TOKYO AMERICAN CLUB
第 四 十 七 巻 五 七 五 号
TOKYO AMERICAN CLUB
毎 月 一 回 一 日 発 行
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 三 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
The Wright Stuff Club Member and architect Naomi Pollock discusses the legacy of Frank Lloyd’s Wright’s Imperial Hotel—the birthplace of the Club Oz vs NZ
Rivals face off at the annual Wine Challenge
本 体 七 七 七 円
Herb & Dorothy screening at the Club
Imperial Performance The Club hosts an evening of gagaku music
Issue 575 • March 2013
Charting Courses for Success
Choosing and applying for the right US college can be an arduous affair, particularly from outside the United States. Luckily for young Members, help is at hand.
Peter Rabbit and Printmaking
2 4 6 7 8 10 12 13 14 18 20 26 28 30 32 34 38 40 48
An academic, artist, poet and translator, Irishman Peter MacMillan, who will speak at the Club this month, explains how his love for printmaking blossomed. inside japan
The Teaching Troubadour
Ahead of his appearance at this month’s Open Mic Night, Club Member Terry Christian talks about his nomadic life of teaching and playing music. feature
Imperial Legacy Once regarded as Asia’s finest architectural gem, the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Imperial Hotel was where a group of American businessmen first met to discuss establishing Tokyo American Club. More than 40 years after the building was torn down, iNTOUCH explores the Club’s link to the hotel and Wright’s legacy in Japan.
iNTOUCH To advertise in iNTOUCH, contact Rie Hibino: firstname.lastname@example.org 03-4588-0976
For membership information, contact Mari Hori:
Editor Nick Jones email@example.com
Designers Ryan Mundt Anna Ishizuka
Production Assistant Yuko Shiroki
Tokyo American Club 2-1-2 Azabudai, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-8649
Assistant Editor Erika Woodward
www.tokyoamericanclub.org Cover photo of Naomi Pollock by Irwin Wong
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Shuji Hirakawa Human Resources Director email@example.com
Lian Chang Information Technology Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Mutsuhiko Kumano Finance Director email@example.com
Darryl Dudley Engineering Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Scott Yahiro Recreation Director email@example.com
Brian Marcus Food & Beverage Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Getting in Touch Department/E-mail Phone American Bar & Grill
Banquet Sales and Reservations
Food & Beverage Office
Foreign Traders’ Bar
Member Services Desk
Women’s Group Office email@example.com
2 March 2013 iNTOUCH
While slightly embarrassed to learn only fairly recently that the Club owned two chunks of the old, Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Imperial Hotel, which sit near the main entrance, I tried to find out how the Club came to possess pieces of such a storied Tokyo institution. Unable to unearth much at all, I asked one of iNTOUCH’s regular writers, Nick Narigon, to investigate. Hours of flipping through back issues of various Club publications revealed only that a number of previous Club presidents and general managers had also started searches for information about the stones. At one point, it seemed like we might be on the verge of a real discovery, when one former general manager promised to reveal all in his next column. Unfortunately, it was back to regular Club business in the following issue. Intrigued, Nick tracked down the general manager to his home in the United States. All he could offer, though, was that he didn’t actually write his columns himself. And so it continued. Although we didn’t crack the decades-old enigma of exactly why remnants of the Imperial Hotel ended up at the Club after the hotel was demolished in the late 1960s, Nick has put together a fascinating story (“Imperial Legacy,” on pages 20 to 25) about the man behind that second incarnation of the Imperial Hotel, his legacy in Japan and a link between that memorable building and Tokyo American Club.
If you have any comments about anything you read in iNTOUCH, please e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org, putting “Letter to the Editor” in the subject title of the mail. Correction In November, the Board of Governors elected John Durkin to serve as Club president, or representative governor, for a one-year term, not a two-year term as was stated on page 29 of the February issue of iNTOUCH.
contributors Judith Herd
A longtime resident of Japan, Judith Herd came to Tokyo as a Fulbright scholar and stayed. She received her doctorate from Brown University and has taught at various colleges, including Brown, Temple, New England Conservatory of Music, Tama Art University and Nagaoka Institute of Design, where she was a tenured professor until she left to found AsiaSound, a company that promotes Asian music, and to raise her son. She spends as much time as possible in Hawaii at her home in Kauai, studying the history, archeology, ecosystem and culture of the most pristine island in Hawaii’s archipelago. A member of the Library Committee, she recommends a number of titles for exploring Hawaii’s history and culture on page 10. 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. For this month’s cover story, “Imperial Legacy,” on pages 20 to 25, he explores the work in Japan of lauded American architect Frank Lloyd Wright and the connection of his most celebrated building, the Imperial Hotel, to the Club.
Words from the editor 3
What’s happening in March 1
What’s in Store The Cellar, the Club’s B1 store, unveils some new stock, including some slick, Club-branded golf items for the coming season. Learn more on page 16.
Spring Spa Specials The Spa is ushering in this season of warmer weather with expertly bundled treatment packages, presented on page 17.
TAC Triathlon Club Launch Triathlon novices and veterans train together and swap tips through this new fitness enthusiast network. Contact the Sky Pool Office for details.
Tokyo: Here & Now Don’t miss this two-day primer on living in Japan and the opportunity to forge lasting friendships with other newcomers. 8:45 am. Find out the details on page 19.
Brazilian Churrasco Night Get a taste of what the largest country in South America is cooking at Café Med’s Brazilian blowout. Continues March 27–28. 5–9 p.m. Adults (18 and above): ¥2,500 Juniors (12–17 years): ¥1,800 Children (7–11 years): ¥1,500 Kids (4–6 years): ¥1,000 Infants (3 and under): free
Open Mic Night Traders’ Bar opens its doors to amateur musicians and singers for an evening of homegrown entertainment. 7:30 p.m. Find out more on page 13.
One Hundred and Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji with Peter MacMillan Artist, poet and academic Peter MacMillan talks about his love of printmaking and his book of poems and prose that inspired his new series of prints. He explains his print passion on page 18.
Shake Your Asana Vancouver-born singer-songwriter and yogi Will Blunderfield gets Members in all sorts of poses during a class that incorporates yoga teachings and world music. 2 p.m. For more, flip to page 16.
Easter Holiday Reading Program Kickoff Pick up a reading log from the Library counter and embark on a voyage of discovery through the pages of the Library’s extensive children’s books collection and win a prize. Learn how on page 10.
Birth Preparation for Couples Two invaluable days that will get you ready for labor, birth and beyond. Women’s Group classrooms. ¥36,000. Sign up at the Member Services Desk.
Skills Evaluation Day Ahead of the start of the new Youth Baseball season, young players have their skills with the bat, ball and glove tested. Flip to page 17 for more.
Karaoke with Dagmusic Grab a mic and let your inhibitions go during an afternoon of karaoke for kids, led by Club Member Donna Burke of Dagmusic. 2:30 p.m. Page 17 has the details.
4 March 2013 iNTOUCH
Youth Bowling League Launch Young keglers take over the lanes for an inaugural season of exciting strikes, spares and a little friendly competition at the Bowling Center. 4 p.m. Get the rundown on page 17.
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. Free. Contact the Women’s Group Office to organize free childcare.
Squash Social Night The Club’s squash players enjoy an evening of casual play and mingling at the Squash Courts. All are welcome. 6:15 p.m.
Test Prep Program American tutor and Yale graduate Kevin Pope prepares scholars for their college entrance exams. Learn more about this and the Club’s new Academic Improvement Center on page 14.
Girls’ Day Display The monthlong display of exquisite Girls’ Day dolls in the firstfloor Family Lobby comes to an end. Sponsored by the Programs and Events Committee.
Spring Programs Registration From hitting home runs to swimming with the “sharks,“ there’s an array of fun programs on offer for kids at the Club. Details on pages 16 and 17.
Squash Team Challenge The Club’s squash players come together for evenings of oncourt action and drinks every Tuesday until April 16. 7 p.m. ¥1,500 (includes post-game beer and drinks). Sign up at the Squash Courts.
Cabernet and Conversation Cocktail Party Celebrate your Japan know-how and budding friendships at this Tokyo: Here & Now wrap-up party. 6 p.m. To find out more, flip to page 19.
Early Pregnancy and Birth Planning Expectant parents prepare for the arrival of their bundles of joy during this Women’s Group class. 10 a.m. Yukiko Maki Classroom. ¥7,000. Sign up at the Member Services Desk.
Carpet Auction The Women’s Group hosts a lively evening of bidding for exquisite carpets and rugs to support one luminous scholar in Japan. 5–11 p.m. Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk. Details on the Club website.
Book Giveaway Don’t miss this chance to pick up a selection of books in various genres—for free. 11 a.m. More on page 10.
Imperial Sounds of Gagaku Three musicians from the Imperial Orchestra stage an exclusive performance of the ancient Japanese court music of gagaku. 7 p.m. Preview the magical evening on page 13.
Jonata Wine Dinner with Matt Dees Jonata’s enthusiastic young winemaker, Matt Dees, introduces the results of some highly successful vineyard experimentation in California. 7 p.m. Uncork the details on page 8.
St Patrick’s Weekend in Traders’ Bar Celebrate St Patrick’s Day the whole weekend with an array of mouthwatering eats and drinks from the Emerald Isle in Traders’ Bar.
St Patrick’s Day Bowling In honor of this Irish holiday, if you don a green outfit and head to the Bowling Center, you’ll receive three games for the price of two.
Spring Craft Day The Club hosts a morning of creative fun for youngsters to welcome the change of season and warmer weather. 10 a.m. Page 17 has more.
Australia vs New Zealand Wine Challenge Internationally acclaimed Australia takes on fellow New World highflier New Zealand in this annual battle of the bottle. 7 p.m. Flip to page 8, then hedge your bets.
Springtime Fun Youngsters celebrate the arrival of spring with an egg hunt, arts and crafts, a Spring Bunny meet and greet and more. 10 a.m. Learn more on page 17.
Yakatabune Dinner Cruise Enjoy a Women’s Group-sponsored evening dinner cruise around Tokyo Bay aboard one of Japan’s best-kept entertainment secrets. 6:45 p.m. Details on page 18.
Gallery Reception: Hiroto Uratani A whimsical spirit, artist Hiroto Uratani launches his engaging exhibition of paintings inspired by Japan’s natural landscapes at the Frederick Harris Gallery. 6:30 p.m. He reveals his other muse on page 28.
Easter Grand Buffet Celebrate this traditional holiday with a sumptuous spread of spring dishes. 11 a.m.–3 p.m. and 5–9 p.m. New York Ballroom. Adults (18 and above): ¥7,000; juniors (12–17 years): ¥3,250; children (7–11 years): ¥2,100; kids (4–6 years): ¥1,050; infants (3 and under): free. Sign up online or at 03-4588-0977.
WINE CHALLE NG E 2013
Coming up in April 4 TAC Movie Night: Herb and Dorothy 4 Sokol Blosser Wine Dinner 9 Kawagoe Antique Market and Sightseeing Tour
Noteworthy dates for the month 5
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
Board of Governors
Positive Thinking by Gregory Lyon
have lived in Japan for the better part of 16 years. Like most Club Members, my family and I travel a good amount for work, as well as for holidays. Since Japan is an island, this almost always means international travel and oftentimes transpacific flights. For some reason, I always look forward to traveling, even though being on an airplane for 15 hours (even on my own, let alone with three children under 7) isn’t usually enjoyable. Since no one can call or e-mail me in the air (a highly underrated benefit to travel, at least until Internet access becomes both widely available and free on flights), I have time to think and zone out. In addition, no matter where I have gone or how much I enjoyed my trip overseas, I’m always happy to return to Japan. If you read the Club’s Facebook page (you can find it through the Club website), you’ll know that our first stop after arriving in Narita from our year-end holidays was Rainbow Café. I would happily pit the Club’s cheeseburger and Cajun fries against any other burger and fries in the world. The same goes for the carrot cake. While traveling over the Christmas-New Year holidays, I realized that there has been a significant improvement in overall sentiment both in Japan and elsewhere. This has a positive net effect on just about everything we do, from traveling to spending money to enjoying life. There are still economic, humanitarian and safety issues being worked out in every region of the world, but it’s my belief and hope that things are on the right path. In our own corner of the globe, most agree that we have much
6 March 2013 iNTOUCH
John Durkin (2014)—President Gregory Lyon (2014)—Vice President Mary Saphin (2013)—Vice President Deb Wenig (2013)—Secretary Hiroshi Miyamasu (2013)—Treasurer
Brenda Bohn (2014), Norman J Green (2013), Ginger Griggs (2014), Paul Hoff (2013), Per Knudsen (2014), Lance E Lee (2014), Jeff 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)
for which to be thankful. First, Japan is exceptionally safe, a point that was driven home in December when I heard the news of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where my mother worked until her retirement three years ago. Things work well in Japan (assuming you can figure out how to use gadgets like your toilet seat) and the highways are both immaculate and well maintained. Naturally, there are many other examples that could be mentioned. I genuinely believe that after some challenging times the Club is also on the right path. We are seeking feedback and opportunities to make improvements in order to increase Member satisfaction, the number of Members and Club usage. Hundreds of Members completed the recent satisfaction survey, and the results will be invaluable for helping the Club make improvements. Also, with new Club leadership; focused committees; a refinanced loan that provides an enormous amount of flexibility compared to the original loan; new Members; and a plan to take full advantage of our facility, the Club looks well positioned for 2013. All of my children were born in Japan and activities at the Club, including holiday dinners, the Father-Daughter Dinner Dance and those two-hour breakfasts at Rainbow Café, make up some of our best family memories. I encourage all Members to enjoy everything that Japan—and the Club—has to offer, and I look forward to seeing you at the Club. o
Set for Success
Food & Beverage Director
by Brian Marcus
ast year was a fantastic one for your Food & Beverage Department. In the Club restaurants, we expanded our offerings on all fronts, including a popular set lunch and family dinner concept in Café Med, a superb weekend brunch service at American Bar & Grill and the addition of our mesmerizing culinary show, FLATiRON, in Decanter on the third floor. The dining outlets now boast more specials, promotions, events and menu changes and longer hours of operation than ever before. We have so much going on that it’s sometimes difficult to keep up. On the events side of the business, your Club has hosted some of the most prestigious companies and events in Tokyo over the past year. Thanks to our food, service and ease of booking, we have established a reputation for quality, and the Club is now the venue of choice for many key gala and corporate events and celebrity weddings. Some of our larger customers include GQ Japan magazine, Condé Nast Publications, Lexus International, Coca-Cola and both the American and Canadian chambers of commerce, which hosted their respective gala balls at the Club. What makes us particularly proud is that almost every new major client has returned to the Club to host another event. Simply, our events service is on a roll. This year, we have already seen a rebranding of Traders’ Bar, with more live American sports to watch, a wide selection of premium American microbrews and a sports bar menu that would make any deep fryer jealous! Meanwhile, American Bar & Grill has expanded its weekend and national holiday dinner offerings and
our family dining outlets have revised their menus for adults and kids. And this is only March! We recently held our first Food & Beverage staff meeting, where we rolled out our vision for the year. The staff are fired up and ready to provide amazing products and great service to Members, their guests and our customers that frequent the Club—on some days, in their thousands. We will strive to deliver products, service and promotions in an environment where just OK is not OK and excellence is the hallmark of Food & Beverage. We want to make the Club the go-to place for entertaining, dining and events. This year will also be one of profit for the Food & Beverage Department. As directed by the Club’s leadership, the department has set a profit target of ¥60 million. This lofty, yet attainable goal would not only represent the largest profit in Club history, it would be the first time the Food & Beverage Department has even turned a profit. Through a healthy mix of event and non-Member sales, Member enjoyment and providing great experiences at the Club, that target is within reach. Members are the key to any success at the Club. Since the Membership sets the Club’s rules and policies, we are working with the Food & Beverage Committee on issues that affect the Membership. In the coming year, we will be tackling such areas as dining age restrictions, event and dining facilities, children’s behavior, smoking and other, sometimes controversial topics that make the Club very different from a hotel or restaurant. We are looking forward to welcoming you to the Club throughout 2013 for what will be our best and most profitable year yet. o
Executive remarks 7
WINE CHALLE NG E
Down Under Duel
his year’s contenders for the Wine Committee’s Wine Challenge crown are natural rivals. When they’re not battling it out in various sporting arenas, both nations are renowned the world over for their range of quality wines. The New Zealand wines, represented by Richard Cohen, founder of the Toyama-based wine importer Village Cellars, will take on three reds and three whites from Australia, chosen by Carl Robinson, a sommelier who started Jeroboam, a Tokyobased wine import company. Richard Cohen
“Five years ago, in the committee’s first head-to-head blind tasting, Australian wine, represented by a New Zealander, beat New Zealand wine, represented by an Australian. The gentlenatured Kiwis didn’t object and simply made mincemeat out of the Wallabies on the rugby field. But rugby is rugby and wine is wine, and New Zealand deserves a rematch, particularly as so much has changed since then. At the very least, NZ’s delicate, sweeter style of Riesling is being recognized as a great food match. Add to that the now fashionable cool-climate Chardonnays, North Island Rhône blends that are offering an alternative to fine Australian Shiraz, and rich Bordeaux blends, and you have the making of an intriguing challenge. And let’s not forget Pinot Noir, for which NZ is renowned and continues to fine-tune. This won’t be as easy a match as the All Blacks usually face, but it’ll be a great one.”
Rising Star by Erika Woodward
8 March 2013 iNTOUCH
“I’m delighted to be invited back to defend my Wine Challenge title after helping the United States thrash France last year. I’m excited, too, to be defending Australia again. In my opinion, Australia is currently home to some of the world’s most exciting wines. A new wave of young, globe-trotting producers, many of whom have, interestingly, segued from successful careers as restaurant sommeliers, is doing away with the rulebooks of old and crafting dynamic, often controversial, yet extremely drinkable wines. These new styles are frequently made with minimal intervention, in regions previously thought too marginal for fine wine production. Some of these newer expressions will be on display at this year’s challenge. In contrast, the wines of cool-climate New Zealand (ironically, my own country) may appear more similar than different. It looks set to be an interesting battle.” o
Australia vs New Zealand Wine Challenge Tuesday, March 19 7 p.m. Washington and Lincoln rooms ¥15,000 Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk
Wowed by a bottle of wine, Matt Dees (pictured) wrote an ardent letter to the California producer and later showed up at the winery asking for a job. That was how the young University of Vermont graduate transitioned from novice soil scientist to winemaker in a decade. As the self-proclaimed “dirt geek’s” reputation for risk-taking spread, Dees, who will host a dinner at the Club, landed a job at one of Santa Barbara’s most ambitious and high-profile wineries. Since joining Jonata in 2004, the 30-something winemaker has been transforming about 80 acres of vines, experimentally planted in Santa Ynez Valley by a group of wealthy wine lovers, into 10 highly
regarded varietals. “Under a talented young winemaker, Matthew Dees, Jonata is building a remarkable portfolio that will also make the wine world take notice,”wrote influential wine critic Robert Parker in 2007. As predicted, the world is watching. o Jonata Wine Dinner with Matt Dees Tuesday, March 12 7 p.m. American Bar & Grill ¥12,000 Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk
FOOD & BEVERAGE
Struck Down by the Wine Bug by Kelley Michael Schaefer
ne of the Napa Valley’s most revered winemakers, Paul Hobbs, hosted a dinner at the Club last year, and during his visit, he graciously offered to give a wine lecture to the Decanter team. During his presentation, he explained how he first caught the wine bug. As a young man, he was actually a teetotaler, but a mouthful of one particular wine changed the course of his life. That wine was Château d’Yquem. Upon discovering this unctuous liquid gold from southern Bordeaux, he decided he needed to know more. That quest led to his lauded position as arguably one of California’s greatest winemakers. During a road trip through the United States in my early 20s, I found myself in a hoity-toity restaurant in Palm Springs, California, where the maître d’ informed us that Tony Curtis was seated at the next table. In an effort to fit in (and to impress my date), I perused the encyclopedic wine list. It might well have been filled with great California wines, but it was all Greek to me. At that time in my life, beer was my staple tipple (with the occasional shot of tequila for good measure), so perusing a wine list was not part of my repertoire. By good fortune, the sommelier-waiter was a charmer. A mustachioed, rotund guy in his late 40s, he feigned a French
accent (he later admitted to being from New York). My date and I enthusiastically bought into his shtick, and he suggested a Chardonnay from Sonoma County that was within our budget. As I recall, the wine was made by Kendall-Jackson. It was certainly no Chateau d’Yquem, but its soft acidity, rich tropical fruits and luscious vanilla undertones were a great starting point for a novice. My curiosity was piqued, and it soon became clear that I had caught the wine bug. Returning home to Canada, I started to search for a wine school. I enrolled in an enology program that September and the rest, as they say, is history. Almost 20 years later, my palate might well have evolved beyond supermarket Chardonnay, but that Kendall-Jackson wine proved to be an important catalyst in my life. I’m keen to hear your own stories about how you first discovered a passion for wine. E-mail me your wine bug tale to email@example.com, and the most interesting story will be shared in a future Bottle Talk column. In addition, the author will receive a free bottle of wine, perhaps to share with someone who hasn’t yet caught the bug. o Schaefer is the Club’s wine program manager.
Kelley’s Cellar Selection 2007 Cain Five Napa Valley, California If the winter months have left you California dreamin’ for a showstopping mouthful of Napa terroir, then look no further than Cain Five, a welcome new addition to the Club collection. Straddling both hedonism and finesse, this wine from the Spring Mountain winegrowing district is a classic blend of 68 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 16 percent Merlot, 6 percent Malbec, 5 percent Petit Verdot and 5 percent Cabernet Franc. This, too, is perhaps the best vintage of the decade, so be prepared for gobs of lush black fruit and an earthiness that will be elevated alongside any cut of Decanter’s certified Angus beef. ¥24,500 a bottle at Decanter.
Club wining and dining 9
Paradise Found by Judith Herd
will never forget my surprise while reading the “definitive” book on Hawaiian history that begins with Captain James Cook’s discovery of the islands in 1778. This occurred after I attended a lecture on an anthropological expedition to a site a few kilometers from where he landed, which, with each dig, reveals more facts about centuries of Hawaiian history before Cook’s birth. For those who wish to delve into Hawaii’s past, Gavan Daws’ Shoal of Time: A History of the Hawaiian Islands is a good place to begin. Unfortunately, it has some serious flaws, especially since he doesn’t mention the inter-island, Polynesian navigations that began before the birth of Christ. Meanwhile, The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World by anthropologist Wade Davis explores the travels of the islanders, by dugout canoe, from Tahiti to Easter Island, Hawaii and New Zealand, long before Cook’s arrival. If historical tomes are not your cup of tea, Hawai’i Looking Back: An Illustrated History of the Islands by Glen Grant,
Bennett Hymer and the Bishop Museum Archives is the best way to visit the islands from your armchair. The book is filled with rare photographs from the museum’s collection that pay tribute to the islands’ cultural wealth and portray Hawaii’s transition in ways that words can never do. The next stop in your travels should be the tributaries of history, acknowledging the contributions of Asian immigrants to Hawaii’s agricultural and cultural progress. Kodomo no Tame Ni—For the Sake of the Children covers the history of the Japanese-American experience in Hawaii through interviews, diaries, stories and biographical sketches of people like Wally Yonamine, the first American to play professional baseball in Japan, and Senator Daniel Inouye, who served in the
US Congress from 1959 until his death in 2012. There are so many other notable books, including Julia Flynn Siler’s Lost Kingdom: Hawaii’s Last Queen, the Sugar Kings and America’s First Imperial Adventure and Anwei Shinsnes Law’s Kalaupapa: A Collective Memory, which covers the forced exile of more than 8,000 Hawaiians to an island leper colony. Don’t stop here. On your next visit, take some time to discover Hawaii’s fascinating history. It will change your image of paradise forever. o Herd is a member of the Library Committee. Lost Kingdom: Hawaii’s Last Queen, the Sugar Kings and America’s First Imperial Adventure is available at the Library.
Free Reads Don’t miss this chance to pick up free books from a Library selection of novels and tomes. Book Giveaway Sunday, March 10 | 11 a.m.–6 p.m. | Beate Sirota Gordon Classroom
Spring Exploration Embark on a voyage of discovery through the pages of the Library’s extensive collection of children’s books this spring break. Get started by picking up a reading log from the Library counter. Read 10 books and win a great prize! Spring Holiday Reading Program March 16–April 1 | Library
10 March 2013 iNTOUCH
reads A History of Opera by Carolyn Abbate and Roger Parker This comprehensive history of opera covers its early Renaissance origins, with Claudio Monteverdi and the Medici family, to the late 20th-century, represented by the likes of Phillip Glass’s avant-garde opera “Einstein on the Beach.” The authors examine operatic styles and their evolution with insightful commentary on well-known operas and their composers.
When America First Met China by Eric Jay Dolin Beginning in 1784, Dolin’s “exotic history of tea, drugs and money in the age of sail” follows the birth of US-China trade and its importance to America’s economic growth while exposing such darker periods as the Opium Wars, Chinese slave labor and the environmental and economic devastation of the Chinese empire.
Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz Volumes have been written about America’s favorite French chef but none surpass this biography. Julia’s quest for self-expression inspired millions of fans to embrace French cuisine, support public television and expand their own horizons. Spitz explores Julia’s story, from her childhood in California to her death in 2004, with comments on US societal changes.
Miss Pell Never Misspells: More Cool Ways to Remember Stuff by Steve Martin This tiny treasure promises to “boost your brainpower” by showing you how to use a variety of tricks to help you remember “anything at all.” It also offers “a little bit of everything” for mastering English grammar, math, geography, science, history and the arts. Laugh and learn at the same time.
The Child’s Child by Ruth Rendell Writing as Barbara Vine, Rendell explores public opinion and societal taboos through the story of Grace and Andrew Easton, who inherit Dimont House from their grandmother. Deciding to share the house rather than sell it, the siblings’ amiable arrangement begins to deteriorate when Andrew’s boyfriend moves in.
The Far Side of the Sky by Daniel Kalla Living in Nazi Germany in 1938, Dr Franz Adler and his family decide to escape to Shanghai. Hoping to find a better life, they face a rampaging Japanese army and the threat of starvation, disease and internment. Kalla paints a colorful story of the world in the grip of hysteria and its victims’ will to survive.
Reviews compiled by Judith Herd.
Library & Children’s Library Daily: 9 a.m.–8 p.m. tel: 03-4588-0678 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
member’s choice Member: Joseph Glusker Title: The Fire Within by Chris d’Lacey
What’s the book about? A college student who learns secrets about clay dragons.
What did you like about it? I liked how the author didn’t give away many hints in the beginning.
Why did you choose it? When I first saw the cover, I thought it looked interesting. Finding out it was about dragons really got me going.
What other books would you recommend? Icefire, the sequel to The Fire Within.
Literary gems at the Library 11
egarded as one of Hollywood’s most sympathetic leading men, Liam Neeson has established a venerable career out of his masterful portrayals of imperfect individuals capable of achieving extraordinary things. While the Northern Irishman has played many unlikely heroes over the decades, including in groundbreaking films like Kinsey (2004) and Michael Collins (1996), 1993 remains a particularly standout year. After scoring a lead role in Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-winning Holocaust drama, Schindler’s List, a relatively unknown Neeson captured the heart of Hollywood. Playing a narcissistic and grasping German businessman, Neeson’s antihero becomes a concerned liberator of Jews in Nazi-controlled Poland. “The brilliance of Neeson’s performance is that he perfectly dovetails with the instincts of his director, effectively rendering Schindler as one part hero, one part villain, and all parts showman,” wrote American film critic David Ehrlich in a 2011 online essay. “Neeson’s bold characterization ensures that Spielberg’s approach doesn’t feel flippant or self-serving, but instead the logical extension of its protagonist’s cock-eyed perspective.” A forklift operator turned international film star, Neeson’s ability to deliver convincing performances of everyman characters seems to reflect his own personal journey from County Antrim to the Hollywood Hills. o
Irish Flair by Erika Woodward
With St Patrick’s Day celebrated on March 17, there is no better time to check out one of Neeson’s critically acclaimed movies at the DVD Library.
movies AC T I O N
The Baytown Outlaws As if getting shot in the gut by her exhusband wasn’t bad enough, Celeste (Eva Longoria) joins forces with three ham-fisted redneck brothers to rescue her kidnapped godson from her shooter. Think Starsky and Hutch with a twist.
Wreck-It Ralph Tired of forever playing the destructive bad guy while Fix-It Felix earns all the praise, video game thug Wreck-It Ralph (voiced by John C Reilly) decides to become a hero. But his honorable decision throws his now villainless arcade game into a tailspin.
T H R I LLE R
Killing Them Softly Foolishly sticking up a Mob-protected card game, a gang of greenhorn gangsters discover the consequences of breaking the rules of the criminal underworld. This gripping film noir stars Brad Pitt, Ray Liotta, James Gandolfini and Richard Jenkins.
Life of Pi It’s life as usual in India for zookeeper’s son Pi Patel, until he and his family, on their way by ship to Canada, are caught up in a fierce storm. Shipwrecked in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger, Pi embarks on the adventure of a lifetime. Directed by Ang Lee.
Zero Dark Thirty This high-stakes thrill ride of a film recounts the decade-long hunt for America’s most wanted terrorist and the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden, through the account of a tireless CIA agent who discovers his hidden compound. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker).
Les Misérables Set in post-revolutionary France, this latest reimagining of the legendary Broadway musical stars Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, a newly freed prisoner who is running from a ruthless policeman (Russell Crowe) after dodging parole in an attempt to start a new life.
DVD Library Daily: 9 a.m.–8 p.m. tel: 03-4588-0686 e-mail: email@example.com
12 March 2013 iNTOUCH
Reviews compiled by Erika Woodward.
TAC’s Got Talent
A Night at the Movies
spiring musicians and singers are invited to join Club Members Terry Christian and Jiro Makino and the Traders’ Bar “house band” for another entertaining evening of tunes from talented amateurs. An assortment of instruments will be on hand, but performers are encouraged to bring their own. So warm up those vocal chords, tune that guitar and get ready to rock! o To learn more about the musical exploits of Terry Christian, turn to page 36. Open Mic Night Saturday, March 2 7:30 p.m. Traders’ Bar Free Adults only Sponsored by the Programs and Events Committee
he enchanting sounds of the hichiriki, sho, kakko and other age-old instruments will fill the second-floor corridors this month, when the Club hosts a performance of gagaku music by three musicians from the Imperial Orchestra. Hideaki Bunno, a former headmaster of the Imperial Orchestra, together with the current headmaster, Shogo Anzai, and the orchestra’s chief, Nagao Okubo, will play a selection of pieces of this ancient musical form. Later, Bunno will explain the history and evolution of gagaku before answering Members’ questions. o
Imperial Sounds of Gagaku Tuesday, March 12 7–8:15 p.m. Lincoln and Washington rooms Members: ¥3,000 Non-Members: ¥3,500 Performance and Decanter dinner (20 years and above): ¥9,500 (non-Members: ¥10,000) Recommended for 14 years and above Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk Sponsored by the Programs and Events Committee
iving in their one-bedroom Manhattan apartment, Herbert and Dorothy Vogel appeared like any other working couple. But looks can be deceiving. Their modest abode was once home to one of the largest collections of contemporary art in the United States. That was before the Vogels donated it all to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. After learning of this remarkable story, Japanese TV producer Megumi Sasaki decided to make a documentary about the couple. She will screen the resulting 2008 film, Herb and Dorothy, and talk about the project at the Club next month. o
On page 34, Sasaki talks to iNTOUCH about the challenges of producing her first documentary. TAC Movie Night: Herb and Dorothy Thursday, April 4 6:30–9 p.m. Lincoln and Washington rooms Free Recommended for ages 16 and above Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk Sponsored by the Programs and Events Committee
Joining a Committee Members interested in joining one of the committees listed should contact its chair or inquire at the Management Office. Names in parentheses denote Board liaisons. Compensation Brian Nelson Finance Gregory Davis (John Durkin) Food & Beverage Michael Alfant (Mary Saphin)
Food & Beverage Subcommittee Wine Steve Romaine House Jesse Green (Gregory Lyon) House Subcommittee Facilities Management Group Elaine Williams Human Resources Jon Sparks (Steve Romaine)
Membership Craig Saphin (Deb Wenig) Membership Subcommittee Branding TBD Nominating Roger Marshall Programs & Events Barbara Hancock Programs & Events Subcommittee Frederick Harris Gallery Yumiko Sai
Recreation Tim Griffen (Ira Wolf) Recreation Subcommittees Bowling Crystal Goodfliesh DVD Abby Radmilovich Fitness Sam Rogan Golf Steven Thomas Library Melanie Chetley Logan Room Alaine Lee and Nancy Nussbaum Squash Martin Fluck Swim Jesse Green & Alexander Jampel Youth Activities Narissara March
Cornerstone of the Club 13
t might be noon on a Sunday afternoon, but Addison and Brody Ward won’t be shooting hoops today. Having set their sights on graduating from one of America’s prestigious Ivy League colleges, the 17-year-old, basketball-loving brothers have an appointment with their tutor. “It’s hugely, hugely important, because the first two things colleges look at are your GPA and your test scores,” says Addison during a study break at the Club. “Those are the main two things, like right away, off the bat, that’s what they look at.” On any given day, the Wards, who attend the American School in Japan, can be found studying at the Club with Kevin Pope, a Yale alumnus who offers young Members help with everything from English grammar to organic chemistry as part of the newly launched Academic Improvement Center. “What we’re trying to build is not so much the brand of a tutor or college counselor, but just a mentor, someone that a student can meet with each week—a big brother, big sister—who helps guide them into where they’ll be successful,” Pope says. It’s rewarding work for the former economics major who, a few years ago, traded a successful job in finance for one mentoring youngsters. This second career he discovered while volunteering as an assistant high school calculus teacher and college acceptance tutor at his alma mater. Many students can begin preparing for US college entrance exams as high school freshmen or “whenever they finish Algebra II,” Pope says. With that in mind, every Sunday through late April, Pope is also proctoring mock entrance exams and offering testtaking tips for university-bound teens as part of a separate test prep program
14 March 2013 iNTOUCH
(l–r) Addison Ward, Kevin Pope and Brody Ward
launched last month. “A lot of students, they say that they would love to just focus on [studying for college entrance exams] during the summer, but the realization is that it’s summertime,” he says. “You end up having so many other activities and priorities that sometimes it just slips away. It’s all the sudden September again and school has started without any prep.” According to The New York Times, students looking to American universities submit, on average, seven applications, or four more than they did less than 50 years ago. High test scores
can be a determining factor in the outcome. “Obviously, if you’re taking these SAT and ACT prep courses and you’re working to get a better score, you can reach your full potential and that can help you get into a better school,” Addison says. Pope says that part of his guidance is about preparing students for an American style of learning environment. “There’s a Singaporean method that a lot of schools here are starting to rely on, which is highly based on memorization,” he says. “And that’s the same kind of method that’s transferred to a lot of the history
Charting Courses for Success The Club’s new academic programs are helping young Members realize their US college dreams.
by Erika Woodward
and English classes that, I think, isn’t exactly the best method for a lot of students. So being able to encourage students a little bit more individually is just what I aim for.” Brody has found a big brother in Pope. “Kevin is one of the greatest mentor figures I’ve ever had, ever met in my life. He’s a great person. He’s really caring. He works really hard. He’ll be up at 12 o’clock at night, whenever you need him, he’s 100 percent accessible.” Working with the students, as well as their guidance counselors and families, Pope is providing the kind of mentorship he wishes he had had.
“As for the whole college application process, I honestly wasn’t even aware that there were people out there who did this,” he says. While most of his small town peers were applying to local colleges in New Hampshire, as a high school junior, Pope moved with his family to Florida. “Being thrown into the deep end of the pool, a school with 3,000 students, I kind of had to take a step back and do a little bit more research on my own and, from there, I kind of just found my own way,” he says. A soccer player, he turned his struggle into a handbook, Seven Steps
to Become a College Athlete. “If I had had someone to help me through that process, it would have been a whole lot easier on me and my family,” he says. For Brody, Pope’s guidance has made all the difference. “Kevin does a great job making sure that you have exactly the same opportunities as everyone else,” he says. “It just helps you take another step toward getting into a school that’s good for you.” And that’s a great place to start. o To learn more about the Academic Improvement Center, contact Reina Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fitness and well-being 15
YO UTH E VE N TS
First Dip Parents help introduce their little ones to the joys of water, during this meaningful eight-lesson program taught in the safety of the Sky Pool.
Shake Your Asana, Again! Shake Your Asana: Yoga with Will Blunderfield Saturday, March 16 2–3 p.m. The Studio ¥2,625 Sign up online or at the Recreation Desk
anadian yoga instructor Will Blunderfield returns to the Club to lead an inspiring one-off workout that blends yoga, dance and meditation to help participants embrace their inner rock star. o
Parents and Tots April 1–24 Every Monday and Wednesday and Tuesday and Thursday 10–10:30 a.m. and 10:30–11 a.m. Sign up from March 4
Swimming with Sharks Diving in for another season of competitive swimming and fun in the water, the Club’s youth swim team, the Mudsharks, takes to the Sky Pool from April 1. Mudsharks Group Lessons April 1–June 6 Every Monday and Wednesday and Tuesday and Thursday 3:30–4 p.m. and 4–4:30 p.m. Sign up from March 4
Before you hit the greens this season, be sure to check out the new-look Cellar, the Club’s B1 shop. With a range of Tokyo American Club-branded golf items, including divot tools, caps, umbrellas and golf towels, from which to choose, you’ll be set to take on Kanto’s courses. The Cellar, though, doesn’t limit itself to golf gear. Drop by to browse the store’s extensive selection.
The Cellar | Daily: 9 a.m.–8 p.m.
16 March 2013 iNTOUCH
YO UTH E VE N TS
Kid Rock Karaoke
Another thrilling season of homeruns and nohitters kicks off for the Club’s young fans of the bat and ball. The program is divided into three leagues: Cadet League (coed, grades 1–2), Junior League (coed, grades 3–5) and Senior League (coed, grades 6–8).
The Club hosts a morning of creative fun for youngsters, ages 4 and above (children under 6 years should be accompanied by a parent), to welcome the change of season.
Grab some friends and let your inhibitions go at an exciting afternoon of karaoke, guided by Club Member and professional singer Donna Burke of Dagmusic, a Tokyo-based sound production company. Air guitar accompaniment is encouraged!
Skills Evaluation Day Sunday, March 17 (inclement weather alternative: March 24) For more information about Youth Baseball or to sign up, contact Reina Collins at reina.collins @tac-club.org.
Barreling Down the Lanes The Club’s young keglers, ages 7 to 12, take over the Bowling Center for this inaugural season of exciting strikes, spares and friendly competition. Youth Bowling League March 22–June 7 Every Friday 4–6 p.m. Bowling Center Entry fee: ¥3,150 Monthly game fee: ¥3,675 Sign up at the Bowling Center
Spring Craft Day Saturday, March 30 10–11:15 a.m. Activity Room ¥3,675 (includes materials) Sign up online or at the Recreation Desk
Egg-citing Times The Club hosts a fun-packed day of springtime activities, including an egg hunt, arts and crafts, photo keepsakes with the Spring Bunny, sweet treats, a scholastic book fair and more.
Karaoke with Dagmusic Wednesday, March 20 Session 1: 2:30–4 p.m. Session 2: 4–5:30 p.m. Beate Sirota Gordon Classroom ¥1,050 For ages 8 and above Sign up online or at the Recreation Desk
Springtime Fun Sunday, March 31 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Gymnasium ¥1,575 Recommended for ages 8 and below Sign up online or at the Recreation Desk
Spring Spa Special In celebration of the arrival of spring and warmer weather, The Spa is offering three perfectly bundled packages for maximum pampering through the whole of March. 75-minute Mini Manicure + Pedicure: ¥10,500 45-minute Personalized Swedish Massage + Head Massage: ¥8,400 60-minute Body Polish + Chocolate Wrap: ¥12,600
The Spa proudly uses products by
To book your next pampering session, contact The Spa at 03-4588-0714 or email@example.com.
Fitness and well-being 17
Peter Rabbit and Printmaking I Ahead of his talk at the Club this month, Irish academic and artist Peter MacMillan describes his journey into printmaking.
t was completely by accident that printmaking became such an important part of my life. I grew up the son of an art dealer who specialized in Old Master paintings, and about 10 years ago, I decided to follow in my father’s footsteps. To become a better art dealer, I decided to learn the four techniques of printmaking: lithography, etching, silkscreen and woodblock printing. I enrolled at an art college and took a course in each process. Since my father dealt from our house, I grew up surrounded by constantly changing paintings, and admiring art has become a lifelong pleasure. When I took the printmaking course,
Enjoy an evening dinner cruise around Tokyo Bay aboard a yakatabune, one of Japan’s best-kept entertainment secrets and once the luxurious domain of partying Japanese feudal lords. Take in stunning night views of the city on one of these low-slung, lantern-lined boats while enjoying bottomless drinks and a set menu featuring tempura and sashimi. Then top off the night by showing off your karaoke singing talent. This two-and-a-half-hour cruise for couples is an excellent opportunity to mix and mingle with other Club Members and experience a traditional Japanese pastime. o
18 February 2013 iNTOUCH
Yakatabune Dinner Cruise Saturday, March 16 6:45–9 p.m. Women’s Group members: ¥12,200 Non-Women’s Group members: ¥13,500 Adults only Sign up at the Member Services Desk
WOMEN’S GROUP however, I realized that the best way to understand art was not to look at paintings or study art history books, but to draw and paint. I went on to take courses in painting, drawing and design at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design and other colleges in London. While I enjoyed oil painting and drawing, I discovered a way to express myself artistically in printmaking and it has become the medium most attractive to me. I am a great fan of Andy Warhol and my first major print was in homage to him. It was a large portrait of Princess Diana, whom I also admired greatly. Making that piece gave me the confidence to express myself further in prints. My “Thirty-Six New Views of Mount Fuji” series of prints was inspired by a book I compiled of translations of poems and prose relating to Mount Fuji, from the sixth century to the present. While working on One Hundred Literary Views of Mount Fuji, I became fascinated by the gap between traditional Japan and contemporary consumerism, and in my series I tried to express this in a playful and somewhat sardonic manner. I come from Ireland, a country famed for its writers and satirists, and my work, too, has a dash of the satirical. But satire is quite different from what it was when, say, my compatriot Jonathan Swift was writing in the 18th century. In classical literature, the role of the satirist was to point out the foibles of mankind. But now all of us have access to so much information and understand exactly what we can do for the good of the planet—but still do so little. Through our daily lives, we contribute to the burning of carbon and the depletion of our planet’s resources. No one is free of blame. My prints allow me to pose questions on sustainability, consumerism, waste, global warming and environmental destruction. I hope, though, that the questions are nonjudgmental, occasionally humorous and invite the viewer to participate in the discussion. Japanese culture and literature greatly influence my art. I admire the highly decorative qualities of traditional Japanese art, including the use of gold leaf. I try to infuse that sense of decorative beauty with a questioning edge that simultaneously and sometimes ironically allows us to enjoy the decoration. I
also love the sense of play in Japanese art and often inject the images with a splash of humor. Japanese art’s emphasis on materiality (not just image) has had a particular influence on me. Paper quality and the use of superior materials and multiple effects in one image are all evident in my work. The completed print should not just be a striking image, but a work of beautiful materiality, rich in subtlety, such as a coat of red that barely appears through a layer of hand-applied gold leaf. Partly for that reason, many of my prints are mixed-media, employing offset printing, lithography, gold leaf and hand painting. Printmaking has brought me a whole new world of experiences that are completely different from those I have known as a poet and translator. I have been fortunate to exhibit at such places as the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, Columbia University in New York and Ginza’s Sony Building. And though it is always challenging to create new works, the creative process is enriching in a way that is beyond compare. With each new phase, I like to come up with a new artist name, and my latest one should answer any questions about the curious title of this piece: Peter Rabbit. o MacMillan is a Tokyo-based professor, poet, printmaker and translator.
One Hundred and Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji with Peter MacMillan Monday, March 11 Doors open: 11:30 a.m. Lunch: 12 p.m. Manhattan I Women’s Group members: ¥3,150 Non-Women’s Group members: ¥4,200 Adults only Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk Sponsored by the Women’s Group
An interactive community 19
20 March 2013 iNTOUCH
iNTOUCH explores the Club’s link to American architect Frank Lloyd Wright and the jewel in his architectural crown in Japan, the Imperial Hotel. by Nick Narigon
t was the early 1950s. Eric Lloyd Wright, a young American serviceman, was laid over in Tokyo, waiting for his deployment to Korea. With one day of leave, the GI knew exactly where he wanted to visit. “Naturally, I hot-footed it over to the Imperial Hotel and I spent my day there,” says Wright, now 83 and living in Malibu. As the grandson of the eminent American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, he was determined to see his grandfather’s masterpiece. “That’s one of his greatest works,” he says. “That was one of the greatest works of one of the greatest architects in the world.” On that day, more than 60 years ago, Wright sauntered through the main lobby and dining room of the hotel. What he witnessed personified the essence of a Frank Lloyd Wright creation: the low overhang of the cedar-framed porte cochere opened into the three-story lobby, creating a sense of release. He was awestruck by the turquoise and beige carpeting, articulated porous stone patterns and ornate bronze fixtures. “It was quite remarkable. It was just a wonderful feeling as you stepped in to the main lobby,” he says. “One of the things about the Imperial Hotel that many Japanese appreciated was the lighting. It was very subtle, warm and subdued, and he kept that throughout the hotel.” Wright served as an apprentice under his famous grandfather and went on to found his own architectural firm. He helped his grandfather design some of his most renowned structures, including the Guggenheim Museum in New York. Eric says the lobby of the cylindrical building carries some of the same characteristics as the Imperial Hotel, notably the constricted entrance that opens up into the spacious central foyer. “There [was] that same sense in the lobby of the Imperial,” Wright says. “Every job that he did, whether it was in Japan or in the United States, always had a relationship to the work that he did later. You feel that in the Guggenheim.” The younger Wright returned to Japan years later when his company designed the portico and interior landscaping for a condominium in Yokohama. He says the country played a vital role in his grandfather’s career. “He felt he had a very close relationship with Japan because his architecture and the architecture in Japan were following the same paths,” he says. It was a century ago, in early 1913, that Frank Lloyd Wright Imperial Legacy 21
Why did the Members of TAC go there for their first meeting? Because that’s where everyone went.
traveled to Tokyo to pursue the commission for the second incarnation of the Imperial Hotel. Ten years later, on September 1, 1923, after personal tragedies, several construction delays and a mounting budget, Wright’s vision for the hotel finally opened to the public. But at just before midday, a massive earthquake struck the city. The Great Kanto Earthquake leveled 70 percent of the buildings in Tokyo and Yokohama. The Imperial Hotel, however, stood strong, cementing its footing in architectural lore. Four years later, according to an article by William Logan Jr in a 1973 issue of the Club publication The Tokyo American, a group of 51 Americans gathered at the Imperial Hotel. At that inaugural meeting, each charter member agreed to contribute $500 to establish Tokyo American Club. As a reminder of that historic meeting, two worn relics from the Imperial Hotel now lie outside Traders’ Bar, near the formal entrance to the Club. The pieces were salvaged from the hotel by a group of Members, including former Club President Fred Harris, who wanted to preserve this heritage when the hotel was demolished in 1968. “It is just a shame that so much of that was destroyed. You would have thought that it wouldn’t have taken much to save some of that as they were taking it down,” Eric Lloyd Wright says. “Its remains are invaluable.” It’s debatable how Frank Lloyd Wright was first introduced to Japanese culture. His grandson says he was influenced by the Japanese pavilion at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Others, including Wright scholar Karen Severns, say that he became fascinated with the ukiyoe woodblock prints he saw hanging in his employer’s home in the late 1880s. Regardless, Wright did become enamored with the world of Japanese art. In 1905, he made his first trip to Japan solely for the purpose of collecting prints. Severns says that Wright’s work was inspired more by Japanese art than the country’s architecture. “Ukiyoe had very unusual perspectives,” says Severns, auteur 22 March 2013 iNTOUCH
of the acclaimed documentary Magnificent Obsession: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Buildings and the Legacy in Japan. “He called this the elimination of all the insignificant. Elimination of the insignificant is something that he says again and again [and] inspired all of his works.” One of Wright’s acquaintances was a friend of the general manager of the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, a city that experienced an influx of foreign visitors following the Russo-Japanese War of the early 20th century. However, the original Imperial Hotel, which opened in 1890, wasn’t equipped to deal with this new wave of guests. At this time, Wright had garnered some international acclaim and he began corresponding with the hotel manager, Aisaku Hayashi. In 1913, he returned to Japan with some preliminary sketches in hand and it was all but agreed that the new Imperial Hotel would be his to design. But tragedy struck, both in Japan and at Wright’s home in Wisconsin. Emperor Meiji died in 1912, leaving several state affairs up in the air. Then, on August 15, 1914, while Wright was working in Chicago, a servant set fire to Taliesin, Wright’s estate, killing seven people, including Wright’s mistress, Mamah Borthwick, and her two children, whom the servant butchered with an ax. Wright was devastated. “He really wanted to escape—period,” Severns says. “I think that, in overly simplified terms, Japan saved Frank Lloyd Wright.” Prior to the murders, Wright had fallen on hard times. His affair with Borthwick was a scandal of epic proportions in early 20th-century America, and he was blacklisted from high society because of his dalliances. “He was desperate to work. Everything had dried up,” Severns says. “He, of course, loved the idea of Japan. He imagined coming back here to a place where people wouldn’t pass judgment the way they had in the US, and to be given free rein. The opportunity to come here kept him going.” Even though Wright arrived in Tokyo in 1916, construction on the Imperial Hotel didn’t begin until three years later. “He wanted to create a masterpiece for this country that he loved like no other, except his own,” Severns says. “So that’s what he did.” Over the span of Wright’s 70-year career, Severns says the Imperial Hotel was the largest and most complicated building he designed. The owners of the hotel wanted to build something that would represent Japan to the world. The guests were predominantly from abroad, and early advertisements promoted the new hotel as the jewel in Tokyo’s crown. “He had a lot of pressure riding on this hotel,” Severns says. “Everyone had their eye on this.” So when the building withstood the hugely destructive earthquake on the day it opened, it “became the most famous building in the entire universe,” she says. “It became the place to see and be seen. It was really the No. 1 tourist site in Asia for years and years,” she says. “Why did the Members of TAC go there for their first meeting? Because that’s where everyone went. That continued until the day it was torn down.” The rich detail evident in the Imperial Hotel’s design was
Frank Lloyd Wright
Imperial Legacy 23
awareness of the land itself and making a connection between building and ground. That was something that mattered to him.” The author of Made in Japan: 100 New Products and other books about design and architecture, Pollock explains that besides leaving the timber exposed, Wright opted for local building materials for the hotel. This included the volcanic oya stone, which was traditionally used in roads and retaining walls. “Modernism was about steel and glass. It was about building taller. It was about paring away ornament, letting the structure of the building express the aesthetic of the building, and that was very different from what Frank Wright was doing,” she says. “He was really almost a throwback to a time when ornament mattered more. That was true of his work in Japan as well. A lot of architects here were influenced by modernists, but Wright had his own coterie of apprentices. You look at some of the buildings that came out of that time and you see his influence.” Severns says the architects that worked with Wright on the Imperial Hotel and the architects who came to study the structure were inspired by its ingenuity. “He created a space that would always represent the possibilities of architecture and the possibilities of boundary-free creation,” she says. “All of his colleagues, his followers, everyone else in Japan could sense his admiration of Japanese art and aesthetics. So when these men went out after the Imperial Hotel was completed and started designing their own works, they suffused them with the same spirit.” According to Severns, not only did such apprentices as Arata Endo and Antonin Raymond spread the gospel of Wright in Japan, some of the nation’s most notable architects, including Tadao Ando, Kengo Kuma and even Kisho Kurokawa, cited the
likely down to Wright’s complete control over the entire project. Club Member and architect Naomi Pollock says Wright was “doctrinaire” with his clients. Designing furniture and art, too, he often created interiors for how he thought the client should live, not necessarily the way the client wanted to live. For example, Pollock says that one client advised Wright that she hated the color red, yet still he had every window pane painted bright red. “I suspect that Wright’s soup-to-nuts approach would have been well received in Japan,” says Pollock. “It created a consistency. The tables are the same kind of aesthetic as the window designs.” Wright took most of his cues from the local landscape, which was the keystone of the organic Prairie School architectural style. Pollock says that in most of Wright’s designs, including Taliesin West in Arizona, he integrated the building with its surroundings. “That kind of thought carried over into the Imperial Hotel, it was evident,” Pollock says. “I think that relationship between building and site is very common in Japanese architecture and I think that is the reason why his work was readily embraced here.” The horizontal profile of the Imperial Hotel, its contour embracing the horizon, is evident in most of Wright’s designs, Pollock adds. The hotel was laid out in a symmetrical H-design, with the central structure housing the lobby, dining room, restaurants and theater. It was buttressed by two wings of guest rooms. The design also featured Wright’s penchant for geometric shapes and layered textures. “I think what is similar between the Imperial Hotel and a lot of his work throughout his career was the tremendous horizontality,” Pollock says. “Again, I think that comes from his constant
24 March 2013 iNTOUCH
[Wright] created a space that would always represent the possibilities of architecture and the possibilities of boundary-free creation. hotel was launched, and the likes of Wright’s widow and even Lady Bird Johnson pleaded the building’s case. But the land was deemed too valuable and the structure was no longer earthquake safe. In 1968, Wright’s creation was torn down. Two years later, its successor opened. “But this was the start of the preservation movement in Japan,” Severns says. “Soon after that, the Japan National Trust was started and people became more aware that public buildings are something that they might have a say in saving.” In fact, 30 years later, Jiyu Gakuen Myonichikan, a girls’ school in Mejiro that was designed by Wright in collaboration with Endo, was in danger of demolition. Thanks, in part, to Imperial
Hotel preservation efforts, the school was saved and rebuilt. “What happened then was a textbook case of preservation on a grassroots level,” Severns says. “This time, even the Japanese government saw the error and they changed the historic preservation guidelines that were then in place in Japan. In 1997, the school became an important cultural property and they saved it from the wrecking ball.” Today, the reconstructed main entrance and lobby of Wright’s Imperial Hotel is the most popular attraction at the Meiji Mura architectural museum near Nagoya. Several other pieces are also on display at the new Imperial Hotel, and, according to Severns, visitors can stay in the Wright suite, which is furnished with replicas from some of Wright’s most distinguished homes. Then there’s the Club’s own connection to Frank Lloyd Wright’s magnum opus, which Dick Bush, a former Club president and general manager, reflected on in the January 1994 issue of The Tokyo American: “While looking out the window of the Mixed Grille the other day, my memory carried me back to the days of the original Frank Lloyd Wright Imperial Hotel...Mr Inumaru hosted a New Year’s party each year for most of the foreign community in the ballroom and I also remembered watching sumo in the old bar. Then I remembered the building being torn down and I walked into the garden outside the Mixed Grille, back into the shrubbery and looked at the stones and read the plaque which said: ‘Here lie some remains of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Amazing Brain Child—The Imperial Hotel.’ And I felt terribly sad.” o Narigon is a Tokyo-based freelance journalist.
American as an influence. By the early 1960s, as Tokyo prepared to welcome the world to the 1964 Olympics, officials noted that the Imperial Hotel had aged considerably and had lost its competitive edge. Also, due to the many renovations that had taken place over the years, it was no longer as Wright had designed it. An international letter-writing campaign to preserve the
Imperial Legacy 25
Playing Ball J
apan begin the defense of their World Baseball Classic (WBC) title on March 2, when they take on firsttime participants Brazil in Fukuoka. But Samurai Japan almost didn’t take part at all. After threatening to boycott this third edition of the tournament, the Japanese players’ association finally agreed to join the competition last September. The players’ union had disputed the way in which tournament revenues are pooled and shared by Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Players Association, the two organizers of the tournament. Following tournament wins in both 2006 and 2009, Japan will be without any of their major-league stars, including the likes of Ichiro Suzuki, fellow New York Yankee Hiroki Kuroda, Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers and Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Norichika Aoki. Jim Small is MLB’s vice president for Asia. iNTOUCH’s Nick Jones sat down with the Club Member to talk about the upcoming tournament. Excerpts:
26 March 2013 iNTOUCH
iNTOUCH: Writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer earlier this year, baseball writer Bob Brookover said the competition was much more popular in other countries than the US and added, “It’s because we know the game of baseball so well. We know when the best players aren’t involved. We know we don’t want to watch Team USA play Italy. We know it’s not really the best possible baseball when starting pitchers are on a pitch count.” How do you react? Small: I don’t think that’s a fair assessment because I would look at that USA team in 2009 and say, “Who else would you want in there?” You had Kevin Youkilis, you had Derek Jeter, you had Dustin Pedroia—that was a very strong team. Quite frankly, the US team has underperformed, particularly that ’06 team that had Roger Clemens on the mound. This year’s is a good team and if they do well, more Americans will pay attention to [the tournament]. iNTOUCH: Is it tough to convince
American fans who are used to diet of MLB games to watch what are perceived as lesser teams play in this tournament? Small: It’s important to note that there are hardcore WBC fans who want to watch the US team and, quite frankly, they want to see the Italy team because Alex Liddi, the third baseman for the Mariners, who is born and bred Italian, plays in that team. One of the things my countrymen are known for is thinking that everything revolves around us, and that has been proven wrong in so many different areas and it’s been proven wrong in baseball. You know, if you include the minor leagues, 40 to 45 percent of our players are from somewhere other than the United States, and some of the greatest players in our game are not from the United States. And [Brookover] should be reminded that the Canadian team last time was full of major leaguers and got beat by the Italians. iNTOUCH: Another baseball writer, Chris Jenkins, recently wrote in the
San Diego Union-Tribune, “Unless the United States wins the third WBC…or at least manages to make the gold-medal game on March 19 at AT&T Park in San Francisco, there’s a very real danger that Americans will completely give up what little interest they seem to have for a global event decided on their own soil.” Do you agree that the US team has to have some success this time? Small: While it’s important to have a good showing from the United States, I would say that that’s a little bit dramatic to say that this tournament will end if they don’t make it to the gold-medal game. I think there’s too much other momentum around the world for this to go by the wayside for any one team that may or may not do well. From an American perspective, this is new and unusual. The United States is a country where club-versus-club competition is everything and the Super Bowl is the biggest sporting event. There is something inherent to American sports that we’re much more focused on
our club competitions, with the main exception being the Olympics. iNTOUCH: Has there been resistance from some MLB teams to having their players take part in this competition? Small: You would definitely find some owners and some [general managers] that don’t want their players playing in this tournament, absolutely. The key is they cannot stop the player; it’s the player’s decision. I think it’s a better thing that the players who do choose to play do that in a baseball environment that’s run by Major League Baseball. iNTOUCH: Japan almost didn’t take part in this year’s WBC. Could you imagine a tournament without the defending champions? Small: We were ready to go with one. It would have been a different tournament, but…we had run the numbers and knew we would have been financially successful without the Japan money.
iNTOUCH: To what degree was baseball’s loss of Olympic status after the 2008 Olympics WBC’s gain? Small: I wouldn’t say that their loss was our gain. I would say that WBC has shown that you can replace some of that. A perfect example is the Philippines. There is clearly a direct, solid line between their participation [in the WBC qualifiers] and this new development center they’re going to build down there. Development is taking place in the Philippines that didn’t take place when baseball was in the Olympics. It shows that there is room for a tournament like WBC to help develop baseball throughout the world. iNTOUCH: Who do you think is going to win this year’s tournament? Small: Right now, you would go with Japan because they’re the reigning champions and they’ve got a lot of arms out of the bullpen. I think it’s theirs to lose. But if anyone can beat them, it would be the United States or Venezuela. o
Member insights on Japan 27
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.
by Erika Woodward Taking his inspiration from Japan’s natural landscapes, artist Hiroto Uratani relies on a secondary muse to create his vibrant woodblock paintings. “From Rebun Island in Hokkaido to Hashima Island in Okinawa, I travel around Japan on my bicycle, expanding my imagination,” he says. Approaching art with a whimsical spirit, the alumni of the prestigious Tama Art University says he is never bored unwinding outdoors. “Wouldn’t it be great to be looking at that hill, drinking beer and later taking a nap?” he says. “I create my work feeling the movement of the sky and the earth and imagining places where I can relax.” Having taken up painting about 30 years ago, the freethinker approaches his craft with a childlike sense of wonder. “Even now, I feel great pleasure every time I turn the washi paper after printing and see the colors sinking through the paper,” he says. “It is like printing with blocks.” Although he takes a kind of muscle memory approach to creating his work, he says he enjoys the unpredictability of the process. “It is not very often I get the colors I want,” he says. “I change the process of printing several times, adding different shades of colors.” Exhibiting his world-renowned works at the Frederick Harris Gallery this month, Uratani recommends taking time to appreciate the simpler things. “It is never boring to watch the sky showing different expressions depending on [the] time, place and the weather,” he says. “The sky in my works changes [based] on how I feel when I print them.”
Exhibition March18–April 7
Monday, March 18 6:30–8 p.m. Frederick Harris Gallery (B1 Formal Lobby) Free Open to invitees and Members only
28 March 2013 iNTOUCH
FREDERICK HARRIS GALLERY
yokoso Robert & Yuko Whittemore United States—Bank of New York Mellon
Rajiv & Kyoko Trehan United Kingdom—Smoothweb K.K.
Marcel Wiggers & Nancy Freriks Netherlands—Randstad K.K.
Aaron & Allyson See United States—Johnson & Johnson K.K.
John Ken & Tomoko Nuzzo United States
Eric Fung Canada—Tectura Japan K.K.
Todd Dennis & Catia Passarela United States—Rovi K.K.
Bill Spurgeon United States—Shell Japan
Andrew & Miwako Olea United States—Asian Tigers Mobility
John & Mitsuru Hamilton United States—AIG Japan Holdings K.K.
Chang Ho & Mayumi Lee South Korea—Nichinichi Corporation
Tony Evans United Kingdom—deVere Group
Patrick Morris United States—Dimension Data Japan, Inc.
Bruce & Kinaree Darrington United Kingdom—Mazars Japan Ltd.
Georgina Stevens & Daichi Yoshinari Australia—Herbert Smith Freehills GJBJ
John Lyday United States—John Lyday Financial Planning
Gerard Mazzeo & Mie Saito Mazzeo United States—Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Ltd.
Thomas Bowden United Kingdom—Mirai LLP
Adam & Maiko Donahue United States—LaSalle Investment Management Brian Tsai & Tracy Kao Canada—Cerego Japan, Inc.
JR Smith Jr. & Miho Smith United States—Hunton & Williams LLP Yu-Ming Wang & Rebecca Kao-Wang United States—Nikko Asset Management Co., Ltd.
Charles Nikiel & Karen Chiam Australia—Salesforce.com
Yuko Hoshino Japan—Star Field Kumi Shin South Korea—Otero Japan Jeremy & Kazuko Sanderson United Kingdom—Compass Offices Japan K.K.
sayonara Oded & Genia Lifschitz Christopher & Melissa Miller Brenda Murphy Gerard Naouri & Christine Larcher Jean-Paul Paradis Jutta Rieger & Rafael Rojas Alan & Sharon Robinson Tomio Satoh Christen & Marianne Schreuder Nick Shamlou Harrison Shawn & Rachel Smookler
Erik Aunan Karima Boubekeur Matthew & Bindi Codrington Jonathan & Megumi Evans John & Heidi Fallows John & Judith Harrisingh Michael & Alicia Joyce Katsuyoshi & Keiko Kawai James & Ayako Kerr Russell King Raymond & Gail Veronica Lee
Marcus Stein & Nadya Al-Hussaini Edward & Carey Storin Arata Takahashi Anthony & Makoto Tan William & Corinne Thygeson Axel & Lee Tuetken Bjorn & Lena Ulgenes Timo & Mayumi Varhama Warwick & Kylie Wright Akira Yoshida
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: firstname.lastname@example.org www.jtb-sunrisetours.jp
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The Club’s professional shoe repair and polishing service. Tel: 03-4588-0670 The Cellar (B1) Sat: 1–4:30 p.m. Sun: 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Weekday drop-off: Member Services Desk
To find out more about the range of services and Member discounts, visit the FedEx counter. The Cellar (B1) Mon–Fri: 1–5 p.m. (closed Sun and national holidays) Sat: 12 p.m. (pickup only)
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
of the month
Yuko Shiroki by Nick Jones
he “cute uniforms” may well have piqued her interest in lacrosse as a sophomore at Kanda University of International Studies in Chiba, but it’s taken something more to hold Yuko Shiroki’s attention. As a member of an alumni team that she helped establish around 11 years ago, she says that much of the sport’s appeal now is the friendships nurtured over many seasons. “I like the team and my friends. It’s more about the relationships with those people,” she says. “Competing is fun, of course, but it’s also fun to talk to my kohai [juniors] from my university.”
With the Kanto women’s lacrosse league season set to kick off this month, Shiroki, 39, will soon be taking to the field for weekend practice sessions ahead of league matches during the sweltering summer months. But the fast-paced team sport isn’t the only pursuit that keeps her sweating. This month also sees her join the hordes of runners crowding Kyoto’s streets for the city’s second marathon. Running her sixth 42-kilometer race, the Tokyoite says her goal is to finish in 4 hours, so long as a nagging knee injury doesn’t disrupt her plans. Running around a lacrosse field or the city’s backstreets might be enough exercise
for most people, but in between those workouts, Shiroki heads to a boxing gym once a week or, more recently, a gym for shoot boxing, a combat sport similar to kickboxing. In between all of that, Shiroki works as a designer and administrative assistant at the Club, which she joined in 1998 and where she has become something of a serial award winner. Named Employee of the Month for January, she adds that title to her previous two such accolades and her Employee of the Year award for 2002. o Employee of the Quarter—Rie Tanaka The Sky Pool’s Rie Tanaka picked up the latest Employee of the Quarter award. The keen swimmer and accomplished musician was named Employee of the Month for November.
New Member Profile
New Member Profile
Why did you decide to join the Club?
Why did you decide to join the Club?
(l–r) Jeff, Emi, Ikuko, Miyu and Yuna Schrepfer
(l–r) Frank, David, Kevin and Una O’Neill
Jeff Scott & Ikuko Schrepfer United States—Morrison & Foerster LLP
“I have been in Tokyo for more than 15 years and have often thought about joining TAC, but a number of recent changes finally nudged those thoughts into action: TAC’s gorgeous, new facilities; the fact that we seemed to be dropping off one of our daughters at a birthday party at TAC once or twice a month, anyway; and the ASIJ bus that can drop off our kids to a safe environment with their friends after school. A number of colleagues at my law firm have recently joined TAC as well, and we are all looking forward to making good use of the wonderful facilities and other benefits that TAC has to offer.”
Frank & Una O’Neill Ireland—AIG Japan Holdings K.K.
“Working for AIG, I have already had many opportunities to use TAC for different work-related events since moving here three years ago from Paris. However, pressure to join TAC actually came from our sons. At TAC, they can meet their friends from the British School and French School and use the Club’s great facilities. Una is the principal of the kindergarten and junior school at the International School of the Sacred Heart and is hoping to join some interesting activities for working women at TAC. Working with three different school calendars and a busy work schedule isn’t easy, so it’s great to have a year-round facility like TAC to help out.”
Services and benefits for Members 31
Doll Delight March in Japan means the colorful custom of Hina Matsuri.
by Efrot Weiss
he elaborate collections of ornamental dolls on display in homes and public spaces around Japan, as well as at the Club, from February are for the March 3 festival of Hina Matsuri, or Girls’ Day. This custom, which dates back to the Heian period (794–1185), is to celebrate the healthy growth and happiness of girls. The exhibits vary in size, depending on the space available, but, at a minimum, contain a prince and princess (now commonly associated with the emperor and empress) in front of a gold screen. In more decorative displays, 15 dolls are placed on a seven-tiered platform that is covered in red cloth. Depicting the wedding procession of a Heian period princess, the full retinue consists of three ladies-in-waiting, two court ministers, five musicians and three guards, all dressed in the elegant costumes of the imperial court. Ornate, miniature furnishings and objects are part of the display. Exquisitely designed, these pieces are usually for viewing only, although the temptation to touch is often too great for little fingers. “My sister and I secretly played with all of the little dollhouse
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pieces,” Club Member Masako Hotta says. Like so many other festivals and holidays in Japan, food is an important part of this celebration. Auspicious dishes include ushiojiru clam soup, the shells of the clams symbolizing a happy matrimony, and chirashizushi, sushi rice with such colorful toppings as shrimp, egg and vegetables. Also served is a tricolored, diamondshaped sticky rice sweet, representing fertility, called hishimochi. The three colors are peach for peach blossoms, white for snow and purity and green to represent the young grass of early spring. Meals often include small, tricolored hina arare puffed rice and a sweet, thick sake (shirozake) as well. Nowadays, young girls might get together with their girlfriends for a party on March 3. “Hina Matsuri was an excuse to have friends over to eat junk food,” Club Member Rumiko Laughlin recalls. Explanations for the origin of this festival abound. One has its roots in an ancient Chinese ceremony of transferring ill fortune and evil spirits to paper dolls, which were then cast into a river. During the Heian period, this custom evolved in
Japan, when laden paper dolls were floated down rivers. This tradition continues in some communities as nagashibina. As recounted in the 900-year-old classic work, The Tale of Genji, children in the imperial court would “play house” with paper dolls and miniatures for this celebration. Over time, the dolls became more elaborate. Hina Matsuri is also referred to as the Peach Blossom Festival because March 3 in the lunar calendar coincided with the blooming of the peach blossom, a flower synonymous with the desired female traits of gentility, sweetness and tranquility. One widespread superstition is that the dolls must be put away on March 3 or the daughters of the household will marry late. Hotta says that this tradition was avidly followed in her home: “I always remember that my mother was in such a rush to put everything away by the night of March 3!” o Weiss is a Member of the Club. Girls’ Day Display Until March 4 Family Lobby (1F)
An Ordinary Couple with an Extraordinary Collection Megumi Sasaki, who will screen her documentary, Herb and Dorothy, at the Club next month, explains how her awardwinning film came about. by Erika Woodward
he line outside the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, Maryland, seemed to go on forever. Taking in the sight that hot June day in 2008, Megumi Sasaki could barely believe what she was seeing. The more than 200 people were waiting to catch the sold-out world premiere of Sasaki’s documentary, Herb and Dorothy. “That was almost like a dream,” she says. “I couldn’t believe that I had finished the film, and I couldn’t believe there were so many people [whom] I could share it
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with.” Her movie about a librarian and postal clerk, Herbert and Dorothy Vogel, who amassed one of the most important contemporary art collections in US history, went on to pick up an audience award at the Silverdocs Documentary Festival. The seed for Sasaki’s documentary had been sown many years earlier. While covering a contemporary art exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, as a producer for Japan’s state broadcaster, NHK, she discovered that the
entire collection belonged to the Vogels. What’s more, for more than 30 years, the unlikely collectors, who lived in a onebedroom, rent-controlled apartment in Manhattan, had been buying the works of largely unknown artists simply because they liked them. “I couldn’t believe that was a true story,” Sasaki says, “because when you talk about art and the art world in New York City, it’s all about money, investment, [the] art market, auctions, you know?” Then, having accumulated more than 4,000 pieces of art, worth millions of dollars, the couple decided to give it all away. “I’m glad to give it to museums, so they will be able to enjoy it,” Dorothy said at a Q&A session after the film’s premiere. “We first buy for ourselves. We have to like it. We live with it and then it goes on and that’s the evolution.” “I was really shocked because it was just
Dorothy and Herbert Vogel
so pure,” Sasaki says. “Since I was so moved, I just really wanted to tell this amazing story to as many people as possible.” Prone to procrastination, she shelved the idea. But two years later, she met Herb and Dorothy at an art event. “I think that [they] can teach us many things,” she says. “First, life is not just about money or social status or a fancy job or whatever. What makes us happy, what makes our life so fulfilling is about the passion, whether you can have passion, whether you can find passion for anything—and then pursue it.” Determined to see a plan through this time, Sasaki asked the Vogels if they would be interested in being the subjects of what she thought would be a 30-minute documentary. They agreed, and a week later, Sasaki, armed with a digital video camera, turned up at Herb and Dorothy’s home. But about six months into the project, she realized that the story demanded a more professional treatment. “I thought, ‘This is something that I really have to seriously document because these people
are really so important in history, not only for the US, but for humanity and the time that we live in,’” she says. A bigger film, though, required more funds. “Many artists and filmmakers, musicians or anybody who works in a creative field are very bad at [fundraising] and they really hate to do that,” Sasaki says. Fortunately for her, a few artist friends of the Vogels donated works for auction. Two years, countless hours of shooting and editing and $500,000 later, Sasaki, together with Herb and Dorothy, were receiving a standing ovation at Silverdocs. “I saw, especially, Herb in tears, which I had never seen, and it was a really moving moment,” Sasaki says. “You know, when you’re just a postal clerk and librarian art collector, you don’t receive standing ovations—they are not film stars.” (Herb died last summer at the age of 89.) Fifty-year-old Sasaki, whose followup documentary, Herb and Dorothy 50x50, is released this month, admits that making her first movie was a journey of self-discovery. “Yes, I thought that I had passion [before] and then I would
give it up so easily and I didn’t really follow through with it. But this time, my passion gave me the power to finish this film. I think if I hadn’t had that, I couldn’t have ever finished it,” she says. “I learned so much about art, I grew a really thick skin and I learned how to work with obstacles, so that was a totally lifechanging experience.” Sasaki largely attributes the success of her film to the simple, unpretentious language of its protagonists. “That’s what makes, I think, contemporary art so intimidating, because you have no clue what they’re talking about. It’s like a good sleeping pill: the access is so limited to a handful of people,” she says. “But once you are exposed to a work of art through the eyes of Herb and Dorothy, that art becomes very intimate and accessible.”
For details of next month’s screening of Herb and Dorothy at the Club, turn to page 13. Herb and Dorothy www.herbanddorothy.com
A look at culture and society 35
The Teaching Troubadour
Ahead of this month’s Open Mic Night at Traders’ Bar, one Member explains his passion for music. by Nick Narigon Photos by Irwin Wong
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erry Christian appears every inch the headmaster. With his powderwhite hair, blue suit and knitted brow, he is cordial as he peers bemusedly over the top of his glasses. But when the unassuming 62-year-old takes to the stage and begins to strum his guitar, he’s as smooth as Yamazaki whiskey. That ease at the mic has been honed over more than 40 years. “I basically learned by watching and playing with other musicians. I have always played with people who are better than me,” Christian says. “Even today, I am usually the worst musician in the band. That tends to bring my standard up.” Growing up in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Christian didn’t receive any formal music training. His father was a self-taught pianist who never had the patience to pass on his know-how. Christian, though, discovered the acoustic guitar (a Yamaha FG-140) at the age of 18. Like most teenagers in those days, he played Beatles records on heavy rotation, and even now the clear timbre of his voice resembles that of John Lennon with a bluesy twang. Describing his music as in the same vein as Jackson Browne, Christian cites blues, jazz and island rhythms as influences. After graduating from college in Britain with an education degree in 1976, Christian decided to pursue music fulltime. He played five nights a week, mostly in working men’s clubs around Manchester, earning an average of 5 pounds a night (after expenses). “I was just eking out an existence,” he says. The troubadour lifestyle suited him. He wanted to play larger venues in London or Newcastle. However, life responsibilities grounded his bandmates. So, after a threemonth stint as a solo musician and DJ in Denmark, Christian bit the bullet and kick-started his teaching career. Seeking a new adventure, he accepted a position to teach math at an international school in Jamaica. It was 1980 and the songs of the likes of reggae legend Bob Marley could be heard everywhere. Influenced by the island sound, Christian recorded his own album. He then spent four months fruitlessly knocking on the doors of record producers in LA and New York. Out of cash, he took a teaching job
in El Salvador, where he stayed for eight years. There, he met his wife, Morena, as well as plenty of local musicians. A triple album followed in 1991. “The longer I stay somewhere, the more I meet musicians and I accumulate a bank of songs,” he says. “The logic extension of playing a song is to record it, so that is kind of the recycling pattern.” Taking his family to the Colombian capital of Bogota, Christian hired the services of producer Luis Fernando Ochoa, who produced one of Shakira’s early albums, to help him put the material from his triple album onto one CD, titled “Rainsongs.” The songwriter also collaborated with Christian on his third album, “Broken Hearts.”
Joining the Club in 2004, Christian later started attending the Open Mic Night events at Traders’ Bar when the Club temporarily relocated to Takanawa. He and fellow Member Jiro Makino began running the evenings when the Club returned to Azabudai. With a cadre of talented musicians, the duo now put together a “house band” to play and support budding singers, musicians and daring amateurs. “It’s very much a jam session that is structured around whoever turns up to the Club that night. There are some really good musicians, and I will never turn down the chance to play with good musicians,” Christian says. He also plays gigs elsewhere with his band, Cool Hand.
Christian’s itinerant lifestyle continued, as his day job took him to Turkey then Mauritius. In his fifth and final year on the island in the Indian Ocean, he released another album (“Sugar Cane Road”), hiring a video crew to document its production and his farewell concert. Not expecting to be appointed, he applied for the position of headmaster at Nishimachi International School in Tokyo. After years of teaching in developing countries, often in places where his wife couldn’t go out alone at night, he says Japan has been a breath of fresh air. Enjoying the country’s safe environs, Christian has also embraced the vibrant music scene, once again teaming up with musicians and playing live.
Not that he’s ignored his songwriting side. He has almost completed his latest album, which he has been recording with Chiba-based musician Michael Fogarty. “I am not really doing this for a living. I am doing this because I like music,” he says. “If I can have a good night and the audience is receptive and I can raise some money for Tohoku relief projects, then it’s a win-win situation.” o Narigon is a Tokyo-based freelance journalist. For details of this month’s Open Mic Night, turn to page 13. Terry Christian Life Songs www.terrychristianlifesongs.com
A look at culture and society 37
Tokyo might appear all urban sprawl, but pockets, patches and, in some cases, large swaths of greenery can be found across the megalopolis.
by Rob Goss
Showa Memorial Park
s Mother Nature shakes out the last vestiges of winter, now is the perfect time to get out and enjoy Tokyo’s parks and gardens before the summer heat sends residents running for air-conditioned cover. Whether you fancy a fun day out with the kids or just want a little peace and quiet, here is a rundown on some of the best green (and nearly green) spaces in Tokyo. Best parks for nature If there’s one complaint you could level at many of Tokyo’s parks, it’s that they aren’t always especially green. The Institute for Nature Study in Meguro Ward, however, is anything but the typical “concrete koen.” Occupying 200,000 square meters of forest, marsh and ponds that have largely remained untouched during Edo’s development into present-day Tokyo, the parkland here offers a rare glimpse at the original natural habitats of the Tokyo area, as well as a sprawling natural retreat in the heart of the city. If that whets your appetite, you could also try Koishikawa Botanical Gardens in Bunkyo Ward, one of two botanical gardens belonging to the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Science (the other is in Nikko). The 160,000-square-meter garden, with more than 4,000 species of plant, was established by the Tokugawa shogunate in 1684 to grow medicinal herbs, making it the oldest garden of its kind in the county. Best parks for a family day out For an activity-packed day out with the kids, Ueno Park in Taito Ward is hard to beat. Besides a small boating lake, Tokyo’s biggest zoo, street performers, ample space for running amok and a small amusement park for younger kids, there are six good museums in and around the park, including the kid-friendly National Museum
38 March 2013 iNTOUCH
of Nature and Science, with its dazzling dinosaur displays, and the magnificent Tokyo National Museum, which holds more than 100,000 artifacts from the Jomon period to the 20th century. A good (and greener) alternative to Ueno is Showa Memorial Park, a little farther afield in Tachikawa. When you’re not strolling along one of the nature trails, cooking at one of the designated barbecue spots or climbing and sliding at the play areas, you can rent bikes and pedal around a 14-kilometer cycling course. Alternatively, you could try some games you don’t see all that often in Tokyo, such as pétanque, disc golf and lawn bowls. Best parks for cherry blossoms With the annual, yet fleeting front of cherry blossoms almost with us, many of Tokyo’s parks are about to be briefly bathed in delicate pink hues. While some, like Ueno Park, will be too crowded to really enjoy the blossoms at their best, there are some peaceful alternatives for viewing the sakura in central Tokyo. Thanks to music and alcohol bans that keep the more raucous hanami crowds away, not to mention vast lawns accented by several varieties of cherry tree, Shinjuku Gyoen is arguably the best cherry blossom-viewing spot in the capital. A little less tranquil, but perhaps the most picturesque cherry blossom site is the Chidorigafuchi moat by the Imperial Palace in Chiyoda Ward. The best way to enjoy the sakura scene here is to rent a rowboat and take to the water. Best parks for a lazy afternoon For a place to just kick back and relax, you can’t go wrong with Inokashira Park in Kichijoji. Opened to the public in 1918 after it was given to the city of Tokyo by the imperial family, the park
OUT & ABOUT
Tokyo Metropolitan Park Association www.tokyo-park.or.jp Tokyo Metropolitan Park Association: Traditional Gardens http://teien.tokyo-park.or.jp Tokyo Zoo Net www.tokyo-zoo.net
Ueno Park www.kensetsu.metro.tokyo.jp/toubuk/ ueno/index_top.html (Japanese only) National Museum of Nature and Science www.kahaku.go.jp Tokyo National Museum www.tnm.jp
now attracts musicians, artists and street performers, both good and bad. Combined with the natural setting and boating lake, the entertainment helps give the park a laidback vibe. There is also a fairly small zoo here. Another option is Kinuta Park in Setagaya Ward. Established as woodlands in the 1930s and later used as a public golf course, this lush park’s old fairways are perfect for a picnic or a nap. Those feeling a little more energetic, meanwhile, have a cycling and running course, camping area, small bird sanctuary, sports areas and an art museum for amusement. Best traditional gardens When it comes to traditional gardens, there’s no shortage of great options in Tokyo. Kiyosumi Garden in Koto Ward often seems to go unnoticed by travel guidebooks because it doesn’t fall within the most
Showa Memorial Park www.showakinenpark.go.jp Institute for Nature Study www.ins.kahaku.go.jp Koishikawa Botanical Gardens www.bg.s.u-tokyo.ac.jp/koishikawa Shinjuku Gyoen www.env.go.jp/garden/shinjukugyoen
visited or fashionable of Tokyo’s 23 wards, but it is most definitely one of the best. Built in the Meiji era by the founder of Mitsubishi as a place for his employees to relax and entertain important guests, the garden is centered on a large pond with tree-lined pathways that lead visitors through a succession of scenic views. The iris garden here bursts into color in June. Just as good are Hamarikyu Gardens near Shiodome in Chuo Ward. The visual highlight here is the floating teahouse on the largest of Hamarikyu’s three ponds, behind which loom Shiodome’s gleaming skyscrapers. You could easily combine Hamarikyu with a visit to the nearby Tsukiji Fish Market (before it moves to a new site next year) or catch the water bus from here to explore Asakusa. o Goss is a Tokyo-based freelance journalist.
Explorations beyond the Club 39
For more photos from some events displayed in these pages, visit the Event Image Gallery (under News & Info) on the Club website.
Kidsâ€™ Kabuki Workshop January 26
Around 75 young Members enjoyed a Kabuki performance by a group of young actors from the Association of Traditional Performing Arts of Japan, followed by a fun workshop in which they picked up a few stage tips. Photos by Yuuki Ide
1. Shiho Tachibana and Elena Noda 2. Taiga Ogura
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Snapshots from Club occasions 41
For more photos from some events displayed in these pages, visit the Event Image Gallery (under News & Info) on the Club website.
Super Bowl XLVII at the Club February 4
Football fever descended on the New York Ballroom as NFL fans watched the Baltimore Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers live from New Orleans. Besides the nerve-jangling gridiron action, Members and their guests enjoyed raffles and a delicious breakfast spread. Photos by Irwin Wong
1. Robert Linington 2. Kamasami Kong
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Snapshots from Club occasions 43
Seven Lucky Gods Walking Tour January 5
A band of Members visited the temples of the seven lucky gods in the Tokyo district of Yanaka in an effort to amass good fortune for the coming year on this annual Women’s Group tour.
(l–r) Konstanz Wallington, Miki Ohyama, Richard Bittenbender, Tomoko Ueno, Kazumasa Ohyama, Margot Bittenbender, Kannan, Aryan and Puja Rajeev, Dalia Gold, Sam and Joe Glaser, Yoichi and Reiko Ohshima
Seoul Tour October 23–25
Participants on this two-night, Women’s Grouporganized trip to the South Korean capital enjoyed a getaway of sightseeing, shopping, food and spas.
Font row (l–r): Maki Engen, Nancy Davis, Elaine Williams and Nancy Brown Back row (l–r): Lynn Evans, Mary Hager, Jacqueline Lawless, Robin Bradley, Grace McCauley, Susan Melchiane, Shari Vallier, Eileen Wilson, Sharon Fuller, Beth Mittelstaedt, Deborah Ely, Justine Jonas, Diana Bohm and Christa Rutter
Sapporo Snow Festival Preview Tour February 2–4
Snow-loving Members headed to Japan’s northern island for a sneak peek of the world-famous festival of ice sculptures, as well as Hokkaido culture, food and fun. (l–r) Emily and Grace Cannell, Duncan Monk, Joe and Deborah Wenig, Anthony Melchione, Margot and Richard Bittenbender, Tim and Sharon Fuller, Richard Butler, Fay Nippard, Elizabeth Butler, Steven and Sally Butters, Denise Monk, Susan Melchione and Michael and Shari Vallier
For more photos from some events displayed in these pages, visit the Event Image Gallery (under News & Info) on the Club website.
Inaugural Island Jubilee February 1
To kick off the Club’s monthlong Okinawan festival, Members, dignitaries and guests took in a traditional dance performance from Japan’s southern islands while sipping free cocktails made with awamori, Okinawa’s famous liquor. Photos by Yuuki Ide 1
1. (l–r) Noriko Yamakoshi, Mari Osaki and Dean Rogers 2. (l–r) Shigenobu Asato, Salvatore Salvino and Club President John and Makiko Durkin 3. Satoru and Tomoko Hasegawa 4. Shigenobu Asato and Club General Manager Tony Cala
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Father-Daughter Dinner Dance February 9
Proud dads and their little princesses enjoyed a magical evening of mouthwatering food, dancing, gifts and photo keepsakes at this popular annual event. Photos by Yuuki Ide
1. Ariel and Benjamin Fuchs 2. (lâ€“r) Olivia Border, Eva Merlino and Michael Border 3. (lâ€“r) Kurt and Halle Gibson and Olivia and Takumi Tanaka
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Snapshots from Club occasions 47
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 email@example.com.
Saying Sayonara by Elok Halimah
ne Friday in December, I pushed our baby’s stroller along the street in front of our old house in Kanagawa Prefecture. Many of our neighbors came out and bid us farewell. “Please don’t forget us,” said our next-door neighbor, as she tried to stop her son from following us. The little boy was born only three weeks before our daughter, Isabel. They played together almost every day. He was also her first Japanese “teacher.” After playing with him, she would often come home with a selection of newly acquired Japanese words. It broke my heart to see him following us like that. His mother finally picked him up and held him tightly in her arms. He burst into tears. So did my little girl. I don’t know, though, if they understood what was happening. “Domo arigato gozaimashita!” I said, my voice beginning to crack. As long-term residents of Japan, my husband and I want to immerse ourselves in Japanese society as much as possible. It was one of the reasons why we chose our old neighborhood to live. It was a typical Japanese area, with few foreigners. In fact, we were the only foreign family there. We knew our neighbors well and were involved in the chonaikai neighborhood association. We even took our turn as the association’s leaders. When the earthquake struck in March 2011, I was seven months pregnant. With public transportation having stopped, my husband and I walked for three hours to get home that night. When our neighbors heard what we had done, many told me to ring their doorbell whenever I needed help. After Isabel was born, her play dates were always natural and spontaneous. If I took her out for a stroll, other neighbors with
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small children would join us. If we just hung out in our open garage, other children would head over with their toys. Isabel was blessed with many Japanese friends, “uncles” and “aunties.” I sometimes joked that I didn’t need to hire a Japanese language teacher for her. But, like all children, our daughter is growing up fast, and we had to think about her future education. We chose to join the Club to allow Isabel to take classes in her first language and to be exposed to some American ways as part of her daily life. Without moving, it would have been difficult to go to the Club frequently. We decided to move to a more multinational neighborhood. It was a heart-wrenching decision. We loved our neighborhood, which had been our home for more than five years. Having established strong friendships with our neighbors, we felt a part of the community. How could we say goodbye to them? We found a new place in downtown Tokyo, not so far from the Club and in the same area as my husband’s office. Before moving, we visited our neighbors one by one to say goodbye. We gave them our new address and promised ourselves that we would do our best to keep in touch. The day of our departure arrived. One neighbor joked, “From now on you’ll have to hire a Japanese teacher for Isabel-chan. No more free lessons!” Neighbors walked with us for a block until I begged them to get out of the cold and return to their homes. We’re now settling into our new place and have introduced ourselves to our neighbors on the same floor. But our old community—and the friends we made there—will forever hold a special place in our hearts, wherever we might live. o Halimah is a Member of the Club.
TOKYO AMERICAN CLUB
第 四 十 七 巻 五 七 五 号
TOKYO AMERICAN CLUB
毎 月 一 回 一 日 発 行
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 三 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
The Wright Stuff Club Member and architect Naomi Pollock discusses the legacy of Frank Lloyd’s Wright’s Imperial Hotel—the birthplace of the Club Oz vs NZ
Rivals face off at the annual Wine Challenge
本 体 七 七 七 円
Herb & Dorothy screening at the Club
Imperial Performance The Club hosts an evening of gagaku music
Issue 575 • March 2013