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July 2010

Furthering the Franchise Japan mulls granting the local vote to a portion of the country’s foreign community

i N T O U C H

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Issue 544 • July 2010

Fourth of July

Treasure Islands

City Shots

A full day of American-style merriment at the Club

Escape to Tokyo’s secret paradise in the sea

One photographer explains his passion for capturing Tokyo



Upping Her Game

recreation Upon turning 60, Member Junko Koito enlisted one Club personal trainer to enhance her active lifestyle and shave a few strokes off her golf game.

talking heads

Talking Torque



2 Contacts

Member and Harley-Davidson Japan exec Christian Walters discusses the country’s declining desire to take to the road on two wheels.

4 Events

6 Board of Governors 7 Management 8 Food & Beverage


Big Business

10 Library


14 Video Library

16 Committees

Marrying modern technology and unparalleled services, the Club’s Azabudai facilities are poised to become the ultimate venue in Tokyo for banqueting and corporate experiences. feature

Battle for the Ballot

18 Recreation

24 Women's Group 26 Feature 32 Genkan Gallery


34 Talking Heads 36 Redevelopment

Since 1995, numerous efforts by Japan’s political powers to enfranchise permanent foreign residents at the local level have been thwarted by conservative detractors. This month, Rob Goss examines both sides of the debate and hears the opinions of three Members who hold permanent residency.

38 Member Services 44 Inside Japan 46 Out & About 48 Event Roundup 52 Tokyo Moments


Editor Nick Jones

To advertise in iNTOUCH, contact Miyuki Hagiwara: 03-4588-0976

Designers Ryan Mundt Jasmine Lai

For Membership information, contact Mari Hori: 03-4588-0687 Tokyo American Club 4–25–46 Takanawa, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108–0074

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

Management Michael Bumgardner General Manager

Shuji Hirakawa Human Resources Director

Bob Sexton Assistant General Manager

Linda Joseph Administrative Services Director

Lian Chang Information Technology Director

Mutsuhiko Kumano Finance Director

Darryl Dudley Engineering Director

Michael Marlay Food & Beverage Director

Alistair Gough Redevelopment Director

Scott Yahiro Recreation Director

Getting in Touch Department/E-mail Banquet Sales and Reservations

Phone 4588-0977

Beauty/Hair Salon




Childcare Center








Fitness Center


Food & Beverage Office


Foreign Traders’ Bar


Garden Café


General Manager’s Office




Logan Room

Membership Office


Member Services Desk


Mixed Grille


Pool Office


Recreation Services Desk


Recreation Office


Redevelopment Office


Special Events


The Spa


Video Library






Women’s Group Office


Youth Activities

2 July 2010 iNTOUCH


from the


The ongoing debate over whether or not to allow foreigners with permanent residency in Japan to vote in local elections was bound to veer off into fantasyland at some point. Besides claiming that such a move would “ruin” the country, some right-wing opponents have asserted that the whole idea would lead to Chinese or Korean rule. This is local elections we are talking about, isn’t it? These are ballots that could decide ultimately how the garbage will be separated for collection or whether a slide and monkey bars will be installed at the local park. But maybe Japan’s neighbors have decided to disrupt the very fabric of Japanese society by starting with local disputes over road signs or smoking bans. Such fearmongering seems even more ridiculous when you look at the number of people who would be affected if the proposal were ever to become law. Around 900,000 permanent residents in total would be eligible to vote in local elections—less than 1 percent of the voting population. Then we have to consider the number of people who would bother to head to the polling station in the first place. Judging by the voter turnout at some recent local elections, possibly not too many. In a by-election for the Osaka city assembly in May, voter turnout was a paltry 40 percent. The victor won with 8,491 votes (equivalent to about a third of the crowd that turns out to watch J League side Kawasaki Frontale play at their home stadium). And this was in the country’s second-largest metropolis. Given that voting rates for prefectural and gubernatorial elections rarely get above 60 percent, we can assume that there would be plenty of apathetic voters among Japan’s community of permanent residents as well. Enfranchising permanent foreign residents in Japan won’t lead to puppet assemblies or a breakdown in the state, but it would make those entitled to vote feel more connected to the communities in which they have laid down roots. (Three Members with permanent residency offer their thoughts on this issue in this month’s cover story, “Battle for the Ballot.”) If you have any comments about anything you read in iNTOUCH, please e-mail them to, putting “Letter to the Editor” in the subject title of the mail.

contributors Rob Goss

Originally from Dartmoor in southwest England, Rob Goss is a freelance journalist and editor. His work has appeared in more than 40 publications around the world and on the Internet. He writes on a range of subjects but has a special interest in Japanese society and travel. Most recently, he has been working on the latest version of The Rough Guide to Japan. Goss arrived in Japan in 1999 after a spell in Oslo and now lives in Tokyo with his wife and young son. For this month’s cover story, “Battle for the Ballot,” he examines the debate over granting local voting rights to foreigners in Japan with permanent residency.

Andy Sharp

Hailing from a dairy farming village in northern England, Andy Sharp moved to Japan more than 10 years ago to teach English to children. Since then, he has worked at a robot manufacturing company in the hills of Hiroshima, attempted to sell semiconductor materials to Germans far smarter than himself and localized Japanese video games for Western markets. A former Daily Yomiuri staff writer, Sharp is a freelance writer and translator and co-author of Tokyo: The Complete Residents’ Guide. In this month’s Inside Japan, on pages 44 and 45, he finds out what happened when Hokkaido tried to make the most of the summer sun by introducing its own form of daylight saving time. 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

1 What’s happening in








Thursday– Saturday

Summer Hours The Women’s Group Office is open every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Regular hours resume August 16.

Summer Reading Program Imaginations run wild as this summer’s literary program for youngsters features cuddly creatures and animals that creep and crawl. Through August 31. For details of the “Pet Parade!” reading bonanza, head to page 12.

Feel the Burn Effective tips to burn more calories are illustrated during these free, 30-minute workouts. Flip to page 21 for details.






Monday– Friday

July Fourth Fun for Kids Youngsters share an afternoon of fun games and activities. 2 p.m. Turn to page 16 for the full lineup of patriotic festivities at the Club’s one-of-a-kind “Lady Liberty” fête.

Independence Day Reception The annual tradition includes speeches, a ceremonial cutting of cakes, US Navy color guard and national anthems. 5 p.m. For the full lineup of July 4 festivities at the Club’s one-of-a-kind “Lady Liberty” bash, see page 16.

Independence Day Dinner A not-to-be-missed evening of delectable cuisine and wine for adult Members and their guests in the American Room. 6:30 p.m. Flip to page 16 for the full lineup of patriotic revelry at the Club’s “Lady Liberty” celebration.

Summer Intensive Aikido Program Eager martial artists ages 5 and above pick up plenty of defensive techniques over two weeks of aikido sessions. Check out page 21 for details.









Toddler Time The Library hosts a free, weekly session of fun activities for preschoolers every Tuesday this month (except July 27). 4:30 p.m. Library. No sign-up necessary.

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

Summer Fitness Challenge Men and women push their exercise boundaries to earn great prizes and seasonal bragging rights during this three-pronged competition. Get the lowdown on page 21.

Pillow Night Pajama Party Grab your comfiest pj’s, pillows and stuffed animals and join this exciting night of games, music, crafts and stories with the Library’s Mary Ann Tiu Yamashita. 5:30 p.m. Find out more on page 12.






Treat Your Feet Kids reuse old T-shirts and other discarded materials to make traditional Japanese sandals during this planet-friendly workshop. 1 p.m. Flip to page 21 for more.

4 July 2010 iNTOUCH

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.


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


Exhibition Opening Woodblock prints from the avant-garde Taisho years, replicating renowned paintings of previous eras, go on display at the Genkan Gallery. Read more about the works on page 32.



Thursday– Saturday

Summer Refresher Show off a head-to-toe glow this summer after a specially priced treatment duo from The Spa, including a body polish and revitalizing head bath. See page 20 for more.


Monday– Friday

Junior Squash Summer Camp This rigorous training camp covers fundamental skills and competitive play for young squash players of all abilities. For more information, turn to page 21.



Early Pregnancy and Birth Planning Qualified nurse Ann Tanaka helps parents-to-be prepare for the arrival of their bundles of joy during this Women’s Group class. 10 a.m.–12 p.m. ¥7,000. Sign up at the Member Services Desk.

Coming up in

August 7 30

Bon Odori Coffee Connections

Bad Parking Day

Noteworthy dates for the month 5



and Cents’ Worth

Board of Governors

by Ira Wolf


s we start to prepare for the December closure of our temporary facility in Takanawa and the January opening of our new clubhouse in Azabudai, I hope everyone remembers that the Club belongs to all of us. We all should have a say in how it operates, how it is managed and what policies it adopts and implements. As a governor and member of several committees, I know that communication and feedback from Members are critical. We all need to tell those running the Club, both the professional management and those volunteer Members who participate in the decision-making processes, what we think, what we want, what we like and what we don’t like. If we don’t articulate our thoughts and opinions clearly and directly, a lot of good ideas will be missed. Many Members volunteer on our committees and I salute all of them for playing such an active role in areas that interest them, whether it’s recreation, dining, wine, culture or finance. Likewise, I appreciate the views and concerns aired by some of the more than 100 Members who attended May’s town hall meetings to discuss the Club’s financial situation. I am also grateful to those Members who talk to me and other Club leaders about their worries or frustrations with the Club. However, we need much more feedback. You can volunteer for a committee (check out the list on page 16), run for the Board of Governors (the annual election is in November), e-mail a Board member or director or write a Tell TAC. I have always been a prolific writer of the yellow Tell TAC

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

comment cards, available throughout the Club or online in the Careers & Contact section of the Club website. When I see something I don’t like, I write a Tell TAC. When I see something that can be improved, I write a Tell TAC. When I see an employee doing something special, I write a Tell TAC. When service is not up to snuff, I write a Tell TAC. When I smell cigar smoke in the Adult Lobby, I write a Tell TAC. I know that all Tell TACs are read. They are considered by the Club management and often passed on for discussion at the appropriate committee. While the Club might not adhere precisely to all requests, every comment is taken seriously. This really is a superb way to say what you feel to those who are trying to make the Club serve you as well as possible. We are going to experience a lot of start-up challenges when we move back to Azabudai. Many of those will be obvious to everyone once the doors open. But many will only be obvious to the users of the facilities—that is, us—so please make sure that you comment on everything that you think needs to be changed in our next home. o



by Wendi Hailey

Ayano Sato

With the final beam of the rooftop swimming pool’s glass crown set into place on a fine weekday afternoon, the Club marked the completion of the structural work on its 25,787-square-meter facilities in Azabudai during a traditional jotoshiki ceremony on June 2. Club management and governors and several senior officials from the project’s partnering firms looked on as the silver beam was blessed with salt and sake before Club President Lance E Lee, donning white gloves and blowing a whistle, directed a crane to hoist the cylinder into the air and drop it into place. Attendees received a rare look inside the building and surveyed the construction progress of the swimming pool, gym, lobbies and other areas. Members can take in the full breadth of the ongoing redevelopment for themselves from the lofty perch of Roppongi Hills or Tokyo Tower. o

6 July 2010 iNTOUCH

To read about the building’s cutting-edge business facilities and services, turn to page 36.


Access Issues by Bob Sexton Bob Sexton Assistant General Manager


ith the Club set to return to Azabudai at the end of the year, we are entering an extremely active phase of preparation. Besides readying ourselves for the physical move, the committees and staff have been working on a number of administrative and rule-related changes for the new facility. First, we will be issuing new Membership cards for all Members and their families. The new smart cards, with their built-in chips, will be used for opening doors to certain areas of the Club via a special card reader. Apart from reducing the number of unauthorized guests around the Club, the system will allow us to better deal with emergency situations. However, since all the new cards will feature Members’ photos, we still need to receive shots from around a quarter of Members. Those Members who don’t have photos on file should have received an e-mail by now detailing how they can submit a photo or have one taken at the Membership Office. Please be sure to provide us with a photo as soon as possible. You are welcome to keep your old Membership card as a memento if you wish. Since the Azabudai Club will have a more secure access system, the rules pertaining to guests will be stricter than in Takanawa. For example, a new program to recognize domestic helpers will require that they be registered on your Membership. All other American clubs in Asia have some form of similar setup, and we will host

focus group meetings over the coming months for Members to find out more about how this will work. Domestic helper registration will begin in the fall. Just as we have been able to allow stroller access here in Takanawa, we will do the same at the next Club—with some limits. The new premises have more floors than our current home, so there will be more use of elevators and the hallways that service them. As such, there will be a restriction on the width of strollers allowed, which will be explained as part of a display in the Family Lobby over the summer. For those Members with more than one young child, the Club will provide courtesy in-line double strollers. We hope that you understand why we need to refine the current policy and restrict access to wider strollers at the new Club. Guidelines regarding specific areas of access for strollers will be drawn up by your fellow Members on the appropriate committees. Looking at upcoming events in Takanawa, the Club will stage its annual Independence Day celebrations on July 4. Organized by the Entertainment and Community Relations committees, the day features a range of festivities for families and adults alike. Please take a look at page 16 to learn more. We look forward to seeing you then and around the Club over the summer months. o

Check out Tokyo’s newest band school for budding teen musicians. Learn an instrument, form a band and perform on stage.

Executive remarks 7



A Marriage Made

at the Club by Nick Jones


uji and Kaori Arimura were clear about how they didn’t want their wedding day to look. There was to be no elaborately regimented reception with seated guests, scores of painfully drawn-out speeches and a candlelighting ceremony. The couple wanted to keep their celebration simple and casual. “We didn’t want that traditional style of party,” says Club Member Yuji, 42. “We wanted people to be able to talk to each other. Also, with over 200 people, it’s hard to manage all those tables. And I didn’t want to hear lots of speeches.” Looking for an exclusive venue that could handle their particular requests, Yuji turned to the Club’s wedding coordinator, Chizuka Yamakita, who set about organizing two parties: the main reception after the wedding ceremony and a more casual gettogether for friends a week later. “Compared with hotels where your wedding is normally one of four that day, we consider every wish of the couple to make their day a special one at the Club,” says Bettina Porkert, the Club’s banqueting manager.

8 July 2010 iNTOUCH

Yuji and Kaori Arimura with guests

On the evening of July 26, 2008, after a traditional Shinto ceremony at Meiji Shrine, Yuji and Kaori welcomed their 270 guests to the Club in Takanawa. Then, for around three hours, people helped themselves to the range of delectable dishes at the buffet and drinks from the bar while moving freely between the New York Suite and American Room, mingling with old friends, family and business associates. The hubbub of conversation and laughter, interspersed with the gentle harmonies from the sextet of Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra musicians, was punctuated only by two speeches and a toast to the newly married couple. Partway through the evening, Vineyards was opened for a special wine and Champagne tasting and selection of exquisite hors d’oeuvres. “People were just eating, drinking, talking and moving around,” explains Yuji. Then, the following week, the couple returned to the Club to entertain 150 of their friends at a more low-key affair. Yuji says he was thrilled with how both days turned out, complimenting the Club staff for their flexibility in producing two memorable celebrations of “good food, good wine and good atmosphere.” ®

To learn more about how the Club can help to plan your wedding reception or casual celebration, call Chizuka Yamakita at 03-4588-0671 or visit the Wine & Dining section of the Club website.


the cellar


Magical Montes

M Choose any six bottles from the following selection:

To order your selection, simply send an e-mail to

Montes Classic Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Montes Classic Chardonnay 2008 Montes Cherub Rosé 2008 Montes Limited Pinot Noir 2008 Montes Classic Merlot 2008 Montes Classic Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

ake the most of the summer with a selection of bottled beauties from Viña Montes. Described by Wine Spectator magazine as the “best all-round winery of South America,” the Chilean producer has been mesmerizing drinkers with its range of premium, award-winning varietals since 1987, when its Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon turned heads. In celebration of the work of Montes’ pioneering chief winemaker and president, Aurelio Montes, The Cellar is offering Members a half-case of Montes wines to enjoy during the barbecue season for just ¥12,000 (delivery included). ®

Wines of the Month Red Majella “The Musician” Cabernet-Shiraz 2007, Coonawarra, South Australia Bursting with flavors of black currant, mulberry and herbs, and elegant and juicy in the mouth, this blend of 70 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 30 percent Shiraz is an exceptional, wellrounded wine. Fine, silky tannins integrate with the fruit and minimal oak treatment. Enjoy with marinated beef.

White Plantagenet Omrah Sauvignon Blanc 2009, Mount Parker, Western Australia This creamy, harmonious wine from the first winery to be established in Western Australia’s Great Southern wine region packs a punchy nose of greengage plums and gooseberries with an undercurrent of lemon curd that leads to a palate of vibrant fruit flavors. Beautifully complements any seafood dish.

Bottle: ¥4,000 Glass: ¥800

Club wining and dining 

Ben Simmons


have been photographing Tokyo since arriving here on December 8, 1982. I first used my camera to explore the surprisingly complex surroundings encountered during my somewhat daunting transition from the quiet mountaintop art school in North Carolina, where I had been teaching photography, to starting from scratch in the world’s largest city. Tokyo’s swirling mix of personal styles and architectural forms delighted my eyes, and my heart was relieved to find, beneath the vast scale and perpetual bustle, perhaps the world’s most livable metropolis. Tokyo never ceases to interest and inspire me. I have worked on several books about the city, but Tokyo Megacity is my first since relocating my studio several years ago from Roppongi to the Miura Peninsula, where an Internet connection and a pickup truck keep me plugged into Tokyo, just an hour away. Each visit back to the city rejuvenated my desire to continue photographing it, while dealing with busybody country neighbors constantly reminded me of how truly considerate Tokyoites are in comparison. I began to concentrate on new images that might reflect this refreshed perspective and rekindled respect for my former home. My publisher, Eric Oey, and I wanted to create a Tokyo photo book with substance. We both agreed that Donald Richie, the renowned resident writer, would be our first choice as author, and we were pleased when he signed on. Donald’s enthusiasm and insights gave me renewed energy for further Tokyo exploration. One of the special pleasures of the project was visiting with Donald at his apartment overlooking Shinobazu

10 July 2010 iNTOUCH

All images copyright of Ben Simmons


Pond in Ueno. Drinking coffee and reviewing our latest photography and writing, we would share a few of our own Tokyo stories while taking in the changing seasons outside the window. He always insisted on seeing my most recent photographs as reference material

most recent changes in an attempt to make the book as contemporary as possible. Due to the transitory nature of Tokyo, photographing it is a constant work in progress. The city never stops changing and so never will be complete. Both of us agreed on what we hoped

Bright Lights, Big City Longtime Japan resident and Tokyo Megacity photographer Ben Simmons explains his passion for shooting Japan’s gargantuan capital. for his writing, and when something in Donald’s text caught my imagination I would head back out into the streets to seek a visual equivalent. Donald wrote about a stone in Kiyomizu Garden, which I tracked down and duly photographed, that was inscribed with a famous haiku by Basho. Yet, it was ultimately not that photo but an image of Basho’s statue above the Sumida River at twilight that combined history, time and landscape to poetically match Donald’s provocative prose. Shooting new pictures for Tokyo Megacity, I sought to chronicle the city’s

to capture about the essence of Tokyo, its people, its neighborhoods and evolving structure. The city’s “modern-day castles,” as Donald calls the multiuse complexes of Roppongi Hills, Shiodome and Tokyo Midtown, are graphically attractive, but we wanted to balance that newness and potential coldness with some of the funkier aspects of Tokyo, its residents and its history “nearly 600 years deep,” as Donald refers to the city’s past. I found perspectives on Tokyo’s megacity sprawl by scouting from rooftop vantage points, and I discovered historical references in building-site

murals of Nihon Bridge and previously overlooked monuments, such as the statue of Ota Dokan, the samurai architect of Edo Castle. I photographed an infinite variety of people as they flowed in and out of the city’s architectural compositions. But each day of shooting, I kept in mind some particular place to be at twilight, a magical time when the urban lights and the colors of the early evening sky blend so beautifully for just a few brief minutes. Although lugging a tripod was tiring and cumbersome, how sweet it was to be in the right spot at the right time when the light started to change. In particular, I fondly recall visiting Donald’s one hot and humid August afternoon. He pointed out the hall across Shinobazu Pond where the memorial service for his late friend, fellow author and neighbor of 50 years, Edward Seidensticker, had been held. We went on to discuss our mutual admiration for the books of Kafu Nagai, who wrote so movingly about early 20thcentury Tokyo. Leaving with a copy of Donald’s most recent Tokyo Megacity draft, I crossed the avenue for a closer look at the broad expanse of summer lotus plants filling Shinobazu Pond. While wandering in the damp heat, the most amazing thunderstorm erupted with crashing torrents of rain. I took shelter inside a small teahouse by the pond. Sipping hot tea in the sudden coolness, I picked up my camera and focused on the splashing raindrops and lotus blossoms just beyond the shop’s bamboo veranda. ®

Tokyo Megacity is available in the Library.

Literary gems at the Library 11

off the


Crime and Postwar Punishment by Susan Millington


ccupied City, David Peace’s second novel in his trilogy set among the shattered remains of post-World War II Tokyo, centers on the Teikoku Bank massacre in 1948 and the case of Sadamichi Hirasawa, a painter who confessed to poisoning 16 members of the bank staff (12 died instantly). Hirasawa admitted to the crime under duress, but recanted later. Besides telling the story of how, despite shaky circumstantial evidence, various forces colluded to keep Hirasawa in prison awaiting execution (he eventually died on death row in 1987), Peace, who returned to his native England last year after 15 years in Tokyo, paints the picture of a ruined city struggling to get back on its feet and a people desperately trying to reclaim some sort of order in their lives while finding a way to vent their rage and frustration. The author’s exhaustive research into the period is obvious, as it was in his first book, Tokyo Year Zero (2007). It’s hard to tell whether Peace used fiction to get to the truth of the postwar era and say things he otherwise could not have said or not, but the result is both compelling and disturbing and described in the language of an ancient tragedy or dirge. This novel should appeal to both those interested in anything to do with Japan and lovers of literary crime fiction. The third book in the trilogy is tentatively titled Tokyo Regained.

Peace has written six other books, including his Red Riding quartet, set against the backdrop of the Yorkshire Ripper murders in Britain in the 1970s. He lives in West Yorkshire with his Japanese wife and two children. ® Millington is a member of the Library Committee. The Library stocks Occupied City and Tokyo Year Zero.

r e m m u S ea di n g R Progra m


Pillow Night Pajama Party

Pet Parade! From July 1, as part of the annual Summer Reading Program, the Library focuses on pets, from furry felines and cuddly pooches to beetles and bugs. After picking up a reading log from the Library, children ages 2 to 10 will receive a stamp for every book on living creatures they read. Those who read 10 books will receive a small prize.

12 July 2010 iNTOUCH

To earn a special gift at the end of the program, kids should submit a book report or write a piece about their favorite animal or pet. All the participants’ first names and their photos (with parental approval) will be posted in the Library. July 1–August 31 Library

Mary Ann Tiu Yamashita hosts an exciting slumberland soirée of games, music, crafts and stories. Open to children ages 5 to 8 (parents of kids under 7 should be close at hand), the evening’s partygoers should dress in their favorite pajamas and bring comfy pillows and stuffed toys. Saturday, July 10 5:30–7:30 p.m. Library and Women’s Group Classroom 3 ¥1,800 Sign up at the Library



reads The Marketplace of Ideas: Reform and Resistance in the American University by Louis Menand Harvard professor Menand explains the segregation of liberal arts from professional education, why a PhD doesn’t make a professor a better teacher, how the professoriate became professionalized and the reason for interdisciplinary studies. A thought-provoking book on the state of higher education in the United States. (SM)

My Father’s Tears and Other Stories by John Updike This is Updike’s final collection of short stories, of which all but one were composed in the 21st century. To the last, he shows himself to be a master of understanding the human spirit and capturing the emotion of the moment. (SM)

Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat by David Dosa

At Home in Japan: A Foreign Woman’s Journey of Discovery by Rebecca Otowa

How does Oscar know when to comfort Steere House residents as they near the end of their lives? Dosa’s tale of the cat he came across as a geriatrician provides another reason to love and admire the furry creatures. A fascinating insight into the intelligence of an animal we do not fully understand. (SM)

Australia-born Otowa, who married into a Japanese family with a beloved 350-year-old house outside Kyoto, offers a gentle, loving description of how she adapted to her traditional surroundings, along with perceptive observations on educating children and a wonderful explanation of the Japanese “heart.” (SM)

The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin

Japanese Schoolgirl Confidential: How Teenage Girls Made a Nation Cool by Brian Ashcraft

Author Rubin describes how she set out to achieve greater happiness in her life, and, more or less, succeeded. Written with wit and just enough self-help tips to make anyone a little happier. (SM)

Examining Japan’s schoolgirl subculture, this book attempts to explain such elements as the origin of the sailor uniform and the cult status of the schoolgirl here. If you enjoyed The Otaku Encyclopedia, this should appeal, too. (CM)

Reviews compiled by Library Committee member Susan Millington and librarian Charles Morris.

member’s choice Member: Karen Tsin Huang Title: Yakitate!! Japan by Takashi Hashiguchi

What’s the book about? This multi-volume manga features Azuma, a young baker who dreams of creating the perfect bread to express Japanese culture. Azuma earns the respect and support of his fellow workers while facing bizarre challengers in a number of baking competitions.

What did you like about it? It provides a wealth of information about baking and Japanese foodstuffs. I’m curious about some of the facts, though. Apparently, French bread in Japan is made with more sugar than in France to ensure a moister crumb, which is more suited to Asians, who produce less saliva than Caucasians!

Why did you choose it? I think manga make modern Japanese culture more accessible to foreigners. Little things that your Japanese friends or guidebooks may consider too insignificant to mention will show up regularly in popular manga.

What other books would you recommend? The first 10 volumes of Yakitate!! Japan, as well as many other manga that explore various aspects of Japanese society.

Literary gems at the Library 13



Tales of the Unexpected


t a time when the Hollywood movie-making machine is falling deeper in love with 3-D while, at the same time, offering up a steady diet of action remakes, sequels and prequels, it’s worth remembering that there are still directors and writers who see creativity and innovation as more than what the CGI whizzes can churn out. One of storytelling’s greatest weapons is the plot twist or surprise ending. Many

filmmakers have created works that deftly lead the audience through a series of assumptions before turning everything on its head. The likes of Planet of the Apes (1968), Seven (1995), Fight Club (1999), Memento (2000) and The Others (2001) all managed to leave viewers either stunned or temporarily stumped. So, which movies would our panel of Club critics hail for their jawdropping endings? ®

“The Sixth Sense has a great, jaw-dropping ending. Child psychologist Malcolm Crowe receives an award, celebrates with his wife and is shot by a former patient. Fall comes. Malcolm, now ignored by his wife, is treating Cole Sear, who is isolated and constantly afraid. ‘I see dead people,’ he says. ‘They don’t know they’re dead. And when they’re angry, it’s cold.’ A taped ghost offers a solution, and Cole helps a murdered girl. Malcolm talks to his sleeping wife. His ring drops. It gets cold. And we realize we missed the clues: the table for one, the chair that didn’t move, the eyes focused away, the same shirt in every scene…”

“Unexpected endings: are those a good thing or a bad thing? Hollywood movies often feature predictably (read: boring) happy endings to please their audiences. Unexpected endings, on the other hand, can ruin a movie experience if they don’t match a movie’s tone. Nonetheless, some of my favorite movies (The Sixth Sense, Fight Club, The Usual Suspects) have surprise endings. But if I had to choose one film, I would have to say the French film He Loves Me...He Loves Me Not. This thriller, featuring Audrey Tautou, seems pretty straightforward for the first half of the film, until it suddenly changes perspective to retell the story—and nothing is what it seemed.”

“Far away in a strange new world, without his family or the comforts of home, living only with Gerty, his computer companion, Sam Bell, the main character in Moon, knows what it’s like to be an expat. He’s an astronaut with Lunar Industries, near the end of his three-year stint on the moon to harvest energy resources to send back to Earth. As his assignment draws to a close, Sam has an accident that makes him question his life and its purpose. It’s a jaw-dropping journey of selfdiscovery as, together with Sam, we gradually learn the secret of his space station.”

Most jaw-dropping ending: The Sixth Sense

Most jaw-dropping ending: He Loves Me...He Loves Me Not

Most jaw-dropping ending: Moon

Club critic: Sara Sakamoto

Club critic: Martin Rosenkranz

Club critic: Harald Simpson deRopp

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

14 July 2010 iNTOUCH

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


An interesting version of the Lewis Carroll classic. Director Tim Burton does a fine job of creating a whole new story while retaining enough of the original throughout. Some of the characters can be quite scary for children to watch, though.

give it a go


About to be engaged to an aristocrat for whom she has no feelings, a grown-up Alice (Mia Wasikowska) returns to the surreal world from her childhood adventure, where she meets old friends, including the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp). A visually stunning film, but it might be scary for small children and boring for adults.







Excellent special effects make this werewolf movie a little better than others. There is nothing new about the plot, though, and there are a couple of storyline threads that curiously and wastefully remain undeveloped. A pretty frightening and gruesome flick that is not recommended for young children.

This scary film about a man who returns to his family’s estate after his brother vanishes is a real letdown. When a movie stars Anthony Hopkins, Benicio Del Toro and Emily Blunt, who wouldn’t expect it to be great? Unfortunately, this doesn’t live up to those expectations.

From time to time, a gem of a movie like this one appears out of nowhere. This five-star film, starring Ellen Burstyn and Martin Landau, is simply a must-see. The young director, Nicholas Fackler, has a lot of promise.

Almost fairytale-like in its treatment, this film is about an elderly grocery store clerk (Martin Landau) who discovers love for the first time. Landau’s performance in this beautifully crafted directorial debut from Nicholas Fackler is simply spellbinding.

Fans of the Jason Bourne series of films, starring Matt Damon, will enjoy the similar camerawork (although the moving handheldcamera shots become tough to watch), characters and storyline here. Poker-faced, heavily armed and tough, Damon is a little too “Bourne” to make any real impression, however.

Set in Baghdad, Matt Damon (reunited with The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum director, Paul Greengrass) is perfect in his role as a member of a team hunting for weapons of mass destruction. A captivating flick that does a good job of balancing political intrigue and action.

Remember Me Twilight heartthrob Robert Pattinson sheds the vampire fangs for a turn as a New York university undergrad who begins to find happiness after falling for an equally troubled girl—until secrets threaten to tear them apart.



other new titles...

The White Ribbon

Jackie Chan and Daniel Wu team up in this sleek mobster flick in which an illegal Chinese immigrant finds himself hopelessly entangled in Tokyo’s dangerous yakuza underworld.



The residents of a small Midwestern town are plagued by madness and death after a strange toxin taints their water supply in this eerie, intelligent remake of the 1973 horror flick, both directed by zombie genre master George Romero.

One survivor (Denzel Washington) of the final war races across a post-apocalyptic wasteland to locate a holy tome that contains the secret to reviving the human race before a dystopia despot (Gary Oldman) gets his hands on it.

Shinjuku Incident

This Oscar-nominated German film, gorgeously packaged as black-and-white art house cinema, is a haunting tale of the evils lurking within one village prior to the outbreak of World War I.

The Crazies

The Book of Eli

When in Rome A perky, unlucky-in-love New Yorker named Beth (Kristen Bell) snatches coins from the legendary fountain of love while on vacation in Italy and triggers an onslaught of insistent suitors.

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

TV and film selections 15


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

Recreation Tim Griffen (Tim Griffen) Recreation Subcommittees Bowling Pam Jenkinson Fitness Jerry Rosenberg Golf Steven Thomas Library Michelle Arnot Brown Logan Room Diane Dooley Squash Nelson Graves & Alok Rakyan Swim Jesse Green & Stewart Homler Video Lisbeth Pentelius Youth Activities Jane Hunsaker

Everything but the Fireworks by Wendi Hailey

July Fourth Fun for Kids Sunday, July 4 2–4 p.m. Gym Free Sign up online or at the Recreation Services Desk for arts and crafts only Sponsored by the Entertainment Committee Independence Day Reception Sunday, July 4 5–6:15 p.m. New York Suite Free No sign-up necessary Sponsored by the Community Relations Committee Independence Day Dinner Sunday, July 4 6:30–10 p.m. American Room ¥6,300 (optional wine pairing not included) Adults only Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk Sponsored by the Entertainment Committee

16 July 2010 iNTOUCH


his Fourth of July, the Club will give Members and their families, friends and distinguished guests of all nationalities a taste of pure Americana right here in Tokyo. The theme, “Lady Liberty,” celebrates the international icon of freedom and democracy, presented to the people of the United States by France in 1886 as a symbol of friendship. The copper GrecoRoman work of art, formally named the Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World, stands 93 meters tall from base to torch. More than 10,000 kilometers from the shores of New York, youngsters can share in an afternoon of holiday activities in Takanawa, including a Nintendo Wii challenge, sports, arts and crafts and clowns. The lively lineup for the annual Independence Day Reception includes live music, a Champagne toast, cocktails and canapés, a US Navy color guard and rousing renditions of the American and Japanese national anthems. After the reception, adult Members and their guests can sit down to delectable cuisine and wines, inspired by classic American fare, including cornbread, juicy prime rib and red, white and blue berry pie. A three-piece jazz band, led by well-known local pianist Takashi Arifuku, will offer musical entertainment throughout the evening. Mark your calendars and come out for a full day of patriotic festivities to honor “Lady Liberty” and the heritage of Tokyo American Club. ®

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

Names in parentheses denote Board liaisons.


EtonHouse Opens Its First Preschool in Japan


he EtonHouse International Education Group is set to change the face of international preschools in Japan with the opening of its first center in Tokyo on August 30. The preschool will be a pioneer in early childhood education, with the adoption of an inquiry-based educational philosophy, based on the renowned Reggio Emilia Approach. Located in the heart of Tokyo for up to 120 students, the preschool will follow international best practice and offer EtonHouse’s “Inquire, Think, Learn” curriculum, inspired by the work of the Reggio Emilia preschools and infant toddler centers in Italy, which have been recognized by Newsweek magazine as being among the best preschools in the world.

children develop a sense of ownership for their learning. This encourages children to become confident in their abilities and to be happy and engaged global learners and critical thinkers. Educating more than 3,000 students of 54 different nationalities at over 24 schools in seven countries, EtonHouse has a truly dynamic and multicultural environment with a proven expertise in creating international educational environments of the very highest standard. ®

Children at EtonHouse Tokyo will be offered a holistic international education from nursery to kindergarten age. All programs will be taught in English by experienced and qualified early childhood educators of different nationalities. The aim of the EtonHouse curriculum is to ensure that the process of learning is meaningful to young children while establishing a lifelong love for discovery and enlightenment. In addition, an outstanding Mandarin second-language program will be offered to help children develop competencies in the language. The process of assessment at EtonHouse will be a collaborative experience between the staff, children and their parents, so that An open house for the new EtonHouse Tokyo will be held in July. Call 03-6272-3339 or e-mail to find out more.

Upping Her Game by Wendi Hailey


unko Koito marked the passage of her 60th birthday, a major milestone in Japan, with a trip to Europe alongside 21 of her college classmates. The women, who graduated from the all-female University of the Sacred Heart in Hiroo in 1969, would escape together every year, but this was an exceptionally reflective occasion. “It’s a time when people celebrate their life and look ahead to the coming years,” the Club Member says of her kanreki celebration in June 2007. “After that trip, I started to think about how I could improve my general body strength in my 60s.” Koito would wake up early each morning to stroll from her home in Takanawa to Meguro River, where the abundant shade kept the daily ritual pleasant, even in the height of summer. “But, I wasn’t getting the results I wanted,” she says. “My shoulders felt stiff and sometimes I had a backache.” When the Club moved into the neighborhood for the Azabudai facility to be rebuilt, Koito, who had been a somewhat passive Member since joining in 1997, stepped into the Fitness Center for the first time. The visit in 2008 proved fortuitous. She met personal trainer Hideaki Hongo, who was on duty that day, and began a long-lasting exercise regimen that has improved her shoulder pain, circulation and golf game. “Under his patient supervision, I started to learn the basics and began to see real improvement in my general well-being, which motivated me to continue,” says Koito, sitting alongside 18 July 2010 iNTOUCH

The Club’s temporary relocation to Takanawa has led to improvements on the golf course and a healthier lifestyle for one Member. Hongo in the Adult Lobby one Friday morning after their weekly training session, “and an added benefit is that I’ve noticed a real improvement in my golf swing.” “The first lesson, she couldn’t do a single sit-up,” recalls 27year-old Hongo. “Now, we can see an improvement. She’s getting stronger, building muscles.” The smiling grandmother grips her legs to illustrate her hardearned strength and trim figure. To keep her fit without building up bulky muscles, Hongo created an exercise program that encompasses a short cardio warm-up, 50 minutes of training, which includes balance discs and body weights, and 10 minutes of stretching. “I usually make a program before I meet her, and, depending on how she feels, I might change it,” says Hongo. “We might take longer breaks, or do lighter exercises.” “People, even after 60, if they want to work out and get fit, they can do it,” adds Koito. “I don’t want to push myself too hard, just do it naturally.” Koito took up golf after her youngest son went away to college 15 years ago and has kept up her weekly lessons at a driving range in Meguro Ward. About twice a month, she goes out for a laid-back round with friends or sometimes with her 66-year-old husband. Her favorite courses lie in the resort areas of Chiba Prefecture. “Golf is a very mental sport,” she says. “Somebody wins the game one week, but the next week it might turn out differently.

Junko Koito and trainer Hideaki Hongo

My score will go up, but sometimes it goes down because of my mental state. That is very interesting. It’s an even sport between young and old players.” Besides providing Koito with newfound lower-body strength, the training at the Club has brought improvements to her skills on the greens and boosted her driving distance. With a handicap of 26 and a top score of 89, she sometimes ties with her husband, though she says he’s reluctant to admit it. Outside of athletic pursuits, Koito devotes a sizeable slice of her time to volunteer work, attends pottery classes each week and knits sweaters. And while she might tuck into the Sunday Buffet or sneak an extra piece of cake from time to time, her main fitness objective, coupled with exercise, is to eat healthy and maintain her weight. “If someone has never worked out before, it doesn’t matter what their age is,” explains Hongo. “They all start from the same point. And if they keep working

Irwin Wong


out, they can get better. We both try very hard. I can see her improve and that makes me happy.” Radiant after Friday’s workout, the routine seems to be Koito’s private fountain of youth. But when asked about it, she remains quiet for a moment before shaking her head and declaring, “Japanese women can’t say that.” Hongo, however, jumps in quickly: “I think she feels younger.” Koito continues to take her daily walks along the Meguro River, savoring what her 60s have reaped thus far. An outing to Kyoto with her classmates was organized for this summer, but that’s as far as it goes. “Actually, I don’t have any long-term plans,” she says. “What I want is every year to continue to do this trip with the same 21 people.” ® To find out more about working with one of the Club’s personal trainers, contact the Fitness Center or check out the Health & Recreation section of the Club website.

Fitness and well-being 19

class focus Judo Judo, which means “the gentle way,” is a unique martial art established in 1882 as a safer, more refined adaptation of jujitsu, a method of unarmed combat used by samurai warriors. Techniques include throwing, hold-downs and, as proficiency progresses, choking and joint locking. In this class, adults and children develop confidence and physical fitness as they study the fundamentals of this modern Olympic sport, and the code of social ethics taught serves students throughout their lives. Judo sessions will be held every Saturday from September 4 to November 6. 1:30–3 p.m. (5–15 years) and 3–4:30 p.m. (16 years and above). ¥36,750. The Studio. Ask at the Recreation Services Desk or check out the Health & Recreation section of the Club website for details.

Chuck Wilson

The Instructor

Since age 15, Chuck Wilson has devoted half a century to studying and teaching judo. Following nine years of practice and competition, including the US national games, he spent 15 months in Korea and moved to Japan to further develop his calling. After studying for more than 40 years at Doshisha University in Kyoto and with the Tokyo Metropolitan Police and Imperial Guard, Wilson earned a sixth-degree black belt and felt qualified to fulfill his long-held dream of teaching the martial art.

Valerie Seward

The Student

“I am really enjoying judo at TAC. Though the class is challenging, with a bit of practice and persistence, the class is really fun and the curriculum is very enriching. It teaches the history, the moves and the discipline of judo in a friendly environment with Chuck sensei and Sayako sensei.”

Summer Refresher

Step outdoors in skin-baring frocks and tops with complete confidence this summer after a headto-toe treatment from The Spa. A body polish with essential oils sloughs off dull layers to reveal velvety smooth, glowing skin, while a rejuvenating head bath eliminates stress and leaves behind healthy, lustrous tresses that will turn heads.

Tel: 03-4588-0714

20 July 2010 iNTOUCH


July 1–31 ¥10,500 Appointments at 03-4588-0714


youth spot Aikido Moves Learn the defensive techniques of a Japanese martial art over the holiday at the Recreation Department’s two-week Summer Intensive Aikido Program. Open to kids ages 5 and above and of all ability levels, these sessions are also great for coordination, balance and physical fitness. July 5–16 (weekdays). 10:30–11:30 a.m. Gym. ¥28,350. Sign up online or at the Recreation Services Desk.

Treat Your Feet In this eco-friendly workshop, creative kids transform old T-shirts, towels and other materials into comfy pairs of zori, or traditional, hand-woven sandals. Ages 12 and above. Saturday, July 24. 1–4 p.m. The Studio. ¥3,150 (materials included). Sign up online or at the Recreation Services Desk.

Junior Squash Summer Camp Beginners and advanced players alike get a taste of competitive court play, learn basic skills and receive pointers during this rigorous training camp. The highly structured lessons, for ages 6 to 12, run for four weekly sessions starting Monday, July 5. ¥19,950 per session. Sign up at the Recreation Services Desk or check the Health & Recreation section of the Club website for details.

what’s on Feel the Burn Pick up easy, effective tips on how to burn more calories by combining metabolism-boosting short activities with energy-expending aerobic exercise at one of the free, 30-minute workouts throughout July. Contact the Fitness Center for details.

Battle of the Brawn Contestants push themselves to their endurance and strength limits—and earn a shot at fantastic prizes—at the Summer Fitness Challenge on Saturday, July 10. The competition encompasses three fitness areas (aerobic, muscular and flexibility), with champs crowned in the men’s and women’s divisions. 10 a.m. ¥1,050. Fitness Center. Sign up online or at the Recreation Services Desk.

Fitness and well-being 21



Higher Learning by Lisa Jardine


o, you’ve mastered getting around Tokyo, and you have more art projects than you know what to do with. You’ve learned how to hand-roll sushi and make Thai curry, and you’re a pro at flower arranging. You think there is nothing left for you to learn at Tokyo American Club. Think again. This fall, out of the 60 Women’s Group classes on offer to all Members, a third of them are new. And not just a variation on a theme—we’re talking brand-spanking new. Readers of The Japan Times have likely come across Kit Nagamura’s monthly column, “Backstreet Stories.” She roams the unmarked streets of Tokyo, poking her head into small shops and remote museums, meeting the neighborhood characters as she goes. Her goal is to make the city accessible to anyone, and she’s bringing that aspiration to the Club during a series of colorful outings. “On my tours, my group should expect the unexpected; the backstreets are all about the improvised and unscripted,” she says. “I will sketch the history of the areas we visit, stop to chat with the locals I know, point out sights of cultural interest. I cannot predict precisely what will happen, and therein is part of the beauty of this kind of outing.” For those who ever wondered what sumo wrestlers eat, and in what quantity, Reiko Yoshikawa’s Behind the Scenes of a Sumo Stable Kitchen lets participants find out for themselves. “We will be hearing stories from the chanko ban, the chef of the sumo stable, and see the process of making the wrestlers’ meals during morning practice,” she reveals. “Following the tour, the students will have an opportunity to learn how to cook chanko nabe themselves.” Sandra Isaka’s new fall class, Hiking Hakone’s Old Tokaido Highway, takes students on an insightful excursion around her old stomping ground. “I lived in a valley beside Hakone for 10 years and constantly rode my motorcycle there to explore,” she says. “There isn’t much I don’t know about the area. This is a combination class [and] tour, and the participants will learn as we go. As we travel along the Tokaido Highway, we’ll talk about its history, myths and legends, as well as everything there is to see and do in Hakone.” And for those newcomers who are just getting started on their fun, educational journey at the Club, the Women’s Group still offers its perennially popular courses. With the expanded array of learning opportunities on tap, just be sure to mark your calendar and sign up early before classes fill up. Happy learning! ® Jardine is director of programs for the Women’s Group.

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

Summer Night Spectacular by Sandra Isaka

24 July 2010 iNTOUCH

To truly experience the Japanese summer, everyone should visit a hanabi taikai, or fireworks festival. In Tokyo, the most celebrated soar over the Sumida River in July, with 20,000 fireworks illuminating the horizon last year. In early August, the sky lights up above Meiji Jingu Gaien and a couple of days later in Tokyo Bay. Wherever you go, be prepared for serious crowds. For those willing to venture out of the city, there is always plenty of room on the beach for spectators in Atami, a resort





Time Travel by Laurie Joyner captivating, as was the “Roaring Dragon” painting that lurks on the ceiling of the Yakushi Hall and whose ear-piercing cries can be heard when visitors clap their hands loudly under its head. A quick visit to the Futarasan Shrine, dedicated to Nikko’s hallowed mountains, was squeezed in along with the Taiyuin Mausoleum, which was built in 1653 to hold the remains of the third Tokugawa shogun, Iemitsu. Although time was short, participants won’t soon forget the remarkable glimpse into this trove of national treasures and close-up study of a slice of Japanese history. ® Joyner is a member of the Women’s Group. To discover the range of alluring destinations in store for the fall, visit

Hans-Georg von Lewinski

n an idyllic spring morning, 15 Members and guests departed Azabudai bound for the Nikko National Park in Tochigi Prefecture and its incredible temple and shrine complex, which dates back to around 1634 and the feudal reign of the Tokugawa shogun. The first stop was a stroll around the grounds of the historic Meiji-era Kanaya Hotel, the oldest Western-style hotel in Japan. Once appetites were sated with a relaxing lunch, tour participants wound a path to the temple grounds that took them past the redlacquered Shinkyo, a sacred bridge that arches over the Daiya River and has been captured in woodblock prints nearly four centuries old. Arriving eventually at a majestic, cedar-lined avenue, the group beheld a horseback archery, or yabusame, ceremony, a 12th-century ritual performed twice a year. Spectators were whisked back in time as the colorfully costumed participants paraded past. The excitement grew as five archers displayed their bow-and-arrow skills, a stunning showcase of power and concentration, by shooting at three wooden targets from astride their galloping horses. Following the festival, the tour examined more of Nikko’s celebrated sights, including the three large Buddha figures within the Rinno Temple. Inside the ornate gates of the nearby Toshogu Shrine, the beautifully carved three wise monkeys, who embody the “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” maxim, were

town on the Izu Peninsula that hosts seven fireworks displays this summer, another in September and three in December. There are hundreds of fireworks shows to choose from in the Kanto area. To do it right, dress in yukata summer kimono, eat yakisoba noodles and flavored shaved ice (kakigori) from the food stalls and savor the summertime spectacle. ® Isaka is a member of the Women’s Group. For details of her upcoming Women’s Group class, Hiking Hakone’s Old Tokaido Highway, see page 24.

Fireworks Festivals

Atami Fireworks July 25 and 30/ August 5, 11, 19, 22 and 29 Chofu City Fireworks July 24 Sumida River Fireworks July 31 Showa Kinen Park Fireworks July 31 Edogawa Ward Fireworks August 7 Tokyo Bay Grand Fireworks August 14 Meiji Jingu Gaien Fireworks August 19 Tamagawa Fireworks August 21

An interactive community 25

1925 大正十四年

All Japanese men, ages 25 and over, are given the vote

July 2010 iNTOUCH 26February 2007 iNTOUCH


Battle for the

BALL T The country is set to vote in Japan’s upper house election on July 11, and a favorable result for the Democratic Party of Japan could lead to the enfranchisement of some of Japan’s foreign residents. by Rob Goss


hen former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) swept aside the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) last August, they came to power with a list of bold objectives that promised to transform the country’s political landscape. Most notably, they said they would wrest political power from Japan’s influential bureaucrats and place it in the hands of the cabinet while also bringing an end to decades of wasteful government spending and doing away with the practice of amakudari, where retiring senior bureaucrats are found highlevel jobs in the private or public sector. Of special interest to non-Japanese living in Japan, however, was the DPJ pledge to introduce a bill to grant local-level suffrage to permanent foreign residents. It’s a promise that has proven more difficult to fulfill. In February, facing intense opposition from conservatives in its coalition, Hatoyama’s government was forced to pull the plug on the bill, which was expected to propose local-level voting rights for some 420,000 Korean and other special permanent

residents, in addition to about 490,000 permanent residents of other nationalities. Had they managed to push the bill through, it would have been the culmination of a campaign that was initiated in 1995, when Japan’s supreme court ruled that foreign suffrage would not be unconstitutional. It was a ruling that led some 1,500 local assemblies around the country to adopt a resolution to seek local-level suffrage for permanent foreign residents. On 12 occasions since then, the DPJ, Japanese Communist Party and New Komeito have submitted bills to the Diet to try to make that proposal a reality. Each time, they have seen their efforts thwarted by conservative opposition. Former Financial Services Minister Shizuka Kamei, the leader of the conservative People’s New Party and an uneasy junior partner in the DPJ’s coalition government, is one of many conservatives who say that any non-Japanese wanting to vote should first naturalize. Since the constitution stipulates that sovereignty lies with the Japanese people, they argue, only those with Japanese

Battle for the Ballot 27

1945 昭和二十年

All Japanese men and women, ages 20 and over, are given the vote

July 2010 iNTOUCH 28February 2007 iNTOUCH

FEATURE nationality should be eligible to vote. Anything else, they believe, would represent a threat to Japan’s sovereignty. Kamei has said suffrage for foreigners would “ruin Japan.” But that’s not the only reason for the conservative resistance. Former LDP man Yoshimi Watanabe, leader of the recently founded Your Party, has suggested that the effort to enfranchise foreign residents is a DPJ vote-buying tactic. “The Democratic Party says livelihood [of Japanese] is the No. 1 issue, but, in fact, aren’t elections their No. 1 business?” he was reported as saying at an anti-suffrage rally in Tokyo earlier this year. Extreme right-wing groups have taken their arguments even further. A collection of anti-suffrage flyers posted on the website of the social activist Debito Arudou has certain ultra-rightist groups claiming suffrage would open the door to communism and Chinese or Korean rule; others question whether former DPJ leader Ichiro Ozawa, one of the main proponents of local voting rights for permanent residents, is really Japanese. Perhaps it was these groups Kamei had in mind when he claimed that granting the local vote to permanent foreign residents could cause social unrest. In particular, he said he was concerned such a move would incite nationalism during elections. “There’s some validity, but I doubt most Japanese really care; the numbers involved are low, in most communities, insignificant,” says Robert Dujarric, director of the Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies at Temple University, Japan Campus. Florian Coulmas, director of the German Institute for Japanese Studies in Tokyo, believes that for all but Japan’s right-wingers, suffrage for non-Japanese with permanent residency is a nonissue. “Those opposed have a very rigid notion of ethno-nationality, which can’t be changed,” he explains, “but most Japanese couldn’t care less about whether or not there was suffrage for foreigners.” Supporting Coulmas’ conclusion is a 2009 survey by the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper in which 59 percent of Japanese respondents stated that they were in favor of granting locallevel suffrage to permanent foreign residents. Thirty-one percent opposed such a move. The Korean Residents Union in Japan (Mindan) is one of a number of groups that argue that permanent residents are as entitled as Japanese to vote in local elections because they pay the same residence and income taxes. That right, they say, should be theirs without being forced to give up their Korean identity and naturalize. Mindan also points to permanent foreign residents’ commitment to Japan and the social,

commercial and cultural contributions they make to Japanese society. Club Member and permanent resident Robin Joffe holds similar views. “Since we have chosen this land as our permanent home, we need to participate fully to have our unique issues heard,” says the 46-year-old American. “We are not visitors or temporary residents; we are treated and taxed just as Japanese are and, as such, our voices should be heard.” Japan is not the first country to consider extending its voting rights. Many other developed countries have already adopted various forms of suffrage for foreign residents. One such example is New Zealand, which allows long-term foreign residents to vote in both local and national elections. Then there are the many European countries, including Britain, Sweden, Norway and Denmark, that allow foreign residents from certain countries to vote and hold office at the municipal level. Even South Korea, which, like Japan, has a highly influential conservative element, gives local voting rights to permanent foreign residents. In total, nearly 40 developed countries have similar systems. Writing in The Japan Times earlier this year, suffrage supporter Debito Arudo rejected right-wing claims that such a move in Japan would damage Japan’s identity and lead to its destruction. “Anyone who puts in the years and effort to meet [permanent residency] assimilation requirements has earned the right to participate in their local community— including voting in their election,” he wrote. “At least three dozen other countries allow foreigners to vote in [their elections], and the sky hasn’t fallen on them.” Supporters of suffrage legislation also say it would improve Japan’s international standing (especially its relationship with South Korea) and make the country more attractive to non-Japanese, particularly at a time when immigration has been floated as a possible solution to Japan’s declining population. Dujarric says it would also make the country more welcoming to current permanent residents. But not all non-Japanese are entirely in favor of suffrage. Ernest Higa, a 57-year-old longtime permanent resident here, says he wouldn’t vote. “Of course, I have different views from the government, and would certainly like to see certain things change, but I believe that I should work through my country’s representative ambassador to try to affect change in the Japanese government, rather than trying to change Japan for the Japanese as a foreigner,” he says. Fellow Club Member and American Thomas Nevins, 60, says that while he would

Battle for the Ballot 29

Portraits by Irwin Wong

Robin Joffe


Joffe, who has been in Japan for a total of 18 years, became a permanent resident in 1995.

July 2010 iNTOUCH 30February 2007 iNTOUCH

Thomas Nevins


A 38-year resident of Japan, Nevins received his permanent residency in 1994.

Ernest Higa


Higa has been in Japan for more than 40 years and received his permanent residency in 1979.

FEATURE likely vote on issues of importance to his family and neighbors, he isn’t convinced he deserves the right to vote in Japan. “A distinction could, probably should be made between people born and raised here, and especially those who got a majority of their childhood education in the Japanese language, with doses of Japanese educational curriculum,” he says. “These people are really plugged into Japanese and local society, and should be in a better position to be familiar with issues and candidates. They will probably also care more about these issues and hence they have more

electoral rights into four parts,” she said. Despite the hurdles, both Dujarric and Coulmas believe that the country’s permanent residents could still receive local voting rights, so long as the DPJ can secure a majority in the upper house election this month and, therefore, no longer need to appease coalition allies like Kamei. However, Coulmas says that with the government grappling with so many problems, it can’t afford to give its opponents political ammunition. And for Japan’s right wing, few things are easier to manipulate than perceived threats to Japanese sovereignty. Aware of this, outspoken Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara has used the proposed bill as an opportunity to attack naturalized Japanese, calling into question their loyalty to the nation. Certain politicians in support of local enfranchisement for permanent residents, he says, are doing so because they are naturalized Japanese or the children of naturalized Japanese. At one anti-suffrage event, he said this stemmed from a sense of “duty to their ancestors.” “For conservatives, this issue is an opportunity to oppose the government, so the government won’t reopen the debate until after the next upper house elections,” says Coulmas. “They aren’t going to stick their necks out now for something that won’t win them any votes.” Whether or not a portion of the country’s foreign residents get a say in how their local areas are governed will depend on first how the Japanese public votes at the national level this month. ®

We are not visitors or temporary residents; we are treated and taxed just as Japanese are and, as such, our voices should be heard. of a right to the franchise; this is not so much the case with [permanent resident] foreigners here for shorter periods of time, or those whose Japanese speaking and reading is not near native.” Then there are some who oppose the plan because it doesn’t go far enough. In a May interview with The Japan Times, Renho, the recently appointed minister for government revitalization and the daughter of a Taiwanese father and Japanese mother, said that if non-Japanese were to be given suffrage, they should be given not only the right to vote in municipal elections, but also the right to be elected in them and the right to vote and be elected at the national level. “I wonder if it’s possible for a nation to divide

The Road to

Permanent Residency by Rob Goss Voting rights or not, many foreigners living in Japan have opted for permanent residency. Not only does permanent residency remove the need for visa renewal (although a reentry permit is still necessary), it can also make it easier when applying for a credit card or bank loan in Japan. And for those married to a Japanese national, permanent residency means that the holder can remain in the country should divorce ever occur. The basic requirement for qualifying for permanent residency is to have lived in Japan for

Goss is a Tokyo-based freelance journalist.

10 consecutive years or three consecutive years if your residence status is that of “a spouse or child of a Japanese national” or “a spouse or child of a permanent resident of Japan.” If you satisfy one of those requirements, you will then need to show you are “of good conduct” (i.e. you have no criminal record), show you have the assets or skills to make an independent living in Japan and prove your relationship to your spouse or dependents (unless you have been in Japan for at least 10 years). As with any application in Japan, the next step is to fill out a substantial amount of paperwork, submit it to your regional immigration bureau and then wait. The process can take anywhere up to 12 months, so you should have at least a year remaining on your current visa. ®

Battle for the Ballot 31

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


Prints by Fred Harris

With international influences permeating nearly every seam of the country, the Taisho era, a period of change and innovation that began in 1912 and lasted 14 years, saw a rebirth of Japanese printmaking. Artists began experimenting with styles that ingeniously fused personal, national and worldly elements, an exceptional example of which can be found in the woodblock prints from the period. These prints depict vibrant themes, from landscapes and flowers to kimono-clad women and well-known Kabuki actors. Though the subjects often remained traditional, the artists embraced romantic Western elements like natural-looking light, soft colors and the expression of mood. This blend of techniques and tastes has resulted in a wealth of beautiful, highly regarded prints that capture the nation at one of its most important artistic junctures. Many prints served purposes other than being a medium for imaginative artists, however. Printmaking was a low-cost method of commercial reproduction before lithography and photography became common. The works on display in the Genkan Gallery this month are all original woodblock prints, but not original art. They are replicas of famous paintings done in previous periods, with a distinct beauty of their own, and will never again be available for the purpose they were created. Don’t miss the chance to explore a fundamental period of change in Japanese art through this magnificent collection of reproduced prints.


July 26–August 22

Wine and Cheese Reception Monday, July 26 6:30–8 p.m. Adult Lobby Open to all Members Free

32 July 2010 iNTOUCH



34 July 2010 iNTOUCH

TALKING HEADS Renowned the world over for its automakers, Japan is also home to the globe’s biggest motorcycle manufacturer, Honda, as well as other bike behemoths like Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki. While competition has shrunk greatly the roughly 200 Japanese manufacturers that were doing business in 1955, motorbikes remain one of the country’s top exports. The homegrown market, however, is on the slide. After peaking in 1982 with sales of more than 3.2 million bikes, domestic manufacturers shifted around 520,000 two-wheelers in 2008, according to the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association. A waning youth population seemingly more interested in electronic gadgetry than engines has forced Japan’s so-called “big four” manufacturers to rethink their product lines and business strategies, with Honda, for example, emulating lifestyle-oriented, foreign brands like Harley-Davidson, Ducati and Triumph in the marketing of its heavyweight motorcycles. Christian Walters is managing director of Harley-Davidson Japan. iNTOUCH’s Nick Jones recently sat down with the Club Member to discuss the road ahead for the bike industry in Japan. Excerpts:

Christian Walters

iNTOUCH: What is the state of Japan’s motorcycle market? Walters: It has been declining for 20-someodd years from a peak in the early ’80s. Last year, sales were just under 400,000 for the industry. Most of that decline has been in the smaller displacements, so above 400cc there has been moderate growth. iNTOUCH: What has prompted this decline? Walters: Some of it has been just the sheer economic growth of the country, so when you think about why somebody would drive a small bike, it’s definitely transportation based, and as they make more money they might start spending their money on a car. And a bigger bike means that people are making a little more money to have some disposable cash to buy a leisure product, which would be a heavyweight-type motorcycle. Also, the regulatory environment here in Japan has been probably more and more stringent over time in terms of parking regulations and security of storing your motorcycle, which may have contributed to the reduction in the number of bikes. iNTOUCH: So where does this leave the industry now? Walters: As an industry, I don’t know, because the big four domestics have businesses that are either diversified, like Honda, or they are very big everywhere else in the world and are aggressively going after low-cost manufacturing in emerging economies and are selling these products outside of Japan. For them, I

don’t know if there is concern about a domestic industry that is trending to zero. From our point of view, yes, we are in the industry, but we are not the commodity that is trending down. iNTOUCH: Does the future in Japan lie with heavier bikes then? Walters: Honda has recently come out with a new product that is larger seems to be doing very well. So maybe the answer is yes. For anybody to be really viable with a profitable business, I think this is where the market is. Otherwise, you’re just going to be in the commodity, utilitarian [business]. You know, the way to make money in that smaller displacement business is high volume, and if the volume isn’t there, it’s hard for any of those companies to survive. iNTOUCH: Are we likely ever to see a return to those sales numbers of the early 1980s? Walters: I don’t think so. I hate to be hypothetical, but the trends are for far more stringent regulations on emissions and noise. The eco-friendly, electric [model] is certainly a trend in the auto industry. I don’t know if any of that will start happening with two-wheelers or not. I do know that in Tokyo in the last few years they have made it very, very difficult to park a motorcycle. So it seems that the government is not helping the industry in many respects. iNTOUCH: How does this market compare with the United States? Walters: The States has more heavyweights. This market still has more [motorbikes] below 700cc than other

markets. This market trends more toward the performance bike style. I would attribute that less to riding conditions or riding desires and more to the fact that that’s what Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha race. [Also,] I have never seen another market where a customer takes anything from a 250cc to even a 500cc scooter, customizes it with some chrome parts and a new exhaust and they ride it in a fashion that says, “Look at me!” I find it fascinating. iNTOUCH: How much of a presence do foreign manufacturers have in Japan? Walters: Importers make up between 30 and 35 percent of the market in the 250cc and above category. iNTOUCH: How tough is it for importers to break into this market? Walters: The answer is it’s pretty tough, because the existing dealers and players have been in the industry a long time and getting to know and building a relationship takes some time. There are a lot of regulations that come with twowheelers and that probably takes some time to understand. iNTOUCH: How do you see Japan’s motorcycle market developing in the coming years? Walters: I think the decline [in sales] will peter out. In our business, we [foresee] relatively slow but stable growth, much like for other industries here. We don’t have the same growth projections as we do for China or India, but our strategies here are about really going after some of these newer, aging customers and becoming more relevant for younger Japanese customers as they get older. ®

Member insights on Japan 35

Big Business by Wendi Hailey

The Azabudai Club’s private party and business facilities are set to take conferencing and banqueting in Tokyo to a whole new level.


he chandelier lights diffuse and brighten at the touch of a button. Crystalline images roll across three 150-inch, high-definition screens mounted on the walls. Servers glide about the room in a seamless choreography of appetizers and empty dishes. Mixing timeless comfort and state-of-the-art technology, the ballroom of the new Club in Azabudai will be the “crown gem” of the expanded dining and banqueting services. The room will boast floor-to-ceiling windows with sweeping views, custom-made furnishings and a distinctive, three-dimensional ceiling. With a seating capacity of more than 400 people, the versatile arrangements allow for sit-down meals, arena-style conferences or the creation of two or three smaller areas by soundproof partitions. Built-in features include spotlights, retractable projectors

36 July 2010 iNTOUCH

that can be connected to multiple computers, wireless microphones and a webcam that shows the meal progression to the kitchen staff. Using preset touch-screen control panels for the lights, screens, DVD or Blu-ray players, speakers and audio mixers, the ideal ambience can be created for a range of events. Although the building has been designed to feel like a warm, sophisticated home that flawlessly blends its American and Japanese heritage, there are generously planned provisions to the corporate side that are set to eclipse the city’s existing conferencing and banqueting facilities. More than 1,400 square meters of space is devoted to flexible use for business and private purposes. “It’s a new market for weddings, galas and business functions, with a level that will be competitive with anything


else in Tokyo,” says Michael Marlay, director of the Food & Beverage Department. The Australian estimates that the Club’s banqueting business will double once the Azabudai premises open in January 2011. The goal is to offer personalized service, American-inspired menus and decorative touches to Members and other guests at appealing prices. “We’re taking our banqueting to another level and evolving new concepts further based on feedback,” says Marlay. “It’ll support our wine events and programs as well.” As many as six different functions will be able to be held simultaneously within the formal area of the B1 level, which encompasses the ballroom and three function rooms. Each will have the touch-screen technology for easy use and less labor-intensive setup. “It’s the way forward,” says Richard Woods, support services manager for the Club’s Engineering Department. “It’s new for everyone.” The multipurpose function rooms open up to accommodate larger gatherings, making them ideal for business meetings, private dinners and cocktail parties. Each sleekly designed space boasts an abundance of natural wood and is equipped with large-screen LCD panels and web cameras for video conferencing, as well as credenzas that store refreshments and audio-visual gear. The corridor that stretches between the ballroom and the function rooms doubles as a registration and reception area, with a bar that churns out a steady flow of coffee or Champagne. Absent in Takanawa, the in-house bakery will return to service the banqueting areas with fresh-made pastries and treats. Arriving guests will have direct access to the area from the Club’s main entrance, where digital displays will guide them to specific events. This extra facet will cut down on the traffic of unaccompanied visitors through other areas of the Club.

With its downtown setting and stylish offerings, the gleaming new building aims to draw an influx of large corporate clients and individual Members seeking a top-notch experience from start to finish. “I believe the location and convenience factor is one of the biggest factors when people are choosing a venue,” says Marlay. Quality and flexibility are also important considerations, he adds, as is cost. “With our future prices, we’ll still be about 20 percent below market value.” In addition to the basement facilities, two multipurpose rooms and a card room will service smaller meetings and classes on the second floor. The business corner, located nearby and just a few steps from the library, will feature several desktop computers and a station for Members and guests to plug in their own laptops. Members looking to treat clients or colleagues to an unparalleled culinary experience will be able to reserve one of two dining bridges on the third floor. The private, glassenclosed areas offer diners panoramic vistas of the lush Winter Garden or the cityscape below, while a high-definition television broadcasts all the cooking action in the kitchen. The extensive breadth of banqueting and corporate-minded options within the eight-story complex in Azabudai, paired with renowned cuisine and attentive service, will be planned down to the finest detail for any occasion, making it the ultimate venue for facilitating business. “It’s a lot of stuff we’ve never really done before, and I think Members will be pleasantly shocked,” says Marlay. “It’s better that they come and their expectations are surpassed.” ®

For more information on the Redevelopment Project, visit

The journey back to Azabudai 37



Get more for your Membership

BMW Tokyo Takanawa All BMW navigation systems are in English and English-speaking sales consultants are available at BMW Tokyo. Tel: 03-3443-2291 Reward: ¥50,000 travel coupon with every BMW purchase

new member profile

John & Diane Harris United States—Nippon Becton Dickinson Co., Ltd.


United Dental Office Restorative, implant and cosmetic dentistry by US-trained and -licensed dentists. We treat adults and children. Tel: 03-5570-4334 Reward: 40% discount on home bleaching


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 month they appear in iNTOUCH.

Why did you decide to join the Club? “Moving back to Japan (10 years older and, hopefully, wiser), our family is excited to link up with friends and meet new ones at Tokyo American Club. We moved to Azabudai to be close to TAC’s new facilities, but have been happy with the Takanawa facility. In particular, the many programs and events TAC offers are very impressive. We are grateful to be Members and look forward to meeting you.” (l–r) Davis, Mary, John, Jayne and Diane Harris

A-Cross Corporation A wide variety of traditional Japanese byobu screens, handcrafted and painted in Kyoto. See our website for details or call us to arrange a viewing. Tel: 03-5449-7621 Reward: 10% discount


DAD Narita Parking Heading overseas? DAD Narita Parking will pick up your vehicle at Narita Airport and keep it in a closely monitored, secure lot while you’re away. Tel: 0120-35-1462/0476-32-1955 Reward: 20% off basic charge

new member profile

Stephanus & Milana Kurniadi Indonesia—Philip Morris Japan K.K.

Why did you decide to join the Club? Tokyo Lease Corporation Large collection of Asian, European and American furniture for sale and lease. Tel: 03-3585-5801 Reward: 5% discount on items bought in the shop

“Tokyo American Club has helped my family to settle into Japan that much more easily, allowing us to meet other like-minded people, expand our social circle and for our kids to make new friends. It is the perfect place for us as a family to enjoy the weekends, as it lets us do the things we loved doing back in Jakarta. The choice of restaurants and events gives us plenty of opportunities to relax. Overall, TAC has made our move a whole lot easier.” (l–r) Ryan, Stephanus, Tiara and Milana Kurniadi

38 July 2010 iNTOUCH

Kotaro Okamura Japan—Thomson Reuters Markets K.K.

Iain Briggs United Kingdom—AIG Companies

Bjorn & Lena Ulgenes Norway—Coca-Cola (Japan) Co., Ltd.

Yasuhiro Fujita Japan—American President Lines Ltd.

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Yoshiji Kimura Japan—Medinet, Inc.

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In Jip Yang & Eun Young Oh South Korea—Jinro Japan, Inc.

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Masahiro & Atsuko Kishida Japan—Booz & Company (Japan), Inc.

Robert Berardy & Shan Cui United States—Tokyo Star Bank Ltd.

Louis & Dawn Grespan United States—BMC Software K.K.

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Stephane de Montlivault & Ivy So France—Nippon Otis Elevator Company


Douglas & Kim O’Keefe Beck United States—Apple, Inc.

Masatoshi & Satoko Iwabuchi Japan—Iwabuchi Dental Clinic



James & Noelle Kraus United States—Aetos Japan



The Meat Guy With the barbecue season here, get your new gas grill from The Meat Guy. Tel: 052-618-3705 Reward: Free shipping on any grill

Phoenix Hotel and Chalets, Hakuba Celebrate the Phoenix Chalets’ 1st anniversary! Get away from the city to enjoy Nagano’s world-famous mountains and lakes. Summer luxury villa special: ¥30,000 a night. Tel: 0261-72-4060 E-mail: Reward: 10% discount

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 Reward: 10% off introductory services

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 Reward: Special packages for Club Members

sayonara Laurie Adams

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Sumitomo Realty & Development Co., Ltd. Luxury apartment brand La Tour promises you prime comfort and security. Good locations and beautiful views in the heart of Tokyo. Tel: 0120-770-507 Reward: No agent's fee

Services and benefits for Members 39


of the month

Jasmine Lai by Nick Jones


t was curiosity that prompted Jasmine Lai to board a plane bound for Japan in 2007. Besides having an interest in exploring the local culture, as a graphic designer she was lured by the professional possibilities. After a short stint teaching English, she found a temporary position as a designer before joining the Club’s Communications team in 2008. “It’s been interesting to work as an inhouse designer as opposed to a studio designer,” says the 28-year-old. “You really get a much deeper understanding of the company or client you work for.” As one of the Club’s graphic designers, her responsibilities include putting together the Club’s monthly magazine, iNTOUCH, conceptualizing and producing displays, brochures, program flyers and event posters and working on elements of the Club website. But the “blank canvas” stage holds the most appeal for Lai, as she and other members of the team explore and develop

ideas in a bid to find “the best possible solution to a problem.” Her success in this area, among other things, helped to earn her the Employee of the Month award for June. Born in Taichung, Taiwan, Lai says she was always drawing as a child and knew early on that she wanted to work in a creative field. Moving to Christchurch, New Zealand, with her family at the age of 8, she eventually entered Australia’s University of New South Wales to study graphic and environmental design. While she is a fan of many different designers, architects and illustrators, Lai says she finds stimulation in particular projects. “I was very inspired recently by Cecil Balmond’s exhibition at the Opera City Art Gallery, which showed his collaborative works,” she says, “especially the CCTV building [in Beijing] with Rem Koolhaas and OMA.” For now, she is focused on plenty of projects of her own as the Club gears up for its move to Azabudai at the end of the year. ®

Hottest Tickets in Town


he Club sells discounted tickets for rock, pop, jazz, classical, dance, opera and sports events around Tokyo throughout the year via its BoxSeat service. For more information on discounted 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. ®

40 July 2010 iNTOUCH



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

The Penn Club

Location: New York City, New York Founded: 1886 Members: 5,500 This organization was dreamed up over dinner 124 years ago as a comfortable retreat for University of Pennsylvania alumni and faculty. Situated in a 13-story landmark building along “clubhouse row” in midtown Manhattan since 1994, the club’s facilities include double-story dining rooms, a fitness center, massage room, library, business center and 39 guestrooms, while events ranging from business breakfasts and inter-Ivy League parties to moonlight cruises and private art tours add to its allure.

Beijing American Club Location: Beijing, China Founded: 1998 Members: 600

Amid this newly renovated club’s stylish décor and ample spaces, a who’s who register of local and foreign dignitaries, entrepreneurs and celebrities socialize and do business. From stepping into the glasstopped indoor pool to unwinding in the cigar lounge, the institution is a private gathering spot housed within the soaring China Resources Building. Epicureans can enjoy contemporary American cuisine, fine wines and authentic Cantonese and other regional Chinese delicacies.

stacks of services at the Club

JTB Sunrise Tours


Go Mobile Phone Rental

André Bernard Beauty Salon

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

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

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

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.

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.

42 July 2010 iNTOUCH


he government is committing daylight robbery. At least that’s the opinion of some residents and officials in the northern Japanese city of Sapporo. They believe that the state is depriving them of longer, brighter evenings by failing to put the clocks forward by an hour for the duration of the summer. In the Hokkaido capital during summer, dawn breaks at around 4 a.m., while night falls after 7 p.m. Contrast this with Toronto, a city on a similar latitude, where the locals can enjoy the evening light that stretches to at least 9 p.m.

Torontonians adjust their clocks to eastern daylight time between the second Sunday in March and the first Sunday in November. This practice of daylight saving time (DST) is widely followed in most of North America, Europe and Russia, but has never been or is no longer used in much of the southern hemisphere, Asia and Africa. Countries and regions have introduced DST for a variety of reasons, but, in most cases, it has been adopted to make better use of daylight in the evenings. Its implementation has often been controversial, with studies contradicting

one another as to its effects on energy use, local economies, public safety and health. Japan had a short period of daylight saving time between 1948 and 1951. The measure was seen by many as a symbol of Allied occupation and criticized for its bungling introduction only three days after being passed into law, leading Japan to drop it after regaining its sovereignty in 1952. But given Hokkaido’s 15 hours of daylight during the summer months, authorities there see their island as an ideal candidate for DST and have experimented with the concept in recent years. The Sapporo Chamber of

Seeing the Light of Day by Andy Sharp

44 July 2010 iNTOUCH

INSIDE JAPAN Commerce and Industry carried out a “summer time” trial from 2004 through 2006. Although clocks were not actually turned back, working hours in government offices were adjusted so people could start and end their days an hour earlier. Many private firms voluntarily followed suit. According to the chamber, the trial was aimed at encouraging people to make use of two or three hours of daylight that normally they would sleep through while also making Hokkaido an attractive tourist destination by differentiating it from the rest of Japan. The body calculated that an extra hour of summer evening light would augment the region’s economy by about ¥65 billion a year. This trial continued on a voluntary basis until last year, but has not been implemented this year. The chamber has no plans to reintroduce it. “In the end, it turned into a flextime system, moving away from our original intention of a legally binding daylight saving time,” explains Hitomi Iwama of the chamber’s planning department. “We decided there was little meaning in adopting it again this year if it wasn’t going to be implemented across the region or whole country.”

Iwama says that Hokkaido citizens were split on the issue. “Many people felt the experiment allowed them to use daylight hours more effectively and that it increased their activity options,” she says. “Others said that if there was [DST] legislation solely for Hokkaido, then it would show off the uniqueness of Hokkaido and raise its profile.” Opponents, she adds, claimed some people became ill at the start and end of the DST period. The chamber, however, continues to push for the nationwide adoption of DST, and it has an ally in the Japan Productivity Center, a foundation established to promote productivity in Japanese industry and boost living standards. The center’s Shinji Watanabe believes the government would be prudent to consider DST. “First, it would have the effect of saving energy,” he says. “Calculations show that adopting DST nationwide would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of 1.5 million tons of carbon dioxide a year. Secondly, an extra hour of light in the evening would enable people to commute from work or school and go shopping for dinner in the light. This would reduce traffic accidents

and crimes such as bag snatching.” There are other benefits, too, according to Watanabe. “Britain, which has had summer time for more than 90 years, is able to hold evening operas outside in the daylight,” he says. Professor Kenichi Honma of Hokkaido University, a member of the Japanese Society of Sleep Research, however, says that DST can have an adverse medical effect on people. “Summer time causes moderate sleep deprivation, especially around the time the clocks are put back and forward,” he explains. “This fatigue can cause traffic accidents. It can also trigger mild depression. One-third of respondents to a survey about summer time in Hokkaido said that they suffered sleeping problems.” Despite efforts by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to introduce DST, the idea was rejected and there seems little political will at the moment to return to the debate, which should please Honma, who likes to take advantage of the light mornings to take a stroll before work. ® Sharp is a Tokyo-based freelance journalist and translator.

A look at culture and society 45


Tokyo’s Final Frontier Words and photos by Tim Hornyak

46 July 2010 iNTOUCH

stepped off the ferry and into a decent approximation of my idea of paradise. I had been on the ship for 25 hours, but I hadn’t even left Tokyo. Here, in Futami Harbor on Chichijima, an island 1,000 kilometers south of the capital in the azure Pacific, I found it hard to believe I was still in Japan. As locals gathered around the Ogasawara Maru, I noticed several faces that were not quite Western, and not quite Japanese. They were the visages of briny, weather-beaten men who call themselves Bonin islanders first and Japanese second. Chichijima is part of the Bonin, or Ogasawara, as they are referred to in Japan, chain of islands. First settled by Westerners and Polynesians in the 1830s, the islands were later annexed by Japan and given unique names. One group represents a wedding party, with Mukojima (Bridegroom Island), Nakojima (Go-Between Island) and Yomejima (Bride Island), and the other a family, with Chichijima (Father Island) and Hahajima (Mother Island) being the only inhabited isles in the chain. All are administered by the Tokyo metropolitan government. One of the Bonin men met me at the pier. A former United States soldier and Vietnam vet, John Washington could have won an Ernest Hemingway lookalike contest. He took me to his hostel, the Banana Inn, where he had a room and scooter set aside for me. After giving me some directions and a crash course in scooter driving, I set off to explore the island. Home to some 2,000 people, Chichijima, which was placed under US control after World War II, before being returned to Japan in 1968, has very little concrete, no convenience stores and no airport. The ferry is the only way to access this jewel in the ocean. An unexpected bit of magic on the overnight voyage was the diamond mine of stars over the waves; planets and distant suns seemed to burst out of the Milky Way like lights on a Christmas tree. The show didn’t stop there, either. As I rode shakily from Futami, the cliffs rose in dramatic undulations beneath jungle peaks. Soon I was at Kominato Beach, a pristine spit of white sand that I had all to myself. After a brief swim to cool off, I took a short hike through the jungle to Copepe, another beach just north of Kominato. Along the path, I came across armies of hermit crabs hauling their shells up and down the sandy track. While Chichijima is home to about 60 endangered species of wildlife, such as the Bonin flying fox (humpback whales can be seen within 500 meters of shore during


Twenty-five hours by ship from Tokyo’s Takeshiba Pier to Chichijima. The Ogasawara Maru, run by Ogasawara Kaiun (, sails about once a week. There are regular sailings and day cruises between Chichijma and Hahajima. Chichijima View Hotel


Tokyo Islands


Ogasawara Village (Japanese language only)



Ogasawara Youth Hostel (Japanese language only) Anna Beach Hahajima Youth Hostel (Japanese language only)





winter), I kept running into crabs and feral goats roaming the hills. Continuing up toward Mount Chuo, I passed isolated cottages, the odd café and an immense radio telescope pointed at the heavens. After a one-kilometer hike down the east coast, with its steeply pitched 200-meter drop, I was on Hatsuneura Beach, also deliciously deserted. I fell into a routine of hiking jungle trails to remote stretches of sand, some of which, like John Beach, still feature decaying World War II gun emplacements. At night in Futami, I munched on Chinese mackerel shimazushi (island sushi) at Marujo and sipped cocktails at Yankee Town, a chilled-out driftwood bar on the edge of town. While visitors can spend many days exploring Chichijima’s jungles and beaches, sailing out to snorkeling, diving and fishing spots are the main draw here. I signed up with the Pink Dolphin, a day tripper skippered by Stan Minami. We motored out to Minamijima, an uninhabited island with majestic karst formations and a delicate ecology that has been carefully protected. Next we were off to Hahajima, the other major island in the chain and the southernmost inhabited part of Tokyo. Near the high green cliffs of its shore, we came alongside a pod of dolphins leaping out of the shallows. The water looked too good to resist, and soon everyone was strapping on fins and masks. The corals were breathtaking and teeming with butterfly fish, angelfish and parrotfish. Even sleepier than Chichijima, Hahajima is home to just 450 people, far fewer than in the past. Kitamura, an abandoned village on the north side of the island, lies at the end of the only major road. I explored the port of Oki and discovered one of Japan’s most charming youth hostels: Anna Beach Hahajima. Overlooking the harbor, Anna is run by a young family eager to host foreign guests. They pointed me toward Minamizaki, a southern promontory with panoramic views of outlying islands and a nearby mini Fuji, Mount Kofuji. I envisioned whiling away several weeks on Hahajima, writing haiku poems and taking photos, but I had to get back aboard the Ogasawara Maru for the long journey home. As the ferry blasted its horn and set sail from Futami, dozens of islanders waved us off from the port and in speedboats that escorted us into the Pacific. I can still see them jumping off the decks into the sea, screaming their farewells. It was a sendoff that will stay with me for many years to come. ® Hornyak is a Montreal-based freelance journalist.

Explorations beyond the Club 47

Ken Katsurayama


Mary Ann Tiu Yamashita

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


Mother’s Day Festivities May 8–9

Kayo Yamawaki

Moms basked in much-deserved attention during a weekend celebration for Mother’s Day. At the MotherDaughter Tea Party on May 8, the Club’s sushi chef taught participants how to hand roll their own lipsmacking maki creations, which were served with high tea. The girls also headed to a crafts corner to make cards for their moms. During Mary Ann Tiu Yamashita’s Sunday Crafts and Storytime, imaginative youngsters turned plain terracotta flowerpots into colorful presents filled with flowers, while moms were the guests of honor at the annual Mother’s Day Buffet, featuring a spread of seasonal treats and a special keepsake.

48 July 2010 iNTOUCH

Kayo Yamawaki Ken Katsurayama

Kayo Yamawaki


Mary Ann Tiu Yamashita

1. Rina and Ari Salsberg 2. Howard and Julie Yu with their sons, Karsten and Kyler 3. Emile Braibant 4. Peter and Christina Owans with their daughter, Dorinda 5. Kayo Nishimura with her daughter, Jonie 6. Erina Hirajima 7. David and Christina Vogdes with their daughters, Isabella and Maya 8. Meg Sutherland with her daughter, Terese

Mary Ann Tiu Yamashita

Kayo Yamawaki

Mary Ann Tiu Yamashita

Ken Katsurayama

Ken Katsurayama Kayo Yamawaki

Mary Ann Tiu Yamashita







Snapshots from Club occasions 49

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

Hong Kong Swim Meet April 24–25

Mudsharks coach Simon Hadlow led a team of the Club’s talented young swimmers and a spirited cheer squad of family and friends on a short trek overseas to compete against 25 other teams from across Asia in a thrill-packed meet. A slew of top 10 accolades, including two gold medals, and personal bests were accrued over two full days of races at the state-ofthe-art Shing Mun Valley Swimming Pool. Photos supplied by Narissara March

1. (l–r) Simon Hadlow, Carolyn Genty, Clayton Genty, Laura Grenon, Jon-Jon March, Sammie March, Michael Grenon and Katie Genty 2. Clayton Genty and Jon-Jon March 1



Women’s Group Luncheon: Classical Dance with Mako Hattori Valentine May 10

Longtime Women’s Group members and their guests were treated to a demonstration of classical Japanese dance when renowned television personality and dance professional Mako Hattori Valentine took to the stage in the New York Suite. In between three graceful performances, she regaled the crowded room with insights into the art form and shared


stories of her fascinating life. Photos supplied by Miki Ohyama and Naoko Suzuki 1. Mako Hattori Valentine and Miki Ohyama 2. Mako Hattori Valentine 3. (l–r) Haruno Akiyama, Miki Ohyama, Takeko Hattori, Mako Hattori Valentine, Sandra Isaka and Bianca Russell

50 July 2010 iNTOUCH




Yuto Miyazawa: I Will Rock You! May 14

The night lived up to its title as 10-year-old guitarist Yuto Miyazawa enthralled more than 130 spectators, including many schoolchildren, during an electrifying performance in the Gym. The Japanese rock prodigy ripped through versions of Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” and other rock classics, then afterward answered questions, signed autographs and posed for photos. Photos by Irwin Wong

1. Yuto Miyazawa 2. Hideo Oba and Yuto Miyazawa 3. Yuto Miyazawa and Kyoji Iwabuchi



Snapshots from Club occasions 51


Downsized Dryer Dilemma by Karen Pond Illustration by Akiko Saito


remember walking through our Tokyo apartment for the first time. I was impressed. I was impressed with the location. I was impressed with the beautiful hardwood floors and sliding doors. I was impressed with the roomy kitchen and Western appliances. And I was very impressed with the large soaking tub and technologically advanced toilet. “You can even heat the seat,” my husband pointed out. When I entered the laundry room, however, I became less impressed and more intrigued. “That is certainly a strange-looking microwave,” I said. “Why is it in the laundry room?” “That’s the dryer,” my husband replied. “It looks like it can handle only one person’s load,” I said. “We are a family of five. We need four more.” I realized I had been spoiled back home, where I am the owner of an efficient, super-sized dryer. While it would eat socks occasionally, it was a small price to pay for convenience and warm, fluffy clothes. Every Wednesday and Sunday evening,

52 July 2010 iNTOUCH

I would throw, shove, ram and compress various garments into the bowels of my new “mini” machine. “What are you trying to do?” my husband asked after walking in on me knee-deep in clothes in the dryer. “Are you stomping grapes to make wine?” “Nope,” I said, wet pants squelching under my toes, “just making room for some bath towels. I know I can fit more in here.” “You can keep up, can’t you, little guy?” I said to my dryer. It tried, but it really couldn’t. So, instead of battling with the dryer, I decided to follow local customs. I set up a clothes line and drying rack on my small patio. Unfortunately, shortly after I triumphantly hung up my first load of washing, a typhoon roared through. “Sorry to bother you,” I said to my neighbor the next day, “but I believe my undergarments and pajamas were blown onto your picnic table.” With three active sons, however, clothes and sports gear were hung everywhere, both inside and outside the apartment. “What are you doing?” I asked one of my boys.

“Dad said I could watch TV for an hour.” “You know my TV rules. If you’re going to watch TV, it must be for at least two hours and you have to spread out your arms. I’ve got sweatshirts to dry,” I said, draping hoodies over his shoulders. “Remember to rotate every 10 minutes or so. Now, where’s the dog? I need him to air-dry this sweater.” I’m looking forward to seeing friends and family on my trip home this summer. I’m looking forward to sharing photos and stories and experiencing my home culture again. But, most of all, I can’t wait to be reunited with my dryer. ®

毎 月 一 回 一 日 発 行 


第 四 十 三 巻 三 十 三 号 

ト ウ キ ョ ウ ア メ リ カ ン ク ラ ブ 

July 2010

Furthering the Franchise Japan mulls granting the local vote to a portion of the country’s foreign community

i N T O U C H

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

Issue 544 • July 2010

Fourth of July

Treasure Islands

City Shots

A full day of American-style merriment at the Club

Escape to Tokyo’s secret paradise in the sea

One photographer explains his passion for capturing Tokyo

iNTOUCH July 2010