in the native New Yorker’s life. Photos by Yuuki Ide 1. (l–r) Rabbi Rachel Schmookler, Carmela Ben Shitrit, Israeli Ambassador Nissim Ben Shitrit, Ok Hui Bumgardner and Marsha Rosenberg 2. Rike Wootten and Fred Harris 3. Jeff McNeill 4. Rabbi Rachel Smookler, her daughter, Mayim, and Fred Harris 5. Rear Admiral James Kelly 6. Jim Weadock and Fred Harris 7. (l–r) Rear Admiral Michael Conner, his wife, Kate, and Andrew Arena 8. Kazuko Harris and Kayoko Shimokawa 9. (l–r) Amy Kelly, Mark Schwab and Rear Admiral James Kelly 10. Kyoko Asanuma and Shinichi Mori 11. (r–l) Haruno Akiyama and Barbara Hancock 12. (l–r) Jim Weadock, Ken Yokekura and Rear Admiral James Kelly 13. Fred Harris and Lance Lee

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EVENT ROUNDUP

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Snapshots from Club occasions 53


Polar Bear Swim March 14

More than 100 Members braved the wind and rain to take to the Pool in this popular annual event. After a group of shivering toddlers and their parents took the plunge, a large contingent of youngsters completed the 25-meter individual swim to be rewarded with steaming cups of hot chocolate and T-shirts. Photos by Ayano Sato 1. Blaine Harden with his children, Lucinda and Arno 2. Eleanor Stevenson 3. (foreground) Michael Hamilton 4. Shephanie Hamilton

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EVENT ROUNDUP

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Snapshots from Club occasions 55


TOKYO MOMENTS

Say That Again by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill Illustration by Akiko Saito

M

y Japanese was rusty—hull-of-the-Titanic rusty—but my pronunciation and my half-Japanese face could sometimes fool the locals into thinking I wasn’t just another lost gaijin. On good days, I just came across as slowwitted. Mostly, though, people were kind about it, like the salesperson who tried to stifle his chuckle when I asked if the store had a temple, otera, instead of a bathroom, otearai. But most of the time, I was fine. I picked up my onigiri rice ball and tea every day at the same convenience store across the street from my office. It felt wasteful tossing the little plastic bag that contained my food four minutes after leaving the store. “I don’t need a bag,” I told the clerk in Japanese one day.

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Silence. His fingers hovered over the bottle of tea and he stared at me through his spiky, rock-star bangs. “I don’t need a bag,” I repeated with nice, rounded Tokyo pronunciation. Now his eyes were darting around at the customers behind me. I looked over my shoulder and saw a middle-aged woman step out of the line, put back her chocolate almonds and slip out the door. One more time, slowly, I thought. “I don’t need a bag. Do you understand?” He nodded, stuffed the onigiri and tea in a bag and pushed it toward me. I whispered the phrase over and over to myself as I walked back to the office. It sounded downright native. But it wasn’t just him. All the employees—the girl with the cat-eye glasses, the tall guy, even the guy with no discernible eyebrows—gave me a bag and backed away from the counter. Sometimes I would catch them glancing at each other when I came through the doors; small, quick looks, like the ones I exchanged with my fellow passengers on the subway in New York when a guy pulled an entire foot-and-a-half-long deli block of cheese from his backpack and started gnawing at the corner of it. After about a month of this, I asked a Japanese friend about it over coffee. I told her exactly what I had been saying. “Ofuro ga iranai,” I repeated. She choked back a mouthful of latte foam and told me through her napkin that I had been announcing to the staff that I didn’t need a bath. “Yeah, um, fukuro is bag, ofuro is bath,” she explained. It was clear now why they had been giving me the subway loon look. I was that person tucking into the cheese. I needed to go back, prove my sanity and put the staff at ease. The following Monday, I went into the store first thing and picked up a snack. I smiled as I slid my Pocky across the counter. “Ofukuro ga iranai,” I announced clearly, adding an honorific “O” at the start, because when you’re crazy you need to be extra polite. The reaction was the same. If anything, they were even more freaked out. It was another week before I discovered that I had made a second linguistic faux pas. The honorific “O” was definitely a mistake. I had been telling them that I didn’t need a mother. Although the convenience store down the street didn’t carry my brand of tea, I made the switch anyway. ®


毎 月 一 回 一 日 発 行 

TOKYO AMERICAN CLUB

第 四 十 三 巻 十 七 号 

ト ウ キ ョ ウ ア メ リ カ ン ク ラ ブ 

May 2009

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TOKYO AMERICAN CLUB

Japan’s Pitching Pioneer

本 体 七 七 七 円

Star hurler Hideo Nomo reflects on his playing days on both sides of the Pacific

Issue 530 • May 2009

Countertop Cuisine

Paradise Found

Nostalgic Notes

One American chef brings his take on ramen to the Club

The nearby Izu islands offer a dazzling escape from the city

Member Shinichi Mori sings the soundtrack to a generation


iNTOUCH May 2009