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MAY/JUNE 2009

Slowing down

Battle of the SUVs

The other Tenerife

Netting friends

Saving Minka

Spain’s new food


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23 14

07

19 contents : MAY / JUNE 2009 – Volume 5, Issue 3

A look into life’s dazzling diversity Published by Paradigm Kamiyama Ambassador 209 18-6 Kamiyama-cho, Shibuya-ku Tokyo 150-0047, Japan Tel 03 5478 7941 Fax 03 5478 7942 E-mail inquiries@paradigm.co.jp

arts

CULTURE

DANCING FOR AN IDENTITY 07

MINKA MAGIC 23

By Catherine Shaw

By Catherine Shaw

Theater and dance entwined, butoh baffles and impresses, but is understood by heart not mind.

Keeping alive the dying craft of creating these traditional farmhouses, with modern touches like heat, space and light.

Publisher Vickie Paradise Green Editor-in-Chief Simon Farrell Editor David Umeda Creative Director Richard Grehan Art Director Akiko Mineshima Editorial Researcher Francesca Penazzi Advertising Sales Eileen Chang, Sarit Huys, Helene Jacquet, Leai Kubotsuka

trends

technology

LIFE IN THE SLOW LANE 12

NET A FRIEND! 27

By Julian Ryall

By John Boyd

Bruno Contigiani used to live hard and fast, until he became a global advocate of the exact opposite.

Many and varied, virtual communities just keep on growing—and still barely post a profit.

DESTINATIONS

LUXURY MOTORS

TENERIFE REVISITED 14

THE NEW SUVs 28

Delivered Inside:

By Ivan Murzikov

By Ivan Murzikov

• Wall Street Journal Asia (Tokyo)

No more a cheap retreat for foreign drunks, the Canary Islands markets culture, festivals and quaint villages.

We pit the latest SUVs from Audi and Volvo against each other and find power need not be sacrificed for economy.

DINING

HEALTH

SANS ESCHEWING TRADITION 19

TAKING THE PAIN OUT OF RECONSTUCTIVE SURGERY 31

Placed in the Following Exclusive Locations: • Apartments 33 • Oakwood Serviced Apartments • Bureau Shinagawa Residences • Mori Residences • Frasers Place Howff Shinjuku • Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Chinzan-so • Hilton Tokyo • Roppongi Hills Club • Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan • Yokohama Country & Athletic Club • Tokyo American Club • The British School in Tokyo

By Catherine Shaw Spanish cuisine has evolved greatly beyond paella and tapas, but it still respects convention.

By Tony McNicol Finding the right clinic or hospital in Tokyo for non-cosmetic reconstructive surgery is half the battle.

REGUL ARS

from the editor’s desk 03

choice choices 04 Pink buffet. International school. Global citizens. Cooling down. Kaleidoscope / 1


If anyone in your valued network is not an ACCJ member yet, help sign them up. Recommend a new member to connect the best in business. Call us at 03-3433-7304 for more information.

American Chamber of Commerce in Japan


FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK

Changing pace From a slow life to fast cars, ancient culture to modern surgery, and a resort island’s successful transformation from mass-market to discerning visitors—that’s the latest issue of Kaleidoscope. Europe dominates with an Italian solution to today’s hectic pace in our Trends feature on page 12, entitled Life in the Slow Lane, and two SUVs’ quest to lower gas consumption without losing the power and prestige that makes Audi and Volvo main players in this field on page 28. Spain gets double treatment with a look at Tenerife old and new as our writer returns to the Canary Islands on page 14 to witness its rebirth as a serious culture spot rather than a cheap booze retreat for north Europeans. Iberian cuisine has also enjoyed something of a revolution lately, without losing its roots, our writer discovers on page 19. Back in Japan, the mystery of butoh is partially revealed on page 7, as we take a closer look in text and photos at what makes these avant-garde dancers so unique and perplexing. And some beautiful pictures also tell half the story in Minka Magic on page 23. These charming old farmhouses are enjoying something of a renaissance thanks to one master designer, but the industry

faces the threat of a shrinking number of artisans to actually carry out the work. If you are confused about the growth of the virtual communities phenomena, there’s a wrap up of what’s new on page 27, in Net a Friend! Finally, if you are in the unfortunate position of facing reconstructive surgery, we offer a quick guide on how to find the right clinic for your particular problem, with a few tips from the professionals in Tokyo, on page 31.

Simon Farrell Editor-in-Chief simonfarrell@paradigm.co.jp

Kaleidoscope / 3


CHOICE CHOICES

pink month super food buffet We bring you news for rejuvinating health! Super foods are high in antioxidants, such as Vitamin C. Flavonoids, responsible for the color of dark fruits such as blueberries, and other phytochemicals, such as betacarotene, and are known for their antioxidant properties, which is why brightly colored fruit and vegetables are considered especially beneficial. Mind you, no food is a “super solution” on its own. Certain components in foods and beverages interact to rejuvenate our bodies and have us reach a higher level of health. This nutritional concept is called food synergy.

Come savor a wide variation of foods prepared with this concept in mind at the Terrace in The Westin Tokyo, for a “Pink Month” buffet— promoting family health. A percentage of the proceeds during "Pink Month" will be donated to Run for the Cure® Foundation. You will also have a chance to win a DIAVANTE diamond pocket mirror! Pink Month Campaign at The Westin Tokyo: April 29-May 31, 2009

open for learning Makuhari International School opened its doors to over 170 foreign, dual-nationality and Japanese returnee children, in April 2009. The school is the only recognized international school in Chiba Prefecture, as well as the only Article One International School in the whole of Japan—formally recognized by the Ministry of Education. Makuhari International School provides a unique internationally minded educational experience based around the objectives found within the Japanese curriculum. The children—from Kindergarten up to Elementary school—learn mainly in English, and also are enrolled in Japanese or Japanese Studies classes on campus. Most critically, the school provides an optimum teacher-student ratio through small class sizes, supporting the overriding philosophy at Makuhari International School that all children are unique and special. The curriculum and activities program provide a learning environment where children are supported and challenged, as well as encouraged, to become independent thinkers and lifelong learners—a school where they are valued and nurtured. The school facilities and grounds reflect a specifiedpurpose design and construction that offers the very finest in modern physical resources, including an impressive range of excellent indoor and outdoor learning environments. Come see for yourself by making an appointment at Tel: 043-296-0277 or e-mail: head@mis.or.jp www.mis.or.jp


future global citizens In the past, enrolling at an international school in Tokyo was for the privileged few who were able to afford the associated high costs. The vision at K. International School Tokyo—an IB World School and the only school in Tokyo to offer all three IB programs—has always been to provide an accessible, quality international education to children from diverse backgrounds and abilities, so they can study together in a caring and secure environment without prejudice and injustice. Specifically, KIST aims to maintain an affordable fee structure as much as possible; provide a safe and secure educational environment where students can be themselves; and provide a quality, holistic international education. The school is undergoing construction of new buildings as part of its expansion plans. KIST encourages students to achieve the best they can in order to overcome barriers that may still exist in their lives after leaving school. The curriculum, as based on programs developed by the International Baccalaureate, is demanding and requires an effort by the students and an enormous amount of support from their parents. But, by no means, does this mean KIST only chooses gifted students. Rather, KIST values students who are academically motivated and have their own goals for the future; who are serious about learning and always strive to do their best; who are caring and respectful, and do not inhibit the learning of others; who are active rather than passive learners, with a passion to find out more about the world; and who want to make the world a better place. www.kist.ed.jp/

smart, hot & cool While seasonal weather may be cyclical, PS Company, Ltd. brings state-of-the-art technology that gives new meaning to comfort— whether under humid hot conditions, or during piercing-to-the-bone damp cold climate. With a long history of use in Europe and having evolved into both a heating and cooling system, hydronic radiators were introduced into Japan by PS—a company that has been around since 1960 and is approaching half-a-century of specialization in temperature and humidity. Employing no typical forced fan, this powerful alternative to conventional appliances cools and heats the space by radiant heat and natural convection. Since in Japan there is diversity in climate and architecture, PS proposes design and engineering to fit your particular situation to maximize on comfort and optimize on energy consumption. This summer, you can experience the cooling comfort of a PS HR-C in the PS showroom located near Yoyogi Park, 1-1-3 Tomigaya, Shibuyaku. Call Tel. 03-3485-8189 for a presentation. www.ps-group.co.jp

Kaleidoscope / 5


REFUGEES INTERNATIONAL JAPAN RIJ (国際難民支援会)

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have lost everything as a result of conflict around the World. RIJは、世界中で起こる紛争のためにすべてを失った、何百万という人々の中の一部を支援するプロジェクトに、資金を提 供しています。皆様の支援のお陰で、彼らが人間としての尊厳を回復し、生活を立て直す手助けをすることができます。

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ARTS

dancing for an

IDENTIT Y By Catherine Shaw

Perplexing and provocative, butoh is not for the faint-hearted.

CAPTURING THE PASSION AND MOVEMENT OF ANY DANCE FORM IS A CHALLENGE FOR ANY PHOTOGRAPHER; BUT WHEN IT COMES TO BUTOH, AN AVANT-GARDE MODERN DANCE THAT EMERGED IN POST-WAR JAPAN, IT IS

Photography by Boaz Zippor www.boazzippor.net

ESPECIALLY DIFFICULT.

Of course, that may have something to do with the fact that audiences watching Butoh performed live often find the experience extremely perplexing. Dancers sometimes writhe or crawl about in slow staged movements, their eyes occasionally rolled back, bodies dressed in loin cloths and painted a surreal white—all the while performing to a nonexistent “script” that seems known to them alone. Take a look at YouTube’s recording of a performance by Yasuchika Konno at Tokyo Gallery in 2007. What is viewed on stage could be dismissed as amusing—or as a peripheral artistic experiment—if not for the fact that, sometimes, the strange and tortured experience “works” it’s magic. “It’s not an art for the faint-hearted,” warns Tel Aviv-born fine arts photographer Boaz Zippor, for whom capturing the essence of Butoh on film has become his life’s passion. An appreciation of the beauty captured in this controversial dance has culminated in a series of world-class exhibitions around Asia that introduces a fascinated (and sometimes shocked) public to a provocative art form. Kaleidoscope / 7


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MAY/JUNE 09


Enter the stage, It is sacred; the dream begins ... I am a man, I am a woman, I am no one, I am everyone. At times it feels that I am not human, The raging monster begins to surface, He dies, my blood seeps into the ocean, Salt, fish, seaweed I am being pulled by the moon, The ebb and flow lulls me into timelessness, The constellations reflect on the sea. Ah ... this is the realm of Butoh

Butoh emerged in Japan as “a movement that was a search for a new identity, to establish meaning for a society after defeat,” explains Laurence Rawlins, director of New York’s Anima Dance Theatre, renowned for its post Butoh performances. It may be known as the “the dance of darkness,” he adds, but it plays an important role in providing a realm where the soul can express itself free of its “earth-bound prison.” Although notoriously difficult to define, Butoh, most agree, is a unique combination of dance and theater. “Its power lies in its strangeness and fascination,” says Eynat Molenaar, a Tokyobased classically trained ballet dancer, “and in that it refuses to be labeled or dissected, or even understood with the mind [but not with the heart]. It invites the spectator to explore, understand, feel and find out for oneself subjectively.” The spirit of Butoh will differ according to the sensibility of the artist, according to Rawlins. Its founder, Tatsumi Hijikata, was inspired by the writings of Jean Genet, the Marquis de Sade, and Antonin Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty concept. May 2009 marks 50 years since Hijikata first performed his notorious Kinjiki - Forbidden Colors in Tokyo, a performance based on Yukio Mishima’s controversial book on homosexual love. A horrified modern dance community in Tokyo expelled Hijikata, who,

IT REFUSES TO BE LABELED OR DISSECTED, OR EVEN

—Laurence Rawlins

UNDERSTOOD WITH THE MIND. undaunted, went on to establish his own Ankoku Butoh, which evolved into the international art form practiced today. Art that celebrates the grotesque seems a strange departure for photographer Zippor, known for his exquisite travel and fine art images. “I am always looking for interesting people to shoot, and the stranger the better,” laughs Zippor. “Most of my friends send me strange people they meet. A few years ago, I shot a young American actor in my studio. She happened to be part of an amateur Butoh dance group, so it ended up with all of the dance group visiting my studio and covering my entire home with makeup powder … there are parts of the studio which are still white today.” Butoh is one of the purest art forms there is, says Zippor. “It is a force of nature; and because it is so extreme, not only in the way it is performed, but also in the ideology behind Kaleidoscope / 9


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it—and the mental state the dancers are in—it is a representation of something that is normally kept hidden under our everyday masks.” Not all Butoh is dark, explains dancer Molenaar, referring to the Sankai Juku style founded by Paris-based poet Ushio Amagatsu. “He performs all over the world with a group of five to six dancers from Japan. Some call them beyond-Butoh because, unlike the other groups that ‘awaken their audience with shock,’ Amagatsu does it with a celebration of beauty and aesthetics. The ‘shocking’ parts are softer and beautiful to look at.” The graceful movements are emphasized by costumes that are often designed by globally renowned fashion designer Issey Miyake, while the stage is designed with installations and lighting to achieve a sensation of poetry in movement, says Molenaar. “It’s like a dream to watch. Once I overheard someone in the audience explain that the performance was ‘odoranai koto’—meaning Amagatsu’s ‘undancing’ is the perfect dance ... an example of Japanese subtlety.” Although remaining somewhat enigmatic to many, Butoh is experiencing a revival in Southeast Asia. Zippor believes it is because of the “democratic” nature of the art form and because the art has had time to mature during its peak of appreciation in Europe and the United States 15 years ago. “It lacks any kind of dogma or rules, and can be performed by anyone, anywhere. I truly think that it is an art form that touches people—and maybe this is its secret.” Despite Butoh’s controversial reputation, Zippor believes that, to most performers and dance teachers involved, “shock is not the goal, but the means. After all, we are grotesque and quite shocking under the social masquerades we learn to master from an early age. “I am often asked if my photographs are an attempt to document the feelings in Butoh,” says Zippor, “and my answer is always that I am less interested in documenting the feelings in the picture, and more interested in evoking new ones in the viewer.”

Catherine Shaw is a freelance writer based in Tokyo.

Kaleidoscope / 11


trends

life in the

SLOW LANE

Will the Italian Art of Slow Living ever catch on in Japan? By Julian Ryall

We rush, we hurry, we are in haste. Perhaps more so here in Japan than anywhere else in the world, people are constantly on the go, running from workplace to family commitment to events involving friends or colleagues. So often it seems that we hardly have time to breathe, let alone enjoy ourselves or relax.


ARE GOING TO GET TIRED—AND IF YOU WRONG DECISION AND THAT IS HOW ERRORS OCCUR.”

Bruno Contigiani used to be like that as well, forever trying to keep up with all the demands of his busy job in public relations in the Italian city of Milan. Then one day in the summer of 1999, on vacation with his family, he came close to serious injury jumping into the sea and landing perilously close to a submerged rock. His wife told him it had been a sign and that he needed to slow down. After a suitable gestation period, he founded L’Arte del Vivere con Lentezza—or The Art of Slow Living—and became an international advocate of life in the slow lane. “The world goes faster and faster, and the crises that people face get deeper and deeper,” said Contigiani, 62. “People are unhappy because everything is so fast-paced and we are not able to slow it all down again. “We’re not asking for the world to stop and we are not a movement for being late; we’re in favor of moving more slowly,” he said. His organization held its first Global Day of Slow Living in Milan in February 2007, followed by a repeat performance in New York the following year, during which Contigiani and his slow colleagues handed out “speeding tickets” to commuters rushing through Union Square. This year, Tokyo was chosen as the host city for what has become an annual event, with Contigiani—wearing a distinctive plumed hat worn by the Italian Caribineri—telling passers-by to slow down. But while Italians and New Yorkers were able to see the funny side of receiving a speeding ticket for walking too fast, the message was largely lost on Japan’s legions of salarymen and office ladies. Being Italian, Contigiani is far from downhearted—and hopes for better luck next year in Shanghai. And he remains convinced that his model for a more relaxed way of life is the key to greater happiness. “You are able to see the best parts of your life anew,” he said. “If you are always running, you are going to get tired—and if you are tired, then you can make a wrong decision and that is how errors occur. “By slowing down, we can see the real values in our lives—families, our relationships with our friends and things that are free, like nature,” he adds. “You don’t need to pay for a sunset, a beach, or to

9

SPEE DING

“IF YOU ARE ALWAYS RUNNING, YOU ARE TIRED, THEN YOU CAN MAKE A

DAY 0

SLOW DO WN

TICK ET

SLOW

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look at a tree. And you don’t know you have those things until you slow down.” Contigiani’s trip to Tokyo was supported by the Italian Institute of Culture in Tokyo, which hosted an exhibition by five contemporary photographers on the theme of slow living, as well as a panel discussion on how people might best reconcile the needs of the modern world and the benefits that a life less hasty can bring. And while most Japanese find slow living a concept that is too difficult to grasp, Kiyotaka Yamana is one of the few to embrace it. President of Aisaikai, or The Wife-Conscious Association, Yamana has made a pledge to make the world a nicer place by showing more care and appreciation for his wife, Kimiko. That involves coming home early from his job, at the Hakuhodo advertising agency, helping around the home more and generally being more attentive to his wife’s needs. All of which mesh neatly with the teachings of L’Arte del Vivere con Lentezza. “A slow life is possible in Japan, although there are probably more hurdles to overcome here, such as company regulations and social pressures to conform,” says Yamana. “But if each person has the courage, we can break the cycle. That involves such things as telling your boss that you’re leaving work early tonight to be with your wife, and that’s not always something that he will understand.” Aisaikai holds events—such as the annual day out in Gunma Prefecture when husbands are expected to stand in the middle of a cabbage field and declare their love for their wives at the tops of their lungs—and Yamana says he is regularly “overwhelmed” at how many people turn up and want to be involved. Contigiani, however, agrees that a slow life might not be for everyone. “There is ‘fast’ and there is ‘frantic’; and if you are happy to be going fast in your life, then that’s okay,” he said. “It’s just that people get caught up in going fast, they’re not happy and they cannot stop. That’s when it is time for a change.” His advice is sound. Life is too short. Stroll, don’t sprint. Look around you. Live a little more. Julian Ryall is Tokyo correspondent for The Daily Telegraph.

Kaleidoscope / 13


destinations

tenerife revisited This former brash resort in the Canary Islands now draws more cultured visitors to its festivals, natural splendor, and unspoiled villages. By Ivan Murzikoz Photos courtesy Tenerife Tourism Board

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MAY/JUNE 09


A

lthough the island of Tenerife is relatively small, it offers an astonishing variety of sights and experiences. I have to admit that my first visit to Tenerife in 2002 left me disappointed. I found it overrun by elderly Germans and brash Brits. And the trip there, on the only plane in which I’ve ever experienced in-flight smoking, was a nightmare. Admittedly, on land, there were some highlights; but it was only after my second visit recently that I discovered why Tenerife is now so highly rated—spend some proper time there and you’ll discover one of the most diverse places on earth. Also, Tenerife has worked hard the past few years to change its image of a cheap package holiday destination to appeal to a more sophisticated, upmarket clientele. Known as the Island of Eternal Spring, Tenerife—the largest of the seven Canary Islands off the coast of west Africa in the Atlantic Ocean—boasts a very appealing climate. In summer, temperatures generally range from 18 to 24 Cº, and in winter it hardly ever goes below 14 Cº. Tenerife is essentially divided into north and south by a central massif called the Cumbre Dorsal, and it dictates the amount of rain each half gets. The north is the lush, green floral fantasy world, while the south is the arid, otherworldly landscape dominated by shrubs, cacti and lava rock. It is the south that is most popular with tourists because it almost never rains here. Unlike the north, where the shoreline is dominated by cliffs, the south also has the benefit of numerous beaches. The most popular shorelines are at Playa de las Americas (artificial resort) and Los Christianos. Ironically, however, the most beautiful beach is probably on the northeast coast where Playa de las Teresitas was

Siam Park

created by shipping-in tons of sand from the Sahara Desert (only 300km away). However, most tourists head straight for Costa Adeje on the south because, besides the sea, sun and sand, it offers the most tourism-oriented facilities—such as theme parks, shopping centers and theaters. A fairly new attraction is Siam Park, a vast water theme park that is said to be the best in Europe. Las Americas is also where you head if a vibrant nightlife is high on the agenda, with its numerous pubs, restaurants and clubs from which to choose. Nautic, in particular, is a very highly rated restaurant. A Tenerife delicacy is a dish of potatoes with salty crusts, called papas arrugades. Tenerife has a number of colorful festivals every year. The most popular (with tourists) is the Carnival of Santa Cruz, which takes place in February. It is celebrated across Tenerife, with the most action happening in Santa Cruz. The carnival consists of a number of contests and bands of street musicians, minstrels and masquerades. The scene is very much reminiscent of the Rio carnival. A queen of the festival is chosen, and then the celebrations move to the street where the real party lasts for 10 days!

Interesting landscapes dominate

Carnival time


5

Volcano Warning

FACTS:

1. The Canary Islands are not named after a bird, but a particularly vicious kind of dog (Canarias).

Authorities issued an alert in late April that Mount Teide—the thirdhighest volcano in the world—on Tenerife could erupt and that the island is vulnerable due to high numbers of tourists and no evacuation plan. Mount Teide erupts about every 100 years—and the last time was in 1909. Many tourists take the cable car up Mount Teide and the Parador Canadas del Teide hotel is based in the crater of the volcano. Local officials rejected the warning.

2. Do not ignore the northern part of the island; many of the highlights are here.

3. Although average temperatures are mild, it can be very hot during the day (close to 40 Cº), and then very cool in the evenings.

4. Tenerife is not expensive compared with mainland Europe, so stay longer and explore.

5. Hire a rental car to avoid being bussed around in groups that only go to the hot spots.

Take your hiking shoes to explore Teide volcano.

The religious festival of Corpus Christi is very important on Tenerife and, for tourists, presents an opportunity to witness something really special. In La Orotava, the locals create a very large tapestry of different colored volcanic soils to cover the town square—the detailing is truly exquisite! Corpus Christi takes place in May/June. For some light entertainment, try to catch a game of Lucha Canaria. This very popular sport in Tenerife sees teams of 12 wrestlers each take on competing villages, islands and districts. Each wrestler wears rolled up pants, and players are only allowed to touch these in their efforts to throw over their opponent. For the uninformed, it initially looks like a game of grown men trying to pull down each other’s pants! Tenerife offers a number of interesting handicrafts if you want to take a memento away, such as Tenerife Lace and doilies known as rosetas that are handmade. Of course, you can buy similar items in the tourist shops; but beware that you may not be buying the real thing, but rather machine-made “table linen.” Rather head for more rural areas and, especially, Vilaflor to find authenticity. Other items to look out for are woven baskets, engraved jewelry, knives with ornate handles and, of course, wine. But all these things are but sideshows to the real Tenerife. The secret to enjoying the island is spending a little extra time, going a little bit farther out and exploring. Starting from the northwest coast—known for its rustic fishing villages, banana plantations and lush vineyards—one of the highlights includes the Aguamansa, a pine forest 1,000m above sea level. Also

16 / Kaleidoscope

MAY/JUNE 09


Colorful fauna and flora are Tenerife highlights

visit the famous dragon tree at the Icod de los Vinos. Scratch the bark of this tree and its oozing resin turns blood red. The original inhabitants, the Guanches, used the resin to embalm their dead. On the northeast coast, the standouts include the mentioned Playa de las Teresitas, a drive on the panoramic road on top of the Cumbre Dorsal, visiting a flea market in Santa Cruz and, if you like wine, the Casa del Vino in El Sauzal. Head southeast and you’ll encounter Vilaflor, the island’s highest village and famous for its lace, before ending on the southwest coast with all its beaches. My favorite is Playa de Santiago, a black sand beach at the foot of Los Gigantes. Also visit Las Aguilas del Teide, a wildlife park with lush tropical flora. But absolutely the ultimate of any visit to Tenerife must be Pico del Teide, the volcano that is also called the Roof of Tenerife, and is, at 3,718m, the highest peak on Spanish soil. It stands majestic, rising from a landscape that is dominated by odd formations of lava rock, sand and shrubs. Protected by a National Park and considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the mountain can be traversed by cable car to its summit, or you can even hike up to the top. Those who want to stay a little longer can also spend the night at Parador Canadas del Teide, the only buildings in the park, and enjoy stunning views of the volcano from its dining rooms. Pico del Teide is located almost in the middle of Tenerife, so is literally at the heart of the island, and likely to dominate the memories you take away. But don’t do what I did the first time and ignore the rest, because in the case of Tenerife, the sum really is greater than its parts.

ACCOMMODATIONS A few years ago, the Canarian Parliament passed an act that allows only 5-star quality hotels to be built. This was done in an effort to improve the standard of tourism and service, and has been hugely successful. I stayed in a hotel that is very much a product of this thinking, the Gran Melia Palacio de Isora, a brand new resort on the southern side of Tenerife. Designed by Alvaro Sans, the stunning hotel features some of the most magnificent pools I’ve ever encountered, including a saltwater infinity pool that seemingly blends with the ocean. A variety of rooms are available, ranging from multiple bedroom units to rooms with outdoor jacuzzis, private gardens and ocean views. The service is exceptional, with an acclaimed YHI spa on the premises, and even a service called RedLevel, which includes a private butler, among other amenities. www.granmeliapalaciodeisora.com


dining

MADE IN SPAIN:

sans eschewing tradition

Photo Courtesy: De Jonkman

By Catherine Shaw

When asked to name the best chefs in the world, most people offer up a host of French names, usually headed up by Joël Robuchon and his enviable clutch of 18 Michelin stars. But over the past two decades, a quiet revolution has taken place as France’s ironclad grip on the international culinary throne has been slowly but steadily eroded by its nearby neighbor, Spain. “Spanish food has improved beyond recognition over the past 15 years,” observed Spaniard Alex Gares, director of gastronomy for the luxury Maldives-based Six Senses Spa, during a recent visit to Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi. The young Catalan chef had come to Japan to join 11 other leading chefs in a culinary “congress” of sorts at the boutique hotel known for its innovative cuisine. “People used to think Spanish food was all about tapas and paella,” said the chef who has worked in numerous renowned Michelin star restaurants such as three-star Martin Berasategui and Carme Ruscalleda’s Sant Pau. “But what I make in my restaurant is completely different. New Spanish cuisine is about essential tastes,” said Gares. “Food is not just for the eyes; the real luxury lies in the food experience. The flavors must stay in your subconscious.” The transformation of Spain from home of traditional fare to the center of the culinary zeitgeist is widely attributed to the culinary

Kaleidoscope / 19


“Ferran is like Picasso, one-of-a-kind. It was an inspiration to us all.”

Photo Courtesy: De Jonkman

– Filip Claeys, chef and owner of De Jonkman


technology to the kitchen. But this is not just about playing with new technologies; one must never forget about taste.” But how do you go from chef to scientist, of knowing how to extract and distill previously unthought-of essences? “We have a scientist called Bernard Lahousse who is really crazy about food,” laughs Claeys. “He helps several chefs with food pairing. He analyzes the molecules in food to find out which flavors will match perfectly. We discovered that oyster and kiwi combine especially well. You wouldn’t think so, but they really do.” Embracing the new zeitgeist has, however, not meant eschewing established traditions in Spanish cooking. “We have such good products in Spain,” said Gares. “The change in our cooking has meant that some products which would have disappeared are now valued. We are blessed with excellent seafood and vegetables, so our food uses primary tastes. It’s healthy food.” “French chefs stayed the same while we changed,” declares Claeys, when I ask why it was the Spanish who led the revolution. “But innovation does not necessarily threaten tradition. One must have a traditional base to be able to play. Besides, some ‘new’ techniques

▲ De Jonkman Restaurant

▲ ekki Bar & Grill, Four Seasons Hotel at Marunouchi

spaghetti of asparagus had me wondering what was wrong with good old fashioned cooking; of fish that tasted ... well … like fish—without the adornment of fascinating foams or use of liquid nitrogen. Pushing the envelope creatively is all very well, but is it really necessary when simple food tastes so good already? But then I slipped a tiny spoonful of the Foie Gras Mousse with Tempranillo Wine Gelatin into my mouth. The exquisite blend, created by Daniel Garcia, owner of Michelin one-star Zortziko, can only be described as a mini-explosion of the subtlest combination of fabulous flavors. It shocked the senses, re-awakened the palate, and left me desperate for more. “The new element to our cooking is sensuality,” explained Gares, as my brain raced with plans for a long delicious summer in Barcelona instead of our usual chilly Britain. “The new cuisine embodies respect for products and seasons,” explains Claeys, “but the real change came from the introduction of

are not new at all. For example, cutting sashimi is a very old technique in Japan, but it’s new for me.” “The Spanish don’t feel constrained by the rigors of tradition,” explains Four Seasons (at Marunouchi) General Manager Michael Branham. “And the overwhelming interest we’ve seen during this promotion shows guests like it too.” Thankfully, for those of us with a sweet tooth, the new trailblazing techniques apply particularly well to desserts. Roger Van Damme, another famed chef who strikes me as a natural artist, stresses that respect for other cooking cultures is central to the new creativity. “Japan is at the ‘top’ when it comes to pastry. Japanese love it,” says Van Damme. “I think in 10 years we may even come back here to learn from Japanese chefs who have brought their own touch to our style.”

Photography: Robert Miller (Left), De Jonkman (Right)

genius of master chef Ferran Adrià. Although famous throughout Spain for some time, Adrià burst into the gastronomic stratosphere stage when in 2003 The New York Times featured his visionary experiments with different flavors and techniques at his restaurant El Bulli, close to the French border. Being described by Robuchon as ”the best cook on the planet” didn’t hurt either. “His work was pioneering,” declares Filip Claeys, chef and owner of Michelin one-star restaurant De Jonkman. “Ferran is like Picasso, oneof-a-kind. It was an inspiration to us all,” adds the Best Young Chef in the 2008 Gault Millau. Beyond his own experimental genius, Ferran demonstrated to a new generation of young Spanish chefs that physics and chemistry could be effectively blended with traditional cooking in the modern kitchen. This new nouvelle cuisine sounded all very exciting, especially when described with obvious passion by the chefs in question. At the back of my mind, however, I couldn’t help feeling slightly cynical when I sat down to sample the eccentric experimental cuisine while under the close watch of the Spaniards in the Four Seasons’ elegant ekki BAR & GRILL. The talk of air of carrot, parmesan ice cream and

Catherine Shaw is a freelance writer based in Tokyo.

Kaleidoscope / 21


Run for the Cure速 Foundation

Together, we are working toward eradicating breast cancer in Japan as a life-threatening disease through education, timely screening and treatment. Register for all our events at www.runforthecure.org


culture

minka magic The enduring beauty of Japan’s traditional homes. By Catherine Shaw

Restoring an old house is always a labor of love. Consider, then, a lifetime of such love—of more than 50 large wooden houses carefully dismantled by hand, then moved to a location for transformation into a modern living space. Now add the complexities of the modern Japanese building code with its stringent earthquake design requirements, and a post-war culture that embraced the shiny prefabricated world of buildings while dismissing the old. And it becomes clear that Yoshihiro Takishita’s success in saving so many of Japan’s minka (traditional farmhouses) is nothing short of miraculous.

Thankfully, some love affairs are enduring. Takishita and his wife still own the very first minka he discovered, in 1965, in a small hamlet in Naka Ise, that was about to be submerged by the construction of a dam. Coming from the wooded mountainous area of Gifu Prefecture, Takishita was no stranger to the highest standards of craftsmanship and carpentry. Yet, he recalls the moment he stepped into the minka and was stunned by the massive curved beams “which looked as if they were flying beneath the ceiling”—and thought, “This is it! This is the only house I could ever want.” Kaleidoscope / 23


Takishita saw beyond the dust and decay to the inherent beauty of the structure with its vast wooden beams and the unique space they created. Today, the rescued minka rests in the shadow of Mt. Fuji, on Genjiyama, one of the highest hills overlooking the ancient Japanese capital of Kamakura, 50km southwest of Tokyo. It was the perfect location for the building, says Takishita, showing me the breathtaking panoramic view from his home. Inside, the wooden beams he loves so much have pride of place in an expansive living room. Takishita recalls when another set of immense wooden beams created a defining moment in his early work. As he watched a minka being dismantled, he was suddenly struck by how the main beams and pillars looked completely different when they were inside the space of the dwelling—compared to when they had been dismantled. “They looked alive at first. It was extraordinary,” he recalls. “But once they were laid out on the ground, they looked so different, just like old timber with no spirit. It really was an emotional experience because I realized I really had to do something to keep it alive.” An important part of Takishita’s success with restoration is that he immediately understood that the long-term sustainability of such distinctive old buildings relied on them being made suitable for daily living. In addition to modern conveniences such as plumbing, air-conditioning and insulation, he created windows to bring light and the landscape into the previously dark interiors. In another adaptation, a deck affords extra opportunity to enjoy the garden and surrounding landscape; and a fireplace, “a foreign element,” creates a cozy focal point to the large living area. At the same time, he strongly believes that the essential physical elements (e.g., the timber) of minka must be maintained. “The subtle arcs of the naturally curved timbers, which are so skillfully incorporated into the wooden frame, are all one-of-a-kind; and when they are reassembled, a wonderful 200-year-old space comes back to life.” Furthermore, replacement with different old timbers would not recreate the essence, or sense of space, that was achieved with the original materials, he says.

▼ Massive Curved Beams “It looked as if they were flying beneath the ceiling,”


“The master carpenters are coming up to 60 years old now, and the new generation simply isn’t doing this kind of work anymore.”

Another key to his successful transformation of so many minka is the availability of highly trained craftsmen. “Many of the original builders of minka loved and understood wood, so they knew how to take advantage of each beam. They had amazing training,” says Takishita. “The master carpenter was the master architect in those days, and he supervised the whole project. Their knowledge and experience made some beautiful spaces.” Luckily for Gifu-born Takishita, many of his school friends continued this tradition and became skilled carpenters. Most have worked closely with him for decades. “But they are coming up to 60 years old now, and the new generation simply isn’t doing this kind of work anymore,” he muses. For the newcomer to minka, the vast scale and powerful beauty of these magnificent farmhouses is an unforgettable discovery—not only

for their innate architectural value, but also as a reminder that homes are meant to be lived in for more than one lifetime. When I last visited, Takishita kindly agreed to sign my copy of his book, Japanese Country Style – Putting New Life into Old Houses. The kanji he inscribed combines “human” and “wood.” “Together it means ‘happiness,’” he explained back then, with no need to say any more. Takishita has grown accustomed to the initial stunned reaction of his many guests when they first see the interiors. All who visit inevitably fall in love with the enduring beauty of these traditional structures; indeed, many return to beg him to recreate the magic of minka for them in their homes. Although he claims it is time to slow down, his continued passion for minka is obvious. “I’ve just finished one beautiful home for an extended family in Tokyo,” he says. “It’s 135 years old and I kept it in storage for 25 years until it was the right time. Of course, during the rebuilding of each house I always say, ‘This is the last’; and then at the end when someone asks me to do another, I think, ‘Well, why not? Each time it is as if the house is being reborn.” Catherine Shaw is a freelance writer based in Tokyo.

Kaleidoscope / 25


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technology

net a friend!

on-line!

Millions of members spend billions of minutes every day on this burgeoning online activity that struggles to post profits. By John Boyd

With names like Friendster, Bebo and Twitter, some might think online social networks are mainly for people seeking dates or who have too much time on their hands. That may have been true in the past; but today these virtual communities are many and varied—and participation in them and in blogs is a more popular activity than sending e-mail, according to market researcher The Nielsen Company, which published a report on the phenomenon in March. The report noted that these networks have “become a fundamental part of the global online experience,” and are “evolving—both in terms of a broader audience and compelling new functionality.” Even in the age of the Internet, the numbers using these networks are still stunning, with literally hundreds of millions of people around the globe forming communities based on similar interests and needs. The two biggies that got the concept rolling five years ago are MySpace and Facebook. Despite a quicker take-off by MySpace, Facebook has caught up and overtaken its rival, hence its eagerness to publish statistics. By its own account, Facebook, has “more than 175 million active users” worldwide, of which the “fastest growing demographic is 30 years and older.” Members spend a staggering 3 billion minutes on Facebook daily—in such activities as uploading photos, writing blogs, sharing stories and videos, and searching for old classmates and coworkers. Over half-a-million software developers are also creating applications such as games and features to make the site more social and attractive, while also hoping to make a buck or two for their efforts.

Another fast growing site is Twitter, which, banal as it sounds, enables members to broadcast tweets (micro blogs up to 140 characters) about their current activities—“I’m reading Kaleidoscope in bed.”—and get replies. Regarded as a fun activity by members, it can also be embarrassing. A Cisco Systems Inc. prospective hire inadvertently informed millions of Twitter users she had just been offered a job, though “hating the work.” A Cisco staffer saw it and asked who her hiring manager was. Moral of the story: make sure you tweet only to friends. Paul Buchheit, creator of Google Inc.’s Gmail, believes this kind of instant status updating is more than a passing novelty. He told the BBC recently, “I think it’s a new form of communication; not quite e-mail, more lightweight and more real time, often with a little bit of publishing flavor to it.” Meanwhile, despite the vast number of users, most of the social networks are struggling to come up with sustainable business schemes. Unlike conventional Internet sites that make money by displaying ads to all-comers, the social networks cater to a variety of interest groups, which mean only ads specifically targeted to their interests make economic sense. So far, the networks and advertising agencies are still figuring out how to do this in elegant fashion. Nevertheless, given the potential inherent in having millions of members visit regularly, it is surely only a matter of time before the social networks refine their technology and business strategy, and start generating profits. John Boyd is a freelance technology writer based in Kawasaki.

Kaleidoscope / 27


luxury motors

Volvo XC60

the new SUVs Audi and Volvo set new SUV trend. By Ivan Murzikov

Audi Q5 Audi Q5 2.0 TDI Engine:

2.0-liter, four-cylinder, turbodiesel

Power:

125 kW/4 200 r/min

Torque:

350 N.m/1 500 r/min

Top speed:

204 km/h

0-100 km/h:

9.5 seconds

Economy:

6.7 liters/100km

28 / Kaleidoscope

MAY/JUNE 09

are offered with ranges of engines that offer eyebrow-raising power figures and far more impressive economy than their bigger stablemates. Both offer excellent interior space for five, with flexible cabins and a variety of seating arrangements. And, most importantly, both offer virtually the same “off-road” capability, ride comfort and luxury features than their far more expensive and cumbersome siblings. The appeal is really quite easy to understand. Volvo’s XC60 reached the market first, and is a vitally important model for this embattled Swedish marque—parent company Ford has put Volvo on sale. Styled under the guiding eye of Steve Mattin, the XC60 introduces a new style language for Volvo, doing away with

Photos courtesy Audi AG

Doomsayers point to the worldwide economic crisis and rising environmental concerns to write off SUVs as socially unappealing. Well, I can’t really say I’m shedding a tear. A few exceptions aside, the SUVs as we’ve known them in the past have generally been nothing more than ego strokers, machines to make their drivers feel of an upper class, literally and figuratively. But the world is increasingly turning its back on them, and embracing vehicles such as the two described here. The Audi Q5 and Volvo XC60 are both additions to the two respective manufacturers’ line-ups that slot in beneath existing and established bigger SUVs, the Q7 and XC90. Both new vehicles


Photos courtesy AG Volvo

the strict Viking-boat inspired body shape with pronounced shoulders that have characterized most modern Volvos, and introducing an overall more svelte and sporty appearance. Inside, Volvo has, once again, used a different interpretation of its “floating” center console, which essentially sees the majority of the controls placed on a free-standing hangdown section, with storage space behind it. Finished in Nordic Oak, as was my test car, the XC60’s cabin is really effortlessly cool and classy. But I’m not so sure about the yellow, X-shaped leather inserts on the seats. By comparison, the Audi is, well, a bit boring if I dare say it because its overall look is actually exactly what you would expect an Audi in this segment to be. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; but compared with the Volvo, it certainly isn’t as interesting from a design point of view. Audi, nonetheless, is a recognized leader when it comes to interior design, and the Q5 is no different. Although my test car lacked the vibrant color options of the Volvo and, therefore, came across as a bit somber, it does still offer exquisite levels of perceived quality, excellent ergonomics and Audi’s acclaimed MMI control system (for the navigation, sound system, etc.). Audi also offers a vast range of options, so you can basically build your own Q5. Talking about options, the Volvo XC60 introduces a raft of new safety technologies, some as standard and some only available as optional extras. Among the more interesting items are BLIS (blindspot warning system) and City Safety (low-speed accident avoidance system). In fact, Volvo says the XC60 is the safest car it has ever built, a heady claim for a company that prides itself on safety. The Audi, of course, is hardly unsafe, but it doesn’t offer all these features.

On the road, there are a few surprises. The Volvo, especially in turbocharged T6 form, is stunning, with excellent performance and really good refinement. Drive like a normal person and the economy is also not that bad, although the D5 turbodiesel version will obviously be better, though not offering the same go. The Audi’s engine of choice is perhaps the 2.0-liter TDI, which gives stonking torque and excellent economy. The Q5 is also offered with a 2.0-liter turbocharged gas unit, and a meaty 3.2-liter V6. On the diesel front, Audi has a really stunning 3.0-liter turbodiesel available, too. So, there’s a Q5 to fit any need and almost any budget. Although few of these vehicles will ever venture off-road, they arguably offer better rough road capability than the bigger models. Ground clearance is good on both; and although the Volvo’s long nose spoils its approach angle, both the XC60 and Audi Q5 are surprisingly adept at conquering challenging surfaces. And their compactness give them the kind of maneuvrability that the bigger Q7 and XC90 simply doesn’t have. Overall, perhaps the most impressive aspect of these two vehicles is how they manage to be all things to all people. They are comfortable for a family of five, but take up no more space than a regular family sedan. Excellent performance for driving enthusiasts is on offer in both line-ups, but without the heavy penalty at the pumps. And guess what, both still offer the same high seating position, the same ability to traverse the rough road down to the family hide-out and even the same level of status appeal. The only difference is, really, that you’re paying less for a better car.

Volvo XC60 Volvo XC60 3.0T Engine:

3.0-liter, six-cylinder, turbocharged

Power:

210 kW/5 600 r/min

Torque:

400 N.m/1 500-4 800 r/min

Top speed:

210 km/h

0-100 km/h:

7.5 seconds

Economy:

11.9 liters/100km Kaleidoscope / 29


Health

taking the pain out of reconstructive surgery For treatment of acute trauma, moles, skin tumors, scars and the latest in orthodontics, finding the right plastic surgeon or dentist in Tokyo is as important as the surgery itself. By Tony McNicol Along with cosmetic surgery, reconstructive surgery is one of the two main types of plastic surgery. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons on its Web site states: “Reconstructive surgery helps patients of all ages and types—whether it’s a child with a birth defect, a young adult injured in an accident, or an older adult with a problem caused by aging.” But undergoing surgery, even minor surgery such as removing a mole, benign tumor, or repairing a skin laceration, is a daunting task—especially in a foreign country where you may not speak the language and are unfamiliar with the healthcare system. Fortunately, Tokyo has a large number of hospitals, clinics and dentists with English-speaking and foreign-trained staff. Plastic surgery clinics in Tokyo perform reconstructive, as well as cosmetic, surgery. “We deal with acute trauma such as dog bites, minor lacerations which occur at the workplace or at school; scar revision from old surgical scars such as caesarian

sections; and removal of moles and benign skin lesions,” says Dr. Robert K. Kure, who is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, at the Plaza Clinic in Hiroo. Although the clinic does not accept coverage under the Japanese national health insurance plan, it is able to fill in foreign insurance claim forms for patients. The Akai Medical Clinic in Kita-Aoyama offers skin regeneration, tightening and rejuvenation; treatment for minor flaws like freckles, large pores, unwanted hair, acne; and for rosacea and tattoos— along with the standard surgical procedures. “The key to effective treatment is an open and honest dialogue between patient and doctor,” says Dr. Hidemi Akai, who trained at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital. “To achieve this, each prospective patient receives an in-depth consultation as to the best method of achieving his or her goal. Only when both the patient and doctor are completely satisfied will treatment commence.”

Kaleidoscope / 31


Cosmetic procedures at the Akai Medical Clinic are not normally covered by the national health insurance plan, with the exception of surgical procedures for skin cancer. Sometimes, an overlooked option for treatment is to visit a UK general practitioner such as at the British Clinic in Daikanyama. Dr. Gabriel Symonds is one of only a handful of non-Japanese doctors licensed to practice in Japan. At the clinic, he can perform minor surgical procedures such as suturing wounds and removing certain skin tumors, sebaceous cysts or lipomas, and some types of moles and warts. “For patients to go ‘off the street’ to a clinic or hospital purporting to offer any kind of specialist treatment is often a hit and miss affair,” stresses Dr. Symonds. “The treatment may be good—or leave something to be desired—reflecting the variable standards of medical practice in the Japanese healthcare system.” He recommends going to a general practitioner such as at the British Clinic. “The patient can then be referred, if necessary, to the most appropriate specialist for the particular problem,” says Dr. Symonds. “We have a network of good Englishspeaking specialists in most of the major fields of medical practice.” Despite Japan having some of the most advanced dental technology in the

world, choosing a dentist in Tokyo can be particularly problematic. As Dr. Thomas R. Ward of the Tokyo Clinic Dental Office in Shibakoen puts it: “You might not think that dentistry is culturally based, until you attempt treatment in a foreign country.” He points to differences in expectations on when anesthetics should be administered, how much explanation of the treatment the dentist should provide, and whether the dentist will refer the patient to a specialist or perform the entire treatment. “The important differences between our clinic and others in Tokyo,” says Dr. Ward, “is that we can fill out all foreign insurance forms, communicate the treatment with the patient completely, as they are accustomed in their home country, and carry on treatment started abroad based on their previous dentist’s recommendations.” Dr. Naoko Freeman of the Nishieifuku Dental Clinic also offers explanations in English and a full range of treatments. “All our treatments are painless, as we always apply a topical anesthetic first to the gums before injecting the main anesthetic,” she says. “This is very rarely, if ever, done at other dental clinics.” Since many nonJapanese patients are “very nervous” on their first visit, the clinic offers an extended one-hour treatment slot at no additional charge, plus special English handouts to explain all treatment procedures. The Nishieifuku Dental Clinic offers the latest in orthodontics, such as the new Damon 3 braces system, ceramic braces and clear aligners, which are removable, not noticeable mouthpieces. Gums Peeling (according to Dr. Freeman, “sounds scary but really is harmless”) is a new service that only takes about 15 minutes, and for ¥3,150 results in virgin pink gums within one week. The clinic accepts Japanese national health insurance coverage for almost all treatments. If you are looking for a hospital or clinic near your home, there are several organizations in Tokyo happy to introduce non-Japanese to English-speaking medical facilities (see below for URLs). The AMDA International Medical Information Center, for example, provides assistance in Chinese, Tagalog, Spanish, Thai, Portuguese, Korean and Japanese. A similar organization is the Tokyo Metropolitan Health and Medical Information Center. Finally, the U.S. Embassy, Tokyo has a comprehensive list of English-speaking medical facilities, not just in Tokyo, but also in neighboring prefectures.

▲ Dr. Naoko Freeman of the Nishieifuku Dental Clinic

Tony McNicol is a freelance writer and photographer based in Tokyo.

PLASTIC SURGERY CLINICS

GENERAL HOSPITALS AND CLINICS

OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION

Plaxa Plastic Surgery www.plazaclinic.net/

The British Clinic www.tokyobritishclinic.com/contact.html

Extensive list of English-speaking medical service facilities on the

AKAI CLINIC www.akaiclinic.com/en/index.html

St. Luke’s International Hospital www.luke.or.jp/eng/index.html

http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacstokyodoctors.html

Town Plastic Surgery Clinic www.keisei.ne.jp/index_english.html

Tokyo Midtown Clinic www.tokyomidtown-mc.jp/en/

American Society of Plastic Surgeons

Jujin Hospital www.jujinhospital.com/english/index.html

U.S. Embassy, Tokyo Web site

on reconstructive plastic surgery

www.plasticsurgery.org DENTISTS Nishieifuku Dental Clinic www.iihani.com/index.php Tokyo Clinic Dental Office www2.gol.com/users/tward/clinic Shiroganedai Orthodontics http://tokyosmile.net/en/index.html

AMDA International Medical Information Center

http://homepage3.nifty.com/amdack/english/ E-index.html Tokyo Metropolitan Health and Medical Information Center

www.himawari.metro.tokyo.jp/



Kaleidoscope