iNTOUCH Jun 2013

Page 1

TOKYO AMERICAN CLUB

第 四 十 七 巻 五 七 八 号

TOKYO AMERICAN CLUB

毎 月 一 回 一 日 発 行

June 2013

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 三 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

Summiting Japan

本 体 七 七 七 円

The Sanford family and other Club Members offer tips on tackling Mount Fuji

Star-Spangled Celebration

The Club throws an Independence Day party

Good, Bad and Ugly

Assessing satisfaction in the Membership survey

Taste Test

Members test-drive craft beer glassware

Issue 578 • June 2013



library

12

Rediscovery and Reconciliation

Journalist Leslie Helm reveals why he felt compelled to write Yokohama Yankee, a book about his family’s fascinating history in Japan.

recreation

18

(Safe) Summer Fun

2 4 6 7 8 12 16 17 18 22 24 30 32 34 36 38 40 42 48

As summer sees more families head to the Sky Pool, one Member explains why she’s doing her part to help the Club’s rooftop retreat enjoy an accident-free season. inside japan

Like Mother, Like Daughter

38

Carrying on a family legacy that stretches back more than a century, artists Shoko and Suiko Ohta discuss their passion for teaching traditional Japanese painting. feature

24

Conquering an Icon With Mount Fuji’s official climbing season set to kick off next month, Club Members share their experiences of summiting Japan’s highest peak and offer tips for those who are gearing up to make the climb themselves, whether with the summer hiking hordes or in the offseason.

iNTOUCH To advertise in iNTOUCH, contact Rie Hibino: rie.hibino@tac-club.org 03-4588-0976

For membership information, contact Mari Hori:

Editor Nick Jones editor@tac-club.org

Designers Shane Busato Anna Ishizuka

mari.hori@tac-club.org 03-4588-0687

Production Assistant Yuko Shiroki

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

Assistant Editor Erika Woodward

www.tokyoamericanclub.org (l–r) Cover photo of Ricky, Heidi, Fred and Katie Sanford by Irwin Wong

Management

contents Contacts Events Board of Governors Management Food & Beverage Library DVD Library Committees Recreation Women’s Group Feature Talking Heads Frederick Harris Gallery Member Services Cultural Insight Inside Japan Out & About Event Roundup Back Words

Tony Cala General Manager gm@tac-club.org

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

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

Mutsuhiko Kumano Finance Director finance@tac-club.org

Darryl Dudley Engineering Director eng@tac-club.org

Scott Yahiro Recreation Director recdirector@tac-club.org

Brian Marcus Food & Beverage Director fboffice@tac-club.org

Aron Kremer Marketing & Communications Director aron.kremer@tac-club.org


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

(03) 4588-0676

american.bg@tac-club.org

Banquet Sales and Reservations

(03) 4588-0977

banquet@tac-club.org

Beauty Salon

(03) 4588-0685

Bowling Center

(03) 4588-0683

bowling@tac-club.org

Café Med

(03) 4588-0978

cafe.med@tac-club.org

Catering

(03) 4588-0307

banquet@tac-club.org

Childcare Center

(03) 4588-0701

childcare@tac-club.org

Communications

(03) 4588-0262

comms@tac-club.org

Decanter/FLATiRON

(03) 4588-0675

decanter@tac-club.org

DVD Library

(03) 4588-0686

dvd.library@tac-club.org

Engineering

(03) 4588-0699

eng@tac-club.org

Finance

(03) 4588-0222

acct@tac-club.org

Fitness Center

(03) 4588-0266

fitness@tac-club.org

Food & Beverage Office

(03) 4588-0245

fboffice@tac-club.org

Foreign Traders’ Bar

(03) 4588-0677

traders.bar@tac-club.org

Guest Studios

(03) 4588-0734

guest.relations@tac-club.org

Human Resources

(03) 4588-0679

Information Technology

(03) 4588-0690

Library

(03) 4588-0678

library@tac-club.org

Management Office

(03) 4588-0674

gmoffice@tac-club.org

Membership Office

(03) 4588-0687

membership@tac-club.org

Member Services Desk

(03) 4588-0670

tac@tac-club.org

Pool Office

(03) 4588-0700

pool@tac-club.org

Rainbow Café

(03) 4588-0705

rainbow.cafe@tac-club.org

Recreation Desk

(03) 4588-0681

rec@tac-club.org

Redevelopment Office

(03) 4588-0223

redevelopment@tac-club.org

The Cellar

(03) 4588-0744

the.cellar@tac-club.org

The Spa

(03) 4588-0714

spa@tac-club.org

Weddings

(03) 4588-0671

banquet@tac-club.org

Women’s Group Office wg@tac-club.org

2 June 2013 iNTOUCH

(03) 4588-0691


from the

editor

When UNESCO formally declares Mount Fuji a World Heritage site this month, it will mark the end of a long campaign to have Japan’s iconic mountain recognized by the organization. In 2001, the Japanese government set up a committee to oversee the selection of sites from around the country to be submitted to UNESCO for consideration. Fuji was high on the wish list. But when officials from the UN cultural body visited the mountain, they indicated that Fuji wouldn’t make it onto the list as a natural site of “outstanding universal value.” The abundance of trash, in particular, was a major hurdle. In some ways, Fuji became a victim of its own success. Ahead of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, the government built roads up to the fifth stations, from where most hikers now begin their climb to the summit. Naturally, the easy access attracted hordes of casual visitors and day trippers. The souvenir shops and vending machines soon followed. “Personally, I think it was a mistake, but now [the roads] exist, they’re impossible to remove,” a cultural affairs agency official told me for an iNTOUCH story a few years ago. Taking a different route to recognition, Fuji will receive UNESCO’s “cultural” stamp for its influence on Japanese culture and art. But there are fears that Fuji’s listing will lead to even more visitors clogging up its already congested trails during the summer months. Local authorities are now considering a climbing fee. In this month’s cover story, “Conquering an Icon,” Nick Narigon speaks to a number of Club Members who have climbed Fuji and gleans their thoughts on the best time to climb and whether the official climbing season should be longer.

If you have any comments about anything you read in iNTOUCH, please e-mail them to editor@tac-club.org, putting “Letter to the Editor” in the subject title of the mail.

contributors Nick Tim Narigon Hornyak

Nick Narigon is a Tokyo-based freelance writer. Originally from Cedar Falls, Iowa, he was the weeklies editor for the Des Moines Register for five years and spent two more years in New Jersey as the special sections editor for the Press of Atlantic City. His weekly travel column now runs in the Tampa Bay Current and he has contributed features to The Wall Street Journal Asia. An Eagle Scout and nature enthusiast, Narigon has worked as a mountain ranger and canoe guide. With the official Mount Fuji climbing season set to start next month, he gleans advice from Members on tackling Japan’s highest peak for this month’s cover story, “Conquering an Icon.”

Joe Peters

A longtime resident of Asia, including more than 22 years in Japan, Joe Peters is the managing director of a recruitment and executive search firm in Tokyo. In addition to his work, he is the chair of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan’s Direct Marketing Committee, a member of the Club’s Library Committee and established a Toastmasters group at the Club this year. An avid traveler, blogger and writer, he has written for various publications in Japan, as well as the Japan Tourist and Majirox News websites. In this month’s Out & About, he ventures to Yamanashi to hike in the stunning scenery of one of the prefecture’s less-famous spots, Nishizawa Gorge.

Words from the editor 3


What’s on in June 1

Saturday

Father’s Day Spa Special This month, in honor of Father’s Day, The Spa is paying homage to all dads with an array of indulgent treatment packages previewed on page 21. Runs through June 30.

3

Monday

4

Tuesday

9

Sunday

10

Monday

Mount Eden Wine Dinner Discover the unsuspectingly grand terroir of California’s Santa Cruz Mountains, when Mount Eden’s Jeffery and Ellie Patterson host a tasting of their wines from this storied winegrowing region. 7 p.m. Details on page 8.

Toddler Time A fun, 30-minute session of engaging stories and activities awaits preschoolers at the Children’s Library. 4 p.m. Free. Continues June 11, 18 and 25.

Mudsharks End-of-Season Awards Night Following a lively season of swimming action, the Club’s competitive youth swimmers receive awards in front of family and friends at a special dinner hosted by their coaches. 5–7 p.m.

Gallery Reception Five standouts of the DanDans artist collective launch an engaging exhibition of diverse works with a casual gathering at the Frederick Harris Gallery. 6:30 p.m. Free. Learn more about the artists on page 32 .

17

17

17

20

Monday

Monday

Camp Discovery Kickoff With school out for the summer, Club youngsters are filling their daytime downtime with an activity-packed schedule of exciting events. Get the rundown on page 20.

All-Star Sports Season Opener Energetic youngsters take to the court, field and beyond during this fun summer program that is chock-full of activities. Discover more on page 21.

24

28

Monday

Youth Bowling Bonanza For a chance to win fabulous prizes, grab your friends and hit the lanes. Bowl two games, register your total score and you could walk away with an array of goodies in September. ¥1,600.

Toyota Plant Tour Go behind the scenes at Japan’s famous automaker on this Men’s Group-organized guided tour that also takes in the Toyota Kaikan Museum. More on page 17.

Coming up in July

8 Gallery Reception

26–28 TAC Premier Classic Squash Tournament

Thursday

Spiegelau Glass and Craft Beer Tasting At this Wine Committee-organized showdown of suds, Matt Rutkowski of Spiegelau glassware pits his champion vessels against the prevailing pint glass. Page 9 has more.

Friday

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. Beate Sirota Gordon and Haru Reischauer classrooms. Free. Contact the Women’s Group Office to organize free childcare.

4 June 2013 iNTOUCH

Monday

29 Coffee Connections


EVENTS

1

Saturday

1

Saturday

Indoor Rowing Challenge Scull your way to success at this rowing competition at the Fitness Center. For the rundown, flip to page 20.

Kids’ Summer Swim Program Get the most out of the water by signing up for one of the Sky Pool’s intensive two-week swim classes this summer for all levels of swimmer. Dive into the details on page 21.

11

16

Tuesday

Adult Summer Aikido The grownups get started perfecting moves during another exciting session of this martial art. 7 p.m. For more on this program and one for children, flip to page 21.

28

Father’s Day Grand Buffett The New York Ballroom hosts a feast of favorites for dads. 90-minute sittings: 11:30 a.m.–8 p.m. (art and crafts session: 11:30 a.m.– 3 p.m.) Adults (20 and above): ¥7,500

1

Saturday

Splash! Barbecue Night Whether you’re hankering for grilled steaks or burgers, don’t miss this sizzling, all-American barbecue at the Club’s outdoor café every Saturday until the end of August. 5:30 p.m.

Sunday

(includes an all-you-can-drink beverage package); adults (18 and above): ¥5,900 (food only); juniors (4–17 years): ¥2,800; infants (3 and below): free Sign up online or by calling 03-4588-0977.

16

Sunday

Father’s Day Bowling Treat dad to a spirited game at the Club’s state-of-the art lanes and enjoy two more games on us. ¥550 (banter, beer and strikes are on you).

Friday

Red, White and Blue Revelry The Club kicks off its weekend of Independence Day festivities with an evening of all-American drinks, snacks and music in the Winter Garden. 6 p.m. See page 17 for more.

30

Sunday

Independence Day at the Club Marking the birthday of the United States in grand fashion, the Club is throwing a rousing reception full of patriotic revelry and a dinner of all-American favorites, with performances. See page 17 for the star-spangled details.

Noteworthy dates for the month 5


BOARD OF GOVERNORS

Running the Numbers by Paul Hoff

I

enjoy numbers. The analysis of our Member spending I wrote about for this column last year was welcomed by people who wanted to better understand the Club’s finances. With the help of the Club’s IT director, Lian Chang, I rethought the information I gleaned from the analysis of the average Member spending by age and nationality and realized that it would be worthwhile to look at the overall totals for different Member categories. As the charts below show, our Japanese Members make up just over 50 percent of the Membership and contribute the most in terms of dues and overall spending at the Club. By age group, American Members in the 36 to 55 range are the largest contributors to the operating revenue. Monthly dues make up a sizable portion of any club’s revenue, and this is especially important at TAC. The significant number of Japanese Members in the older age bands, who tend to spend more at the Club’s restaurants and event facilities, make a significant contribution to the operating revenue. Their dues contribution is important to the Club’s

6 June 2013 iNTOUCH

Board of Governors John Durkin (2014)—Representative Governor Mary Saphin (2013)—First Vice President Gregory Lyon (2014)—Second Vice President Brenda Bohn (2014)—Secretary Hiroshi Miyamasu (2013)—Treasurer

Norman J Green (2013), Ginger Griggs (2013), Paul Hoff (2013), Per Knudsen (2014), Lance E Lee (2014), Jeffrey McNeill (2013), Machi Nemoto (2014), Jerry Rosenberg (2014), Mark Saft (2014), Dan Stakoe (2013), Sadashi Suzuki (2014), Ira Wolf (2013), Kazuakira Nakajima—Statutory Auditor (2014)

financial sustainability. Women’s Group members are another important contributor to Club life and their average spending is usually high. Recent changes to the Japanese economy and society have altered the makeup of the Membership, and Japanese Members’ contributions to the Club are quite positive. With the Club no longer able to rely on the regular turnover of Corporate Members and Members from the financial industry, as experienced in the late 1980s and 1990s, the recent drives to attract foreign Members are part of a plan to create a sustainable operating model for the Club. The Board, committees and management are focused on a positive operating budget from the dues of an enlarged Membership and Members’ greater use of Club facilities. You can help by introducing new Members to the Club (earning a ¥40,000 voucher for use in the Club in the process), finding more ways to use the excellent facilities and participating in the myriad of daily activities and programs. Enjoy your Club life to the fullest. The numbers are counting on it. o


MANAGEMENT

Seasons of Fun at the Club

Tony Cala

General Manager

by Tony Cala

W

ith the onset of summer and the significant growth in the number of Members over the past six months, there is a feeling of rejuvenation and vibrant energy throughout the Club. This summer and fall, the Club will be focusing on growth, creativity and energy, including organizing more Memberrequested activities, improving our food and drink offerings and ensuring the continued expansion of the Membership. Later this month, we celebrate Independence Day with a reception, complete with a US military color guard, the Tokyo Fire Department Band and fun kids’ programs for America’s birthday. The party will continue in the evening with a formal dinner in Decanter and entertainment. (Turn to page 17 for the details.) Meanwhile, we’ll pay tribute to the cuisine of the 50th state, when renowned chef Kevin Erving, from the Four Seasons Resort Lanai in Hawaii, visits the Club for a week in July. We’ll be offering Polynesian-themed dishes in all the restaurants, while Decanter will feature a menu inspired by the Four Seasons Resort Lanai’s signature steakhouse, One Forty. And Members will have the opportunity to win a vacation, sponsored by the Four Seasons Resort Lanai and United Airlines, at a celebratory grand buffet in the New York Ballroom. In September, the annual welcome back bash returns with the Great American Block Party, featuring a full day of activities,

food and fun for the entire family. Working with the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ), we will start the day with the annual ACCJ Walkathon. The Programs and Events Committee-organized event at the Club will then include a traditional American barbecue, festivities in the New York Ballroom and a bouncy house and inflatable climbing walls for kids in the Gymnasium. In honor of those who served in the US military, we will host our inaugural Veterans’ Honor Run and Dining Out for Veterans’ Day in the fall. Since a number of our Members served in the military, this event will allow many to remember their days of camaraderie and esprit de corps. The event will also provide a unique opportunity for others to experience how American military units build solidarity while upholding more than 200 years of tradition. November is the beginning of the holiday season, with our traditional Thanksgiving quickly followed by the annual Family Christmas Dinner Show and Christmas celebrations around the Club. What’s more, this year will see the return of the Club’s New Year’s Eve Party. The coming seasons promise to be an exciting time at the Club. Be sure to check out the array of daily programs and events on offer. I’m confident that you’ll find something that both meets your needs and exceeds your expectations. o

Executive remarks 7


wine

dinner

Mountaintop Magic by Wendi Onuki

L

ong before it was synonymous with cutting-edge technology, Silicon Valley was the site of California’s first foray into exceptional wine production. Immigrants from France and Italy, who had arrived in the area during the Gold Rush, were drawn to the coastal peaks of the Santa Cruz Mountains. There, from the mid-1880s, on the slopes of the ridge that cuts a swath across the San Francisco Bay Area, they planted vines from their homelands. The region has since attracted some of the country’s most brazen and talented winemakers, who work their magic on the challenging terrain to concoct rich, superbly drinkable wines. The precarious elements (poor soil, low yields and rainfall and remote location, to name a few) are offset by the potential to bottle uniquely Santa Cruz characteristics, says Ellie Patterson, who, together with her husband, Jeffrey (pictured), will introduce wines from their Saratoga winery, Mount Eden Vineyards, at the Club this month. In spite of churning out a number of highly prized labels, the area has struggled to brand itself as a wine-producing rival to the likes of Sonoma County and Napa Valley. “The appellation’s confusing and it always will be because it’s big and it’s not known for any one wine,” Jeffrey told the 8 June 2013 iNTOUCH

San Francisco Chronicle in 2010. A newly appointed director of the winegrowing association, however, is working to establish “a cohesive image,” Ellie says. Mount Eden Vineyards is among some 70 area wineries, most of which are family-run establishments. The winery’s roots date back to 1945, when legendary California winemaker Martin Ray first planted Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on Mount Eden. The subsequent owners gave the winery its present name and produced their first vintage in 1972. Less than a decade later, Jeffrey arrived with Ellie to take on the role of assistant winemaker at Mount Eden. “It had a

track record of long aging and classic wines even then,” recalls 61-year-old Ellie. “Coming from Berkeley, we were quite snobbish about moving to Santa Clara County, now Silicon Valley.” The pair settled into their lofty surroundings, with Jeffrey swiftly working his way up to head winemaker and general manager and Ellie serving as business manager. Nowadays, they run the winery alongside their two children. As for the area’s relative obscurity compared with California’s more famous wine hubs, the Pattersons remain unfazed. “We don’t mind because it allows us to focus on making the best wines we can,” Ellie says. “Tourism can be a distraction.” o Onuki is a Chicago-based freelance journalist.

Mount Eden Wine Dinner with Jeffrey and Ellie Patterson Monday, June 3 7 p.m. American Bar & Grill ¥12,000 Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk


FOOD & BEVERAGE

beer

tasting

Going Head to Head I by Mark Baxter

used to be a complete skeptic. How could the shape of a glass possibly have any influence on the taste perception of a wine? Then in 1995, I attended a wine tasting featuring the glasses of the famed Austrian producer Riedel at the Club. As we sampled each of the wines in front of us, we were instructed to try the wine in a standard tumbler and then pour the same wine into a glass that had been designed to enhance the wine’s aroma and taste perception. As the evening progressed, I noticed how the glasses made a huge difference to the enjoyment of the wine. I was a convert. With the increasing popularity of craft beer in recent years, it was inevitable that a line of glasses would be produced for specific craft beers. And Spiegelau, a subsidiary of Riedel, has done just that. Working closely with some of the

top craft beer producers in the United States, Spiegelau has developed a set of glasses that enhance the flavor profiles of specific beer styles. At a special summer tasting this month, Matt Rutkowski, global brand manager for Spiegelau’s craft beer glasses, will pit four Spiegelau vessels against the standard pint glass. This event will also feature the Japan release of Spiegelau’s IPA glass, which was designed in collaboration with two of America’s leading IPA brewers, Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada’s Ken Grossman. All attendees will take home a set of the glasses. Whether you’re a craft beer fanatic or a glassware skeptic, you’re in for an evening of satisfying flavors and a few surprises. o Baxter is a member of the Wine Committee.

Matt Rutkowski

Spiegelau Glass and Craft Beer Tasting Thursday, June 20 7 p.m. Manhattan I Members & guests: ¥7,500 (includes a set of four Spiegelau glasses) Non-Members: ¥9,000 (includes a set of four Spiegelau glasses) Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk

Club wining and dining 9


bottle

talk

Wines Less Ordinary by Kelley Michael Schaefer

A

re you a vanilla or chocolate person? Or are you a little more adventurous with your ice cream flavors? Apparently, vanilla and chocolate make up a staggering 40 percent of ice cream sales. Why would so many people choose to miss out on the likes of praline, coffee, green tea, maple walnut and key lime daiquiri? Like ice cream, wine has a similar (and equally boring) trend. Chardonnay

and Cabernet Sauvignon are wine’s vanilla and chocolate. Some drinkers, venturing outside of such banality, might uncork a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc or Merlot, but, by and large, the two C’s rule. Why are the majority of wine consumers so predictable in their wine selections? Well, it could be familiarity and ease of pronunciation. Most of us don’t want to appear the tenderfoot when wining and dining, and nobody has a hard

time saying “Chardonnay” (Merlot can be a little trickier). But correct pronunciation in the world of wine can actually be one of the great challenges for native English speakers. Try to confidently order a bottle of the Greek varietal Agiorgitiko or Trockenbeerenauslese (a sweet, highquality German Riesling made from select, late-harvest dried berries), and you’ll soon understand why so many diners head directly to the Chardonnay section of the wine menu. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon, but there is so much more to discover. Sadly, of the hundreds of other grape varieties, from Albarino to Zweigelt, that quietly produce world-class wine, many go unnoticed by most drinkers. I encourage all wine consumers to take the plunge into the unknown and explore the endless diversity of wine grapes and styles. While the language and wine lists can be daunting, that is why we have sommeliers. At the Club, our team of friendly sommeliers can explain the options while guiding you through this exciting world of wonderful flavors, textures and aromas. Having an open mind and challenging your senses is key to learning about and developing an appreciation for wine. And the Club’s ever-expanding selection of varietals, including Petit Sirah, Zweigelt, Black Muscat, Gewürztraminer, Semillon, Grenache and Grüner Veltliner, is the perfect place to start. o Schaefer is the Club’s wine program manager.

Kelley’s Cellar Selection 2006 Outpost “The Other” Petite Sirah, Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, California Nearly impossible to find anywhere else in Japan, Outpost is one of the Club’s hidden gems. There is certainly nothing “small” about this Petite Sirah (also known as Durif ), which is in no way related to the ubiquitous Syrah/Shiraz grape. Petite Sirah is an underrated varietal that is capable of over-delivering and offering spectacular value in the process. Aromas of bacon fat, lavender and wet stone lead to classic mountain spices of white pepper, clove and sage that frame luscious black fruit on the rich and balanced palate. This is a mouthful of wine that asks, “Where’s the beef”? ¥6,400 a bottle at Decanter.

10 June 2013 iNTOUCH


THIS SUMMER, THE CLUB HAS THE PERFECT PARTY RECIPE. While we take care of the stunning rooftop venue with cityscape views and sumptuous barbecued food and free-flow drink options, all you need to add is the partygoers.

Barbecue party packages start from 짜6,600 per person (minimum: 20 people). To book your summer bash, call 03-4588-0977 or e-mail banquet@tac-club.org.


(l–r) Julius Helm, Willie, Julie, Louisa and Hiro Komiya

Rediscovery and Reconciliation

Writer Leslie Helm explains how he was inspired to dig into his family’s past and write Yokohama Yankee: My Family’s Five Generations as Outsiders in Japan.

T

here are two things in life that have an uncanny ability to elicit emotions from even the least emotional among us. One is the death of a parent. The other is having one’s first child. Both happened to me in quick succession in the early 1990s while I was working in Japan as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times. Those two things changed my world. The first shock was the death of my father. He and I had had a difficult relationship over the years, so I was surprised by the depth of my grief as I sat through his funeral at the Christ Church in Yokohama. But I also felt a strange fear. Dad had never really found a home in either Japan or America, and had died an

12 June 2013 iNTOUCH

unhappy man. I was afraid the same thing would happen to me. The second event that turned my world upside down was the decision my wife and I made to adopt Japanese children. It seemed a natural thing to do at the time. But when we received a picture of a 2-year-old girl from the Tokyo city agency charged with handling adoptions, I suddenly began to have doubts. I couldn’t explain it at the time, but I suspect it had something to do with our family’s efforts over four generations to hide our Japanese heritage. Although we happily adopted that girl and, two months later, were fortunate to be able to adopt a new-born boy, I still remained


LIBRARY

ambivalent toward Japan. I wondered if I could be a good father with that attitude. That’s what set me on the road to explore my family’s long history in Japan. My book, Yokohama Yankee, is about that journey, about my effort to rediscover the past and to reconcile my Japanese self with my Western self. Since my family story is so intertwined with modern Japanese history, the book is also about Japan’s efforts, over the past century and a half, to reconcile its national identity with a world so dominated by the West. When my German great-grandfather arrived in Yokohama in 1869, Japan was hiring foreign experts in a mad rush to catch up with the West. My great-grandfather, who had fought in the Austro-Prussian War, was hired as a military adviser to a warlord in Wakayama. As soon as Japan no longer needed the skills of the foreign hired hands, they were sent home. My great-grandfather decided to stay. He married a Japanese woman and worked in a variety of businesses. At one point he ran one of Japan’s first dairy farms. Later, he started a trucking and stevedoring company called Helm Brothers. The company would grow to be among the largest foreign-owned companies in Japan, with operations in every major port. The second generation of my family in Japan were a pretty mixed-up lot. Two of the sons took German citizenship, one became Japanese and my grandfather became American. When World War I started, Willie, the youngest son, volunteered to fight with German forces to protect the German colony of Tsingtao in China from the forces of his mother’s country, Japan. He was captured and spent five years in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in Kurume, Kyushu.

Most of the Germans were treated well. Japan wanted to show the West that it was civilized. But Willie had a tougher time. The camp commander played a cat-and-mouse game with Willie, letting him escape just so he could recapture him and throw him into solitary confinement. I suspect the commander picked on Willie because, as newspapers described him at the time, he was “ainoko,” which can mean “in-between” or “of mixed blood.” My grandfather, who married a woman who was half-Japanese like himself, used to beat my father when he spoke Japanese because he didn’t want my father to grow up speaking Japlish, that mixture of Japanese and English so many of us foreigners in Japan speak. During World War II, my grandfather left Japan and lived out the war in California, where he hid his Japanese heritage to avoid being sent to an internment camp. Understanding what happened to my family over that turbulent century helped me to understand Dad, embrace Japan and be a better father. Yet, it is ironic that the very thing that helped me to embrace Japan also, in some ways, estranged me from Japan. As a family with two white parents and two Japanese children, I found my family being treated more as outsiders than I had ever been treated. Although my book is primarily aimed at an American audience, I hope that this story of My Family’s Five Generations as Outsiders in Japan will also contribute toward the discourse Japan itself needs to embrace the growing population of “outsiders” now in its midst. o Helm is editor of Seattle Business magazine (www.lesliehelm.com). Yokohama Yankee is available at the Library.

Literary gems at the Library 13


off the

shelf

Contemporary Creators by Alice Chetley

R

unning until September 1, the Mori Art Museum’s 10th anniversary exhibition is titled “All You Need Is Love: From Chagall to Kusama and Hatsune Miku.” The show is one of the most eclectic and complete exhibitions of contemporary Japanese art since the museum’s inaugural exhibition, “Happiness: A Survival Guide to Art and Life,” in 2003. The Library stocks a number of books on such famous, contemporary Japanese artists as Yayoi Kusama, Takashi Murakami and Yoshitomo Nara. These artists singlehandedly changed the Japanese art scene in the 1990s and put Japan on the international art world map. Kusama’s recent collaboration with Louis Vuitton, for example, is the French fashion house’s most successful partnership to date and shows how important contemporary Japanese art is becoming, not only in Japan, but across the world.

14 June 2013 iNTOUCH

Japan’s contemporary artists often make interesting comments or critiques on Japanese society and culture and the country’s art scene, and knowing the story behind their pieces is sure to make the Mori exhibition much more enjoyable. Murakami, for instance, studied Nihonga, a Japanese style of painting from the late 19th century, at university. Disillusioned, he attempted to crush Japan’s more traditional art scene through the depiction of his cartoon characters, such as

Mr Dob and Kaikai and Kiki. Despite having lived in Japan for the majority of my life, I find Japanese culture extremely difficult to grasp. The country’s contemporary art scene, however, helps me to understand at least a part of this elusive and beautifully complex culture. And the wonderful art books in the Library are the perfect place to start (or continue) enjoying Japanese art. o Chetley is a Member of the Club.


LIBRARY

new

reads Before and After Superflat: A Short History of Japanese Contemporary Art 1990–2011 by Adrian Favell Favell examines the rise and fall of Superflat, the art movement created by Takashi Murakami. Besides highlighting the business and marketing genius of Murakami and Yoshitomo Nara, he looks at the cultural climate that led to the rise of Superflat and Japan’s arrival on the world art scene.

Speaking from Among the Bones by Alan Bradley Bradley’s 11-year-old amateur detective and keen chemist, Flavia de Luche, is used to digging up clues but not bodies. When a village opens the tomb of its patron saint, the only body inside is that of Mr Collicutt, the church organist.

Yayoi Kusama by Louise Neri, Takaya Goto, RoseLee Goldberg, Chris Kraus and Laura Hoptman Now in her 80s, Yayoi Kusama is recognized globally for her collaborative work with the fashion house Louis Vuitton. This is the most comprehensive collection of the iconic artist’s works and highlights her contribution to contemporary art.

Big Breasts and Wide Hips by Mo Yan In this epic novel about women, the central character, Mother, is born in 1900 and married at 17. Of her nine children, only one is a boy, the story’s narrator. A spoilt child, he stands in stark contrast to his strong-willed siblings.

Dior Joaillerie by Michele Heuze and Victoire de Castellane This book represents a celebration of the craftsmanship of Dior’s jewelry design. Since establishing Dior’s Fine Jewelry range in 1998, de Castellane has been creating jewelry collections that are as innovative as they are beautiful.

Coolidge by Amity Shlaes A largely forgotten president, Calvin Coolidge has for a long time been portrayed negatively in schools and colleges. In this well-written biography, Shlaes sets the record straight and restores the reputation of America’s 30th president.

Reviews compiled by Member Alice Chetley.

Library & Children’s Library Daily: 9 a.m.–8 p.m. tel: 03-4588-0678 e-mail: library@tac-club.org

member’s choice Member: Georgia LaMacchia Title: Divergent by Veronica Roth

What’s the book about? Divergent is about a girl who lives in a dystopian society where people are separated into groups based on their personalities.

What did you like about it? It was a very gripping book.

Why did you choose it? I chose it because I really enjoy reading about the different ways authors create futuristic societies.

What other books would you recommend? Marissa Meyer’s Cinder, Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier and City of Bones by Cassandra Clare.

Literary gems at the Library 15


DVD LIBRARY

O

flick

pick

Lights, Camera, Nature by James Montalto

f the dozens of documentaries available at the DVD Library, top of the list is the BBC’s “Planet Earth,” an enthralling 11-part exploration of our miraculous planet. Each episode takes the viewer to a different part of the world, virtually untouched by humankind, to reveal enigmatic havens and thriving, diverse wildlife. To film in such a vast range of environments required ingenuity—and a large budget (around $24 million, funded together with the Discovery Channel and Japan’s state broadcaster, NHK). Filmmakers, for example, strapped cameras on cave divers before sending them into the 400-meter-deep Cave of Swallows in Mexico. At 67 meters longer than Tokyo Tower, this stunning cave stars in the opening scene of the fourth episode of the series, titled “Caves.” Not discovered until the 1980s, the beautiful, never-beforefilmed belly of the Lechuguilla Cave in the United States is another scene-stealer. Covered in stalactites, stalagmites and other formations, one breathtaking chamber is called the Chandelier Ballroom. It took the BBC film crew two years to get permission to film there and it is likely that no other film crew will ever be allowed to do so in the future. Inside these caves live some of the globe’s most bizarre animals. “Planet Earth” shows incredible footage of these rare dwellers, some of which, through evolution, no longer have eyes, while others give off light to lure their prey. First broadcast in 2006, “Planet Earth” is a must watch for children and adults. Sit back and be mesmerized. o

Montalto is a member of the DVD Library Committee.

Did you know?

new

movies

If you don’t watch enough DVDs to commit to a monthly fee, à la carte membership allows you to rent movies for ¥400 a movie, or ¥200 for a short feature.

FAMI LY

Escape from Planet Earth Far away on planet Baab, alien astronaut Scorch Supernova (voice of Brendan Fraser) has a reputation for saving the day, but the national hero may be pushing his luck too far by answering a distress call from a dangerous neighboring planet.

D RAMA

Killing Lincoln This made-for-National Geographic TV movie, narrated by Tom Hanks, recounts the last days of Abraham Lincoln and starts 16 days before the shocking assassination of the 16th US president.

Oz: The Great and Powerful Set 20 years before the braided Kansan arrives, this latest cinematic tribute to L Frank Baum’s Oz series of novels tells the coming-of-age tale of the enigmatic magician himself (James Franco). Forget you, Dorothy, and your ruby shoes, too!

HO RR O R

CO ME DY

AC TIO N

Identity Thief As if trying to track down the woman who stole his identity and maxed out his credit cards isn’t hard enough, Sandy Patterson (Jason Bateman) also has to contend with bounty hunters. Also starring Melissa McCarthy.

Hansel and Gretel The kind of reimagining that pays homage to the darker side of Grimm’s (not so) fairy tales, this American horror sees the storybook brother and sister chasing witches with semiautomatic weapons. Think shell casings for breadcrumbs.

A Good Day to Die Hard In this latest installment of the action franchise, John McClane (Bruce Willis) travels to Russia to help his rebellious son, only to discover that he is a CIA agent working to prevent bad guys from stealing nuclear weapons.

DVD Library Daily: 9 a.m.–8 p.m. tel: 03-4588-0686 e-mail: dvd.library@tac-club.org Reviews compiled by Erika Woodward.

16 June 2013 iNTOUCH


COMMITTEES

Celebration and Ceremony

O

n that historic day 237 years ago, 56 delegates of 13 colonies set about declaring America’s independence from Great Britain. Having ratified the Declaration of Independence, they founded the United States of America on July 4, 1776. Foremost among the founding fathers were Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and John Hancock, whose names are perhaps the most readily recalled. But the courage of all the legislators to declare America’s sovereignty while the fledgling nation was still warring with the British was no small matter. “We must all hang together or surely we will all hang separately,” said Franklin. In a lighter spirit of solidarity, join us as the Club pays tribute to America’s founding and its own 85th birthday, with a weekend of Independence Day festivities and a slice of ceremony. The fun kicks off with a laid-back Friday evening of all-American drinks, snacks and music in the Winter Garden, followed by the annual Independence Day Reception, complete with a Champagne toast, military color guard and music by the Tokyo Fire Department Band, on Sunday. All the while, youngsters can celebrate

Toyota Road Trip

the American holiday with a playful afternoon of activities, games and crafts. The patriotic revelry continues into the night for the grownups, with a spread of American food, a sing-along of classic tunes and a performance by opera talent and Member John Ken Nuzzo at an elegant dinner at Decanter. o Red, White and Blue Revelry Friday, June 28 6–7:30 p.m. Winter Garden ¥2,000 No sign-up necessary Independence Day Reception Sunday, June 30 5–6:15 p.m. Manhattan II and III Free Independence Day Dinner Sunday, June 30 6:30–9:30 p.m. Decanter ¥7,700 Adults only Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk Sponsored by the Programs and Events Committee

O

n the latest Men’s Group adventure, see firsthand what goes on behind the scenes at Toyota on a guided tour of the famous Japanese automaker’s plant in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture. Besides enjoying a peek at the hightech assembly line of the manufacturer that introduced just-in-time production, Members will be able to take in the full range of Toyota and Lexus cars, as well as the futuristic i-unit concept vehicles, at the Toyota Kaikan Museum. Whether you’re a car buff or just interested in learning more about this Japanese corporate icon, don’t miss this trip to the home of the world’s largest automaker. o Toyota Plant Tour Friday, June 28 7 a.m.–7:40 p.m. ¥35,000 (includes transportation, lunch and drinks) Adults only Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk Sponsored by the Men’s Group

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 Ira Wolf Finance Gregory Davis (Hiroshi Miyamasu) Food & Beverage Michael Alfant

(Mary Saphin) Food & Beverage Subcommittee Wine Stephen Romaine House Jesse Green (Gregory Lyon) House Subcommittee Facilities Management Group Elaine Williams Human Resources Jon Sparks (Jeffrey McNeill)

Membership Craig Saphin (Machi Nemoto) Nominating Roger Marshall Programs & Events Barbara Hancock (Lance E Lee) Programs & Events Subcommittees Frederick Harris Gallery Yumiko Sai Men's Group Gregory Lyon

Recreation Sam Rogan (Ira Wolf) Recreation Subcommittees Bowling Crystal Goodfliesh DVD Abby Radmilovich and David Fujii Fitness Sam Rogan Golf Steven Thomas Library Melanie Chetley Logan Room Alaine Lee and Nancy Nussbaum Squash Martin Fluck Swim Jesse Green & Alexander Jampel Youth Activities Narissara March

Cornerstone of the Club 17


Kayo Yamawaki

(l–r) Erin, Jill, Catherine and Connor Hogan

18 June 2013 iNTOUCH


RECREATION

(Safe) Summer Fun As the mercury rises and young families head to the Club, the Sky Pool prepares for an accident-free summer.

by Erika Woodward

W

ithout so much as a backward glance, 2-year-old Catherine Hogan slides open the glass door to the Sky Pool, walks to the farthest lane and dips a foot in the water. “She will even say to me, ‘No, don’t [help]. I can swim by myself,’ and she’ll jump off the little red platform and go underwater, but she doesn’t know how to float or anything,” says Catherine’s mom, Jill, following closely behind her. Her youngest daughter’s water confidence doesn’t make Jill any less vigilant, though. “Because she’s very comfortable in the water, which is a great thing, it’s also very dangerous because she’s definitely not old enough to know her limitations,” she says. “So if she’s in the water, I’m in the water.” Sitting in the Club’s outdoor café, Splash!, before taking her children for a weekday swim, Jill says that when it comes to pool safety, parents shouldn’t rely solely on lifeguards to look after their toddlers. “That is the responsibility of parents,” she says. That’s the message that Sky Pool manager Haldane Henry is working to get out. “With drowning being the fourth-leading cause of death of children under 5 years of age, it is essential for parents or guardians to be with their kids in the water if it is knee depth or

deeper,” he says. “It’s very important, not only for safety reasons, but a child will feel reassured by having that chance to explore and learn in the water.” Suiting up nearly daily to take Catherine for a swim at the Sky Pool while her eldest kids are practicing with the Mudsharks, Jill says she feels “nervous” and “scared” on those rare occasions when she spots tots swimming without hands-on supervision. “You can choose to do something else or whatever, but I don’t because, I guess, at the end of the day, that kind of preventable accident I would never recover from,” says Jill, who is set to welcome her fourth addition to the family this month. The youngest of four, competitive swimming siblings, Jill recalls a childhood scare of her own. About 30 years ago, her sister was jumping on a neighbor’s covered pool when the plastic suddenly gave way. “She slipped, fell in, and I know she got really freaked about it, because you feel like you’re trapped,” she says. “We were all kind of freaked out because she was very scared, and it’s, like, ‘OK, this is someone who knows how to swim—how easily an accident can happen.’” Jill says her sister’s solid water skills saved her that day. That’s why

she’s determined to have her children become acquainted with the water from a young age. “Now there’re so many options for kids, and I know other parents are, like, ‘Yeah, we really need to get to the swimming thing.’ I would just say do it sooner rather than later because the older the kids are, the less comfortable they become,” she says. Building confidence and skills in the water ensures fun for years to come. “Kids who have a near drowning experience or a trauma in the water sometimes never get over it,” Henry says, “even when then they are an adult.” So, whether her family is heading to the beach or the Sky Pool, Jill takes the plunge alongside them, even when it seems like a chore. “You know, during the winter, it does suck to get in the water with them every day. I’m, like, ‘Oh, it’s cold—do I really have to?’ But I often find—especially if I’m tired or whatever—even just getting in and playing with Catherine, it does give me some energy that I otherwise didn’t have.” And peace of mind. o

  Children under 5 must be within an arm’s length of a responsible adult at all times while in the water.   Strollers or similar children’s equipment are not permitted in the Sky Pool area, including the outdoor sun deck and Kids’ Water Park.

  Small children are only permitted to use floats in the open swim area and under adult supervision.   Children who are not toilet trained must wear a Club-approved swim diaper under a reusable over-diaper (sold at the Sky Pool Office).

To learn more about the Club’s American Red Cross lifesaving courses, contact the Sky Pool Office.

Sky Pool Guide   Children under 10 who haven’t passed the Super Swimmer test (swim 25 meters, retrieve a dive ring from the bottom of the Sky Pool and tread water for 30 seconds) must be within an arm’s length of a responsible adult at all times while in the water.

Fitness and well-being 19


F itness

YO UTH E VE N TS

Fun in the Sun Keeping boredom at bay this summer, Camp Discovery is dishing up summer camp fun in week-size portions for Club youngsters with an unquenchable craving for sports, crafts, music, games and field trips. Camp Discovery June 17–August 16 Weekdays 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Members: ¥37,800 per session Non-Members: ¥44,000 per session For ages 6–12 Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk For more information, contact Reina Collins at reina.collins@tac-club.org.

Happy Campers

Sculling Challenge

S

ee how you stack up against other rowers at the Club’s 5th annual rowing competition at the Fitness Center. Competitors can battle for victory in the 2-minute, 500-meter or 2,000-meter category. o

20 June 2013 iNTOUCH

For more information, contact the Fitness Center at 03-4588-0266 or fitness@tac-club.org. Indoor Rowing Challenge Saturday, June 1 7:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m. Free

Inspiring confidence, curiosity and cheerfulness, Camp Discovery for Preschoolers feeds Club youngsters’ growing appetites for knowledge with educational song, dance, crafts and sports. Camp Discovery for Preschoolers June 17–August 16 Weekdays 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Members: ¥37,800 per session Non-Members: ¥44,000 per session For ages 3–5 Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk For more information, contact Reina Collins at reina.collins@tac-club.org.


RECREATION

YO UTH E VE N TS

Taking the Plunge Get the most out of the water by signing up for one of the Sky Pool’s intensive, two-week swim sessions this summer. Divided into six levels, the program teaches children everything from basic water safety to improving their strokes.

Hitting the Books Use the summer to secure your future by attending one of the programs run by the Club’s professional tutors. In July, they will be helping students prepare for college admission exams, while the following month they will provide high school juniors and seniors with an insight on college admission essays and how they affect the admissions process. Summer SAT/ACT Prep Program July 7–31 Every Wednesday and Sunday 1–3 p.m. ¥85,000 (includes two additional SAT exams and analysis) Summer College Prep Camp August 19–23 (parent orientation: August 19, 7–9 p.m.) Tuesday–Friday 2–6 p.m. ¥85,000

The Making of Dojo Denizens Get started mastering a martial art this summer at special aikido programs for kids (ages 5–12) and adults. Great for flexibility, coordination and physical fitness, aikido training can be rewarding and enjoyable even for those who are just in it for fun. Summer Intensive Aikido for Adults June 11–July 11 Every Tuesday and Thursday 7–8 p.m. ¥29,400 Summer Intensive Aikido for Kids July 1–12 Weekdays 2–3 p.m./5–6 p.m. ¥29,400 Sign up online or at the Recreation Desk For more information, contact the Recreation Desk at rec@tac-club.org.

Kids’ Summer Swim Program Session 1: June 17–27 Session 2: July 1–11 Session 3: July 22–August 1 Session 4: August 5–15 Sign up online or at the Sky Pool Office. For more information, contact the Sky Pool Office at pool@tac-club.org.

Game On Whether they’re taking to the field or convening on the court, young athletes with a penchant for competition have the chance to win at myriad matchups at the Club’s Summer All-Star Sports program. Each day, participants enjoy a combination of sports and activities, from volleyball and hip-hop to basketball, martial arts and badminton. Summer All-Star Sports June 17–August 16 Weekdays 3:30–4:30 p.m. (Thursdays: 5–6 p.m.) For ages 6–12 For more information, contact the Recreation Desk at rec@tac-club.org.

For more information, contact Reina Collins at reina.collins@tac-club.org.

Pampering for Dads Book one of the Father’s Day treatment specials this month or buy a treatment gift certificate and you’ll receive a surprise gift from The Spa. June 1–30 The Emperor 60-minute Deep-Tissue Massage and 60-minute Gentleman’s Refresher Facial (¥21,000) The King Sportsman’s Manicure and Pedicure (¥13,650) The Prince 30-minute Reflexology Massage and Wax* (¥11,060) (* One treatment area.)

The Spa proudly uses products by

To book your next pampering session, contact The Spa at 03-4588-0714 or spa@tac-club.org.

Fitness and well-being 21


Reflections on Our Community Kayo Yamawaki

by Ginger Griggs

Ginger Griggs

Into the Unknown by Betsy Rogers

A

fter the last school bell rings in the start of the summer break, many international families soon converge on Narita Airport for flights home. Plenty of people, however, choose to summer in Japan. Summertime is about water and beaches, and my outings tend to be one-day road trips or train trips that require little effort and planning. Navigating a foreign country in a different language, though, can mean that even the best planned outings quickly become adventures. Living on Asakusa Line, I frequently ride the train to Ningyocho to browse the old kimono and tofu shops and other traditional stores or to Higashi Ginza for Kabuki or Tsukiji fish market. But rarely did I find a reason to venture in the opposite direction. So I made one. I packed up the stroller, grabbed snacks and bought tickets for the end of the line. South of Tokyo, the town of Misakiguchi is past Yokosuka, in Kanagawa Prefecture, and at the tip of the Miura Peninsula. 22 June 2013 iNTOUCH


WOMEN’S GROUP

I

t’s Saturday, May 11, and I am on a bus heading for Shirokanedai. As I absentmindedly look out the window at the familiar streets now wet with rain, my vision is more inwardly focused than outwardly. As the outgoing Women’s Group president, I’ve been asked to share my thoughts in an article, and I’m wondering where to start. Much has happened since my husband and I joined the Club almost 16 years ago. Notably, as Japan continued to weather the economic downturn of the last decade, the Club built and moved into an awe-inspiring facility, followed not long after by the tragic events of March 11, 2011, and the heightened exodus of foreigners from the country. These days, among the challenges the Club faces is the need to become a sought-after venue for outside business while simultaneously providing high value to us, its Members. There are numerous points of view as to how the Club can best achieve that critical balance, but one key message continues to come through loud and clear: as Members, we have a strong desire for a sense of community. Membership allows us access to the Club, but it doesn’t necessarily guarantee us a sense of community. That, we must create. To feel part of a community, we need to “connect,” build friendships and have opportunities to contribute and come

together in the pursuit of shared interests. Over the years, much of my own sense of community at the Club has come through my association with the Women’s Group: as a consumer of its many classes, tours, luncheons and special events, as a volunteer at its fundraising activities, as a supporter of its charitable donations and, eventually, as a member of its board. With their dedication to serving the entire Club community, I highly recommend this talented, dedicated, warm and welcoming group. Among my dearest friends will always be the Women’s Group members with whom I have worked, played, at times commiserated and always celebrated life in Tokyo. On May 13, my term as president of the Women’s Group comes to an end. Upon stepping down, I feel both gratitude for the opportunities and friendships that my time in office has given me, and confidence that the organization is in good hands. I wish all of the incoming board members success and enjoyment in their new leadership roles, as they work to maintain the traditions that have made the Club great and explore new opportunities that will keep it great for many years to come. I invite all Club Members to join me in warmly welcoming and supporting the new Women’s Group board. o Griggs is the former president of the Women’s Group.

Arriving at the sparsely populated station, I checked the map to find out what was on offer. With water on all sides, I couldn’t go wrong. After noticing beaches and a marine park, we headed for the lone car at the taxi stand, where I pointed to one of the beaches on my map. Off we went into unexplored territory. While the sand was a bit rough on our soft, citified feet, the sea glass was abundant. I was reminded of my own childhood summers on the rocky coast of Maine, where I spent hours collecting pieces of magical sea glass. My kids’ pockets were filled with rounded, smooth misty blues, greens and browns. We made sandcastles and waded in the tide pools, on the lookout for crabs lurking under blankets of seaweed. We grabbed some sashimi at a nearby beach hut run by an elderly couple, who caught the fish themselves. Following a coastal path, we found ourselves at a small marine park called Aburatsubo, where we enjoyed a dolphin show. Heading home after a refreshing getaway, I realized the importance of occasionally heading out into the unknown. o Rogers is vice president and director of communications of the Women’s Group. Kanagawa Now Japan Tourist Guide www.kanagawa-kankou.or.jp Keikyu Aburatsubo Marine Park www.aburatsubo.co.jp

An interactive community 23


Conquering an Icon

24 June 2013 iNTOUCH


FEATURE

With throngs of hikers set to converge on Mount Fuji’s slopes for the start of the official climbing season next month, what does the future hold for Japan’s iconic mountain? by Nick Narigon

Conquering an Icon 25


TRAILS TO THE TOP

Fujinomiya Trail

Gotemba Trail

Subashiri Trail

(Shizuoka Prefecture) A longtime popular route, the Fujinomiya Trail is the closest to the top. It has plenty of mountain huts and resting spots along the way and boasts a view of the crater from the last eruption, in 1707, along the way.

(Shizuoka Prefecture) The least crowded of the four routes, with few mountain huts, the Gotemba Trail is known for its unique sand slope (for speedy descents!). Hikers can see the Hoei Crater, which was formed in the last eruption, on this trail.

(Shizuoka Prefecture) Since the tree line extends to 2,700 meters on this route, the Subashiri Trail is the greenest of the four trails. This more gently sloped path merges with the Yoshida Trail from the eighth station.

Fujinomiya 5th Station: 2,400m Up: 4–7 hours Down: 2–4 hours

Gotemba 5th Station: 1,440m Up: 7–10 hours Down: 3–6 hours

Subashiri 5th Station: 2,000m Up: 5–8 hours Down: 3–5 hours

26 June 2013 iNTOUCH

Yoshida Trail

(Yamanashi Prefecture) This is the most popular trail and the most accessible from Tokyo. It has plenty of modern facilities and lodges and even some firstaid centers. It merges with the Subashiri Trail from the eighth station. This is the sunrise side of the mountain. Kawaguchiko 5th Station: 2,300m Up: 5–7 hours Down: 3–5 hours


FEATURE

I

t had been a grueling, seven-hour slog up the rocky, unrelenting flank of Mount Fuji, and all Ricky Sanford wanted to do was curl up for a nap. After sipping down a cup of hot green tea, the 12-yearold rested his head on a boulder and dozed for 30 minutes at the summit of the 3,776-meter peak. “It was a tough climb. It was pretty much a haze to me, but really it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Ricky says of that climb he made with his family in 2010, two months after the Club Members moved to Tokyo from Reading, Pennsylvania. “We made the decision to climb Mount Fuji before we even moved to Japan,” says Ricky, now 15. “We hadn’t heard any stories about Fuji before we decided to climb. We had only seen pictures online. We knew absolutely nothing.” An avid member of the Boy Scouts, Ricky joined Troop 51 through the Club. On the first weekend in September, Ricky, together with his mom, Heidi, dad, Fred, and sister, Katie, accompanied several other families for the annual Fuji trip, sponsored by the Boy Scouts of America and the Scout Association of Japan. The traditional way to climb Fuji is to arrive at a fifth station at around 10 p.m. and hike to one of the lodges stationed along the way. Hikers sleep for two or three hours in cramped quarters and resume their trek in the dark, reaching the summit in time for sunrise. But since the Scouts don’t allow affiliated members to hike at night, the Sanfords began their ascent at 7 a.m. The round-trip took about 11 hours. “The first time we hiked it, we had good, good weather,” Fred, 51, says. “It was

very warm and it was very sunny. We were all pretty sunburned by the time we were done, but it was just a beautiful view from the mountain, wherever we were.” The official climbing season for Mount Fuji, which straddles Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures, begins July 1 and ends August 31. Although some of the mountain huts and restrooms are closed in September, the weather is still comfortable, some shops remain open and the heaving crowds have dissipated, according to Fred. “We are told that it is literally a conveyor belt of people in August. I would never go then. I suggest you go in the first two weeks of September. It is so much easier because you are not literally walking at someone else’s pace,” says 48-year-old Heidi. “To be able to say we did it as a family, it’s one of our highlights, it’s just phenomenal.” Fred and Ricky climbed Fuji again last September. To celebrate their 17th wedding anniversary, Albert and Julianne Bosch also trekked to the top of Japan’s highest mountain last September. Along with fellow Members Tim and Sarah Brett, the American couple arrived at Fuji at 11 p.m. on a Friday night and hit the trail just before midnight. They reached the summit in time for a breathtaking sunrise. During their steady descent, they even popped a bottle of Champagne. “For us, it was a wonderful experience. It was something we had put on our bucket list when we moved to Japan,” says Albert Bosch, a 46-year-old father of three. “I would like to do it again because I would like to take the children. I’ve hiked more than one mountain more than once before, and every time you climb a mountain you have a different experience.”

If he does return, Bosch says it would be in the offseason again. Despite the significant difference in temperature between the base and summit and fewer amenities during this time of the year, Bosch says that on their expedition there were, at most, 150 people at the top and none of the “cheek-to-cheek” crowding, so common during the summer climbing season. According to a spokesperson for the Yamanashi Prefecture Tourist Association, nearly 250,000 hikers climbed Fuji on the Yoshida Trail (there are another three routes on the Shizuoka side) between July and August last year, compared with 150,000 visitors in 2002. Last year also saw 11 people killed on the mountain, including an American tourist who set out on a camping trip in January, and 76 hikers reported missing. With Fuji set to be named a World Heritage site this month, the Yamanashi Tourist Association expects the number of climbers to only increase. Both Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures are discussing a possible fee for hikers, while Shizuoka may introduce a set of guidelines for offseason climbers. One proposed restriction would require offseason trekkers to first obtain permission from the prefectural police. No such offseason restrictions are planned for the Yoshida Trail, the most popular route up the volcano, which last erupted in 1707, but the Yamanashi Tourist Association says it urges offseason hikers to always exercise caution. “I hope they are smart about the restrictions they impose,” Fred Sanford says. “There is the unofficial hiking season when the weather is still OK, and then you have the winter season, when it is more Conquering an Icon 27


Hiking Hints

T

housands of people climb Mount Fuji each year, but there are plenty of accidents and mishaps as well. For a safe trip, preparation is key. ▶  Wear layers of clothing, including gloves, a lightweight fleece and a water- and wind-resistant jacket with a hood. ▶  Wear a pair of comfortable, waterproof hiking shoes. ▶  Take a hat for protection from the sun, as well as sunglasses and sunscreen of at least factor 30. ▶  Carry a headlamp or flashlight for walking at night. ▶  Take plenty of water in a lightweight backpack. ▶  Take high-calorie/ protein snacks, such as energy bars, chocolate and nuts. You can burn at least 7,000 calories in a single climb. ▶  Take a pair of trekking poles for stability on the rocky trails and to reduce stress on your knees. ▶  Don’t forget ¥100 coins for the restrooms.

28 June 2013 iNTOUCH

dangerous and they spend a bunch of money pulling people off the mountain. There is a lot of tourism money that comes in, and if people are prepared and qualified, why not let them hike? Maybe there is a better way to deal with that.” Club Member Hideki Fukui has climbed Fuji during both the official hiking season and the offseason. An alpine ski enthusiast, he scaled the mountain twice in the summer of 2011 in preparation to ski down it. The following May, he did just that. “I like this phrase ‘earn your slope,’” he says. “Whatever distance you want to ski down, you have to climb. You have to earn your slope.” Last year, after sleeping in his car at the fifth station, he set out at around 6 a.m., along with about 100 other people. With the trail covered by deep snow, Fukui, 56, says he climbed straight up in his special ski boots fitted with crampons (some alpine skiers hike with their skis on). “It’s not a pretty mountain while you are climbing up,” he says. “From afar it is very scenic—it’s blue and white-capped with snow. Climbing up, it’s just a long, long climb, that’s all it is. It’s just white. I just keep counting up to 100 and then take a rest, and then take another 100 steps. It’s just endless.” Since the weather on Fuji is so unpredictable, alpine skiers tend to climb until midday then ski down from wherever they have reached. “If you are

still on the mountain at 4 o’clock, you could die,” says Fukui, who took a photo from the summit at just after noon before making his swift descent. Taking a direct route, Fukui says he avoided swooping down the mountainside for fear of dropping into an unseen hole or triggering an avalanche. “The people who don’t bring the proper equipment and don’t know the terrain, they are the ones who run into problems,” he says. It took him less than 30 minutes to return to the parking lot. “The snow is like sherbet. It was very, very nice. It was very fast, and it is very steep,” he says. “It’s just an endless slope. There are absolutely no trees. After coming down to the ninth station, you could almost spot your car in the parking lot.” Returning to his car, he was met by prefectural police officers who were searching for missing climbers. Fukui was told not to come back again during the offseason. Currently, offseason climbers submit a climbing plan to the prefectural police and local climbing association. In addition, climbers are recommended to take out rescue insurance worth up to ¥3 million. Fukui says that the authorities should extend Fuji’s hiking season and post regular weather and avalanche updates on a related website. (The Environment Ministry and local governments are set to launch an official Fuji website this month.) “The current season is only eight


FEATURE

Race for the Top by Nick Jones

weekends and people are just jamming up the trail. It’s just terrible,” he says. “They are going to make the mountain a world treasure. Instead of making more restrictions, they need to come up with a way for people to enjoy the mountain.” Jeremy Bricker, president of the Japan International Adventure Club, agrees. Since the offseason doesn’t see the same numbers of littering, inexperienced trekkers as the official climbing period, any new restrictions, he says, should be imposed during the summer. “They do their best to keep Fujisan clean during the summer, but there are hordes of people, some who aren’t prepared,” Bricker says. “They get extremely winded and just throw their trash on the ground because they are so tired. Of course, the problems you do get are falls, injuries and fatalities, but that is true with any mountain anywhere, any time of year. Whether it’s Fuji-san or anywhere else, that’s the risk you take climbing mountains.” Yosemite National Park in California recently imposed climbing restrictions for Half Dome, a popular destination hike. After crowds of hikers were unable to quickly evacuate the top of the mountain when lightning struck around three years ago, the summit is now limited to 400 visitors a day. A similar permit could be considered for Fuji, Bricker says, although he recognizes how this would adversely affect tourism revenue during the hiking season. “Fuji in the offseason does not have any crowding problems, so permits or further restrictions are tackling a problem that is not there,” he says. “The problem is not from crowding, the problems stem from the fact it is a winter mountain. People tackling the mountain in the winter are aware of the dangers ahead of time. Restrictions wouldn’t have a role in

making the mountain safer or cleaner.” Bricker, who has climbed Fuji twice during the hiking season, once in April and once in June, says that most of the Adventure Club’s members who tackle the peak in the offseason are training for the Himalayas or Andes, and put themselves on exposed ridges to prepare themselves for harsher conditions. For Bricker, the offseason offers the opportunity to partake in his favorite pastime of glissading, or sliding down Fuji’s snowy flank, using an ice ax to control his descent. Sitting at home, Fred and Ricky Sanford say they plan to climb Mount Fuji with the Boy Scouts for a third time in September. Meanwhile, Heidi will again assist with the Women’s Group’s annual Fuji Day Hike in the fall. The three-hour hike to the first station is a chance for Members to enjoy the Fuji experience, without the soreness that a climb to the top entails. “I thought that [climbing Fuji] was something that I would like to have in my back pocket to say that I did this, but I sure did not think that while I was climbing. I was thinking, ‘What did I get myself into?’” says 13-year-old Katie Sanford. “[But] I don’t think you can leave Japan without climbing Mount Fuji at least once.” o Narigon is a Tokyo-based freelance journalist. For information on Mount Fuji tours, speak to one of the My Tokyo Guide travel consultants, available every weekend, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., in the Family Lobby (1F). Meanwhile, contact the Women’s Group Office for details of the Fuji Day Hike in the fall. Mount Fuji Tourism and Communication www.fujisan-kkb.jp Fujiyoshida City www.city.fujiyoshida.yamanashi.jp Mount Fuji Guide http://mountfujiguide.com

C

lambering up Mount Fuji’s mercilessly steep side is challenging enough for most people. Some, though, would prefer to run to the top. Around 10 years ago, Club Member Chris Lewis did just that. As a competitor in the notoriously tough Fuji Mountain Race, he had to climb around 3,000 meters over 21 kilometers. “There are perhaps one or two races which are better known internationally, but I don’t think there is any other race where there is such a huge elevation gain in such a short distance,” he says. Held each July, the race, which also has a 15-kilometer category, attracts people from around the world. Runners lucky enough to secure a place (the Summit Race is limited to 2,500 competitors and the Fifth Station Race is capped at 1,276 entrants) must clear strict time limits and checkpoints along the route. The current summit record stands at a staggering 2 hours, 27 minutes. The first 100 meters of the race from Fujiyoshida City Hall is flat, but then the punishment begins. “From the fifth station, the first cutoff point, the trail steepens even further, and it is a very hard slog, with a lot of rock scrambling, all the way to the finish,” says Lewis, 58. “Although I did not suffer any altitude sickness, in the last 500 meters or so of vertical gain my legs were close to jelly, so progress was very slow. [I was] very glad to reach the summit.” Although he has run numerous marathons and ultra-marathons across the globe, Lewis says the next time he scales Fuji it will be as a regular hiker, climbing at his own pace. Fuji Mountain Race www.fujimountainrace.jp

Conquering an Icon 29


The Results Are In F

or the first time since moving into its stunning Azabudai facilities in 2011, the Club asked Members for their thoughts on Club services, facilities and programs in an extensive satisfaction survey last year. Seventy-seven percent of survey respondents said that they were satisfied or very satisfied with the Club, while 59 percent agreed that they receive good value for the cost of being a Member. Conducted by the MacMahon Group, a US-based private club consultancy, the survey was completed by 559 Members (12 percent of the Membership). Frank Vain is president of the MacMahon Group. During his visit to the Club in April, iNTOUCH’s Nick Jones sat down with the American to talk about the recent survey and trends in clubs. Excerpts: iNTOUCH: How well do surveys reflect the feelings of the majority of members at a club?

30 June 2013 iNTOUCH

Vain: You tend to hear more from the silent majority. There are people who are either a loyal core, who might be on a committee and they’re speaking up on a regular basis, or members who are kind of upset and will go and talk to the board and those kinds of things. The big middle you tend not to hear from unless you do a survey. We had over 500 Members respond to this last survey, but when you think about that from a market research perspective, a lot of businesses do surveys and you get very small samples. With clubs, where members are engaged and like their club and care about it, [people] are much more likely to fill out a survey, so they do work well to show a majority opinion. iNTOUCH: How important is it to hear from this silent majority? Vain: A big issue we see with it is the age disparity. Engagement and participation

tends to get to members who have been around for a while. It takes you a while to get on the board, you’re on the board and people are involved for a long period of time. By the time you do that, you probably don’t have kids anymore or you might not be active in certain activities or you’re older. And yet the younger members are really important. Often they don’t have a real voice in leadership. They’re busy people, they’ve got kids, they’re working, all of those kinds of things, so they’re not volunteering at the club. iNTOUCH: How are member demographics of clubs changing? Vain: They’re changing quite a bit. The big issue for clubs is that replacement member, and so if our products and services are geared to members who have been here a long time or who are older, the young members look at it and


TALKING HEADS

Frank Vain

say, “Jeez, it doesn’t have the programs I want or the services or appeal.” So looking at the attitudes of our own recent joiners or younger members helps us to identify the things we can do to attract that next member. iNTOUCH: How well did the Club fare in this survey? Vain: Pretty well. The biggest weaknesses of the past—health, recreation, wellness, all those kinds of things—were the strongest points in this survey, so you could really see the impact of the facility renovations. I think there was also some evidence of growing pains, probably a little more on the food and beverage side. The survey identified very well that the Food & Beverage Department does a great job in food quality, in service and all of those kinds of things. Value was a bit of a question and menu variety was a bit of a question in the minds of Members, and this will be a way that the survey very much can help with that. I know management was already on top of it. They had already taken steps to adjust menu prices, even right when we were launching the survey.

iNTOUCH: What other results from the survey are worth mentioning? Vain: The new Members really expressing a desire to meet other new Members. They want to get engaged, so they really put an emphasis on both the adult and family programs. Staff friendliness and performance was really highly rated in almost every food and beverage venue and recreation venue we looked at. iNTOUCH: What should the Club do with the results? Vain: It represents a great opportunity for the Club. As a hospitality business, you find those things out [and] you make adjustments. iNTOUCH: Another element that came up in the survey was the idea of an American identity for the Club. Vain: In a world where people are not so inclined to join a club as they were in the past and where there’s more competition, the more you [are] known and recognized for something is great. The Club has to have an identity to the outside world,

so clearly there was support across this Membership, in all segments…saying that it’s important for this club to visibly display and follow an American identity going forward. The more you’re known that way to the outside world, you can do much better in terms of attracting people or uniting the Membership. iNTOUCH: Is this something that is felt by other American clubs in the region? Vain: Absolutely. They all concentrate on it quite a bit because it’s a point of distinction. In the survey, Members were asked to make some comparisons themselves, and they feel Tokyo American Club is the premier club of the American clubs in Asia. A lot of people are spending a lot of time thinking about this clubof-the-future idea. I think there’s a lot here that suggests that this building and this facility is the club of the future. As utilization has gotten more diverse and programs have gotten more diverse, this idea of zoning within a club facility is that much more important. That was a huge weakness of the other Club. Now you can preserve the character and keep everybody comfortable. o Member insights on Japan 31


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.

DanDans

by Erika Woodward Sidestepping the severe competition to showcase artworks at Tokyo’s top galleries, a zealous collective of emerging artists are bringing their creations to the public in the most unconventional of places. Since launching in 2005, through hard work, innovation and negotiation, DanDans has been transforming restaurants, bars and boutiques into inspiringly charming—and wonderfully disarming— makeshift galleries. Coming to the Frederick Harris Gallery this month to flaunt the group’s raw brand of creativity, five artists— Aki Fueda, Yabe Hirosuke, Yasuo Ishimoto, Naoko Kitamura and Chisato Tanaka—will enjoy a respite from renovation. From innovative sculptures to odes to traditional Japanese painting, this year’s exhibition—the third at the Club— promises to be a grab bag of free-flowing originality. Having been inspirited by the diversity of people and religion while traveling abroad, artist Chisato Tanaka hopes to inspire compassion with her mysterious portraits. “We cannot choose a place or the immediate circumstances of our birth or blood flowing in us. In other words, we are equally born with the condition that we could not choose,” she says. “I wanted to depict a person who exists beyond all [those] conditions or someone not easily identified as a human.” After all, when it comes to experiencing art, no matter where it’s exhibited, drawing your own conclusions is part of the fun.

Exhibition June 10–July 7

Gallery Reception Monday, June 10 6:30–8 p.m. Frederick Harris Gallery (B1 Formal Lobby) Free Open to adult invitees and Members only

32 June 2013 iNTOUCH


FREDERICK HARRIS GALLERY

Exhibitions of Art 33


yokoso

Fabrice Berge & Satoko Berge-Kawano France—TMJ NetMedia Experis

Vishal & Juhee Sinha India—British Airways

Thomas & Chika Nevins United States—TMT, Inc.

Junko & Hiroshi Shimase United States—PineBridge Investments Japan Co., Ltd.

Tomohiko & Kiyomi Oshikawa United States—JP Morgan Securities Japan Co., Ltd.

Mina & Tetsuya Bessho United States—Sunny Side Up, Inc.

Dmitry & Atsuko Mishustin Russia—McKinsey & Company, Inc.

Joseph Hoang South Korea—Tokyo Business Gakuin

Mark & Yoko Smith United States—Skillhouse Staffing Solutions K.K.

Steven Bass & Toshimi Riku United States—Orion Partners Japan

Jean-Philippe & Miyako Oulevey Switzerland—Greenwings Japan K.K.

Fred Jheon Canada—ETF

Steven Sipes & Nobue Shirai United States—Glopeer Partners, Inc.

Russell Beattie & Nari Kim Australia—Barclays Securities Japan Ltd.

Innocent & Chizoba Obi United States—Accenture Japan Ltd.

Ellie Suzuki United States—Womble Gate American Dentistry

William Hill & Kellie Fitzmaurice New Zealand—Totan Icap Co., Ltd

Soki & Mikako Omae United States—Creative Hope, Inc.

William & Juna K Perrin United States—Perrin Pacific Corporation

Joel Greer & Yuki Akimoto United States—White & Case LLP

Mark & Lynn Brown United States—SAP Japan

Demir Sadikoglu & Naoko Saito Turkey—Reimei Global Advisors Pte. Ltd.

Ryan & Yu Imaizumi United States—UBS Securities Japan Ltd.

Nathan & Akiko Ramler United States—Macquarie Capital Securities (Japan) Ltd.

Lori Hewlett United States—The Hynd Group Mark Swindell & Melanie Brundle United States—Pfizer Japan, Inc. Frank & Kaoru Oberndorff Germany—K.K. Irisu

Matityahu & Yu Kaffeman Germany—Klocwork Christa & Noriyasu Watanabe United States

Ryu & Yumiko Matsuda United States—Barclays Wealth Services Ltd. Janari & Tetsuya Tonoike United States—JP Morgan Securities Japan Co., Ltd. James & Atsuko Porteous New Zealand—J-Port Co., Ltd. George Chang & Yoko Imai United States—Macquarie Capital Securities (Japan) Ltd. Tsutomu & Hitoko Nakada United States—University of Niigata Edmund & Yasuyo Henry United States—Asia Strategy

Peter & Tokie Schano Austria—Nihon Gentrade LLC

Jeremy & Minako Entwisle United States—JP Morgan Securities Japan Co., Ltd.

Ken Caplan United States—Mita Arts Gallery Co., Ltd.

Pierre Arsene France—Lazard Frères K.K.

John & Rino Lien Canada—DLJ Real Estate Capital Partners

Michal & Hayato Takahashi Israel

Reiko Sugawara United States—Do-Best, Inc.

Jeffery & Ikuko Brown United States—Juniper Networks K.K.

Karl-Hans Rath & Rie Yamazaki Germany—Sonderhoff & Einsel

Jeremy & Marisa White United Kingdom—Allen & Overy

Christopher & Erika Masse United States—Manulife Japan

Glenn Hansen & Setsuko Kiuchi United States—Kiuchi Visual Associates

Sherjung & Tomoko Sandhar India—Seinan Co., Ltd.

Parker & Shizuko Simes United States

Michael & Megumi Schano Austria—KTM Japan K.K.

Rodolphe Ruch France—Euro Japan

Christopher Earp & Katie Sexstone United Kingdom—Maersk Broker Japan

Stewart & Masami Bailey United Kingdom—K.K. Mogambo

James & Katsumi Arthur Canada—TMI Associates

Donald Beck United States—Toyota Motor Corporation

Peter & Ai Shane United States—UCB Japan Co., Ltd.

sayonara

Robert Frank & Lena Hajeanne Hwang John & Debbie Hanrahan Takao Ishiwatari Chandresh & Ushma Kotecha Joseph & Deborah A Longo Yukoh Masuda

Mark A & Ruby McGrath Virginia Quinn & Hiroshi Kumazawa Tiago Rodrigues & Sonia Afonso Michael Savage John & Keiko Shanahan Michael HE & Antje Spatz

Sean & Lucinda Cunial Australia—Coca-Cola (Japan) Co., Ltd. Markus Gfeller Switzerland—G&S Japan K.K. Mark Buchanan United States—Apple Japan, Inc. Itzhak & Roni Krinsky Canada—Teva Pharmaceutical K.K. John & Kayo Joyce United States—Goldman Sachs Japan Co., Ltd. Tatsunori & Satoko Bikai Japan—Top Agent, Inc. Jacques Maleval & Naomi Doi France—Embassy of France in Japan James & Leslie Adelsheim United States—Wellington International Management Co., Pte Ltd.

Tomoaki Abe Russell Burns & Estefania Vohue David Robert & Sachiko Elsworth

34 June 2013 iNTOUCH


MEMBER SERVICES

employee

of the month

Anna Mukai by Nick Jones

T

he devastating earthquake of two years ago was a watershed event for Anna Mukai. In the dreamlike days afterwards, she did a lot of thinking. “It really frightened me,” she says. “Some people feel that they have a lot of time but don’t realize that it’s not true until something happens or it’s too late.” Perhaps prompted by her daily route home, which took her past the Club, she decided to look for a job where she could make use of her English skills. In September 2011, she started her new position in the Club’s Recreation Department. It wasn’t the first time she had set foot in the Club, though. In the late 1990s, Mukai attended one of the regular summer camps. “I remember the pool,”

she says of her experiences at the old Azabudai facility. As a student at international school, she attended different camps around Tokyo during her summer breaks. “I was learning English at international school, but I wouldn’t have learned so much if it hadn’t been for summer camp.” Now more comfortable speaking English than her native Japanese, Mukai, 22, says that the Club’s multinational environment feels familiar. “You learn a lot about different people’s cultures [at international school],” she says. “Here, it feels [like] the same kind of thing.” Working predominantly in the Recreation Office, she also helps out in areas as diverse as the Library and

The Spa. “It was really hard at first, but everybody really helped me,” she says. “The atmosphere of each section is vibrant and different.” Away from work, she indulges in her passion for movies. If she’s not watching the latest sci-fi flick or thriller, she’s reworking film trailers on video-editing software. “I like playing around with music and scenes to create something better—in my view, anyway.” o Employee of the Quarter—Sam Nakamura Named Employee of the Month for March, Sam Nakamura picked up the most recent Employee of the Quarter award. He joined the Club just a year ago and works as a member of the Decanter and FLATiRON team.

New Member Profile

New Member Profile

Why did you decide to join the Club?

Why did you decide to join the Club?

Steven & Jamie Burger United States—Ricoh Co., Ltd.

“Between the children’s activities and an amazing selection of tours and classes, the Club was a perfect fit for our family. With this being our first overseas assignment, and not knowing too much about Tokyo, the Club has provided us with services, such as helping with travel arrangements and making recommendations on restaurants. The fitness facility is state-of-the-art and, of course, we enjoy all the restaurants. We look forward to taking advantage of everything the Club has to offer.”

James & Christine Klanac United States—IBM Japan, Ltd.

“My wife and I are from Atlanta, Georgia, and have been in Tokyo for a year. As empty nesters, we see Tokyo American Club as a way to expand our experience here through tours, classes and relationships with those from around the world. We have enjoyed our time as guests at the Club and look forward to taking part in all that it has to offer.” Christine andJames Klanac

(l–r) Steven, Amanda, Kyle and Jamie Burger

Services and benefits for Members 35


CULTURAL INSIGHT

Our Daily Rice by Efrot Weiss

E

arly summer in Japan means days of incessant rain, overcast skies and rising humidity. Known as tsuyu, or baiyu, this rainy period is regarded as the country’s fifth season. Caused by a Siberian cold air mass colliding with an air mass moving up from Southeast Asia, the rains commence in early June and continue until late July, as they work their way up the archipelago. Japan’s Meteorological Agency announces the official start and end of the season across each of the regions. Tsuyu, which means plum rain because the fruit ripens during this time, is particularly important for the cultivation of rice. Although largely mechanized nowadays, rice planting was historically done by young women in early June. In farming communities, though, ricegrowing rituals and festivals continue, with ceremonial offerings, special dances and Shinto priests reciting prayers

for a bountiful harvest. Since dancing is credited with boosting the strength of the rice, these performances tend to be elaborate. The importance of rice in Japan cannot be overemphasized. A dietary staple, gohan (cooked rice) is also the word for meal, and whatever accompanies the rice—fish, meat or vegetables—is considered secondary. Modern diets, however, are changing. A 2011 government survey found that families now spend more on bread than rice. Rice was introduced to Japan from China more than 2,000 years ago, and it has helped shape Japan’s culture and national character. In fact, according to archaeological findings, wet-rice cultivation triggered community living in the country. This kind of farming, where seedlings are transplanted to paddy fields, is labor intensive and requires social organization and technical know-how. The idea that the needs of the group take precedence over

those of the individual can trace its roots to these early farming communities. With a scarcity of arable land and water, farmers had to work together. This was particularly evident in rice paddy irrigation, which required water to be channeled down slopes and across many different farmers’ plots. In the Edo period, farmers even paid their taxes in rice, which was regarded as currency. Rice is fundamental to both Shintoism and Buddhism, too. Inari is the Shinto god of rice, while Inadama is the spirit that inhabits rice and is responsible for its growth. Naturally, rice and sake are common offerings at Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. This grain is so ubiquitous in Japan that it is even used in a saying about the all-important virtue of humility: “The heavier the head of rice, the deeper it bows.” o Weiss is a Member of the Club.

Stacks of Services at the Club JTB Sunrise Tours

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

36 June 2013 iNTOUCH

Spica

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

FedEx

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)

André Bernard Beauty Salon

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.

My Tokyo Guide Tour and Travel Desk

My Tokyo Guide consultants are ready to answer all your domestic travel questions. Family Lobby (1F) Sat: 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Sun: 12–5 p.m. E-mail: TAC@mytokyoguide.com


As if you needed an excuse for staying at the Club.

©Jeff Goldberg/ESTO

Whether you’re planning a girls’ getaway, romantic break or just want to take a little time out, check out our array of exciting overnight packages to suit every occasion.

mac zen spa fitness oasis For more details, visit the Guest Studios page under the Activities & Amenities section of the Club website.

Tel: 03-4588-0734 | E-mail: guest.studios@tac-club.org

www.tokyoamericanclub.org

den for two


Suiko and Shoko Ohta

Like Mother, Like Daughter

With art in their blood, the mother-daughter teaching team of Shoko and Suiko Ohta have introduced traditional Japanese painting to generations of Members by Erika Woodward Photos by Kayo Yamawaki

W

ith a gentle sweep of her brush, 83-year-old Shoko Ohta demonstrates for the class how to paint a flower in the classical Japanese tradition. “When I’m painting, my feeling is very happy,” she says. “I want to give to everybody that happiness.”

38 June 2013 iNTOUCH

Now in her sixth decade of teaching nanboku and yamato ink-wash painting at the Club, Shoko looks on with a smile as her daughter and fellow instructor, Suiko, takes the lead. Since childhood, Suiko has been preparing to carry on the family legacy of edifying Japanese culture through art.

“If foreigners don’t have any communication between Japanese, especially older Japanese, it might be difficult to find the real good points of Japanese culture, so through painting they can tell them—our four seasons of beauty or what kind of things Japanese admire,” Suiko says. “Then they start to feel what the real Japanese feeling is.” A student of the Ohtas for about 20 years, Member Junko Thomas says she admires the professional artists’ manner and method. “Their lifestyle is very Japanese,” she says. “The mother wears kimono all the time. They have great responsibility toward teaching. They are constantly painting and do exhibitions often so that we can learn from their artwork.” Having been introduced to painting by her father, whose ancestor was a calligrapher for the shogun, Shoko continued her studies with her aunt after her father passed away. At the family’s Tokyo home, where the hand-painted landscapes hanging on the walls change with the season, Suiko, 50, has been painting with her mom for as far back as she remembers. “Even when I was in kindergarten, I painted every day,” she says. Sitting next to her mother as she created artworks, a young Suiko would


INSIDE JAPAN

imitate her movements and brushwork. Shoko says her daughter’s talent developed naturally. “Because she likes [painting] and also I thought she had a nice sense for art,” she says. Working together almost daily, whether they’re teaching or creating an artwork, the Ohtas say they don’t always see eye to eye. “[It’s] not always enjoyable. Sometimes, I say, ‘Hmm, you have to do [that] once more, try once more,” says Shoko, with a playful wag of her finger. Suiko laughs. “Yes, she’s very strict,” she

says, “but I’m lucky to have her.” Using few strokes and never overlaying mistakes with “thick” acrylic paints, Suiko says ink–and-wash artists have to get it right the first time. But this essence of traditional painting is no longer taught in art schools, she says. “Of course, the modern artists they practice and they keep up their experience, but it’s, well, mentally, I think quite different,” she says. “We have to… put one final stroke successfully, otherwise it’s garbage; we can’t erase [it].”

When creating a single work, the Ohtas can labor up to eight hours a day for four months. “Because once we start painting, we can forget about everything; [we’re] just giving to the painting,” Suiko says. “I feel like I’m in the forest if I draw a forest. If I draw a cherry blossom, I’m sitting under the cherry blossom, so we forget time.” As instructors, the Ohtas say teaching students to approach their artwork with similar patience, especially in brief, twohour sessions, is one of their biggest challenges. “You know, you can’t make masterpieces in two hours,” Suiko says. “But I hope [students] will find an enjoyable time in two hours. That’s how you can create real beauty. If you rush, rush, rush, it never comes out.” Admiring her mother’s steady hand and concentration, Suiko says she aspires to replicate her serene brushstrokes. “[Mom] has such a soft touch for strokes and in just one stroke she describes such natural beauty in nature,” she says. “And as she is getting older, her stroke is, how can I say, not young. I can’t copy it. It’s her age coming out.” Shoko is quick to dismiss her daughter’s modesty. “She’s much, much better [at] painting detail and a sure line,” she says. “That is wonderful.” Although the Ohtas are doing their part to help inspire each other and the next generation of artists, there’s no telling for how long that will remain a family legacy. “My daughter is learning now and she loves painting,” Suiko says. “But I’m not sure she will succeed at this cultural Japanese painting. But I just let her go, we’ll see.” “Yes, I don’t want to push her,” Shoko says. “Maybe when she likes [it], she will come to us.” o To learn more about the classes on offer from the Women’s Group, visit the Women’s Group Office or Club website.

A look at culture and society 39


A Less-Beaten Path in Yamanashi by Joe Peters

Forget Yamanashi’s famous lakes and vineyards and head to Nishizawa Gorge for a day of hiking through stunning scenery.

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est of Tokyo, Yamanashi is known for its fruit farms, wineries and such natural attractions as Mount Fuji, the Southern Alps and the Fuji Five Lakes area. But the prefecture is also home to Nishizawa Gorge, a scenic day hike in Chichibu Tama Kai National Park. The hiking trail follows a picturesque river through a verdant gorge and takes in several pools and waterfalls along the way, including the five-tiered Nanatsugama Godan Falls. The round-trip hike is about 12 kilometers and takes around four hours. It’s a popular spot and gets quite busy on the weekends, especially during the autumn months when the foliage is changing. The first half of the hike along the Fuefuki River is a bit of a climb, with a few flat areas, and takes more than half of the total time. The trail is a mix of dirt, rocks and stone steps, punctuated by a couple of bridges across the river. Signs along the way highlight some rocks that, when viewed from the right angle, suggest the shape of certain animals, including one that looks like a frog. 40 June 2013 iNTOUCH

It’s not a particularly arduous hike, but there are places where you’ll be glad of the cables and chains attached to the rocks for pulling yourself up steeper sections. With some parts of the trail covered in loose gravel or slippery from the water running off the valley’s wooded slopes, it’s a good idea to wear sturdy hiking shoes and to carry hiking poles. With no vending machines available, be sure to take plenty of water. If you take children along, make sure they understand that the hike—like any hike—can be dangerous. You don’t want them slipping under the rope for what can be, at points, a long drop to the chilly waters that run down from the surrounding mountains. Roughly 90 minutes from the trailhead (and closer to two hours from the parking lot) is Nanatsugama Godan Falls. It’s possible to climb down and over the rocks to get closer to the waterfall, which is regarded as one of the 100 best waterfalls in Japan, for a lunch stop. The falls are also a popular spot for the adventure sport of canyoneering.


OUT & ABOUT

Around 90 minutes by limited express from Shinjuku Station to Yamanashi Station on the Chuo Line. From the station, a handful of Yamanashi Sangaku buses make the one-hour journey to the Nishizawa Gorge each day.

For overnight trips, there are numerous Japanese inns along Route 140 and within an hour or so of Nishizawa Gorge. Yamanashi Sightseeing www.yamanashi-kankou.jp

Take the Chuo Expressway from Tokyo to the Katsunuma Interchange. Follow Route 20 west to Route 140, then head north to Nishizawa Gorge. The journey takes around 2 hours, 30 minutes.

NISHIZAWA GORGE TOKYO

There are plenty of other great places along the way for taking in the scenery, but most people take a breather and enjoy a picnic at the top of the trail, where there are a few rough-hewn benches and a wooden platform. There is also a toilet here—the only one since just before the trailhead. Once you cross the river again, it’s an easy walk through the forest along a well-packed path that is more like a road than a trail. The steel rails along the path that occasionally jut out over drop-offs are the remains of the track for the flatcars that

were once used for hauling cut timber from the mountain. Horses pulled the flatcars up the mountain, where loggers would load trimmed logs onto the cars for the ride back down. The timber was then dropped into the river and floated down to the mills. At one point, you’ll see an old flatcar stacked with logs, offering a glimpse of the past in a beautiful corner of Yamanashi. o

Club Member Peters is a travel writer and blogger.

Explorations beyond the Club 41


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

Monocle: A New Media Model with Tyler Brûlé April 11

Canadian publisher, entrepreneur and Financial Times columnist Tyler Brûlé spoke to a packed room of Members and their guests about his flourishing global affairs and lifestyle publication, Monocle, and its associated brand empire. Photos by Yuuki Ide

1. Tyler Brûlé

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42 June 2013 iNTOUCH


EVENT ROUNDUP

Mashiko Kiln Ceremony March 22

Members of the Women’s Group visited the Tochigi pottery town of Mashiko to attend an unveiling of a rebuilt kiln that was originally built by the ceramic artist Shoji Hamada. Many of the kilns in the area were damaged by the earthquake of March 11, 2011. Part of the money raised by the Club after the disaster was donated to the Shoji Hamada kiln project. (l–r) Tomoyuki Ohtsuka (Mashiko mayor), Miki Ohyama, Ginger Griggs, Kazumi Ohtsuka, Elaine Williams and Tomoo Hamada (Mashiko Sankokan Museum director)

Kawagoe and Omiya Bonsai Village Tour April 9

A group of culture-hungry Members journeyed to Saitama Prefecture to take in the sights of the charming town of Kawagoe, also known as “Little Edo,” as well as Omiya Bonsai Village, a collection of nurseries and a museum dedicated to the Japanese horticultural art form. (l–r) Alaine Lee, Kazuko Morio, Richard Freeman, Elizabeth Butler, Diana Bohm, Elaine Williams, Miranda Remie, Alison Frost, Ginger Griggs, Melanie Yamauchi, Puja Rajeev, Shashank, Kalpana Shashank, Denise Monk, Christa Wallington, Christa Rutter, Virginia Orchard, Nancy Brown and Mary Marshall

Tokyo American Club–SMBC Agreement Ceremony April 16

Club President John Durkin welcomed SMBC Deputy President Yoshihiko Shimizu to Decanter to officially mark the refinance deal that was agreed between the Club and the Japanese bank last year.

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.

Cinco de Mayo at the Club May 10

Since Cinco de Mayo, the American holiday in honor of Mexican heritage, falls during Golden Week in Japan, the Club threw its own celebration in the Winter Garden a few days later, complete with Mexican snacks and drinks and a mariachi band. Photos by Yuuki Ide

1. (l–r) Shinyoku Sai, Elaine Williams, Tim Rooney, Norman Green, Betsy Rogers, Yumiko Sai, Miki Ohyama and Barbara Hancock 2. (l–r) General Manager Tony Cala, Club President John Durkin and Betsy and Ed Rogers 3. Nancy Nussbaum and Michelle Herring 4. Masahiro Miki 5. Allison Susser, Simmi Chatha Mehra, Anna Zarifi and Jill Joroff 6. Jorge and Isolda Perez-Martinez

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44 June 2013 iNTOUCH


EVENT ROUNDUP

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Snapshots from Club occasions 45


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

Mantas Invitational Meet April 20–21

A “school” of Mudsharks from the Club’s swim team headed to Hong Kong in April to take part in the annual Mantas Invitational Meet. The event at Tung Chung Swimming Pool featured swim teams from across Asia.

1. Nicola Lindell 2. (l–r) Simon Hadlow, Amelie Steck, Nicola Lindell, Maya Kushner, Waris Mills, Diya Asrani, Erin Hogan and Erika Koito 3. Erin Hogan 4. Maya Kushner 5. (l–r) Brandon Sato, Gen Koito, Frank Glantz, Keenan Mills and Danny Sato

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46 June 2013 iNTOUCH


HAVE YOUR

VOICE

HEARD Ensure you have a say in how your Club is run by registering to vote. Since only registered Members can vote in Club general meetings and elections and run for the Board of Governors, sign up today.

To learn more about registering and voting rules, visit the Member Services Desk or the Articles of Association, General Rules and House Rules page of the Club website.

w w w.tok yoamericanclu b.org


BACK WORDS

Whatever the story, anecdote, fictitious tale, rant, cultural observation or Club commentary, now’s your chance to take it to the world…well, Membership, anyway. E-mail your submission (no more than 700 words) to editor@tac-club.org.

Believing in Recovery by Dave McCaughan

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benomics is getting a lot of credit— maybe not for any real change as yet, but certainly for getting people to feel something is happening. Two years after the triple disaster of March 11 there are signs that Japanese people and many foreign residents want to believe the country is moving forward. Towards the end of March 2011, my colleagues and I conducted a poll to assess the mood of people in Japan and their attitudes to recovery. Taking the Japanese word for revival, we named the study “Fukkatsu.” This March, we completed our sixth survey of 1,000 people in this series. After an initial surge of patriotic fervor and belief in recovery, our survey in July 2011 revealed a weary, pessimistic feeling about recovery; around 40 percent believed it was possible. In our recent research,

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however, that number had jumped to nearly 70 percent. Of course, there’s still anxiety. You can see it in people’s eyes every time the ground shakes or when workers in focus groups talk despondently about not having had a pay rise in four or five years. But confidence is growing. For nearly two years, more than 40 percent of people thought that Japan would slip backwards in the near future. This year, that figure has slipped to just over 20 percent. We see many other signs of what one person polled described as “the chance to think we can come back.” While many families struggle and discount marketing has become the norm, Japanese shoppers say that they’re interested in value, not just price—and they’re willing to shop around for it.

The luxury market may not be the global leader that it was a decade ago, but research shows that Japanese buyers’ interest in unique, more expensive goods hasn’t waned. According to one study, the industry might be excited about China and other developing markets, but it sees Japan as a stable base, not a dwindling one. There’s no doubt that shopping behavior has changed in Japan over the last two years. We have seen an explosion in online shopping through sites like Amazon and Rakuten, and people say they want to spend more on entertainment and travel. The arrival of low-cost airlines has prompted Japanese to think more about vacations and short shopping trips to places like Seoul. Are more people actually flying? Yes, to a certain extent, but intent is everything. Our surveys also touched on the interesting “locomo” (locomotive) fad, which began with over-the-counter tonics that claimed to keep joints supple. Aimed at Japan’s aging population, these items promised to keep users moving. Just as diet trends a few years ago reflected the country’s desire to shed some pounds in a post-financial crisis environment, the locomo boom implies moving forward in life. Similarly, Abenomics, while risky, is at least giving people the impression that something is happening and that recovery really is possible. o McCaughan is a Club Member and director of strategic planning with the advertising agency McCann Worldgroup Asia-Pacific.



TOKYO AMERICAN CLUB

第 四 十 七 巻 五 七 八 号

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Summiting Japan

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The Sanford family and other Club Members offer tips on tackling Mount Fuji

Star-Spangled Celebration

The Club throws an Independence Day party

Good, Bad and Ugly

Assessing satisfaction in the Membership survey

Taste Test

Members test-drive craft beer glassware

Issue 578 • June 2013