TOKYO AMERICAN CLUB
第 四 十 七 巻 五 六 九 号
TOKYO AMERICAN CLUB
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i N T O U C H
イ ン タ ッ チ マ ガ ジ ン 二 〇 一 二 年 九 月 一 日 発 行 平 成 三 年 十 二 月 二 十 日 第 三 種 郵 便 物 許 可 定 価 八 ０ ０ 円
本 体 七 七 七 円
Club Member Kathy Matsui contemplates the economic power of women in Japan
Issue 569 • September 2012
Riding the Rails
One Member predicts the future of the bullet train
Member Agneta Riber talks about her life in education
From Blog to Book
Author Héctor García on his popular Japan primer
A Six-Pack Odyssey
Recruiting the help of a Club personal trainer, Shouji Hirajima set out to lose weight, get healthy and become the proud owner of a set of rock-hard abs.
Champions of Culture
Ahead of another enlightening semester, Kiran Nangia and Genia Lifschitz explain how various Women’s Group classes changed their lives here. out & about
Nostalgia with a Twist
6 Board of Governors
8 Food & Beverage
The east Tokyo districts of Yanaka, Nezu and Sendagi are chock-full of history, charm, curious kitsch and palatepleasing eats. iNTOUCH takes a wander.
16 DVD Library 18 Recreation 22 Women’s Group
Japan’s Economic Answer?
30 Talking Heads
With Japan lagging far behind Western countries in global tables of female participation in the workforce and women in senior management, experts say that women hold the key to the country’s economic future and that the time has come for the maledominated society to cast off its outdated prejudices.
32 Frederick Harris Gallery
34 Member Services
36 Inside Japan
38 Out & About
iNTOUCH To advertise in iNTOUCH, contact Rie Hibino: firstname.lastname@example.org 03-4588-0976
For membership information, contact Mari Hori:
Editor Nick Jones email@example.com
Designers Ryan Mundt Nagisa Mochizuki Production Assistant Yuko Shiroki
Assistant Editor Erika Woodward
Tokyo American Club 2-1-2 Azabudai, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-8649
Communications Manager Matthew Roberts
www.tokyoamericanclub.org Cover photo of Kathy Matsui by Kayo Yamawaki.
40 Event Roundup
48 Back Words
Bob Sexton General Manager firstname.lastname@example.org
Shuji Hirakawa Human Resources Director email@example.com
Lian Chang Information Technology Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Mutsuhiko Kumano Finance Director email@example.com
Darryl Dudley Engineering Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Scott Yahiro Recreation Director email@example.com
Brian Marcus Food & Beverage Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Getting in Touch Department/E-mail Phone American Bar & Grill
Banquet Sales and Reservations
Food & Beverage Office
Foreign Traders’ Bar
Member Services Desk
Women’s Group Office email@example.com
2 September 2012 iNTOUCH
“For the first time in Olympic history, all the participating teams will have female athletes. This is a major boost for gender equality,” the head of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge, proudly declared at the opening ceremony of the London Olympics in July. What wasn’t a boost for gender equality was the fact that a week earlier the Japanese women’s soccer team had flown to Europe in economy class while their male counterparts had been seated in business class. It was a PR blunder that wasn’t remedied by the Japanese football association’s clumsy offer of an upgrade for the return flight—should the reigning world champions bring back a medal. While the silver medalists did, indeed, earn their business class Champagne, the incident—besides highlighting the prejudices that women’s soccer still needs to overcome—reflects the status of women in Japan. Yes, women’s rights and gender equality are protected under Japanese law, but the nation’s women continue to languish in the lower reaches of global tables on everything from female participation in the workforce to women in senior management and politics. Attitudes are slowly changing in Japan, but a deep-rooted system that for decades has only seen women’s usefulness in a handful of roles can’t be dismantled overnight. The country’s current economic malaise, though, may prove a catalyst for at least speeding up the necessary reform. In this month’s cover story, “Japan’s Economic Answer?” my colleague, Erika Woodward, talks to economic experts, business leaders and working mothers about how Japan’s highly educated, untapped resource has the potential to provide a boost to the economy and what needs to be done to make it happen. And perhaps the first sign of change might be when world champions are treated as such.
If you have any comments about anything you read in iNTOUCH, please e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org, putting “Letter to the Editor” in the subject title of the mail.
Canadian freelance journalist Tim Hornyak’s writings on Japanese culture, technology and history have appeared in a number of publications, including Wired News, Scientific American and the Far Eastern Economic Review. The author of Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots, which was selected as one of the top 10 science books of 2006 by Amazon, Hornyak returned to his native Montreal in 2008 after almost a decade in Japan and now writes for the tech website CNET. Having traveled to all 47 of Japan’s prefectures, he contributes to Lonely Planet guidebooks. In this month’s Inside Japan, he talks to Club Member Agneta Riber about a lifetime spent in education in both Japan and the United States. Raised in the suburbs of Washington, DC, Erika Woodward arrived in Japan in early 2011. An assistant editor in the Club’s Communications Department, she graduated from the Philip Merrill College of Journalism in Maryland and has written on a variety of subjects, from the life of an overworked professional clown to the birth of a new political faction in Iceland. For this month’s cover story, “Japan’s Economic Answer?” she discovers how women in Japan may hold the key to kick-starting the country’s economy. When she isn’t searching for the next story, the former professional ballerina hits the studio then unravels her perfectly pinned bun for an unconstrained night out with her hubby and friends.
Joining a Committee Members interested in joining one of the committees listed should contact its chair or inquire at the Management Office. Names in parentheses denote Board liaisons. Compensation Brian Nelson Finance Gregory Davis (John Durkin) Food & Beverage Joe Purcell (Mary Saphin)
Food & Beverage Subcommittee Wine Mark Baxter House Jesse Green (Gregory Lyon) House Subcommittee Facilities Management Group Elaine Williams Human Resources Jon Sparks (Steve Romaine)
Membership Craig Saphin (Deb Wenig) Membership Subcommittee Branding TBD Nominating Nick Masee Programs & Events Barbara Hancock Programs & Events Subcommittee Frederick Harris Gallery Yumiko Sai
Recreation Tim Griffen (Ira Wolf) Recreation Subcommittees Bowling Crystal Goodfliesh DVD Abby Radmilovich Fitness Sam Rogan Golf Steven Thomas Library Melanie Chetley Logan Room Diane Dooley Squash Martin Fluck Swim Jesse Green & Alexander Jampel Youth Activities Narissara March
Words from the editor 3
What’s happening in September 1
September Spa Special For vacation-weary Members slipping back into Tokyo life, The Spa has the perfect offer for September on page 21.
Toddler Time A fun half-hour session of engaging stories and activities await preschoolers at the Children’s Library. 4 p.m. Free. Continues September 11, 18 and 25.
Spicy Night Enjoy an array of mouthwatering curries on the family dining terrace. 5–8:30 p.m. Adults (18 and above): ¥1,950; juniors (12–17 years): ¥1,650; children (7–11 years): ¥1,200; kids (4–6 years): ¥700; infants (3 and under): free.
Fuji Day Hike This rewarding trek for all levels of adventurer takes participants around the natural splendor of Mount Fuji. Sign up for this popular Women’s Group tour at the Member Services Desk.
Monthly Program: Welcome Back Wine Tasting Mix and mingle after the long summer break at this Women’s Group-sponsored grape celebration hosted by the Club’s wine expert, Kelley Michael Schaefer. 7 p.m. Details on page 23.
Gallery Reception A casual reception at the Frederick Harris Gallery kicks off an exhibition of engaging paintings inspired by Japanese gardens by artist Jun Ogata. 6:30 p.m. More on page 32.
Napafest Through September 23, head to American Bar & Grill or Foreign Traders’ Bar for expertly paired samples of fine Napa wine and cuisine.
Ladies’ Bowling League Kickoff The devoted keglers of the Ladies’ Bowling League return for another exciting season of strikes and spares. Sign up at the Bowling Center.
Women’s Group Classes Registration From calligraphy to crafts, the possibilities for expanding your talents are endless. Begin your creative journey on page 22.
New Café Med Weekend Menu Head to Café Med to try out some of the restaurant’s new seasonal offerings.
Bowling Bonanza This is your final chance to win a fabulous selection of prizes, so grab some friends and hit the Club’s colorful lanes. Ages 8–12. ¥1,680. Sign up at the Bowling Center.
Wet ’n’ Wild Mitake Valley River Rafting Tour Escape the remnants of summer’s stifling heat on this white-water rafting adventure. Sign up at the Member Services Desk.
Oktoberfest Grand Buffet Celebrate Munich’s famous festival with a Bavarian feast. Brunch: 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Dinner: 5–8 p.m. Adults: ¥4,900; juniors (7–17 years): ¥2,800; children (3–6 years): ¥1,800; infants (2 and under): free. Reserve at 03-4588-0977.
All-Comer Swim Meet The Olympics might be over, but the Sky Pool hosts its own afternoon of aqua action. 2 p.m. Dive into the details on page 21.
Gallery Exhibition Artist Yoshitaka Atarashi launches his breathtaking exhibition of lacquerware swords at the Frederick Harris Gallery. Find out more about his unusual works on page 33.
Decanted! Champagne vs New World Sparkling Wine A showdown of bubbly, complemented by equally exquisite food. ¥12,500. Reserve your table at 03-4588-0675 or email@example.com. Through September 29.
Coming up in October
Oktoberfest in Traders’ Celebrate Oktoberfest at Traders’ Bar with Bavarian eats and German weiss beers through October 7.
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Early Pregnancy and Birth Preparation 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.
Italian Epicurean Experience The Club collaborates with the Michelin-starred Bulgari Il Ristorante in Tokyo to present an evening of exquisite cuisine and rare wines from Italy. 7 p.m. Details on page 9.
1 Café Med Weekday Dinner Launch 10–11 Tokyo: Here & Now 12 Tokyo: Here & Now Cocktail Party 21 Disaster Awareness Day 23–25 Seoul Shopping and Spa Tour 29 Decanted! Wine Spectator Selection
Birth Preparation for Couples Two invaluable days from the Women’s Group that will get you ready for labor, birth and beyond. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. ¥36,000. Sign up at the Member Services Desk.
New Rainbow Café Menu Sample this popular dining spot’s new seasonal selection of tasty offerings from today.
Okinawan Night Sample the cuisine of Japan’s subtropical paradise on the family dining terrace. 5–8:30 p.m. Adults (18 and above): ¥1,950; juniors (12–17 years): ¥1,650; children (7–11 years): ¥1,200; kids (4–6 years): ¥700; infants (3 and under): free.
Latin American Night The family dining terrace features tortillas, enchiladas and more. 5–8:30 p.m. Adults: ¥1,950; juniors (12–17 years): ¥1,650; children (7–11 years): ¥1,200; kids (4–6 years): ¥700; infants (3 and under): free.
Tai Chi Kickoff Find a new way to battle stress through the ancient martial art of tai chi. Learn more about this expert-led class on page 20.
Coffee Connections Whether you’re new to Tokyo or want to meet new people, drop by this relaxed Women’s Group gathering. 10:30 a.m. Haru Reischauer and Beate Sirota Gordon classrooms. Free.
Duckhorn Vineyards Wine Dinner with Pete Przybylinski Experience the grapey goodness this Napa Valley gem has to offer at a dinner hosted by the famed winery’s Pete Przybylinski. 7 p.m. More on page 8.
Twist, hustle, rock and roll your way through a nostalgic evening of live music from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.
Other Varietals Wine Tasting Go beyond traditional Merlots and Chardonnays and savor an intriguing range of varietals from vineyards less explored. 7 p.m. Page has 9 the details.
Sharing the Success Since focusing on delivering higher-quality food and greater variety, the Club has seen even more people dine at its numerous restaurants and use the facilities for corporate events and parties. So we decided to give something back. For the first time in five years, Members can enjoy lower prices on all menu items at Rainbow Café, Café Med, American Bar & Grill and Traders’ Bar.
Noteworthy dates for the month 5
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
Looking for Wow by Norman J Green
bout eight years ago, our Long Range Planning Committee chose Pelli Clarke Pelli (PCP) to design our new Club. They are among the world’s foremost architectural firms and renowned for their dazzling landmarks on most continents. As PCP’s ideas for the Azabudai Club evolved, many renderings and models were presented, and we often heard mention of a certain wow factor the building would have. Construction commenced at the beginning of 2008 and, after three years at a remarkable temporary site in Takanawa, we’ve been back now going on two years. At the old TAC, we had a lot of open spaces and Members ran into each other often. It was a lively, dynamic community, humming with social interaction. Where did that go? In our new home, Members arrive and seem be swallowed into a labyrinth, only to reappear when it comes time for returning home or to the office. What happened to the wow that we were expecting? The PCP execs had pinpointed the Winter Garden as the venue where we would experience this dramatic wow; it was meant to become the center from which the Club’s energy would spring. Trouble is they never gave us an instruction manual. And we did not have a concrete vision of how best to kindle the potential lying in this really stunning atrium. We had to find that for ourselves. We learned that the wow was not to be found in it, but rather in us. New things are beginning to happen in our Winter Garden. Promoted by the Food & Beverage Committee, we’ve been running a trial happy hour there for several months; it’s a catalyst for building community and learning how this inviting crossroads can get us to our wow. On most Fridays, TAC’s decades-favorite pianist, Takashi Arifuku, aka Ari, plays jazz and Broadway favorites, thanks to the support of the Women’s Group. The rich sound of that space is a sensation to be experienced. Chances are that if Ari knows you,
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Board of Governors Lance E Lee (2012)—President Brian Nelson (2012)—Vice President Mary Saphin (2013)—Vice President Edward Rogers (2012)—Vice President John Durkin (2012)—Treasurer Deb Wenig (2013)—Secretary Kavin C Bloomer (2012), Norman J Green (2013), Paul Hoff (2013), Hiroyuki Kamano (2012), Per Knudsen (2012), Gregory Lyon (2012), Jeff McNeill (2013), Hiroshi Miyamasu (2013), Steve Romaine (2012), Dan Stakoe (2013), Ira Wolf (2013), Shizuo Daigoh—Statutory Auditor (2012), Ginger Griggs—Women’s Group President
he’ll probably be playing your favorite ballad when he sees you walking into the Winter Garden. In the months to come, together with the Programs and Events Committee, the Food & Beverage Committee hopes to be able to inspire other experiences that may bring back some of that good old TAC spirit here in our signature space. I believe that we are now finding our wow and are beginning to see the rebirth of the Club’s ethos. Time was we had many annual events, such as Casino Night, a gala benefit when the whole Club metamorphosed into a veritable Las Vegas, with blackjack, roulette, craps, slots, poker and great prizes. Much of the fun was in helping to decorate the Club and train our Member croupiers and dealers. We also had yearly shore dinners and a number of other seasonal events. I hope we’ll see the return of some of these communitycentric experiences. Exciting, new entertainment and wining and dining innovations have been introduced in the past year and more are probably in store as fresh marketing initiatives are launched. Listening to Ari’s beautiful arrangement of Stephen Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns,” I’m reminded of the final words: “Don’t bother—they’re here.” Wow. The Winter Garden is coming into its own. Will it be one of your preferred destinations for friendship and memorable encounters? o
Season of Change
by Bob Sexton
his fall is an important time for the Club, and your participation, as Members, is essential. In November, the Club will hold its first Annual General Meeting (AGM) under the new nonprofit organization (NPO) rules that we adopted last year. The law requires all eligible ippan shadan hojin NPO members to first register to vote. Those who register will then be able to vote on the AGM agenda and in the annual Board of Governors election. If you don’t register to vote, you will not be sent a ballot. You should have received by now a letter explaining the simple process of registering, but please recognize that if you do register, you will need to follow through. In previous years, when we were unable to establish a quorum, the Articles of Association provided for a follow-up AGM the next week, and whoever showed up constituted a quorum. We no longer have that luxury. The rules require a quorum, in person or by proxy, of 50 percent of the registered voting Membership.
It’s now imperative that those who register do actually vote. As in the past, Resident Members are eligible to vote. This was also explained in the letter sent out to Members. This fall will also see the return of an annual practice that was suspended during the Club’s move to its temporary Takanawa home. We will be conducting a comprehensive Member satisfaction survey to elicit feedback from Members on our full range of facilities and services. The survey will be handled by McMahon and Associates, the premier survey firm in the industry. We used to conduct a full survey every two years, augmented by smaller online surveys in between. This is the first survey since we moved into our new facility last year, so your participation is important in helping us to plan for the future and improve the overall Member experience at the Club. As we hope you will agree, both of these upcoming events will greatly benefit from your support. o
Executive remarks 7
Exclusive Offerings by Wendi Onuki
Duckhorn Vineyards Wine Dinner with Pete Przybylinski Wednesday, September 12 7 p.m. American Bar & Grill ¥14,000 Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk
ravelers on a wine-saturated trek through Napa Valley may be dazzled by the hundreds of wineries beckoning from their maps with promises of freshly bottled vintages and treasures from the cellar. In reality, though, just a sliver of those—about 75, including Duckhorn Vineyards—are open to the public without an appointment. “The [Napa Valley Winery Definition Ordinance] has fulfilled its mission of preserving the integrity of the Napa Valley as being an area for growing grapes and producing wine rather than being a destination for conventions or converting wineries into retail shops,” explains Pete Przybylinski, Duckhorn’s senior vice president of sales and strategy. The controversial ordinance was adopted in 1990 to protect against the “Disneyfication” of Napa, The Wall Street Journal noted last April, by requiring wineries founded after that year to be open for tastings by appointment only. Dozens of wineries have gone a step further by
8 September 2012 iNTOUCH
catering exclusively to private customers, while others choose to remain virtually unknown to the public. This measure, which also bars wineries from operating overnight accommodations and restaurants, as well as catering weddings and other major events, aims to preserve the region as an appealing destination for the 4 million tourists who weave their way through the bucolic vineyards each year while preventing it from becoming an adult-centered amusement zone. “There is always a risk to this, being so close to a major metropolitan area and financial center,” says Przybylinski, who will uncork a vibrant array of Duckhorn wines at the Club this month. “The ordinance has probably had a positive effect on tourism in general, but has not given Duckhorn much, if any, competitive advantage over our peers.” Instead, Duckhorn lures visitors to its winery with a tasting experience that can be relaxing or educational and feature several exclusive wines. “These wines give our
winemakers the opportunity to produce wines that meet their goals of expressing the nature of the vineyards, but can only be produced in such small quantities that broad distribution is not possible,” says the 44-year-old, who joined Duckhorn in 1995. Established by Dan and Margaret Duckhorn in 1976, the winery has focused on producing such Bordeaux-style wines as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In addition to the iconic namesake brand, the winery produces a distinctive medley of wines, including Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, under the Paraduxx, Goldeneye, Migration and Decoy labels. This month, bypass the throngs of tourists in Napa and pull up a chair for an engaging evening of fine food and inspired wines. The only thing missing will be the verdant views, but you might just be too spellbound by what’s in the glass in front of you to notice. o Onuki is a Chicago-based freelance journalist.
FOOD & BEVERAGE
Autochthonous Wines: Off the Beaten Vines by Arthur Ozeki
any of us are familiar with such grape varietals as Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, which comprise the vast majority of wines consumed today around the world. We can enjoy a glass of Chablis from France or a Chardonnay from California or Australia because the grapes were transplanted from their native lands to New World regions many years ago. The first European wines are said to have been brought to the Americas via Mexico by the Spanish in 1525, and the first documented plantings of European vines were in California in 1833. So while Zinfandel is often associated with California, it is originally from Croatia and southern Italy. Similarly, Malbec may have been made famous by Argentine winemakers, but it is a French varietal. The earliest fossilized remains of a grape are more than 60 million years old, and of the thousands of varieties of grape available today, hundreds have historically been used to make wines. Just as we enjoy local cuisine when traveling abroad, it should be no surprise to discover autochthonous wines reflective of an area’s terroir and heritage that seldom make it very far from their home markets. This month’s Wine Committee tasting offers Members an evening of exploration and discovery. We will enjoy a range of pure, indigenous varietals (no blends) from such countries as France,
Italy and Germany, as well as less traditional regions. We also hope to provide some surprises and enhance drinkers’ appreciation for autochthonous wines. These wines will be paired with sumptuous dishes that bring out the unique characteristics of the wines and their respective domains. o Ozeki is a member of the Wine Committee.
Other Varietals Wine Tasting Wednesday, September 26 7 p.m. Washington and Lincoln rooms ¥9,000 Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk
A Culinary Concerto by Kelley Michael Schaefer
I Luca Fantin
n a unique collaboration with the Michelin-starred Bulgari Il Ristorante in Tokyo, the Club presents an evening of exquisite cuisine from northeastern Italy, complemented by indigenous and rare Italian wines. Hosted by Bulgari’s executive chef, Luca Fantin, this exclusive dinner in the chic milieu of Decanter’s New York Bridge promises to be a symphony for the senses. While Fantin showcases the culinary talent he honed in such prestigious restaurants as Cracco in Milan, Mugaritz in Spain and La Pergola in Rome, award-
winning sommelier Lucio Artico will introduce rare and singularly exotic indigenous varietals from Italy, such as Ribolla Gialla, Refosco and Picolit—all served from large-format bottles. With each wine judiciously selected to enhance the finesse of Fantin’s innovative creations, the ensemble of flavors and decadent ambience are sure to create the perfect gastronomic score. o Schaefer is the Club’s wine program manager.
Italian Epicurean Experience Sunday, September 30 7 p.m. New York Bridge ¥16,000 Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk
Cornerstone of the Club 9
SPLIT 375 ml
STANDARD 750 ml
MAGNUM 1.5 liters
Does Size Matter? by Kelley Michael Schaefer
hey come in all sizes, from split to magnum to jeroboam, and with such biblical names as Methuselah, Salmanazar and Nebuchadnezzar. But does the size of a wine bottle really make a difference? I have often wondered why the 750-milliliter format was designated the standard size for a bottle for wine. Especially as a magnum (1.5 liters) would almost always be more suitable (certainly based on my consumption habits). Since wine was first produced more than 2,000 years ago, the container size likely preceded any measurement system.
JEROBOAM 3–4.5 liters
METHUSELAH 6 liters
SALMANAZAR 9 liters
Fortunately, we now enjoy plenty of options, including at Decanter, which stocks the largest variety of bottle sizes in Japan: spilt (375 milliliters), standard, magnum, double magnum (3 liters), jeroboam (from 3 to 4.5 liters), Rehoboam (4.5 liters), imperial (6 liters), Methuselah (6 liters for sparkling wines) and Salmanazar (9 liters). Generally, a bigger bottle is better, and not just because it means more wine. It’s all about oxygen. While helping to evolve a wine, oxygen is eventually responsible for a wine’s demise, too. It is widely acknowledged that the slower a wine ages, the better the results. With that in mind, consider a wine’s surface area and exposure to oxygen in a split versus a standard bottle. Since the smaller bottle will have a higher ratio of oxygen to wine, the wine will mature quicker. Conversely, the larger bottle aids a slower maturation process. This is one reason why large-format
BALTHAZAR 12 liters
NABUCHADNEZZAR 15 liters
bottles are so prized by collectors. Another is that they look impressive. Even if you are not the type to show off, arriving at a dinner party with a magnum (or something larger) will surely get you noticed. Magnums possess a certain swagger. While we can normally assume to pay less when buying in bulk, this is not necessarily the case with wine. Rather than paying double the amount (or less) for twice the size, you invariably pay slightly more. The larger bottles cost more to produce and require special conditions for bottling and labeling. There are also higher shipping costs and then there’s the collectability value. I love big bottles; they make an occasion of any simple uncorking. When dining with a group, a larger bottle packs a wow factor. It is also reassuring to know the contents are expected to show better than the same wine in a smaller bottle. o Schaefer is the Club’s wine program manager.
Kelley’s Cellar Selection 2001 Château Cos d’Estournel, Saint-Estèphe, Bordeaux, France
Taste this unforgettable wine and you will mark the day on your calendar. A fine year for Bordeaux, the time for this blend of 55 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 45 percent Merlot is now. This benchmark Bordeaux emanates class and style and is worthy of its deuxièmes cru status. Deep garnet in color, with notes of smoke and roasted meats, its vibrant red fruit, classic leather and forest floor aromas are a result of 11 years’ resting peacefully in our cellar. Decant in Decanter. ¥26,100 a bottle at Decanter.
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FOOD & BEVERAGE
Creating a Communal Hub Yuuki Ide
by Nick Jones
s the Champagne flutes were cleared away following the opening ceremony of the Club in January 2011, two of the architects behind the building’s design, Fred Clarke and Bill Butler, chatted enthusiastically about their creation. Sitting on one of the brightly colored seats in the Family Lobby, a suited Butler said that the Winter Garden, as the hub or “spiritual center” of the Club, was meant to replicate the living room of a typical American home. The space, he said, could be used in many different ways. But as Members slowly settled into their new surroundings, some members of the Club’s Food & Beverage Committee were concerned that the Winter Garden wasn’t fulfilling its potential. “We believe the Winter Garden should
become one of the first places Members might think of for enjoying each other’s company, which is probably just what our architects had in mind when they designed this space,” says Joe Purcell, the committee chair. The committee decided to set up a Winter Garden task force to find ways to “develop it as a destination for relaxation and fellowship,” Purcell says. So, in April, a trial happy hour was launched in the Winter Garden. As more and more Members headed to the bright, airy lounge three evenings a week to drink and mingle, the task force, with the financial support of the Women’s Group, introduced musical entertainment. After one-off performances by a saxophonist and koto duet, longtime Club pianist Takashi Arifuku, aka Ari, has been inspiriting most
Friday evenings since late June. “Live music has added to Members’ enthusiasm,” Purcell says. “The desire to make [happy hour] a permanent feature of life in the Winter Garden is overwhelming.” With happy hour now happening each weekday, the task force is mulling a possible high-tea service and the availability of specialty coffees to help attract more Members to the Winter Garden. “It could become the Club’s heartbeat,” Purcell says. o Members with suggestions on how the Winter Garden could be better used are encouraged to contact the Club’s Food & Beverage Committee. Winter Garden Happy Hour Weekdays 5–7 p.m.
Cornerstone of the Club 11
Tokyo resident Héctor García explains how a popular blog about life in Japan became a book, A Geek in Japan: Discovering the Land of Manga, Anime, Zen and the Tea Ceremony.
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was raised in a small Spanish town on the Mediterranean. In 2004, I arrived in Tokyo following a brief stay in Switzerland after graduation. Aside from the culture shock of being in Asia for the first time, I was only 23 and it was the first time for me to live in a big city—and I loved it! As a curious person who likes to learn, Japan was—and remains—the perfect place for me. Being in the land of the rising sun feels like a dream. Soon after touching down in the country, I posted my first entry on my blog, A Geek in Japan, at Narita Airport. A year later, more than 1 million people a month were reading what I had to say. And 12 months after that, my site was voted the best personal blog in Spain. I love writing the blog and receiving comments. In fact, I’ve learned a lot about Japan from my readers. I owe them a lot. One day, while thinking about how much I’d written, I wondered how many pages it would take to print out my entire blog. Doing just that, I ended up
with more than 400 pages about Japan. From there to a published book took a year of hard work. A Geek in Japan has been translated into five languages and has sold more than 35,000 copies worldwide so far. While I’m very happy, I never expected it to happen. It all occurred gradually, but the driving force has been constant: my desire to continually learn about Japanese culture and share this knowledge. After eight years, I still write my blog almost every day, and I’ll probably continue for another eight or more years. This perseverance is a quality I have acquired from the Japanese. Naturally, not all Japanese are perseverant, but I feel that in general they have an extraordinary ability to doggedly focus on their work and hobbies. Of course, sometimes it’s better to quit or change course for a better place, rather than continuing to punch a cave wall. But in my book, as well as in life, I like to focus on the positive
qualities of Japan and the Japanese people. A Geek in Japan is a general introduction to Japan, with sections on culture and society, pop culture and general travel advice. The book is far from perfect, and each time I open it I find something I’d like to improve. But someone once told me that writers shouldn’t read their books once published. Rather, they have to focus on making their next books even better. Even though the book is filled with imperfections, there is something about it that I’m proud of, which was well summed up by Aaron Berman in his review on Amazon: “I’ve collected a fair number of books on the country over the years, searching for that one book that would offer both decent photography and meaty content. While that’s a lot to ask, I think ‘A Geek in Japan’ comes the closest to fitting the bill.” I’m really proud that I took all the pictures in the book. Through the process, photography became my new hobby. If writing helped me to organize my thoughts about the Japanese, capturing Japan through a camera
lens increased my awareness of the beauty of Japanese aesthetics. A photographer friend of mine who likes Japanese tea ceremony introduced me to the concept of ichigo ichie, which can be translated as a once-in-a-lifetime chance. This Japanese phrase is the title of my next book, which features pictures previously published only in Spain. Taking photographs is a way of capturing unique moments that otherwise would disappear forever into the vastness of time. I like to think that Japan and its people have helped me to become a better person. I still have a lot to learn about this country, but I trust my curiosity, perseverance and focus on the positive to guide me as I learn more, take better pictures and improve my writing skills. o A Geek in Japan: Discovering the Land of Manga, Anime, Zen and the Tea Ceremony is available at the Library. Kirai: A Geek in Japan www.kirainet.com
Literary gems at the Library 13
Browsing the Library’s Virtual Shelves by Alaine Lee
he Library stocks more than 10,000 English-language books, magazines and audio books, and one of the best ways to explore the collection is online, through the Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC). Where can I find OPAC?
OPAC can be accessed through the Library section of the Club website. Just click on the Online Catalog hyperlink. OPAC is also set as the home page on the computers in the Library.
the book’s title. The Library will locate the book, e-mail you a confirmation and hold it at the counter for three days. A book that is checked out can be held in the same manner. As soon as it is returned, the Library staff will notify you. Can I renew a book through OPAC?
How do I find a book on OPAC?
The Browse Search function from the Search drop-down menu is helpful if you know the book’s title, author’s name or subject. Select the category and type in your information. The book will appear if it’s in the Library’s collection. If you want to read more of a particular author, enter the author’s name and all related titles in the Library will be listed. The same can be done with a subject search. Seventy percent of the books on OPAC are displayed with their covers, making them easier to find on the bookshelves. You can also click on the book’s title for information about the publisher, the book’s location in the Library and whether it’s checked out or not. Click on the book’s cover and you’ll be directly linked to a Google summary of the book. How do I put a hold on a book?
A book that is not checked out can be held for you at the Library. Send the Library your name, Membership number and
14 September 2012 iNTOUCH
Yes. Under the My Account drop-down menu, click on My Profile and log in with your Membership number for both your user ID and password. Then select My Checkouts. To renew a book, tick the box in front of the book, then click on the orange renew button at the top of the page. Once you click OK, a green check mark will appear next to the book. A new or held book cannot be renewed. You are permitted to renew a book twice. What is TumbleBooks?
TumbleBooks is an online selection of children’s books, iPad books, puzzles and games—all accessible through OPAC or the Library section of the Club website. To get started, log in using “taclibrary” for the username and “libra” for the password. If you have any questions about OPAC, please contact the Library staff. o Lee is a member of the Library Committee.
reads Schmidt Steps Back by Louis Begley
Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall
In this latest of three comedic novels about Albert Schmidt, the ever-young 78-year-old widower and millionaire lawyer tries to win back and marry his coworker Alice, a widow herself and the one who got away 13 years ago. A darkly funny dramatic novel.
Written in free verse, this American Library Awardwinning novel tells the tale of Lupita, the eldest child in a large, close-knit, Mexican-American family. A poet and a budding actor, Lupita struggles with adult responsibilities during her mother’s battle with cancer in this beautiful and poignant tale.
Real Simple: Celebrations by the editors of Real Simple magazine
Chomp by Carl Hiaasen
Take the hassle out of home entertaining with this oversize hardcover book that provides affordable, unique and fun ideas for your next special event. And, best of all, the editors keep it simple. Let the party begin!
If you enjoyed the comic mysteries Hoot, Flush and Scat, get ready for this fourth installment that dives into the world of reality TV and exotic animals. Featuring a 12foot, mild-mannered gator named Alice, this is one fun Florida Everglades adventure story.
How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr
Railsea by China Miéville
Teenager Jill MacSweeney is struggling with the recent death of her father when her mother announces her plan to adopt a pregnant teen’s baby. To make matters worse, the mom, Mandy, moves in while waiting to give birth. Told in the teens’ alternating points of view, this moving novel explores grief, love and self-discovery.
Sham Yes ap Soorap sets sail on a complex network of train lines and islands. Aboard the moleship Medes, he joins a wild pursuit with Captain Abacat Naphi as she chases the ivory mole who took her arm. This homage to Moby Dick is an exciting adventure and unforgettable sci-fi tale.
Reviews compiled by Library Committee member Alaine Lee.
member’s choice Member: Kelly McGarry Title: The Shadows by Jacqueline West
What’s the book about? It’s about a girl named Olive, who moves to an old house. She solves mysteries by going inside paintings.
What did you like about it? I liked it because I love mysteries.
Why did you choose it? Because the cover of the book looked interesting and so did the title.
What other book(s) would you recommend? The Goosebumps series of books by RL Stine, the Harry Potter series, Black Beauty by Anna Sewell and Walter Farley’s The Black Stallion.
Literary gems at the Library 15
The Best of Bobby
onsidered one of the best movie actors of all time, Robert De Niro has forged a longstanding career out of his ability to transform himself into a wide range of characters. Having frequently played quick-witted mobsters, his easy delivery of wise guy gibes in films like Mean Streets (1973), Goodfellas (1990) and Casino (1995) are readily recalled. But 1976 remains a particularly memorable year in De Niro’s career.
As the emotionally unstable, dejected cabbie Travis Bickle in Martin Scorsese’s blockbuster Taxi Driver, De Niro delivers his unforgettable “You talkin’ to me?” speech in front a shabby apartment mirror. De Niro’s portrayal of the lonesomeness and slow-growing madness at the heart of Taxi Driver helps make it “one of the best and most powerful of all films,” wrote film critic Roger Ebert. But which flick would our Club critics pick as De Niro’s finest? o
“Not only is Robert De Niro a great actor, but he chooses great movies to act in, as evidenced by The Deer Hunter, which won the 1978 Academy Award for best movie. In this unforgettable film, three best friends from a rural Pennsylvania steel mill town are drafted to fight in the Vietnam War, which profoundly changes their lives in different ways. Robert De Niro, as the introverted leader, Michael Vronsky, gives one of the most memorable performances of his career, as seen in his intense scenes with Nick (Christopher Walken), the heartbreaking moments with Steven (John Savage) and the simple yet tender exchanges with Linda (Meryl Streep). This movie will remain with you long after you’ve seen it.”
“Robert De Niro will forever be associated with Mafia movies like The Godfather II and Goodfellas, and Casino, directed by Martin Scorsese, is an especially powerful film about organized crime in 1970s Las Vegas. De Niro and Joe Pesci play two mobster friends who end up fighting and killing for control of the city’s gambling business. As the greedy and vicious wife of De Niro’s character, Sharon Stone delivers a performance that is equal to her portrayal of Catherine Tramell in Basic Instinct. While the intensity of the characters, with their rawness and cruelty, will make you wince, this movie—and De Niro’s portrayal of Sam ‘Ace’ Rothstein—will definitely leave an impression.”
“Robert De Niro doesn’t necessarily come to mind when you think of kids’ movies. But in 2004’s Shark Tale, De Niro is the voice of Don Lino, the patriarch of a family of sharks who lords over a bustling underwater reef community. Oscar (Will Smith), the story’s hero, works as a tongue scrubber at the local Whale Wash, which is run by loan shark Sykes (Martin Scorsese). Celebrities like Renée Zellweger and Angelina Jolie also add their vocal talents to this family movie. If you liked The Godfather II, you’ll love De Niro as an oceanic wise guy, and your young ones will love the jaunty music and dancing.”
Best Robert De Niro movie:
Best Robert De Niro movie:
Best Robert De Niro movie:
The Deer Hunter
Club critic: Alaine Lee
Club critic: David Fujii
Club critic: Diane Harris
All titles mentioned are either available at the DVD Library or on order.
16 September 2012 iNTOUCH
DVD LIBRARY He is Club President Lance E Lee. She is Yuko Akisato, manager of the DVD Library.
HE SAYS, SHE SAYS abort
give it a go
Snow White and the Huntsman Despite the plot and storyline, this film is a nice piece of entertainment. The cast, acting and special effects are all high quality, and Kristen Stewart seems more suited as Snow White than she was as Bella Swan in the Twilight series. The animated closing credits and song make for a nice ending.
Charlize Theron produces a powerful performance as the Evil Queen in this twist on the fairy tale in which the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) ends up as Snow White’s (Kristen Stewart) protector. It’s difficult not to see Stewart as Bella in the Twilight Saga series, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
The Lucky One Romances are a disappointment when there is clearly no chemistry between the characters. The supporting cast bring out the best in this film. It is not badly written, but the story feels rushed and contrived. I also couldn’t help noticing that it was filmed in the same area for the whole movie.
Zac Efron stars as a US Marine who travels to Louisiana in search of a woman he believes saved his life after he found a photo of her while serving in Iraq. There’s no real depth to this predictable chick flick from director Scott Hicks (Shine, The Boys Are Back).
The Amazing Spider-Man Similar to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight, this Batmanish flick only gets semi-interesting when Peter Parker’s (Andrew Garfield) father’s former partner, Dr Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), turns into a lizard-like creature. Some scenes are reminiscent of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man—but without the entertainment.
After finding a briefcase that once belonged to his father, Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) sets out to investigate his parents’ disappearance and find out who he really is. I didn’t expect much from this superhero flick, but I was surprised. From a strong cast, Emma Stone (The Help), in particular, shines as Gwen Stacy.
Thermae Romae While somewhat bizarre, this film’s humorous storyline and comic acting hold it together. The scenes where Roman architect and time traveler Lucius (Hiroshi Abe) discovers Japan’s modern bathing innovations are particularly funny. Some of the Roman battle scenes lack realism, but this was probably a budget issue.
Based on a famous Japanese manga comic series, this interesting and enjoyable Japanese film is about a Roman architect, Lucius (Hiroshi Abe), who is having trouble coming up with new ideas. While relaxing in a Rome bathhouse, he slips through time and emerges in a public bath in modern Japan.
The Lorax In this animated adaptation of a Dr Seuss classic, a crestfallen pre-teen boy journeys to a magical forest looking for that something to help him win the girl of his dreams. To get it, he must uncover the story of the Lorax, a cranky yet charismatic creature who lives there.
AC T IO N
The Hunger Games The futuristic nation of Panem has a morbid lust for reality TV. Annually, a boy and girl from each of its über rough districts are selected by lottery to fight to kill on live television. Protecting her sister from a brutal match with an uncertain fate, gutsy Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) takes her place.
Think Like a Man Getting their strong-minded men to do whatever they want at long last, one group of scheming girlfriends, armed with a secret how-to manual, are enjoying life…until their uncharacteristically obedient men discover they’re being played and the real games begin.
Darling Companion Frankly, empty nester Beth (Diane Keaton) loves the dog she rescued from the side of the freeway more than her self-involved husband, Joseph (Kevin Kline). And when he accidentally loses the dog, she recruits friends for a search party.
other new titles...
The Raven When murders from his famously haunting works inspire a serial killer in his hometown of Baltimore, Edgar Allan Poe (John Cusack) teams up with a young detective on the case. Suspecting his love, Emily Hamilton, is next on the list, Poe and his partner are running out of time.
The Pirates! Band of Misfits As if failing for years to win the Pirate of the Year Award isn’t bad enough, after hitting the open waters with his eccentric crew for this year’s title race against the reigning swashbuckling champion, Pirate Captain (voice of Hugh Grant) encounters a ruthless and unexpected foe.
All movies reviewed are either available at the DVD Library or on order.
TV and film selections 17
Takeshi Hirata and Shouji Hirajima (July 2012)
18 September 2012 iNTOUCH
by Nick Jones
A Six-Pack Odyssey
Overweight, lethargic and 50, one Club Member decided it was time to change his life.
aving reached his half-century milestone two months earlier, Shouji Hirajima visited his doctor for his biannual health checkup last December. The results certainly didn’t inspire any belated birthday celebration. He was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease. “The doctor told me to lose weight,” Hirajima says. That piece of advice was all the motivation the Club Member needed. “After reaching 50 and being diagnosed with diabetes, I thought, ‘That’s it! Let’s get a six-pack,’” he says. Then, after working out in the Fitness Center one day in January, he spotted personal trainer Takeshi Hirata and told him about his lofty goal. Assuming Hirajima was one of the many well-intentioned people who turn up at gyms in the first month of the year with never-worn-before fitness gear and New Year’s resolutions, Hirata says he was skeptical at first. “At the beginning, I thought he was just kidding, but I couldn’t say that,” he says. “But then soon I realized he meant it.” Hirata, 29, set about putting together a program of nutrition and exercise to help his client achieve a set of defined abdominal muscles within six months. “I thought we needed to get at least some definition of the abs by the end of May,” he says. “It’s about eating and exercising right, sleeping right and having good support. Calorie control is just one piece of the puzzle.” At 80 kilograms, with almost 29 percent body fat (anything above 24 percent is regarded as obese by the American Council on Exercise), the 1.75-meter-tall Hirajima was facing an uphill challenge in February. Rather than having Hirajima spend hours on the treadmill and other machines
Shouji Hirajima (February 2012)
in the Fitness Center, Hirata’s program consisted of strength exercises with dumbbells, stretching, interval training on the exercise bike and eating healthily. “I couldn’t put too much pressure on his spine,” Hirata says of the specific exercise regimen he established for Hirajima. “Was he young? No. Was he well conditioned? No. I had to give a lot of different possibilities and make it simple so he could follow.” Hirajima noticed the first changes after about two weeks, when he found that he had to use a different hole on his belt to keep his pants up. In particular, he began to scrutinize the calorie content and nutritional value of each meal. “Before, I used to get really full when I ate,” explains Hirajima, the July afternoon sunlight streaming into the second-floor Studio where he sits. “Now, I enjoy controlling what I eat.” The toughest part of the program, he says, was changing his daily routine. “The most difficult thing was making the time to do it all,” Hirajima says. “I had to change my lifestyle, my mind, everything.” Reorganizing his day to fit in his morning workout, he started waking up
earlier. “Since I have to find the time to work out, I’m more productive with my time,” he says. As the kilos dropped away, Hirajima says he became aware of other transformations, too: His business improved as he found it easier to focus on details and he noticed that his staff grew more attentive when he spoke. Gradually, the initial doubts of friends, family and coworkers dissipated. “At first, everyone got angry and told me I wouldn’t lose weight,” the father of two says. “I didn’t say anything to anyone, but people around me began to lose weight themselves.” Hirata explains that those closest to somebody trying to get fit can sometimes be the least encouraging. “That’s one of the big challenges: social pressure,” he says. “People rejected him at first but then gradually started accepting and following him as they saw him change. Everyone wants to be healthier and leaner, so it makes sense.” “In the beginning, I was doing it for myself, but, in fact, it really affected other people, and I feel good that I’m able to give something to others,” Hirajima says. Now weighing 66 kilos, with a flat, defined stomach, Hirajima says he no longer suffers from diabetes. “‘Amazing!’ the doctor said. He told me that I was his first patient to have lost [that much weight],” Hirajima says. Grateful to Hirata for his professional guidance, Hirajima says he is also thankful to all the staff that supported him. “I couldn’t have done it without the Club,” he says. “This is a special place where you can change your life.” o To find out more about how one of the Club’s personal trainers can help you, please visit the Fitness Center or the Fitness Center section of the Club website.
Fitness and well-being 19
eel the health benefits of the popular Chinese martial art of tai chi at a new class from this month. Member and instructor Monica Martin leads students through the basic movements that will leave them feeling invigorated. o
Tai Chi September 21–October 26 Every Friday 11 a.m.–12 p.m. The Studio ¥12,600 Sign up online or at the Recreation Desk
class focus RevMaster Indoor Cycling The RevMaster indoor cycling program is a fun and dynamic way to improve cardiovascular endurance and overall conditioning for people of all fitness levels. Set to music, the sessions allow participants to control the intensity of their cycling workouts and receive computerized feedback to assess their physical condition. RevMaster classes run every Wednesday (8:40–9:40 a.m.) and Thursday (7–8 p.m.). For more information, visit the Recreation Desk or the Health & Recreation section of the Club website.
The Instructor Certified RevMaster instructor Kerstin Haring is a fitness specialist with many talents. Having taught karate in her native Germany, she moved to Japan and taught snowboarding before starting indoor cycling last year. The former DJ says indoor cycling allows her to combine her passion for music with a fun workout.
Lee Tuetken The Student
“Fantastic! That’s all I’ve got to say. It’s a new technique, new energy and great music. My daughter even enjoyed it.”
20 September 2012 iNTOUCH
Ahead of the holiday season, professional photographer Ken Katsurayama returns to the Club to take family portraits. Sit or stand for five or six poses and around 30 digital shots. A Christmas tree will be available to use as a backdrop.
If you’re looking for a fun fitness program that is geared toward improving strength, flexibility and endurance, the answer might lie in the Sky Pool, where experienced instructor Ronny Harris leads sessions of aqua aerobics five mornings a week. Advanced Aqua Aerobics Every Monday and Wednesday 9–10 a.m. Every Friday (optional lesson for additional fee) 10–11 a.m. Basic Aqua Aerobics Every Tuesday and Thursday 9–10 a.m. To learn more, visit the Sky Pool Office or the Club website.
Family Photos Saturday, November 3 (9 a.m.–6 p.m.) Sunday, November 4 (9 a.m.–5 p.m.) ¥25,000 Sign up from September 6 at the Member Services Desk. For more information, contact Reina Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spice up your treadmill sessions by running from Narita to Kamakura—or at least the equivalent distance. Complete 120 kilometers on the treadmill in the shortest time and you’ll win luxurious treatments from The Spa, while all those who finish 80 kilometers in 20 days will be entered into the drawing to win a Polar sports watch. From Terminals to Temples October 10–30 Fitness Center Sign up at the Fitness Center
Sky Pool Sizzler
The Olympics might be over, but the Sky Pool hosts its own afternoon of aqua action in the form of this month’s TAC All-Comer Swim Meet. All Members, from children to adults, are invited to sign up and battle it out for medals before enjoying a barbecue and presentation. TAC All-Comer Swim Meet Sunday, September 23 2–6 p.m. Sky Pool Contact the Sky Pool Office for details
Fun in the Fall
Get in shape or learn a new skill this autumn by taking one (or more) of the array of fall enrichment classes on offer. Register online or at the Recreation Desk.
September Spa Offer For vacation-weary Members slipping back into Tokyo life, The Spa has the perfect offer for the whole of the month of September. Book any 60-minute massage treatment and we’ll automatically upgrade it to a 75-minute pampering. Welcome back! To book your next treatment, contact The Spa at 034588-0714 or email@example.com.
Fitness and well-being 21
Champions of Culture Kiran Nangia and Genia Lifschitz
t wasn’t long after I arrived in Tokyo that I attended the Women’s Group Meet the Sensei event. There, I looked at the list of possibilities for discovering the cultural sides of the country. Besides painting, embroidery and calligraphy, there were cooking classes and others on Japanese culture. There were day trips to exotic places, language classes and one-day workshops on making crafts with traditional Japanese washi paper. A couple of days later, not wishing
Seoul Escape by Jackye Lawless
Just a short flight away, the city of Seoul offers an exciting mix of fascinating sightseeing, fabulous shopping and even renowned spas. Travelers on this Women’s Group two-night getaway to the South Korean capital in October will journey to the stunning Changdeokgung Palace, which is set within a large park and was
22 September 2012 iNTOUCH
Ahead of the start of another busy semester, two avid students explain how the various Women’s Group classes have helped them grow their talents and circles of friends. to waste any of my precious time here, I enrolled in the embroidery class and a few one-day classes like lamp-making with washi and covering chabako tea boxes with
beautiful silken obi material. The next semester I was learning to paint bamboo, chrysanthemum and wisteria in black ink, the Japanese way, in the sumi-e
designated a World Heritage site in 1997. The history continues in Samcheongdong, a quaint neighborhood of art galleries, shops and restaurants, and Bukchon Hanok, a 600-yearold area of traditional Korean-style hanok houses that now serve as cultural centers, guesthouses, restaurants and teahouses. For antique lovers, a street packed with art galleries and handicraft shops in Insadong, Myeongdong and Namdaemun Market should provide hours of shopping pleasure. There will also be free time for exploring the city’s spas and other shopping districts.
Optional tours to the DMZ and Panmunjom, the so-called “truce village” that straddles the border of the two Koreas are available, too. o Lawless is programs director for the Women’s Group.
October 23–25 Women’s Group members: ¥132,000 Non-Women’s Group members: ¥145,200 Sign up at the Member Services Desk by September 25
WOMEN’S GROUP a teaching certificate, which can be used back home. Shodo, meanwhile, is a beautiful, calming practice. The classes have offered me and all the friends from different parts of the world I have met there, including Japanese, of course, the opportunity to develop our skills, share information and visit exhibitions together. Organized by the instructors, the sumi-e group members even exhibit their works at the Club during the New Year, and I have received several complimentary tickets to ikebana exhibitions from my sensei. My stay in Japan has definitely been enriched by my classes, and my works at home, from embroidered silk panels to painted screens to chabako, are a testimony to my life here. I will cherish them forever.”
Genia Lifschitz Women’s Group Classes Registration Thursday, September 13 9:30–11 a.m. (Women’s Group members only: 9:30–10 a.m.) Beate Sirota Gordon and Toko Shinoda classrooms
class. I also covered another chabako, but this time in beautiful black and gold washi. It’s been six years since I arrived in Japan and one could fault me for being overenthusiastic about the classes at the Club, but I have enjoyed all of them and still continue to take them. I have stuck by embroidery and sumi-e, which I enjoy immensely, and have added a couple more long-term ones like ikebana and shodo (calligraphy) to my busy week. Ikebana not only offers the opportunity to learn about Japanese flora, but also to earn
The Perfect Pairing
by Nick Jones
After the long summer break, the Women’s Group hosts an exceptional icebreaker for its members this month. The evening event will feature a fun, enlightening tasting of wines with the Club’s engaging wine program manager, Kelley Michael Schaefer, and musical
he Women’s Group classes have provided me with countless opportunities to appreciate, understand and immerse myself in the local culture over the past six years. Shortly after my arrival to Tokyo, I enrolled in the Japanese culture and tradition classes run by Yuriko Hirayama. From the moment I first laid eyes on this elegant kimono-clad woman, I knew I had found my guide through the maze of Tokyo and the intricacies of Japanese customs. Through her classes, I learned the meaning behind the rituals of the tea ceremony and even attended one held at her home. She arranged visits to the Kabuki and Bunraku theaters, explaining the meaning of what we were about to see beforehand. We ranged farther afield to the Mitake Valley, Jindai Temple and even Ogawa, in Saitama, to make traditional washi paper. All this took place in my first six months and gave me a platform from which to explore. A further two invaluable classes I took
entertainment from American flutist Andrea Fisher, aka Fluterscooter. Fisher, a graduate of the prestigious Juilliard School of Music, has recorded and performed with a slew of talented artists of various genres, including hip-hop stars 50 Cent and Wiz Khalifa, singer-songwriter John Legend and legendary jazz pianist Herbie Hancock. Don’t miss this opportunity to catch up with friends while indulging in some grape-inspired exploration and flute appreciation. o
with Hirayama-sensei were “Touring Tokyo and Beyond” and “Touring Kyoto and Beyond.” These classes meant I could arrange activities for visiting families with small children, fashion-conscious teenagers and even academic step-aunts in search of museums off the beaten track. After they had “done” Tokyo, I could send them on to Kyoto with detailed itineraries. In that first year, I also attended classes on Japanese architecture by architect Geeta Mehta and a beginners’ Japanese class. I can think of no other institution where I could have taken such a variety of classes. In my second year, two classes in the brochure caught my attention: Japanese sumi-e painting and shodo (calligraphy). I promptly registered for both and, five years later, I am still studying them. The mother-and-daughter team of Shoko and Suiko Ohta, who teach sumi-e, are renowned artists with many exhibitions to their credit. While I had attended various painting workshops over the years, the Ohtas’ encouragement and inspiration finally enabled me to produce works that I am proud to display at home. Japanese calligraphy was another class where I discovered “hidden talents.” Through the patience and example of master calligrapher Yuriko Nakamura, I find myself focusing on the brush, sumi ink and paper to the exclusion of all else, and the resulting characters are sometimes worthy of display, according to my sensei. Halfway through my second year, a friend persuaded me to enroll in the Sogetsu ikebana class with the delightful Norika Matsudeira. Predictably, I am well on the way to obtaining my teacher certification. I feel privileged to have been taught by all these instructors. On my journey I met many wonderful women with whom I shared different experiences, and I look forward to meeting many more. o
Monthly Program: Welcome Back Wine Tasting Monday, September 10 Doors open: 6:30 p.m. Program begins: 7 p.m. Manhattan I Women’s Group members: ¥6,300 Non-Women’s Group members: ¥7,350 Sign up online or at the Member Services Desk
An interactive community 23
24 September 2012 iNTOUCH
Japan’s Economic Answer?
With the economy stalled, could more women in the workforce be the jumpstart Japan desperately needs?
by Erika Woodward
t was a common request for newlywed wives in Japan at the time, and Reiko Oshima “didn’t strongly oppose” when her husband asked her to stop working. They were planning an overseas move for his career and, as one of the earliest female hires at a large printing company, she says she hadn’t yet established a career. “Most of my friends quit [their] job[s] when they got married in the 1970s,” the Club Member says. “Very few friends continued to work after marriage, and they [had] specialties to utilize for working. Many who kept working [remained] single, though.” For decades now, women in Japan’s male-dominated work environment have been expected to forgo careers to become homemakers and mothers. But many experts, including Kathy Matsui, an equity strategist at the American investment giant Goldman Sachs in Tokyo, say that it’s time for the country to abandon that antiquated system. “If you don’t have full female participation in the Japanese workforce, it’s the same as trying to run a marathon on one leg,” says the Club Member, sitting at a long conference table on the 47th floor of the firm’s Roppongi Hills offices. “Since Japan already has a number of other structural challenges, they don’t need this one.” With a little more than half of the nation’s eligible women in work, there remain too few taxpayers to shoulder the burden of ballooning social welfare costs. This trend is exacerbated by a graying society and low birthrate. According to government estimates, the population will shrink by 30 percent by 2055, and already social security spending has increased hugely over the last decade, along with the country’s debt. In short, women may well hold the key to a brighter economic future. In fact, Matsui, 47, argues that if women represented an equal share of the workforce, the nation’s GDP (gross domestic product) would increase by a whopping 15 percent. “I’m not a feminist and I’m not saying we only need to help the plight of the women here,” the mother of two says. “I’m looking at this from a macroeconomic perspective. If we want to sustain Japan’s overall standard of living, we all need to care about this.” It’s what she’s been saying since first championing “womenomics” about 13 years ago. Researching a relatively unexplored subject, the American produced her first study as a way to convince weary investors of Japan’s potential. “[Our] conversations time and time again would conclude on a very depressing note, and it dawned on me one day [that] perhaps it doesn’t have to be so bleak,” she says, “because every day I see Japanese women that are very talented and well educated yet are not participating in the workforce as much as I see women in other economies.” Though a leading economy, Japan has one of the largest gender employment gaps in the developed world and, arguably, things aren’t looking up. Last year, in an international measure of gender equality by the World Economic Forum, Japan fell four places from the previous year to 98th (Iceland was top, followed by Norway and Finland). And yet while females account for about half of Japan’s Economic Answer? 25
Proportion of working mothers with children under 6 years old
Source: Goldman Sachs Global Economics, Commodities and Strategy Research (2010)
university graduates here, only around 65 percent of college-educated women are employed, according to the Economist Group, compared with 80 percent of female college grads in the United States. Working at a ratio similar to that of American women in the 1960s, women in Japan are often consigned to being “Mad Men”-style office workers, serving tea and cookies to male managers and earning, on average, 40 percent less than their male counterparts. Sitting in a leather chair in his Tokyo office, academic Kiyoshi Kumi Sato Kurokawa is offered water by a female employee, before expressing his frustration with the country’s status quo. “So you are investing so much [in women], but you’re not empowering them—like a master’s degree doing secretarial work; not more
26 September 2012 iNTOUCH
Percentage of women in senior management
Source: Grant Thornton International Business Report (2012)
than an administrative assistant to executive males,” he says. “It’s strange in my view. It’s a hidden asset, underutilized. Crazy!” Given Japan’s starkly defined gender roles, over the last 50 years many Japanese companies have become less conducive to focusing on women’s career development. Kurokawa, who recently headed an independent commission on the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster, blames the outdated notion of lifetime employment. Based upon the promise of a job until retirement and agebased promotions, lifetime employment flourished at the height of Japan’s economic success. Benefits like rent assistance, subsidized housing and further education allowed the largely male hires to support their families with
one income, further perpetuating maledominated workplaces. Kurokawa, a professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, says that such superannuated attitudes remain. “Women are handicapped when they get married, I think,” he says. “They tend to not lose [their job], but they are encouraged to leave that company because their husband is expected to continue to be a workaholic.” As a loyal salaryman, Kurokawa says, “you have to show you are working very hard, dedicated to the company, not necessarily dedicated to your family. So that means you stay until maybe 8 or 9 p.m., pretending you are doing something very important.” Then there are the pressures to entertain clients and drink with coworkers after work. Women, with their traditional homemaking duties, can’t compete, says Matsui. “I’ve found [women] have been frustrated with the fact that although they don’t do the face time at work or they don’t go out at night with their colleagues, they’re just as, or some would argue, even more productive than their male
FEATURE Percentage of businesses offering flexible hours
Percentage of businesses with female CEOs
Source: Grant Thornton International Business Report (2012)
Source: Grant Thornton International Business Report (2012)
peers,” she says. “Yet the women often don’t get the promotion; they don’t get the higher compensation. Under such circumstances, any human being, male or female, would clearly be demotivated. Therefore, part of the onus of effecting change falls on employers to revamp their evaluation, promotion and compensation systems from seniority-based to performance-, merit-based ones.” Sitting in the Tokyo offices of Fusion Systems, the IT consultancy he cofounded, Club Member Michael Alfant says “a lot of smart Japanese companies” are already changing, citing the online shopping company Rakuten for one. But as president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan, the 51-year-old says he hopes more firms will follow suit. “I have a 17-year-old daughter for one thing, so I’m very keen on doing whatever I can to help her, obviously. But also there’s just a concept of what’s right and what’s wrong, of behaving honorably with integrity, with fairness,” he says. “And I think it’s incumbent upon everyone to level the playing field.
Everyone should have the same opportunities and to the extent that they don’t, we should try to take measures to give them those opportunities, right?” One of the main stumbling blocks in encouraging more women to work continues to be maternity leave. In a survey by a job information magazine earlier this year, one in four Japanese companies said that they were not in favor of it. Alfant’s company’s support of new mothers has made all the difference for 30-year-old Reimi Dallyn, the human resources director. After taking two months’ maternity leave, she worked part-time a few days a week, before returning full-time. “I was able to do that by speaking to my bosses,” she says. “I actually proposed what kind of days would work best for me and they said, ‘Fine,’ which was lucky enough, so that’s how I’m coping.” In the current economic climate, Dallyn says, a second salary can be crucial. “You can’t really rely on your husband anymore to raise your children and feed you as well, because
your husband might lose his job, it could be anything,” she says. “So whether you’re a man or a woman, as long as you are financially independent, you can be independent mentally and you can be more confident, and I think that’s very important.” But not all women are as fortunate as Dallyn. According to a Goldman Sachs report, about 70 percent of women in Japan leave the workforce after having their first child, while 60 percent said they would have continued working if more flexible hours could have been arranged. By contrast, combating a once-depleted workforce in the 1970s, Sweden established a mandatory two-month paternity leave. Well known for its child-support policies, the Swedish government pays 80 percent of parents’ salaries of up to $65,000 for 13 months. Today, 72 percent of all working-age women are employed. In Japan, many women who return to work do so part-time, with fewer benefits and lower wages. It’s not necessarily by choice, though, says Matsui. Japan’s Economic Answer? 27
28 September 2012 iNTOUCH
FEATURE “I hear so many stories of [cover letters] of women with nonlinear careers being rejected because the HR departments think, ‘You’ve been out of the workforce for five, 10 years, so you must have gone through some brainwash machine and forgotten everything you knew.’ Whereas I, frankly, would hire in an instant a woman like that who was mature with work experience,” she says. “There should be a law against this kind of discrimination. After all, what is the Equal Employment Opportunity Law for if the rules are not being properly enforced?” The prejudice extends to promotions. Globally, one in five senior management roles are held by women, but in Japan women represent a mere 5 percent of senior management positions, according to consultancy firm Grant Thornton’s latest international business survey of 40 countries. While studies show that companies with female managers perform better than ones with only men at the helm, some experts argue that quotas may be needed initially to boost the number of female executives in Japan. For Alfant, employing qualified women just makes good business sense. “In terms of generating shareholder value, it’s important. In terms of fully utilizing human resources, it’s important. In terms of actualizing the full potential of your workforce, it’s important. But that’s the same thing I would say about any diversity question, whether it’s based on gender, nationality, age, anything, it’s all the same,” he says. But writing in Canada’s National Post newspaper earlier this year, Terrence Corcoran indicated that women didn’t represent an economic magic bullet. “Maybe firms that are already profitable feel they have the luxury and confidence to test women in key positions,” he wrote. “It is highly unlikely and certainly more likely that profits drive diversity and the rise of women in corporations. Women are no miracle workers.” Many career-minded women in Japan aren’t waiting for a miracle, either. An increasing number of them are studying abroad and pursuing careers at global firms. Dallyn explains why she chose to work at Fusion Systems, with coworkers from more than 30 countries, after she earned her master’s degree in Britain. “For me, I was not entirely sure whether I would have been able to work for a Japanese company, and I didn’t really wish to,” she says. “I was just so used to having an international environment, and so I wanted to be surrounded by international kind[s] of people and I wanted to be judged by the actual work that I do.” Wherever they are in the world, working mothers need childcare. But in Japan, where there is a shortage of facilities, this is a particular problem. By some estimates, tens of thousands of children are on waiting lists for day care. Aware of the issue, the government recently agreed to expand existing childcare facilities by
combining nursery schools and kindergartens, with conditions, and has advocated for nursery schools to be set up in private homes and within companies for employees’ children. President and CEO of Cosmo, a Tokyo-based public relations firm, Kumi Sato says that more needs to be done. Just this year, she lost two female staff, in part because the young mothers couldn’t find adequate childcare. “Women in Japan have a more challenging time, not only because of the lack of infrastructure, but also compared to the help that is available in other Asian countries like Hong Kong and Singapore, where you see not only the senior women but average women being able to have access to domestic help to help with their childcare and also their aging parents,” says the Club Member. “I believe that one of the things Japan needs to do is to work proactively towards opening up, allowing Japanese women to sponsor domestic help from overseas.” That, however, may prove to be an uphill battle in a country where immigration is a thorny issue. Struggling with a shortage of nurses, Japan has attempted to ease the burden of care on young people by welcoming certified nurses from the Philippines and Indonesia. But in order for the caregivers to remain here after a few years, the government requires them to pass a written nursing exam in Japanese. “You don’t have to speak the local language to care for somebody,” says Matsui, expressing her frustration with the system. To create a more favorable environment for women who want to pursue careers, Dallyn says Japan must change certain deep-seated attitudes. “It’s said that we need more benefits and we need more schools, which is true, but at the same time, I always feel that that’s not the only reason Japanese women are not working after they have children,” she says. “And I feel that could be maybe the partner’s, the husband’s way of thinking. Maybe some Japanese husbands think it is more natural for women to stay home after they have children.” With Internet giant Yahoo’s newest CEO Marissa Mayer having announced that she is expecting her first child in October, Matsui says that women in Japan need role models. “Right now, there are so few [role models] that even if young women have the ambition, they simply can’t imagine becoming somebody like that,” she says. Of course, role models don’t have to be highprofile executives. “I think that, for example, my cousin is a working mother and she’s handling it well,” HR director Dallyn says. “People like that could encourage many. So younger people, what we are doing right now, if we could be role models, that’d be good, so Japanese women [could] see themselves becoming working mothers as a natural choice.” And offering women a choice could be the first step toward a more vibrant economic future for Japan. o
Japan’s Economic Answer? 29
Talking Track Japan is renowned the world over for its highly efficient train network that transports around 60 million passengers a day. Perhaps most indicative of this punctual system is the bullet train, or shinkansen. Launched in 1964, in time for the Tokyo Olympics the same year, shinkansen trains
now speed along more than 2,600 kilometers of track each day, with a further 780 kilometers under construction or planned. Funded by the government, these multitrillion yen projects include extensions of the existing shinkansen lines to the likes of Sapporo, Kanazawa and Nagasaki over the
next 23 years. Masaki Ogata is vice chairman of the East Japan Railway Company. iNTOUCH’s Nick Jones visited the Club Member at JR East’s Shinjuku headquarters to talk about the future of high-speed rail travel in Japan. Excerpts:
iNTOUCH: Since its introduction almost half a century ago, how has the shinkansen changed Japan?
very small in comparison with the other means of transportation.
by the operators before construction. If we say no, they can’t construct. We know about many bad examples of public investment, so now we are completely privatized we have the right to say no to construction.
Ogata: The shinkansen has changed Japan to an enormous extent. No other means of transport could have provided a similar level of frequency and capacity. If we hadn’t had the shinkansen, maybe we would have needed six or seven more [domestic] airports and three or four more highways. iNTOUCH: With the hollowing out of rural Japan, are all the proposed extensions to the shinkansen network realistic? Ogata: From my point of view, I think that high-speed rail is much more efficient and much more beneficial to society than other modes of transportation. If you take a look at Japan’s national budget [for transport], the majority goes towards highways, traditionally, and airports. Even if the central government constructs new [shinkansen] sections, the budget is very, 30 September 2012 iNTOUCH
iNTOUCH: But if high-speed rail networks require high-density populations to be successful, why are extensions being planned to places like Tsuruga in Fukui Prefecture? Ogata: Of course, the shinkansen line between Tokyo and Osaka maybe has the best population density in the world. And for us, the line from Tokyo to ShinAomori, is still in good shape, population wise. But some of these other [planned] sections are in areas with smaller populations. In that case, the profitability [of those sections] will get less. Many Japanese newspapers suspect that these [extensions] are not realistic. iNTOUCH: Does the government take decisions to construct extensions independently? Ogata: The government needs approval
iNTOUCH: How important is inbound tourism for the future of the shinkansen? Ogata: With the Japanese population decreasing, we need much more inbound tourism. iNTOUCH: How did last year’s earthquake in Tohoku affect the shinkansen network? Ogata: Of course, after March 11 last year, the shinkansen operation was suspended. After 49 days, we resumed operation [of the service]. We lost a lot of revenue, but we have already recovered. This year, ridership is up. When we compare to two years ago, ridership has increased because of the effect of opening a new section [from Hachinohe to Shin-Aomori] in December 2010.
iNTOUCH: What kind of damage did the line sustain? Ogata: We experienced some bent electrical [pylons], distorted track and collapsed roofs. But we didn’t suffer any severe damage like the highways in Kobe in 1995. We derived lessons from that [earthquake and] had already strengthened the shinkansen pillars. So the damage was very limited. iNTOUCH: What was learned from the derailment of a shinkansen in the 2004 earthquake in Niigata? Ogata: We installed more seismometers alongside the railway to detect earthquakes as early as possible, and we installed seismometers to detect primary [seismic] waves, so that before the severe secondary waves come, we can reduce the speed of the [shinkansen]. We also installed a special device underneath the body [of the shinkansen] and on the track to prevent trains derailing.
iNTOUCH: We’ve seen the launch of a number of budget airlines in Japan recently. How are they going to affect the shinkansen business, do you think? Ogata: Generally speaking, I think the effect of low-cost carriers on high-speed trains will be very limited. If a highspeed rail line links two cities [with a journey of] less than four hours, highspeed rail can win because planes need access time. iNTOUCH: Unlike some train networks in other countries, why are there no discounts for advance or round-trip shinkansen tickets, for example? Ogata: We provide good connectivity, with, for example, 15 high-speed trains an hour, so [passengers] don’t worry about frequency. So these factors cover the difference in charges and fares, even though [budget] airlines offer low fares. So far, we do not have any need to give passengers discounts.
iNTOUCH: Japan is renowned for its punctual trains. How difficult is it to manage such a system? Ogata: It is very difficult. It’s not just about the infrastructure, but also culture. For example, in Tokyo, the Chuo Line has 30 trains an hour and each train carries 3,000 people, who get on and off at each station. This [works because of] the culture, with very disciplined passengers and employees. For example, maintenance is very important for a punctual operation, and we have special professionals who check the rolling stock very diligently every day. iNTOUCH: The flipside to this highly punctual system is pressure on employees. Can this pressure lead to accidents, as we saw with the Amagasaki crash in 2005? Ogata: It depends on the company’s policy. In our company, we never denounce those who stop the train, because safety is the priority and comes first. o Member insights on Japan 31
All exhibits in the Frederick Harris Gallery are for sale and can be purchased by Membership card at the Member Services Desk. Sales of works begin at 6 p.m. on the first day of the exhibition.
by Erika Woodward With a swift stroke of a cloth or brush to remove streaks of fresh paint from his canvas, Jun Ogata is able to create unexpected bleeds of color and amorphous shapes. Through this unplanned approach to his art, he strives to let his subconscious lead his hand. “[At] any time, the production of the painting should be a natural expression,” the Tokyo-born artist writes on his website. The 50-year-old painter’s free-thinking method has been honed by years of schooling and a determination to work as much as possible with “a neutral mind and body.” First graduating from Musashino Art University and Wako University, Ogata later completed his graduate studies at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. Having exhibited his colorful creations at premier galleries from New York to Tokyo, this month, at the Frederick Harris Gallery, Ogata will exhibit 14 intriguing works that were inspired by the ordered elegance of traditional Japanese gardens. “Bring Japanese beauty into your home,” he says. “Take time for contemplation and relaxation.” A gander at his paintings may inspire a little freewheeling spontaneity, too.
Monday, September 10 6:30–8 p.m. Frederick Harris Gallery (B1 Formal Lobby) Free Open to invitees and Members only
32 September 2012 iNTOUCH
FREDERICK HARRIS GALLERY
by Erika Woodward Forging featureless steel into distinctive blades for centuries, elite Japanese swordsmiths have always aimed for perfection when crafting weapons fit for fighting samurai warriors. Extolling the “gentle feminine curves” of those traditional rapiers, artist Yoshitaka Atarashi says he’s inspired by the swords’ fatal grace. “When you hold [a sword] in your hands, you feel the tension and yet a strange feeling of ease,” he says. “I have been mesmerized by these opposing characteristics and strove to express [them] as works of art.” For 15 years, Atarashi has been crafting lacquerware likenesses of his metal muses, taking about four months to make each one. With an eye for precision, he starts by mixing lacquer paint with mud. Then, molding the mixture into the shape of a blade, he coats it in silver powder. Once dried, he applies finishing layers of more lacquer and polish. Having exhibited his stunning works in galleries from London to Tokyo, the 55-year-old artist shows off his handcrafted creations at the Frederick Harris Gallery this month. Raised in Saitama Prefecture as the son of a sword appraiser and the brother of a lacquerware artist, Atarashi also studied painting. Honoring his artistic pedigree, he says, “It is no wonder that I have been able to produce wonderful and unique swords.”
September 24–October 7
Exhibitions of Art 33
John Dorff United States—TMF Group Ken & Yuka Arai Japan—Graz Automobile, Inc. Eiichi & Yoriko Koito Japan—Mitsubishi Corporation Peter & Dinah Davis Australia—ANZ Banking Group Ltd. Gavin Lowth & Chelsea Wynter Australia—Symantec Japan, Inc. Patrick & Nancy Paya United States—Coca-Cola East Japan Products Co., Ltd. Joachim & Kristin Rosenberg Sweden—UD Trucks Corporation
Barbara Heikens & Christopher Beetham United States—Pfizer Japan, Inc.
David Runacres & Miki Sekiguchi United Kingdom—Thomson Reuters Markets K.K.
Kenichiro & Hiroko Maeda Japan—Senzoku Gakuen
Yasuhiko Hayakawa Japan—Aiwa Corporation
Holden & Julia Hodgson United States—Morgan Stanley MUFG Securities Co., Ltd.
Hidero & Yukiko Fujimoto Japan—Uniden Corporation
Tetsuro & Kaoru Ogata Japan—Iryouhoujinshadan Jyoseikai Sanno Jibiinkoka Kei & Jean Takasaku Japan—Zurich Insurance Co., Ltd. Toyohisa & Miyoko Miyauchi Japan—Royal Park Hotels & Resorts Co., Ltd. Mai Fujisawa Japan—Wondercity, Inc.
Yoshitaka & Saegi Ando Japan—Shin Kokusai Kanko K.K. Clemens Philippi & Phutjarin Wisetwongsa Germany—Allianz Fire & Marine Insurance Japan Seiji & Misato Shigenobu Japan—Land S Corporation., Ltd.
Noriyuki & Satomi Matsuda Japan—Sourcenext Corporation Justin Hirsch & Nicole Wu United States—Aozora Bank Ltd. Kotaro & Hiromi Yamagishi Japan—GREE, Inc. Koki Kato Japan—Zama Industries Ltd. Kayo & Shinobu Moribe Japan—Castage Ltd. Shaun Sundberg Canada—Vantage Point K.K. Kenji Amino Japan—Ernst & Young Shinnihon Tax
Christopher Young United States—KVH Co., Ltd.
Mark Chen & Margaret Higase-Chen United States—GE Capital
David J Gardner & Olcay Bulgun-Gardner United States—Chartis Far East Holdings K.K.
Mac & Sue Elsayeh Takashi & Mikiko Endo Michael A & Rebecca Evans Patrick & Lisa Eyre Matthew Falconer & Saroop Purewal Frank Florio & Ingrid Liu Lisa & Nicholas Fox Brent & Renea Freeman David & Katherine Greco Con & Mary-Anne Gryllakis Peter & Asa Henning Andrew Petrie Hunter & Alexandra Kim Takao Isobe & Annette Kasperski Thomas & Lisa Jardine David & Denise Kallas
Sujan & Meena Kamran Eric & Rebecca Rhee Kinoshita Morio & Yasuko Kizawa Theodore & Nanako Y Kubista Simon & Julia Large Bertrand & Virginie Launay John & Theresa Linn James Loy II & Laura Loy Ming-Hokng & Kaitlyn Maa Michael & Eva Maicher Ludovic & Christine Manzon James P & Linda Mueller Lie Yen Ng Hiroshi Nishie Kotaro Okamura Chan Yong Park & Jea Keun Jung Sirsij & Gayatori Peshin
Claus & Bjorg Plougmand John G & Diane J Rakocy Doug & Candice Reay Antony Ricolfi & Lynn Ricolfi-Tan Alina & Tony Rizzo Rei Rothberg & Sarah Francis Timothy F & Marie Ryan Tsuneharu & Sue Sekikawa Martin & June Bae Seol Peter & Samantha Simmons Eric Simonet & Yuko Kondo Richard Tan & Khoo Lay Koon Christopher S & Hilary Wendel David & Trysh Williams David Wong & Cheris Yuen Thomas Yanagihara
sayonara Jack Beattie Allen Jr & Nancy Allen Drago Azinovic & Beatriz Alvarez Leonard & Theresa Bernardi Peter & Andrea Bocko Andreas Boex Gaetan & Dina Borgers Lee Boyd & Jing Lu Kiyoko Brixley Colin & Corrinne Chua Tim & Christine Covington Luis & Lisa Eri Iki DeAnda Diego & Sandra Regina Belinelli Donoso Tomoko & Robert Dressler Christophe Dupont & Armelle Revertera James & Teresa Easterling
Stacks of Services at the Club
JTB Sunrise Tours
André Bernard Beauty Salon
Enjoy a 5 percent discount on all package tours and start making unforgettable memories. Tel: 03-5796-5454 (9:30 a.m.–8 p.m.) E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org www.jtb-sunrisetours.jp
The Club’s professional shoe repair and polishing service. Tel: 03-4588-0670 The Cellar (B1) Sat: 1–4:30 p.m. Sun: 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Weekday drop-off: Member Services Desk
To find out more about the range of services and Member discounts, visit the FedEx counter. The Cellar (B1) Mon–Fri: 1–5 p.m. (closed Sun and national holidays) Sat: 12 p.m. (pickup only)
Hair care for adults and kids, manicure, pedicure, waxing and more. Tel: 03-4588-0685 Family Area (B1) Tue–Sun 9 a.m.–6 p.m.
34 September 2012 iNTOUCH
of the year
Reina Sakagawa-Collins by Nick Jones
eina Sakagawa-Collins is looking forward to her vacation. It’s been a busy 10 months. Joining the Club’s Recreation Department last fall as programs coordinator, she had little time to ease her way into the job. Between helping organize the annual Super Bowl party and Father-Daughter Dinner Dance, as well as a packed calendar of summer programs for youngsters, she somehow managed to find the time to lend a hand at the Employee Recognition Day party. It was a fitting event for the acknowledgement she received. “It caught
me off guard,” she says of the Employee of the Year award and trip abroad she picked up in August. “It’s amazing.” Assistant Recreation Director Susanna Yung, however, wasn’t surprised at all by the result. “Reina went above and beyond levels of great service to find the best programs and events for Members and their families,” she says. After more than a decade in the United States, where she attended college in Washington State and worked in the hotel industry in Seattle, Sakagawa-Collins, 31, headed to Japan to live for the first time a year ago. Although Japanese, she had spent
all of her life living outside the country where her parents were born. So when she hasn’t been trying to decipher the intricacies of the local culture, she has been learning the ins and outs of the job. “I realized how much I need to be able to work well with people,” she says. She also says she has learned the importance of planning and multitasking. “Time has flown by because I’m always thinking about things three months in advance,” she says, before heading out the door for a well-earned break and the promise of a few days free of program schedules. o
New Member Profile
New Member Profile
Why did you decide to join the Club?
Why did you decide to join the Club?
James & Michelle Shortis Australia—CLSA Securities Japan Co., Ltd.
“Belonging to TAC will definitely help with our transition into life in Japan after living in Hong Kong for 10 years. The excellent facilities, the fantastic services, helpful staff and friendly Members make it one of the best clubs to belong to. We are looking forward to making new friends and enjoying new experiences in Japan.” (l–r) Jack, Michelle, Sofia, Jessica and James Shortis
Andrew & Reiko Ogura Australia—Metlife Alico
“Basically, the Club has something for the whole family. Some of my colleagues are already Members, so there are people I know, the facilities are, of course, outstanding, the restaurants are great and, over time, as my family and I change and grow, I feel that the Club will continue to have something to offer each of us. I feel that we will be frequenting the Club and its many events for a long time to come. I’ve already met many great people that I would otherwise probably not have had the opportunity to meet.” (l–r) Andrew, Kain and Reiko Ogura
Services and benefits for Members 35
e’re all on this planet due to the weight of circumstances, but sometimes the role of chance, providence or sheer luck is extraordinary. If her father hadn’t jumped into the Imperial Palace moat during World War II, Agneta Riber might not be around. A rare Swede in Tokyo, he was fleeing a firestorm set off by a US air raid that saw a bomb hit his home near the British Embassy. “He got home late one night after having been detained by the kempeitai [military] police and then a firebomb dropped through his living room ceiling,” says Riber, letting out a chuckle. “He escaped to the moat where people were dousing each other with water to extinguish the flying embers. When he made plans to marry my mother in 1944, the minister said, ‘I’ll be there if there isn’t an air raid.’” Riber, 63, is the product of that unlikely union between a businessman from a neutral European country, trapped in the Japanese capital during the war, and the Japanese daughter of a patrician family whom he met while skiing. Born in Sweden and educated in the United States, Riber enjoyed a long career teaching in the Tokyo area. Now, this self-proclaimed woman of leisure divides her time between Yokohama, Karuizawa, in Nagano Prefecture, and New York. “My grandfather founded the first coeducational school in Japan, Bunka Gakuin in Ochanomizu,” she says over tea in Yotsuya. “He founded it with the poetess Akiko Yosano, and when the school first started out, it was a little like a salon in Paris, drawing people like Yasunori Kawabata. It was the time of the Taisho democracy, when so much was going on in Japan.” Education runs in Riber’s family. Her mother taught at the American School in Japan, which she attended. Riber had a passion for English literature and attended Princeton, where she was among the university’s first group of female graduates in 1970. After a teaching stint at Bunka Gakuin and a master’s degree at Columbia University, she was recommended to Meiji Gakuin University by a well-connected friend. The college called her in New York and hired her after a 15-minute chat. Riber began teaching English lit at the university’s Shirogane campus in Tokyo. It was the 1980s, Japan was becoming a global economic giant and bilingual professionals were in high demand. But she always spent her summers at the family retreat in Karuizawa that her grandfather, a lumber magnate, built some 70 years earlier for his nine children. With her working life settled, she tied the knot with a Japanese man she’d been dating. But it lasted only a year. “I call it my brief bout of marriage,” she says with a laugh. Matrimony appears to have been ill-suited to her independent nature, a trait she inherited on her Japanese side. After her grandfather died, her grandmother announced to her shocked relatives that she would be
head of the family. Her mother, meanwhile, lived most of her life as an expat in New York after getting “extremely divorced” from her father. After doing some translation and public relations work for a large Japanese printing company, Riber eventually landed a full-time faculty position at Tokyo Seitoku University in Chiba Prefecture. The experience fostered in her strong views about education in Japan. “There has been overbuilding of universities here,” Riber says. “Seitoku was part of that, and thank goodness because it got me a job, but there have been too many universities and it’s led to lower standards. Students have
36 September 2012 iNTOUCH
by Tim Hornyak
also changed. They’ve forgotten that universities are supposed to be places to pursue knowledge for the sake of knowledge. Now, the attitude is ‘If it’s not practical and doesn’t tie to a job, why should I bother?’” Riber, who joined the Club in 2002, believes that a renewed emphasis on practical education in secondary school, along with more extensive on-thejob training, would make universities more like the centers of learning they were conceived as and not merely degree factories. “I wish they would go back to when middle school was the end of education, when you had your basic reading and writing skills, and after that you go out and work, or pursue real academia. Pursue knowledge for the sake of knowledge, for ideas, for development,” she says. “That would lead to more artists, writers, scientists or mathematicians. After all, there’s no need for Mozart or Picasso; there’s no practical need for them. But how poor is life with only the practical.” In 2009, Riber retired from her long tenure at Seitoku to care for her ailing mother, who died the same year. She could easily have become morose if it weren’t for her strong positive outlook on life. “I had no mom, no job and was facing the rest of my life. But you know what? It’s been wonderful, it’s been absolutely fabulous. When I was in my 20s, a fortune teller told me, ‘Bannen kofu.’ In other words, the latter years of my life will be happy. She was right on the money,” Riber says, before heading off to a game of bridge nearby. o Hornyak is a Montreal-based freelance journalist.
Club Member Agneta Riber ruminates on a life as a scholar and mentor on both sides of the Pacific.
A look at culture and society 37
Nostalgia with a Twist by Chiara Terzuolo
here’s something curious about approaching Nippori Station on the Yamanote Line. The closer you get, the emptier the train becomes and the smaller the buildings outside appear. Affectionately known as Yanesen—an amalgam of the storied districts of Yanaka, Nezu and Sendagi, this part of east Tokyo was untouched by the air raids during World War II, which may explain why it has managed to retain a tranquility and charm usually reserved for small country towns. The area is a treasure trove of old wooden buildings, temples and surprises. When leaving the station, you are faced with a choice. The east exit takes you to Nippori Fabric Town, a long street of textile retailers and a mecca for crafters from all over the world. The west exit, meanwhile, leads to a different time and place altogether. Straight on is Yanaka Ginza, an old-fashioned shopping street of bric-a-brac stores and some of the best street food in Tokyo. The beef croquettes at Suzuki are particularly well known, illustrated by the line of customers outside, but be warned that you may find yourself sharing your snacks with the famous neighborhood cats. Those looking for unusual gifts should stop by Shinimonogurui, which produces humorous hanko seals that feature the store’s trademark “naughty animals” alongside the characters of your name. A short walk away is SCAI The Bathhouse, a former sento public bathhouse that has been transformed into an art gallery of modern, cutting-edge artists and exhibits. Taking the next left after Yanaka Ginza, head toward Fujimizaka,
38 September 2012 iNTOUCH
Head to east Tokyo for a dose of laid-back charm, history and great eats. one of the few places in the old city where it’s still possible to see Mount Fuji, so long as the weather cooperates. On nearby Suwadai Street, among the shrines and temples, there are two good options for lunch. Swiss Chalet Mini is exactly what its name implies: a cheery, all-natural Swiss chalet, offering substantial sandwiches and pasta dishes, along with herbal teas and pastries. Farther on is Yakuzen Curry Jinenjo, where the curry is a blend of Indian, Chinese and Japanese traditional medicinal herbs and vegetables. The healthy ingredients should make you feel decidedly virtuous while you’re chatting to the friendly owner in the dark wood interior of the restaurant, recordings of old French songs playing in the background. Continuing down Suwadai Street, you’ll come to Space Oguraya, an old pawnshop and storehouse that has been converted into a gallery. Nearby, a series of discreet stores and workshops offer a variety of traditional crafts, from ceramics to hand-painted postcards. A sharp left at the tiny Teramachi Museum leads to Yanaka Cemetery. The tranquility of the tree-lined cemetery is a welcome change from Tokyo’s incessant din. This is the final resting place for some of the greatest innovators of the Meiji and Taisho eras, including the female writer Ichiyo Higuchi, who is featured on the ¥5,000 note and Michio Miyagi, a famous koto musician. Many members of the Tokugawa family, which ruled Japan for more than two centuries, are also buried here, although hidden behind a wall. Of particular interest is the grave of Oden
OUT & ABOUT
Chalet Swiss Mini www.chaletswissmini.com (Japanese only)
Shinimonogurui www.ito51.com (Japanese only)
Yakuzen Curry Jinenjo 5-9-25 Yanaka
SCAI The Bathhouse www.scaithebathhouse.com
Himitsudo http://himitsudo.com (Japanese only)
SWISS CHALET MINI
E OT AN M YA
Nippori Station is on the Joban, Keihin-Tohoku, Yamanote, Keisei and Toei Nippori-Toneri Liner lines.
YAKUZEN CURRY JINENJO
NE LI FUJIMIZAKA
Gallery Kingyo www.gallerykingyo.com (Japanese only)
Sasaya http://sasa-ya.com (Japanese only)
NE'GLA GALLERY KINGYO
Ne’gla www.negla.net (Japanese only)
SCAI THE BATHHOUSE
and old, wood-and-glass-fronted stores is a pleasure. Not far from Sendagi Station, Ne’gla has an eclectic selection of antique and vintage goods from Japan, Europe and the United States. The 1960s tin bento boxes are particularly noteworthy. The road toward Nezu is lined with an array of boutique bagel bakeries, art galleries (Gallery Kingyo for modern art and Ringoya for tongue-in-cheek cat pictures), handmade soap stores and houses with tubs of brightly colored flowers. After a day of taking in this intriguing pocket of old Tokyo, be sure to stop in at Sasaya for a box of natsu daifuku rice cake sweets—the perfect memento of Yanesen. o Terzuolo is a Tokyo-based freelance writer.
Takahashi, an infamous 19th century murderess. It’s said that she was buried near the public toilet, at the edge of the cemetery, as a form of continued punishment following her beheading. Drop in at Tennoji, a pristine, little temple that was established in 1274 and houses a serene bronze Buddha statue, before heading down Sakura Street to the top of Yanaka Ginza. From here, take the smaller street on the left, redolent of jasmine and incense, toward Sendagi. Despite being located in Bunkyo Ward, toward the center of Tokyo, Sendagi’s sights and sounds are reminiscent of the preeconomic bubble era. Himitsudo, a colorful little hole-in-the wall specializes in kakigori shaved ice, while zakka knickknack fans should head to nearby Bon Bon and Romantica. Wandering through the quiet backstreets dotted with temples
TOKYO ART UNIVERSITY
Photo by Norihiro Ueno (courtesy of SCAI The Bathhouse)
Space Oguraya www.oguraya.gr.jp (Japanese only)
Explorations beyond the Club 39
For more photos from some events displayed in these pages, visit the Event Image Gallery (under News & Info) on the Club website.
Independence Day Reception and Dinner July 1
The Club marked the birthday of the United States with a formal reception, attended by around 150 dignitaries, Members and guests, followed by an evening dinner of American-style classic cuisine, patriotic songs and rousing entertainment from Elvis impersonator Donny Edwards. Photos by Yuuki Ide 1. (l–r) Tomomi Cropp and Keiko and Yuichi Iio 2 (l–r) Susan and US Ambassador John Roos and Club President Lance E Lee 3. (l–r) Prince and Princess Hitachi and the Tokyo Fire Department Band 4. Hiroyuki and Fumiko Yushita 5. Captain Steve Wieman and Captain Justin Cooper 6. Club President Lance E Lee 7. US Ambassador John Roos 8. Elvis impersonator Donny Edwards 9. (l–r) Kari Wieman, Prince Hitachi and Captain Steve Wieman 10. John Ken Nuzzo 11. (l–r) Mark and Megumi Cutler 12. Keiko Lee and Dan Stakoe
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Snapshots from Club occasions 41
For more photos from some events displayed in these pages, visit the Event Image Gallery (under News & Info) on the Club website.
Independence Day for Kids July 1
No Independence Day bash would be complete without fun-packed games and activities for children, and thatâ€™s exactly what dozens of Club youngsters enjoyed while celebrating this important American holiday. Photos by Yuuki Ide
1. (lâ€“r) Julie, Marie and Brigitte Mizuno 2. Kyle and Sayoko Abe 3. Michael Tan
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Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Wine (But Were Afraid to Ask) July 10
The Clubâ€™s wine program manager, Kelley Michael Schaefer, guided 40 lovers of the grape through an entertaining tasting of nine wines and answered winerelated questions along the way. Photos by Yuuki Ide
1. (lâ€“r) Steve and Machiko Romaine and Arthur Ozeki 2. Jonathan Breaden (right) 3. Kelley Michael Schaefer 4. Michael Ostern (left)
Snapshots from Club occasions 43
For more photos from some events displayed in these pages, visit the Event Image Gallery (under News & Info) on the Club website.
TAC Premier Classic Squash Tournament July 27–29
The Club hosted three days of thrilling squash as more than 160 top-level players, including 15 Members, took part in this annual tournament. Ryosei Kobayashi and Misaki Kobayashi took top honors in the men’s and women’s open competitions, while the Club’s own Orlando Faulks won the men’s Friendship Tournament and Sachiko Maeda was crowned champ in the women’s. Photos by Yuuki Ide
1. (l–r) Chris Pittaway, Timothy Ely and Martin Fluck 2. Ryosei Kobayashi and Nicolaas Masee 3. Mayu Yamazaki and Martin Fluck 4. Misaki Kobayashi and Nicolaas Masee 5. Kei Yamanishi and Orlando Faulks 6. Misaki Kobayashi 7. Yuki Omiya 8. Mayu Yamazaki and Chinatsu Matsui
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Snapshots from Club occasions 45
Camp Discovery July 25
Dozens of youngsters kept boredom at bay this summer through the Club’s annual weeklong sessions of sports, crafts, music, games and field trips for ages 3 through 12. Photos by Yuuki Ide
1. Yuma Okazawa (front) 2. (l–r) Kenichiro Benedict, Hiyu
Yamauchi, Alena Tan, Emma Duell and Leonardo Yang 3. (l–r) Keiran Tan, Lisa Neureiter, Alisa Okawa, Stephanie Handte, Alexander Smythe, Harrison Smythe and Elizabeth Handte 4. (l–r) Anthony King, Korina Morales and Alena Tan 5. Anna Fink 6. (l–r) Yuma Okazawa, Taiki Kato and Luke Howatt 7. Alisa Okawara 8. (front) Teppei Morita and Kenichiro Benedict 9. Lei Tase and Kokono Matsukawa 10. Hiyu Yamauchi 11. Stephanie and Elizabeth Handte
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Snapshots from Club occasions 47
Whatever the story, anecdote, fictitious tale, rant, cultural observation or Club commentary, now’s your chance to take it to the world…well, Membership, anyway. E-mail your submission (no more than 700 words) to email@example.com.
Inside the Minds of Moms by Dave McCaughan
ake my engagement ring, but leave me my personal technology. That’s the sentiment we heard from moms in a dozen countries, when my colleagues and I researched the attitudes of Internet-savvy mothers of children under 15 years old. In one exercise, we asked a selection of moms in eight countries to choose just one item from a list of articles. Overall, around 10 percent of respondents selected their engagement ring. In the United States, this was closer to 20 percent. But across all nations, around 50 percent of mothers said that they would want to keep either their mobile phone or their computer. While the number was a little lower in the US, nearly 75 percent of Japanese moms picked an electronic device. But maybe these numbers shouldn’t appear that surprising, particularly in a world where mothers told us how they relied on blogs, social media and advice websites to keep up with parent-related information. In the demands of being a “good mother,” technology makes all the difference, it seems. In fact, around 64 percent of American mothers said that they thought technology helped them become better moms. In countries like India and China, that number rose to around 90 percent, while only around 18 percent of Japanese mothers felt the same way—an eye-opener, considering the number of Japanese moms who wouldn’t give up their technology in the first exercise. But we have to remember that today’s moms in Japan have had more access to online advice than anyone else. As the first generation to enjoy mobile Internet
48 September 2012 iNTOUCH
access through i-mode-connected phones, they fell in love with the world’s largest personal care specialist site, @cosme, and have been gleaning tips from online forums, blogs and social media sites for as long as they can remember. For Japan’s moms, personal technology is a given, not a luxury. Yet even with all the information available, two-thirds of moms rejected the idea of their being a supermom. Japanese mothers were among the most likely to admit that they could never be perfect. In addition, 80 percent of Japanese moms said they wanted their children to know “the real me.” One mom said, “I want my son to be proud of my attitude of not being afraid of making mistakes.” We also discovered—perhaps unsurprisingly—that moms everywhere were focused on trying to raise happy families. More than 80 percent of mothers in most countries said that their children’s happiness was a more important goal than success or wealth. Sharing information on how to achieve that happiness was important, too, with 90 percent of all respondents happy to broadcast their opinions and share their knowledge. This wasn’t the case with all Japanese mothers, though. More than 20 percent of them told us that they didn’t want to share their opinions with anyone. Despite all this, please don’t misunderstand. My advice to all the married male Club Members is not to try and trade their wife’s engagement ring for a new phone! o Club Member McCaughan is director of strategic planning with the advertising agency McCann Worldgroup Asia-Pacific.
TOKYO AMERICAN CLUB
第 四 十 七 巻 五 六 九 号
TOKYO AMERICAN CLUB
毎 月 一 回 一 日 発 行
ト ウ キ ョ ウ ア メ リ カ ン ク ラ ブ
i N T O U C H
イ ン タ ッ チ マ ガ ジ ン 二 〇 一 二 年 九 月 一 日 発 行 平 成 三 年 十 二 月 二 十 日 第 三 種 郵 便 物 許 可 定 価 八 ０ ０ 円
本 体 七 七 七 円
Club Member Kathy Matsui contemplates the economic power of women in Japan
Issue 569 • September 2012
Riding the Rails
One Member predicts the future of the bullet train
Member Agneta Riber talks about her life in education
From Blog to Book
Author Héctor García on his popular Japan primer