Page 1


第 四 十 七 巻 五 六 六 号 


毎 月 一 回 一 日 発 行 

June 2012

ト ウ キ ョ ウ ア メ リ カ ン ク ラ ブ 

i N T O U C H

イ ン タ ッ チ マ ガ ジ ン 二 〇 一 二 年 六 月 一 日 発 行  平 成 三 年 十 二 月 二 十 日 第 三 種 郵 便 物 許 可 定 価 八 0 0 円

Pampered Pets

本 体 七 七 七 円

Issue 566 • June 2012

Pairings of Perfection

Decanter hosts monthly global food and wine excursions

TAC Premier Classic

The Club prepares for its annual showdown of squash

Club Member and dog owner Maria Bromley and animal industry insiders ponder Japan’s pet mollycoddling

Country Roads

One writer reflects on traveling the length of Japan on foot

talking heads

The Future of Japan’s Fourth Estate


Club Member and veteran journalist Taro Kimura offers his thoughts on the reporting of last year's Fukushima crisis and the state of Japan’s media.

inside japan


Leaping Tall Buildings


With its abundance of “urban furniture,” Tokyo is a parkour playground for those who prefer to leap, vault and backflip their way across the city.

2 Contacts

4 Events

6 Board of Governors

7 Management

8 Food & Beverage

out & about

Sweetness and Charm


12 Library 16 DVD Library

A sought-after spot to live in Tokyo, Jiyugaoka is brimming with enchanting emporiums and alluring eateries along its tangle of backstreets and leafy avenues. feature

18 Recreation 22 Feature


Creature Comforts In a country that saw a record-low number of babies born last year, Japanese are increasingly directing their affections and salaries toward infantsized animals. iNTOUCH explores this burgeoning industry of doggy dresses, home-cooked meals and rental pets through interviews with owners and industry insiders.

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

For membership information, contact Mari Hori:

28 Talking Heads

30 Frederick Harris Gallery

32 Member Services

34 Inside Japan

36 Out & About

Editor Nick Jones

Designers Ryan Mundt Nagisa Mochizuki Production Assistant Yuko Shiroki 03-4588-0687

Assistant Editor Erika Woodward

Tokyo American Club 2-1-2 Azabudai, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-8649

Communications Manager Matthew Roberts Cover photo of Maria Bromley and her dog, Yuki, by Kayo Yamawaki.


38 Event Roundup

Bob Sexton General Manager

Shuji Hirakawa Human Resources Director

Lian Chang Information Technology Director

Mutsuhiko Kumano Finance Director

Darryl Dudley Engineering Director

Scott Yahiro Recreation Director

Brian Marcus Food & Beverage Director

Getting in Touch Department/E-mail Phone American Bar & Grill

(03) 4588-0676

Banquet Sales and Reservations

(03) 4588-0977

Beauty Salon

(03) 4588-0685

Bowling Center

(03) 4588-0683

Café Med

(03) 4588-0978


(03) 4588-0307

Childcare Center

(03) 4588-0701


(03) 4588-0262


(03) 4588-0675

DVD Library

(03) 4588-0686


(03) 4588-0699


(03) 4588-0222

Fitness Center

(03) 4588-0266

Food & Beverage Office

(03) 4588-0245

Foreign Traders’ Bar

(03) 4588-0677

Guest Studios

(03) 4588-0734

Human Resources

(03) 4588-0679

Information Technology

(03) 4588-0690


(03) 4588-0678

Management Office

(03) 4588-0674

Membership Office

(03) 4588-0687

Member Services Desk

(03) 4588-0670

Pool Office

(03) 4588-0700

Rainbow Café

(03) 4588-0705

Recreation Desk

(03) 4588-0681

Redevelopment Office

(03) 4588-0223

The Cellar

(03) 4588-0744

The Spa

(03) 4588-0714


(03) 4588-0671

Women’s Group Office

2 June 2012 iNTOUCH

(03) 4588-0691

from the


The British naturalist Charles Darwin was at first stumped by cavefish. His theory of natural selection couldn’t really explain why the fish didn’t have eyes. Eventually, he deduced that since eyes would be of little use in darkened waters, a kind of “use-it-or-lose-it” evolution had taken place. “As it is difficult to imagine that eyes, although useless, could be in any way injurious to animals living in darkness, I attribute their loss wholly to disuse,” he wrote. The beginnings of a similar “regressive evolution” in another species can be seen in parks and exclusive residential neighborhoods in Tokyo on a daily basis. Dogs, particularly of the miniature and teacup varieties, appear to be heading for a limbless future. With owners intent on transporting their diminutive dogs in specially designed strollers or shoulder bags, pampered pooch paws could go the way of the dodo. And judging by the way in which the dogs are often dressed in season-appropriate designer clothes, their natural coats could be rendered useless, too. Chihuahuas and poodles in Japan might eventually resemble a hairless version of the Paro robot seals that flutter their elongated eyelashes and coo at seniors in the geriatric wards of hospitals. In place of flippers, though, the dogs would have nubs that would stop them from inadvertently rolling over while being fed foie gras snacks. With animals increasingly taking the place of children for some people in Japan, my colleague, Erika Woodward, explores the trend of mollycoddled pets in this month’s cover story, “Creature Comforts,” on pages 22 to 27. Through interviews with owners and those working in the pet industry, including one Tokyo-based veterinarian, she finds out what owners are willing to do to ensure that their pooches and kitties lead blissfully content lives—unfettered by the challenge of walking. 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 Mark Baxter

Erika Woodward

Mark Baxter has lived in Japan for more than two decades. After a year of language study in Osaka and a season working at a ski area in Nagano, he settled down in Tokyo where he has lived ever since. He joined the Club more than 15 years ago and immediately became involved with the Wine Committee, of which he is now the chair. In a change of beverage, he previews this month’s beer tasting on page 10. At the urging of an artist friend living in Kyoto, Baxter resumed his interest in infrared photography and has exhibited his work a handful of times, including at the Club in 2007. He, his wife, Margaret, and their two children expect to remain in Japan for the foreseeable future. Raised in the suburbs of Washington, DC, Erika Woodward arrived in Japan in early 2011. An assistant editor in the Club’s Communications Department, she graduated from the Philip Merrill College of Journalism in Maryland and has written on a variety of subjects, from the life of an overworked professional clown to the birth of a new political faction in Iceland. For this month’s cover story, “Creature Comforts,” on pages 22 to 27, Woodward explores the pampering lengths pet owners will go for their furry family members in Japan. When she isn’t searching for the next story, the former professional ballerina hits the studio then unravels her perfectly pinned bun for an unconstrained night out with her hubby and friends.

Joining a Committee Members interested in joining one of the committees listed should contact its chair or inquire at the Management Office. Names in parentheses denote Board liaisons. Compensation Brian Nelson Finance Gregory Davis (John Durkin) Food & Beverage Joe Purcell (Mary Saphin)

Food & Beverage Subcommittee Wine Mark Baxter

Membership Subcommittee Branding Mark Ferris

House Jesse Green (Gregory Lyon) House Subcommittee Facilities Management Group Elaine Williams

Nominating Nick Masee

Human Resources Jon Sparks (Steve Romaine) Membership Mark Ferris (Deb Wenig)

Programs & Events Barbara Hancock (Ann Marie Skalecki) Programs Community Relations Donald Soo Culture Miki Ohyama Entertainment Matthew Krcelic Frederick Harris Gallery Yumiko Sai

Recreation Tim Griffen (Ira Wolf) Recreation Subcommittees Bowling Crystal Goodfliesh DVD Abby Radmilovich Fitness Sam Rogan Golf Steven Thomas Library Melanie Chetley Logan Room Diane Dooley Squash Martin Fluck Swim Jesse Green & Alexander Jampel Youth Activities Narissara March

Words from the editor 3

What’s happening in June 1


Alfresco Party Packages Make the most of the Club’s outdoor spaces when you host your next company get-together or birthday bash this summer. Choose from three enticing barbecue packages, complemented by a summertime wine option, then take the party to either Splash!, the Club’s fifth-floor outdoor café, or the Rainbow Café terrace. Visit the Functions & Catering page of the Club website to ensure satisfied smiles on the faces of all your partygoers.


Saturday– Sunday

Recreation End-of-Season Sale Don’t miss these two days of bargains on a range of sporting goods and clothes. 10 a.m.– 6 p.m. Activity Rooms.

4 June 2012 iNTOUCH



Father’s Day Buffet Give Dad a thank you celebration he won’t forget. 11 a.m.–3 p.m. and 5–8 p.m. New York Ballroom. Adults (18 and over): ¥4,900 (includes an allyou-can-drink beer package); juniors (12–17 years): ¥2,800; children (7–11 years): ¥2,000; kids (4–6 years): ¥1,050; infants (3 and under): free. Reserve at 03-4588-0977.



Camp Discovery Kickoff The Club kicks off its first weeklong session of activity-packed summer fun for youngsters. Find out more about what’s in store by flipping to page 21.



Father’s Day Specials at The Spa To celebrate Father’s Day on June 17, The Spa helps dads unwind with an array of massage treatment packages all this month. Find out more on page 21.



Gallery Reception A casual reception kicks off an exhibition of astonishing handcrafted bamboo ware from the Oita Prefecture town of Beppu. 6:30 p.m. Learn more about the area’s artisanal past on page 30.



Summer Swim Program Kickoff Take the opportunity to improve your water skills this summer by signing up for the Sky Pool’s swim program for kids. Details on page 20.





Toddler Time A fun half-hour session of engaging stories and activities await preschoolers at the Children’s Library. 4 p.m. Free. Continues June 12, 19 and 26.




Monday– Sunday


Casbah Night The Club kicks off its weekly allyou-can-eat feast of flavors with a spectacle of tastes from the Mediterranean and North Africa. Take in the Tokyo summer while dining on tagine, kebabs and other delicacies.

Continues August 1 5–8:30 p.m. | Family dining terrace Adults (18 and above): ¥1,950 Juniors (12–17 years): ¥1,650 Children (7–11 years): ¥1,200 Kids (4–6 years): ¥700 Infants (3 and under): free No reservations required





Women’s Group Office Summer Hours Begin The Women’s Group Office will open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Regular office hours will resume on August 17.

US Open Week Celebrate the 112th US Open with a round at the 19th Hole. Reserve a one-hour session at the Club’s golf simulator this week and you’ll be entered into the US Open prize draw.

Cloudy Bay Wine Dinner Winemaker Tim Heath hosts an evening of unforgettable Sauvignon Blanc from this famed New Zealand winery. 7 p.m. Find out more on page 8.

Italian Night Say “Ciao!” to pasta, salumi, caprese and more on the family dining terrace. 5–8:30 p.m. Adults (18 and above): ¥1,950; juniors (12–17 years): ¥1,650; children (7–11 years): ¥1,200; kids (4–6 years): ¥700; infants (3 and under): free. Continues August 8.









Summer All-Star Sports Kickoff Energetic kids shoot, kick, dribble, pass, jump and dance their way through the summer months. For more about this sports-based program, flip to page 21.

Squash Team Challenge Final The Club’s squash enthusiasts battle it out for top honors in this popular team competition. 7 p.m. For more information on upcoming tournaments, turn to page 18.

Korean Night Dine on Korean delicacies on the family dining terrace. 5–8:30 p.m. Adults (18 and above): ¥1,950; juniors (12–17 years): ¥1,650; children (7–11 years): ¥1,200; kids (4–6 years): ¥700; infants (3 and under): free. Continues August 15.

TAC Student Council Meeting This hard-working group gathers to discuss the needs and wishes of the Club’s younger Members. 1 p.m. Teen Lounge. Contact the Recreation Desk to find out more.







Wines from the Land of the Great White Cloud Decanter continues its Decanted! program with a journey to New Zealand, a country renowned for its succulent lamb and exquisite wines. Through June 30. To find out more, turn to page 11.

Coffee Connections Whether you’re new to Tokyo or want to meet new people, drop by this relaxed Women’s Group gathering. 10:30 a.m. Haru Reischauer and Beate Sirota Gordon classrooms.




Head-to-Head Beer Tasting An array of upstart craft beers take on a selection of their European ancestors in a blind tasting of fine fermented brews. 7 p.m. Details on page 10.


Izakaya Night Japanese pub staples and comfort food rule supreme on the family dining terrace. 5–8:30 p.m. Adults (18 and above): ¥1,950; juniors (12–17 years): ¥1,650; children (7–11 years): ¥1,200; kids (4–6 years): ¥700; infants (3 and under): free. Continues August 22.


Gallery Reception DanDans, a collective of up-andcoming artists, returns to the Club with an exhibition of works by five exciting creators. 6:30 p.m. Find out more on page 31.


Honig Wine Dinner Honig Winery’s Stephanie Honig introduces a selection of fine vintages of this award-winning Napa Valley producer’s two varietals. 7 p.m. To learn more, flip to page 9.

Coming up in July 1 Independence Day Reception 4 Southeast Asian Night 7 Early Pregnancy and Birth Planning 11 Spicy Night 13–15 TAC Premier Classic Squash Tournament

14–15 Birth Preparation for Couples 18 Okinawan Night 25 Latin American Night 29 London Olympics Grand Buffet 30 Coffee Connections

Noteworthy dates for the month 5


Charting a Course for the Club by Paul Hoff


ur new Club building has implications for how the Board of Governors and management run TAC. Along with our new surroundings comes a loan used to pay for about half of the cost of construction. The loan needs to be paid back with certain conditions imposed on the P/L (profit and loss) and B/S (balance sheet). When the financial institution that lent TAC the money audits our accounts, they look for an EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) ratio and valuation of the Club, which shows how healthy our operations are in terms of repaying the interest and principal. We have passed those tests to date and the Club treasurer is working to model future Club financial situations to make sure we will pass the test with regularity. Our new facilities are now making the TAC Governance Group, comprised of the governors, committees and management, look hard into the future and assess how the legacy patterns of our Club life will evolve. Earlier this year, the Board asked a special task force to review the Club’s marketing, brand and communications. This Marketing/Communications Task Force is led by Ginger Griggs and Terry White, with myself and Membership Committee chair Mark Ferris also serving. Task force ex officio, advisory members are Club President Lance E Lee and interim General Manager Bob Sexton. The task force has been interviewing all committees and senior staff to appraise the TAC brand and evaluate the communications needs of the Club. Recommendations for change will be going to the Board in April and May for resetting the Club’s view of itself, enhancing its marketing strategy and invigorating communications across the

6 June 2012 iNTOUCH

Board of Governors Lance E Lee (2012)—President Brian Nelson (2012)—Vice President Mary Saphin (2013)—Vice President Ann Marie Skalecki (2012)—Vice President John Durkin (2012)—Treasurer Deb Wenig (2013)—Secretary Kavin C Bloomer (2012), Norman J Green (2013), Paul Hoff (2013), Hiroyuki Kamano (2012), Per Knudsen (2012), Gregory Lyon (2012), Jeff McNeill (2013), Hiroshi Miyamasu (2013), Steve Romaine (2012), Dan Stakoe (2013), Ira Wolf (2013), Shizuo Daigoh—Statutory Auditor (2012), Ginger Griggs—Women’s Group President

Board, committees, management and to the Membership at large in order to provide better integration of Club activities. As one of the building blocks for targeted marketing, the task force has reviewed various methods of representing Members’ use of the Club. Average spending by Member segment and age is one such method (see chart below). As Club life in the new Azabudai facilities evolves, a deeper and more broad-based understanding of metrics like Member usage will help us strengthen our financial base and engage better with all Members. Financial sustainability, Member engagement and growth must all be priorities for a healthy TAC, and they must be in alignment with TAC’s vision and mission statements, which, if you’re not familiar with, can be found under the News & Info section of the Club website. Our vision claims the Club is to be international and the best club in Asia, while the mission outlines what we will provide to Members by way of business, social, cultural and relaxation activities. One message coming from the task force discussions is the strong loyalty to TAC and commitment to the Club as an American institution that embraces and serves its diverse membership. Let’s preserve that loyalty and commitment. o


Improving the Member Experience by Bob Sexton

Bob Sexton

General Manager


would rather be served satisfactorily by someone I know and who knows me than perfectly by someone I don’t know. Debates over what constitutes “satisfactory service” or “someone I know” aside, this statement is one that reflects the very special characteristic of the private club environment. We receive numerous complimentary Tell TAC comment cards from Members each month and a notable percentage of the feedback we receive concerns how people feel about a good experience rather than the technical skills of the staff. It’s this human element through such interaction as greetings and offers of assistance that we, as Club staff, must continue to focus on to improve the experience of all Members. This is even more important in this building, which has been our home for more than a year now. Many of the comments we receive concern how “things aren’t like they used to be” and, specifically, the “intimacy” of the temporary Club in Takanawa compared with our current facility. These remarks illustrate that even with all of our impressive amenities, services and programs, Members value human contact while at the Club. There is no question that the larger size of our Azabudai

facility results in less casual contact between Members. This, in turn, means that the staff, from the janitors to the general manager, must work harder to make Member visits as pleasant as possible. In the meantime, the staff and committees continue to identify possible areas where we can be more “Club” and less “building.” On a more administrative note, please continue to use your Membership cards when visiting the Club. We have begun to carry out spot checks following a couple of instances of unauthorized use of the facilities. We cannot stop the “tailgating,” when somebody enters the Club through a door opened by a Member, but we would appreciate your remembering to keep your cards with you when around the Club. Meanwhile, Splash!, the outdoor café next to the Sky Pool, and alfresco dining are now open for all to enjoy. We just hope that Tokyo experiences a drier and sunnier summer than last year. o If you would like give us your thoughts on anything related to the Club, just visit the Careers & Contact section of the Club website and fill out an online Tell TAC.

Executive remarks 7



Marlborough Man by Wendi Onuki


hough Cabernets and Pinots often dominate the international wine scene, voluptuous reds yield unapologetically to their honey-hued siblings at New Zealand’s Cloudy Bay winery. In fact, for nearly three decades the Marlborough label has been singlehandedly bringing accolades and attention to the country’s wine-crafting efforts through its annual bounty of stellar Sauvignon Blanc. “Cloudy Bay is inextricably linked with New Zealand’s reputation for Sauvignon Blanc,” says winemaker Tim Heath, who will host a not-to-be-missed dinner at the Club this month. “When the wine was first released in 1985, it captivated people with its startling aromas and flavors and quickly became the benchmark by which all other Sauvignon Blancs were measured against. I feel that this is still true today.” With a long-standing fondness for white wines, the 36-year-old vintner found his niche at Cloudy Bay in 2005 and since has helped develop the winery’s portfolio, which notably includes Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris and two sublime styles of Sauvignon Blanc, as well as an enticing Pinot Noir as the lone red option. His penchant for lighter varietals was born “from a love of Riesling from the Mosel region,” he

Cloudy Bay Wine Dinner with Tim Heath Tuesday, June 12 7 p.m. American Bar & Grill ¥12,000 Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk

8 June 2012 iNTOUCH

says. “The balance, poise and tension that great examples of these wines show gives me inspiration for our Sauvignon.” The winery’s lauded Sauvignon Blanc duo includes its classic namesake and a fullbodied alternative called Te Koko. “Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc is well respected for its pedigree, fruit expression and fine palate structure, balance and elegance,” Heath says. “Te Koko is an incredibly unique wine style that goes beyond the traditional concept of what New World Sauvignon Blanc can look like.” Located in the sun-drenched Wairau Valley at the northern tip of New Zealand’s South Island, Cloudy Bay was founded by Australian David Hohnen in 1985 and is now owned by French luxury brand Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. Hohnen named the winery after the moniker given to the seaside region (originally dubbed Te Koko o Kupe by Maori natives) by Captain James Cook during his 1770 expedition to New Zealand. Cloudy Bay’s coveted wines are shipped to more than 30 countries around the world, with its Sauvignon Blanc continuing to sell out vintage after vintage. The 1996 vintage of the Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc was ranked No. 7 on the Wine Spectator magazine’s 1997

Tim Heath

list of top 10 wines. Backed by such evidence, Heath dismisses the notion that white wines routinely get snubbed by aficionados and relegated to sultry weather sipping or as an accompaniment to fish or fowl. However, he encourages quaffers to move beyond aromas and flavors and explore the distinctive textures of such varietals as Chardonnay, Viognier and Gewürztraminer. “I think a truly serious wine drinker understands the complexity that white wine is able to offer,” he says. Whatever their level of grape devotion, all Members are invited to join Heath for an evening of white enlightenment. o Onuki is a Chicago-based freelance journalist.




A Family Affair by Wendi Onuki


lmost half a century ago, advertising virtuoso Louis Honig bought a sprawling Napa Valley ranch and planted it with Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Selling the fruit to local wineries, he dreamed of making his own wine. Honig died in 1977 before he could bottle his first vintage, but his family teamed up four years later to produce 500 cases of Louis Honig Sauvignon Blanc in an old tractor barn on the estate. The wine earned a first-place medal at the Orange County Fair, securing Honig’s legacy and a successful family business. In 1984, Michael Honig, Louis’ 22-year-old grandson, took the helm of the winery without any training and funneled his boundless energy into securing customers and nurturing the label into an award-winning phenomenon that continues to focus on the original grapes planted by his grandfather. “We only produce Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon because these are the two varietals that grow best in Rutherford,” says Stephanie Honig, Michael’s wife and head of the winery’s marketing and sales team. “Long ago, we decided that we would focus all of our energy on doing only two things and being the best at doing them.” Honig’s highly focused offerings include stainless steel- and oak-aged Sauvignon Blancs, a single-vineyard Cabernet and a late-harvest Sauvignon. Stephanie, 37, will showcase some of these toothsome family treasures, including a limited library wine, during a dinner at the Club later this month. Stephanie moved to Rutherford, in the heart of Napa Valley, six years ago and resides there with Michael and their three young children. “We live on the winery property, so our personal lives and our business lives are highly intertwined,” she says. “Ironically, the most challenging aspect is balancing family time and business

needs, since the demands of the winery can keep you working 24 hours a day and seven days a week.” The Pennsylvania native grew up in Argentina and cultivated an interest in wine at Florida International University, where she majored in hospitality management. She began importing her own wine brand, Sagta, from Argentina in 2006, but discontinued it this year to focus on her family and the Honig business. “Sagta was a wonderful wine project and I really enjoyed it, but Honig is our family’s land and legacy,” she says. Part of that legacy includes charitable donations, political events and sustainable farming and winemaking practices. Those environmentally sound initiatives include the exclusive use of solar power at the winery and their home, bottling the wine in lightweight glass, adding beehives and boxes for blue birds and barn owls to the property and training dogs to sniff out bugs in the vineyards. With its well-rounded spirit and sublime wines, Honig has flourished from a grandfather’s unfettered dream into a bustling family enterprise that would, no doubt, make him proud. o Onuki is a Chicago-based freelance journalist.

Stephanie Honig

Honig Wine Dinner with Stephanie Honig Tuesday, June 26 7 p.m. New York Dining Bridge ¥14,000 Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk

Club wining and dining 9



Suds Showdown by Mark Baxter


raft beer in the United States continues to ride a wave of popularity, but it’s not the first time. As waves of immigrants—and beer lovers—arrived from Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the number of breweries surged, reaching more than 3,000 at one point. These breweries were generally smaller, local enterprises and similar to the craft beer makers of today. Using recipes from the old country, the brewers made beer they knew and loved. This flourishing industry wasn’t to last, however. During the Prohibition years of the 1920s and early 1930s, the vast majority of these breweries shut down. While the beer industry recovered quickly after the law was changed, production was concentrated among a smaller number of breweries—around 700 or so. Additionally, the proud traditions of producing a wide variety of beer styles fell by the wayside as breweries opted to make bland, easy-toconsume lager. As competition was ramped up, the number of breweries continued to dwindle.

10 June 2012 iNTOUCH

The 1980s, however, saw the reemergence of craft beer. This new generation of producers took their cue from traditional European beer-making methods, but their experimenting resulted in beers with unique characteristics. This resurgence has led to growing numbers of craft beer devotees, breweries and bars. But how do today’s craft beers stack up against their Old World predecessors? Find out at a sampling with a difference this month, as a selection of newcomers are pitted against a clutch of European brews in a blind tasting. Each flight will consist of two beers of a particular style and attendees will have to identify the origin of each beer. After the answers are revealed and the beers introduced, imbibers will be free to mingle, nibble on appetizers and further sample the fermented wares. o Baxter is chair of the Wine Committee.

Head-to-Head Beer Tasting Wednesday, June 27 7 p.m. Washington and Lincoln rooms ¥6,500 Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk


food &



erhaps best known for its almost religious devotion to the sport of rugby, majestic mountainous landscapes and abundance of sheep, New Zealand is also a gourmand’s paradise. With fertile soils and lush pastureland that produce world-class Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir and succulent lamb and beef, the land of the long white cloud is a natural choice to be included in Decanter’s Decanted! series of special themed dinners of premium cuisine and wine. Running from the final Monday of each month for a week until the end of the year, Decanted! will offer diners four courses of adventurous food, exquisitely crafted by Decanter chef David Ueno and enhanced by a selection of wines from the Club’s impressive collection of more than 25,000 bottles. “We change our theme each month to highlight and expose more of our wine,” says Ashley Thredgold, manager of the Club’s signature dining spot. “Of course, we want David’s food to complement that and bring it up to the level of ethereal.” This month, Decanter shines a light on the home of the mighty All Blacks rugby team. “It’ll be a journey of discovery of both New Zealand wine and food and of Decanter as well,” says Australian Thredgold of a menu that will include Sauvignon Blanc mussels, prosciutto-wrapped venison and lamb chops. Accompanying this culinary tour de force will be an array of wines from some of the country’s best makers, namely Central Otago’s Felton Road, Gimblett Gravels of Hawkes Bay and Cloudy Bay, the Marlborough-based winery renowned the world over for its award-winning Sauvignon Blanc. (Turn to page 8 for details of the Cloudy Bay Wine Dinner at the Club this month.) With Decanted! set to showcase the fine food and wine of Australia and California over the summer, Thredgold says that particularly popular dishes could make a return. “If some of these are hits with the crowd, they might be [included] in the main menu as well,” he says. Thredgold says that he hopes that this special series of dinners will highlight Decanter’s extraordinary cuisine and variety of wine to more people, even if they just want to do business in a unique setting. “We can give them some fantastic food and wine and something special while giving them the privacy and time to focus on what they want to do,” he says. o Decanter welcomes families with children 8 years old and above on Saturday evenings. Book your table at 03-4588-0675 or

Matches Made in Heaven by Nick Jones

Decanted! Wines from the Land of the Great White Cloud June 25–30 Australian Surf ’n’ Turf July 30–August 4 California Dreamin’ August 27–September 1 Reserve your table at 03-4588-0675 or

Club wining and dining 11

The Long and I Winding Road What motivates somebody to travel the length of the Japanese archipelago—on foot? iNTOUCH finds out.

n May 2001, British writer Mary King and her Japanese partner, Etsuko Shimabukuro, headed south from Cape Soya, the northernmost tip of Japan. Fifteen months later, on Yonaguni, Japan’s westernmost island, they stopped walking. They had covered 7,500 kilometers on foot. Through her book, Japan on Foot, the well-traveled King relives the couple’s odyssey while offering a fascinating insight into various aspects of local Japanese culture and the lives of characters met along the way, including strippers, hunters, farmers, pilgrims, Ainu, a shaman and a Christian yakuza gangster. Almost a decade after completing the journey, King reflects on the life-changing expedition. How did the idea for the journey come about? In Japan, I was travel editor at the Asahi Evening News and got to travel a lot of Japan, but it was always by plane, train, boat or bus, and I felt I was missing something. I wanted to join the dots together and feel Japan stepby-step, as it had been my home for more than a decade. The walk was also inspired by Ino Tadataka, the Edo-period cartographer who drew Japan’s first maps using Western scientific methods. I also wanted a fresh challenge in my work as a travel writer; I wanted to write a book. How did you fund the trip? I earned money by writing from the road, but the walk was also supported by substantial savings. It cost a fortune and I would rather not think about the cost of it!

12 June 2012 iNTOUCH


What were the biggest challenges of the trip? Meeting bears twice on the road in Hokkaido and Japan’s crazy drivers. We almost got killed numerous times. We also walked through all weather: snow, torrential rain and extreme heat. I was hallucinating and seeing mirages while walking [in] Kyushu and Okinawa in the summer heat. Also, finding a place to sleep was sometimes a challenge, especially in Hokkaido where we had to cover some vast distances over mountain roads on a daily basis.

laptops and lots of camera equipment. But once we found luggage trolleys, we were saved. Despite getting shin splints, I never thought to give up after we had the luggage trolleys. How physically challenging was the journey? For me, it was quite challenging. I

How much preparation did you do? We walked around the Izu Peninsula twice prior to setting off on the trip, mainly to check the weight of our bags and see if it was feasible to walk and carry the weight up and over mountain roads for 30 kilometers or more a day. But preparation never really prepares you for the real thing over a much longer period of time. How did it feel to take those final steps in Yonaguni? Actually, by the time we reached Kyushu, I was quite sad—I think we both were—because it had been such a fantastic experience and now it would soon be over. We wanted to turn back and start all over again. Getting to Yonaguni made me feel that I wanted to walk back to Tokyo, but Etsuko had to put her foot down and insist that we had achieved what we had set out to do, which was to walk our zigzag route from Cape Soya, Hokkaido, to Yonaguni Island, Okinawa.

What was the highlight? The scenery, the nature, meeting wonderful people and really feeling like I got under the skin of the culture. Meetings with the buraku [minority] communities in Nagasaki and Hiroshima are particularly memorable, as well as meeting with the Ainu in Hokkaido. Then there are the amazing people I interviewed, like a scientist who plans to resurrect the woolly mammoth and a geologist who says ruins lying off Yonaguni Island are those of a lost civilization and one that predates Egypt. What was the low point? The cold, the rain and some of the long, long days of walking along dark roads where the traffic was terrifying. Mary King

Did you ever consider giving up? I thought we would have to give up after about three weeks on the road because our bags were way too heavy to carry. We were using them as mini offices so that we could report from the road, so we were carrying

me, so for her it was less of a physical and mental challenge.

turned 40 and 41 on the road, so I was no spring chicken. Also, I was not Miss Super Fitness. At that time, I smoked two packs of cigarettes a day and I drank a fair bit, too. Etsuko was much stronger than

Would you do the trip again? Certainly! I would love to because there are interviews I would still like to do, other places I would like to take in and people I would love to meet. It is possible that I will walk other countries, too. I’m presently researching, but the destination is top secret. o Japan on Foot

Literary gems at the Library 13

off the


Inspiring Words


he Club’s inaugural Get Creative! Young Author Writing Contest was won by 13-year-old Billy Fujii. Entrants, ages 12 to 18, had to write between 400 and 600 words on an inspiring book that they had read. Billy’s winning piece about Margi Preus’ Heart of a Samurai was selected from among four entries, which can all be viewed on the Library bulletin board. Besides having his essay published below, he received a ¥5,000 Apple Store voucher. “Billy’s submission is both technically and creatively outstanding,” says Melanie Chetley, chair of the Library Committee. “His maturity of language, vocabulary and presentation are remarkable, and if Billy chooses writing as a profession, I am sure we will see his name in print many times in the future.”

Heart of a Samurai by Billy Fujii

Heart of a Samurai is based on a true story about a young boy named Manjiro. In January 1841 (year of the ox), off the coast of Shikoku, Japan, four fishermen and Manjiro were searching for fish to provide for their hungry families. Just as luck began to come their way, a powerful storm crossed their path. Eventually, the fishermen reached a remote island where they faced harsh living conditions, such as lack of fresh water. The four fishermen lost hope of survival, but Manjiro continued to be brave like a samurai. From an early age, Manjiro always wished to be a samurai, but since this was still the Edo period (250 years of isolation), it was absurd to think that an individual would move up a social-class rank. Luck had finally returned to the five fishermen and they were saved by a whaleboat controlled by Captain Whitefield, a foreigner. During the Edo period, if a Japanese person were to interact with the barbarians (foreigners), it would be considered impure, and he would be sentenced to death. Terrified, the four fishermen barely even communicated with the foreigners, but Manjiro was ambitious to learn about this new community and asked many questions. Over the years, Manjiro’s name was changed to John Mung and he became erudite in Western civilization and sciences. Leaving his fellow fishermen behind, John traveled on the whaleboat to the new place called America. 14 June 2012 iNTOUCH

Billy Fujii

In New Bedford, Massachusetts, John Mung lived with Captain Whitefield and learned the culture and different ideas from America. In this new world, John faced many hardships and adversities to reach his long-term goal of going back to Japan. This book has inspired me to learn about the many different cultures throughout the world and to be open to other people’s ideas. If I were to adopt these different ways of thinking, I could apply these ideas to make whole new combined thoughts. I like this book because it was compelling to read how Manjiro reacted to the new society and how he was able to overcome his struggles. This book exhilarated me because of all the different backgrounds of each individual character and how these characters were able to connect and interact with one another. The juxtaposition of tradition versus modern thinking was exciting to me. I enjoyed the conflicts that these new ideas created and caused Manjiro to make critical decisions that had a dramatic impact on his life. I recommend this book to all ages, since it is a valuable and memorable story that should be remembered for a lifetime. John Manjiro was one of the key heroes in the transformation of Japan from an inward-looking society to a major player on the global stage. Manjiro teaches that it is fine to challenge tradition and rules. He encourages one to be ambitious and courageous. Finally, Manjiro instills in one the power and importance of curiosity and youth. This is one of the best and most fun ways to learn about essential Japanese history. o



reads Drawing from Memory by Allen Say

Come Home by Lisa Scottoline

The author of many beautiful picture books, Say’s graphic novel about growing up is wonderful. His journey involved being shunned by a father who didn’t understand his artistic dreams and pursuing a career as an illustrator under Japan’s leading cartoonist during World War II.

Jill Farrow has finally gotten her life back on track after an emotional divorce. But everything is turned upside down when her ex-stepdaughter suddenly shows up claiming that her father, Jill’s ex-husband, was murdered. As Jill digs a little, she realizes that she is in danger of losing her new life.

The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection by Alexander McCall Smith

Girl Land by Caitlin Flanagan

The sleuths at the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency in Botswana are in a bind: Precious Ramotswe is haunted by a recurring dream, Grace Makutsi and Phuti Radiphutiand are building the house of their dreams and Mma Potokwane, the orphan farm matron, has been fired.

Boys. Other girls. Dating. These are milestones in every girl’s life. But how have they changed over the years? While girls might view and experience the transition to womanhood differently nowadays, Flanagan says the biological and cultural landmarks remain surprisingly consistent.

Sacré Bleu by Christopher Moore

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

For his newest book Moore takes on the French masters in this part mystery, part historical text, part love story that sees baker-turned-painter Lucien Lessard join Henri ToulouseLautrec on a quest to unravel the mystery behind the supposed suicide of their friend Vincent van Gogh.

Former newspaper reporter Duhigg studies how habits affect our everyday lives and how marketers analyze these to find more innovative ways to sell. Such was the case with a product called Febreze, which was set to flop until one researcher watching videos of people making beds noticed something.

Reviews compiled by librarian Erica Kawamura.

member’s choice Member: Hikaru Hayashi Title: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

What’s the book about? It’s about the adventures of Huck and the runaway slave, Jim, as they travel by raft on the Mississippi River to help Jim become a free man. It is also about slavery, freedom and history in the mid-1800s in the United States.

What did you like about it? I liked this book because it taught me about how slavery affected the US, what it was like to live back then and how the people talked. You should read this book aloud with your parents because it will help you understand its true magic.

Why did you choose it? I chose this book because I wanted to learn about what it was like to live during that time. I also chose it because it’s a classic book by one of the best-known authors in US history. History comes alive in this book.

What other book(s) would you recommend? Other books I would recommend are The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, also by Mark Twain, all of Graham Salisbury’s books, especially Under the Blood-Red Sun, and Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne.

Literary gems at the Library 15



Pictures of Paradise


hen the fearless surfer rides into the towering wave on Hawaii’s North Shore, she isn’t prepared for what happens next. Wiping out where waves can reach more than 15 meters, Anne Marie nearly dies. Standing on that shore years later as a contestant in a surfing competition, she needs encouragement to take on the sea. “And when I tell you to go, you gotta go,” her friend says. “You gotta paddle your little heart out. You can’t hesitate, you can’t pull back, you can’t hold back. No fear.” Blue Crush (2002), starring Kate Bosworth

as Anne Marie, has come to epitomize movies inspired by the lifestyles of the tanned surfers who call America’s Hawaiian islands home. But this flick is no easy Endless Summer (1966), says famous film critic Roger Ebert. “Of course, the movie ends with the big showdown, with waves of awesome strength and feats of great surfing, with all the necessary dangers and setbacks. Even here, it doesn’t settle for what we thought was the predictable outcome.” While you’re pondering what that is, check out our Club critics’ picks for the best movie set in Hawaii. o

“Set amid the beautiful backdrop of Hawaii and carried along by popular Hawaiian music, 50 First Dates (2004) is a lighthearted and sweet comedy. Henry (Adam Sandler) plays a veterinarian who romances vacationing women. Then he meets Lucy (Drew Barrymore), a local girl who suffers from short-term memory loss and forgets their encounters each day. Sandler and Barrymore, who worked together in The Wedding Singer, bring out the best in each other. This movie is funny, clever and romantic, and Sandler’s performance is warm as he tries to win Barrymore’s heart each day. Other entertaining cast members include the kissblowing sea lions, the miniature penguin, the walrus and the dolphins. If you’re looking for a fun date movie in paradise, this is it.”

“Disney’s Lilo & Stitch (2002) picks up on local Hawaiian life and culture instead of relying upon majestic shots of the mountains or the beach. About an alien that flees to Hawaii where he is rescued by a little girl and learns how to impersonate Elvis, it’s definitely one of Disney’s stranger movies. But, in typical Disney fashion, it deals with friendship and family values and has a happy ending. The concept of ohana, or family—and not necessarily restricted to blood relatives—is the movie’s main message. The glimpses of Hawaiian life through the various characters and food and the use of locally born voice actors all bolster the movie’s authenticity.”


Best Hawaii-set movie: 50 First Dates

Best Hawaii-set movie: Lilo & Stitch

Club critic: Roni Ohara

Club critic: Diane Harris

Club critic: David Fujii

“The Descendants is an easy way to understand Hawaii and possibly the best movie about the 50th state. Playing Matt King, a Honolulu-based lawyer, George Clooney convincingly tackles all the local issues: race, money, lifestyle differences and the question of who ultimately decides the fate of the islands. While Clooney can’t really pass for Hawaiian born and raised, that’s what makes his character so believable. Well aware of his heritage, King hurtles from one family crisis to another, eventually reaching a defining decision. Even if you don’t understand Hawaiian, the love of the land and its beauty is evident in the well-chosen soundtrack. The final song is in English, but don’t let that fool you. This, too, is Hawaiian when applied to the context of the culture.” Best Hawaii-set movie: The

All titles mentioned are either available at the DVD Library or on order.

16 June 2012 iNTOUCH

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


The Artist A well-scripted, charming silent movie, with great performances by Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo. Reminiscent of Singin’ in the Rain, particularly as Dujardin resembles Gene Kelly, the story is simple and humorous, with endearing and sad moments. The movie’s dog, Uggie, is too cute and should have picked up an Oscar, too!

give it a go


This black-and-white flick about a silent movie superstar, George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), who grows increasingly concerned about his career with the advent of the talkie, is wonderfully done, and Dujardin’s Oscar for best actor is well deserved. But, in fact, the film’s best actor is the dog!



Late Bloomers Solid acting by William Hurt and Isabella Rossellini make this film worth the watch. The story is straightforward (the title says it all) and, although it could have been better paced, I can see how the audience may relate to the issues of aging that form the basis of a good drama.

In this romantic comedy, Isabella Rossellini and William Hurt play a London-based couple whose 30-year marriage is beginning to falter as both of them deal with aging in different ways. Frankly, I wish the movie’s focus could have been on the positive aspects of getting old.

The Iron Lady Another spectacular performance by Oscar winner Meryl Streep in the lead role. Her performance lifts a movie that doesn’t really deal with the struggles Margaret Thatcher had to overcome during her time in office. Alexandra Roach and Harry Lloyd, the actors who play the young Thatchers, are brilliant.

In her performance as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Meryl Streep is just awesome. The movie itself, though, about one of the 20th century’s most famous and influential women, isn’t anything special. Jim Broadbent plays her husband, Denis.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows A very funny Robert Downey Jr is just stunning as Sherlock Holmes. While some of the action scenes are boring, with too much slow motion, and the appearance of Dr Watson’s wife seems totally irrelevant, the movie is simply a great piece of comedic entertainment.

A witty, fast-paced and enjoyable follow-up to director Guy Ritchie’s 2009 Sherlock Holmes film. The great mix of drama, comedy and action sees Holmes (Robert Downey Jr ) and Dr Watson (Jude Law) pit their wits against the great Professor Moriarty.








Albert Nobbs Posing as a man so she can work as a butler at Dublin’s premier hotel, Albert Nobbs (Glenn Close) is forced to make a choice that could see her lose everything she has worked for 30 years to build. This quirky romance explores the role of women in 19thcentury Ireland.


Memorial Day When 13-year-old Kyle finds his grandfather’s World War II footlocker, he convinces him to share the stories of the keepsakes inside, opening the door to his grandfather’s wartime past and his yet unknown combat future. A coming-of-age tale with a twist.

The Vow After a car accident puts newlywed Paige (Rachel McAdams) in a coma, she awakes with memory loss so severe that she doesn’t know her husband, Leo (Channing Tatum). Determined to make her fall in love with him again, he sets about courting her as if for the first time.



other new titles...

One for the Money America loves a Jersey girl, but, unfortunately, for divorcée Stephanie Plum (Katherine Heigl), her boss doesn’t. Newly fired and broke, she becomes a bounty hunter for her cousin’s unsuccessful bail bonds business, only to find herself hunting an old flame.

Red Tails Fighting Nazis in the air and racism on the ground, a band of resolute African-American airmen embark on a high-flying battle of force and wills. Loosely based on a true story, this World War II flick stars Cuba Gooding Jr.

This Means War Madly in love with the same sexy siren (Reese Witherspoon), two best-friend CIA agents compete for her affections by doing what they do best: sabotaging, spying and playing dirty. Expect more Hollywood flair than the Cartagena scandal.

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

TV and film selections 17

Squash Spectacle by Nick Jones

Chinatsu Matsui

18 June 2012 iNTOUCH

Yuuki Ide


or three days next month, a cacophony of thwacks and squeaks of rubber, punctuated by the sound of applause, will reverberate through the corridors of the Club’s second floor. The source of the noise will be the three Squash Courts and the event will be the annual TAC Premier Classic squash tournament. Now in its third year, the open competition attracts around 150 male and female professional players from across Japan. With a total prize purse of ¥350,000, the tournament draws the country’s best, explains Martin Fluck, chair of the Squash Committee. “Last year, we had eight of the top 10 men’s players and nine of the top 10 female players,” he says. “It’s also very well respected by the Japan Squash Association.” The competition isn’t merely a showcase of professional squash talent, though. Club players, who are keen to take on the challenge,

RECREATION can enter, while the Friendship Tournament is an amateur contest that is hosted at the same time. Fluck, 53, played in both events. Naturally, the Premier Classic proved the tougher test. “My opponent was about 19 or

squash in Chiba Prefecture in July and a two-day tournament at the Club against Hong Kong Cricket Club in October. “We want to continue to promote more squash events,” says Recreation Director Scott Yahiro. “This year, the committee has been amazing in planning so many events, all of which have been very well attended.” Fluck, who spent the first 10 years of his life in Kobe, first encountered squash as a young man in his native Switzerland. He played irregularly over the years but has been darting around the court at least three times a week since joining the Club six years ago. “You really have to think when you play,” he says of why he loves the sport. “It’s a fast game, you burn a lot of calories in 45 minutes and it’s never the same— every game, every partner and every play is different. The variety is amazing. I’m never bored.” o

With the Azabudai facility set to host the TAC Premier Classic for the third consecutive year next month, the future of squash at the Club is looking bright. 20 years old…and he beat me easily,” he says. “It’s an amazing level they play, even in the first round. It was fun.” The success of the Premier Classic over a relatively short period of time has prompted Fluck and his fellow tournament organizers to consider expanding it even further. “We were hoping to make it international this year and bring in like the top 10 or top 20 players in Asia, but you need much higher prize money, so you need more sponsors,” he says. “We thought we would postpone that idea until next year.” The three-day squash spectacle is just one example of how the sport is experiencing a resurgence of activity at the Club. Last year, the committee kicked off the Squash Team Challenge, which saw five teams of five players battle it out over five weeks. “We did this because we wanted to create a more social atmosphere,” Fluck says. “It was so successful that we want to do it twice a year.” In fact, the final of the most recent competition takes place on June 20. The social aspect of the game at the Club is something Fluck is keen to grow. Since courts are booked in 45-minute slots, people tend to arrive, play and leave. There is little of the bonding that goes on during a round of golf, for example. And it’s the Club’s golf fraternity that squash should emulate, according to Fluck. “I hear the Golf Group is very active and has three or four events a year, besides the golf,” he says. “On that kind of stuff, we’re still lagging behind. We want to have more social events.” Besides a casual evening of squash and mingling on the last Tuesday evening of each month, which Fluck encourages novice and seasoned players alike to attend, the committee is organizing a fun weekend of

To find out more about squash at the Club, visit the Health & Recreation section of the Club website.

Martin Fluck

Squash Team Challenge June 20 TAC Premier Classic July 13–15 TAC Handicap Tournament September 7–9 TAC vs Hong Kong Cricket Club October 6–7

Fitness and well-being 19

Take the Plunge




et the most out of the water this summer by diving into the Sky Pool for intensive two-week swim classes. Divided into six levels, the sessions teach children everything from basic water safety to stroke technique. o

Kids’ Summer Swim Program Session 1: June 18–28 Session 2: July 2–12 Session 3: July 23–Aug 2 Sign up online or at the Sky Pool Office For more information, contact the Sky Pool Office at

Tap Your Talent Budding artists learn about colors, shapes, art materials and tools while using their imaginations to make creative keepsakes. Creative Kids Summer Art Class Session I: July 13–27 (every Friday) Session II: August 3–17 (every Friday) Little Artist: 3:45–4:45 p.m. Advanced Studio: 5–6:15 p.m. ¥9,450 Sign up online or at the Recreation Desk

class focus Dynamic Hip-Hop Dance for Kids Whether it was DJ Hollywood or Keith Cowboy of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, the lyrical genius who coined the term “hip-hop” in the 1970s was at the forefront of an urban subculture that has since gone global. Now, Club youngsters can pop, lock, break and shake to the hottest music while they develop rhythm and express their unique personalities through freestyle dance. Classes run every Tuesday (3:30–4:30 p.m.) as part of the Summer All-Star Sports program (see opposite page for details). Sign up online or at the Recreation Desk.

Takeshi Hirata

The Instructor An experienced performer, Takeshi Hirata has been dancing to the latest Latin, house and hip-hop beats for more than 12 years and has graced stages in the United States and Japan, where he introduces the athletic art to kids at the Club.

Christopher Hathaway

The Student “I like the feeling when I dance. I learned many cool [moves] in class and my goal is to become a good dancer. I practice at home whenever I feel like dancing. I also like the instructors who are nice and fun.”

20 June 2012 iNTOUCH


Sports for All

Summers of Fun

Hip-Wiggling Workout

Energetic kids ages 6 through 12 enjoy a packed weekly schedule of sports, including soccer, basketball, gymnastics, badminton and hip-hop dance.

Keep boredom at bay this summer with a healthy dose of Camp Discovery, an activity-packed program of weeklong sessions of sports, crafts, music, games and field trips for ages 6 to 12.

Revisit a favorite recess pastime during a HulaHoop dance fitness class that is designed to blast calories and tone the body using weighted exercise hoops. Think playground meets sweat-inducing workout.

Summer All-Star Sports June 18–August 17 (weekdays) 3:30–4:30 p.m. Gymnasium Member: ¥13,125 per weekly session Non-Member: ¥14,440 per weekly session Sign up online or at the Recreation Desk

Youngsters ages 3 through 5 can share in the merriment with Camp Discovery for Preschoolers. Camp Discovery June 18–August 17 ¥37,800 (¥34,650 for preschoolers) For more information, visit the Health & Recreation section of the Club website or contact Reina Collins at

Hula-Hoop Every Wednesday 10–11 a.m. ¥9,450 (based on four classes a month) Sign up online or at the Recreation Desk

Father’s Day Spa Specials Say thank you to Dad this month by helping him unwind with one of The Spa’s rejuvenating treatment packages for Father’s Day. Wives who buy a gift certificate for one of the packages below will receive a certificate for a complimentary 30-minute massage. The Prince (¥11,550) 75-minute Deep-Tissue Massage. The King (¥14,700) 60-minute Gentleman’s Refresher and 30-minute DeepTissue Massage. The Emperor (¥15,750) 60-minute Swedish Massage and 45-minute Man’s Manicure.

Tel: 03-4588-0714


Fitness and well-being 21

Creature Comfor t s Words by Erika Woodward Photos by Kayo Yamawaki

W i th in c re as in g num b e rs of s e niors , s ingl es a nd s m alle r familie s , Ja p a n’ s s hrin k in g p op ulat ion i s cho o s in g to s h ow e r it s p ets w i t h affe ct ion — a n d m on ey.


n the exclusive residential hills of Tokyo’s Daikanyama neighborhood is an elite boutique for a certain breed of specialty shopper. Ushered by an assistant through a marble lobby to the by-appointment-only haven, clients replace their shoes for silver sequined slippers before sashaying among dazzling displays of ¥150,000 leather restraints and other items. “This collar and leash are lizard,” says Amu Takahashi, pointing to a red one with a solid gold clasp. “We also have diamond attachments for ¥40,000.” But price is of little issue for the VIPs who spend up to ¥300,000 a month at Merida salon—outfitting their dogs.

22 June 2012 iNTOUCH

“Now I’m used to seeing that kind of customer, but at first I didn’t imagine there would be customers like that,” says owner Emika Suzuki, 37, who opened Merida in 2006 as an alternative to cluttered pet stores after quitting her corporate job. “They treat their dogs like children—they’re dressed up and spoiled.” Doting on a pet is filling a void for an increasing number of adults who live alone, whether they’re singles deferring or rejecting marriage in favor of career or lifestyle pursuits, or couples choosing to remain childless as education and childcare costs rise. In Japan, this trend is particularly pronounced. According to a government report released last month, 2011 saw a record-low

Maria Bromley and Yuki

Creature Comforts 23

number of births in Japan, while the number of children under 15 dropped for the 31st straight year. “In the case of dog ownership, it became more fashionable,” said pet industry executive Iwan Tamm of the country’s pet boom in an interview with iNTOUCH in 2010. “And I think the overall reduction in the number of kids per household, the role a pet plays of replacing a child and for companionship for an aging population is also another dynamic that is driving pet ownership.” In fact, Japanese pet owners are more likely than their Korean and Chinese counterparts to consider their pets as children or grandchildren, reported market research company Interface Asia recently. By extension, these owners are taking on the role of parents and some are giving in to parental impulses to provide their “children” with the best of everything. Suzuki admits that she’s simply indulgent with her “second daughter,” Biffi, with whom she plays dress up, lounges at Starbucks and goes for walks in the park. Unlike her 11-year-old son, Biffi fits neatly into a designer carry bag, such as Merida’s best-selling Trip to Paradise, and enjoys posing for photos in pink dresses with large “Sex and the City”-inspired flower accents. “I treat Biffi like my baby,” Suzuki says of her long-haired Chihuahua. “I have to call her ‘my dog’ sometimes to remind me that she’s my dog.” She’s not alone. When it comes to mothering her twin poodles, Wendy Lee certainly does. She hopped on a four-hour flight from her home in Hong Kong in April to browse Merida’s springsummer collection. “I like to touch and feel to see whether it’s very good or not,” she says, her eyes set on a display of Swarovski crystal-adorned collars. “Actually, I have more than 10 at home. I want my doggy to be very pretty, just like a princess.” (Or a bride, as the case may be for those who fancy Merida’s hand-beaded wedding dresses.) Walking through Arisugawa Park on a midweek afternoon in April, Club Member Maria Bromley, 50, commands attention, not only for her confident demeanor and 175-centimeter-tall frame, but for her big dog that’s strutting around—naked. Forget the spring dress and bow sported by a nearby prancing Chihuahua, Bromley’s white golden retriever isn’t even wearing a glitzy collar. “This is her only one,” says the Canadian, adjusting the plain pink leather band around 3-year-old Yuki’s neck. “I picked it up at an airport somewhere.” Asked why she doesn’t spring for extras for Yuki, Bromley is candid in her response: “She’s a dog.” Pet owners in Japan are proving a powerful economic force. As of 2011, the growth rate for pet product sales in the Asia Pacific region “far outpaces annual GDP growth in those countries,” according to market research firm Euromonitor International. Leading the pack as the second-largest pet market in the world behind the United States, Japan shelled out ¥140 billion for its pets last year, according to the Japan Pet Products Manufacturing Association. “I think maybe dogs [here] are more of an accessory,” says Bromley. “I guess at home in Canada we have bigger yards and bigger dogs and it’s not as much of a ‘carrying-the-dog’ culture.” Eric Weber, founder of the pet food producer Pet Play, posits that the nation’s penchant for small dogs explains why its pets are so readily pampered. Around 80 percent of pet dogs in Japan are smaller breeds, largely due to Japan’s tighter living quarters. In contrast, about 80 percent of canines are medium-sized to large in the US. “Small dogs, miniature and toy, are doted upon more than medium-large-size dogs are,” the Club Member says. “They are small Caesars in many regards in the households they live in. While medium-large dogs in the US are family members, they 24 June 2012 iNTOUCH


“I wa nt my doggy to b e very pretty, jus t like a princes s .”


Creature Comforts 25

“ M y wow mome n t was… a s ection of th e s hop dedic a te d to an oxygen ba r for pets .” Akiko Shibanai

26 June 2012 iNTOUCH

FEATURE are not doted upon the way small dogs are worldwide and especially in Japan.” Owners pushing dogs in strollers would be one obvious example of this pampering in Japan. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” Weber says of the first time he witnessed the fad. From wheels to designer duds, home cooked meals and, when necessary, even chemotherapy treatments, pets here get it all. “They say, ‘We like to do everything for our pet, we want all the information, because they are my family,’” says Club Member and veterinarian Akiko Shibanai of the owners she encounters at Akasaka Animal Hospital. Sitting in her examination room one midweek evening, Shibanai, 48, explains that a growing number of her clients whip up homemade meals for their pets, a favorite dish being boiled chicken that has been lightly crisped. But she cautions owners that providing pets with the same kind of nutrition that is offered by today’s vitamin-fortified packaged foods takes study and dedication. “It’s best to just spend that time playing with the dog,” she says. Over the course of an hour, as patients are brought in for checkups (one even wears a diaper), it becomes clear that Shibanai could be fighting an uphill battle. “Maybe Western families are more pragmatic,” she says. “If I explain about the benefit of dog food for the diet, they say ‘OK.’ The Japanese [families] will say, ‘I see, but I like to make the food myself.’” Club Member Joy Klemencic, who is general manager of Hill’s Pet Nutrition Japan, says that as in the US, gourmet and specialty foods are growing in popularity in Japan. “[Owners] prefer a variety of food textures and flavors, with fish being very popular, most likely due to Japanese people’s own diet,” she says. As owners work to extend their pets’ lives, she adds, “They are also increasingly turning to senior life-stage foods.” Think eats like anti-aging treats that coax shiny coats. An owner of two 15-year-old cats, Klemencic says she’s impressed by the lengths to which people go to keep their pets healthy and happy. “My wow moment was when I went into a pet store [in Tokyo] and saw they had a section of the shop dedicated to an oxygen bar for pets,” she says. “The cost was equivalent to about $75 an hour and there was a waiting list of people with their pets to use this.” Curious, she asked a woman in the waiting room why she was there. “She said her pets had been lethargic so she wanted the oxygen treatment to boost their energy and well-being,” she says. When an illness like cancer strikes, veterinarian Shibanai says that it’s common for people to request chemotherapy for their pets. “They do that if they can extend their life by two or three more years,” she says. For those elderly pets who need round-the-clock care, Soladi Nursing Home in Tochigi helps animals through old age, with veterinarians watching over them 24/7. Opened in 2007, the home is the first of its kind in the world. Some doting owners extend their demonstrations of love beyond pets’ deaths as well. Increasingly, they are calling on services that cremate pets at home or send Buddhist priests to pray over the dearly departed. But showering four-legged friends with luxuries—in life and death—is not the only measure of love. “I pamper her with affection,” says Bromley as she bends down to pet Yuki, who appears oblivious to the gossamer-wrapped miniatures around her. “I let my dog on the bed, but not in the sheets.” Fair enough. Every pet owner has to draw the line somewhere. o

Par t -Time Pet s by Erika Woodward

In a country where long work hours and bans on pets in apartments are the norm, more than ever people are renting pets for a little parttime affection. For a fee, couples take dogs for strolls in the park or singles slide into cat cafés, where they pet free-roaming felines. The no-hassle way to enjoy animal companionship, pet rental companies number in the hundreds in Tokyo alone. It’s about filling a void. Due to smaller living spaces and other restrictions, says pet industry executive Joy Klemencic, “the desire to own a pet here in Japan is double the current pet ownership level.” For that reason, the fad may not reach overseas. “I don’t see this trend becoming popular in the US where pet ownership is higher overall and more ingrained,” says pet food company president Eric Weber. “The concept of owning a pet for a few hours at a time is novel and certainly a difference between US and Japanese consumers.” At Candy pet shop in Yokohama, many patrons rent dogs on weekends for a few hours of sightseeing. “Most of the users are people who cannot have pets at home, but they still want to walk around with the dogs,” says a store employee. “Some customers take [them] to Yamashita Park, which is a popular park in Yokohama, or take the dogs for a drive.” But while being shuffled about from foster parent to foster parent, animals may experience higher levels of stress, according to veterinarian Akiko Shibanai. “If you went to another family suddenly, you would be afraid or very worried about the situation,” she says. That can cause some embarrassing—and smelly—situations. “Because the rental dogs are young, small dogs, when the environment changes, they tend to urinate anywhere, which becomes a problem, especially when they’re at home,” says the store assistant. And these brief trysts often fall short of passing on to renters the health benefits of pet ownership, such as decreased stress and elevated moods. “We want to keep the human-animal bond,” Shibanai says. “At this time, I don’t recommend [renting].” Selling time with some rather untraditional companions, a handful of new pet cafés have emerged in the midst of the part-time pet boom. At Usagi Cafe Ohisama in Nagoya, patrons choose from about 30 rabbits to pet and play with. For those who aren’t only fans of the furry, Yokohama Subtropical Tea serves up drinks and snacks alongside aquariums housing such exotic creatures as lizards and tortoises. But a new law, which bans the display of animals after 8 p.m., when many clients frequent the cafés, threatens to curtail these novel pet sanctuaries. Animal rights activists, who argue that the cafés and pet shops are exploitative, praise the law for targeting places that house animals in lit display windows late into the evening. There are alternatives. Shibanai encourages animal lovers to support licensed programs, such as the Companion Animal Partnership Program, that introduce animals to children and provide pet therapy to the elderly and disabled. Or, she says, people could consider reserving their affections for a pet they’re able to take home—for good. “Little by little, [apartments] are allowing animals, so that’s a very good change.” o

Creature Comforts 27

The Future of Japan’s Fourth Estate L

ast year’s crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant drew legions of journalists and television news networks to Japan from abroad. Besides revealing to the world the cozy ties between politicians, bureaucrats and the operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), the disaster shone a light on the role of the media in Japanese society. While there were many disapproving voices of the sensationalist reporting of Fukushima by some Western newspapers and broadcasters, many Japanese were critical of the timid questioning of officials by local journalists. Some experts have blamed Japan’s system of exclusive press, or kisha, clubs, which are attached to all government agencies, institutions, political parties and businesses. Taro Kimura is a veteran journalist and broadcaster who works as a senior news analyst for Fuji TV and writes a weekly column for the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper. iNTOUCH’s Nick Jones sat down with the Club Member to discuss Japan’s media landscape. Excerpts: iNTOUCH: How well have the traditional media in Japan adapted to the digital age and the Internet?

they have lost ad revenue, as have TV [companies]. They’re losing their share of the advertising pie to the web.

Kimura: To tell you the truth, they would rather this hadn’t happened, but they have to cope with this. They are doing the minimum they need to do.

iNTOUCH: Should the traditional media be doing more on the Internet then?

iNTOUCH: The websites of the Japanese newspapers appear to be just a reflection of what’s printed each day. There seems to be none of the multimedia innovation that we see on the websites of such newspapers as The Guardian or The New York Times. Kimura: What you’re saying is true, but I think the challenge for the British and American media is more severe than here, so they have been forced to change. Here, they don’t have that much pressure yet, but it will come. I don’t think the newspapers have lost circulation that much, but

28 June 2012 iNTOUCH

Kimura: I think they will when the real crisis comes. Radio has passed that [point]. The major networks here in Tokyo are still all right, but the local radio [stations] are really in trouble. They have to find a different source of revenue and a different [approach]. iNTOUCH: It seems that young Japanese people are getting their news through the Internet rather than the traditional channels. Kimura: It’s true that there are people who don’t read newspapers anymore, but I don’t know about television. Whatever the medium, you can survive

if you’re a good reporter. iNTOUCH: Looking at reporting in Japan, how well do you think the Japanese media have reported on the Fukushima issue? Kimura: I think the biggest mistake I made was that I took it for granted that it wouldn’t happen. And I didn’t know anything about nuclear reactors. We never thought that that scale of disaster would occur. In general, I think that the Japanese journalists had such little knowledge of nuclear systems. That probably caused confusion after the disaster. iNTOUCH: There has been criticism that in the early days of the crisis Japanese reporters asked very few tough questions of Tepco officials. Would you agree? Kimura: The reporters were not equipped with the knowledge to ask tough questions, I think. Their assignment was


Taro Kimura

to report fast enough what Tepco and the government were saying. iNTOUCH: There have been accusations that Tepco, as a large advertiser, influenced the media. Do you believe this is the case? Kimura: No. I’ve never been told by anyone to stop [reporting]…and I didn’t feel any pressure from the management. iNTOUCH: In an interview last April, freelance journalist Takashi Uesugi said, “From a young age Japanese people become convinced that newspapers and the television are correct and that magazines and the Internet are full of lies. But the information in the newspapers and on the television is just what the government is giving out through the press clubs. Even if it’s different from the information and data that reporters have gathered themselves, they just accept what the government announces.” How do you react to that?

Kimura: I think he’s going too far. I think the Japanese media are training their reporters quite seriously. And there’s a strong feeling of responsibility to report unbiased stories. I think he believes that journalists’ role is always to stand on the opposite side to the government, big business or whatever. We are not trained that way. We are trained to be neutral. iNTOUCH: Do you think that journalists should be asking tougher questions of those in charge? Kimura: Yes, asking tough questions can look confrontational on television, but it doesn’t always give you the answer. I value more finding the truth through many channels. It doesn’t represent a weakness of journalism; it just represents the manner of interviewing. iNTOUCH: Why is there less investigative journalism in Japan than in the United

States or Britain, for example? Kimura: One [reason] is we have very few whistle-blowers in Japan’s tight-knit society, and investigative reports have to start with a whistle-blower. iNTOUCH: In a 1993 survey of 1,735 members of the Japan Newspaper Publishers and Editors Association, 74 percent blamed the kisha club system for “uniform reporting” and more than 50 percent said it made it easier for the authorities to manipulate information. What are your feelings about the system? Kimura: The answer is to open them to non-members and to establish a system within the media to double-check whatever the kisha club guys report. The good thing about the kisha clubs is the numbers are accurate and there’s easy access to the authorities. But we have to be careful not to be controlled. o

Member insights on Japan 29

All exhibits in the Frederick Harris 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.

Beppu Bamboo Ware

by Erika Woodward Nestled between the sea and mountains on the island of Kyushu is the town of Beppu, where vacationers flock for soaks in its myriad hot-spring baths and to see its nine bubbling “hells.” But the Oita Prefecture town boasts another draw: its bamboo wares—crafted by artisans whose skills have helped the place maintain its title as Japan’s most renowned basketry region since the Meiji period, when Beppu saw its first surge in tourists. Here, top craftsmen from across the country still perfect their skills at Japan’s only technical school devoted solely to basket weaving. But long before the school opened in 1902, artisans are meant to have honed their craft by weaving rice bowls for the legendary Emperor Keiko, who is believed to have reigned from 71 to 130 AD. In the years following, a handful of craftsmen became local celebrities. Today, Beppu’s most famous artist, Syono Syounsai, is a recognized living national treasure. Masa Katayama helps keep tradition alive through her family-owned shop that has been selling the lauded bamboo wares since it opened in 1948. This month, Members can glimpse a sampling of the handmade treasures selected by Katayama at an exhibition at the Frederick Harris Gallery. Don’t miss this chance to see how successive generations of artisans breathe new life into a time-honored practice that produces must-have keepsakes.

Exhibition June 11–24

Gallery Reception Monday, June 11 6:30–8 p.m. Frederick Harris Gallery Free Open to all Members

30 June 2012 iNTOUCH


Dan Dans

by Erika Woodward Circumventing the stacked competition for winning coveted exhibition space in Tokyo, a passionate collective of around 90 emerging artists have joined forces to get their works shown. DanDans does the grunt work to convert donated restaurants, nightclubs and boutiques into rough-andready galleries for up-and-coming talent—who often lack the reputation and funds—to showcase their work in an organized exhibit for free. After making its Frederick Harris Gallery debut last year, DanDans returns to the Club this month. Akiko Muto, Chiharu Kinoshita, Masaharu Futoyu, Masaya Eguchi and Sachiko Nakazawa will display their thought-provoking modern art, which runs from photography to hand-sewn, whimsical crafts. DanDans was established just seven years ago by art lover Kazuko Aso. Since then, the collective has grown in renown and was even commissioned by the fashion brand Chanel for an exhibit in Ginza. With so many artists vying to join, the group has established an arduous admissions process. Despite the group’s emergence on the local art scene, its artists remain grounded in their desire to woo the huddled masses. Artist Muto says that she just wants an opportunity to show her work to as many people as possible. At least this time she won’t have to help with the gallery makeover.

Exhibition June 25–July 22

Gallery Reception Monday, June 25 6:30–8 p.m. Frederick Harris Gallery Free Open to all Members

Exhibitions of art 31

yokoso Thomas & Vicki McCartney United States—Avnet EM Holdings (Japan) K.K.

Akihiko & Chika Kubo Japan—Ogilvy & Mather Japan GK Joseph Meyer & Minako Niwa United States—Aflac Japan

Mark & Jennifer Halverson United States—Accenture Japan Ltd.

Susan Blanck United States—Aflac Japan

Nasser & Elham Sadeghzadeh United States—Atlas Copco K.K.

Abhishek Kumar India—Crystal Gaze LLC

Hideki & Harumi Matsui Japan—Mori Hamada & Matsumoto

Daniel Smith & Mika Aikawa United States—Fox International Channels (Japan)

Hideo & Yoko Sugano Japan—The Design Studio K.K. Daisuke & Seiko Yamada Japan—Morgan Stanley MUFG Securities Co., Ltd.

Takuya & Tomoko Iwamatsu Japan—Marunouchi Advisers Co., Ltd. Takahiro & Yoko Izuki Japan—Financial Link Service Co., Ltd.

Jorge & Alejandra Puentes Spain—Richemont Japan Ltd.

sayonara Richard & Vanalee Carruth Elisabeth Chang David Cordova & Michelle Coe Benjamin Drinkwalter & Mayuko Yuda Douglas & Kathleen Duer C Douglas & Cathleen Fuge Toshio Fukuda

Joe Nakamura & Nagomi Takano Japan—McCann Erickson Japan, Inc. Peter & Heidi Eliot United States—Citibank Japan Ltd. Richard Bender & Alison Frost United States—Chartis Far East Holdings K.K. Marcus Von Engel & Masako Ijuin United States—PricewaterhouseCoopers Co., Ltd. Allen & Natasha Waide New Zealand—Nihon Tetra Pak K.K. Thomas & Anne Triomphe France—Sanofi Pasteur K.K.

Kuniyoshi & Emi Hayashi Japan—Yushi

Shinji Nomoto Japan—ACE Insurance

Toshinori & Naoko Yagura Japan—Seikagaku Corporation

Craig & Laurie Joyner Yannick Jung & Benedicte Legrand Lars Kai & Rika Yoshinaga Tae Kang & Jin Uk Jung Koshi Katohda Kazuo Kimura Jason Lawrence & Ivo Linev Ravi K & Sandhya Nandigum David & Cynthia Powell

Hirofumi & Keiko Sugata Japan—Teral, Inc.

Matthew & Clare Rees Chris & Toshiko Schreiber Mark & Mami Stanley Thomas & Chantelle Tynan Russell & Dawn Wager Joseph T & Teresa Webber Sidney & Youko Weeks Lecy Yap James & Sumiko Yoshida

Stacks of Services at the Club

JTB Sunrise Tours



André Bernard Beauty Salon

Enjoy a 5 percent discount on all package tours and start making unforgettable memories. Tel: 03-5796-5454 (9:30 a.m.–8 p.m.) E-mail:

The Club’s professional shoe repair and polishing service. Tel: 03-4588-0670 The Cellar (B1) Sat: 1–4:30 p.m. Sun: 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Weekday drop-off: Member Services Desk

To find out more about the range of services and Member discounts, visit the FedEx counter. The Cellar (B1) Mon–Fri: 1–5 p.m. (closed Sun and national holidays) Sat: 12 p.m. (pickup only)

Hair care for adults and kids, manicure, pedicure, waxing and more. Tel: 03-4588-0685 Family Area (B1) Tue–Sun 9 a.m.–6 p.m.

32 June 2012 iNTOUCH



of the month

Prachya Tongwattanaporn by Nick Jones


lipping through photos on his smartphone, Prachya Tongwattanaporn stops at one particular shot. “This is the sandbox I was telling you about,” he says, a proud smile stretching across his face. “This seat part folds down to cover it.” As the 33-year-old shows a few more photos of his DIY handiwork around the garden and house, it becomes obvious how the family dining chef has been spending his free time since buying a house in Chiba Prefecture almost two years ago. “That kind of stuff is fun and it’s what I love doing,” he says. “Although I’m not a professional, you feel proud of what you’ve done.” Tongwattanaporn, though, isn’t a

power tool greenhorn. Having completed diplomas in electrical engineering in both his hometown of Chiang Mai, Thailand, and Australia, he is probably more comfortable than most picking up a cordless drill or wallpaper steamer. Moving with his wife and two young daughters from Tokyo to Sakura, he says, was about pursuing a different lifestyle. “I feel like it’s very [rural]. It’s near Narita Airport but it doesn’t feel like it,” he says. “I can enjoy the environment without having to look at buildings everywhere.” The downside of country living, however, is the commute to work. To break up the long train journey, Tongwattanaporn gets off near the Sky Tree, unfolds his bike and cycles the rest of the way to the Club, where he works in the

New Member Profile Hiroki & Kyoko Nakamura Japan—Nakamura Jico Co., Ltd.

Why did you decide to join the Club?

“My grandmother grew up in the United States and our eldest daughter was born there. As a family, we have always had international friends and business contacts, and we are looking forward to making new friends and sharing our own culture through the Club, with its excellent facilities and wonderful Members.” (l–r) Taiga, Hiroki, Yurika, Kyoko, Arisa and Erina Nakamura

kitchen of Rainbow Café and Café Med. In particular, the Employee of the Month for April (he last picked up the award in February 2010) uses his experience at an Aoyama Italian restaurant to shape and toss pizza dough for the gasfired oven. “I love the environment and the people,” he says of the Azabudai Club. He might say the same about his home amid the fields of Chiba. o

Employee of the Quarter— Reina Sakagawa-Collins The most recent Employee of the Quarter award was won by Reina Sakagawa-Collins, who joined the Recreation Department as programs coordinator last October and was February’s Employee of the Month.

New Member Profile Andrew & Beth Robinson United States—Stryker Japan K.K.

Why did you decide to join the Club?

“We are happy to join Tokyo American Club so that we can begin taking advantage of the wonderful opportunities it will provide our family. The children’s classes, Library, Sky Pool and fitness facilities are areas we are particularly excited about, not to mention the social network that the Club provides. We look forward to trying out the new activities and groups we haven’t yet had a chance to experience in Tokyo.” (l–r) Ruby, Beth, Janna, Andrew and Gwyneth Robinson

Services and benefits for Members 33

LeapingTall Buildings Words and photos by Tony McNicol


he idea behind parkour is pretty simple: it’s about finding the quickest, most natural way of getting from A to B in an urban environment, which might involve running, crawling, jumping, vaulting or possibly somersaulting or backflipping from one place to another. Similar to free running, parkour even made it into the James Bond flick Casino Royale, but it’s relatively new to Tokyo. Although it’s not known exactly how many traceurs, as parkour practitioners are called, regularly bound across the capital, it’s probably between 40 and 50. Parkour provides great subject matter for a photographer. How much more photogenic than people doing acrobatics in the middle of the city can you get? I knew almost nothing about parkour before I met a band of Tokyo traceurs, so I was surprised to learn that its eclectic origins include Western military training methods, martial arts and even the films of Jackie Chan. More a discipline than a sport, parkour doesn’t feature any competitions. Tokyo traceur Jun Sato, 20, started trying out parkour moves in his local park six years ago and is now a full-time coach. He says the pursuit is about “training the mind and the body.” Besides the obvious physical challenges of scaling walls and clearing gaps between buildings, parkour, Sato says, entails overcoming a fear of falling and developing a mental toughness. Parkour teaches traceurs to “love the city” while seeing it as a playground, Sato adds. Tokyo can, at times, seem like the most alienating metropolis in the world, so it’s refreshing to glean a new perspective on it. I don’t suppose I’ll be doing backflips on the train platform any time soon, though. o McNicol is a Tokyo-based freelance journalist and photographer. Parkour Tokyo (Japanese only)

34 June 2012 iNTOUCH


A look at culture and society 35

Sweetness and Charm by Chiara Terzuolo Photos by Yuuki Ide


ituated on the Tokyo side of the fashionable Toyoko Line, the Jiyugaoka area is well-loved as a place to shop, stroll and enjoy great food. It’s also a popular place to live, and for good reason. Despite being within easy reach of Tokyo’s main centers, Jiyugaoka, which translates as “Freedom Hill,” has a breeziness that makes for a great day out. After wandering down the oddly named Cattleya Street (the second right after

36 June 2012 iNTOUCH

With its array of alluring cafés and shops and backstreet charm, Jiyugaoka is one of Tokyo’s most sought-after spots to live.

leaving the station’s main exit), taking in the fashionably tiny shops and incredibly well-dressed dogs along the way, you arrive at La Vita, a small slice of Venice in the capital. Not only does this quirky quarter contain stores selling everything from handmade crockery to spa and beauty products, it boasts its own canal and real Italian gondola. Naturally, there’s a poochfriendly café here, too. Keep an eye out for the streetlamps shaped like balloons.

Those seeking a slightly more Japanese atmosphere can head across the road. What looks like a traditional Japanese house is, in fact, a café and gallery, with a charming garden and interior. Kosoan is housed in what was once the writer Natsume Soseki’s daughter’s teahouse, and its specialty is, naturally, matcha green tea. While drinking the somewhat bitter, dark green concoction straight is not for everybody, the wonderfully smooth matcha au lait (accompanied by a



Lupicia (Japanese only)



Twelve minutes by express on the Toyoko Line from Shibuya Station to Jiyugaoka Station or 10 minutes by express on the Oimachi Line from Oimachi.




Art Forum One’s Jiyugaoka (Japanese only)


Ange Clair (Japanese only)


Sweets Forest


Kosoan (Japanese only) Addis Restaurant and Café U KY TO

seasonal sweet) is equally delightful. The ladies who run the place are welcoming, and the atmosphere cozy. Walking back toward the station from Kosoan, check the side streets on the left for the original Lupicia tea store. Its fresh teas, which are available for seemingly endless sampling, are popular with locals and expats alike. Once you’ve finished browsing the more than 400 varieties of tea from around the world, head to the terrace café above the airy store for a cup of the stuff. Just meandering through Jiyugaoka’s twisting little streets, taking in the cool storefronts and perusing the wares can occupy a full afternoon. The area is a delightful mix of shops and spaces. Down one cobbled alleyway is a tiny spice shop, old-style karaoke bar and the entrance to Kumano Shrine. For those with an interest in art, Art Forum One’s Jiyugaoka hosts art classes and exhibitions by artists. Around the corner, opposite the traditional covered shopping street that runs along the train tracks, is Ange Clair, a little store that stocks cute women’s shoes up to at least a US size 10. Straddling Meguro and Setagaya wards, Jiyugaoka is home to a great deal of sugary sweetness, from cake shops and bakeries to Japanese sweet specialists and crêpe stands. If, however, the range becomes too overwhelming, the famous Sweets Forest, located on the Kuhonbutsugawa Ryokudo(Green Road), is the answer. Sweets Forest is, above all, very, very pink. And sparkly. And filled with inviting smells. The pâtissiers are always creating new treats and the soufflés and macarons are particularly










O (G




worthy of praise. The bench- and tree-lined Green Road provides two good options for taller ladies who struggle to find clothes long enough in Japan. For a more casual look, there is a large Gap, which can order different sizes, while Max Mara nearby has good sales of its more formal attire. The trove of zakka knickknack stores, antiques shops and other hidden gems that can be found amid the jumble of side streets are what really give Jiyugaoka its charm. Those looking for Japanese house ware, from the traditional to stunningly modern, should certainly explore this area. Those seeking something a little more substantial than tea and cakes after a day of exploring should head to Toritsudaigaku, which is one stop before Jiyugaoka on the Toyoko Line from Shibuya. Despite the name, there is no longer a university there, which means the streets are nice and quiet on the weekend. Near the station and the long, lanternfestooned street is Addis, whose owner used to be a chef at the American Embassy. The menu, packed with plenty of child-friendly favorites, is great for brunch and comfort food. The eggs Benedict (you could hear my arteries clang shut) are superb, as is the veggie-filled grilled Cheddar sandwich. My dining companion, meanwhile, performed an incredible disappearing trick on a chicken kebab. And if you give the owner a couple of days’ notice, he’ll conjure up such Ethiopian treats as beef tibs and injera flatbread for the perfect way to round off a day in Jiyugaoka. o Terzuolo is a Tokyo-based freelance writer.

Explorations beyond the Club 37

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

Meet the Author: Katie Van Camp April 7

Canadian children’s author Katie Van Camp dropped by the Club to read her two award-winning illustrated books, Harry and Horsie and CookieBot!, to a collection of young fans. She later chatted about the process of penning a book for kids. Photos by Yuuki Ide

1. Katie Van Camp 2. (l–r) Antonia Sanin and Santiago and Santiago Pardo



38 June 2012 iNTOUCH


Family Spring Festival April 8

The Club welcomed more than 160 children to a celebration of spring that featured games, craft making, a traditional egg hunt, an opportunity for photos with the Easter Bunny and, naturally, plenty of sweet treats. Meanwhile, families continued the merriment with a feast of holiday food at the annual Easter Buffet. Photos by Ken Katsurayama

Snapshots from Club occasions 39

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

Monthly Program: A Taste of Japan with John Gauntner April 9

American sake guru and longtime Japan resident John Gauntner hosted an insightful seminar on Japan’s iconic drink. Besides learning about the history and types of sake, the 38 attendees sampled a range of premium examples from some of Japan’s renowned sake-brewing regions.


Photos by Yuuki Ide

1. (l–r) Jackye Lawless, Beth Mittelstaedt, Yuriko Hirayama and Susan Horner 2. (l–r) Brandon Dollar, Shari Vallier and Karen Helbock 3. Fujiko Nielsen and Barbara Anne Watt 4. (l–r) Nora Marks, Robin Bradley, Susan Melchione and Eileen Wilson 5. John Gauntner 6. Women's Group President Ginger Griggs




40 June 2012 iNTOUCH



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

Michael Mondavi Family Estate Wine Dinner with Michael Mondavi April 21

Winemaker Michael Mondavi, son of the Napa Valley wine pioneer Robert Mondavi, hosted an intimate dinner at the Club. The 25 Members and guests in attendance listened to the California native explain his passion for viniculture before sampling the wines of the family venture Mondavi started in 2004.


Photos by Yuuki Ide

1. (l–r) Nancy and Brian Davis and Billy and Cheryl Cook 2. (l–r) James Feliciano, Yukari Ohno and Yoko Kiridani 3. Hilary Wendel 4. Michael Mondavi 5. (l–r) David Rudlin and Koji and Eriko Fukuda 6. (l–r) Michael Mondavi and Jeanette and Carl Robinson 7. (l–r) Chris Hartz, Michael March and Bill Concezlo 2



42 June 2012 iNTOUCH





Meet the Author: Karen Pond April 25

American expat and former iNTOUCH contributor Karen Pond visited the Club to talk about the process of turning her cultural slipups into a book, Getting Genki in Japan: The Adventures and Misadventures of an American Family in Tokyo. 1

Photos by Yuuki Ide

1. (l–r) Valerie Steinlauf, Karen Pond, Dina Glore-Borgers and Isabelle Hocquet-Wanlin 2. (l–r) Chris Glasenapp, Karen Pond and Elaine Glasenapp 3. (l–r) Eiko Masui, Bill Pond and Satoshi Katano 4. (l–r) Eiko Masui, Akiko Weber and Mika Shino 5. (l–r) Elaine Williams, Karen Pond and Gayle Olsen





Snapshots from Club occasions 43

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

Lake Kawaguchi and Oshino Hakkai Tour March 15

More than 30 Members journeyed to Yamanashi Prefecture on a Women’s Group tour of Lake Kawaguchi and the stunning Oshino Hakkai area near Mount Fuji. Day trippers also visited two fascinating museums and enjoyed a lunch of local cuisine. Photos by Heidi Sanford 1. Front row (l–r): Susie Alvarez, Miranda Remie, Cristina Tyldum, Lily Van Bunnik, Anna Zarifi, Simmi Mehra, Nicki Titze, Andrea Bocho, Susan Horner and Debbie Ely


Second row (l–r): Gail Lee, Jeanne Noble, Christa Wallington, Kazuko Morio, Cindy Price, Nancy Allen, Teresa Easterling, Kathryn Temple and Jackye Lawless Third row (l–r): Jill Erb, Cathy Fuge, Linda Stewart, Diane McGee, Susan Roos, Susie Simon, Jo Sochie and Eileen Watson Fourth row (l–r): Sharon Fuller, Shari Vallier, Mary Hager, Mary Reardon, Perry Simon and Sandra Isaka Back row: Cathy Noyes and Ed Holdaway 2. (l–r) Cristina Tyldum, Kazuko Morio and Hiroko Hata 2

An Architectural Walking Tour of Ginza: Where Past and Present Meet in Architectural Design April 7

Architectural historian Deanna MacDonald led an engaging tour of the Ginza, Marunouchi and Nihonbashi districts of Tokyo. Along the way, she explained the history of the storied areas and their changing architecture. Photo by Cristina Tyldum Back row (l–r): Brian Whelan, Marcia Neves, Ana Maria Doria Galvao, Liliane Tiago, Victoria de Oliveira Pamplona, Mariana Bronzatto, Lily VanBunnik, Deanna MacDonald, Georgia Mor, Brian Mor, Lois Mor, Rosalie Barsotti, Matthew MacDonald, Tony Polly and Mari Hirata Sato Front row (l–r): Kathleen Whelan, Linda Fahy, Zulmira Martinelli, Jessica Martinelli, Luisa Bronzatto, Alessandra Martinelli, Rumiko Laughlin and Sandra Donoso

44 June 2012 iNTOUCH


第 四 十 七 巻 五 六 六 号 


毎 月 一 回 一 日 発 行 

June 2012

ト ウ キ ョ ウ ア メ リ カ ン ク ラ ブ 

i N T O U C H

イ ン タ ッ チ マ ガ ジ ン 二 〇 一 二 年 六 月 一 日 発 行  平 成 三 年 十 二 月 二 十 日 第 三 種 郵 便 物 許 可 定 価 八 0 0 円

Pampered Pets

本 体 七 七 七 円

Issue 566 • June 2012

Pairings of Perfection

Decanter hosts monthly global food and wine excursions

TAC Premier Classic

The Club prepares for its annual showdown of squash

Club Member and dog owner Maria Bromley and animal industry insiders ponder Japan’s pet mollycoddling

Country Roads

One writer reflects on traveling the length of Japan on foot

iNTOUCH Jun 2012  

Tokyo American Club's monthly members magazine.

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you