ト ウ キ ョ ウ ア メ リ カ ン ク ラ ブ
Something’s Brewin’ i N T
Club Member Jesse Green and other microbrew enthusiasts on Japan’s craft beer scene
O U C H
イ ン タ ッ チ マ ガ ジ ン 二 〇 一 三 年 五 月 一 日 発 行
TOKYO AMERICAN CLUB
第 四 十 七 巻 五 七 七 号
TOKYO AMERICAN CLUB
毎 月 一 回 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 Best from the Northwest Trailblazing Washington and Oregon wines at the Club
本 体 七 七 七 円
One Member offers his thoughts on Japan’s dental system
Toastmasters at the Club Members discuss the benefits of public speaking skills
Issue 577 • May 2013
Ahead of her talk at the Club, journalist and Member Lucy Birmingham explains how she came to coauthor a book about the March 11 disasters, Strong in the Rain.
Saving Japan’s Inns
2 4 6 7 8 10 14 15 16 20 22 28 30 32 34 36 38 40 44
Having rescued his family’s failing inn, hotel turnaround specialist Yoshiharu Hoshino discusses his motivations for striving to revive other ryokan across Japan. out & about
Eight Million Gods Can’t Be Wrong
Nestled between the Chugoku mountain range and the Sea of Japan, Shimane offers visitors a host of feudal landscapes and Shinto sites off the well-worn tourist path. feature
Crafty Creations In a country where the notion of goldstandard beer has never strayed far from German-style lager, craft brewers are starting to change minds—and palates. With Japan’s beer behemoths suffering a decline in sales, some 200 microbreweries are thriving. But is craft beer a fad or a new fixture of Japan’s drinking culture?
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Tokyo American Club 2-1-2 Azabudai, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-8649
Assistant Editor Erika Woodward
www.tokyoamericanclub.org Cover photo of Jesse Green by Kayo Yamawaki
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 May 2013 iNTOUCH
One of the main indicators that the season has officially changed in Japan (apart from the profusion of winter coat-wearing locals in balmy temperatures) is the release of the seasonal brews by the main beer producers here. Whether it’s a design of fiery hued maple leaves or pink-tinged cherry blossoms on the can, one thing remains consistent: the taste. Japan has been generally associated with lighter, refreshing lagers and pilsners (perfect summer thirst quenchers), and the breweries, no doubt, saw little point in changing a winning recipe. But palates have been changing. Just as drinkers have been abandoning traditional tipples like sake to explore wine and other libations, beer lovers have been experimenting, too. With a variety of flavors, textures and ingredients, Japanese craft beer is on the rise, according to Nick Miller of Nagano Trading, an importer of American craft beer. “Japanese brewers are also paying more attention to craft beer styles being brewed internationally and including some of their own native ingredients to produce extremely interesting and delicious beers,” he says. In this month’s cover story, “Crafty Creations,” my colleague, Erika Woodward, heads to Yoyogi Park and beyond to find out if the latest craft beer phenomenon is merely a repeat of the short-lived microbrew fad that took hold in the 1990s or something that is likely to put down roots and attract a wider following. Although Miller says he’s confident that craft beers are here to stay, he concedes that education is a hurdle. “Most of the population in Japan are only aware of the offerings from their major domestic breweries, as these beers dominate in terms of production volume and marketing,” he says. “It will take some time to get the word out to Japanese people that there is more to beer than mass-produced lagers.” Or seasonal motifs on cans.
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contributors Tim Hornyak
Canadian freelance journalist Tim Hornyak’s writings on Japanese culture, technology and history have appeared in a number of publications, including Wired News, Scientific American and the Far Eastern Economic Review. The author of Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots, Hornyak returned to his native Montreal in 2008 after almost a decade in Japan and now writes for the tech website CNET. Having traveled to all 47 of Japan’s prefectures, he contributes to Lonely Planet guidebooks. In this month’s Out & About section, on pages 38 and 39, he heads to western Japan to explore Shimane, a prefecture of enchanting historical sites, stunning scenery and possibly the country’s only Shinto god lodgings. Raised in the suburbs of Washington, DC, Erika Woodward arrived in Japan in early 2011. An assistant editor in the Club’s Communications Department, she graduated from the Philip Merrill College of Journalism in Maryland and has written on a variety of subjects, from the life of an overworked professional clown to the birth of a new political faction in Iceland. For this month’s cover story, “Crafty Creations,” she follows the aroma of hops, barley and other intriguing ingredients to investigate Japan’s burgeoning craft beer scene. When Woodward isn’t searching for the next story, the former professional ballerina hits the studio then unravels her perfectly pinned bun for an unconstrained night out with her hubby and friends.
Words from the editor 3
What’s happening in May 1
Mother’s Day Spa Special This month, in honor of Mother’s Day, The Spa is paying homage to all moms with an array of pampering treatment packages. Runs through May 31. Flip to page 19 for more.
Toastmasters Luncheon Whether you want to overcome stage fright or get tips on public speaking, the Club’s Toastmasters lunches can help. 12 p.m. Turn to page 16 to learn more about these life-boosting get-togethers.
Celebrate at Splash! Throw a birthday bash with a difference. Enjoy cityscape and cooling breezes while celebrating with friends and family at the Club’s outdoor café. Contact Chiyono Ikeda at email@example.com to learn more.
Open Mic Night Traders’ Bar opens its doors to amateur bands and songsters for an evening of homespun entertainment. 7:30 p.m. Get the lowdown on page 15.
Birth Preparation for Couples Two invaluable days that will get you ready for labor, birth and beyond. 10 a.m. ¥36,000. Sign up for this Women’s Group class at the Member Services Desk.
Cinco de Mayo at the Club Celebrate this American holiday in honor of Mexican heritage by enjoying some Mexican snacks and drinks while mingling with Members in the Winter Garden. 6–7:30 p.m. ¥2,000.
Cinco de Mayo Feasts After the Winter Garden gettogether, Members can continue the Cinco de Mayo celebration with either a Mexican-inspired set menu in American Bar & Grill or a Latin American-themed meal in Decanter.
Toastmasters Luncheon This club is dedicated to helping public speakers and leaders become confident at the podium. 12 p.m. Find out how Toastmasters has helped two Members on page 16.
Pacific Northwest Wine Tasting Explore the stellar wines of Washington and Oregon at a tasting that will feature exquisite examples of such varietals as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. 7 p.m. Details on page 8.
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. ¥7,000. Sign up at the Member Services Desk.
Nagano Overnight Escape Take refuge from the hustle of Tokyo life at a lodge with views of the Japan Alps. Bike, soak in onsen and enjoy home-cooked meals on this Women’s Group tour. Sign up at the Member Services Desk.
Coming up in June
1 Splash! opens daily
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Gallery Reception Kei Shimizu launches her exhibition of sophisticated calligraphy for modern home interiors with a casual gathering at the Frederick Harris Gallery. 6:30 p.m. Learn more about her work on page 30.
1 Splash! Saturday Night Barbecue starts
Nearly New Sale Pick up gently worn clothes, books, baby items and more during this popular Women’s Group shopping event. 10 a.m. New York Ballroom. Details on page 20.
11 Summer Aikido for Adults starts
TELL Charity Walk and Runathon Walk or run 5 or 10 kilometers in aid of the Tokyo English Life Line counseling service. 9 a.m.–12 p.m. Sign up through the TELL website (www.telljp.com) or by calling 03-4550-1191. TELL is a Clubsupported organization.
Boys’ Day Display The samurai warrior display and carp streamers to celebrate Children’s Day on May 5 come to an end. Find out more on page 15.
Ashikaga Flower Park and Winery Tour Travel to this city in Tochigi Prefecture for a wander through one of Japan’s most storied flower gardens, lunch, shopping and a wine tasting at Coco Farm and Winery. Sign up at the Member Services Desk.
Library Book Group The Club’s band of literary lovers meet in Café Med to discuss Michael Ondaatje’s The Cat’s Table. 12 p.m. Find out more at the Library.
Mother’s Day Tea Ahead of Mother’s Day, moms and their little ones enjoy an enchanting afternoon of tea and more. 2 p.m. For details, turn to page 19.
Mother’s Day at the Club The New York Ballroom, Rainbow Café and Decanter all host their own family feasts for moms. Visit the Club website for details.
Grand Sumo Tournament Tickets Take in the mesmerizing spectacle and ceremony of a live sumo tournament at the Tokyo home of Japan’s national sport. Secure your tickets through the Member Services Desk’s BoxSeat service.
Summer Sipping Food & Beverage Director Brian Marcus teaches imaginative drinkers how to concoct the season’s tastiest cocktails from at-home bar staples at this fun Women’s Group event. 12 p.m. More on page 21.
Meet the Author: Lucy Birmingham and David McNeill Respected journalist and Club Member Lucy Birmingham talks about the book she coauthored with fellow journalist David McNeill, Strong in the Rain. 7 p.m. More on page 10.
Greek Night Café Med celebrates the Mediterranean cuisine of Greece. 5 p.m. Adults (18 and above): ¥2,100; juniors (12–17 years): ¥1,650; children (7–11 years): ¥1,200; kids (4–6 years): ¥700; infants (3 and under): free. Continues May 22–23.
“Into the Woods” by Tokyo International Players This spring musical production is a lively fantasy about morality, responsibility and the stories we tell our children. Visit www.tokyoplayers.org to find out more. Tokyo International Players is a Club-supported organization.
Squash Club Championships The Squash Courts become the hub of high-octane action as Club players battle it out for top honors. For details on this annual competition, flip to page 18.
Women of Wine Meet the Club’s team of female sommeliers and sample their favorite wines at this casual tasting. 7–8:30 p.m. Washington and Lincoln rooms. ¥6,500. Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk.
17 Camp Discovery starts
Salvation Army Charity Drive Donate clean, gently worn clothing, linens and household goods to a worthy cause. B1 Parking. 9–11.30 a.m. and 2–3:30 p.m. All items should be bagged or boxed. Contact the Women’s Group Office for details.
20 Summer Craft Beer Tasting
Mudsharks Championships Swimmers from the Club’s swim team take to the Sky Pool for an exciting afternoon of aqua action. 2–6 p.m.
Coffee Connections Whether you’re new to Tokyo or want to meet new people, drop by this relaxed Women’s Group gathering. 10:30 a.m. Beate Sirota Gordon and Haru Reischauer classrooms. Free. Contact the Women’s Group Office to organize free childcare.
30 Independence Day Reception and Dinner
Decanter closure: May 3–6 and 11
Noteworthy dates for the month 5
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
Board of Governors
Club Jewels by Brenda Bohn
love Japan this time of year. The landscape is bursting with warmth, beauty and life, giving all of us a fresh perspective and hope for the future. The warm weather seems to lighten our spirits and draw us outside a little more. My family and I love to take advantage of the weather this time of year and go diving and sailing. My husband, Jeff, and our son, Ian, like to get a little fishing competition going as well. But our leisure time isn’t complete without a visit to the Club, and I’m happy to see so many of you enjoying the facilities when I’m there. The beauty of Japan’s natural landscape extends to the Club’s own “garden.” Of the many jewels of our Club, the architecturally impressive Winter Garden is a place to relax in each other’s company. The Spa is another ideal spot to unwind and enjoy some respite from the daily grind, as is our beautiful Sky Pool, as well as the nearby Splash! outdoor café. This is the perfect season for making the most of the Club’s rooftop facilities. A sometimes-forgotten Club gem is the Frederick Harris Gallery. Many of you may not realize that this art gallery in the B1 Formal Lobby and near the first-floor Family Lobby features constantly changing works, which are for sale. Members can also attend the opening receptions of new exhibitions each month. Turn to page 30 to find out more about this month’s show. The downstairs Formal Lobby makes for a wonderful alternative place to meet guests, too. New to the Board of Governors in November, I have a fresh
6 May 2013 iNTOUCH
John Durkin (2014)—Representative Governor Mary Saphin (2013)—First Vice President Gregory Lyon (2014)—Second Vice President Brenda Bohn (2014)—Secretary Hiroshi Miyamasu (2013)—Treasurer
Norman J Green (2013), Ginger Griggs (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)
perspective on Club governance. I have been impressed with the dedication that each of the governors has shown to building the kind of Club community that Members will enjoy. In addition to our regular Board meetings, we meet separately to review regular Member feedback (and the recent Member survey) and work out how to balance the various Member needs with what’s in the best financial interest of the Club. This can be a hard balance to strike. For example, while we recognize the revenue potential of renting out our meeting and event facilities to those who are not Members, we continue to protect Member-only spaces, such as the Winter Garden. I am pleased with the progress the Board has made, and I am confident that we are continuing to grow a warmer, friendlier and more inviting and sustainable Tokyo American Club. I have also witnessed the commitment of Club management to working closely with the Board to find more ways to meet the demands of Members. More recently, this has included reducing waiting times at the family restaurants during the weekends while cutting unnecessary overhead costs. Such progress will help more Members (our real Club jewels) enjoy their time at the Club while they uncover treasures of their own. o
Set for Summer
by Scott Yahiro
ith the Club gearing up for another busy summer season, the Recreation team is getting ready to help Members enjoy our superb recreational facilities. We will open the Kids’ Water Park, near the Sky Pool, on May 4. This season, you’ll notice some changes to this popular play area, including extra sunshades to protect the little ones on those steaming Tokyo days and additional protective padding to keep enthusiastic youngsters safe. Incidentally, we ask that parents remain with their children at all times here. Next to the Kids’ Water Park are four cabanas to make it easier to slip in and out of swimwear during the summer months. This can be especially useful when heading to Splash!, the Club’s rooftop café, for a snack or lunch. Splash! can also be reserved for birthday parties. With its cityscape views and cooling breezes, it’s an excellent alternative venue for a celebration. The Bowling Center is another popular spot for parties. Our coordinator, Chiyono Ikeda, can talk to you about the range of party possibilities at the Club. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. We expect another busy summer camp season for the nine-
week Camp Discovery and Camp Discovery for Preschoolers programs. Our camp for preschoolers was introduced last year and it proved so successful that we added programs in the winter and spring. And this year’s summer session sold out so quickly that we have added a second program for preschoolers. Campers enjoy a range of fun activities, including a field trip, at the weeklong sessions, which run on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Youngsters are never without something to do at the Club over the summer. Besides the camps, we run sports programs for kids to learn and hone their skills in basketball, soccer, badminton and aikido. Find out more about these programs on page 19. Finally, for squash lovers, the Club will host this year’s TAC Premier Classic from July 26 to 28. Now in its fifth year, this increasingly popular, Japan Squash Association-sanctioned tournament will likely draw more than 200 of Japan’s top squash professionals, as well as a few Members, this year. Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to catch some toplevel squash at the Club. You can watch games live at the Squash Courts or on special screens in the Gymnasium. See you there. o
Jiro Matsumura Memorial Fund Donation
ongtime Member Shizuko Tani presented the Club’s general manager, Tony Cala, with a check for ¥1 million for the Jiro Matsumura Memorial Fund. The late Matsumura was a Member for nearly 30 years, and this year’s fund in his name will be used for an inaugural staff overseas internship program. o (l–r) Shizuko Tani, Club General Manager Tony Cala and Human Resources Director Shuji Hirakawa
Executive remarks 7
Northwest Trailblazers by Ed Gilbert and Steve Romaine Pacific Northwest Wine Tasting Wednesday, May 15 7 p.m. Washington and Lincoln rooms ¥12,000 (includes regular steak) ¥13,000 (includes large steak) Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk
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ore than 100 years after pioneers followed the Oregon Trail to new lives in the Pacific Northwest, the 1960s saw wine pioneers begin to build wineries in Washington and Oregon. By 1990, there were about 70 wineries in each state, while today Washington boasts more than 700 wineries and Oregon about 500. Washington, in fact, is the second largest wine producer, after California, in the United States. While the Oregon Trail ran from St Louis to Portland, the “Northwest wine trail” runs from Napa to Portland (the Willamette Valley became Oregon’s first American viticultural area in 1983) and on to Yakima Valley (Washington’s first American viticultural area, also in 1983) and Seattle. So what is the draw of this region that will take center stage at this month’s Wine Committee tasting? In a word, terroir: that combination of climate and soil that produces top-quality wines of flavorful juice, balanced tannins and acidity. Also important is the availability of land at a reasonable price. Almost everything else about these two wine regions, however, is dramatically different. Oregon’s wine culture has developed as the “anti-Napa,” after early attempts to grow Burgundian varieties like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in California didn’t prove too successful. Pioneering winemakers found the Willamette Valley’s cooler evening and nighttime temperatures better for making these types of wines, and Oregon Pinot (as well as Pinot grown in cooler California regions) attracted acclaim from the 1970s. Washington’s wineries, on the other hand, focus on the same Bordeaux and Rhône
varietals that have flourished in California. While almost all Oregon wineries lie west of the Cascade Range, in places like the Willamette Valley, with its relatively Mediterranean climate, Washington grows 99 percent of its grapes on the eastern side of the Cascades, in the rain shadow, where sunlight averages 17 and a half hours a day, about two hours more than Napa. This interplay of extended sunshine and cool temperatures makes Washington a good place for warm-weather varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Sangiovese and produces their distinctive combination of California-like ripe fruit and European elegance. Whereas some Oregon wineries have a boutique, counter-culture feel, some in Washington exude a rustic, frontier ambience. But both areas bear out the pattern that regions near the climatic limit for the relative grape variety tend to produce the best wines. With less than 50 years of commercial winemaking history, the Pacific Northwest retains an archetypal American feel: fresh, innovative, diverse and a little boosterish. New soils and microclimates are still being explored and wineries established by young families looking for a sustainable lifestyle (Oregon’s Coeur de Terre), executives fleeing the city (Youngberg Hill in Oregon) and even Europeans from Old World wine regions (Washington’s Cayuse). Given the quality of wine and growing sophistication of winemaking technique in the region, it’s clear that the Pacific Northwest holds plenty of potential for those willing to work hard and take risks. o Gilbert and Romaine are members of the Wine Committee.
FOOD & BEVERAGE
by Kelley Michael Schaefer
hen it comes to wine from the United States, most people immediately think of California. But wine is actually made in all 50 states, from Chardonnay-rhubarb blends in Alaska to pineapple and Cabernet Sauvignon wines in Hawaii. Nonetheless, the Golden State produces around 90 percent of all American wine. But does it make the best? Sandwiched between Canada and Oregon, Washington quietly produces classic wines of power and finesse that are worthy of attention. It boasts reds that are often reminiscent of France’s greatest contributions and stylistically diverse, world-class white wines. Much of this success is down to the region’s location. The state’s largest American viticultural area is the Columbia Valley. Straddling the mighty Columbia River, this vast, arid area benefits from lots of sunshine and a minimum amount of rain during the growing season. The 2,000-kilometer-long Columbia is a great friend to the grapes. By keeping the air flowing, the river prevents vineyarddamaging frost (a real danger in this region of deep-winter freezes)
from forming. While Washington’s topography contributes greatly to the production of wine, it is the region’s latitude that leads to wines with structure and elegance. Stretching between the 46th and 47th parallels (the same latitude as Bordeaux and Burgundy), the Columbia Valley’s long, sunny days produce optimal ripeness in the grapes while its cool nights ensure their natural acidity. This delicate combination is what creates balanced wines. But enough of the science behind these great wines. Get to know them yourself by delving into the Club’s own wine collection, which features such preeminent Washington producers as Dunham Cellars, Leonetti and Woodward Canyon. Be sure, too, to sample the Club’s new private label WA 42, a Cabernet Sauvignon that is a fine example of Washington terroir, without the hefty price tag. o Schaefer is the Club’s wine program manager. The Club’s own series of wines are available at The Cellar (B1) or via the Buy Wine page of the Club website.
Kelley’s Cellar Selection 2006 Leonetti Cellar Reserve, Walla Walla Valley, Washington Savor this gentle giant from the Washington’s Walla Walla Valley. A classic Meritage blend of 75 percent Cabernet , 12 percent Petit Verdot, 11 percent Malbec and 2 percent Merlot from a fantastic vintage, this wine offers a beautiful medley of plums and black fruits, blackberry purée, bing cherries, dried rose petals and a whiff of smoke and cedar. Splash decant this big, dense red for an ideal companion to the finest steak or chops. ¥23,100 a bottle at Decanter.
Club wining and dining 9
Ahead of her talk at the Club this month, Club Member Lucy Birmingham explains how the book she coauthored about the March 11 triple disaster, Strong in the Rain: Surviving Japan’s Earthquake, Tsunami, and Fukushima Nuclear Disaster, came about. 10 May 2013 iNTOUCH
apan’s calamity of two years ago was like no other in recorded history, and my coauthor, David McNeill, and I found ourselves smack in the middle of it as foreign journalists. With hopes of sharing the disaster’s vital lessons worldwide, our book, Strong in the Rain, chronicles the unfolding events, from March 11 to late 2011, together with the tragedies, heroism, devastation and initial recovery efforts. The project began in April 2011, with an e-mail offer from a literary agent at Movable Type Management in New York
City. She had read my stories on the disaster on the Time magazine website. But the range of topics and issues she talked about were so vast that I knew I couldn’t do it alone. I turned to David for help. A well-known, courageous and seasoned investigative journalist, David and I had worked together before. From the start, we faced major challenges. The first was time. In a growing field of March 11 book proposals, we needed to get ours done quickly for our agent to present it to the big US publishers. In a shrinking, highly
competitive industry, the likelihood of securing a publishing contract is slim at best, so a speedy delivery was key. We would also have to produce a chronicle that was compelling, factual and appealing to an international audience. During our reporting, it became clear that the most impactful stories were the personal accounts of those directly affected by the disaster. After much debate and advice from our agent, we decided to choose six “protagonists,” whose experiences and voices would run through the book. Choosing these people, from among so many, was another huge challenge. Because David had been reporting extensively on the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant crisis, he chose three people from the irradiated area who were also affected by the tsunami: Minamisoma mayor Katsunobu Sakurai, whose YouTube plea for help was watched by millions worldwide; Soma fisherman Yoshio Ichida, whose livelihood was ruined by radioactive contamination; and plant worker Kai Watanabe (a pseudonym to protect his identity). I selected three subjects from areas hard-hit by the tsunami: American David Chumreonlert, an English teacher in Miyagi Prefecture who saved children, parents and elderly residents when waters deluged his elementary school; cook Setsuko Uwabe, who helped rescue some of the 300 children at her Rikuzentakata nursery school; and 18-year-old Toru Saito, who barely escaped the tsunami and became a disaster refugee after his family home and seaside Miyagi village were destroyed. We finished our 55-page proposal in December 2011 and were grateful to Palgrave Macmillan for their swift offer. With the deadline for our first manuscript just four months away, the task ahead was a daunting one. During numerous trips to Tohoku, we listened to many deeply moving and inspiring stories. As a longtime journalist, I had been able set my emotions aside while getting on with my job. But about three months into writing the book, while watching a group of junior high school students singing about bravery and endurance, the exhaustion and pent-up emotions spilled over. Many of the children had lost family and friends, and I felt incredibly grateful
that my own children were safe. Finding a private corner, I finally let go and sobbed. Ultimately, we were able to weave the stories of our subjects into the larger issues of the disaster, including the Fukushima crisis and radiation fears; the so-called “flyjin” phenomenon and foreign embassy warnings; international rescue operations; Operation Tomodachi and the US response; death and spiritual beliefs; and worldwide scientific revelations. In writing the book, David and I felt a clear responsibility to share the stories of the Tohoku people. We hope the book captures the events and memories of that early spring day and the following months while encouraging reflection and debate for years to come. o Birmingham is a Club Member and Tokyobased freelance journalist. Strong in the Rain is available at the Library.
Meet the Author: Lucy Birmingham and David McNeill Wednesday, May 15 7–8 p.m. Yukiko Maki and Toko Shinoda classrooms ¥1,575 (includes one drink) Adults only Sign up online or at the Library
Literary gems at the Library 11
The Joy of a Story by Alaine Lee
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eading aloud and enjoying books with your child is a precious gift, which you can start when your child is a baby and continue through elementary school age and beyond. Infants and toddlers can begin with colorful board and picture books. While sitting on your lap, they can follow along as you read to them or you can just talk about the pictures. Then, as they learn to sit up, they can hold and turn the pages. Through such daily activities, children learn that books are fun. It’s also a chance to cuddle, laugh and interact with mom or dad. Two fun books are Peek-a-Boo! and Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. As a child reaches preschool age, reading books with a parent can be a special part of the day. Many parents make reading picture books part of a youngster’s bedtime routine. It is important to have a quiet, comfortable place to read. Give yourself enough time to read a few books and read slowly. As you read, look at the pictures with your child and talk about them. Don’t forget to read with expression and let your tone reflect what is going on in the story. Ask what might come next and talk about the book at the end. Enjoyable picture books are We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Bill Martin Jr’s Chicka Chika Boom Boom. School-age children love to have stories read to them, but they should also be encouraged to read out loud. Be patient and positive, even if they are slow and struggling. One idea when reading aloud with a new reader is for the parent to read every other page. This keeps the story flowing while giving the new reader a break. A child who has graduated to chapter books will still often enjoy reading pictures books. Children this age have the attention span to listen to a nightly chapter book. Charlotte’s Web by EB White, Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren and Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary are wonderful examples for this level.
Though older school-age children are independent readers, they can still benefit from listening to stories. Reading aloud helps to build vocabulary and knowledge of a particular topic. Characters in books can sometimes resonate with children and help them discuss parallel situations in the real world. Holes by Louis Sachar, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl and The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynn Reid Banks are all worth exploring. The Library is an ideal place to inspire a passion for reading (you can borrow up to 10 books at one time), so why not drop by and ask our librarians to recommend some great books for your child? o Lee is a member of the Library Committee. Toddler Time Weekly stories and crafts for toddlers. Every Tuesday 4–5 p.m. Children’s Library Free
reads The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson by Robert A Caro Winner of the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award for best biography, this book not only explores the assumption of Johnson’s presidency following Kennedy’s assassination, but captures how our political system works, the history of the period and the people in his world.
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate Ivan is a sad, lonely gorilla until he meets Ruby, an orphaned baby elephant, and their friendship changes his world. This beautifully illustrated winner of the 2013 Newbery Medal for outstanding children’s literature has short chapters and is a wonderful readaloud book for parents and children.
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain Bravo Company survives a bloody firefight in Iraq and the men become national heroes and halftime celebrities at a Dallas Cowboys game on Thanksgiving weekend. This satire of modern war won the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction.
This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen Winner of the 2013 Caldecott Award for outstanding children’s picture book, this humorous tale follows a naughty fish who steals a blue bowler hat from a sleeping fish. Follow the clever artwork and find out what ensues.
Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon This 2013 National Book Critics Award-winning book explores the issues facing parents, children and adult children who are differently abled. In compelling firstperson accounts, families with children with deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism and more share their struggles and lives in intimate, moving portraits.
Pets at the White House: 50 Years of Presidents and Their Pets by Jennifer B Pickens The everyday lives of the pets of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue are explored in this enjoyable coffee table book. History enthusiasts and pet lovers alike will enjoy the facts and wonderful photos of our nation’s first pets.
Reviews compiled by Library Committee member Alaine Lee.
Library & Children’s Library Daily: 9 a.m.–8 p.m. tel: 03-4588-0678 e-mail: email@example.com
member’s choice Member: Shigeo Sugawa Title: Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
What’s the book about? Published in 1851, this classic is not a simple story of revenge but [about] the science and history of whaling in the 19th century.
What did you like about it? Ishmael, a young man and storyteller, describes the scenes of whaling from that age, while Captain Ahab is just a man of revenge, driven by hate.
Why did you choose it? I have read the story (probably a children’s version) many times in Japanese but have never understood the point. This time, I discovered that the whaling ship traveled for several years to get whale oil. Leaving Shanghai, it sailed to western Hokkaido. Finally, they found Moby Dick.
What other books would you recommend? I like Lawrence Block’s series of books with the character Keller: Hit Man (1998), Hit List (2000), Hit Parade (2006) and Hit and Run (2008).
Literary gems at the Library 13
pril showers bring May flowers, and May flowers bring thoughts of family celebrations on Mother’s Day. Actually, though, celebrating a day for moms on the second Sunday this month is a fairly new phenomenon. The roots of this holiday stretch all the way back to the ancient Egyptian and Roman empires. The former civilization would hold annual festivals in honor of the mother of all pharaohs, goddess Isis, and the latter would stage a parade for the “great mothers” Cybele and Maia. By the 17th century, the Church of England had broadened its celebration of the Virgin Mary to include all mothers in Mothering Day. But it wasn’t until 200 years on that America began promulgating yearly family gatherings for moms worldwide by officially adopting the holiday as we know it. It all started in 1870, when American activist Julia Ward Howe published the controversial Mother’s Day Proclamation,
Movies for Mom by Gayle Olsen
calling on mothers to protest the Civil War. Forty years on, her daughter, Anna Jarvis, began campaigning for a holiday to honor her mother and her hope for peace. Though Ward passed away two years into her daughter’s crusade, President Woodrow Wilson eventually signed the holiday into national observance in 1914. Since, Mother’s Day, as it complements Father’s Day, has been adopted around the world. For this year’s Mother’s Day revelry, we suggest that you invite the goddess of your household to sit back, relax and choose a wonderful movie for all the family to watch. Here are a few of our suggestions from the DVD Library: The Blind Side (2009); The Incredibles (2004); Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (2002); Erin Brokovich (2000); Stepmom (1998); Steel Magnolias (1989); and Terms of Endearment (1983). o Olsen is a member of the DVD Library Committee.
Did you know?
If you don’t watch enough DVDs to commit to a monthly fee, à la carte membership allows you to rent movies for ¥400 a movie, or ¥200 for a short feature.
T H R I LLE R
AC TIO N
R O MA N C E
Jack Reacher After five people are shot dead in a sleepy American town, their murderer is arrested hours later. Case closed—until the suspect, swearing his innocence, summons ex-military investigator Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) to hunt the real triggerman. Based on the novel series by Jim Grant (Lee Child).
Safe Haven Setting up home in a small North Carolina town, Katie (Julianne Hough) is hiding a dark past. Now that she has fallen for Alex (Josh Duhamel), a widowed shop owner, she is torn between bearing all for love and going on the run…again.
Cloud Atlas A star-studded cast, featuring Tom Hanks, delivers stellar performances in this Hollywood adaptation of the critically acclaimed and eponymously named novel by British author David Mitchell. The story follows the interconnected lives of fictional characters from the 19th century through to a post-apocalyptic future.
Parker Betrayed by his thieving entourage and left for dead, scheming robber Parker (Jason Statham) assumes yet another identity to exact his revenge at a high-stakes card game. But to get close enough to his enemies, he has to form a risky alliance with a woman with access (Jennifer Lopez).
Side Effects Psychiatrist Jonathan Banks (Jude Law) prescribes an experimental medication to temper the emotional outbursts of his depressed patient Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara). Then, sleepwalking, she murders her husband. Now he’s on a dangerous quest for the truth behind the drug. Directed by Steven Soderbergh (Traffic).
Stand Up Guys In this dark comedy, Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin star as over-the-hill ruffians who band together one last time before retiring from a life of crime. The trouble is one of them has a final assignment to kill a comrade.
DVD Library Daily: 9 a.m.–8 p.m. tel: 03-4588-0686 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Reviews compiled by Erika Woodward.
14 May 2013 iNTOUCH
Taking the Stage
he Club celebrates the annual Japanese holiday of Children’s Day (formerly Boys’ Day) with a traditional samurai warrior display, provided by the centuries-old, Tokyo-based doll company Yoshitoku, and colorful, giant carp streamers on the first floor and outside the Club. This national holiday, which is marked on May 5, is a day of celebration of children’s health and happiness. With Girls’ Day on March 3 and Boys’ Day two months later, the government renamed the May holiday Children’s Day in 1948. In its previous form, the festival’s symbols of carp and samurai (or warrior helmets) were meant to represent strength and vitality. Red bean paste rice cakes, wrapped in kashiwa oak leaves, are usually eaten on this day. o Find out more about the history of Children’s Day on page 34.
spiring musicians and singers are invited to step into the spotlight and join Member Jiro Makino and the Traders’ Bar “house band” for another entertaining evening of tunes from talented Club amateurs. An assortment of instruments will be on hand for performers to use, but they are encouraged to bring their own. Whatever your musical style or ability, get set for a laid-back evening of fun, camaraderie and great music. o Open Mic Night Saturday, May 11 7:30 p.m. Traders’ Bar Free Adults only Sponsored by the Programs and Events Committee
Boys’ Day Display Until May 7 Family Lobby (1F) 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 15
Podium Empowerment Whether you need to prepare for a crucial presentation or want to overcome public speaking jitters, help is at hand at the Club. by Nick Narigon
16 May 2013 iNTOUCH
ears ago, when she was an up-andcoming manager at the American entertainment giant Disney, Susan Piatek found herself in a boardroom about to deliver a financial update. As she started her presentation, her nerves took over and she froze. “It was a devastating experience,” says the member of the Club’s new chapter of Toastmasters, an international nonprofit organization that helps people develop their public speaking and leadership skills. “I knew I had to do something that was above and beyond what I was ever taught in high school or college as related to public speaking and communication skills.” Piatek, who worked at Disney for nearly 20 years, decided to work on her public speaking skills by joining Disney’s Toastmasters club, eventually becoming the president. “What Toastmasters does, once it was introduced to me, is that it is a safe place to practice your public speaking and receive constructive feedback,” the 38-yearold says. “It’s just a fun environment to be able to network and build camaraderie with people you otherwise would not have had an opportunity to meet.” Like many people who join a Toastmasters club, Joe Peters, 65, has had his own unpleasant episode in front of an audience. As managing director of a Tokyo-based recruitment firm, Peters often gives presentations. But for one talk in Singapore, he was unprepared. Standing at the podium, he read his entire speech from his notes. The audience noticed and told him so in their feedback forms. While Peters generally didn’t believe he was a poor presenter, he knew there were areas in which his skills were lacking. “I always thought I was a pretty decent speaker, but I was never 100 percent sure I was doing things right. I figured that I could improve, so I decided to join Toastmasters to see what it was all about,” he explains. Joining his first Toastmasters club three years ago, he soon learned that his habit of pacing back and forth while speaking is a presentation no-no. After such a positive experience with Toastmasters, he decided to start a chapter at the Club last year. (According to Toastmasters International, there are around 13,500 Toastmasters clubs in 116 countries.) Established earlier this year, the group meets at the Club the first and third Wednesday of every month, from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Two or three members give a speech at each get-together. With no instructor, participants are evaluated
by their fellow members while working through a series of 10 speaking assignments. These projects help participants hone such skills as speaking persuasively and using body language and props. Assigned evaluators give feedback on whether speakers meet the objectives of their speeches. “The goal is not to tear somebody down,” Peters says. “The goal is to help people become better speakers and encourage them to want to speak. There are no instructors in Toastmasters. It is all peer evaluation and we are here to help one another.” During meetings, members are also called on to give impromptu short talks on a particular topic. At one recent meeting, Peters says, he was asked to offer his thoughts on athlete celebrations. “The idea is to be able to get up and speak spontaneously because people are asked to speak spontaneously quite often,” he says. “It could be in a meeting, it could be at a wedding. This trains you in the ability to speak spontaneously.” Another clear goal of Toastmasters is to nurture leadership skills. Peters says that accomplished public speakers are typically better leaders. “You will learn how to moderate your speech. You will learn how to speak within a set amount of time. You will become more aware of the filler words,” he says. “If you are so afraid to speak in front of people that you freeze or your mind goes blank, you learn how to eliminate that because you are just more used to speaking in front of people.” Piatek, who no longer suffers from stage fright, has even evaluated at international Toastmasters competitions. “What is nice about being part of a Toastmasters organization is you can lean on your fellow members,” she says. “They can help you polish a speech you need to deliver, whether it is on a competitive level or on a personal level. Whether you know you are going to be called to give a toast at a wedding or if you are going to be competing in a contest internationally, Toastmasters is a safe environment to practice in, again, for personal or professional reasons.” o
Narigon is a Tokyo-based freelance journalist. For more information about the Club’s Toastmasters club, contact the Library or Joe Peters at email@example.com. Toastmasters International www.toastmasters.org
Fitness and well-being 17
FIT N E SS
The Making of Martial Artists Pick up a martial art this summer at special aikido programs for kids (ages 5 to 12) and adults. Aikido is great for flexibility, coordination and physical fitness and is an enjoyable, rewarding way to learn self-defense. Summer Aikido for Adults June 11–July 11 (Tuesdays and Thursdays) 7–8 p.m. ¥29,400 Summer Intensive Aikido for Kids July 1–12 (Weekdays) 2–3 p.m./5–6 p.m. ¥29,400 Sign up online or at the Recreation Desk For more information, contact the Recreation Desk at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ccomplished pianist Ai Noguchi guides students of all abilities through the joys of playing the piano. An experienced solo performer, with music degrees from the United States, she has experience teaching students from preschool age to adults. Seven-year-old Paige Fredenburgh is one of Noguchi’s students. “As a
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parent, [I think] Noguchi-sensei has been wonderful. She’s very kind, calm and a great teacher. She also helped us find a piano for Paige to play at home,” says Meralee Fredenburgh, Paige’s mother. o Visit the Music page (under Health & Recreation) of the Club website for details.
Squash Spectacle The Squash Courts become the hub of three days of intense action as Club players battle it out for top honors. Squash Club Championships May 17–19 Squash Courts Entry fee: ¥1,050 Sign up at the Squash Courts or Recreation Desk
YO UTH E VE N TS
An Afternoon with Mom Ahead of Mother's Day, the magic of childhood tea parties is recreated at the Club, when moms and their little ones enjoy an enchanting afternoon of tea, finger food, photo keepsakes and whimsy. Mother’s Day Tea Saturday, May 11 2–4 p.m. Manhattan I
Learning through Play
Back by popular demand, Camp Discovery is serving up a healthy dose of summer camp fun in week-size portions for Club youngsters with an insatiable appetite for sports, crafts, music, games and field trips.
From song and dance to crafts and sports, the Club’s youngest Members enjoy weeklong sessions of summer fun that are designed to inspire confidence, curiosity and downright cheerfulness.
Camp Discovery June 17–August 16 Weekdays 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Members: ¥37,800 per session Non-Members: ¥44,000 per session For ages 6–12
Camp Discovery for Preschoolers June 17–August 16 Weekdays 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Members: ¥37,800 per session Non-Members: ¥44,000 per session For ages 3–5
Sign up online or at the Recreation Desk For more information, contact Reina Collins at email@example.com.
Sign up online or at the Recreation Desk For more information, contact Reina Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
¥4,200 (includes food, drinks and gift bags) Sign up online or at the Recreation Desk
Stars of the Game Whether they’re after the win on the field or the glory on the court, young athletes have the chance to shine at the Club’s Summer All-Star Sports program. Each day, participants ages 6 to 12 enjoy a combination of sports and activities, from soccer to hip-hop, basketball, badminton and gymnastics. Summer All-Star Sports June 17–August 16 Weekdays 3:30–4:30 p.m. (Thursdays: 5–6 p.m.) For more information, contact the Recreation Desk at email@example.com.
Mother’s Day Pampering The Spa honors moms all month long with an array of luxuriating treatment packages. Plus, the first 30 Members to purchase a gift certificate for any of the May packages will receive a 15 percent discount. May 1–31 The Princess 45-minute Doterra Aromatouch Technique Oil Massage and 45-minute Head and Reflexology Massage Combo (¥14,850) The Queen 60-minute Deep-Pore Cleansing Facial and 30-minute Reflexology Massage (¥18,850) The Empress 60-minute Aromatherapy Massage and 60-minute Radiance Facial (¥23,850) Visit the Club’s fourth floor haven of relaxation for more information.
The Spa proudly uses products by
To book your next pampering session, contact The Spa at 03-4588-0714 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fitness and well-being 19
(l–r) Jett Edwards, Steve Gardner and John Ken Nuzzo
sed to performing on expansive stages in acoustically refined concert halls, opera singer John Ken Nuzzo sang in an entirely different musical environment last October. As part of a group of 10 musicians, the Club Member took part in a series of Clubsponsored events at schools in Fukushima, one of the prefectures affected by the triple disaster of March 2011.
Bargains Galore by Alaine Lee
20 May 2013 iNTOUCH
Nuzzo visited a junior high school and taught a workshop to a girls’ choral class. “And, at the end, as a collaboration and group effort, we sang a song called “Tsubasa wo Kudasai” [“Give Me Wings”], a song which I sang with the children of Anchorage, Alaska, where I did a charity concert for Tohoku last year,” he says. “I still cannot forget their smiles and their will to learn something new.”
I just love the annual Nearly New Sale, when my family and I shed the extras we’ve accumulated throughout the year and start afresh. As a past vendor, I can say that you’ll have fun selling your wares. Electronic household items are popular, as are clothes, shoes, toys, dishes, accessories and, yes, the occasional designer handbag. As a tip, price your items to sell. Taking home a treasure for a steal is all part of the fun. At the end of the day, what you haven’t sold you can donate directly to
With money raised at last year’s Still Jammin’ musical fundraiser at the Club and various Women’s Group sales, the Women’s Group sent around 80 Fukushima schoolchildren to two summer camps last year. “It turned out that we did have some funds left and the [Fukushima] board of education had asked if we could bring some of the musicians from Still Jammin’ to Fukushima,” explains the Women’s
the Salvation Army. Most importantly, don’t forget to treat yourself to something fabulous from a friend’s collection. o Lee is a member of the Women’s Group.
Nearly New Sale Tuesday, May 21 10 a.m.–1:30 p.m. New York Ballroom Open to the public No children under 12 or strollers allowed
Making Music in Fukushima
Last year, a Women’s Groupsupported band of musicians took their talent and tunes to Tohoku. by Brian Chapman Group’s Barbara Hancock. The eclectic band of musicians first performed a joint concert with students from a local Fukushima junior high school at Fukushima City Music Hall before hosting workshops at schools the following day. Julliard-trained flutist Andrea Fisher was one of the musicians. “When Tokyo American Club asked me to be a part of their musicians’ workshop in Fukushima,
Cocktail Challenge by Erika Woodward
I wasn’t sure what to expect,” she says. “I had no idea that by the end of the weekend it would turn out to be one of the most meaningful and inspiring performances I have ever given.” The trip also made an impression on Tokyo-based Romanian violinist Paul Florea. “It was a pleasure playing for the people of Fukushima. I found that again they have so much courage and strength,”
With the season of barbecues and beach parties about to kick off, a good host knows nothing sets the mood like perfectly stirred (or shaken) libations. And Food & Beverage Director Brian Marcus will help you set your partygoers’ tongues wagging. At an afternoon jamboree of drink, Marcus will teach Members how to whip up some surprisingly easy cocktails from bar staples. Once you’ve mastered a few mixing skills, you’ll put them to the test in a cocktail challenge. And remember, it’s not the winning that matters, it’s the taking part. Or, in this case, the drinking—responsibly, of course. o
he says. “It was a great audience, an event well organized by TAC staff and a nice welcome by the people of Fukushima.” Other members of the group included gospel singer Jett Edwards and blues guitarist Steve Gardner and his band. Gardner, who has visited disaster-affected areas in Tohoku more than 40 times, says he recalls the energy of the concert. “My band and I took the stage and soon had all of the students, some of their teachers, parents and the school principal singing along, jumping and shouting. We were all having the time of our lives,” he says. “The TAC Members were dressed for Halloween and passed out bags of candy.” On the second day, Edwards says he worked with a school’s 32-piece brass band and performed “I Just Called to Say I Love You,” the Stevie Wonder hit. “It was a wonderful workshop,” he says. Fisher says she had an equally rewarding experience. “The flute students were so talented and I had so much fun coaching them on their music,” she says. “The enthusiasm of the students at the concert even inspired me to walk through the audience and interact with them as I performed. The joy that my music brought to them that day was an experience I’ll never forget.” The workshops and concert were so well received that plans are underway to repeat the program in the fall for schools that were not able to participate last year. Reflecting on the Fukushima excursion, Gardner says that the concert rates as one of his best live show memories. But he’s modest about his efforts and those of his fellow musicians. “We didn’t do anything so special,” he says. “We helped everyone forget about their troubles for a while.” o Chapman is a Tokyo-based freelance journalist.
Summer Sipping Monday, May 13 Doors open: 11:30 a.m. Lunch: Program begins: 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 21
22 May 2013 iNTOUCH
In a country where beer has never strayed far from the German-style lager path, craft beer makers are starting to shake things up. by Erika Woodward
eeping it confidential on a Saturday afternoon in Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park, out of sight of dog walkers and picnicking families, nearly 200 people gather under the canopy of a large tree. Sharing glasses and laughs, the diverse crowd of invited brewers and imbibers have come together to sample the stunning array of craft beer flowing from unmarked kegs. Having just filled his cup (again), American John Chambers, cofounder of the microbrew enthusiast hangout, DevilCraft, in Kanda, says it’s evident that change has come. “It used be the only fancy beer you could get in Japan was Belgium beer,” he says, “and now enough Japanese have traveled to the US and seen what’s going on there with craft beer. They’re getting into it here, telling their friends and it has started to snowball a bit.” Attend any one of the growing number of craft beer events around Japan, or simply
spend time perusing the beer section of local convenience stores, and Chamber’s observations become clear. A cache of premium beers are encroaching on shelves once dominated by Japanese macrobrews. Fueled by a culture of individualism, the demand for locally brewed delights has been growing in the United States since the movement kicked off in the mid-1980s. Japan’s evolution, meanwhile, reflects a break from established norms of drinking and choice. Lauded as some of highest quality industrial beer in the world, big-box brews from the behemoth companies of Asahi, Sapporo, Kirin and Suntory have historically been a staple of the drinking culture, from rural izakaya restaurants to Tokyo’s high-end bars. But with more people exploring wines, whiskeys and other drinks from abroad, craft beer is benefiting from this interest
in new, distinct tastes and tipples. And while Japan’s beer giants grapple with a 30-year decline in sales of regular beer, some 200 microbreweries are thriving in the country. Infusing beers with traditional spices like wasabi and miso paste, small Japanese brewers, such as Coedo in Saitama, Nagano’s Yo-Ho and Yokohama Brewery, are distinguishing themselves from their mass-produced counterparts with lovingly crafted concoctions. “Show me characterful beer and I will show you a vibrant, passionate person or persons behind it,” says American Bryan Baird, who founded Numazu, Shizuoka-based Baird Brewing with his wife, Sayuri, in 2000. Having traded a corporate career for his passion for hops and barley, the US-trained brewmaster says craft beer is about brewing (and living) with integrity. “Craft beer has two things underlying
Crafty Creations 23
it which are much in demand in today’s world: honesty and authenticity,” he says. “These are very compelling attributes to customers today.” Japan actually experienced a (shortlived) craft beer boom in the 1990s. But enthusiasts say the movement this time is different. “There weren’t, like, 100 shops that showed up overnight just to take advantage of it, which tends to happen with a fad,” says Chambers, who opened his watering hole in 2008. “The people that are into it built it up from within and
Steep barley in hot water for 40 hours. Germinate for five days. Dry in kiln. Mill to extract sugars and carbohydrates.
24 May 2013 iNTOUCH
they’ve pretty much succeeded all across the board, so I don’t see that going away.” For one reason, more than a hoppy libation, craft beer is a lifestyle, devotees argue. Sitting in Traders’ Bar on a weekday evening in April, Member Jesse Green coolly surveys the waiter as he pours Green’s choice stout. Then, with wellhoned reflexes, he leans forward and, without touching the glass with his hands, takes a mouthful. “Aah!” he says with a satisfied smile. “I mean, I literally
Mash malted barley with hot water to create wort. Allow sugars to ferment the yeast.
could spend hours just talking about the different kinds of craft brews, but this is one of my favorites, anywhere.” Green is the driving force behind the ever-evolving collection of craft beers available at Traders’ and American Bar & Grill. “Why would you drink something that isn’t made from authentic ingredients to create a product that is subpar just because that’s what the marketing, advertising tells you is the right thing to be doing, when you could be having something that’s far more spectacular than that?” he says. “It’s
Separate liquids from solids. Drain for about 200 minutes in a whirlpool kettle.
Boil the wort. Add hops to determine the color, flavor and aroma.
like comparing a McDonald’s hamburger versus a wagyu hamburger. It’s a very different conversation.” Like Green, the mircobrewing industry embraces an attitude of rugged individuality on which it was founded. But just as the thirst for variety has been fueling the craft beer movement in the US, in Japan, the country’s appreciation of artisanship is helping to drive interest. “Japanese consumers on the whole, I believe, are more oriented to artisanal products and more willing to pay a
Cool beer to under 10 degrees Celcius. Add more hops as desired.
premium price for them than are other world populations,” Baird says. “That is a big generalization, but I think it broadly true and I think the fact bodes well for the future of craft beer in Japan.” Leaning back in his chair in his Yokohama offices, Ry Beville, publisher of the bilingual quarterly magazine Japan Beer Times, says unlike their large, faceless competitors, many small-town Japanese microbrewers are entwined with the communities in which they operate. “People know a lot more about the personalities
Cool wart. Add yeast. Sugars ferment and become alcohol, carbon dioxides or other components.
and families of the breweries than they do about other business, and that information is online, it’s shared.” he says. “It’s statement and lifestyle in that way.” Owned by an Odawara, Kanagawabased producer of kamaboko fish cakes, Hakone Brewery is one such communityrooted business. “We recycle residue from kamaboko and beer and give it to the local farmers as a special manufactured fertilizer, and we buy fruit grown by those farmers to make the beer,” explains the brewery’s Ikumi Shimizu.
With fermentation complete, store beer in a tank until mature.
Bottle or keg, distribute and enjoy!
Crafty Creations 25
Kayo Yamawaki DevilCraft
Holding fast to tradition, the familyrun establishment brews its beer with the same natural spring water that its parent company, Suzuhiro, has been using to make kamaboko since 1865. Shimizu says that there are strong ties with the local area. “We are planning to use only fruit grown in Odawara, and we hope that Hakone beer can help rejuvenate the city,” she says. Founded in 1997, Hakone Brewery is one of the few Japanese breweries to have survived the bust of the nation’s earlier craft beer boom, which was set in motion after the government reduced the minimum production requirement for a brewing license from 2 million liters of beer to 60,000 liters. Sake makers, seeing a chance to enter a new market, and eager entrepreneurs seized the opportunity to make money and draw tourists to their largely rural
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brewpubs. Aided by a legal landscape that is arguably easier to navigate than the mandated three-tier system (makerwholesaler-retailer) of alcohol distribution in the United Sates, small-scale brewers had it made. “The problem was nobody really knew how to make beer,” says Beville. “So back in the late ’90s, there were a lot of really terrible places, just awful, awful, and craft beer started to get a really bad reputation among consumers as just being kind of a nasty gimmick.” Not surprisingly, by the early 2000s, most of the new arrivals had gone belly-up, but a few, like Hakone Brewery, remained and started to see their sales increase. Baird, who arrived on the scene in the midst of the downturn, says those earlier years have taught the industry a valuable lesson. “We really have demonstrated that
the beer has to drive everything else,” he says. “That lesson is understood by a much broader swath of our industry than before we started. [As a result], the overall quality of craft beer in Japan has risen and with that rise has come growth in the number of consumers interested in craft beer. The buzz has begun and its volume is increasing.” Betting on the trend, the likes of Suntory and Sapporo are churning out premium brews in an attempt to reclaim a shrinking customer base. “Now, places like Asahi, they make an Asahi stout and it’s wonderful,” says Beville. “Craft brewers drink this stuff and think, ‘Wow, I wish I could make a stout like that.’” According to Nick Miller of Nagano Trading, an importer of American microbrews, Japan’s craft beer scene is taking off. “We are seeing more and
more breweries opening up domestically, with some of the larger craft breweries really stepping up domestic production and even to the point where they are exporting within Asia and to the US,” he says. “Bars focusing exclusively on craft beer are also on the rise. From the distribution side, more companies are paying attention to managing the quality of the beer by storing it refrigerated and keeping it refrigerated in transit.” Despite all the positive indicators, there are those who argue that Japanese craft beer has a long way to go before it can compete with the quality and diversity of the beers being brewed overseas. “Most of [the Japanese craft beer] is not very memorable,” Chambers says. “The ones that are doing it well are doing it really well, but they tend not to be so adventurous.” Representing less than 1 percent of the
beer market, Japanese craft beer can be harder to find than many faithful tipplers would prefer. “The craft brew scene is in its infancy right now,” Green says. “So you do have some craft brew restaurants or some restaurants that focus on craft beer and they get it, but it’s pretty hard to find that in Japan.” For Beville, the test of Japanese craft beer success will be if the industry grows to the size where it can support secondary ones (a competitor to Japan Beer Times is set to launch this year). “That’ll be, I think, the proof of the industry’s health, if it’s robust enough to support all these peripheral business, like publishing or equipment manufacturers or malt importers,” he says. While Miller acknowledges there are hurdles to craft beer’s expansion in Japan, such as brewing in a country
“Craft beer has two things underlying it which are much in demand in today’s world: honesty and authenticity.” where most of the ingredients have to be imported and where craft beer remains relatively unknown, he says there is plenty of potential. “Not only is Japan primarily a beerdrinking culture, we also have the biggest gourmet scene in the world here,” he says. “These two things together spell what we believe is a very bright future for craft beer in Japan.” The Yoyogi Park guzzlers would, no doubt, raise a glass to that. o Summer Craft Beer Tasting Celebrate the world of suds at this evening of top-quality microbrews and beer glasses, hosted by Matthew Rutkowski of Spiegelau and the Wine Committee. Thursday, June 20 7 p.m.
Crafty Creations 27
Treating Japan’s Dental Problems
apan’s dental system is in need of major reform, according to one top clinical professor. Speaking at a recent international symposium in Osaka, Mikako Hayashi, an expert in restorative dentistry and endodontology at Osaka University, said the government had to fix the universal healthcare insurance scheme while improving the country’s teaching and practice of dentistry. Praising the Japanese government’s 80:20 target, where, at the age of 80, a person would have 20 natural teeth, Hayashi emphasized that to meet that goal there needed to be a switch from an insurance system that rewarded dentists for drilling and filling teeth to one that encouraged preventative oral care. Dr Hirokazu Enatsu is a US-trained dentist at United Dental Office. iNTOUCH’s Nick Jones visited the Club Member at his Tokyo clinic to talk about attitudes toward dentistry in Japan. Excerpts: iNTOUCH: In general, how well do Japanese look after their teeth? Enatsu: I think better than [people in] many other countries. In this clinic, we 28 May 2013 iNTOUCH
see people from Europe, Africa, China, for example, and some of them have never seen a dentist in their lives. So dental IQ is quite different across the world. From that perspective, it’s pretty high [in Japan], but it’s not as high as the US. iNTOUCH: Why not? Enatsu: It’s because of the fee system, I think. Because it costs a lot to treat in the US, there is more emphasis on prevention, including the private insurance companies, whereas Japanese national insurance doesn’t pay for prevention. But if you say, “I need a filling or I need a root canal,” it’s free until age 15. That actually discourages people from having better oral care. iNTOUCH: Why did Japan’s system develop the way it did? Enatsu: This system only started right after the war, when medical care wasn’t available. They tried to make treatment available to poor people. Obviously, it has the advantage that more people have access to treatment than in the US,
but it does compromise quality. This is reflected in education as well. In the US, [dental students] have to be able to handle patients [and] you need to pass a clinical test. In Japan, it’s only paperwork. iNTOUCH: So you can become a dentist in Japan without ever having treated a real patient? Enatsu: It’s true. There are a few [dental] schools that offer students an opportunity to treat patients, but most of the schools don’t. They’re afraid about malpractice because they’re not confident in [the students’] training. And then they send them out into the world. iNTOUCH: So they learn on the job? Enatsu: That’s right, so it’s very critical who first employs them and trains them. [The government] just started a program, so after they get a license, dentists are required to have one year of clinical experience before they can open a clinic. iNTOUCH: How have attitudes toward oral care changed in Japan?
Dr Hirokazu Enatsu
Enatsu: Overall, more people are becoming aware of the importance of oral care, especially young mothers. But teeth are still considered not such a high priority, because if people have a problem, they can get it fixed for almost [nothing]. iNTOUCH: There seems to be more of an interest in orthodontics now. Is that right? Enatsu: Yes, there are a lot more orthodontic treatments [being done], but it’s still not as many as in the US. Patients think treatment is a commodity. They don’t think a root canal or prevention is critical. But to me, that’s more critical because it’s actually linked to your health. iNTOUCH: Speaking at a recent symposium, Professor Mikako Hayashi of Osaka University recommended free dental checkups and care until the age of 18. After that, standard procedures like checkups and plaque removal would be covered by cheap insurance while more complicated procedures would be expensive. What are your thoughts? Enatsu: It’s trying to push people to take
more preventative measures, so they don’t have to pay a lot when they’re older. I think it’s very similar to somewhere like Switzerland. [But] then poor people cannot afford to do anything. Personally, I think that they shouldn’t force people to pay for national insurance; people should be able to opt out and choose private insurance. iNTOUCH: Should the government be promoting preventative oral care? Enatsu: The easiest thing would be to put fluoride in the water. There’s no fluoride in the water in Japan because there was a fluorosis [overexposure to fluoride] problem in Niigata about 30 or 40 years ago. If they are keen on preventative care, they should reexamine the possibility of fluoridation of water. That would be more effective as a public health policy. In fact, the fluoride content of toothpaste in Japan is very low. iNTOUCH: Is enough being done to ensure the success of the government’s 80:20 goal?
Enatsu: I don’t know if I should say this or not, but I think a lot of problems are iatrogenic, meaning caused by the dentist. In terms of the insurance system, if it’s drill, fill, drill, fill, you don’t want to drill and fill a tooth too many times because it weakens it. But I think people are more aware now about oral care. The Internet is a big influence, as people have more access to information. I hope this has put pressure on dentists. More people go to the US to study now because they have to differentiate themselves from other dentists to survive. iNTOUCH: What changes would you like to see in dentistry in Japan? Enatsu: There is really no requirement for [ongoing] education and training in Japan. Once you get a license, you can use it for your whole life. I’d like to see a difference in fees within the health insurance system for different expertise. So if you go to a specialist versus a nonspecialist, don’t you think there should be a different fee? In Japan, it’s the same. This would encourage [dentists] to get more training. o Member insights on Japan 29
All exhibits in the Frederick Harris Gallery are for sale and can be purchased by Membership card at the Member Services Desk. Sales of works begin at 6 p.m. on the first day of the exhibition.
by Erika Woodward A professional calligraphy artist for nearly two decades, Kei Shimizu’s creations appear to be in motion. These pieces, she says, are the result of years of painstaking dedication to her chosen art form. “Each brush stroke expressed in each of my works underscores my long and deep career as a professional calligrapher. The value of my career exists in each dot, each line of calligraphy, and I believe the viewers recognize its difference,” she says. Having first put brush to paper at 8 years old, Shimizu earnestly began studying calligraphy at 15, under a master artist or daijisho. She soon revealed her talent for shodo and numerous awards at contests followed. “It’s a daily feeling,” she says. “Experiencing, touching and feeling many things every day motivates me to create calligraphy works, so I keep my eyes and mind open to receive inspiration and to renew my sensitivity.” With a passion for contemporary calligraphy, the 53-year-old aims to create a wide range of large- and small-scale art that complements modern home interiors as distinctive as her customers. “That’s the difference between calligraphy works and paintings,” she says. “I’d like to let viewers imagine the scene and the scenery, not only from the letters but also from the blank, white space of my works—and I’d like to share its feelings.” Ever the artist, she sees no end to artistic possibilities. “I do not set any goal,” she says, “creative activities must last forever.”
30 May 2013 iNTOUCH
FREDERICK HARRIS GALLERY
Exhibition May 20–June 9
Gallery Reception Monday, May 20 6:30–8 p.m. Frederick Harris Gallery (B1 Formal Lobby) Free Open to invitees and Members only
Exhibitions of Art 31
yokoso John & June Rossman United States—Access Japan, Inc.
Takashi & Niina Murata Japan—Goldman Sachs (Japan) Holdings
Dominique & Sandra Jung Switzerland—Heineken Kirin K.K.
Kazuo Hirai Japan—Sony Corporation
Rikki Ninomiya United States—MRi inc.
Adam Johnston Australia—Robert Half Japan Ltd.
Nathan & Amanda Crisel United States—Astellas Pharma
Takeshi & Yuki Fujimoto Japan—Toyota Motor Corporation
Kyle Nakamura United States—Cosmo Solar Energy, Inc.
Hector Gutierrez & Miwa Sekiguchi Gutierrez United States—Alcon Japan Ltd.
Jamie Chie & Thomas Reich United States
Larry & Christina Kruse United States—Exxon Mobil Japan GK
Ian Wright & Yoko Yanagihara United States—Jones Day
Satoshi & Mayuko Sakurai Japan—Elematec Corporation
Toyotaka & Rie Mori Japan— I’rom Holdings Co., Ltd.
Marta Camacho & Francisco E Ruiz Hernandez Mexico—Philip Morris Japan K.K.
Wayne Taichi & Toshiko Alexander United States—Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP
Clay Kinney United States—Deutsche Securities, Inc.
Felix-Reinhard & Mio Einsel Germany—Sonderhoff & Einsel Law and Patent Office
Leonard & Katheleen Bellafiore United States—AIG Companies
Allan Becker & Lily Ota United States—Sony Computer Entertainment, Worldwide Studios
Masashi Suekane Japan—Bain Capital Asia LLC Steven Thrift & Melanie Kellett United Kingdom—Walt Disney Company (Japan) Ltd. David & Yukiko Halle United States—Nomura Securities Co., Ltd.
Charlene Lien Taiwan—Wistron Information Technology & Services (Japan), Inc. Jack & Joanne Appel Australia— Philip Morris Japan K.K.
Charles Spreckley United Kingdom—Be Bespoke Co., Ltd. Zentaro & Yukiko Ohashi United States—Sugoikaigi K.K. Eric Dube & Gregory Simone United States—GlaxoSmithKline K.K. Sing Hi Elliget United States—Tai Ho Sangyo Yugen Kaisha William Watts & Yoko Kato United States—Morgan Stanley Group William Achilles III & Michiko Achilles United States
sayonara Thomas & Diane Dooley Philip Fletcher-Wilson Andrew & Sarah Gardner Fernando Iglesia Daniel & Aska Kenny Yuji Kiriyama
Stephanus & Milana Kurniadi Tyler Marthaler Jeremy & Julianne Martin Gary McClain & Yoriko Yajima Marc-Oliver Nandy & Soo Young Kim Rika & Masashi Oai
Robert & Kristi Peterson Yoichiro Shishido Yoichi & Yoshiko Watanabe Lucy Woo Hideyuki & Yoko Yamagishi
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: email@example.com www.jtb-sunrisetours.jp
32 May 2013 iNTOUCH
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
Sam Nakamura by Nick Jones
t was just a number sent in a mail from his cell phone. But the nightly task at the end of each long, stressful work day was the focus of his thoughts for most of his waking hours. For three years, as the manager of a restaurant and bar in an upscale area of Jingumae, Sam Nakamura would send a message to his boss before he headed home for the night. The mail didn’t contain any greeting or chitchat. All it detailed was the amount the business had made that day. “I became blinkered,” he says of that time. “I was just focused on targets each month.” Last year, Nakamura finally decided to
leave. Joining the Club in May, he says he feels like he has a life once again. “For the first time, I am enjoying time with my family,” he says. Since becoming a member of the Decanter and FLATiRON team, the 34-year-old has also been able to use the skills he learned on his hotel and restaurant management course in Ottawa, Canada. “It’s a very good place to study because you do a lot of practice and real business at the college,” he says of the program that covered all aspects of the hospitality industry, from cooking and serving to mixing drinks and accounting. Named Employee of the Month for
March, Nakamura, who is originally from the South Korean city of Changwon, says he’s enjoying new professional experiences, particularly in FLATiRON, where he guides diners through two-hours of mouthwatering ingredients, prepared and presented in unique ways. “I’ve learned a lot in FLATiRON and learned a lot from the people here,” he says. Finally, with time off, Nakamura is able to devote himself to his other passion: motorcycling. Most recently, he toured South Korea with three other motorbike enthusiasts from the Club. And the only numbers he had to think about were the kilometers to ride each day. o
New Member Profile
New Member Profile
Why did you decide to join the Club?
Why did you decide to join the Club?
(l–r) Annie, Julie, Mike and Meg Westmoreland
(l–r) Charlie, Christine, Michael and Jessie Zeitz
Mike & Julie Westmoreland United States—Walt Disney Attractions Japan, Ltd.
“Once word got around that we were relocating to Japan, many current and previous residents told us that one of the must-do things was to join and get involved in Tokyo American Club. The stories they tell of their favorite experiences and fond memories while living in Japan often involve the people and events related to TAC. We have already visited several times and even ordered the burger, which is just as delicious as [our friend] John said it would be.”
Christine & Michael Zeitz Australia—BAE Systems (International) Ltd. and John Dory Media
“Prior to moving here from Adelaide, South Australia, TAC was highly recommended to us and already we are enjoying the fantastic facilities the Club has to offer. Having few contacts in Tokyo, we are looking forward to meeting new friends through TAC, as well as through Tokyo International School, where Charlie and Jessie are in grades two and five. Indeed, it didn’t take long to realize the two go hand-in-hand, as many parents at the school are also Club Members.”
Services and benefits for Members 33
Let’s Hear It for the Boys
The Golden Week holiday of Children’s Day is a festival of intriguing symbols. by Efrot Weiss
hildren’s Day is a Japanese national holiday on May 5 to celebrate the health and growth of children. Originally called Boys’ Day (Girls’ Day is on March 3), or Tango no Sekku, the day was renamed Children’s Day in 1948. Many of the festival’s symbols and traditions, however, continue to be associated with boys. One of the hallmarks of the day is the koinobori carp streamers that can be seen “swimming” in the wind outside homes and public buildings. The streamers include a flying dragon streamer at the top, a black or dark blue streamer, representing a father, a smaller red or pink one (mother) and smaller, fluttering “sons.” Since carp often swim against the
34 May 2013 iNTOUCH
current, they are associated with tenacity and determination (deemed a precursor to success) and, therefore, a worthy symbol. This idea is reinforced in a Chinese legend of carp leaping over Yellow River waterfalls and a dragon gate and being transformed into dragons. Inside Japanese homes, kabuto samurai helmets and gogatsu ningyo samurai dolls in full armor are often displayed. Representing real or fictional warrior heroes, they are idealized for their strength, courage and bravery. “We decorate [our home] with a kabuto every year,” Club Member Chieko Latimore says. Pounded rice cakes, filled with sweet bean paste and wrapped in oak leaves, another symbol of strength, are traditionally eaten on this day, as are sweet rice cake dumplings, wrapped in bamboo leaves. Japanese festivals are laden with auspicious meanings and double meanings. Because irises bloom around this time, the flower became associated with Boys’ Day. And the Japanese word for iris, shobu, is a homonym for warlike spirit. Iris leaves are believed to protect against
evil spirits and are thus placed around the home, while some people add them to bath water and bathing boys in Nagoya fashion headbands out of them. The sword-like shape of the leaves is also fitting. Many Japanese festivals contain Chinese traditions and local agricultural customs. As one of the five seasonal sekku, Boys’ Day denoted the beginning of summer or the rainy season and was also an important time for rice planting and purification rituals. Unlike its Chinese antecedent, Tango no Sekku was imbued with martial connotations and symbols. For example, the scarecrow-like figures and brightly colored banners hung in the fields to frighten insects and birds eventually came to resemble warriors in the Edo period. Over time, they became increasingly elaborate and were eventually displayed inside homes to encourage young boys to emulate samurai courage—a tradition wholly supported by the rulers of the time. o Weiss is a Member of the Club.
Saving Japan’s Inns
tanding in the foyer of Hoshino Resort’s Tokyo office, the company’s president, Yoshiharu Hoshino, proudly points to a framed photograph of himself with his arm around the shoulders of Jake Burton, the founder of Burton Snowboards. “Do you ski?” he asks. A slight, affable man, Hoshino is a backcountry skiing enthusiast. In fact, he is set to leave the next day on a ski trip to China, where he will also meet with prospective business partners. Hoshino, 52, has become known as something of a hotel turnaround specialist in Japan. He took the reins of his own family’s business from his father, Club Member Akira Hoshino, in 1991, at the age of 31. With a master’s from Cornell, he set about reviving the family-owned ryokan inn and growing the business. Today, Hoshino Resorts runs 29
36 May 2013 iNTOUCH
properties throughout Japan, from Hokkaido to Okinawa, including the upscale Hoshinoya resorts, familyoriented hotels and a series of traditional ryokan. “I call the onsen [hot-spring] ryokan the theme park of Japanese culture,” says Hoshino, dressed in darkgray cargo pants and hiking sneakers. “The architecture is Japanese, the food is Japanese and onsen bathing is a very unique experience.” A fourth-generation hotelier, Hoshino’s great-grandfather opened an onsen ryokan in Karuizawa in 1904. Karuizawa, with its cool summer temperatures and verdant Nagano surroundings, became a popular destination for Tokyo vacationers. The Hoshino inn flourished. When Hoshino took charge more than two decades ago, Japan’s economic bubble had just burst and the 90-room ryokan was
looking its more than 40 years. “We have a long history, which means we have old facilities,” he says. “My first objective was to rebuild the hotel in Karuizawa. It took a lot of investment, which means we had to have a more stable occupancy year-round. That was a challenge.” He also overhauled the way the hotel was run. Not only were staff trained in every aspect of the business, they were encouraged to provide ideas and suggestions. “I always wanted to improve the profitability, but at the same time customer satisfaction is important,” Hoshino says. “The employees have an idea of what is popular with guests.” The Karuizawa project took 10 years to complete. During the 1980s, Japanese developers invested heavily in the hotel and resort market. But when the good times came to an end, they found themselves
by Nick Narigon
with too many rooms and not enough demand. Hoshino recognized a business opportunity in these failing hotels. “They are not performing well, which means they have different types of problems,” he says. “So we ended up coming up with different solutions for each resort.” His first challenge was a high-class hotel, designed by a famous Italian architect, in Yamanashi Prefecture. Hoshino says that the previous owners had mistakenly targeted adults and couples. “When you see the market, it is so close to Tokyo and, not having an onsen, the best target for this type of facility is families,” he explains. “So, among other things, we introduced kids’ activities. That turned out to be a solution for this hotel.” In another success story, Hoshino was asked by the American investment giant Goldman Sachs to manage a 300-room onsen ryokan in Aomori Prefecture, in northern Japan. Hoshino’s team decided to highlight local traditions and festivals at the inn and encouraged staff to speak in their native dialect. After occupancy at the hotel skyrocketed, Hoshino partnered with Goldman Sachs on other projects. “I proposed investing in smaller onsen ryokan because the rate is higher, it is easier to operate and the demand is more stable,” he says. According to Hoshino, more than half of ryokan in Japan are struggling. While customer satisfaction is generally high, he says the facilities are aging and the
owners can’t afford to make the necessary improvements. They also suffer from a lack of effective marketing, he adds. Hoshino’s strategy has been to promote his hotels through brands. “If you have 30 onsen ryokan with 30 rooms, that means 900 rooms. If you have 900 rooms under the same brand name, then you have a marketing cost to deliver your brand not only in Japan, but to the international market as well,” he says. Named the first chairman of tourism by the government in 2003, Hoshino says ryokan have a bright future. After the number of foreign visitors to Japan last year jumped around 35 percent from 2011 to 8.4 million, Hoshino says he expects a record-high number this year. “The Asian tourism market is growing and Japan has a lot of resources to sell. We believe that we can get more share in the international travel market,” he says. And ryokan, he believes, are key to this future success. “The ryokan is one of the more interesting accommodation styles in the world. It is important for Japanese people to understand, feel and enjoy our own culture. It is also very important for foreign visitors to experience it and understand Japanese culture. That is the role of the ryokan.” o Narigon is a Tokyo-based freelance journalist. Hoshino Resorts www.global.hoshinoresort.com
Not satisfied with reviving the family inn, Yoshiharu Hoshino set out to rescue a number of flailing ryokan across Japan.
A look at culture and society 37
Eight Million Gods Can’t Be Wrong
by Tim Hornyak
While off the beaten tourist track, Shimane, in western Japan, offers visitors feudal landscapes, World Heritage silver mines and a Shinto hub.
n old pejorative for Japan’s western coast is “ura Nihon,” or the back of the country. Before the rise of Tokyo, ports along the Sea of Japan were where the country absorbed culture from China and Korea. Nowadays, slow-paced prefectures along the Sanin coast offer unforgettable getaways. My favorite prefecture in the Chugoku region is Shimane. Located north of Hiroshima, near the southwestern tip of Honshu island, it has a wealth of culture that is matched by the warmth of its people. Indeed, some of my oldest friendships in Japan are with Shimane people, and two of them hail from Matsue, Shimane’s mellow capital and the best spot to begin exploring. A typical samurai town, Matsue is known for its fine castle, one of only 12 in the country that are medieval originals, not modern reconstructions. It dates to 1611, a time when the Tokugawa clan had established hegemony in Japan, ending centuries of warfare. The splendid wooden keep displays artifacts from the castle’s rulers, the Matsudaira clan, and the topmost room boasts views of Lake Shinji, Matsue’s other landmark. Sunsets over this body of saline water can be utterly spectacular, and 38 May 2013 iNTOUCH
a good place to take them in is just outside the Shimane Prefectural Art Museum, on the lake’s shores. The lake is fed by the Ohashi River, which connects to a series of canals encircling the castle. Horikawa sightseeing boats ply these, as well as the castle moat, making for a wonderful old-timey way to see the area. Matsue’s other main attraction for foreign visitors is the onetime home of Lafcadio Hearn, a Greek-Irish journalist, known for popularizing Japanese folk tales in the 19th century and writing such books as Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan (1894). While living in Matsue, Hearn married the daughter of a samurai family and took the name Koizumi Yakumo. His home and the inevitable Hearn museum, which displays his desk, spectacles and other personal effects, are along the castle’s northern moat. Shimane is most interesting, however, when you get out of Matsue. A one-hour train ride westward is Izumo Taisha, one of Japan’s oldest and most sacred Shinto sanctuaries. The present structure is from the 17th century, and the majestic main hall has been restored for reopening in 2013, but the shrine has stood here for at least 1,000 years. Massive shimenawa sacred straw ropes mark the entrance to the
OUT & ABOUT
One hour, 25 minutes from Haneda Airport to Izumo Airport.
Ryokan Masuya www.ryokan-masuya.com
Shimane Sightseeing www.kankou-shimane.com
Matsue Horikawa Pleasure Boats www.matsue-horikawameguri.jp
Yoshidaya Tel: 0855-65-2014
Visit Shimane http://visitshimane.com
Izumo Taisha www.izumooyashiro.or.jp (Japanese only)
Matsue Tourism www.matsue-tourism.or.jp (Japanese only)
Yunotsu Onsen http://www2.crosstalk.or.jp/yunotsu (Japanese only) Iwami Ginzan http://ginzan.city.ohda.lg.jp
Matsue City www.city.matsue.shimane.jp Matsue Guide http://matsueguide.com
holy site, and although it’s dedicated to the Shinto marriage god Okuninushi, the entire Shinto pantheon of 8 million gods is said to gather here annually (the long, wooden structures along the main hall are “dormitories” for these deities). In the traditional Japanese calendar, the 10th month (October or November) is kannazuki, “the month of no gods” in the rest of Japan, but in Shimane it is kamiarizuki, “the month when gods are present.” Izumo Taisha marks this occasion with traditional kagura Shinto dances at the Kamiarisai Festival every year. It’s worthwhile escaping Izumo and seeing rural Shimane. West of Matsue, on the JR Sanin Line, lies the coastal hot-spring town of Yunotsu. It might be a sleepy backwater port now, but centuries ago it hummed with shogunal workers shipping silver from the nearby Iwami Ginzan mines. Today, its two atmospheric public bathhouses are perfect for relaxing day-trippers. The best is the venerable Motoyu Onsen, which traces its history back 1,300 years; the caramel-colored mineral deposits around the tubs are admired by onsen fans. Down the street is the more modern Yakushinoyu Onsen, which has an interior from the early 20th century. If you want to stay the night, try Ryokan Masuya or Yoshidaya, two old inns where time seems to stand still.
Visiting Iwami Ginzan is easy if you’re staying at Yunotsu. These UNESCO World Heritage site mines were one of the largest producers of silver in the world in the 17th century. Hop a bus from Oda or Nima station and get off at Omori Daikansho, a reconstructed magistrate’s office (and museum) where silver production was controlled. Buses run to the Ryugenji Mabu Shaft and Okubo Mine Shaft, two of the hundreds of silver mines in the area, as well as Rakan Temple, which has a spectacular collection of 500 18th-century stone statues of Buddha’s disciples, each with a different, lifelike expression. The nearby tourist information office can set you up with maps and information about local hiking trails. In the area, Mount Sanbe, a 1,126-meter volcano, has great hiking. Accessible by bus from Oda Station, the mountain has a conveniently placed hot spring, Sanbe Onsen, on its slopes. It’s ideal for unwinding after a five-hour trek around the caldera, where you can get panoramic views of this land of the gods. They knew a good thing when they saw it. o Hornyak is a Montreal-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.
Carpet Auction March 9
Hosted by the Women’s Group and Eastern Carpets of Singapore, this annual event welcomed plenty of eager bidders for the array of exquisite carpets and rugs on sale. Proceeds from the evening will be used to fund a special Women’s Group-CWAJ (College Women’s Association of Japan) scholarship.
Photos by Taro Irei
1. Eastern Carpets' A Shukor 2. Nobuhiko Ochiai 3. Jeannette Ohmae
40 May 2013 iNTOUCH
Imperial Sounds of Gagaku March 12
Three musicians from the Imperial Orchestra staged an exclusive performance of the ancient Japanese court music of gagaku at the Club. Hideaki Bunno, a former headmaster of the Imperial Orchestra, also explained the history and evolution of gagaku and answered Membersâ€™ questions. Photos by Kayo Yamawaki
1. Shogo Anzai 2. (lâ€“r) Shogo Anzai, Nagao Okubo and Hideaki Bunno
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.
Springtime Fun March 31
Youngsters celebrated the arrival of spring with a host of fun activities, including an egg hunt, arts and crafts and a Spring Bunny meet and greet. Photos by Yuuki Ide 1
1. Ava and Dominick Lyon 2. Octavia and Julius Ishizaka
42 May 2013 iNTOUCH
Easter Grand Buffet March 31
Members and their guests feasted on a sumptuous spread of traditional dishes for the Easter holiday. Photos by Yuuki Ide
Snapshots from Club occasions 43
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Save Our Sakura by Elok Halimah
n a country brimming with guidelines on how to behave, I have seen or heard reminders for everything, from posters at subway stations encouraging women to apply their makeup at home to announcements asking people not to speak on their cell phones on the airport limousine bus. However, I am yet to see a sign that instructs people not to pick the cherry blossoms during their brief appearance in spring. The “Do not climb the trees” notices in Shinjuku Gyoen Park are probably the closest to that request. It appears clear to most people that they have a duty to ensure that the sakura
44 May 2013 iNTOUCH
remain unmolested in their trees. Since the blooming of these blossoms is so shortlived, everyone understands that they should keep their hands off to allow for groups of families, friends and coworkers to enjoy them at hanami picnics. At least I thought everyone understood. One sunny day in March, I was talking to a woman from Okayama Prefecture while my daughter played with other toddlers in the sandbox of a small park in the neighborhood. The woman was visiting her grandchildren during the school spring break. A group of four girls, around 12 or 13 years old, arrived at the park. Two of
them climbed the cherry blossom tree in the middle of the playground and started picking the flowers that were in full bloom. Dropping the flowers to their friends below, they all appeared happy and carefree. I presumed they were about to make small bouquets. I was stunned, and for a few seconds I was unable to say anything. I had never seen anything like it in my more than 10 years in Japan. “Please don’t pick the cherry blossoms. You should leave them for us all to enjoy,” I heard the woman next to me ask the girls politely. Her voice roused me from my stupefaction. The girls looked at her with puzzled expressions on their faces. Assuming they could be foreigners who didn’t understand Japanese, I decided to help. I translated what the woman had said into English. The girls stopped, climbed down from the tree and left the park with their unfinished bouquets. Later that day, I went to another nearby park for an afternoon stroll. I saw the same group of girls. To my surprise, they were again picking cherry blossoms from a tree. When the girls saw me, they stared for a few seconds then slowly climbed down. With spring’s brief sakura season over, I just hope that this year’s unfortunate incidents were just as fleeting. o Halimah is a Member of the Club.
ト ウ キ ョ ウ ア メ リ カ ン ク ラ ブ
Something’s Brewin’ i N T
Club Member Jesse Green and other microbrew enthusiasts on Japan’s craft beer scene
O U C H
イ ン タ ッ チ マ ガ ジ ン 二 〇 一 三 年 五 月 一 日 発 行
TOKYO AMERICAN CLUB
第 四 十 七 巻 五 七 七 号
TOKYO AMERICAN CLUB
毎 月 一 回 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 Best from the Northwest Trailblazing Washington and Oregon wines at the Club
本 体 七 七 七 円
One Member offers his thoughts on Japan’s dental system
Toastmasters at the Club Members discuss the benefits of public speaking skills
Issue 577 • May 2013