Page 1

毎 月 一 回 一 日 発 行 

TOKYO AMERICAN CLUB

第 四 十 三 巻 三 十 一 号 

ト ウ キ ョ ウ ア メ リ カ ン ク ラ ブ 

May 2010

King of Clicks Club Member and e-commerce trailblazer Hiroshi Mikitani on the rise of his Rakuten empire

i N T O U C H

イ ン タ ッ チ マ ガ ジ ン 二 〇 十 〇 五 月 一 日 発 行 

TOKYO AMERICAN CLUB

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

Issue 542 • May 2010

Out with the Old

Guitar Hero

Golden State Gems

Women’s Group charity events help spruce up homes

One 10-year-old music wunderkind rocks the Club

Indulge in a banquet of Napa’s best at the Club in May


12

library

Seduced by Sumo

recreation A born-and-bred sports buff from Wisconsin, writer David Benjamin reveals how his lust for the daily sports stats evolved into adulation for Japan’s national sport.

talking heads

36

2 Contacts

Pampered Pets With immaculately manicured and brandattired toy poodles and Chihuahuas a common sight on the streets of Tokyo, one Club Member explains Japan’s obsession with creature coddling. out & about

Soaking in History

Made in Japan

4 Events

6 Board of Governors 7 Management 8 Food & Beverage

48

12 Library 16 Video Library

The slumbering city of Matsuyama beguiles visitors with its fabled hot springs, temples and a 17th-century castle perched on the northwest tip of the island of Shikoku. feature

contents

18 Committees 22 Recreation

24 Women's Group 28 Feature

28

34 Genkan Gallery 36 Talking Heads

Shunning bricks and mortar for cyber real estate long before shopping on computer screens and cell phones took off, intrepid Member Hiroshi Mikitani has created Japan’s busiest online mall. Now, he tells of plans to conquer the global shopping superhighway.

38 Redevelopment

40 Member Services 46 Inside Japan 48 Out & About 50 Event Roundup 56 Tokyo Moments

iNTOUCH

Editor Nick Jones

To advertise in iNTOUCH, contact Miyuki Hagiwara: marketing@tac-club.org 03-4588-0976

Designers Ryan Mundt Jasmine Lai

For Membership information, contact Mari Hori: mari.hori@tac-club.org 03-4588-0687 Tokyo American Club 4–25–46 Takanawa, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108–0074

www.tokyoamericanclub.org Cover photo by Irwin Wong

editor@tac-club.org

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

Management Michael Bumgardner General Manager gm@tac-club.org

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

Bob Sexton Assistant General Manager agm@tac-club.org

Linda Joseph Administrative Services Director gmoffice@tac-club.org

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

Mutsuhiko Kumano Finance Director finance@tac-club.org

Darryl Dudley Engineering Director eng@tac-club.org

Michael Marlay Food & Beverage Director fboffice@tac-club.org

Alistair Gough Redevelopment Director projdir@tac-club.org

Scott Yahiro Recreation Director recdirector@tac-club.org


Getting in Touch Department/E-mail American Room

Phone 4588-0675

americanroom@tac-club.org

Banquet Sales and Reservations

4588-0977

banquet@tac-club.org

Beauty/Hair Salon

4588-0685

Catering

4588-0307

banquet@tac-club.org

Childcare Center

4588-0701

child-care@tac-club.org

Communications

4588-0262

comms@tac-club.org

Engineering

4588-0699

eng@tac-club.org

Finance

4588-0222

acct@tac-club.org

Fitness Center

4588-0266

fitness@tac-club.org

Food & Beverage Office

4588-0245

fboffice@tac-club.org

Foreign Traders’ Bar

4588-0677

fb_bar@tac-club.org

Garden Café

4588-0705

gardencafe@tac-club.org

General Manager’s Office

4588-0674

gmoffice@tac-club.org

Library

4588-0678

library@tac-club.org

Logan Room

rec@tac-club.org

Membership Office

4588-0687

membership@tac-club.org

Member Services Desk

4588-0670

tac@tac-club.org

Mixed Grille

4588-0676

mixed.grille@tac-club.org

Pool Office

4588-0700

pool@tac-club.org

Recreation Services Desk

4588-0681

recdesk@tac-club.org

Recreation Office

4588-0240

rec@tac-club.org

Redevelopment Office

4588-0223

redevelopment@tac-club.org

Special Events

4588-0204

specialevents@tac-club.org

The Spa

4588-0714

spa@tac-club.org

Video Library

4588-0686

video@tac-club.org

Vineyards

4588-0978

vineyards@tac-club.org

Weddings

4588-0671

banquet@tac-club.org

Women’s Group Office

4588-0691

wg@tac-club.org

Youth Activities ya@tac-club.org

2 May 2010 iNTOUCH

4588-0250


from the

editor

Once upon a time, Japan’s college seniors would simply turn up at recruitment fairs and, seduced by promises of lifetime employment and twice-yearly bonuses, be snapped up by hungry corporations in search of colorless foot soldiers. The system worked beautifully. The economy grew and exports flourished—until the bubble everybody had been busily inflating finally burst. The fallout didn’t look too appealing for the children and grandchildren of those first intrepid salarymen. Forced to watch their bottom lines, companies cut back on their diet of fresh grads while opting for temporary and part-time workers to fill many of their semi-skilled and unskilled positions. The era of the “freeter” had arrived. Now numbering almost 1.8 million, these youngsters drift from one irregular job to the next, which makes it difficult for them to pick up any transferable skills that could help them to find permanent work. Unfortunately, with fewer graduates than usual taken on this year and companies warning of larger hiring cuts next year, their ranks are set to swell even more. Despite the dismal state of affairs, the conditions seem ripe for another economic miracle, similar to the one brought about by a single-minded nation after the war. Ironically, the prosperity forged by those post-war pioneers has left their offspring complacent and ill-equipped for the current economic malaise. This is the curse of the so-called “lost generation,” which cites “stability” as the most important factor in its search for work. Rather than racing out to turn raw ideas into innovative startups, today’s grads crave Showa-era comforts. While critical of the attitude of Japan’s younger generation, Club Member Hiroshi Mikitani explains in this month’s cover story, “Made in Japan,” why he believes his online shopping empire, Rakuten, can serve as a beacon for the country’s budding entrepreneurs. If Japan, aided by the government and venture capitalists, can convert risk aversion into trailblazing spirit, recruitment fairs could become the last stop for job seekers, rather than the first.

contributors Karen Pond

Wendi Hailey

Originally from Maine, on the east coast of the United States, Karen Pond and her family moved to Tokyo in December 2006. A catalog and website copywriter for an apparel company before her relocation to Japan, she contributes pieces about her Tokyo follies and foibles to iNTOUCH, Tokyo Families and Being A Broad magazines. In this month’s Tokyo Moments on page 56, she is rendered speechless at the airport while on a trip back home. Pond also chronicles her wacky and wonderful experiences in Japan on her blog (http://chroniclesoftokyo.blogspot.com/). When she isn’t writing, she practices taiko drumming and tries to make the most of the opportunity to live in Tokyo. Born and raised in Cassopolis, Michigan, a one-stoplight village whose most famous resident was kitty litter inventor Edward Lowe, Wendi Hailey leapt across the Pacific for a 12-month teaching stint in Tokyo, where she has lived for nearly five years. Working as assistant editor in the Club’s Communications Department, Hailey has an uncanny knack for spotting spelling errors and turning a catchy phrase. In this month’s cover story, on pages 28 to 33, she hears the thoughts of Club Member and shopping website Rakuten founder Hiroshi Mikitani on the future of his online empire and the state of entrepreneurism in Japan. Hailey’s time outside the office is largely spent debating over whether to go for a jog or order a dirty martini.

www.tokyoamericanclub.org For the latest Club news, schedule of events, class registration and more, check out the Tokyo American Club website. And remember, you can read this month’s iNTOUCH there, as well as previous issues, too. Words from the editor 3


1 What’s happening in

May

9

Sunday

Saturday

1–13

Saturday– Thursday

1–31

Saturday– Monday

Teen Pamper Party A new spa party package with a choice of deluxe manicures, pedicures, facials or massages. Flip to page 23 for details.

All-You-Can-Taste Terrazas and Casa Lapostolle Buffet Vineyards’ bottomless wine service focuses on South America, with fine varietals from Argentina and Chile. Flip to page 11 for more.

Spa Spring Special Rejuvenate lackluster or overstressed skin with one of The Spa’s Ella Baché facial treatments and receive a free sample of beauty boosters while they last. Turn to page 22 for more.

9

9

8

Sunday

Sunday

Saturday

Mother’s Day Buffet Treat Mom to a feast fit for a queen for lunch or dinner and show your appreciation for her enduring affections. Page 11 has the details.

Scholastic Book Fair Pick up rare children’s titles and popular paperbacks during this literary bazaar for youngsters. 11 a.m. Flip to page 14 for more.

Mary Ann’s Sunday Crafts and Storytime A fun-filled workshop of crafts and fantastical tales. 10 a.m. Learn more on page 14.

Mother-Daughter Tea Party Celebrate Mother’s Day with a charming afternoon of tea, sushi making and snacks. ¥4,200 per person. Sign up online or at the Recreation Services Desk.

12–27

14

14

14

Wednesday– Thursday

Friday

Friday

Friday

Mouthwatering Mudshark Munchies Swimmers and other hungry Members fill up on fried chicken, hot dogs and a host of summer staples in Garden Café. More on page 11.

Library Book Group The Club’s band of literature lovers chats about Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s Half of a Yellow Sun over coffee. 12 p.m. To learn more, see page 14.

I Will Rock You! with Yuto Miyazawa The 10-year-old guitar whiz has shared the stage with Ozzy Osbourne and Les Paul. Now catch him live at the Club! Get the lowdown on pages 18 and 46.

A Taste of Newton Sample world-renowned Chardonnay and other varietals from this acclaimed Napa Valley estate. 6 p.m. Details on pages 8 and 9.

17

18

20

20

Monday

Tuesday

Thursday

Thursday

Nikko Toshogu Shrine Samurai Archery Ceremony Tour This World Heritage site is home to historical temples and shrines and an exciting display of horseback archery. See page 26.

Nearly New Sale Pick up an assortment of gently worn clothes, books and more during this popular Women’s Group event. Turn to page 24 for details.

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

Meet the Author: David Benjamin The writer of Sumo: A Thinking Fan’s Guide to Japan’s National Sport divulges his infectious enthusiasm for the country’s most revered athletic spectacle. 7 p.m. More on page 12.

22

22–24

23

24

Saturday

Napa Valley Wine Tour Take a tantalizing tour of 19 of California’s premier wineries right here in Takanawa. 7 p.m. Check out pages 8 and 9 for the details of this not-to-bemissed night.

4 May 2010 iNTOUCH

Saturday– Monday

Recreation Summer Sale Stock up on bargain sporting goods and apparel, including TAC-logoed items, from Nike, Adidas and other premium brands. Get the scoop on page 23.

Sunday

Taste Napa Sunday Buffet Brunch and dinner take on a Napa theme with wine from the region deftly paired with local cuisine. Flip to pages 8 and 9 for more.

Monday

Coffee Connections Meet new people and learn about the Women’s Group at this relaxed, newly revamped gathering. 10:30 a.m. Banquet Rooms. Find out more about this new-look meet and greet on page 27.


EVENTS

2

Sunday

3–28

Monday– Friday

4

Tuesday

5

Wednesday

Golden Week Buffet Savor a sumptuous holiday meal of all-you-can-eat treats with the family. 11 a.m.–3 p.m. and 5–9 p.m. New York Suite. Reserve at 03-4588-0977.

The Napa Experience A menu of innovative Californian fare, matched with wines from Napa Valley, is served up in the American Room. Read more about the spotlighted labels on pages 8 and 9.

Toddler Time The Library hosts a free, weekly session of fun activities for preschoolers. 4:30 p.m. Free. Continues May 11 and 18. No sign-up necessary.

Boys’ Day Display Catch the final day of ornately crafted warrior dolls, courtesy of the 299-year-old Yoshitoku Doll Company, in the Family Lobby to commemorate the national holiday.

8

10

10

10

Saturday

Monday

Monday

Monday

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

Camp Adventure Sign-Up Youngsters beat the summer heat with art, music, sports and other activities with weeklong sessions of this annual camp program. For details, see page 23.

Monthly Luncheon Traditional entertainer and instructor Mako Hattori Valentine provides insight to her vibrant profession and performs a classical dance during this Women’s Group program. 11 a.m. More on page 26.

Artist’s Reception Israeli artist Carmela Ben Shitrit celebrates a collection of sumi paintings with a wine and cheese reception. 6:30 p.m. Page 34 has more on her stunning work.

14

14–31

15

15–16

Friday

Friday– Monday

Saturday

Saturday– Sunday

Summer Classes Sign-Up An energetic lineup of programs just for kids, from Pee Wee Camp to Aikido, kicks off this month. Check out page 23 for details.

All-You-Can-Taste Newton Buffet Another fine wine smorgasbord kicks off with two weeks of Newton Vineyard’s top offerings. Get the scoop on page 11.

Comedy Night at Traders’ Bar Get your daily dose of chuckles when the Tokyo Comedy Store brings its top comics to the Club once again. 7:30 p.m. Flip to page 19 for more.

Birth Preparation for Couples Two invaluable days that will get you ready for labor, birth and beyond. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. ¥36,000. Sign up for this Women’s Group class at the Member Services Desk.

20

21

22

22

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Salvation Army Charity Drive Clean out your closets and donate clean clothes, linens and household items in clear plastic bags to this annual cause. 9–11:30 a.m. and 2–3:30 p.m. See pages 24 and 25 for more.

Pioneers of Napa Decadent Dinner Representatives from Rubicon Estate, Grgich Hills Estate and Silverado Vineyards share a stellar meal and tales of trailblazing in Napa. 7 p.m. Flip to pages 8 and 9 to read more.

Takanawa Fire Station Tour Kids try on uniforms, watch a fire drill and pick up invaluable safety tips on this exciting, educational Culture Committee outing. Get the full scoop on page 19.

24

26

31

Monday

Escape to Europe in Hakone Tour An excursion of Europeaninfluenced museums and lunch amid Hakone’s stunning natural beauty. Turn to page 26 for more.

Wednesday

From Kolkata to Kyoto: Indo-Japanese Music Recital A fusion of Indian classical music played on traditional instruments from Japan and India. TM Hoffman and friends share a cozy night of impressive tunes. 7 p.m. Details on page 18.

Monday

Artist’s Reception Longtime Member Fred Harris unveils ink and watercolor paintings inspired by the seasons. 6:30 p.m. Read more about his latest batch of art on page 35.

Saturday

Napa Valley Preview Ahead of the evening wine tour, get an exclusive peek at the bottled assortment of California goodies. Learn more about the mouthwatering selection of Napa wine on pages 8 and 9.

Coming up in

June

5 Open Mic Night 11 Spring Swim Team Banquet 20 Father’s Day Buffet

Bad Parking Day

Noteworthy dates for the month 5


BOARD OF GOVERNORS

The Future of

Fitness at the Club

Board of Governors Lance E Lee (2010)—President Amane Nakashima (2011)—Vice President Jerry Rosenberg (2011)—Vice President Rod Nussbaum (2010)—Treasurer Norman J Green (2011)—Secretary

by Jerry Rosenberg

O

ne of the main reasons for joining the Club for many people is to enjoy the superb recreational facilities. This is born out by the usage figures: There were a massive 240,000 Member visits to the Club’s health- and fitness-related facilities last year, including 84,000 to the Fitness Center alone. Some of the people working out or unwinding were doing so as members of the many different recreational groups or programs on offer. Whether it’s working up a sweat at the Squash Courts, strategizing during a game of bridge in the Logan Room or improving a stroke or personal best in the Pool, there are hundreds of Members making the most of the Club. While the Takanawa premises are significantly smaller than the old Azabudai building, thanks to the hard work of both the staff and members of the various Recreation committees we have been able to provide an excellent all-round service to Members. With construction of the new Club in Azabudai in full swing, the Recreation Committee and its related subcommittees meet regularly with Recreation Director Scott Yahiro and his staff to ensure that the next set of fitness facilities and services meet the needs of the Membership. One of the much-anticipated additions will be the return of a bowling alley. With state-of-the-art lanes and equipment, this facility is sure to be a huge draw for families. Another major change will be the year-round swimming pool, meaning that Members will no longer have to search out different city pools during the winter and the Mudsharks will be able to

William Ireton (2010), Hiroyuki Kamano (2010), Per Knudsen (2010), Jeff McNeill (2011), Brian Nelson (2010), Rod Nussbaum (2010), Mary Saphin (2011), Dan Stakoe (2011), Dan Thomas (2010), Deborah Wenig (2011), Ira Wolf (2011), Shizuo Daigoh— Statutory Auditor (2010), Barbara Hancock—Women’s Group President

practice throughout the year. The Recreation Department’s youth programs are another important element of the Club. For many of our families, these programs provide the only opportunity for their children to partake in particular organized sports. The Azabudai gymnasium, which will be three times the size of the current gym and is the first purpose-designed gym in the Club’s history, will expand the possibilities for youngster-oriented activities at the Club. The three squash courts will have enormous potential as well. After a successful hosting of the inaugural TAC Premier Classic Squash Tournament in January, the Club’s new incarnation will be an even better venue for the next competition. This type of event will allow us to show off our facilities to a broader audience. With just a few more months left until we move into our new home in Azabudai, I am confident that the range of recreational facilities will add even more value to Club membership and provide many fresh opportunities for adults, teens and children to work out, relax, rejuvenate and have fun. o

azabudai

update

by Wendi Hailey

Franck Robichon

Inside the gray scaffolding that sheathes the entire Club building in Azabudai like a monochrome present, hundreds of construction workers complete a multitude of tasks each day amid the latticework of metal poles, concrete slabs and empty windows inside and out of the Club’s eight floors. The final steel portion of the building frame—except for the glass-paneled rooftop of the swimming pool—was installed in April and work on the underground mechanical parking structure has begun. “These days, the progress of the site is drastic,” says site manager Ryota Sekiguchi. “Every day, we are moving toward completion.” o

6 May 2010 iNTOUCH

For a side-by-side comparison of the new Club and its former Azabudai incarnation, turn to page 38.


MANAGEMENT

Making the Most

of May in Takanawa by Michael Bumgardner Michael Bumgardner General Manager

W

ith the final Pool season in Takanawa in full flow and summer holidays approaching, it seems an appropriate time to make a few safety reminders. Since many of our younger Members will be running around enjoying themselves, it’s up to each of us to keep an eye on them and ensure a safe Club environment. Take a look at page 22 for tips on how to enjoy an accident-free time at the Pool. One of the more potentially dangerous spots is the Parking Lot, where children all too often run to or from the Club without taking notice of vehicles. If you travel to the Club by car, please be extra vigilant and keep a look out for any youngsters running in the area. While thoughts may be of pending summer vacations, this issue of iNTOUCH will likely arrive in the mailbox during the traditional Golden Week series of holidays in early May. The last day of this annual break is Boys’ Day, or Children’s Day as it more commonly called nowadays, on May 5. In keeping with local customs, your Club flies colorful carp streamers in the Parking Lot area and displays samurai-inspired dolls in the Family Lobby. This month also sees the busiest day of the year at the Club: Mother’s Day. Celebrated on Sunday, May 9, this year, the annual day of thanks sees many Members and their families head to the Club and its perennially popular Mother’s Day Buffet in the New

York Suite and American Room. If you are planning on bringing Mom to the Club this year, be sure to reserve a table soon (details on page 11). Like all our events this year, Mother’s Day marks our final hosting of this special day in Takanawa before the Club moves into a brand-new facility in Azabudai at the end of the year. It was three years ago this month that a groundbreaking ceremony was held to commence the construction of our temporary Takanawa facilities. Seven months later, the custom-designed building was ready. Operations began in January 2008. We have endured challenging times since moving to Takanawa. As the global economy continues to struggle, companies downsize and repatriate their executives. This adversely affects your Club, which needs your support more than ever. New Members are the lifeblood of the Club; a constant stream of new Members adds to the diversity and vibrancy of the Club and increases the value of your Membership. Your Club is always looking for eligible new Members and the best source of new Members are the current Members themselves, who are able to identify potential Members from their networks of friends, coworkers and neighbors. Encourage them to join and even sponsor them for Membership. Through your efforts, we all benefit—your Club, the new Member and you. o

Executive remarks 7


napa valley

month

Vino of the Valley Napa Valley’s vineyard-lined hills beckon wine lovers to the California hotspot by the carload, but a generous feast of the wine country’s finest labels will be unpacked at the Club during Napa Valley Month.

Events THE NAPA EXPERIENCE

D

May 3–28 The American Room’s talented culinary team crafts a menu of tasty Californian cuisine, paired perfectly with Napa nectar.

Take your taste buds on an enlightening “train” tour of California’s foremost wine country without ever leaving the Club as reps from 19 of Napa’s top wineries showcase their wares.

A

A TASTE OF NEWTON

Sample world-famous Chardonnay and other varietals from this highly regarded Napa estate. Friday, May 14 6–8 p.m. Vineyards ¥1,000 Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk B

PIONEERS OF NAPA DECADENT DINNER

Representatives from Rubicon Estate, Grgich Hills Estate and Silverado Vineyards share a stellar meal and tales of trailblazing in Napa. Friday, May 21 7 p.m. American Room ¥18,000 Open to non-Members Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk C

NAPA VALLEY PREVIEW

Ahead of the wine tour, Members can get an exclusive peek at the bountiful assortment in store. Saturday, May 22 3:30–5 p.m. Banquet Rooms ¥1,000 Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk

8 May 2010 iNTOUCH

NAPA VALLEY WINE TOUR

Saturday, May 22 7–10 p.m. American Room, Vineyards and Banquet Rooms ¥5,000 Open to non-Members Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk

TASTE NAPA SUNDAY BUFFET The Club’s traditional brunch and dinner take on a Napa theme with Champagne and red and white wines from the region, exquisitely matched with local cuisine. Sunday, May 23 Brunch: 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Dinner: 5–9 p.m. New York Suite Adults: ¥6,000 (includes all-you-can-drink Champagne)/ ¥5,000 (includes one glass of Champagne) Juniors (7–19 years): ¥2,750 Children (3–6 years): ¥1,500 Infants: free Reserve at 03-4588-0977


FOOD & BEVERAGE

Vineyards 1 AMUSE BOUCHE WINERY

C/D

A Pomerol-style red with collectible artwork.

2 COUP DE FOUDRE WINERY C/D The modern spin on Cabernet “stopped traffic,” says one reviewer.

3 CUVAISON ESTATE WINES

C/D

Contemporary classics sublimely echo two estate vineyards.

4 DARIOUSH

C/D

Opulent star of Japan’s answer to the wine flick Sideways.

5 GRGICH HILLS ESTATE

B/C/D

Organic, food-friendly wines celebrated for ageability.

6 HALL

10 OAKVILLE RANCH VINEYARDS

C/D

Known for award-winning Chardonnays and Cabernets. 11 PEJU PROVINCE WINERY

C/D

Stunners best sampled from the 15-meter tasting room tower. 12 ROMBAUER VINEYARDS

C/D

Meal-enhancing wines from The Joy of Cooking’s Irma Rombauer’s kin.

C/D

“Definitely another serious player in Napa Valley,” notes critic Robert Parker.

7 HONIG VINEYARD

13 RUBICON ESTATE

& WINERY C/D Began producing its now-coveted Sauvignon Blanc in an old barn in 1981.

14 SHAFER VINEYARDS

8 JONES FAMILY VINEYARDS

15 SILVERADO VINEYARDS

C/D

17 STAGLIN FAMILY VINEYARD

B/C/D

Francis Ford Coppola estate led by Wine Enthusiast’s 2009 Winemaker of the Year Scott McLeod. C/D

The Wine Advocate calls the 2001 Cab “a potentially perfect wine in the making.” B/C/D

Focused solely on crafting a killer Cabernet Sauvignon.

This Disney family property turns out delicious, expressive wines.

9 NEWTON VINEYARD

16 SLEEPER CELLARS

18 STAG’S LEAP WINE CELLARS

A trailblazer acclaimed for unfiltered varietals.

C/D

Delivers gratifying wines in minuscule batches.

C/D

Its infamous Cabernet champ of the 1976 Paris tasting now rests in the Smithsonian. 19 ST SUPERY VINYARDS & WINERY

C/D

Generations-old French winemaking on a historic cattle ranch. 20 VIADER VINEYARDS

A

C/D

Has donated $710 million to charities while arousing taste buds.

C/D

Cult-status wines from philosophy PhD and single mom Delia Viader.

Club wining and dining 


wine

dinner

Alluring Alsace by David Tropp

T

he Alsace region of France takes center stage at this month’s Wine Committee tasting. While it might be tempting to see this as a sequel to last year’s German tasting, Alsatian wines have a unique and distinctly dry, French character. Many of the area’s wineries have been in the same family for centuries and produce wines expressive of terroir and noted for their crisp, clean attack, elegant palate and fine balance of fruit and acidity. This border region has long been contended by France and Germany and has changed hands numerous times, including after the Franco-Prussian War in 1871, in 1919 after World War I and again briefly during World War II. Besides the chaos of combat, the region was devastated by the vineyard pest phylloxera in the late 19th century. Under German dominion, Alsace reverted to an ancillary region of the great German Mosel

and Rhine vineyards, with Alsace grapes often relegated for use as a blending stock. As a legacy of this history, Alsace has many local laws that differ from those in other parts of France, including wine laws. Since one appellation (AOC Alsace) covers the entire region, wine labels are simple. This is in stark contrast, for example, to the 57 regional designations of Bordeaux. Accordingly, Alsace vignerons use varietals to identify their wines—the only region in the AOC system to do so. Whites dominate and the best-known varieties are Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Muscat, with Pinot Noir-based reds in a supporting role. Alsatian terroir is among the most geologically complex in the world, and some 50 vineyards bear a further Grand Cru designation based on their microclimate and soil type. Certain further distinctions also apply to high-quality sweet wines (Vendanges Tardives and Sélections de

Grains Nobles). This tasting features 12 wines (mostly whites, with some reds), all from top producers. Quantities produced are small, but fortunately we have been able to procure some fine sweet wines and a limited amount of the most renowned dry wine from the region: Trimbach’s Riesling Clos Sainte Hune. All highly drinkable reasons not to miss this event. ® Tropp is a member of the Wine Committee.

Alsace Wine Tasting Wednesday, May 12 7 p.m. Banquet Rooms ¥12,000 Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk

Wines of the Month Red Léon Beyer Pinot Noir 2007, Alsace, France A spicy and stylish red from a centuriesold producer in Eguisheim, the cradle of the Alsace winemaking region. With its fresh, red fruit aromas and characteristically fruity, light structure, this highly regarded vintage would complement a range of dishes, including salmon and chops.

White Emile Boeckel Riesling 2007, Alsace, France From an old family-run estate in the northern reaches of Alsace, this fairly dry, juicy Riesling shows a lovely, mineral-packed, stony character, along with some ripe, pineapple-like fruit notes. An absolute treat with any pork dish.

Bottle: ¥4,000 Glass: ¥800

10 May 2010 iNTOUCH


FOOD & BEVERAGE

Thanks, Mom! The Club rolls out the red carpet for all moms this Mother’s Day with a tantalizing spread of mouthwatering treats to enjoy with the family, as well as a special thank-you gift. Mother’s Day Buffet Sunday, May 9 Brunch: 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m. and 1:30–3 p.m. Dinner: 5–9 p.m. New York Suite and American Room Adults: ¥7,000 Juniors (7–19 years): ¥3,000 Children (3–6 years): ¥1,500 Infants (2 years and under): free Reserve by calling the Banquet Sales and Reservations team at 03-4588-0977

Mouthwatering Mudshark Munchies With the Club’s swim team, the Mudsharks, enjoying another competitive season in the Pool, aquatic athletes (and hungry families) can refuel on favorites like fried chicken, hot dogs and grilled corn on the cob at Garden Café’s all-you-can-eat buffet twice a week. May 12–27 (Wednesday–Thursday) 5–8 p.m. Garden Café Adults and juniors (7 years and above): ¥1,600 Children: (3–6 years): ¥600 Infants (2 and under): free

Fine Wine Smorgasbord May’s all-you-can-taste wine buffets in Vineyards feature some stunning vintages from the Americas. The beautifully crafted varietals of Argentina’s Terrazas and Chile’s Casa Lapostolle kick off the month, before the highly rated unfiltered vintages of Napa’s Newton Vineyard take center stage. (See pages 8 and 9 for details of A Taste of Newton on Friday, May 14.) All-You-Can-Taste Terrazas and Casa Lapostolle Buffet May 1–13 5–9 p.m. Two hours: ¥3,000 (additional hour: ¥1,500) All-You-Can-Taste Newton Buffet May 14–31 5–9 p.m. Two hours: ¥3,000 (additional hour: ¥1,500) (Please note that the all-you-can-taste wine buffet will not be offered when Vineyards is reserved for a private party.)

Club wining and dining 11


Seduced by Sumo Ahead of his appearance at the Club this month, David Benjamin, the author of Sumo: A Thinking Fan’s Guide to Japan’s National Sport, explains his passion for watching man mountains collide.

T

here are millions of people out there for whom a prolonged visit to the daily agate is a ritual that lends coherence to an otherwise bewildering existence. And then there are millions for whom the term “daily agate” is gibberish. The latter group doesn’t follow sports, although many of them might indeed have a favorite team in a particular sport. But if you don’t watch the agate, you’re not a real fan. You see, after the game is over and the final score is posted, a fan is just getting started. The score is just a headline. The details printed in tiny letters at the back of the sports page or three clicks deep in the Red Sox website—the agate—are the fan’s sustenance. They unpeel the real sources of victory or defeat. From the agate, a fan can calculate points per possession, yards per attempt, pitches per out and a thousand other

1 May 2010 iNTOUCH

statistical indicators. Herein lie the insights that separate the devotee from the dilettante, the men from the boys. Best of all, the daily agate changes every day. I’ve followed it since I was a kid in Wisconsin, madly in love with the Green Bay Packers, the Milwaukee Braves and the Boston Celtics. Hence, when I came to Japan in 1987, I suffered

David Benjamin

the worst culture shock of my life: a world without agate. Well, not entirely. There was ample small type in Japanese sports pages, but I couldn’t read it. Besides, they weren’t covering my teams or even, for the most part, my sports. There was no football, hardly any basketball and

Japanese baseball? Well, the Giants and the Carp were trying, but this wasn’t the Real Thing. Meanwhile, I could barely follow US sports because the news rolled in late and the agate was so sparse. All I knew was who had won and who had lost. Then, one afternoon, desperate for a break in my work, I tuned into NHK television to endure what I then regarded as the ugliest sport on the face of the earth: sumo. Yecch! As expected, that first day was unsightly. But I found myself eager for the next day, partly because sumo is just plain fun, and partly because I’m an “educated” fan. I’d been watching sports since I was 7 years old, including ABC’s weekly smorgasbord, “Wide World of Sports.” I had followed avidly my high school wrestling team. I knew this stuff, and in sumo I saw—beneath all that nakedness and lard—intimations of the sports I knew best. Sumo, especially in its footwork, has lots of basketball. It has the impact and violence of football, and I saw baseball, judo, gymnastics and dance, too. Sumo made me think of Neils Bohr, the nuclear physicist, and of Alan Ladd, drawing his


LIBRARY

gun in the Western Shane. But not right away. All that neat stuff came to me as sumo became my daily fix for 15 days every other month. Meanwhile, I tackled the numbers problem. Since sumo is a statisticsdeprived sport, I invented my own agate. Every real fan keeps private stats. It’s what separates the you-know-who’s from the you-know-what’s. Thanks to NHK, within a year or so, I was a fan presumptuous enough to write about sumo, which I did. First, there was an article in Tokyo Journal magazine (where I was editor at the time). This led to a book, The Joy of Sumo: A Fan’s Notes. Despite widespread vituperation from Tokyo’s community of gaijin sumo nerds, the book sold out and kept selling. By and by, because I regularly insulted the geriatric nazis in Japan’s Sumo Association, I got noticed by Japanese editors. I ended up as a sumo columnist for the popular weekly Shukan Bunshun, a job I held—to the consternation of the Sumo Association—for my last year in Japan. My latest book, Sumo: A Thinking Fan’s Guide to Japan’s National Sport, is the new, improved Joy of Sumo. It corrects my numerous errors and updates

many examples. I hope, however, it retains that joy that can be found in sumo. Like any good sport, the enthusiast’s pleasure lies not in the trappings, the ritual, the esoterica, the setting, the costumes, nor even the daily agate. It lies, for every true sumo fan, in the battle itself. As I write in Sumo: “Sumo is, minute for minute, split-second for split-second, the quintessential spectator sport. It’s sudden and violent, with almost no rules. One guy against the other and the ref (most of the time) is just another pretty pair of pajamas. The only guy who’ll ever blow a whistle is the drunk in the 53rd row….” ® Sumo: A Thinking Fan’s Guide to Japan’s National Sport is available in the Library.

Meet the Author: David Benjamin Thursday, May 20 7 p.m. Women’s Group Classroom 2 ¥1,575 (includes one drink) Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk

Literary gems at the Library 1


off the

shelf

Heaps of Whodunits by Kimberly Fiorello

T

hrillers are a hot item at the Library. New suspense novels are, on average, checked out three times more often than any other genre of new book. In reflection of the popularity of the thriller, almost a third of the fiction stacks are taken up with the works of writers like James Patterson, David Baldacci and Jack Higgins. “Readers tend to latch onto a particular author, reading the entire output of that person before moving on to the next,” explains Club librarian Dan Cherubin. Indeed, it is for these thrilleraddicted readers that the Library has, for example, 24 books by Dean Koontz, 20 by Patricia Cornwell and 18 by Baldacci. And, rest assured, on order are Lee Child’s 61 Hours (due this month) and Patterson’s The Postcard Killers (due in August). In addition to these modern nail-biters, the Library stocks many great classics, including some of the works of Raymond Chandler, one of the genre’s forefathers, whose nuanced, evocative prose portrays the seedy face of Los Angeles in the 1930s and ’40s through the encounters of private eye Philip Marlowe. In Farewell, My Lovely (1940), Marlowe gets caught up in a gambler’s danger-riddled search for his girlfriend; in The High Window (1942), the pursuit of a wealthy widow’s missing daughter-in-law leads to a pile of corpses; and in The Little Sister (1949), Marlowe is drawn into the underbelly of Hollywood. Another luminary of the hard-boiled detective genre is Dashiell

Hammett, whose Woman in the Dark (1933) is on our shelves. The Library also has 19 of Agatha Christie’s works, including The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926), which features eccentric Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot and is considered a page-turning masterpiece for Christie’s elegant manipulation of false clues, red herrings and a final twist. This year marks the 120th anniversary of Christie’s birth and fans of the “Queen of Crime” are set to celebrate at various events around the world. What better time to curl up with, say, Christie’s 1942 novel The Body in the Library? ® Fiorello is a member of the Library Committee.

s’ n a i r a r Lib C o rn e r a preview of what’s on for the Club’s inquiring minds

events

Mary Ann’s Sunday Crafts and Storytime The Library’s Mary Ann Tiu Yamashita hosts an exciting workshop of creative crafts and delightful tales for kids. Sunday, May 9, 10 a.m. Library Price to be decided Sign up at the Library

Scholastic Book Fair

Picks and Pieces by Dan Cherubin Finding information on Japan can often be frustrating and prohibitive for foreigners. The following links, however, should help to open plenty of doors: FOREAST: The Internet East Asian Library Developed by Tao Yang, a librarian at Rutgers University, Foreast contains

14 May 2010 iNTOUCH

links to free Asia-based databases, journals and digital collections from all over the world. The links to Japanese historical maps are particularly fascinating. www.foreast.org

A not-to-be-missed opportunity to pick up hard-to-find children’s titles and popular series. Sunday, May 9, 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Women’s Group Classroom 3 Free

Library Book Group JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization) If you’re looking for a business partner or trade fair, Jetro’s Business Opportunities page can move things along. www.jetro.go.jp

The Club’s band of bookworms share their thoughts on Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s Half of a Yellow Sun, the tale of two sisters caught up in Nigeria’s civil war. Friday, May 14, 12 p.m. Vineyards Free


LIBRARY

new

reads Cook This, Not That! Kitchen Survival Guide, The No-Diet Weight Loss Solution by David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding This series from Men’s Health magazine continues with another simple and innovative cookbook. Why eat all that fat and sodium at chain restaurants (even in Japan) when you can make similar but much healthier dishes at home? (DC)

Just Enough: Lessons on Living Green from Traditional Japan by Azby Brown Problems of water, resources, materials, food and energy—which plague the world today—were seemingly overcome in Edo-period Japan to create a sustainable society. Illustrated throughout, this book investigates rural and urban lifestyles, as well as overarching cultural philosophies, customs and concerns. (CM)

Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution by Richard Beeman The story behind the writing of the Constitutional Convention has been detailed numerous times, but Beeman brings the Founding Fathers to life, highlighting their strengths, faults and vulnerabilities. He recounts their daily conflicts and the tenuous compromises that resulted in the creation of the Constitution. (DH)

Jasper Dash and the Flame-Pits of Delaware by MT Anderson This third book in the “Pals in Peril” series sees three very different friends travel to dangerous and exotic Delaware to solve a mystery. Anderson has a talent for making the absurd delightful and hilarious, and through clever children’s book and pop culture references, he appeals to both children and adults. (DH)

The Year of No Money in Tokyo by Wayne Lionel Aponte A true, firsthand account of what it means to be poor and American in Tokyo, as well as what it means to be a black American in Japan during one of the country’s worst recessions. Aponte’s memoir offers a message of hope to anyone facing financial adversity in Japan. (SN)

The Changeling by Kenzaburo Oe From 1994’s Nobel Prize winner, this is an ambitious, sweeping novel that transports the reader from Japan to Berlin and back to the author’s rural island of his youth. The novel explores the themes of rekindled friendships and the distances we will travel to reacquaint ourselves with someone else’s path. (SN)

Reviews compiled by Library Committee members Denise Hersey and Sophie Narayan and librarians Charles Morris and Dan Cherubin.

member’s choice Member: Giulio Cassis Title: Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

What’s the book about? This is the first book in a series. It’s about a boy called Percy Jackson, who was abandoned by his father and always gets kicked out of school. After attending Camp Half Blood, a school for demigod kids, he is accused of stealing Zeus’ powerful lightning bolt. Besides having to find the bolt before war starts, Percy must meet his father, Poseidon, and solve the riddle of the oracle.

What did you like about it? I liked the part where Percy Jackson fights the gods because there is a lot of action and you don’t know what’s going to happen.

Why did you choose it? It’s a very good book for all ages. It has a lot of action and you won’t be able to stop reading.

What other books would you recommend? Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling.

Literary gems at the Library 15


critics’

corner

T

No More Mr Nice Guy

“Vile villains inflict pain and suffering without remorse. They range from Hannibal Lecter to Norman Bates to Freddy Krueger to the murderer in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. But for the vilest, I pick the original Terminator. Portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger, he is bad! Hailing from a future littered with skulls and controlled by Skynet, his mission is to kill Sarah Connor, whose son to be, John, is set to lead the resistance. Terminator cyborgs have since returned in another three movies, as well as a TV series (“Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles”). Although Schwarzenegger’s Terminator was reprogrammed to protect in the sequels, he will always be remembered for the immortal line ‘I’ll be back,’ uttered before destroying a police station. Bad dude!”

he good guy versus bad guy storytelling formula is centuries old. From fairytales and fables to morality plays and pulp fiction, stories of heroes battling and, ultimately, overcoming adversity or evil continue to enrapture audiences. While Hollywood has helped to produce some of the world’s most iconic heroes, many of its villains

have proven equally memorable, from megalomaniac evildoers like Blofled in the James Bond series of films to more subtle, unnerving psychopaths like Oscar winner Christoph Waltz’s Waffen-SS Colonel Hans Landa in last year’s Inglourious Basterds. But who, from the extensive roll call of movie rogues, fiends and monsters, would be crowned cinema’s vilest villain? ®

“I tried to stay away from pure violence—which is pretty difficult—and look for characters with some ‘character.’ My candidates for vilest villain include Margaret Hamilton’s Wicked Witch of the West in the classic The Wizard of Oz (1939), Sir Laurence Oliver’s Dr Szell, the sadistic dentist who tortures Dustin Hoffman in 1976’s Marathon Man and Jack Nicholson’s insane ‘Here’s Johnny!’ hotel custodian in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining from 1980. An absolute finalist also would be Heath Ledger’s Joker in 2008’s The Dark Knight. But my joint winners are Anthony Perkins’ Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) and Sir Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal of Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs from 1991.”

“Advances in computer graphics and animation have led to sensational creatures and fantastic action and ushered in a golden age of villains. Selecting the vilest, therefore, is daunting. Star Wars’ awesome Darth Vader, Kevin Spacey’s serial killer, John Doe, from Seven (1995), Javier Bardem’s Anton Chigurh, the indiscriminate killing machine in 2007’s No Country for Old Men and Glenn Close’s vengeful one-night stand in 1987’s Fatal Attraction all appear to be contenders. But the magnificent portrayal of Hannibal Lecter by Sir Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs has no rival. A courteous and highly articulate psychiatrist, Hannibal is also a gourmet cannibal and serial killer. A career-defining performance by one of our greatest actors.”

Vilest villain: The Terminator

Vilest villain: Norman Bates and Hannibal Lecter

Club Member Sara Sakamoto

Assistant General Manager Bob Sexton

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

16 May 2010 iNTOUCH

Vilest villain: Hannibal Lecter Club Member Daniel Kraslavsky


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

HE SAYS, SHE SAYS abort

give it a go

smokin’

In this Harry Potterish movie (a trio sets out on a mission to retrieve Zeus’ lightning bolt) geared to young adults, director Christopher Columbus, who also directed Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, offers a questionable plot and poor portrayal of the Olympians. Includes a far-from-believable performance by Pierce Brosnan as Chiron the Centaur.

A teenager (Logan Lerman) teams up with his friends to catch the thief of Zeus’ lightning bolt after the schoolkid becomes embroiled in a tussle between Greek gods. With its Harry Potter-like take on Greek mythology, this is a good flick for teens.

This film reminded me of the Japanese manga series “Lupin III,” with Holmes (Robert Downey, Jr) as the debonair and humorous Lupin III, Watson (Jude Law) as Lupin’s right-hand man, Daisuke Jigen, and Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) as Lupin’s love interest, Fujiko Mine. With its simple plot and occasional action scene, this was not the Holmes I had expected.

Although I’m not a huge fan of director Guy Ritchie, this is a good film—and not just because of the superb cast. A dynamic and appealing Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey, Jr), supported by his faithful friend, Dr Watson (Jude Law), battle to disrupt a nemesis’ plot to destroy the country.

••

••

•••

As predictable a rom-com as you can get. Its poor script, mediocre acting, embarrassingly stereotypical characters and yawn-inducing humor made it quite painful to sit through. All you need to see is the trailer, since all the tolerable scenes are in that.

An estranged New York City couple (Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker) are relocated to a small town in Wyoming as part of a witness-protection program after witnessing a murder. I had high expectations for this so-called comedy, but it’s simply unfunny and boring.

Sandra Bullock’s brilliant, Oscar-winning performance carries this perfectly cast and satisfying movie about relationships and love. While a little long, this is well worth watching with the family and might even spark some thought-provoking conversations about human bonds.

Based on the true story of Michael Oher (played by Quinton Aaron), a homeless and traumatized black boy who is taken in by a well-to-do white woman (Sandra Bullock) and works his way to the NFL, The Blind Side is an excellent movie, if slightly predictable. Bullock’s best performance, by far.

•••

•••

Tenure

DR AM A

Luke Wilson turns on the charm in this indie flick as a college professor vying for an academic position with an attractive female colleague, played by the beautiful Gretchen Mol.

Georgia O’Keeffe A made-for-TV biopic about the American painter Georgia O’Keeffe (Joan Allen) and her turbulent love affair with photographer Alfred Stieglitz (Jeremy Irons).

DRAM A

Two long-time pals and business partners—a down-in-the-dumps divorcé (Robin Williams) and a frolicsome bachelor (John Travolta)—find themselves abruptly placed in charge of 6-year-old twins as they struggle to close an important deal.

ACT ION

Old Dogs

D OC UME N TA R Y

COME DY

other new titles... Crazy Heart Jeff Bridges snagged an Oscar for his gritty performance as a washed-up country singer who trades in his self-destructive behavior for a wintersummer romance with a newspaper reporter (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and a chance at redemption.

The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call—New Orleans Saddled with his own addictions, detective Terence McDonagh (Nicolas Cage, in another semi-maniacal antihero role) investigates the murder of five immigrants amid the ruins of postHurricane Katrina New Orleans.

Planet Earth: Great Plains Part of the award-winning, 11-part “Planet Earth” series from the BBC, this episode captures the spectacular imagery and array of life on the open plains, from tropics to tundra, that make up a quarter of the Earth’s landmass.

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

TV and film selections 17


I Will Rock You! with Yuto Miyazawa Friday, May 14 7 p.m. Gymnasium (standing room only) Adults: ¥2,000 Juniors (5–16 years): ¥1,000 Children (4 and under): free Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk Sponsored by the Entertainment Committee

Eastern Music Medley

D

istinctive sounds from the classical music realms of India and Japan merge under the musical prowess of American performer and 40year Asia resident TM Hoffman. India’s ancient tunes are transformed through traditional Japanese instruments, such as the shakuhachi flute and 13-string koto, accompanied by Indian tabla drums and various string instruments.

18 May 2010 iNTOUCH

Hoffman, an ethnomusicologist and director of the Indo-Japanese Music Exchange Association, will give an intimate concert with Bangladeshi Abdur Rahman and local musician Sakiko Aruga that includes classic Hindustani songs and Japanese poetry set to music. Don’t miss this unforgettable night of Asian crossover melodies at the Club. ®

T

en-year-old Japanese guitar prodigy Yuto Miyazawa has already taken on Jimi Hendrix’s famed version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train,” played with the former Black Sabbath frontman and awed audiences across the globe with his masterful rifts and undeniably adorable disposition. Catch the tiny fretboard guru on his way to stardom during a performance at the Club this month, organized by his global manager and Club Member Steve Bernstein. Learn more about Yuto’s unique introduction to music and idol influences on page 46. ®

From Kolkata to Kyoto: Indo-Japanese Music Recital Wednesday, May 26 7 p.m. Women’s Group Classroom 2 Members: ¥2,000 Non-Members: ¥2,500 Juniors (6–18 years): ¥1,000 Children (5 and under): free Recommended for ages 10 and above Sponsored by the Culture Committee

Paul Jackson

School and Rock


COMMITTEES

Joining a Committee

Saturday Night Live Comedy Night in Traders’ Bar Saturday, May 15 7:30–9:30 p.m. Traders’ Bar ¥2,500 (includes one drink) Adults only Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk Sponsored by the Entertainment Committee

M

embers in the mood for a belly laugh to go with their beer can step into Traders’ Bar for a rib-tickling roster of standup and improv humor. After an 18month hiatus, the venerable Tokyo Comedy Store returns for a night of chuckles as locals and expats tackle the endearing quirks and absurdities of Tokyo living. Stand-up comics well established on the Tokyo circuit, including Cloudy B, Spring Day and Ken Suzuki, deliver gags aplenty in the first half, followed by founding member Chris Wells and the improvisation troupe Spontaneous Concatenation after the break. Be sure to sign up early for this Saturday night of side-splitting antics. ®

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

Recreation Tim Griffen (Tim Griffen) Recreation Subcommittees Bowling Pam Jenkinson Fitness Jerry Rosenberg Golf Steven Thomas Library Michelle Arnot Brown Logan Room Diane Dooley Squash Nelson Graves & Alok Rakyan Swim Jesse Green & Stewart Homler Video Lisbeth Pentelius Youth Activities Jane Hunsaker Community Relations Stan Yukevich (Jeff McNeill) Community Relations Subcommittees Distinguished Achievement Award Jeff McNeill Independence Day Dan Stakoe Sportsman of the Year Jeff McNeill

Firehouse Fun

Culture Eiji Arai (Per Knudsen) Culture Subcommittee Genkan Gallery Fred Harris Entertainment Per Knudsen

Y

oungsters get an exciting, up-close peek at a real fire engine and learn valuable safety lessons during this annual outing to the Takanawa Fire Station. The fun, instructive morning also includes the chance to watch a fire drill, try on firefighting gear and practice using fire extinguishers and making emergency calls. English translation and a free fire-prevention guidebook will be provided. ®

(Per Knudsen) Finance Akihiko Mizuno Food & Beverage Craig Saphin (Amane Nakashima) Food & Beverage Subcommittee Wine Mark Baxter House Mary Saphin (Ira Wolf) House Subcommittee Architectural Michael Miller Human Resources Victoria Muir

Takanawa Fire Station Tour Saturday, May 22 10:30 a.m. ¥300 per child (children must be accompanied by an adult) Recommended for ages 4–12 Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk Sponsored by the Culture Committee

(Barbara Hancock) Membership Mark Saft (Mary Saphin) Nominating Nick Masee

Names in parentheses denote Board liaisons.

Cornerstones of the Club 19


swimming

pool

Ready, Set, Swim!

W

ith the summer approaching, the Pool is primed for its final season in Takanawa. Swimmers of all ages can maximize their fun in the sun by following a few simple guidelines: Keep the Pool Clean 1. Don’t swim when you have diarrhea or nausea. Germs spread easily in the water and can make others sick. 2. Always shower before swimming. 3. Avoid swallowing the Pool water. 4. Get kids in the habit of taking regular bathroom breaks. With toddlers, check diapers often. 5. Change diapers at designated stations, not by the Pool. 6. Wash your hands after using the bathroom or changing diapers. Practice Water Safety 1. Watch children carefully at all times in and around the Pool. 2. Don’t rely on jackets, water wings or other flotation devices as a substitute for direct supervision in the water. 3. To prevent sunburn, apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 and UVA and UVB protection before and after every dip

in the Pool. Wearing a hat and UV-protective clothing also helps minimize exposure to harmful rays. 4. Drink plenty of liquids to stay hydrated. For the range of exciting Pool programs and activities on offer for all ages and swimming abilities, visit the Pool page of the Club website or stop by the Pool Office. Check out the online Pool Guide to learn more about rules and water safety. ®

Spa Spring Specials Turn over a new leaf this season with one of

Tomato-Vitamin Radiance Cream A luxuriant cream rich in tomato and ruscus extracts for daily use to reveal a fresh, healthy glow. Works beautifully on all complexions.

Hydra Revitalizing Repair Balm A quick fix for parched skin that replenishes moisture and leaves the whole body soft and supple to the touch. Perfect for extreme climates and air travel.

Tel: 03-4588-0714

22 May 2010 iNTOUCH

E-mail: spa@tac-club.org

the Spa’s Ella Baché facial treatments, designed to rejuvenate lackluster or overstressed skin. Reserve this month and receive a complimentary sample of Tomato-Vitamin Radiance Cream or Hydra Revitalizing Repair Balm while they last.


RECREATION

youth spot Camp Adventure Kids ages 6 to 12 find summertime stimulation and make new friends during weeklong sessions of art, music, sports and other activities. Now in its 16th year, the Club’s day camp program runs for nine weeks and is staffed by trained college students through the University of Northern Iowa. Registration begins Monday, May 10. Contact the Recreation Services Desk or check the Health & Recreation section of the Club website for details.

Teen Pamper Party Teenagers primp and preen to their hearts’ content with a spa party package designed just for them. Perfect for birthdays and sleepovers, partygoers can opt for their choice of a pampering manicure, pedicure, facial or massage treatment. Reservations should be made one month in advance. Contact The Spa for details or to find out about other treatments for teens.

Summer Fun A mind-boggling range of summer programs for kids, from Pee Wee Camp to Aikido, kicks off this month. Registration starts Friday, May 14. Get the details online or at the Recreation Services Desk.

what’s on Pro Pointers Pick up invaluable tips, get answers to workout questions and discover the fun side of exercise with the new Fitness Consultation Corner, offering free, oneon-one sessions with the Club’s personal trainers. Check at the Fitness Center for available staff and time slots.

Recreation Summer Sale Pick up a bargain or stock up on TAClogoed souvenirs to take home for the summer holidays with impressive deals on Nike, Adidas and other quality sporting goods and apparel. Recreation Lobby. May 22–23 (10 a.m.–4 p.m.) and May 24 (9 a.m.–3 p.m.).

Fitness and well-being 23


Cleaning Out the Clutter This month’s Women’s Group-organized Nearly New Sale and Salvation Army Charity Drive offer the perfect opportunity for some spring cleaning. by Gaby Sheldon

24 May 2010 iNTOUCH

I

’m suffering from a bad case of apartment envy. A neighbor two floors above has a home with exactly the same floor plan as my apartment, yet it feels entirely different. It has the ambience of a stylish, yet inviting, furniture showroom. Everything has its place and, most importantly, everyone has a space. If I’m stressed when I enter her place, I invariably leave feeling like I’ve had a rejuvenating spa treatment. In contrast, my place is a minefield of clutter, with toys spilling out of boxes, towers of DVDs tottering on shelves and so many pairs of shoes by the door, you would be forgiven for thinking Imelda Marcos (with a little less style than usual) had come to visit. We now have so much stuff in our home that I am considering renting a second storeroom for the chaos that won’t fit in the first one. Alternately, I could just sort it out. “Often, people’s homes reflect their interior landscape,” explains Tokyo-based life coach Anna Kunnecke. “People tend to either hoard items around which they haven’t processed their emotions. Or, they hang onto things because they are postponing making a decision about what to do with them.” Typical amassed items include magazines, bills, letters, gifts, seasonal clothes and sporting equipment. Kunnecke says she often meets people who have received as a present or inherited a set of dishes they don’t like. The set is often placed in a cupboard somewhere, pending a decision on its future. “One reason these dishes are in the closet is because the person doesn’t want to feel the emotions they bring up, which could be love, sadness, bitterness or guilt,” she says. In such circumstances, Kunnecke advises clients to simply take out the item, hold it and see what feelings it arouses. “I encourage people to feel that emotion all the way to the end, without fighting it,” she says. “Once they start to feel it, it usually dissipates quite quickly. Then it’s time to make a decision.” Feng shui takes a similar approach to objects. Tokyo-based practitioner Lucie Mori says that the Chinese geomantic practice “starts with the home to create a space where people feel balanced, stable


WOMEN’S GROUP

and safe. Clutter is a symptom of someone’s emotional baggage. Once the person has dealt with their emotions, they can more easily deal with the clutter.” Articles that evoke negative thoughts or memories, she advises, should be removed. “A client of mine had jewelry from a dead grandmother who had been abusive, but this lady felt she had to keep it,” says Mori. “Once she had worked through her childhood memories, she felt able to pass it onto a friend and her life is now much smoother.” Photos and other items accumulated during previous relationships should be either thrown out or placed in a box, according to Mori, “since they will give off bad energy in a new relationship.” Baby clothes can prove a sticking point for many parents. “People find it difficult to get rid of baby clothes because it’s so hard to let go of our kids’ childhoods,” says Kunnecke. “So I suggest that they keep a couple of favorite pieces or take photos of them. This way, they are honoring what’s been and gone, but they no longer need it in their actual living space.” Hoarders have a tendency, she adds, to keep things for theoretical, unforeseen situations: golf clubs, “just in case we play golf again,” a picture, “just in case we find the space to hang it,” a sun hat that’s

never been worn, “just in case I lose my other two.” Kunnecke recommends ditching anything that hasn’t been used in the last 18 months. “Think about what it’s costing you to keep in terms of space, energy and emotion,” she says. “When you clear out clutter, you do it to make way for the things you really love.” ®

Should It Stay or Should It Go?

2. When did I last use it? If you haven’t used it in the last 14 months, give it to someone who will.

Sheldon is director of communications for the Women’s Group. Nearly New Sale Tuesday, May 18 10 a.m.–2 p.m. New York Suite and Women’s Group Classrooms Open to the public To rent a table, sign up at the Member Services Desk See the Women’s Group website for details Salvation Army Charity Drive Thursday, May 20 9–11:30 a.m. and 2–3:30 p.m. Parking Lot See the Women’s Group website for details Anna Kunnecke www.annakunnecke.com Lucie Mori www.feng-shui-fortune.com

by Anna Kunnecke

3. What is it costing me to keep? Consider how much space, energy and money it takes to store things.

Not sure what to do with that gaudy wedding present? Find peace of mind with this hold-orheave checklist:

4. Would I rather have room for something new? Are you blocking your enjoyment of something else with this clutter?

1. Do I feel happy when I see it? Does your stomach flip with love or do you feel a dull thud in your gut?

5. Can I keep a symbolic version? Keep one teacup, take photos of favorite outfits or display one special medal.

An interactive community 25


monthly

luncheon

Classical Choreography

A

ttendees at this month’s luncheon can expect to be mesmerized by the graceful moves of Mako Hattori Valentine as she demonstrates the centuries-old art of classical Japanese dance. Ahead of her appearance at the Club, the well-known television personality and dance instructor explains her love for this particular form of cultural expression: “My mother was a geisha in Kyoto. I was raised to appreciate this very special lifestyle. I took traditional Japanese dance lessons as a very young child, but stopped at age 13 when I began my modeling and acting career. Although I spent many years outside of Japan, once my daughter was born, I became more and more conscious of the importance of making sure she, too, understood and appreciated her unique cultural roots. Therefore, I again took up my studies of Japanese dance to introduce this art form to her. Since then, my love of dance has grown and expanded to the point where I am now a ‘named’ teacher, or sensei. I derive great pleasure from the actual act of dancing. Like acting, it transports me into an entirely different character, time and place. Sharing through teaching requires that I continue to deepen my understanding of this art form: the stories, the movements and their meanings and an appreciation for the level of discipline and dedication it takes to truly perform properly the movements that appear to the uninitiated to be quite simple and uncomplicated. It’s definitely not as easy as it looks! Each dance is a story. Traditionally, the music was written first, before a dance was created around it. These pieces may tell of the beauty of the seasons, the love between a man and woman, dramatic encounters between rivals, humorous situations in drinking houses and so on. In other words, they touched upon the lives and experiences of the audience members, who would have ranged from common merchants to the privileged classes. The movements were carefully designed to interpret these stories. Many of them were created over 300 years ago and reflect their times in very fascinating ways.” ®

Monthly Luncheon: Classical Dance with Mako Hattori Valentine Monday, May 10 Doors open: 11 a.m. Lunch: 11:30 a.m. Banquet Rooms Women’s Group members: ¥3,150 Non-Women’s Group members: ¥4,200 Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk

Country Escapes by Wendi Hailey

26 May 2010 iNTOUCH

Just outside the city limits, an abundance of pristine landscapes and cultural markers (not to mention fresh air) are waiting to be had by those in need of an Arcadian getaway. So grab your camera and save a spot on two charming jaunts organized by the Women’s Group this month. On May 17, day trippers will bask in the finery of Nikko in Tochigi Prefecture, ambling through the World Heritage site’s temples and


WOMEN’S GROUP

J

apan marks the third overseas assignment for New Zealand native Denise Kennerly and her family, but the move to Tokyo a year and a half ago was still plenty unnerving. After the initial adjustment period, Kennerly found her local footing with the Women’s Group and its monthly Get Acquainted Coffee gatherings. Accustomed to the daunting experience of entering a room filled with unfamiliar faces, after previous stints in Australia and Singapore, the Women’s Group’s newly appointed director of membership is helping to restyle the long-standing coffee mornings into more casual and inviting occasions for newcomers. “If you’re struggling, it’s somewhere to go where you’ll always be welcome,” Kennerley says. “Each of us has information to share. We’d like women to start in a social, relaxed way, without a hard sell on how to get involved.” These leisurely new Coffee Connections offer attendees the chance to establish new friendships and find common interests. The organizers are also keen to see participantstake their associations beyond a cup of espresso and determine how best their talents can be used within the Women’s Group. “We hope to make them more welcoming and more of a longterm stop for women,” Kennerley says. “It shouldn’t end after your two-hour coffee is up.” The overall aims of the Get Acquainted Coffees—to introduce newcomers to the breadth of Women’s Group offerings and give them an opportunity to meet people— remains unchanged. The revamped approach, however, gives people the chance to assess to what extent they want to tap into the organization and its vast resources. “We are aware that the dynamic of Japan is changing; Japan is becoming a lot easier to live in for non-Japanese speakers,” says Kennerley. “We also recognize that more women are working, and this is also driving our ideas for wider change of the kinds of events the Women’s Group runs.” So, keep an eye out for other tweaked programs and new events throughout the year. In the meantime, order up a latte and enjoy the friendly conversation at the next coffee morning. ®

coffee

connections

Connected Over Coffee by Holly Schwartz

Schwartz is a member of the Women’s Group. Coffee Connections Monday, May 24 10:30 a.m. Banquet Rooms Free Contact the Women’s Group Office to organize free childcare

shrines, before stopping by the picturesque Lake Chuzenji and Kegon Falls. A colorful procession of 1,000 armor-clad samurai warriors will be held as part of the Toshogu Shrine Samurai Archery Ceremony, featuring ancient court music, dancing and horseback archery. The Escape to Europe in Hakone Tour on May 24 takes participants to two European-influenced museums set amid

the lush natural beauty of Hakone. Explore the Lalique Museum, where the exquisite craftsmanship of Frenchman René Lalique is on display, and the delicate Italian creations of the Glass Forest, before savoring lunch at the Fujiya Hotel, Japan’s oldest Europeanstyle hotel. For these and other upcoming getaways, sign up at the Member Services Desk or visit the Women’s Group website for details. ®

An interactive community 27


May 2010 iNTOUCH 28February 2007 iNTOUCH


FEATURE

Made in Japan by Wendi Hailey

$

In a country with a struggling economy and play-it-safe population, Club Member and Internet magnate Hiroshi Mikitani finds business is booming as online shoppers embrace the click-buy wave.

W

hen catastrophe hits close to home, people often reassess their lives. Few, however, parlay those post-disaster musings into successful billion-dollar enterprises. Following the devastating Hanshin earthquake on the morning of January 17, 1995, Kobe native Hiroshi Mikitani made the decision to leave his lucrative job as an investment banker to launch his own business. “I realized that life is not so long, so I decided to jump off from the boat and start my own company, without knowing specifically what I wanted to do,” the Club Member says from the austere office lounge of his company headquarters in Shinagawa Seaside. “What I found—this was in 1995—was that the world was changing because of the Internet.” His online shopping mall, Rakuten, opened its virtual doors in 1997 with just 13 stores and a small cache of merchandise. It has since swelled into an e-commerce giant, with its retailers peddling 50 million products, including apparel, toys, fresh produce and even used cars. Sales now top ¥1 trillion a year. But in its early days, the company grappled to secure a foothold. “The first month, our sales were ¥320,000, of which I was buying ¥180,000,” the 45-year-old recalls in fluent English. “I was not really a shopping guy. But now, maybe because I run this thing, I buy a lot.” In addition to its online retail portal, called Rakuten Ichiba, the company offers a dizzying spectrum of services and goods, from online banking to golf reservations. It provides marriage

consultancy, travel, auctions, banking, credit cards, blogging and a professional baseball team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, established six years ago in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture. “We thought from day one with Internet shopping we could create this very attractive, live, energetic marketplace that will become the core to expand into other businesses,” says Mikitani. The Rakuten name, which means “optimism,” is a spin on a flourishing 16th century market created by forwardthinking shogun Nobunaga Oda. With his blend of youthful exuberance and razor-sharp business acumen, the billionaire has built his brand into a household name in Japan and the country’s biggest e-commerce site, boasting some 65 million users (roughly half the population). Rakuten outperforms Amazon, eBay and its other domestic competitors, but its creator has cast his designs far beyond Japan’s borders. After going public in 2000, the official plan is to expand the business to 27 countries, including seven new markets this year, and develop a “global Internet shopping platform.” The company has already set up shop in Thailand and Taiwan, while a quarter of the goods sold in Japan are available in other select countries through its shipping service. Its US headquarters have been established in Boston, where it initially plans to bring over-the-counter drugs, fragrances and other wares

The number of stores selling through Rakuten has grown from 13 when it launched in 1997 to 32,000 today.

Made in Japan 29


짜 Hiroshi Mikitani was named the sixth richest person in Japan by Forbes magazine in 2009.

May 2010 iNTOUCH 30February 2007 iNTOUCH


FEATURE

to Japan through various partnerships, in addition to providing online marketing research to such US retailers as Walmart and Macy’s through its acquired LinkShare business in New York. In addition, a $50 million online shopping tie-in with search engine Baidu in China is expected to hit the web by the year’s end. At a moment in which Japan is about to be eclipsed by China as the world’s second-largest economy and the country’s corporate reputation is in tatters, Mikitani belongs to a vanishing breed of business trailblazers. While dissatisfaction about the country’s direction remains high, complacency all but rules the younger generations. “Toyota’s fall from grace caps a 20-year economic malaise that is infecting the popular culture, manifesting itself in a preference for staying home, avoiding risk, and removing oneself from the hierarchical system,” one recent Newsweek article noted. “The generation of people in their 30s and 40s—the prime working and family-raising years—are said to be unwilling to take any risk, no matter how small....Entrepreneurship is seen as an unpromising career prospect.” In fact, Japanese businesses in their startup phases and first few years of operation comprise merely 3.5 percent of the total workforce, according to research by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, ranking last among the 54 surveyed countries. By comparison, America’s rate was roughly two and a half times higher. “Fear of failure” was cited as the chief reason behind the lack of entrepreneurship in Japan. “You know, many people say it’s very difficult to start your own business in Japan, which I don’t believe is the case. People don’t have enough guts,” s a y s Mikitani, a father of two children, ages 6 and 2. “Younger people, they are not as challenging as we are. They don’t have as large ambition as

we had. And so they like to have a very stable, secure life. And I like more bumpy rides.” Mikitani’s exposure to American capitalism started from an early age. His family moved when he was 7 to the New Haven, Connecticut, area for two years, where his father was an economics professor at Yale University. His mother, who grew up in China, is a “very international person.” “I didn’t know what I wanted to be, even when I was in university,” recalls the Hitotsubashi University graduate. “The only thing I knew was that I wanted to be what we call an international business person.” He eventually returned to the US to earn his MBA at Harvard University, where he observed the beginnings of the online boom. Mikitani’s hopes of becoming an overseas success have been largely realized—he has been profiled by The Wall Street Journal, Forbes magazine and other international publications for his corporate prowess. Kashiwa Sato, a Club Member and founder of creative design studio Samurai, created the Rakuten logo and serves as creative director, meeting with Mikitani twice a month to discuss the company’s image and other pertinent branding strategies. “We often meet to talk about our vision and make decisions together. We continue the conversation until we understand each other and we’re both happy,” Sato says of their seven-year professional liaison. “He has such a dynamic decision-making process, very detailed and quick to make it a reality. When we work together, I feel like I’m watching a professional athlete make a superb play.” One of Mikitani’s more intrepid maneuvers was the formation of the Rakuten baseball club in 2004, the league’s first expansion team in half a century, when the entire industry was in a slump. Mikitani describes the decision as “a no-brainer.” Though recording a sizable loss last year, ticket sales were up and the team advanced to the playoffs, supplying the Rakuten brand with nearly daily media coverage. According to Mikitani, economic duress and lack of ambition are just two factors for Japan’s lackluster corporate environment.

Rakuten Ichiba has more than 60 million registered members, nearly half of Japan’s population.

Made in Japan 31


Professional sports Telecommunications

Securities Travel

Share of Rakuten’s net sales

Portal and media

Much of its present woes, along with those of the US and Europe, he says, stem from the unregulated breach of intellectual property in developing countries and lower costs that are difficult to compete with. “Having said that, I think we have a problem and so we need to change,” he says. “We need to become more open. We need to adopt more global standards. Now Japan is struggling, [but] I think if we can change, which is difficult for us, we are going to be fine.” One advantage Japan may hold over other developed countries is its proximity to China and Southeast Asia. While Rakuten sells a number of traditional crafts made in Japan, the bulk of its product pool is manufactured in Vietnam, China and other developing countries. The business is positioning itself to tap into those rising markets as much as possible, in terms of both manufacturing and spending power. Mikitani’s initial gamble on Internet shopping back in 1997 now seems sage. Globally, some 86 percent of the web population had made an online purchase by 2008 and the number continues to grow. Japan’s online business-toconsumer sector swelled by 21.7 percent in 2007 from the previous year to more than $55 billion. That figure is only set to rise, Mikitani says, with the so-called digital divide shrinking. Consumers are jumping online from an earlier age and seniors are becoming more tech-savvy. The most active users on the Rakuten site, though, are women in their 30s and 40s. “The concept of an Internet shopping mall is changing very rapidly,” he says. “It was part of a mail-order concept, but now it’s becoming really part of the day-to-day decisions.” Millions of users log in each day to buy big-ticket items and, increasingly, daily necessities. The company registered 110 million sales last year (at an average total price tag of nearly ¥7,300 a pop), with roughly one out of every five of those transactions coming from a mobile phone. With easy price comparisons at their fingertips, discerning shoppers—the same ones who were once globally recognized for their penchant for pricey luxury items and brand-name obsession—are on the hunt for bargains. “Price has become the

May 2010 iNTOUCH 32February 2007 iNTOUCH

E-commerce Credit and payment

most important factor for Japanese retail, which is probably not so good, but I think that’s the way it is,” Mikitani says. In addition to inexpensive prices, younger consumers are looking for one-of-a-kind finds. “They want to be unique,” he says. “They are looking for something that other people don’t have and the brand is becoming less important.” Turnaround delivery time has also become a vital component in the competition with bricks-and-mortar stores. Many virtual shops promise delivery within 24 hours, and the online supermarkets can have items dropped off within a few hours of placing an order. All of its 32,000 merchants pay a fixed fee each month to operate their own customized online storefronts, in addition to a small percentage of their sales revenue. The allure of Rakuten’s relatively low hosting fee and sheer quantity of online traffic is amplified by the services it provides its vendors, including a monthly magazine, phone support and seminars. Started with just six employees, Rakuten has grown into a corporate beehive of nearly 9,000 workers, most of them in their late 20s and early 30s. Mikitani seeks to harness that energy and foster a workplace where teamwork and innovation are rewarded. “He’s a leader of young people,” says marketing guru Sato. “He possesses a very passionate personality and puts all his energy into his work and communicating with other people— that is essential to him.” Grooming for the company’s foray into international markets,

Rakuten is the No. 5 most popular website in Japan, behind such online behemoths as Yahoo and YouTube.

5

#


FEATURE

Mikitani now conducts all executive meetings in English. He has also just started taking Chinese language lessons to prepare for the new venture. “We are trying to convert Rakuten into a super Internet company, which is a big challenge not just for me, but for the company as well,” Mikitani says. “I think it’s very important for us to do so—not just for our own business, but we want to demonstrate to other Japanese people, if you want to do it, you can do it. And we’ll show you how to do it. So that is the big thing I’m

working on right now. And it will take a while.” But even with potentially grander schemes on the horizon, he can savor this rare, modern tale of corporate success in Japan—born of disaster and built on tenacity and a longsighted hunch. o

Made in Japan 33


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

Carmela

Ben Shitrit by Wendi Hailey

Looking for an unrestrained diversion to set off her life as a self-employed travel agent and mother of three in Israel, Carmela Ben Shitrit took up oil painting 20 years ago. But it was only in the last four years, after retiring at age 55, that she started to take art “seriously.” In 2007, the artist traded in her oils and carved stone for sumi ink upon moving to Tokyo as the wife of the Israeli ambassador. Now, her work melds the traditional Japanese medium with a fresh, outside perspective. “Art crosses boundaries, distances and divergences,” says Ben Shitrit, who will make her Genkan Gallery debut this month with a series of bold, energetic pieces. “Being nonJapanese makes a difference that is reflected in my sumie painting.” The Jerusalem native uses abstract strokes and dynamic motions to express a range of sensations, finding stimulation beyond the soaring glass and lights of the capital. “My source of inspiration is nature, complete and in every form of it,” she says. “In my eyes, everywhere I’m looking at landscapes there’s a lot of beauty and joy.” Ben Shitrit belongs to the Bokuga Group 82, led by renowned sumi artist Kisa Matsushita. Her artwork was awarded at the 61st Mainichi Calligraphy Exhibition earlier this year, adding to her budding cache of recognitions in Japan.

Exhibition May 3–30

Wine and Cheese Reception Monday, May 10 6:30–8 p.m. Adult Lobby Open to all Members Free

34 May 2010 iNTOUCH


GENKAN GALLERY

Fred

Harris by Wendi Hailey

Equipped with a refined relationship with the tools of his trade and a favorable turn of seasons, venerable artist and Club Member Fred Harris has amassed an inspired compilation of ink and watercolor paintings that once again will adorn the Club’s display cases from the end of this month. “I was fortunate to be able to almost bury myself in snow to be able to capture the stark contrasts between the clear white of snow, its various shades of gray and the contrasting forms of the buildings covered by this magnificent blanket of white and gray,” says the self-taught sumie painter. “There are also a number of impressions of the fall season that I was able to observe, especially in the newly renovated Nezu Museum garden, which is an artist’s paradise.” The 77-year-old Brooklyn native, who has lived nearly half a century in Japan, has sketched his way across the country’s vast landscapes and overseas, too. “The next exhibition of my work I feel contains a looseness and fluidity with the water-based mediums that I was not able to achieve so far,” Harris says. “Over the past few years, I have built an empathy with the soft papers of Japan and Vietnam that allows me to capture in almost abstract shapes the sense of the subject before me.”

Exhibition May 31–June 27

Wine and Cheese Reception

Monday, May 31 6:30–8 p.m. Adult Lobby Open to all Members Free

Exhibitions of art 35


Pampered

Pets

36 May 2010 iNTOUCH


TALKING HEADS Stroll the leafy backstreets of Aoyama or any other upscale Tokyo district on a weekend afternoon and the fallout from Japan’s declining birthrate is on full display. Legions of—typically young, female—dog owners can be seen transporting their designer apparel-wearing, pocket-sized pooches to their manicure appointments in “doggie strollers” or shoulder bags. According to the national Pet Food Association, although Japan’s cat and dog populations stabilized last year at 22.3 million, the country’s felines and canines still outnumber children aged under 16 (17.9 million). The pet industry as a whole is worth more than ¥1 trillion. While Japanese living arrangements have traditionally made owning pets difficult, the market has been boosted by the popularity of miniature and so-called “teacup” breeds of dog. In addition, luxury services have sprung up catering to owners who want to spoil their four-legged “kids.” Iwan Tamm is commercial director with Hill’s Pet Nutrition Asia-Pacific office in Tokyo. iNTOUCH’s Nick Jones recently spoke to the Club Member about Japan’s vibrant pet industry. Excerpts:

Iwan Tamm

iNTOUCH: How does the Japanese pet industry compare to markets elsewhere? Tamm: On a macro basis, pet ownership is quite a bit lower than in the US. So about 36 percent of households in the US have dogs; here, it’s only 20 percent, and about 13 percent of households have cats. In the US, it’s about 30 percent. iNTOUCH: Has there been growth in pet ownership in the last few years? Tamm: Dog ownership has grown from 16 percent to 20 percent in the last 10 years. Cat ownership grew from about 11 percent to almost 13 percent.

iNTOUCH: Is there a particular segment of society that has driven Japan’s pet ownership growth? Tamm: One-person households, where the pet is more of a companion, are driving some of the increase in the number of pets. For example, ladies in their late 20s, early 30s with their own home and a cat. That cat is really there as a companion for when she comes home. iNTOUCH: What is the ratio of small dogs to large dogs in Japan? Tamm: Small breeds now account for 70 to 80 percent of the pet population and are still growing. So the top three breeds that account for over 50 percent of the market are toy poodle, Chihuahua and miniature dachshund. You will see teacup breeds more and more.

iNTOUCH: What has driven this growth? Tamm: In the case of dog ownership, it became more fashionable. And I think the overall reduction in the number of kids per household, the role a pet plays of replacing a child and for companionship for an aging population is also another dynamic that is driving pet ownership. iNTOUCH: How has this growth manifested itself in terms of pet care? Tamm: Japanese are actually not spending more on pet goods than, for example, in the US. It might be a little more skewed in the Tokyo metropolitan area, where fashion trends are stronger. The pet can have either the role of a child or the role of a companion, so [owners] will dress their pets in the brands they like. As for the majority of the population, I don’t think this is the case.

iNTOUCH: Why have these three breeds become popular? Tamm: This is often driven by a company that used a pet in its TV commercial, a Hollywood movie, word of mouth or because a toy poodle, for example, doesn’t shed [its hair]. And, of course, it’s all about being kawaii [cute]. iNTOUCH: Are pets more expensive to buy in Japan? Tamm: Dogs are crazily expensive here. They were $3,000 or $4,000 two years ago. Last year that dropped and you’ll see dogs more around the $1,000 mark. Whereas most of the cats will be acquired through friends or as strays. iNTOUCH: How much do people typically spend on their pets?

Tamm: Total pet food and pet care spending for all pets, including smaller animals like fish, works out at $69 a year in the US versus $79 in Japan. iNTOUCH: How recession proof is this industry? Tamm: The Japanese market is more recession proof in the pet food area than we’ve seen in the US. On the one hand, the population is shrinking and we can assume that the number of pets is on the decline as well. On the other hand, because people are getting older and probably feel more alone, they get a pet. There is a growth in the senior pet population in Japan, so there are more senior products here, far more than in a grocery aisle in the US. iNTOUCH: Is the luxury pet care market likely to grow in Japan? Tamm: I think it’s hitting some type of development ceiling. There will be more popping up, but I don’t think it is this big trend that will continue. This image of a white poodle getting its claws painted at the groomer is not as common as people think. Even in the UK they’re spending more on non-food items for their pets than in Japan. iNTOUCH: What trends do you foresee in Japan’s pet market? Tamm: More humanization [of pets], probably, and more forms and flavors that mimic human food. The indulgence and pampering will continue also. And because so many pets are kept indoors, there is a growing segment of indoor products, particularly tailored to the pet that has less exercise. ®

Member insights on Japan 37


6 7

Number of elevators 70 87

Number of toilets 8 12

Length (in months) of Pool season 10 8

Number of floors 5 8

Length (in meters) of bar in Traders’ Bar 124 206

Number of parking spots 51 29

Flights of stairs 200 people

22 40

Treadmills and trainers to get heart rates soaring 200

30

Dimensions (in square meters) of kids’ outdoor play space 2,200

56 132

Sunny spots to dine al fresco 14,140

Please note that facts and figures represented here may have changed.

38 May 2010 iNTOUCH


REDEVELOPMENT

In with the New Compiled by Wendi Hailey

With roughly one-third of the Membership set to step foot on the Club’s Azabudai premises for the first time in January, iNTOUCH offers an unusual side-by-side peek at the old clubhouse and the better—and, in most cases, bigger—facilities of the gleaming architectural gem being built right now. Old Club

New Club

400+ people

Ballroom capacity

650

1

2

200

7 4 6 8 3 5

Dimensions (in square meters) of gymnasium

4,420

Area (in square meters) of windows and glass surfaces

25,787

Area (in square meters) of entire Club 11,000 13,160

Number of hard-to-get new DVD releases and favorite titles The journey back to Azabudai 39


Get more for your Membership

I N T RO

rewards

rewards of the month

Amit Trading The biggest wholesaler of pearls in Tokyo offers the lowest prices, highest quality and best selection of pearls, jewelry and diamonds— guaranteed! Forty years in the business. Tel: 03-3404-3853 www.pearls.jp Reward: Japanese akoya pearl earrings

S HO P P I N G

The Rewards program gives Members access to exclusive discounts and great deals. Simply present your Membership card before you receive the service from any of the vendors listed. All offers are valid for the month they appear in iNTOUCH.

A-Cross Corporation A-Cross has been selling high-quality, handmade Japanese screens from Kyoto to the international community since 2001. These screens make beautiful additions to any home or as souvenirs of Japan, and with more than 100 designs, there is something for every taste. Visit us online or drop by our next exhibition at the Oakwood T-Cube on May 22 (details on our website). Tel: 03-5449-7621 E-mail: trading@a-cross.jp www.japanesescreens.net Reward: 10% discount on all screens

Bhanu Tailors Quality custom-made garments. 27 years of experience in the fashion industry. Choose fabrics from Valentino, Reda and more. Visiting Tokyo every month. E-mail: bhanutailors@gmail.com Reward: Free shirt with every suit

Keyshots-East West Photography We can bring our studio to your home. Start taking better photos now using your own camera! Private photography lessons available. www.keyshots.com Reward: Free 10 x 8 enlargement

PH O T O GR A PH Y

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

A Cut Above Gom Photography Custom, fine art photography, specializing in children and family portraits. Serving Yokohama and Tokyo areas. Book your session today! Tel: 045-777-4827 E-mail: contact@gom-photography.com www.gom-photography.com Reward: ¥3,000 print credit

40 May 2010 iNTOUCH

Established by hairstylist Fujio Takai, who trained in Japan and Australia, A Cut Above’s English-speaking staff has been providing hairstyling and aromatherapy treatments for 20 years. Conveniently located in Hiroo, the salon prides itself on its range of professional and innovative services, including an impressive herbal coloring menu, organic aroma oil-based head-and-shoulder massages and environmentally friendly perm solutions. Tel: 03-3441-7218 www.above.co.jp Reward: 10% off introductory services


MEMBER SERVICES

E DUCAT I ON

Temple University, Japan Campus (TUJ) TUJ's Continuing Education offers courses and workshops for personal and professional development, including interior design, communications, IT, law and business. Tel: 03-5441-9864 E-mail: conted@tuj.ac.jp www.tuj.ac.jp/cont-ed Reward: Entrance fee waived and 10% off tuition

T R AV E L

yokoso

Phoenix Hotel and Chalets, Hakuba The Phoenix Hotel and Chalets, Hakuba, and Mimi's Restaurant are designed to give you a year-round playground. It is all the special things we do at the Phoenix that make the difference. Tel: 0261-72-4060 E-mail: info@phoenixhotel.jp www.phoenixhotel.jp Reward: 10% discount

new member profile

Matthew Krcelic & Akiko Arai United States—PCA Life Insurance Co., Ltd.

INTERIOR

Why did you decide to join the Club? “We are excited to be Members of Tokyo American Club. After living in Japan for nearly eight years, we’re looking forward to ‘reconnecting’ with the expat community and providing our boys with a place to meet new friends from around the world. As we don’t get back to the States as often as we’d like to, being Members will also give us the opportunity to enjoy some of the cultural events from home. We already know several Members and are looking forward to meeting many more of you!”

Tokyo Lease Corporation Large collection of Asian, European and American furniture for sale and lease. Tel: 03-3585-5801 www.furniture-rental-tokyo.com Reward: 5% discount on items bought in the shop

HOME

(l–r) Akiko, William, Matthew and Mitchell Krcelic

new member profile

Robert and Lisa Bell Australia—Australia & New Zealand Banking Group

Why did you decide to join the Club? “After living in Fiji for three years, Tokyo is a big change for us. We have found the Club to be a great place to escape and relax. The staff are great and the Club is so well set up for a young family like ours. We are looking forward to meeting more people through the Club and finally finding time to make it to one of the wine tasting evenings!” (l–r) Robert, Liam, Zara and Lisa Bell

Ken Corporation Ltd. Being a resident of a Ken Corporation apartment gives you exclusive membership to the KEN Green Golf Club. Tel: 03-5413-5666 www.kencorp.com Reward: Special packages for Club Members

Oakwood Serviced Apartments Oakwood is the most trusted name in serviced apartments worldwide. We offer three different styles of living to make you feel at home: Premier, Residence and Apartments. Tel: 0120-313113 (toll-free)/03-5412-3131 www.oakwoodasia.com/en/japan/default.aspx Reward: Preferred rental rates with free Internet connection

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

Services and benefits for Members 41


yokoso

Nakashima Dental Office Cosmetic dentistry, cleaning, whitening, porcelain work, dentures, gum work, root canals and Biolase treatments. US-specialist level. Tel: 03-3479-2726 www.dentist-nakashima.jp Reward: 10% discount on cash payment

DE N T AL

rewards

Audi Japan Sales Authorized Audi dealerships with Englishspeaking sales staff in Tokyo and Osaka. Tel: 03-6890-0123 (Noboyuki Kinushi) E-mail: int.sales@audi-sales.co.jp www.audi-sales.co.jp Reward: ¥50,000 Audi accessory voucher with new Audi purchase

AUTOMOTIVE

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

Krishna Iyer & Sridevi Krishna India—Merrill Lynch Japan Securities Co., Ltd.

Steve Wiig & Kayo Tatsuyama-Wiig United States

Mao Nakajima Japan

Neal Walters Canada—Wall Street Associates K.K. John & Yumi Ozeki United States—JP Morgan Chase Bank

Hisashi & Miki Kitami Japan—List Co., Ltd.

Masahiro Yanagibashi Japan—Industrial Research & Development Institute, Inc.

Toshiaki & Sae Sakai Japan—Keio University Institute of Physical Education

Steven & Pamela Henderson

Hirofumi Hashimoto

United States—Dow Chemical Japan Ltd.

Japan—International Cultural Association

Yoichiro & Chieko Yamakawa Japan—Koga & Partners Masaaki Ito Japan—Delta Air Lines, Inc. Donald & Robyn Liedtke United States—IBM Japan Ltd. William & Michelle Rainsberger United States—IBM Japan Ltd.

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

Jasper Cheung Canada—Amazon Japan K.K. Takuhei & Azusa Hara Japan—Ja-net System Co., Ltd. Fumie & Hitoshi Kimura Japan—Kimura Kigyojo Joint-Stock Company

C O NT A C T

sayonara David & Lelani Cook

Niclas Neglen & Elena Rizzo

Emmanuel & Isabelle Cuenot

Matthew & Chizuko Olson

Jean & Marie-Florence Duprieu

Glenn & Akiko Perkins

Ward & Marlo Dykstra

Nicole Piasecki & Peter Heymann

Shinichi & Hiroko Fukagawa

James & Maria Sheridan

Ulrich & Karen Klose

Raul & Julia Urteaga

Masaru Kobayashi

Fabio & Karina Vieira

Hamilton & Miyuki Lau

Yusuke & Sonoko Yasuda

Masahiro & Keiko Miyagawa

42 May 2010 iNTOUCH

Daisuke Fujisaki Japan—Indus Capital Advisors

William & Mary Winkler United States—AIG Star Life Insurance Company

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

If you would like to advertise in this space, contact Miyuki Hagiwara at miyuki.hagiwara@tac-club.org.

Steven & Sally Butters United States—Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu LLC


MEMBER SERVICES

employee

of the month

Miki Sato by Nick Jones

W

hen Miki Sato joined her junior high school’s volleyball club, she wasn’t particularly skillful at the sport. Determined to improve, she decided to embark on a regime of early-morning practice sessions on her own in the gym before school. The extra hours of solo drill work paid off and she continued to play during high school, even advancing to the final 32 with her team (from more than 300 schools) in the all-Tokyo championships. “I learned a lot about teamwork and cooperation,” she says of her years playing volleyball. “And while the practices could be tough, the results always came on the court.”

The 26-year-old has applied a similar kind of single-minded fortitude to her work serving Members in the Club’s popular Mixed Grille restaurant. Joining the Club in March 2008, shortly after the opening of the Takanawa facility, Sato was concerned about her English ability and whether she would be able to handle the daily demands of interacting with Members in her second language. Rather than shying away from the challenge, she says she sweated through the early hardships handling complicated orders and taking reservations on the phone—all in English. “These past six months I have gotten more confident because

I don’t hesitate in trying to communicate,” she explains. “People say I have improved a lot, but I still get nervous.” Born in Akita in northern Japan, Sato spent most of her childhood in Tokyo and attended Otsuma Women’s University, near the Imperial Palace, where she studied English literature. Now living in Minami Azabu, she ran her first marathon in February when she endured the cold and rain to complete the Tokyo Marathon. The following month she received the Employee of the Month award for March. “I know that people are watching me now,” she says, “so [the award] reminds me to keep up the good work.” ®

Some restrictions apply. Ask for details.

• Laser hair removal • Botox • Restylane • Retin-A • Liposuction, Eye, Nose, Breast, Facelift, Tummy Tuck • Laser (Titan, Genesis, Hair Removal, Tattoo, IPL) • Men’s (ED, AGA)

Services and benefits for Members 43


reciprocal

clubs

Being a Member of Tokyo American Club allows you access to a network of more than 200 reciprocal clubs across the globe. For a full listing of reciprocal clubs worldwide, check out www.tokyoamericanclub.org.

Washington Athletic Club Location: Seattle, Washington Founded: 1929 Members: 7,000

Located in downtown Seattle, this 21-story institution combines fitness, food and exceptional service for the city’s business, political and social leaders. From sports bars to upscale bistros, the dining outlets serve up fresh, seasonal cuisine, local brews and an award-winning range of wines. The club, which remained open through the Great Depression, houses a state-of-the-art fitness center, fully restored 1930s pool, wellness center, spa and 109 lavish guestrooms.

www.wac.net

Leeds Club

Location: Leeds, United Kingdom Founded: 1849 Members: 300 More than 740 square meters of this sprawling Victorian gem have been renovated to furnish its members with modern-day conveniences amid 19th-century charm. The facilities include a restaurant, bar and several fully equipped meeting rooms. A vibrant array of events appeals to both business-minded members and those looking for an escape from the office, including the Business Breakfast Club, networking lunches, wine tastings and live jazz performances.

www.club-ls1.com

stacks of services at the Club

JTB Sunrise Tours

Spica

Go Mobile Phone Rental

MyToyota.jp

André Bernard Beauty Salon

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

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

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

English support for all your Toyota and Lexus needs. Available services: Q&A by e-mail; dealer visit assistance; and translation of estimates, contracts and other related documents. www.mytoyota.jp/english

Hair care for adults and kids, manicure, pedicure, waxing and more. Tel: 03-4588-0685 Family Area (2F) Tue–Sun: 9 a.m.–6 p.m.

44 May 2010 iNTOUCH


ADVERTORIAL

Embracing Cultural Diversity

K

eio Academy of New York was founded as an affiliate high school for the entire Keio educational system in 1990. Since then, its bilingual and bicultural approach has helped to develop many talented individuals who now contribute on an international scale. Two years ago, Keio Academy

introduced the Aratani Foundation Nikkeijin Scholarship for JapaneseAmerican students, for which it is now accepting applications for the academic year starting in September 2010. The headmaster of Keio Academy, Sumio Sakomura, shares his thoughts on the school and its educational philosophy:

What is the philosophy and approach of Keio Academy of New York? Sakomura: It is to nurture individuals who will be capable of participating in a global society. We also aim to cultivate people with moral independence and self-esteem, as advocated by Keio Gijuku’s founder, Yukichi Fukuzawa.

have strong teams in soccer, baseball and tennis; we were state champions in baseball and tennis last year. In addition, school life includes a lot of organized events, such as community service, holiday celebrations, and concerts.

How are these ideas reflected in the curriculum? Sakomura: While the majority of the students are native-Japanese speakers, 70 percent of our teachers are American. Thus, 70 percent of our classes are in English, with the remaining 30 percent of classes taught in Japanese by Japanese teachers. There is a lot of presentation work in class, so we are confident about every student’s ability to speak to a group. The Western concept of discussion through dialectical logic and playing the devil’s advocate is used a lot during schooling. Also, since this is a boarding school, the dorm lifestyle provides a basis for learning how to live independently. Does this mean that in comparison with high school students preparing for entrance exams in Japan, Keio’s curriculum and lifestyle is a little more relaxed? Sakomura: You don’t have to think at all about preparatory studies; you can improve at the things you like and explore many various interests. Also, dorm life helps students forge close relationships. Everyone gets revved up about sports here and we

Keio Academy of New York Headmaster Sumio Sakomura

Could you tell me about the Aratani Foundation Nikkeijin Scholarship? Sakomura: We began to accept students whose native language is not Japanese around two or three years ago. Previously, we were concerned that if they were not native Japanese speakers, they wouldn’t be able to go to a Japanese college. There has been an increase in Englishdominant students, and the Aratani scholarship aids this diversification. The scholarship’s founder, George Aratani, is a second-generation Japanese-American, but in this country we are now at the fourth, fifth or even sixth generation, and we want to open the door to these people. Is the Bilingual Summer Program that you began two years ago a part of the bilingual curriculum? Sakomura: It is more of an outreach program than a part of the bilingual curriculum. It is also a way to showcase our school, raise awareness about us and attempt to integrate this approach into society. Also, Keio has a strong digital media program, and as American children today are interested in animation and Japanese pop culture, we believe it is an effective way to influence them.

English-Japanese Bilingual Summer Program In this two-week, intensive video production workshop for junior high school students from Japan and the United States, participants learn the techniques of digital media production through hands-on experience and develop communication skills by working with other participants from different cultural backgrounds. This year’s project theme is “Creating your own NY experience.”

Aratani Foundation Nikkeijin Scholarship Made possible by the generous contribution of George Aratani, a Japanese-American businessman and philanthropist, through the Aratani Foundation, the scholarship was established to encourage Japanese-Americans to expand their opportunities. The entrance examination fee, admissions fee and tuition are waived for successful applicants to the 9th or 10th grade. If a student’s grades and behavior remain satisfactory, he/she may apply for a half-tuition waiver for the second year. After the second year, the student may apply to our regular scholarship program. Inquiries to Ms. Matsuki in the Admissions Office: E-mail: keiony@keio.edu Fax: 914-694-4830

Keio Academy of New York 3 College Road, Purchase, NY 10577, USA

www.keio.edu Tel: 1(914) 694-4825

Advertorial 45


Pint-Sized Rock Star Words and photos by Paul Jackson

A

mid waves of crackling distortion, legend of metal Ozzy Osbourne prostrates himself before 9-year-old axman Yuto Miyazawa. As the diminutive prodigy unleashes a torrent of screeching notes on a guitar that dwarfs him, an initially stunned crowd of 40,000 erupts into a frenzy of headbanging. Yuto’s memorable guitar solo during Ozzy’s “Crazy Train” encore last August at a video game conference in California

46 May 2010 iNTOUCH

is just one moment in the last couple of years that has helped to create a buzz around the world’s “youngest guitar professional,” who is set to perform at the Club this month. Since being spotted by Club Member Steve Bernstein at a Roppongi rock club in December 2007, Yuto has left Ozzy spellbound, traded riffs with electric guitar pioneer Les Paul, wowed talk show audiences on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” and “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” and amazed


INSIDE JAPAN

baseball fans at a New York Mets-Atlanta Braves grudge match. Then there are the YouTube and Yahoo video clips that have been watched by millions across the globe. The youngster’s confidence and composure on stage suggest that he is much more than an overnight sensation. But, in person, apart from the leather jacket and location—a rehearsal studio in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro neighborhood—there are few signs at first to suggest that Yuto, now 10, is anything other than a regular, fun-loving elementary schooler. Grabbing his guitar, he coaxes out a stream of wails from it. “I can’t just sit here holding this guitar,” says the Tokyo native. “Guitars are supposed to be played, you know.” After this initial display of fretboard mastery, Yuto turns to his musical tastes. “To be honest, I don’t listen much to Japanese music; I’m into Western music. After all, Japan isn’t the birthplace of rock,” he explains, citing Queen, Kiss, Eric Clapton and the Beatles as “early” influences, before he got into Deep Purple and Ozzy Osbourne. “I will never tire of listening to Ozzy.” So does he prefer Ozzy’s music from his solo career or from his bateating days with Black Sabbath? “The chewing on the bat—that happened after Ozzy went solo,” corrects Yuto, providing the exact date (January 20, 1982) when the British monster of rock nibbled on a winged mammal after mistaking it for a rubber toy. That infamous incident from a gig in Des Moines, Iowa, occurred not only before Yuto was born, but before his Japanese manager was born, too. “I’m not really into Sabbath. All their songs are so dark. I’d like them to come up with some brighter songs; material more like ‘Paranoid,’” says Yuto, adding that he has been inspired by the playing of Ozzy’s first solo guitarist, Randy Rhoads. It was Rhoads’ classically influenced licks and shriller sound that influenced thousands of hair metal freaks until his untimely death in a plane crash in 1982. “When my dad found a video of [Ozzy’s] ‘Mr Crowley’ on YouTube, the first thing that caught my eye was Randy Rhoads playing a spotted Flying V guitar. I thought, ‘Wow! This guy is amazing!’” Yuto recalls. “So I learned by heart the exact position of all the spots on his guitar and made a

cardboard cutout that looked just like Randy’s [guitar]. Of course, I learned how he phrased his licks [on a real guitar] as well.” This seemingly unorthodox approach to learning guitar solos makes sense when it’s revealed that Yuto used to mime with cardboard guitars made by his handyman grandfather. Noticing their son’s interest in music, Yuto’s parents bought him a half-size instrument. But after his grandfather died, Yuto was determined to make a mock guitar by himself. Picking up his guitar again, Yuto belts out a quick rendition of the children’s ditty “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” the first tune he learned to play. His distorted version is reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix’s distinctive take on “The Star-Spangled Banner,” another number Yuto has performed in his short career. “If you think about it, the most famous American rock star is Jimi Hendrix,” says Bernstein, who, besides owning his own multimedia music company, is Yuto’s global manager. “I truly believe that [Yuto] will be the most famous Asian rock star in the world someday.” Now shredding his way through his first self-penned song, an upbeat piece titled “Ikimasho!,” which, despite the Japanese title, has English lyrics, Yuto reassures those heading to his gig at the Club this month that he will “rock” them. “I’d like them to re-embrace rock and remember their younger days, but even for people who have never really listened to rock, I want them to hear what I can do,” he says. Yuto’s own “younger days” are yet to come, but he already has plans for the future. It seems that mastering the guitar is not enough. “Most of the time the guitarist, drummer and bass player are just sidemen, so I also want to sing, because, well, I want to be the frontman,” he says. “I want to be the main performer.” No prizes for guessing which vocalist Yuto aspires to emulate. “Yes, of course,” he says, “I want to sing like Ozzy Osbourne.” ® Jackson is a Tokyo-based freelance journalist. For details on the Entertainment Committee-sponsored evening of rock with Yuto Miyazawa, turn to page 18.

A look at culture and society 47


L

eaving Matsuyama Station, you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve gotten off at the wrong place. With its vista of identikit business hotels, lines of taxis and occasional palm tree, the city does little to put on a grand welcome as Shikoku’s largest and—supposedly—most alluring city. Five minutes on a tram, however, and Matsuyama soon begins to live up to its billing. Dominating the skyline from its hilltop perch is Matsuyama Castle. It’s been through several rebuilds since its

head to the far end of the line, to Dogo, two kilometers away. Possibly Japan’s oldest hot spring, Dogo Onsen gets a mention in the historical Chronicles of Japan, written almost 1,300 years ago. Not surprisingly, such a claim attracts droves of visitors. Yet, as touristy areas go, Dogo is still a laid-back spot to spend a night—especially if you book a room at one of the many traditional ryokan inns in the area. The quarter’s centerpiece, the Dogo Onsen Honkan, is a three-story wooden structure built in 1894. If it strikes you

Soaking in History Words and photos by Rob Goss initial construction in the 17th century by warlord Yoshiaki Kato, but the current incarnation is still an imposing sight and conspicuous from the tram as it trundles its way from the station. Just as impressive is the series of reconstructed outer gateways near the end of the climb up to the main building—a walk steep enough to leave you wondering how anyone trying to storm the castle in full armor would have had any energy left to fight by the time they reached the three-story donjon. Fortunately, it’s possible nowadays to avoid the leg workout and take a cable car to the top or an old-fashioned—and rather wobbly—single-seat ski lift. Once inside the castle, scale the almost-vertical wooden staircases to the top floor for an impressive panoramic view of downtown Matsuyama and Shikoku’s northwest coast beyond. You’ll also be able to take in a fine collection of artifacts that includes weaponry, scrolls and banners dating back to Kato’s rule. Outside, the Ninomaru Historical Gardens, near the bottom of the hill on the way back down, are worth exploring. After you are done wandering around the castle area, hop back on the tram and

48 May 2010 iNTOUCH

as familiar, that is probably because it was reputedly the inspiration for Hayao Miyazaki’s bathhouse in the Oscarwinning animated film Spirited Away. Lovers of the writings of Natsume Soseki might also have heard of the place. The famous novelist would bathe here during his stint teaching in Matsuyama, and the baths are where the eponymous main character in Soseki’s book Botchan would come for a soak. Although the baths cost a lot more than the ¥80 Soseki would have paid in his day, not much else seems to have changed. Honkan retains its original baths, which become progressively more luxurious and expensive as you move up the floors. For ¥400, you can soak in the Kaminoyu baths, which are decorated with ornate heron mosaics. Pay ¥800 and you’ll also be able to lounge about in a cotton yukata kimono while sipping tea in the second-floor relaxation area. The most decadent experience can be found in the less-crowded Tamanoyu baths (¥1,200), where you can take in garden views and enjoy a more secluded area for tea and sweet “Botchan dango” dumplings after taking a dip. Alternately, for just ¥360, you can enjoy

an equally relaxing time at the modern Tsubakinoyu bathhouse nearby. But Dogo isn’t just about steamy springs. A 10-minute walk from Honkan, passing the pleasant Dogo Park and serene Isaniwa Shrine along the way, is Ishite Temple, originally built almost 1,300 years ago and one of eight temples in Matsuyama on Shikoku’s 88-temple pilgrimage route. Ishite’s design is a mishmash of classical Japanese features alongside Thai, Indian and other Asian styles, with a few twinkling Christmas lights and the piped sound of priests chanting mantras thrown in for good measure. Its most unusual aspect is a 200-meter tunnel that runs into the hillside behind the main temple. Dank, barely lit and lined with a couple hundred small bodhisattva statues in red caps and bibs, the tunnel eventually leads to fresh air and on to a gaudy, golden-domed mandala. Why exactly the temple has absorbed such a variety of styles is anyone’s guess, but it could be something worth pondering while you soak in Matsuyama’s storied waters. ® Goss is a Tokyo-based freelance journalist.


OUT & ABOUT Eighty minutes by plane from Haneda Airport to Matsuyama Airport. Buses run frequently from the airport to Matsuyama Station (approximately 20 minutes) and other central locations. Dogo Prince Hotel www.princehotels.co.jp Yamatoya Honten Hotel www.yamatoyahonten.com (Japanese language only) Funaya Ryokan www.dogo-funaya.co.jp (Japanese language only) Matsuyama City www.city.matsuyama.ehime.jp

Dogo Onsen www.dogo.or.jp (Japanese language only) Dogo Park www.dogokouen.jp (Japanese language only) TOKYO

Ishite Temple http://nehan.net (Japanese language only) Isaniwa Shrine http://isaniwa.ddo.jp (Japanese language only)

MATSUYAMA

Ehime Tourism Information www.pref.ehime.jp/izanai/kankou.html

Explorations beyond the Club 49

Matsuyama Convention and Visitors Bureau

www

Matsuyama Castle www.matsuyamajo.jp (Japanese language only)


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

Meet the Author: John Wood March 3

Corporate executive turned full-time philanthropist John Wood chatted about his inspired journey with nearly 70 attendees. Proceeds from the sale of Wood’s best-selling book, Leaving Microsoft to Change the World, at the event were donated to his charity, Room to Read, which provides education resources in developing countries. Photos by Irwin Wong

1. John Wood 2. Club librarian Keiko Yajima with Carine Luis

2

50 May 2010 iNTOUCH

Nick Jones

1


EVENT EVENT ROUNDUP ROUNDUP

Taste Washington Preview and Woodward Canyon Meet the Winemaker Dinner March 4

More than 250 Members and guests mingled on the third floor while feasting on a vast selection of Washington’s finest wines and Pacific Northwest cuisine. Later, a smaller group of diners sat down to a cozy meal with renowned winemaker Rick Small. The pioneering Walla Walla vintner shared a quartet of varietals that were “made for food.” Photos by Irwin Wong

Snapshots from Club occasions 51


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

1

Meet the Author: Jake Adelstein March 10

Dozens of fans turned up to hear former Yomiuri Shimbun journalist Jake Adelstein relate fascinating stories from his bestseller, Tokyo Vice, about his years reporting on Japan’s seedy underbelly and the country’s notorious yakuza organized crime gangs.

Photos by Yuuki Ide

1. (l–r) Jake Adelstein, Sophie Lappin and Ulrica Marshall 2. (l–r) Katharine and Barbara Hancock, Catherine Makino and Jake Adelstein

52 May 2010 iNTOUCH

2


EVENT ROUNDUP

USS George Washington Tour March 15

Eighty Members sampled life at sea as they trekked through the US Seventh Fleet’s colossal aircraft carrier at Yokosuka Naval Base during a special Women’s Group luncheon. Afterward, participants enjoyed lunch with several of their guides at the officers’ club and learned more about living aboard the ship and on the base. Photos supplied by Miki Ohyama 1. (l–r) Miki Ohyama, Nobue Shiozawa, Hiroko Lepon, MCC James O'Donnell (USS George Washington), Celine Viola, Isako Sekiguchi, Jean Hargrave and Bianca Russell 2. (l–r) Higashi and Michiko Sugiyama, Cristina Tyldum, MC1 John Hageman (USS George Washington), Cheryl Schell, Fumiyo Sukegawa and Isolda Perez

1

2

1

Sankei Garden in Yokohama Tour February 20 2

A Culture Committee-organized daytrip whisked 14 sightseers away on a private tour of Yokohama’s cultural jewels. After exploring the Sankei Garden’s meticulously manicured lawns and century-old structures, the group had lunch at a traditional restaurant and wandered on foot past historic foreign residences and a cemetery in the Motomachi and Yamate districts. Photos supplied by Kazumasa Ohyama

1. (l–r) Jane Crossland with Craig and Laurie Joyner 2. (l–r) Craig and Laurie Joyner, Miki Ohyama, Assistant Club Manager Bob Sexton, Jane Crossland, Ryuji Kawabata from Sankei Garden, Eugene Crossland, Ryoko Anamizu, Toshiko Hobo, Prue Holstein, Kathleen and Robert Dyer, Alan and Eugenia Mindlin

Snapshots from Club occasions 53


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

1

Polar Bear Swim March 14

Bolstered by blue skies and mild temperatures, 101 swimmers of all ages braved the icy water of the Pool for the Club’s annual frigid dip, sponsored by MercedesBenz. Participants who completed the challenge received a T-shirt, towel and mug of hot chocolate.

2

Photos by Yuuki Ide

1. (l–r) Lola, Kristen, Brian and Maya Foley 2. James Busby and Daniel Edwards 3. James and Tom Busby 4. (l–r) Daniel, Bruce and Mia Daly

3

4

54 May 2010 iNTOUCH


TOKYO MOMENTS

Native Tongue-Tied by Karen Pond Illustration by Akiko Saito

I

didn’t understand what he was saying. So, I did what I always do when I can’t fathom what’s going on. “Mo ichido onegaishimasu [One more time, please],” I said to the man behind the desk. But since I don’t usually understand a foreign language any better when the phrase is repeated, I started to prepare myself for Plan B: pantomiming. And just in case theatrics don’t get me anywhere, I have learned to always have a backup plan for my backup plan. Plan C is for those particularly awkward moments. My flight-or-fright response is simple: bow and back away. Just bow and back away. “Mo ichido onegashimasu,” I repeated. The man didn’t reply, so I wasn’t sure he had heard me. “What?” he finally said as he studied my passport again from behind his immigration desk. “I said to you, ‘Have a good one.’ What did you say to me?” “Oops! This is awkward,” I thought. “Really, really awkward.” Arriving back in my home country, I had forgotten I could speak the local language. Not only that, I had no idea about the phrase “Have a good one.” It had been more than a year since I had heard it used on a daily basis. “Have a good what exactly?” I pondered. “A good layover? Snack on the plane? Maybe it’s a trick question. How should I reply? What should I do? Quick! Plan C. Bow and back away. Just bow and back away.”

56 May 2010 iNTOUCH

The immigration officer looked at me curiously. “Sorry, bit of jetlag,” I said. “Thank you for wishing me a good one. I’m on it. You got that right. Back at you. And may you have an even better one.” “By the way, what are you doing with your hands?” inquired the official. “I was pantomiming jetlag,” I replied. “It’s a bit of a habit.” Soon I received the same salutation everywhere I went. “Have a good one,” the gas station

attendant said to me after I paid my bill. “Have a good one,” chimed the cashier at the sandwich store as I was leaving. “Have a good one,” the grocery store clerk wished me as I pushed my shopping cart full of food, including my muchanticipated purchase of a gallon of milk, toward the exit. Then it dawned on me what the ubiquitous phrase actually means. It’s like the “Irashaimase!” welcome in shops in Japan—only in reverse…and not as high-pitched. ®


毎 月 一 回 一 日 発 行 

TOKYO AMERICAN CLUB

第 四 十 三 巻 三 十 一 号 

ト ウ キ ョ ウ ア メ リ カ ン ク ラ ブ 

May 2010

King of Clicks Club Member and e-commerce trailblazer Hiroshi Mikitani on the rise of his Rakuten empire

i N T O U C H

イ ン タ ッ チ マ ガ ジ ン 二 〇 十 〇 五 月 一 日 発 行 

TOKYO AMERICAN CLUB

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

Issue 542 • May 2010

Out with the Old

Guitar Hero

Golden State Gems

Women’s Group charity events help spruce up homes

One 10-year-old music wunderkind rocks the Club

Indulge in a banquet of Napa’s best at the Club in May


iNTOUCH May 2010  

Tokyo American Club's monthly member magazine

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you