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ESTABLISHED 1970 BY CORKY ALEXANDER

VOL. 39 NO. 14

SUMMER IN THE CITY CELEBRATING THE SUN

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FAMILY FOCUS ESTABLISHED 1970 BY CORKY ALEXANDER

VOL. 39 NO. 14

JUL 18 – 31 2008 FREE

06 Community Calendar The city events to be seen at 08 Feature Summer in the city 10 Movie Reviews Latest movie releases 11 Movie Plus The celebrities in town and making movies 12 Fine Dining Benoit 13 Dining Fumio Yanezawa and 57 16 Travel Summer cruising 17 Travel Saving money on travel in Japan 20 Business/Investments Business and money advice 21 Business Profile Abe BMW 22 Business Feature Yen loans 24 School’s In What does summer in Tokyo mean to you? 25 School’s Out Hands on Tokyo 26 Sports Ultimate Frisbee 27 Bill’s Partyline 29 Arts Global music festivities

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photos courtesy of the Cook family.

Unlike in many of our home countries, living in Tokyo can often mean that the summer is something to dread rather than look forward to. There is no doubt that the hot, sticky, weather can make life rather difficult at times and so in this issue of the Weekender, we look at some of the summer events you can not only look forward to, but actually celebrate the arrival of summer with. On page 13, we have a delicious summer recipe from 57 Head Chef, Fumio Yonezawa, that is easy to prepare and guaranteed to keep you cool, and on page 26, read about Ultimate Frisbee, a sport we can all play and enjoy here in Tokyo—despite the heat! Finally, on page 24, we asked six Tokyo-based children, what they like about summer, if nothing else it will remind you why summer can create such wonderful memories. Enjoy!

•••

ON THE COVER: Kodo drummers from the Sado Island Earth Celebration. Read more about these vibrant performers and how you can see them this summer in our feature on pages 8–9.

The Cook Family

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WEEKENDER—JAPAN’S QUALITY ENGLISH MAGAZINE PUBLISHER Caroline Pover ASSOCIATE PUBLISHERS Rajiv Trehan, George Taylor, Emily Downey EDITOR & DESIGNER Marie Teather ADVERTISEMENT DESIGNER Chris May TRAVEL & SOCIETY EDITOR Bill Hersey ARTS EDITOR Owen Schaefer EVENTS EDITOR Danielle Tate-Stratton DISTRIBUTION MANAGER Stephen Young MARKETING CONSULTANT Amy Dose CONTRIBUTORS Benjamin Freeland, Robert Forrest, Ian de Stains, Phil Gibb, William Casper, Nick Vroman, Alena Eckleman, Ulara Nakamura, Denis Leaker. OFFICES at Caroline Pover, Inc., 5th floor, Chuo Iikura Building, 3-4-11 Azabudai, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0041 Tel. 03-5549-2038 Fax: 035549-2039 Email: editor@weekenderjapan.com. Opinions expressed by WEEKENDER contributors are not necessarily those of the Publisher. FOUNDED IN 1970 BY MILLARD H. “CORKY” ALEXANDER

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he Cook family have been living in Japan for two years but Elycia originally came “as a single girl” to study at the Japan Center for Michigan Universities based in Hikone in Shiga-ken. For six months she admits to not eating Japanese food and to resisting Japanese culture before finally making the decision that she should immerse herself fully into her new world to the best of her ability. This she did, and she soon fell in love with the area and “the relaxed, wonderful life” that she could lead, so much so, that she came back to Japan the next year to teach English with the JET program. Staying even longer in Japan, Elycia worked at the Tokyo American Club in from 1993 to 1997, which she describes “as perhaps the best job I ever had,” before returning to live in Colorado. The day after landing she met Byron, who told her that he has always wanted to live in Asia. With this, Elycia knew he was the man for her. Two children later, (Aliyah, who is now six, and Milani, three), the family applied again for the JET program and were overjoyed to be placed in Shiga– ken—the place where Elycia had so many fond memories. Elycia teaches at the Hikone Shoyo High School and Byron at the Hikoni Higashi High School—a highly academic school that earns him instant respect and numerous bows from any local people he meets in the area. Both children love Japan and love learning about Japanese culture. Milani, who arrived when she was just one, is especially “the Japanese one.” Elycia starts the day by making a western breakfast of eggs and

Elycia a nd her two girls love lea rning a bout Ja panese Aliyah, before culture.

toast for then making a Japanese breakfast of onigiri for her youngest daughter. Both girls love wearing yukata and speak in the local kansai dialect. In addition to the classes in Japanese etiquette, they also learn about sado, the koto, and how to wear the kimono. “Sometimes I feel like they are in training to become little geishas,” Elycia laughs. On the weekends, the family spend time at Lake Biwa “the pride of Shiga” where they like to hang out and splash in the water. At hanami, the family watches the cherry blossoms and the girls even shed tears when the last cherry blossoms fall away! The family is grateful to the local community which has welcomed them warmly and allows them to enjoy their lives to the fullest. Last year, Byron’s parents also came to visit Japan and despite expecting a crowded and busy country, they too fell in love with Japan, the food, and the culture. From the 70-year old grandparents, to her youngest daughter, Elycia’s family is an example of how even the oldest and the youngest of people can adapt to life in Japan.

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Are you happy with the medical services available in Japan? To register your opinion on the medical services available to foreigners here, go to www.weekenderjapan.com and take part in our

survey. The survey will be online for an extended period of time and the results of the 2008 Weekender Medical Services Survey will be published in depth later this year.

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Jul 04–Jul 17 2008 Vol. 39 No. 13 


COMMUNITY CALENDAR

Black Stripe Theater presents The Homecoming, by Nobel-prizewinning author Harold Pinter, July 4–6, various times, Atelier Fontaine. Tickets ¥2,500–¥3,000, tel. 090-1537-0881.

Members and their guests are invited to join the FCCJ for the Japanese premiere screening of movie Frozen River. This movie concentrates on the lives of two single mothers on a Native American reservation that straddles the border between US and Canada. The lives of the women become so desperate that they turn to human trafficking across the border. This movie was an opening night selection at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. Following the screening, there will be a discussion with Program Director, Film Society of Lincoln Center, and Director of the New York Film Festival, Richard Pena. For more information, visit http://tinyurl.com/3erlnk. Kick off your summer celebrations with the 24th Tokyo Summer Festival, featuring music performances from around the world, all tied into this year’s theme of Forest Echoes and Desert Voices, July 3–31. Various times and locations, ¥1,000– ¥8,000. For details, www.arion-edo.org.

Enjoy Roy Ayers and the Original Superstars of Jazz Fusion today through July 12 at the Blue Note in Minami Aoyama. The evening features Wayne Henderson, Lonnie Liston Smith, and others, 7 and 9:30pm, also July 13, 6:30 and 9pm, ¥9,450, tel. 035485-0088.

Learn about the Termination of Employees at a Japan Labour and Employment Law Seminar today at the Toranomon Pastral Hotel Annex 6F from 1:30–5:30pm. ¥20,000–¥25,000, reserve through CCH Japan Ltd at 03-3265-1161. Join the BCCJ, CCCJ, and ANZCCJ for A New Frontier: The Emerging Possibility of a Sovereign Wealth Fund in Japan, a joint chamber luncheon with Koutaro Tamura MP. Noon–2pm, ¥6,000–¥7,000, The Westin Hotel. For more info, visit http://tinyurl. com/5wf92d. Explore the work of the Tokyo Wonder Site Aoyama’s Creator-In-Residence program graduates, through August 31, free. This program supports artists and creators from around the world who wish to do research-based creative projects in Japan. This year’s exhibit features artists from Australia, Japan, the Netherlands, France, Germany, and more. For more information about the exhibit, or to get information about applying to become a creator-in-residence, visit www.tokyo-ws.org/english/ aoyama/index.html

FRI 11 JULY

THU 10 JULY

WED 9 JULY

TUE 8 JULY

MON 7 JULY

SUN 6 JULY

SAT 5 JULY

Enjoy a selection of music from around the world, including chanson, canzone, fado, bossa nova, and shimauta at World Hit Songs tonight at 3 and 6:30pm, ¥5,000–¥7,000, Tokyo International Forum, Yurakucho. For tickets, tel. 03-3943-9999.

UK-Japan 2008 supports a joint concert by the Oxford University Hertford College Choir, Tokyo Madrigal Club, and Keio 150 Orchestra at Keio University Mita Campus’ North Hall. Call the Tokyo Madrigal Club for more information at 090-1999-0034.

The Homecoming ommunity theater in Tokyo, in English, is alive and well, as proven by Black Stripe Theater’s production of The Homecoming, written by Nobel-prize winner Harold Pinter. The Homecoming was written in 1964 and takes place in North London, centering around the lives of five men and a woman (played by Rachel Walzer). This 1967 winner of a Tony Award tells the story of an expat living in America (Teddy) and his wife (Ruth)’s return to Britain. There, they interact with the rest of the family, which includes a retired butcher and a boxer. This play explores power struggles, sexual tension, and family dynamics, culminating with the dissolution of Teddy and Ruth’s family. Of this play, The New Yorker’s theater critic John Lahr has written: “The Homecoming changed my life....

 | Weekender—Summer Celebrations Issue

Before, I thought theater was about the spoken; after, I understood the eloquence of the unspoken. The position of a chair, the length of a pause, the choice of a gesture, I realized, could convey volumes” (Demolition Man). The play, produced nearly entirely by expats, opens July 4 and runs through July 6 at Atelier Fontaine in Azabu Juban, at various times and tickets are ¥2,500– ¥3,000. For tickets, email: blackstripetheater@yahoo. com or phone Director Walter Roberts at 090-15370881. For more info: http://blackstripetheater.wordpress.com Please note, this play deals with adult themes.

Black Strip Theater

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Would you like your community event listed in this calendar? If so, please email danielle.tate-stratton@weekenderjapan.com one month before the event is due to take place.

Help support The Fourth Indonesian Charity Day, which will be benefiting the Pelita Indonesia Education Fund For Street Children in Indonesia. The event includes Indonesian music and dance, a traditional costume fashion show, an Indonesian lunch box, and more. The event will take place from 12:30–3:30pm at Asuka Hall in Kita. Tickets are ¥1,500–¥3,000 and are available in advance via email at charityday_ticket@yahoo.co.jp. For more information about the event and the charity it supports, visit http://pelita-indonesia.org.

Help light up the day of a Japanese senior by joining Hands On Tokyo as they visit the Sakuragawa Senior Home, taking part in activities such as memory games and manicures. Please note that before you participate in a Hands On Tokyo volunteer event, you must participate in a 45-minute orientation session. For more information visit www.handsontokyo.org/en

Join the FCCJ and Dr. Walid Mahmoud Abdelnasser, Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt for a talk about the situation in the Middle East as well as JapanEgypt relations. Dr. Abdelnasser has been the ambassador since last September and is uniquely positioned to talk about these issues. ¥1,260–¥3,570 depending on if you are a member or a guest and the lunch option you choose. Noon–1:30 visit www.e-fccj.com/node/3606 for more information.

Travel to the National Noh Theatre in Sendagaya for summer Noh and Kyogen performances tonight at 6:30pm, ¥2,200-¥4,800. Also July 12, 1pm. For tickets tel. 05-7007-9900.

The University Art Museum at the Tokyo University of the Arts presents an exhibition entitled Bauhaus Experience, Dessau through July 21. Free–¥1,400, Ueno Park, tel. 050-5525-2200. Open Tuesday–Sunday, 10am–5pm, www.geidai.ac.jp/ museum

Enjoy a regal night out with Tokyo Sinfonia as they play, at the invitation of the Russian Ambassador, in the Great Hall of the Embassy—a Serenade in the Bolshoi Sal. Tickets are ¥7,000–¥10,000 and are available online at www.tokyosinfonia.com.

FRI 18 JULY

THU 17 JULY WED 16 JULY TUE 15 JULY MON 14 JULY SUN 13 JULY

SAT 12 JULY

Give back to the community by volunteering at Second Harvest Japan’s weekly Saturday Soup Kitchen, any Saturday from 10:30am–3:30pm. The day is divided into three portions and you are welcome to come to one, two, or all three of the ‘events’. Anyone 12-years-old and over is welcome to come lend a hand. For more information, visit http://tinyurl.com/5nrpyr or contact Patricia via email: volunteer@2hj.org, or tel. 090-9332-8822.

ACCJ members and their guests are invited to learn about Smoking in Japan & Global Developments to Stop This Habit. Ambassador Ira Shapiro will speak about how Japan’s government might work to stop this problem. 12–2pm, http://tinyurl. com/4bsqhm

Hands On Tokyo

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ould you like to lend some help volunteering in Tokyo but feel you don’t have the time to commit to a regular position or charity? Are you worried about facing a language barrier as you try and help Tokyo’s less fortunate? Hands On Tokyo can help match your time and talents to a local charity. Originally started by a group of New Yorkers with a limited amount of time but a desire to help, Hands On works to match volunteers with charities on an as-needed basis. This allows for volunteers to give what time they can, when they can, and also means that charities always have their volunteer needs fulfilled. Hands On Tokyo is also unique in that a project coordinator goes on every volunteer project in order to provide bilingual assistance and support as needed. Each week, there are several projects for volunteers to join after they complete a 45-minute orientation session.

For instance, volunteers may spend meaningful time with seniors, helping them with memory games or giving manicures. They could also help with Second Harvest Japan’s regular food banks or coach Special Olympics basketball teams. There are also other Special Olympics-based programs such as teaching adults how to bowl and working with children on developing motor skills. Hands On Tokyo is a great group for the entire family to get involved with as some of the projects, such as visiting children living at the Wakaba-ryo Children’s Home, are open to all volunteers age ten and over. For more information about Hands On Tokyo and to sign up for a volunteer orientation, visit www. handsontokyo.org. Also see page 25 for news of a recent Hands On Tokyo event.

Jul 04–Jul 17 2008 Vol. 39 No. 13 


FEATURE

Summer in the City Celebrating Summer—Tokyo Style, by Danielle Tate-Stratton

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ith the heat and humidity of summer slowly and surely settling over Tokyo, it’s time to start planning how you and your family will be celebrating summer in and around Tokyo. As usual, there is no shortage of events to take advantage of in this bustling city. You can enjoy the thriving live-music scene in Japan at one of a number of day, weekend, or even month-long music festivals, or combine a lesson in Japanese culture with a great party at one of the summer matsuri that take place just about every weekend in July and August. Alternately, celebrate with a bang as you and your family watch the glittering fireworks that light up the August skies each year. Sounds of the Summer For lovers of music, Tokyo is a fantastic city to live in—year round. Hundreds of acts from the latest top-twenty bands to classic jazz, rock, and classical musicians come to the city on world tours and the Japanese public’s loyalty means that your favorite acts from ‘back in the day’ are very likely to make a stop in Tokyo if they’re still out on tour. During the summer, it gets even better as several large music festivals give live-music lovers the chance to immerse themselves in a full-day concert. Close to Tokyo, Summer Sonic is a fantastic one or two day festival option. Concurrently occurring in Osaka, two different sets of acts perform on Saturday, one at each location, then jump on a train and switch cities, meaning the festival has exactly mirrored set lists each day. This year, the August 8–9 festival features Coldplay, Alicia Keys, Death Cab for Cutie, the Sex Pistols, the Verve, JUSTICE, Band of Horses, and dozens more. Tickets are ¥15,000 for one day or ¥28,500 for both. The event, which takes place at Tokyo Chiba Marine Stadium and Makuhari Messe, also has a camping option in the ‘Seaside Village’ for those who don’t want to commute back to Tokyo after a full day of rocking out. View the complete lineup and get tickets at www.summersonic.com/08.

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Phone - 03-3505-4490 URL - http://www.sujis.net 8  | Weekender—Summer Celebrations Issue

Also in Tokyo is the month-long Tokyo Summer Festival, which takes place July 3–31 at locations around Tokyo. Organized by the Arion-Edo Foundation, this year’s theme is Forest Echoes and Summer Voices and features everything from traditional Tuareg music from the Sahara Desert to a daylong workshop on body painting and dance, facilitated by Karajá Indians. The closing gala concert features up-and-coming musicians from the Arion Young Talent Series. For full details and ticket information, visit the extensive English website at www.arion-edo.org/tsf/2008. Slightly further a field is the world-famous Fuji Rock Festival. While the set list concentrates largely

on Japanese acts, there are plenty of international favorites as well. Headliners include Kasabian, Simple Plan, and Underworld. Get the full festival experience by camping out on the snow-free slopes of the Naeba Ski Resort that plays host to the festival, or book a room in a local inn. With eleven stages, shops, camping, food, and more, the three days of this festival are sure to fly by! One day: ¥16,800, three days: ¥39,800; car park passes and camping (per person) are ¥3,000 each per day. For tickets, additional information, and a complete list of the scheduled acts, visit www.smash-uk.com/ frf08/index.html. Cultural Celebrations Also requiring a weekend trip away is the perpetually popular Earth Celebration on Sado Island, which is spearheaded by KODO, the world-famous taiko drumming group. The festival takes place August 22–24 and includes workshops on topics such as women’s-style taiko, Japanese drumming for kids, and how to make a Japanese flute. There are also lectures, exhibitions, a harbor market, concerts, and much more. For daily or event-specific tickets, transportation and accommodation information, and further details about the festival, visit www. kodo.or.jp/ec. Love is in the Air Back in Tokyo, enjoy a cultural day at one of the many summer masturi, or festivals, around town. One of the most romantic Japanese festivals takes place on July 7 and is known as Tanabata. This festival celebrates the story of two lovers, depicted as stars, who are separated by the Milky Way but allowed to meet once a year—on July 7—when their stars literally align in the sky. Traditionally, tanabata is celebrated by writing wishes onto pieces of paper that are then hung onto bamboo. To celebrate in public, head to nearby Hiratsuka in Kanagawa, which hosts the yearly Shonan-Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival. The weekend-long festival (held close to July 7) features a bamboo decoration contest, parades, and other attractions. Alternately, travel to Tokyo Disneyland in Chiba to take part in their Tanabata celebration, running July 1–7. If you’re already there, consider staying until July 8, for the grand opening celebrations for the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel, the resort’s third official hotel. Other summer-specific events at Tokyo’s version of the ‘happiest place on earth’ include two water programs at Disneyland, Cool the Heat and Goofy’s Cool Panic, as well as night show called Starlight Dreams. Each summer show runs from July 8 through August 31, with the exception of Goofy’s Cool Panic, open though September 11. Alternately, splash over to Disney Sea for their special summer night show, Bon Fire Dance (July 8–August 31) or the water show, Chip ‘n Dale’s Cool Service (July 8–September 11). Tickets for Tokyo Disney and Disney Sea vary widely depending on how long you go for, if you stay in the hotels, which of the two parks you visit, and how old the members of your group are. For full details, visit www.tokyodisneyresort.co.jp/index_e.html. International Flavorings Back in Tokyo, one of the largest and most popular festivals, especially with the expats living in the area, is the Juban Matsuri in Azabu Juban, which features hundreds of food stalls and stands set up


Dance the Night Away Another large dance festival is the yearly Koenji Awa Odori, August 30­–31, which features approximately 12,000 dancers on over 180 teams, or ren, performing awa dances along the streets of Koenji. This is the second-largest awa odori in Japan and, along with the Sumida River Fireworks and the Samba Festival, it is one of the three largest summer festivals in town. For more information, visit their English website at www.koenji-awaodori.com/indexEn.html. A third summer festival to combine dance and culture is the Harajuku Omotesando Genki Matsuri Super Yosakoi Festival, which will take place in five areawide locations on August 23 and 24. The festival celebrates yosakoi dancing, a modern version of the awa summer dance, which began in Japan in 1954. Typically, yukata or happi coats are worn, contributing to the colorful, celebratory atmosphere. Information about the festival is available (in Japanese) at www.yosakoiharajuku.com. Otherwise, for an eclectic mix of activities, consider the Ueno Natsu Matsuri, which is a yearly event in Ueno Park and the surrounding area from late July to early August of each year. Activities include (depending on the day) a lantern floating festival, yukata photography session, and ice sculpture presentation. There are also traditional foods and performances.

photo courtesy of Jordon Cheung.

Koenji—“There’ll be dancing in the streets�.

a history hundreds of years long and are constructed uniquely in round balls that allow for a distinctive and unusually beautiful explosion. Displays in Japan are typically rooted in competition and are uniformly spectacular. For a traditional experience, travel to Asakusa, where the Sumida River Fireworks Festival (July 26) will set off 20,000 fireworks, the most of any festival in Tokyo. Despite the fact that all of the shells are under five inches each (due to size constraints and safety), this is a beautiful show each year. For an even larger-scale experience, head to Tokyo Bay on August 10, where 12,000 explosives are set off. Despite the show having fewer numbers of actual fireworks, this festival is worth it as this is the only place in Tokyo where you can see the largest size of fireworks. While the fireworks displays typically start at around 7pm, be sure to get there early as large crowds are common and spots are hard to come by. The Sumida River Fireworks, for instance, can draw up to 900,000 spectators! For fireworks listings around the city, visit www.sunnypages.jp/events. This is just a selection of the festivals to celebrate summer taking place in and around Tokyo this year. For more listings, check out the following websites: www.japantimes.co.jp/ entertainment/festivals. html, http://tinyurl.com/ 4pomg9, and www.whatsonwhen.com.

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in the area’s streets. Last year, there were also musical performances (including jazz, shamisen, and Hawaiian-style music), and an antiques fair, among others. Given the international neighborhood in which this festival takes place, there is a culturallyvaried flavor at the matsuri and many of the area’s embassies get together to create a food fair of international specialties. This matsuri takes place in late August of each year; check with the Minato-ku ward office for details closer to the time. For another celebration with an international flavor, head to Asakusa on August 30 for the annual Samba Festival. Since 1981, Samba teams from all over Japan, as well as Brazil, have been meeting in the area to compete with dancing, percussion, and colorful costumes. The highlight of the festival, which also includes children’s performances, shamisen players, and folk songs, is the Grand Parade, said to last several hours over an afternoon. For information about the festival, in Japanese, visit the official website at www.asakusa-samba. jp/index.htm.

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or someone who sometimes finds it increasingly difficult to keep their balance in the shower any surfing movie appears as an unfolding series of little miracles. One California Day is no exception. Beautifully shot on Super 16 mm film stock by filmmakers Mark Jeremias and Jason Baffa, the film covers several different surfers in six different locations along the breathtaking California coast. The film conveys a surprising sense of gravitas regarding the West Coast’s favourite pastime. In the exploration of surfing past and present, we get a real sense of the history of the sport and at the same

time post World War Two America as well. California, the state most country–like in the whole of the USA, the place where Raymond Chandler meets Walt Disney, looks as beautiful, Shot on 16mm film, special effects not required. epic, and dreamlike as ever. A fine, heartfelt film. Oh and Dude, the surfing footage is like, totally way cool.

Speed Racer

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peed Racer inhabits that shiny, new, though increasingly over-populated, cinematic sphere where live–action kids’ movies meet animated comic books (cartoons, as they were once called) and create day-glo colored worlds hyper with super reality. If this sounds at all your cup of tea you will not be disappointed with the Wachowski brothers (makers of the Matrix trilogy) latest crash, bang, wallop, hurricane of color and noise. Based on a Japanese anime series about a racecar driver called Speed Racer (his family name is Racer–his parents called him Speed). The ‘plot’ has Master Racer trying to win a race that his older brother Rex (Rex? Rex Racer? Why didn’t Mr. and Mrs. Racer name their first-born Speed? Then Speed could have been Speed 2. I digress...) died racing in. Conflict comes in the form of Royalton Industries as the film (made by Warner Bros) makes it clear where it stands on the corporate world. Apparently, big business is bad and independent maverick car designers, like the Racers, are good (watch

out for the John Cassavetes retrospective coming to a multiplex near you). Emile Hirsch is fine as Speed and John Goodman is a good fit as Speed’s Animation meets action. Dad. The redoubtable Christina Ricci is oddly vacant as Trixi Speed’s very platonic love interest. Mathew Fox (from TV’s Lost) plays the mysterious Driver X, and one can only assume Susan Saradon, who plays Speed’s Mother, was drawn to Speed Racer’s anti-corporate message‌either that or she did it for the money. Presumably aimed at the pre-teen market, Speed Racer’s unnecessarily long 135-minute running time, despite the visual stimulus on show, could well result in wide spread fidgeting from not just the younger viewers.

August Rush

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or the less cynical, August Rush is probably the perfect three–tissue movie, and as you would expect from a modern reworking (albeit loose) of Charles Dicken’s maudlin classic, Oliver Twist, has plenty of emotional twists and turns. The film tells the story of 11-year-old Evan Taylor, an orphan in a boys home convinced his real parents will come and find him. Faced with the prospect of being placed with another family, he escapes to New York. Once in the big, bad city he meets all sorts of characters and lost souls. He also reveals an incredible natural musical talent that alerts one character, the Fagin–like Wizard, to all kinds of financial possibilities. With this in mind he changes Evan’s name to August Rush. There is a rather coy flashback to the night Evan/ August was conceived, a one-night stand between a cellist and a rock singer and a not quite convincing explanation of why Evan was abandoned. The rest of the film concerns itself with possible reconciliations between cellist, rock singer, and August, hindered by the Wizards musical exploitation plans.

Robin Williams, at his hammiest, takes on the Fagin/ Wizard role to Freddie Highmore’s (the kid from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) Oliver/Evan/August. The excellent Keri A modern day Oliver Twist and Fagin? Russell is sadly underused as Evan’s mother and doesn’t quite set off the magical sparks with Jonathan Rhys Meyers (the father) that the films requires. Terrence Howard once again turns in a solid performance as Richard Jeffries, the good hearted social worker who helps August track down his parents. Competently directed by Kirsten Sheridan, August Rush looks good and has a stirring sound track. The film has some beautiful moments but does stray into the kind of tearjerker territory that may well be too much for some. In essence, a child’s fairytale in New York. Cynics should probably look elsewhere for their viewing pleasure.

WEEKENDER’S FAVORITE MOVIE THEATERS SHINJUKU: Shinjuku Milano Za, Kabuki-cho 1-29-1, Tokyu Milano Bldg. 03-3202-1189. JR Shinjuku station East Exit, number B13. Walk towards Nishi-Shinjuku station; the theater faces this station. Showing: Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Speed Racer..

ROPPONGI: Roppongi Hills Cinema. Roppongi 6-10-2, Minato-ku. 03-5775-6090. In the Roppongi Hills Keyakizaka Complex, facing the Mori Tower, Hibiya Line Roppongi Station. Showing: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, August Rush, 27 Dresses. www.tohotheater.jp.

SHIBUYA: Shibuto Cine Tower, Dogenzaka 2-6-17, Shibuya. 035489-4210. From JR Shibuya station, take the Hachiko exit to the large intersection (to Dogenzaka). Go up the road, and it will be on your left (across from Shibuya 109). Showing: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, August Rush, Rambo, The Mist. http://gmap.jp/shop-1533.html.

ODAIBA: Cinema Mediage. Daiba 1-7-1, Minato-ku. 03-55317878. Across from Tokyo Teleport Station, just behind the Fuji TV building. From the Yurikamome line’s Daiba station, cross the street. The cinema is next to Aqua City Odaiba. Showing: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Cloverfield, The Bucket List, 27 Dresses, 21, Rambo, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, www. cinema-mediage.com.

For more reviews please visit our website at www 10 | Weekender—Summer Celebrations Issue


MOVIE PLUS WITH BILL HERSEY

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s you know if you read the Rambo review in our last issue, the critic didn’t much like the latest Rambo. I’m sure that he’s justified in his feelings. I too am not all that much into blood and gore flicks, but there are a lot of people out there that love them (check out the Scream awards). Stallone said he made the film for the younger crowds and there are always those who like a film and those who don’t. Sly was critized over the film by Amnesty International but praised by Burmese prodemocracy groups. Stallone is in his sixties and the man, who was one of the biggest stars in the world in the 80s, just keeps going. His last Rocky Balboa film was a big success and he wrote, directed, produced, and starred in the latest Rambo. Congratulations to Gaga on their fun and interesting press conference at the Peninsula Hotel and the dynamic, exciting premiere at Roppongi Hills. On Stallone, I’ve had the privilege of knowing him for twenty years. Even when he was super busy, he dropped by the Lex for a friendly hello and a hug. The man is smart, hardworking, and really he’s accomplished so much in his life—like his eccentric (to say the least) mom, too. The one– time trapeze artist invented “Rumpolgy” and she “can tell your fortune by reading your butt”!

Rambo actors Graham McTavish, Sylvester Stallone and actress Julie Benz.

Fans were out in force to see Sylestor Stallone at the Rambo premiere.

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t was also nice hanging out with superstar Benico de Toro when he was in Tokyo a few weeks ago. The talented man, as I’m sure you know, has just won the best actor award at the Cannes film festival for his work as the lead role as Che, in the over four hour film of the same name. I’m really looking forward to seeing that Benico de Toro had just stepped off the plane. one.

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Last Samurai and Speed Racer star, Hiroyuki Sanada, was in town.

had coffee at Segafredo in Hiroo, with one of Japan’s most international actors, Masaya Kato, recently. He’s just got back from Thailand where he was one of the main characters in a Japanese action film they were shooting, or trying to shoot on location there. Masaya loves Bangkok, but it was the rainy season and this “really slowed down the shooting.” Anyway he’s busy, about to go into a new TV series he “can’t talk about right now.” Masaya’s international work includes co-starring with Brooke Shields in one film in Australia, and another with Jacqueline Bisset also in the land down under. The man is really devoted to, and good at, what he does. It’s also nice having another of Japan’s top international talents back in town, Hiroyuki Sanada. Most of you know Hiroyuki through his role as Ujio in The Last Samurai. He was also here last year with Jackie Chan to promote their film Rush Hour 3. I first got to know Hiroyuki, a very talented and super cool guy, when he was doing the Japanese production of the Broadway musical Big River. He was Huckleberry Finn. The late, great, Tony–winning Broadway star, Ron Richardson, learned Japanese and came to Japan to co-star with Hiroyuki in the musical here.

NB. Schedules are subject to change so please make sure to check the website to avoid disappointment.

Out on DVD! By William Casper

SHINAGAWA: Shinagawa Prince Cinema. Takanawa 4-10-30, Minato-ku. 03-5421-1113. Across the street from Shinagawa station, in the Shinagawa Prince Hotel. Showing: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Rambo, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, 21, The Bucket List, 27 Dresses. www.princehotels.co.jp/shinagawa/cinema/index.html. YOKOHAMA: Toho Cinemas Lalaport. 4035-1 Ikebe-cho, Ysuzuki-ku, Yokohama. 045-929-1040. JR Yokohama Line, Kamoii station. Take the North Exit; theater is on the first floor of the Lalaport Complex. Showing: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, August Rush, Juno, Rambo, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Juno, 27 Dresses. http://yokohama.lalaport.jp.

w.weekenderjapan.com

National Treasure–Book of Secrets—Distracting enough rerun of NT 1. This time Ed Harris and Helen Mirren join Nicolas Cage and Jon Voight in a search for a hidden city of gold. Blades Of Glory—Frequently hilarious tale of rivalry, love, and friendship in the world of men’s figure skating starring Will Ferrell and Jon Heder. Silk—Tedious snore fest about a French man (Michael Pitt) who visits Japan in 1862 to get silk worms for his village and, despite being married to Keira Knightley, falls for a Japanese Baron’s concubine. Perhaps it was Knightley’s incongruous American accent (she’s English playing French). Once—Low budget charmer set in Dublin. A busker and a rose seller meet, sing songs, and fall in love.

Jul 04–Jul 17 2008 Vol. 39 No. 13 11


FINE DINING BY ROBERT FORREST

Benoit Have a good night as if in belle Paris, by Robert Forrest op floor in a top area with a top name, Benoit promised to be quite a find. The original in Paris dates back to 1912 and is the only bistro in the Michelin guide. So with the blueprint brought to Tokyo in 2005, I was curious to see if the star had traveled as well. First impressions were good, aside from the name, Benoit also takes its style from France and the first floor café (actually the tenth) has wonderful tiles, smart aluminium chairs from furniture designer Emeco, and padded printed wallpaper. Unfortunately, we were led past all this to the restaurant above, where our table floated by a long, grey sofa that punctuates the end of this room. Matching the color was the lentil soup arriving first, though the taste was anything but, with a dewy, slightly earthy aroma that gave a wonderful confidence to this shy ingredient. Rustling alongside, we had herb bread smudged with unsalted butter, plus a couple of dips with their accompanying probes: anchovy aioli with splints of vegetables was one; tarragon, fresh cheese, and crackers the other. Though quite neutral, it was a very clean spread of flavors, and we relished the sultry texture of the soup. Starters next, and accordingly to a menu that is offered as sets, we both chose two hors d’oeuvre. Excitedly, I had ordered egg with soldiers and quail

-Y,EBANON A truly special dining experience Explore the culinary delights of Lebanon... From our Mezzeh dishes and mouthwatering Baklava desserts, to the fine vintage wines of the Bekaa Valley. Open every day, 11:30am ~ 11:00pm Lunch: 1,050yen Dinner: 4,000yen 8 minute walk from Ebisu Station 2 minute walk from Daikanyama Station 1-33-18 Ebisu Nishi, Shibuya-ku Tokyo 150-0021

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www.mylebanonjp.com

12 | Weekender—Summer Celebrations Issue

photos courtesy of Benoit.

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A slice of Paris in Omotesando.

The best sea bass I had was in Croatia, and successfully done can still invoke images of that holiday for me. Described as crispy by our charming Parisian, I expected a touch more crack from the skin—and from the price a bit more meat on my plate. Of course, the flavour was fine, though I still felt, as with the preceding asparagus, the vegetables lacked the vibrancy and dazzle one would expect from its cosmic cousin. This time my mind stayed firmly in Aoyama. The same goes for the rabbit pie co-diner had ordered, which announced the main course when I finished the fish. Food can make the mind travel, and I want to be thrown into a tawny French farmhouse where a plump housewife is stuffing bunnies into ovens under thick pastry blankets. When I saw co-diner’s, my mind faintly glanced at the rain on the window before returning to the table. This is not inspiring food, and yet for what it is we could not fault it: the pastry really was excellent, the meat generous, and the gravy of red wine and rabbit reduction delicious. But it lacks soul. The same goes for my lamb: on its own this costs ¥4,500, which we simply could not find enough reasons to justify even though the saffron and rosemary in the sauce worked hard to compensate. And by this stage of the meal I was still eating bread to negate the meagre portions. The highlight for me came at the end as a lazy waiter introduced jars of handmade biscuits and sweets. At once I was in a scratchy Quentin Blake illustration of a child in a tuck-shop fifty years ago. “Which one would you like?” All of them. “Of course.” And all were fantastic: twisted sticks of butter and almonds, soft lozenges of caramelized apricots, and cubes of rose marshmallow that drew dusty perfume settling on a lace-topped dressing-table. At last my mind was moving. You should come to Benoit for that alone—but not for dinner. Come instead for lunch where each set menu is ¥2,000 less, as the light nature of the food much better suits a day-time diet than a nocturnal indulgence. The solar flares in Paris have yet to light Benoit in Tokyo, but with the arrival of a new chef next month we expect to see this bistro finally reach star status. But keep the egg and soldiers for home.

“The original in Paris dates back to 1912 and is the only bistro in the Michelin guide” with foie gras, while co-diner opted for stuffed anchovies and salad. She fared better. Yolky eggs and buttered soldiers were staples for lost Sunday evenings peppered with the cool pulse of school next day, so I was surprised to see this familiar food printed in Tokyo twenty years later. But not as much as seeing it green and frothing. It seemed I had overlooked the asparagus aspect on the menu, for here it was sliced lengthways and coiled on top, with a bubbly beard around the poached egg cloaking an asparagus marmalade—essentially finely chopped with leek and scallions. The yolkiest part I regrettably gave to co-diner, leaving a rather watery residue behind. Impressively, it made prep school seem momentarily better. Already I felt the meal was slow to get underway without the punch its name suggests. Instead it was the salad opposite that dealt the first blow with the best walnuts we had ever tasted—oily, and slightly roasted. Her anchovy was good as well, but such is the might of the wee fish, it was hard to judge its nutty contents. It drew attention, however, to the immaculate presentation of her platter, prompting a sketch in lieu of words on my note pad: it was a duck egg blue plate, square, with a round wooden trough in one corner and rough pillows of fish in the other. There are another 976 words in my picture. While co-diner leafed through the salad, so the last of my pate was whisked away and replaced by sea bass, part of the more expansive menu option I chose. Best table: Find a time when the bar is busy and grab a table there under the stairs for the true bistro feel. Upstairs is where the windows are, however, so make sure you’re sitting next to those.

Prices: Lunch sets start from a reasonable ¥4,500, rising to ¥12,000 for the chef special at dinner. Our meal for two including a glass of champagne and a glass of wine each tucked in under ¥22,000.

Location: From exit B2 of Omotesando station, walk towards Shibuya. It’s on your right, opposite the university.

Contact: For more information call 03-5468-0882 or see www.benoit-tokyo.com.


DINING

Fumio Yonezawa beacon: a signal fire or illuminating light that calls or guides

Marie Teather talks with the head chef of 57

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nlike most boys at his age, when Fumio Yonezawa was nine years old he realized not only how much he loved cooking with his mum, but also how great life would be if he could earn money doing the very thing he enjoyed the most. With this in mind, he waited for the day he could graduate from school and then made the brave decision to skip culinary college and instead to gain hands-on training in a kitchen. Yonezawa headed for Il Boccaleni, one of the best Italian restaurants in town, and what’s more, he started to learn from the bottom spending his first year waiting tables and gaining an understanding of food and wine from the front of the house. It is perhaps tantamount to this year of groundwork; talking to customers; having empathy for every role in a restaurant, that Yonezawa remains every bit as approachable as the day he first set out. Whereas other chefs gain reputations as fiery and the not–to– be–critised dragons of the kitchen, Yonezawa’s personable nature makes conversation flow easily (his frank New York dialect helps) and the menu for which he is so passionate is not intimidating—it’s enjoyable. Four years at Il Boccaleni saw him rise through the kitchen ranks and at 21 he decided it was time to head to New York to further his experiences. In 2002, he moved to New York, and found work at Matsuri, the New York Times three-star rated Japanese restaurant headed by master chef Jian Jeorges. Yonezawa learnt a lot—not least his English, which he describes as so bad that he only understood 20 percent of what Jeorges was saying to him on the day he was offered the job. Needless to say, he made mistakes, he didn’t understand what was being shouted at him,

At beacon urban chophouse, the fire from our grill calls our guests to come together and join us in celebration.

but by the process of elimination on the same mistake three times later, language barriers were broken and Yonezawa would figure out the problem. Yonezawa brings New York flair to Tokyo. Matsuri proved to be the place to define Yonezawa’s thirst to succeed. After three years he was made sous chef—the first Japanese to reach this post at the restaurant, and now happy to have the skills and creativity he had set out to achieve abroad, in December 2006, he came back to Japan to help open 57. Yonezawa got to work creating the menu and infitting with the New York lounge style he kept the food simple but combed spices and herbs of Asia and South America in a way unique to the predictable fusion diners Tokyo has seen plenty of late. The 40 percent Japanese, 60 percent foreign clientele has been voting with their feet, as, since opening in May 2007, tables have always required booking in advance. On leaving, Yonezawa tells me he was born and grew up in Asakusa—downtown Tokyo’s most unpretentious of neighborhoods—and it’s because of that he says, that he remains so grounded. He loves the upscale, New York atmosphere that 57 allows him to be creative in but on his day off, there’s nothing better than heading back to see the great people he has known all his life. And for celebrity chefs these days, that’s a breed hard to find.

Sweet Shrimp and Citrus Fruit Ceviche

“Gourmet hamburgers and Zinfandel wine” every Sunday and Holiday evening at beacon urban chop house.

beacon will offer a special hamburger menu including our famous fresh ground “beacon burger” plus a section of “special burgers” like the foie gras burger, the pizza burger, mini sliders and the Wagyu burger.

A variety of unusual fries and side dishes will round out the menu. Also we have selected half a dozen tasty, high quality, good value Zinfandel’s that we will offer at the same price of ¥4000 per selection.

57 chef, Fumio Yonezawa, shares a dish to keep you cool and nurished this summer.

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his is a refreshing and light summer dish. The combination of mouthwatering prawns, the soft hint of lemongrass, and the dryness of the ginger makes it ideal with a glass of champagne or a dry fresh Sauvgnon Blanc on those hot summer nights.”

photos images courtesy courtesy of Soho of www.istock.com/PLAINVIEW. Hospitality Group.

images courtesy of www.istock/MiquelMunill.

For more information call 03-5785-3671 or see the 57 webpage at www.fiftyseven.co.jp.

photo

courtes

y of 57

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For the shrimp: •Sweet Shrimp, 4pc •Court Bouillon—made from onion, celery, •Onion, black pepper, bay leaf and water. Peel the shrimp, and bring the bouillon to boil. Poach the shrimp for five seconds then plunge into ice-cold water. Drain the water off using a paper towel. For the syrup: •Ginger, 50g •Lemon juice, 100ml •Lemongrass, 3 stalks •Sugar, 60g Peel the ginger and cut into small dice shaped pieces. Combine everything in a blender until smooth, then in a pan bring to the boil. Strain the mixture and chill. For the citrus fruit: •Orange •Grapefruit •Lime •Lemon Try to get lots of fruits. It looks nice if you have different colors and gives more flavor.

Sunday night burger and Zinfandel will be open to families as well so feel free to bring the kids along for this fun and casual night at beacon! We will also be offering the full a la carte menu and wine list. Lunch: 11:30–15:00 L.O. Mon.–Sat. / Brunch: 11:30–15:00 L.O. Sat. Sun. Hol Tea time: 15:00–17:00 L.O. Sat. Sun. Hol Dinner: 18:00–22:00 L.O. Mon.–Sat. / 18:00–21:00 L.O. Sun. Hol

Refres hingly easy perfec to pr t for epare the ho and t sum mer ah ead. 1-2-5 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo / Tel: 03-6418-0077

To serve: •Endive (red and white) •Fresh coriander leaf •Extra virgin olive oil •Fleur de sel Mix everything together and garnish with the olive oil and leaves. Sprinkle with the salt and enjoy. In the case of disaster, come to 57!

www.tyharborbrewing.co.jp

7 minute walk from Shibuya station • 5 minute walk from Omotesando station (B2 exit)

Jul 04–Jul 17 2008 Vol. 39 No. 13 13


14 | Weekender—Summer Celebrations Issue


First

World Traveller Plus

British Airways’ First cabin assures customers of the highest standards of service and attention to detail at every stage of their journey. The exclusive treatment begins as you speed through check-in into the calm sanctuary of the First lounge. On board, you are provided with interior accessories and facilities designed by Kelly Hoppen to emulate the style and quality of a Rolls Royce using only the finest fabrics and textures. The extensive “a la carte” menu allows you to select your favourite dishes, while in-flight entertainment offers 100 movie and TV channels, 70 CDs and 20 games as well as radio channels and audio books. Our First cabin will provide you with the comfort and privacy you need to enjoy your flight.

Treat yourself to a trip that’s a little more special by flying World Traveller Plus premium economy class. Whether you’re travelling for business or leisure, you can relax and enjoy a more comfortable journey in our premium economy cabin, and arrive at your destination in better shape. Special ergonomic seats designed by German racing car seat company Recaro have movable headrests, footrests, lumbar support, as well as business amenities such as a laptop power point and an individual phone. The additional seat pitch and width gives you extra room to relax, while the exclusive World Traveller Plus cabin offers customers a quiet environment.

Club World Created with the help of the world’s leading designers, the new Club World business class cabin now boasts wider beds that enable passengers to work, sleep or relax in ultimate comfort. At the touch of a button, the new seat reaches up to 2 meters into the Z-position, an innovative position designed by NASA engineers to mimic the shape the body assumes in zero gravity. Other features include unlimited “club kitchen” refreshments, traditional damask tablecloths and special privacy screens which deliver unparalleled levels of comfort, privacy and personal space. From the welcoming cabin environment and the comfort of the new Club World seat, to the refined dining options throughout the flight, our new Club World cabin offers you a home away from home with all of the comfort, privacy and flexibility of a five-star hotel.

World Traveller

British Airways’ World Traveller Plus cabin provides extra space for more comfortable business or leisure travel.

British Airways‘ World Traveller economy class provides high quality service by considering customers’ needs, allowing you to sit back and enjoy your long distance flight in the knowledge that everything will be taken care of. From ergonomically designed seats to seat-back video screens offering a wide selection of entertainment, everything has been designed with customer comfort in mind. The cabin also provides a range of kids’ products designed to make travelling with children a little easier for the whole family. For children, we have prepared Disney fun bags, books, hours of on-screen family entertainment and family friendly meal options. World Traveller’s superior service promises a relaxing flight at a reasonable price.

Our Network With our franchise and codeshare partners we fly to more than 300 destinations worldwide. We are a member of the oneworld alliance, and in co-operation with our airline partners we offer you a network of over 600 destinations. The new Club World seat, which reclines to a fully flat bed, enables customers to sleep in ultimate comfort.

Jul 04–Jul 17 2008 Vol. 39 No. 13 15


Best Value Furnished Apartments in Tokyo

TRAVEL

* Free Internet access (wired) * Rent: from US$100/night, min. 2 nights * 25 sq. meter - 46.5 sq. meter. 1BR - 2BR * 5 min. on foot from JR line or Metro station * Full kitchen / bathroom

Summer Cruising Take a vacation on the open seas , by Danielle Tate-Stratton

Skip the airport and sail into Hong Kong harbor.

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nder the warm sun, you kick back on your lounge chair; sip a drink that’s been dropped off adorned with a colorful umbrella by a member of the attentive staff, and listen to the whoosh of the sea. With a good book beside you, this scene has the all the makings of a perfect way to celebrate your summer vacation—plenty of sun and lots of relaxation. Instead of a typical beach vacation, however, why not tweak your mental vision of the scene—raise yourself several meters above sea level, put that lounge chair on a teak deck, and consider taking a cruise around Asia? No longer the domain of the ‘newly wed and nearly dead,’ cruising has enjoyed a massive increase in popularity over the last couple of decades, as more and more families, couples, and even adventure travelers (yes, cruises, such as those to Patagonia and the Antarctic, can be adventurous!) have been turning to the cruise lines for a unique and surprisingly affordable vacation for the whole family. The most popular cruise destinations remain Alaska in the summer and the Caribbean in the winter, as well as the Mexican Riviera year-round, leaf watching cruises in New England and Eastern Canada during the fall, and European cruises through the Med during the summer. There’s another cruise destination, however, which is still, by far, the ‘cruising lane less traveled’ thanks to the distance and time change for most cruisers—Asia. Yet for those of us living in Tokyo, it’s conveniently right in our backyard, and certainly worth a look when planning your next vacation. Cruise Asia For instance, Costa Cruises (www.costacruise.com), an Italian cruise line (now part of the large Carnival Corporation) with a reputation for an elegant, international passenger base and fleet, offers some of the shortest Asian routes on offer—sailings this summer start at just four nights (and about ¥75,000 per person), round trip from Shanghai to Shanghai, with Cheju City and Kagoshima in between. Costa has one boat positioned in Asia (which also does itineraries of up to 14 days during other parts of the year)—the Costa Allegra. Carrying 800 passengers, Allegra is certainly not large, as cruise ships go (most mass-market lines carry upwards of 2,000 passengers), but is not tiny either and certainly offers plenty to do. There are two main dining rooms and a casual eatery as well as an optional ‘premium’ restaurant, where you pay as you would on land. This is a very common arrangement in the cruise industry and allows you to chose your dining venue according to your family’s tastes in food, timing, and dress code. As is typical on cruise ships, there are several public rooms including a nightclub, as well as a spa and children’s club. As the ship is small, so too is the list of extra amenities, relatively speaking. However, thanks to the short itineraries, you aren’t likely to be bored! Perhaps not surprisingly given its base in China, the ship has been customized to suit Chinese tastes and reportedly features menu items and entertainment geared towards that clientele. However, the line’s Italian roots are celebrated as well, no doubt leading to an eclectic atmosphere. For a slightly longer and certainly more upscale cruise experience, hope aboard Oceania’s Nautica, which offers a 15-night cruise from Beijing to Hong Kong, with stops in Seoul, Shanghai, Hiroshima,

photos courtesy of www.istock.com/duncantang.

Spacious apartments in center of Tokyo - Nakano & Nishi-Ogikubo Great location for shopping, food, entertainment.

Kyoto, Okinawa, and Taipei. Known industry-wide for its unpretentious luxury, these relatively small (around 650 passenger) vessels manage to provide fantastic, personalized service, beautiful ships (think wrap around teak decks, a casino with a marble fireplace, and private cabanas on deck), and delicious food spread across four restaurants. Despite the luxury perks, the line keeps the spirit of the relaxed vacation in mind—for instance, there is a country club casual dress code at all times. (www.oceaniacruises.com, 15 nights from ¥494,000 per person). Sailing the seas of Japan For the slightly more adventurous, Cruise West’s 11night Kobe to Kobe itinerary (including Okayama, Kurashiki Hiroshima, Yantai, Kagoshima, Nagasaki, Kyongju, Hagi, and Takamatsu) could be just the ticket. Cruise West is a niche adventure cruise line whose Spirit of Oceanus, which plys the waters around Japan is the line’s largest, yet carries just 120 passengers! These nature-intensive cruises feature large suites with touches such as teak floors and marble vanities in the washrooms. Unsurprisingly, the small passenger-base means formal entertainment is limited—don’t expect a Vegas-revue show, bowling alley, skating rink, or boxing ring (all options on other, larger, ships) here! However, Cruise West provides a unique opportunity for passengers to interact and get to know each other, as well as the crew. In addition, what they ‘lack’ on board, they make up for on land with complimentary shore excursions at every port and plenty of opportunities to poke around locations in which larger ships simply don’t fit. (www.cruisewest.com, 11-nights, from ¥780,000 per person). For families looking for a great vacation close to home, cruising could very well be it. With fares including your cabin, most food (24-hours a day!), nonalcoholic drinks, and most on board entertainment,

“No longer the domain of the ‘newly wed and nearly dead,’ cruising has enjoyed a massive increase in popularity”

16 | Weekender—Summer Celebrations Issue

photo courtesy of Kalle Id.

cruising is surprisingly affordable. Besides that, a cruise allows you to see several cities, or even countries, over the course of your trip and gives you plenty of time to relax in between—lying on a deck chair by the pool certainly beats flying in coach! Cruise lines are also uniquely able to help you make the most of a short visit (usually only one long day) in each city—with a host of shore excursions organized through the lines you can rest assured that you and your family will receive a top-class tour before heading back to the ship for a four star meal and some entertainment before bed. What better way to celebrate summer in Asia? Simply board and relax, what can be easier?

For all the information you could ever want about cruising, visit www.cruisecritic.com.


TRAVEL

Ticket to Ride A cursory guide to travel passes in Japan, by Benjamin Freeland

apan’s reputation as a pricey place to travel, while overstated at times, is nevertheless well founded. While the lack of tipping and generally easy going attitudes towards money in Japan can be a welcome relief to many visitors, the cumulative costs of intercity and local travel, entrance fees, food, lodging, and other sundries can quickly become overwhelming. Nevertheless, life has gotten rather easier for tourists in Japan in recent years thanks to a domestic travel boom and the Japanese government’s zealous promotion of Japan as “a country based on tourism” (kankou rikkoku), a phrase popularized by former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. One such positive development has been the recent proliferation of economical, userfriendly travel passes that allow visitors to consolidate and minimize their getting-around expenses, with some even extending to entrance fees to local tourist attractions and discounts at local lodgings and gift shops. Some, like JR’s long-popular nationwide Japan Rail Pass, are well known overseas, while the rest are relatively unknown. Japan Rail Pass It has long been a source of frustration to many long term expatriates in Japan that the Japan Rail Pass, the mother of all travel passes in Japan, is only available to non-residents and can only be purchased outside Japan. However, for those who fit this description, there is no more thorough and comprehensive travel pass available. Good for travel on all Japan Rail trains from Kyushu to Hokkaido up to and including the high speed Shinkansen (excluding only the ultra high

photos courtesy of www.istock.com/rssfhs.

J

Come Dive in

Okinawa!

Japan is all but a discounted train ride away.

Kippu is issued three times a year, for spring (March 1 to April 10), summer (July 20 to September 10), and winter (December 10 to January 20), costs ¥11,500 ,and provides travelers with five days’ unlimited travel during the ticket’s period of validity. A further interesting feature of this ticket is that it is usable by more than one person at a time, with five days’ unlimited solo travel equivalent to one day of travel for a party of five. Regional Incentives While the JR network is most invaluable for crisscrossing the country, a handful of private railway companies provide valuable passes for popular tourist destinations. The Odakyu Electric Railway Co., a company that has long dominated travel between Tokyo and the Fuji–Hakone– Izu region, offers eight different regional “Freepasses” that encompass a range of popular getaways to the west of the capital, including Mount Fuji, Hakone, Kamakura, and the Izu Peninsula. A great bargain, these two to three day passes range in price from ¥2,140 (for the short twoday Tanzawa–Oyama Freepass) to ¥8,930 (for the more long-range Minami–Izu Freepass), cover train, bus, cable car, and even boat travel within pass boundaries, and also cover admission to many museums, galleries, and other local tourist attractions, while also providing visitors with discounts at many lodgings and gift shops. Odakyu Freepasses are available for purchase at the Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center at Shinjuku Station and at Odakyu Line stations and sales offices. To the north of Tokyo, the Tobu Railway Co. offers similar passes to the World Heritage Site of Nikko and the nearby onsen resort town of Kinugawa, covering access to and from Tokyo (via Tobu Asakusa Station), unlimited local train and bus travel and/or free access to the region’s World Heritage Sites and other attractions, with certain passes (the World Heritage Pass and All Nikko Pass) available only to foreign nationals. With the exception of the two-day World Heritage Pass, all of these passes are good for four days, ranging in price from ¥3,600 to ¥5,900, and are sold at the Tobu Sightseeing Service Center and the "Tobu Travel" travel agency at Asakusa Station. Also worth mentioning are the local one or multiday travel passes available in some metropolitan areas, usually for sale at train and subway stations. One particularly useful on is the One or Two-Day Kyoto Sightseeing Pass Card, which provides unlimited bus and subway travel across the expansive grid network of Japan’s ancient capital for ¥1,200 and ¥2,000 respectively.

Reef Encounters International Bilingual Service Available 098-995-9414 (ENG) 098-936-8539 (JPN)

www.reefencounters.org

“the recent proliferation of economical, user friendly travel passes that allow visitors to consolidate and minimize their getting-around expenses” speed Nozomi Shinkansen and luxury overnighters like the Cassiopeia, which require an additional surcharge), the Japan Rail Pass costs ¥28,300 for a one-week period, ¥45,100 for two weeks, and ¥57,700 for three. The degree to which they make economic sense depends entirely on the amount of travel done. For visitors planning on more localized travel, JR East offers its own smaller–scale version of the Japan Rail Pass, which is available for five and ten-day periods at ¥20,000 and ¥32,000 respectively, and covers all JR lines in eastern and northeastern Honshu, from Tokyo to Aomori. JR’s three other major sub-networks (West, Kyushu, and Hokkaido) also offer their own passes, with varying periods of validity and price depending on the size of the region. Unlike the Japan Rail Pass, these local JR passes can be purchased in Japan, although these too are only available to travelers on temporary tourist visas. JR East passes are available for purchase at the Travel Service Centers of most of the major Tokyo JR stations and at regional hubs throughout the JR East network. Resident Benefits While the aforementioned passes are only available to short-term visitors, there are a variety of passes available to long-term residents in Japan. One of the most popular is JR’s so-called Seishun 18 (Juuhachi) Kippu (the “Youth 18 Ticket”), which in spite of its name is eligible to foreigners and Japanese citizens of all ages. While somewhat more restrictive than JR’s nationwide and regional passes, the 18 Kippu is probably the best bargain available for domestic train travel. Good for travel throughout Japan on all JR local trains (not including Shinkansen and Limited Expresses) and sold at all major JR stations and travel agencies, the 18

Door to door moving with Allied Pickfords Allied Pickfords is one of the largest and most respected providers of moving services in the world, handling over 50,000 international moves every year. We believe that nothing reduces stress more than trust, and each year thousands of families trust Allied Pickfords to move them. With over 800 offices in more than 40 countries, we’re the specialists in international moving and have the ability to relocate you anywhere, anytime. Move with Allied to Allied worldwide.

Call us now on 03-5549-6200 www.alliedpickfords.co.jp Jul 04–Jul 17 2008 Vol. 39 No. 13 17


The face of Magella

18 | Weekender—Summer Celebrations Issue


an in the community.

Jul 04–Jul 17 2008 Vol. 39 No. 13 19


BUSINESS COMMENT

Summer Reading

S

ummer is here and for a time even the busiest of businesspeople might contemplate a little time out from the office. Whether you’re going overseas or staying in Japan, if you’re anything like me, you’ll be packing a book or two to help while away the time. Fiction is fun and autobiographies of the famous are appealing, but you might want to make room for a tome or two that could help your business. Peter Drucker is known as the Father of Modern Management. But, he was first and foremost a teacher, gifted and passionate, and those who took his classes speak of inspiration and insight and a great outpouring of original, sometimes controversial, ideas. Drucker published many books, but he left out many of his most provocative ideas. William Cohen, who enrolled in Drucker’s program in 1975, believes it is time to share those ideas and he does so in his recent book, A Class With Drucker (published by AMA, ISBN13-978-0-8144-0919-0). What we get is a sense of what it was like to be in those lectures and how what the author learned is still relevant to today’s managers. Kenichi Ohmae is another of those names most associated with the publication of influential business studies. He’s the author of over 100 books and is frequently cited as an authority on business strategy. His new book, The Next Global Stage (published by

Wharton, ISBN: 0-13-147944-X) promises to do for business thinking what his 1990 The Borderless World did when it first appeared: change the way managers think about doing business. But it seems to me that we have reached a point at which we have to radically re-think the way we think about everything—including about the way we think. We can’t continue using yesterday’s tools to educate our children in how to solve tomorrow’s problems. Daniel Pink’s book A Whole New Mind (ISBN: 1-57322308-5) is a hugely entertaining study of how we might move—indeed why we are compelled to move—from the information age to the conceptual age. Howard Gardner, in his impressive Five Minds for the Future (ISBN: 978-1-51939-912-4) concurs and offers scientific evidence for why a change in thinking is needed and how it might be managed.

Ian de Stains, OBE is the Executive Director of the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan. He is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and Convenor of its Japan Chapter.

INVESTMENT

Your Investment Portfolio—It’s a balancing act

A

n investment portfolio needs to match an individual’s investment goals, time horizon, and risk tolerance, as well as being targeted to meet future liabilities. The asset allocation policy—what you actually invest in—must balance cash, bonds, equities, and property. You cannot simply sit back and let the investments take care of themselves. Virtually from day one, the movement of the markets will begin to alter the originally agreed asset allocation. Therefore, it is essential to have periodic reviews to rebalance your portfolio and to bring it back into line with the agreed allocation plan, and of course, your objectives as they change in line with your lifestyle. Consult with an advisor to get up-to-date information on markets and future growth trends and a dispassionate view on how your portfolio has performed. Why rebalance? There are three basic reasons to rebalance a portfolio regularly. Objectives—are they still relevant? Managing risk—have you become more or less risk tolerant? Investment returns—have they met, exceeded, or underachieved your expectations? Objectives Your original asset allocation was designed to meet your unique financial objectives and goals. Some investors may be more sensitive to the risk of not meeting the return goal than they are to the possibility of needing to beat the required rate of return. Others may require only a relatively low rate of return to meet their objectives—they simply do not need to take a higher level of risk. Managing Risk Most investors choose a passive ‘buy and hold’ strategy, where the risk profile alters dramatically. As the outperforming, riskier asset class comes to represent a larger portion of the portfolio, the overall risk profile

20 | Weekender—Summer Celebrations Issue

increases. It also ensures an underweight equity allocation before a market rise and an overweight position when markets fall. Enhance returns Different asset classes are capable of huge short-term fluctuations (as world stock markets have demonstrated since the beginning of the new millennium). However, returns are ultimately tethered to an average long-term expected return. As an asset’s return fluctuates, the asset goes from being undervalued to overvalued and vice versa, reverting back at some point to its long-term average. By developing a rebalancing strategy that systematically sells overvalued assets and buys undervalued assets, it is possible to enhance the returns whilst maintaining the right risk/return profile to maximise the chance of achieving your goals. How does rebalancing add value? Rebalancing imposes the powerful discipline of buying low and selling high. Even so, this is counter-intuitive, as human nature makes us believe it is better to buy more of something that is going up in value and to avoid falling values. Employing this discipline does ensure that you bank paper profits as real cash. So, if you have not looked at your investments in the last twelve months, it’s a good time to examine what you own and take advice on how best to rebalance your portfolio and take advantage of the current market opportunities.

Provided by MAGELLAN: THE FINANCIAL PLANNING COMPANY Email: mtt@magellantt.com


BUSINESS PROFILE

Keep on Driving Getting your hands on a BMW just got easier, by Nicholas Vroman ust a stone’s throw away from the Tokyo Tower, along Sakurada Avenue, you will find Abe BMW’s Azabu showroom. General Manager, Ryota Abe, feels right at home here. Surrounded by embassies, neighboring the American Club, and several of Tokyo’s most cosmopolitan neighborhoods, he sells that most international of cars, the BMW. Abe’s grandfather founded the car dealership in 1966 and when BMW began marketing in Japan in 1980, the business became exclusively a BMW dealer. Growing up in Tokyo, Abe went to the United States and came back with an MBA. After spending two years with an IT company, he returned to helm the family business in 2004. For the last three years, Ryoto Abe has been working diligently with the BMW market in central Tokyo, building bridges to the international community and with services for the Japanese-language challenged in mind.

photos courtesy of Abe BMW.

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The new BMW B6 can be bought easily in Tokyo.

International Engine of the Year Awards,” says Abe. “Plus,” he adds, “BMWs have a great function that no other car has in Japan. They have an on-board computer and GPS navigation system in English.” This feature alone makes for a great selling point to international buyers.

“It seems fitting that BMW, a company that started manufacturing motorcycles, should try it’s hand at such a classic and simple transportation option too.” Apart from a sales force of English speaking professionals, Abe BMW offers a full range of services to individual and corporate clients including the handling of all administrative steps in the process of registering cars in Japan, English-language user guides and manuals, 24-hour emergency road–side service, along with financing and a sales consultation by his professional staff. His, and his staff’s hard work has built up their foreign buyers’ market to 10–20 percent of Abe BMW’s total sales. The hard work has won his company accolades and “last year we were given the Excellent Customer Satisfaction Dealer Award for all of Japan,” he beams. 335 Convertible With summer coming, Abe has been promoting the new BMW 335 Convertible. Hitting the road with the wind in your hair and a special friend by your side—a romantic notion that’s part and parcel of contemporary culture—is what this car is built for. The 335 Convertible is part of BMW’s executive compact car production, the 3 Series. Nearly 40 percent of all BMWs sold in the entire world are from this set of compact luxury sedans. The 3 Series has been on Car and Driver’s annual Ten Best list, 17 times, from 1992 through 2008, making it the longest running entry in the list. It was top of the list for both 2007 and 2008. The cars have also won numerous international awards. The BMW 335 has been described as the ultimate convertible. Apart from its great styling, it is compact, sensible, and fun. If you’re the type who values comfort over performance, or just likes to take the family out for a leisurely ride in the country, this car is for you. If you’re looking for a flat out, zooming, windin-your-face-busting-down-the-highway kind of ride, well, the 335 Convertible can do that too. As Abe says, “The car is simply great.” But with growing concern over rising gasoline prices how does it rate? “Between power and consumption, the BMW 335 performs well; “last year it was recognized as the Best New Engine of 2008 in the

X6 Abe is also exited about the new a mid-size crossover, the BMW X6. The X6 is being marketed as a Sports Activity Coupé. It combines the attributes of an SUV (high ground clearance, all-wheel drive, and all-weather ability, large wheels and tires) with the bold styling and the dramatic sloping roof of a coupe. The X6 also marks BMW`s first use of its new Dynamic Performance Control system, which works in unison with an all-wheel drive to regulate traction and especially to correct over and under steering. What this means, in simple terms, is improved agility, turning ability, and added stability. It also boasts the all-new Twin Turbo V8 petrol engine with high precision fuel injection—highlighted as the most efficient engine in its class. It’s a perfect beemer to satisfy your inner boomer. Of course, Abe BMW offers the complete range of BMW lines, from compact models to midsize executive models and full size town cars. And they also have the Z4, perhaps one of the best-designed roadsters available on the market today. Both elegant and sporty, BMW continues it’s tradition of excellence with this classic sports car. On Your Bike On a final note, Abe also has bicycles. It seems fitting that BMW, a company that started manufacturing motorcycles, should try it’s hand at such a classic and simple transportation option too. And they succeed marvelously with the BMW Cruise Bike. The seamless and stunningly designed frame is manufactured through hydroforming, a state-of-the-art process that uses high-pressure water to allow the walls of the aluminum tube to expand inside a mold and free it from any seam and shape restrictions. It’s a beautiful and classy ride. When asked about sales of bicycles, Abe replied “it’s usually only BMW car owners who tend to buy them.” Still, they should know. There’s a level of excellence in design and engineering of their cars and there’s no wonder that even their bikes are brilliantly designed. Abe BMW is located at 1-10-11 Higashi-Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo. For further information on cars available and services call 03-3582-3281 or see www.abebmw.co.jp.

Jul 04–Jul 17 2008 Vol. 39 No. 13 21


BUSINESS

Right Here, Right Now How expats can gain from a yen loan, by Alena Eckelmann

M

ost of us have plans and make provisions for owning property back home or in a dream destination once the assignment in Japan is completed. Then life takes over and before you know it five, ten, or more years have passed, you are still in Japan or have even became a permanent resident, all the time thinking of the cosy place far away that you will live in sometime in the future. No one knows this better than Dr. Greg Story, currently NAB’s Country Manager for Japan and himself a Japan veteran of 24 years. Why postpone your dream of being the king in your castle? “Buy property in Japan and use yen to finance it,” Story recommends. Yen-based loans for financing property in Japan are the next step of mortgage solutions for expatriates now offered by some finance and real estate operations. NAB is at the forefront of this development. The bank is building on its expertise in overseas property finance covering Australia, New Zealand, and the UK, the bank’s three target markets (see Weekender, Apr 4— 17 2008, Buying Property Overseas). Now, adding yenbased loans for buying property in Japan will broaden the service range to their expatriate and Japanese customers. According to Story, offering property finance for these four markets is unique to NAB and is the bank’s competitive advantage in Japan.

The British Chamber of Commerce in Japan Celebrating 60 years of: * strengthening business ties between Britain and Japan * promoting and supporting member business interests * encouraging new business entrants to the Japanese market * supporting Japanese investment in the UK

About Us: The mission of the BCCJ is to strengthen business ties between Britain and Japan, promote and support the business interest of all our Members, and actively encourage new business entrants to the Japanese market, as well as Japanese investment in the UK. Much of our strength lies in our extensive relationships, which enable us to provide Members with access to valuable information, events and networking and advocacy opportunities.

The BCCJ Advantage:

“Properties in big cities in Japan hold their value”, says Story.

• Interactive Webiste • Online Delivery of Information

Expatriates in Tokyo and other urban centres such as Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Fukuoka, and Nagoya, etc. can purchase a property right at their doorstep with NAB finance. “Properties in big cities in Japan hold their value,” says Story, “but non-urban and remote areas do not generally qualify for a loan.” However, there are exceptions in form of resort areas such as Niseko, the first-class ski resort in Hokkaido, which has recently become popular with expatriates and Japanese alike seeking to purchase a holiday home. What sets NAB apart from Japanese financial institutions offering yen-based loans to finance property in Japan is the bank’s “expatriate-friendliness”. It starts from cutting out the language barrier and does not stop at immigration issues. NAB does not require permanent residency in Japan to provide a mortgage. What’s more, the bank accepts collateral in Japan instead of prop-

• E-mail Newsletter • Video Magazine • Local Networking • Regional Networking • Access to EBC • Seminar Programmes • Luncheon Programme • Quarterly Question Time • Social Networking Events • Daily Media Highlights (direct to PC) • Political Briefings • Free Diners Card • Free Kudos Membership

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http://www.bccjapan.com

22 | Weekender—Summer Celebrations Issue

photo courtesy of www.istock.com/rskodonnell.

Member Type Corporate Associate Entrepreneur Individual Overseas

erty back home. The greatest advantage, however, is that all nationalities can benefit. “We do not discriminate by nationality,” explains Story, “but we go purely by a customers’ credit worthness when assessing their ilegibility for a yen loan.” As with buying property elsewhere, the same rationale applies in Japan. In the long-run, one is better off owning the property one lives in rather than just renting it. “Why enrich the Japanese landlord when you can be a landlord yourself?,” argues Story. This applies particularly to long-term expatriates in Japan, those who earn a high income, or whose company pays for housing as part of the expatriate package. A simple calculation shows the benefit: if the yield of a property (rent divided by value times 100 percent) is around six percent gross (before expenses) and the interest on repayments less than three percent, as is the case with a NAB yen loan, then investing in property in Japan makes good business sense. Indeed, it pays to be an expatriate in Japan when taking advantage of the interest rate difference. Story explains that expatriates earning Japanese yen are better off taking out a yen loan at an interest rate of 2–3 percent in Japan than going for a finance option back home where interest rates for borrowers are much higher, (for example around 9.2 percent in Australia). Existing customers can now also switch their loan repayments from a foreign currency to yen to make the most of the interest rate difference. Attention must be paid to the value of the property. To determine what constitutes good value, prospective home owners have first to take the location of the property into account. According to Story, “buildings in hot-spot locations such as Tokyo’s Minato-ku require an initially high investment as no bargains are to be had there. However, they will keep their value.” He further advises that one must also consider the age of the building. “The newer the better but the watershed is 1985.” A property constructed before this year should be avoided as there is a high risk that the building is not earthquake resistant. “Make sure to buy a safe building rather than ending up owning a pile of rubble,” said Story. The property market in Japan is moving favorably which makes it a good time to jump onto the property train. After reaching the bottom about two or three years ago, property prices are rising again. This ensures that home owners gain double the benefits. First, they pocket the rent payments, and second, the value of the property is rising in accordance with the market. Investment in property even beyond the time you stay in Japan is now at your fingertips. As long as loan repayments can be made, (for example, for rental income) expatriates can leave Japan for their home country or for another destination and still hold property in Japan. To facilitate buy-to-let arrangements NAB is currently considering a financial product which will enable expatriates to buy a whole apartment block rather than just one unit. The new yen loan property finance will be offered to Japan’s expatriate community first before becoming open to Japanese customers. Obviously, this is an offer not to be missed by any aspiring landlord, or homeowner, in Japan. Look out for it and get your dream home right here and now.

For more information on National Australia Bank and yen loans call 03-3241-8923 or see www.nabasia.com. Alternatively email tokyo@nabasia.com.


Abe BMW

International Program

Sheer Driving Pleasure

335 Convertible The new BMW 335 Convertible

Test Driving Available Abe BMW. Benefits for our Customers.

Abe BMW. Showroom.

The Abe BMW International Sales Program is an unique service designed especially for our international clientele. Our goal is to make your BMW experience rewarding, convenient, and troublefree. Here is a short summary of your benefits

Abe BMW Corp. 1-10-11, Higashiazabu, Minato-ku Tokyo 106-0044 Phone: 03-3582-3281 Fax: 03-3582-8079 Email: international@abe.bmw.ne.jp Web: http://www.bmw.co.jp/english Showroom hours: Tuesday - Saturday 9:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. Sunday 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. Closed on Mondays Customer parking behind the showroom

Showroom located directly in the heart of downtown Tokyo Professional sales consultation in English, including Japan-specific purchase related information Handling of all administrative steps in the process of registering your car in Japan Cooperation with your company’s corporate car program Professional after sales hospitality by English-speaking sales consultants English-speaking navigation system and on-board computer Special financial packages and systems, created to meet the needs of international clientele in Japan

Please contact our international sales team for details. Individual appointments are possible upon request, even at your home or at your office.

Maintainance program Abe BMW Premium Service available.

Jul 04–Jul 17 2008 Vol. 39 No. 13 23


SCHOOL’S IN

What Does Summer in Tokyo Mean to You? Weekender asked kids from English Studio about thier summer memories and what they hope to do this year.

Sabia, 8. “I don’t really like summer because I get itchy skin, but I like getting in a swimming pool at school. I like going to my grandpa’s house because I can eat popsicles. My parents have bought Yukata for me and my younger sister.”

Kanon, 5. “In August, I am going to the Hilton in Odawara with my friend and my mommy.”

Taiyou, 4. “I want to go to the Hotel Mikazuki in Chiba because it has a big onsen.”

Sumomo, 5. “I like Summer because I love ice cream. I like using a fan at home when it is very hot.”

Hands-on opportunities for each individual child, through our age appropriate English lessons, gym lessons, music lessons, ballet lessons, and Karate lessons. Lunch and school bus service provided! For more information please call us at 03-3554-3664.

18 months to 6 years old Preschool classes – 10am – 2:15pm Afternoon lessons – 3pm – 5pm

www.doremigarden.com

tia@mx9.ttcn.ne.jp Phone: 03-3554-3664 2-16-5 Takamatsu Toshima-ku Tokyo 171-0042

Mia, 7. “It’s hot and humid in summer in Tokyo. I prefer summer in England, but I like going to a swimming pool at school. Last year, I went to Disneyland with my mum and dad. It was fun.”

Tasuku, 10. “I love to pick up lots of shells at the beach and to swim in the pool. I do not like staying home because it is very hot.” partypalace.co.jp/

24 | Weekender—Summer Celebrations Issue


SCHOOL’S OUT

Building Playgrounds, Opportunities, Memories Hands On Tokyo takes on an important role as community provider, by Ulara Nakagawa pside down, blood rushing to my head, I may not have been getting any smarter, but I was certainly having fun. There is a picture in an old photo album kept at my parents’ home that captures the moment perfectly: my childhood best friend Lauren and I, red-faced, and grinning from ear to ear, hanging by our knees from the monkey bars in our elementary school playground. Back then, it was on those slides and bars, jungle gyms, and tire swings that many of our precious friendships and memories were built upon. Now, may it be cocktails at the bar, social networking sites, or the office water cooler that help cement our adult moments into (sometimes blurry) memories, for some reason, they just don’t Volunteers from Hands On Tokyo building for fun times and having fun times building. seem hold the same meaningfulness. What exactly is it that makes our adult pastimes weekly volunteer projects that strive to provide that so much less poignant than our childhood ones? Why added value, and cultivate quality relationships does that photograph of those monkey bars evoke an with such groups as Second Harvest Japan, Special almost painful longing and nostalgia in me ten times Olympics-Tokyo, and children’s and senior’s homes that of another taken last year, at a (totally different in Tokyo. Volunteers of all ages are needed, for which grown-up kind of) bar? experience is not at all necessary, language is not an Maybe Deva Hirsch can help with an answer. Deva issue, and flexible schedules are a given. At Hands On is the founding president and current board member Tokyo, several unique policies are also in place that of Hands On Tokyo (HOT), the city’s first bilingual really place value on the volunteer. Hirsch tells me volunteer matching organization started in the winter that one of HOT’s core missions is to provide a good of 2006. Last year, one of Hands On Tokyo’s major experience for the volunteer because, “we want to volunteer projects was to rebuild a playground at a turn people onto volunteering so that their whole life home for children who cannot live with their parents. they will continue to think it is good to give back to Looking back on the experience, Hirsch says, “you and their community, wherever they are living.â€? I may have run on grass at that age‌(but) for these These volunteer-centric points include: on-site babies, it is the first time they have been in a swing in health insurance, a bilingual project coordinator prestheir lives and to feel the grass on their feet. Different ent at each site to provide volunteers with travel directions; guidance and orientation for the specific project; and a project pre-test which sends HOT board members out to each and every project site to put themselves in textures for kids are so important‌if you don’t have the volunteers’ shoes beforehand to be able to best prethat kind of experience you are just not going to be as pare and equip the volunteer for the project. developed.â€? In telling me this she explains why childThere is also a need for sponsors. For Hands On hood play is so significant, because it literally helps Tokyo, it is the generous assistance of such groups to form us: “what we are trying to do is to give those as State Street Bank, Capmark, Hitachi Consulting, children some of those things‌to help them develop Elliott Advisers, Robert Half, Shinsei Bank and others, skills and confidence, and develop the way other chil- along with the hard work of their dedicated volunteers dren are able to. If we don’t present them with those that uphold their seven ongoing projects and made opportunities, how can we expect that to happen?â€? last year’s playground renovation possible. In its first And it becomes clear that such opportunities can come year, HOT was able to give the community back 1,200 in the form of the very monkey bars or swings that I volunteer hours and aspires to surpass that number so fondly remember. in 2008. Going back to that old photograph of the monkey Ongoing Support bars, I wonder how it might be to have a black space Hence, Hands on Tokyo will hold another playground in its place in the photo album at my parents’ house. rebuilding project this year, as part of their large scale Then, I wonder what it might be like to have a black one-day volunteering event called ‘Day of Service’ in space in my childhood memories, of where it should the fall. However, it is important to make clear that have been. And I am thankful for wonderful organizaHands On Tokyo is not about sporadic service. Says tions such as Hands On Tokyo, and their dedicated Hirsch, “we have an ongoing relationships with the people who strive to ensure that such things will never homes‌we are there every month. It’s not like ‘here happen. you go‌goodbye.’ We really want to be a partner. That For more information Hands On Tokyo, contact Yumiko is really what Hands On Tokyo is trying to do‌to be Tategami on 03-5404-3563, info@handsontokyo.org or the value added.â€? see www.handsontokyo.org The organization currently has seven ongoing

“it was on those slides and bars, jungle gyms, and tire swings that many of our precious friendships and memories were built upon�

Photos courtosy of Hands On Tokyo.

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03-5619-4550 Jul 04–Jul 17 2008 Vol. 39 No. 13 25


SPORTS

Ultimate Frisbee The ultimate summer sport, by Denis Leaker

• Regular Plus 12,600yen/month (Available at all Tokyo branches)

• Daytime Plus 9,450yen/month (Available at all Tokyo branches)

• Regular Towel 12,600yen/month (Available only at Roppongi branch. Towel set incl.)

• Daytime Towel 9,450yen/month

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www.tipness.co.jp 26 | Weekender—Summer Celebrations Issue

60s Vibes The code of conduct and fair play is rooted in the sport’s counterculture upbringing. Frisbee is a pastime that boomed in the college campuses of America during the protest era of the late 1960s, with jocks, geeks, and stoners playing side-by-side in a peaceful manner. In between campaigning for some of America’s most profound social change and experimenting with their newfound freedoms, the baby boomers were discovering the liberating delights of tossing a flying disc. As might be expected from a game born to hippy parents, ultimate is laid back, relaxed, and has few rules. Originally the sport was played with any number of people and a foul was defied by ‘any action sufficient to arouse the ire of your opponent’. Though the rules have become more defined, the simplicity remains. Five minutes on the field is enough to get the idea: run into space, catch the Frisbee, throw the Frisbee, don’t run with the Frisbee.

Ultimate’s relaxed rules are universally understood.

Photos courtesy of www.dischoops.com

Our Plans

t’s that time of year again when the shirts stick and the sweat towel makes a fashion comeback. It’s all too tempting to take refuge under the air conditioner. However, after a long week of office–circulated stale cold air, the fresh outdoors will do you the world of good. Getting out and being active is as important in this season as ever. The perfect sport to give you that extra push out the door is Ultimate Frisbee—being played at a park near you! More commonly a sport played all over the North Pacific, ‘ultimate’ as it’s more commonly known, has developed a firm following over here in Japan. Indeed there are roughly 90 teams in and around Tokyo alone, with Japan currently fifth in the World Rankings. Furthermore, there is a sizeable foreign community out every Sunday, leaping salmon-like through the air in pursuit of a flying disc. Ultimate isn’t the gladiatorial form of razor edged flying disc its name might conjure up. Instead it’s a welcoming, non-contact, Frisbee–based game. It combines the passing and scoring of American football, the cutting and guarding of basketball and the nonstop movement of soccer. But arguably, unlike these and other sports, ultimate is characterized by the spirit of sportsmanship and fair play. Indeed the sport’s official website states ‘playing hard is important, but playing fairly and with honor is vastly more important’. This is known as the ‘spirit of the game’. A refreshing concept in today’s sporting world of doping, diving, and dissent.

Photos courtesy of James Francom/www.backpackartcollective.com

I

Do it like they did in the seventies.

ing Shark Fin) are a co-ed group who play a pick-up game every Sunday in Yoyogi Park from 2pm onwards. Get down to Tokyo’s best summer park come rain or shine to join in the fun and madness. Look for the folk throwing frisbee or for more detailed information check out www.outdoorclubjapan.com. Another team playing are IKU, a co-ed group of Japanese and foreigner disc aficionados who play a pick-up game every Sunday from 1pm on the river at Futako Tamagawa (take the Denentoshi line or the Oimachi line to Futako Tamagawa, go down to the river, then walk up for about ten minutes till you find the Frisbees). The captain, Yoshio says games are “open to anyone and everyone regardless of experience, Japanese language ability, gender, or favorite onigiri”. For more information see www.outdoorjapanforums.com. Both of these teams take part in yearly Japan wide tournaments and IKU has extra practices for those wanting to get more competitive. Ultimate really is the best way to get your sporting fix this summer. The ‘spirit of the game’ ensures an air of friendliness both on and off the field that can’t be beaten. Starting couldn’t be easier, just turn up and play. No match fees, bookings, uniforms, introductions, trials, or judgements—just fun in the park with newfound friends. Join a pick up game this Sunday and let your city life stresses float off into the breeze.

“As might be expected from a game born to hippy parents, ultimate is laid-back, relaxed, and has few rules.” Ultimate is a sport for anybody and everybody. It was conceived in the summer of love and this openness remains. There are serious leagues, from national to collegiate teams, however the most common form of ultimate consists of pick up games. This simply means whoever turns up at a designated time plays. The relaxed, informal nature of this makes it perfect for those of you too busy to make serious sporting commitments. There is no pressure to be there on time every week, in peak physical fitness, having bought the jersey, and knowing the team song. Most pick up games are mixed with a standard ranging from the fumbling rookie to the acrobatic veterans. All are in it for a bit of fun. This most definitely applies to Tokyo ultimate too. Tokyo ‘Ultimates’ To get your Frisbee off the ground in Tokyo there are two foreigner friendly ultimate teams: Fukahire (mean-

For more information on playing ultimate frisbee in Toyko see www.outdoorclubjapan.com.


PARTYLINE WITH BILL HERSEY Mrinalini Singh’s Art Exhibit

Kazuko (Kay) Siazon and Emiko Yamazaki.

Indian Ambassador Hemant Singh and his wife, the artist Mrinalini.

Vivek Kothari (President, Ethnic Dining Co/Diya Restaurant), Rahul Gupta (Sr. Managing Executive Officer and CFO, Shinsei Bank), Rahul’s wife Nandini Gupta, Vivek’s wife Preeti Kothari, Emiko Kothari (President, Maharaja Restaurants), Hema Parekh, Sunita Kochar, Atul Parekh (President, Infinity Creations).

Jordanian Ambassador Samir Naouri, Boontipa Simaskul, Mary Katayma, and Yog Kapoor.

Yog Kapoor, Latesh Gajria American Ambassador (President, Japan Overseas Cor- Thomas Schieffer and his poration), and Ricky Sarani. wife Susanne.

Bruneian Ambassador Dato Mohd Adnan, his wife Datin, Yura Alaiti, and Mary Katayama.

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The Artist Mrinalini and HIH Princess Takamado.

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Katayama’s Aston Martin Akasaka Fifth Anniversary Party

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Moroccan Ambassador Abdelkader Lecheheb, Maria Anderson, Lamia Lecheheb, and AIG’s Ron Anderson.

Warner Brothers’ Bill Ireton, his daughter Kasumi Doi, Namiko Kaji, Shinsei Roberta, Mary, Toyoko Fry, and Charo. Bank’s Thierry Porte, Mary, and Soichiro Minami.

F

irst, congratulations to all my fellow Americans. Today’s Weekender publication day, Friday, July 4, is the 232nd anniversary of America’s Independence Day. Once again, if all goes as planned, I’ll be celebrating with the very popular and highly respected US Ambassador Thomas Schieffer and his wife Susanne. As many of their staff are in Hokkaido for the G8 Summit, the Schieffers are holding their Independence Day celebrations in the Okura Hotel rather than the Embassy residence. I’m sort of sorry about this as Susanne and her staff always really went out to make sure her and Tom’s home was very special for whatever the occasion there might be. Their Texas hospitality, of course, is legendary. The Schieffers, as you know, will be leaving later this year. Susanne was in Fort Worth recently to check out the new house they bought there. With her artistic sense, I’m sure it will really be a beautiful home. More on the Schieffers later.…for now, happy July 4! I’d also like to congratulate our Canadian friends on Canada Day, which was July 1, as well as our French friends whose National Day falls on July 15. Tribal Connections I ran into Mrinalini Singh, wife of the Indian Ambassador at National Azabu Supermarket the other day, and as always, she looked like she had stepped right off the cover of Vogue India. Her turquoise jewelry was fantastic. I told her I had a lot of turquoise jewelry I collected during almost a year and a half of living with the American Indians in Arizona. She asked me what tribes, and when I told her I was adopted into the Hopi Tribe she was really surprised,

Ron Anderson, Mary and Sho Katayama.

Yushi Katayama and Maria Anderson.

Jordanian Ambassador Samir Shinya Tasaki, Mary Katayama, Naouri, Deputy Minister for Foreign Kanae Doi, Lady Fry, and Sho Affairs Masaharu Kohno, and Katayama Koichiro Yoshikoshi.

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as she had just finished a book on the Hopis and has an avid interest in the history and culture of the Northern Arizona tribe. The world gets smaller. Mrinalini is an accomplished artist who just never slows down. It was wall-to-wall with art lovers at the opening reception of her recent art exhibition at The City Club of Tokyo. The exhibition, titled My Garden, featured oil paintings, nihon-ga on washi, water colors on Arches paper, ink and pencil sketches, and a very special “old private collection” of both oil and watercolor paintings. HIH Princess Takamado was the special guest for an enjoyable evening. Other special people there included diplomats, their spouses, business leaders from the Japanese and Indian communities, and many of Tokyo’s prominent social figures. Congratulations Mrinalini, it was a beautiful exhibition.

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Queen Elizabeth’s Birthday Celebrations The weather was perfect for British Ambassador Sir Graham and Lady (Toyoko) Fry’s midday garden party to celebrate Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s birthday. This being the designated year of the UK-Japan 2008, the celebration was even grander than usual. Lady Fry had gone all out to make the residence a showcase of the best of British art. Once guests congratulated the hosting couple they moved into the garden where they could relax, chat with friends, meet interesting people for the first time, and enjoy the vast array of British food and drink. As usual, I headed for the fish and chips stand. I also enjoyed the tandori chicken at the ethnic foods outlet. After all that I relaxed over Earl Grey tea and pastries with friends in a tent-covered café. Ambassador

Jul 04–Jul 17 2008 Vol. 39 No. 13 27


What the Dickens British Pub

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28 | Weekender—Summer Celebrations Issue

PARTYLINE WITH BILL HERSEY Fry’s Garden Party—Birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Uruguayan Ambassador Ana Maria Shochiku President Junichi Sakomoto, Esteves, Kirsten Palma, Fumiko Tottori, American Ambassador Tom Schieffer, and and Peruvian Ambassador Hugo Palma. Italian Ambassador Mario Bova.

Etsuko Hattori, Fumiko Tottori, and Dja Dja Carriedo.

Haitian Ambassador Jean-Claude Bordes, German Ambassador HansJoachim Daerr, Dean of the Corps El Salvadoron Ambassador Ricardo Paredes, and Turkish Ambassador Sermet Atacanli.

Holy See’s Archbishop Alberto Bottari de Castello and Lady (Toyoko) Fry.

Professor Midori Nishiura British Ambassador Sir Graham Fry, Co- and Katsuaki Wada, Shizuko Naouri, top lawman Atsuyuki lombian Ambassador Patricia Cardenas, Executive Secretary, The Sassa, his wife Sachiko, Panamanian Japan-British Society. Ambassador Alfredo Martiz Fuentes, and and Lady Toyoko Fry. his wife Carla.

National Defense Academy Associate Professor Takako Hikotani, Alison Derrick, and Kazuko Konn, both with the British Embassy.

Georgian Ambassador Ivane and Mrs. Matchavariani with British Ambassador Sir Graham Fry.

Fry introduced me to the Ambassador of Georgia, Ivane Matchavariani who told me it was also his birthday that day. He also told me about some of the historiacal links between the UK and Georgia. The program that day included a lively (and loud) performance by the embassy’s taiko (Japanese drum) group. They really are good. The only downer that day was knowing that the Frys would be leaving soon. Graham and Toyoko are an extremely qualified, hardworking, popular, and cool couple. Needless to say, they will really be missed by all who have had the privilege of knowing them. More on these good people later. South African Freedom Day Another nice couple who I also consider good friends, South African Ambassador Dr. Baldwin Ngubane and his wife Sheila will be returning home this fall. Meanwhile, they’ve been keeping super busy with all kinds of events and VIP visitors. This year they held a jubilant celebration of their Freedom Day at the Okura Hotel. It was a full house at the hotel’s Ascot Room where guests included Japanese government officials, diplomats, and business leaders. The special guest was visiting South African Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs Mr. L. Kingwana. During her visit, she was the guest speaker at a symposium at the United Nations University. The minister opened her speech at the Freedom Day celebration by pointing out a beautiful floral arrangement of South Africa’s national flower, the Protea. Her speech was short and meaningful, ending with, “I know you want to enjoy our buffet and the South African wine, which is the best in the world.” Another very special guest, Yuiji Sawa, who is Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, also spoke, pointing out the importance of the relationship between Japan and South Africa. The guests were interesting, the buffet excellent, and the ambiance warm and laid-back, perfect for the occasion. Fire and Ice Elegance Ultimate elegance best describes Shohachi (Sho) and Mary Katayama’s Fire and Ice fifth anniversary party for Aston Martin Akasaka. The special event was held at the luxurious Crystal Yacht Club in Tennozu.

Vice-President BCCJ, Philip Gibb, Architect Mark Dytham, and First Secretary Head of Life Sciences Trade and Investment Department, UK, Jeremy Hill.

The Katayama’s (and my) best friends Ron and Maria Anderson were visiting here from New York and offered me a ride to the party venue in Shinagawa. I met them at the Ritz Carlton where they were staying and enjoyed having the opportunity to be with the two of them for a while. It was kind of funny when we arrived. Ron got out one side and asked the driver to help “Madame get out the other side.” Apparently, the driver didn’t understand and said “no.” Maria was already out, and the three of us had a good laugh as we entered the club. The mostly-window club offered an awesome view of the bay, yachts docked nearby, the Rainbow Bridge, and the colorfully lit boats on the water made it very magical. Sho and Mary’s many friends include many of our city’s—and the world’s—most interesting people and the gathering that evening was first class all the way. My good friend Philippe Sauzedde is a consultant for the club and the French buffet was excellent, as were the wines selected by Japan’s top sommelier, Shinya Tasaki. My sincerest congratulations and thanks to Sho and Mary. This couple are true leaders in the community here. Also congrats to Mary, who did a great job as ILBS (International Ladies Benevolent Society) President the past year. At the same time we wish her successor, Norma Dziewezo Polski, wife of the Argentinian Ambassador, all the best in her year as President of ILBS. Ongoings Infinity Creations President, Atul Parekh, really never slows down. In addition to his partnership with noted jewelry designer Kazuo Ogawa (jewelry collections, international fashion shows, etc.), he practically commutes from Tokyo to Mumbai. Here in Tokyo, he and Kazuo just opened a marvelous jewelry, antique, artifacts, and beauty salon, “Golden Door,” in an upscale neighborhood near Chinzan-so Gardens and the Four Seasons Hotel in Edogawabashi. More on that later. Atul’s just back from Mumbai where his wife, Hema, is busy on her new book. She’s an author who has written bestselling vegetarian cookbooks. The Parek’s son, Alok, who attends university classes at the London School of Economics is back in Tokyo for the summer. He’s doing an internship


PARTYLINE WITH BILL HERSEY Segafredo Zanetti Espresso www.segafredo.jp www.segafredo.it

YMCA

Foreign Community Support Committee (FCSC) Tokyoite Kim Vickrey with her Mom, Mary Greenwalt, visiting from Kentucky.

Vice President Hilton Hotels Corporation Asia Pacific Oded Lifschitz and Genia Lifschitz.

Heidi Hurley, Maria Gordon, Danielle Galbraith, Christine Genereux, and Brendan.

In and Around

Mrinalini Singh (wife of the Indian Ambassador) and her mother Shakuntala at the Refugees’ International Art of Dining event with Mrinalini’s table setting.

Top security man Nestor Takamiyagi, his lovely lady Noriko, and popstar Jin Akanishi at the New Lex.

Supporting the YMCA’s Challenged Children Project (CCP) since 1987

Panamanian Vice President Ruben Arosemena Valdes and Panama Ambassador Miquel Martiz Fuentes at the National Azabu Supermarket bookshop (second floor).

South African Freedom Day Reception

Senegalese Ambassador Gabriel Sar, Mauratania Ambassador Mohamed Ould Jaafar, Iraqi Ambassador Ghanim Al-Jumaily, and Saudi Arabian Ambassador Faisal H. Trad.

Yuiji Sawa, Sheila Ngubane, South African Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs, Ms. L. Kingwana, and South African Ambassador Dr. Baldwin Ngubane.

South African Ambassador Baldwin Ngubane, Minister Kingwana, South African Airways Manager for Japan Yutaka Onoda,

How to Donate to the CCP: By Bank & Post Office Transfer Cheque, Postal Cash Envelope

Yuiji Sawa, Sheila Ngubane, Minister L. Kingwana, South African Ambassador Dr. Baldwin Ngubane, politician Tamayo Odano and his wife.

at Lehman Brothers here. His sister Ayesha lives in New York City where she works for Lehman Brothers. That’s quite a family. My thanks to the Swiss Ambassador Paul Fivat and Austrian Ambassador Mrs. Jutta Stefan-Bastl for the colorful invitation to the Euro 2008 event at the German School Tokyo Yokohama. It was a fun, event-filled day that included a student soccer tournament, a soccer coaching lesson for the children, an awards ceremony and reception hosted by the Swiss and Austrian Ambassadors, the showing of The Official Soccer Video, and a showing of the opening game of the Euro 2008 live on the big screen. I had to emcee a big party at the New Lex that evenings and was really sorry I couldn’t make it. Friends who did go said it was a great day in every way. I was also sorry to miss Ashley Associates spring tour of the International Theater Company London’s production of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. For 15 years, Ashley Associates have been bringing European Culture in the form of theater, to universities throughout Japan. Back for Summer Summertime always means lots of great young people who go to schools abroad, are back for the holidays, and lots of lucky friends who live here are heading out to exotic places. It’s nice having Frank and Sonia Striegl’s youngest son Mark here for a month or so. Mark, who graduated from St. Mary’s, now attends

Kwikspace’s Cole Slabbert, Martel Slabbert, AIG’s Johan Slabbert, Chantel Slabbert, and Park Hyatt Tokyo Hotel’s General Manager Robert Barker.

classes at the University of San Diego. He, like his older brother Frank, was a wrestling champ during his St. Mary’s days. Mark, who is still really into sports, trained in Mixed Martial Arts, and recently won the California Pankration Championship. His longtime buddy Russel Stradmore, who has been going to classes at Marymount near LA, is back as well. He plans on taking a year off from school and training here to be a soccer coach. Mark and Russel organized a “Reunited” party at The New Lex recently and about 250 of their friends showed up. Those guys are really popular. A big congratulations to Matthew Ireton, who recently graduated with honors from George Washington University in Washington, DC. His parents Bill and Charo went to the graduation and from the photos I saw, that was a real happening. Matthew is enjoying the summer touring as the opening act (vocals and ukulele) for former Spiders member Takayuki Inoue and his band. I got to know the Spiders when they were in a film being shot on location in Bali, and I was involved in a fashion shoot there. It’s also nice having the Ireton’s daughter Roberta back. She goes to Central St. Martin’s Art School in London and has grown up to be a dynamic young lady. Colombian Ambassador Patricia Cardena’s son Juan, a St. Mary’s student, and his best buddy Hiroki Sakamoto, are spending their summer holidays in Colombia. This is Hiroki’s first time to visit there and I’m sure he and Juan are having a good time.

For Transfers: Mitsubishi Tokyo UFJ Bank Takadanobaba Ekimae Branch Ordinary Account, # 1056676 The National Council of YMCAs of Japan.

7 Honshio-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0003 Tel: 03-5367-6640, Fax: 03-5367-6641 www1.ymcajapan.org/english-fcsc Email: fcsc@ymcajapan.org

Please Help us Make a Difference. Jul 04–Jul 17 2008 Vol. 39 No. 13 29


ARTS WITH OWEN SCHAEFER Exploring New Musical Climates

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or 24 years, the Arion-Edo Foundation has been among Tokyo’s foremost supporters of the performing arts. Founded by Kyoko Edo, the foundation attempts to address shortcomings in concert circles that keep concerts by overseas performers exorbitantly expensive and unexpectedly also keep many of Japan’s most gifted young performers from finding real domestic exposure. Arion-Edo’s Summer Festival is a onemonth annual barrage of reasonably-priced shows featuring artists and dancers both global and local. And it has just kicked off. Thematically, this year’s festival goes to extremes— Forest Echoes / Desert Voices promises sounds from the most lush of primordial forests to the barren beauty of the desert. Performers from Algeria and Brazil come together to compare and sometimes combine sounds in a series of events in and around the city. One of the most anticipated performers is Brazilian musician and composer Egberto Gismonti. Gismonti’s festival-opener with Ryusuke Numajiri and the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra is already sold-out, but you can still catch his idiosyncratic and eclectic work in two solo shows. After studying in France under Nadia Boulanger, who also taught Bernstein and Copland, Gismonti branched out from traditional piano work to study guitar. With a growing interest in Brazilian pop sounds, and adamant that there was space for popular guitar work in “serious” music, Gismonti began incorporating classical, jazz, and Brazilian choro in his compositions. And his work on the 14-string guitar has to be seen to be believed. From the other side of the festival’s climatological divide, there is a rare opportunity to hear sounds of the Sahara—music from the group of people called the Tuareg. Traditionally nomadic, Tuareg territory spreads across most of the western and central areas of the Sahara, crossing the borders of more than five countries, yet their musical traditions have scarcely been heard outside of Africa. Performed almost exclusively by women, the Tuareg tindé are traditionally fire-side choral songs of call-and-answer accompanied by drums and clapping. Coming to Japan for the first time, a group of Algerian

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Call or email to find out how we can help you... 30 | Weekender—Summer Celebrations Issue

A rare preformance of the imzad.

tindé singers will recreate the atmosphere of a Tuareg campfire with sounds that could only have been born in the desert. Equally rare is a performance of the imzad, a bowed string instrument that the Tuareg consider to be a symbol of their culture. It is played exclusively by women, and shockingly, there are only five women in Algeria today who can both build and play the instrument, giving the performance an unsettling sense of impermanence along with its unusual beauty. And if you need further reasons, there are several: a number of other festival concerts, alongside more than a dozen participatory and related concerts by Japanese and foreign artists, ranging from the traditional to the avant-garde. These shows, if tenuously connected to the theme, have had some wonderfully successful mixes of music and performance art in the past and are definitely worth checking out. Egberto Gismonti Solo!, Jul 5 at Daiichi Seimei Hall (Kachidoki Metro Station), 6pm. Jul 7 at Hamarikyu Asahi Hall (Tsukiji-Shijyo Metro Station) 7pm. ¥6,800. The Voice of the Sahara—Traditional Tuareg Music, Jul 18 Sogetsu Hall (Aoyama-Icchome Metro Station), 7pm ¥4,800. The Arion-Edo Summer Festival—Forest Echoes / Desert Voices, through Jul 31, various venues. For more details call 03-5301-0950 or see www.arion-edo.org.

CROSSWORD #30 Across.

Down

3. Celebration (5)

1. Pool lounger (6)

7. Comes before a fall? (6)

2. Grins (6)

8. Type of tea (6)

3. US end of school party (4)

9. Coffee choice (5)

4. Oriental exercise (4)

12. Galas (5)

5. Bloom (6)

14. 80s Superman

6. Infatuated? (2,4)

Christopher(5)

1

3

4

5

6

20

21

8

9 12

10

11

13

14

15

15. Virgo month (9)

11. Family film (4,5)

16. Summer drink (4,3)

13. Stable (7)

17. Japanese festival (7)

14. Cold blooded creature

19. Celebrations (9) 22. Hot ‘n’ wet (weather)

2

7

10. Survived (9) 16

(7)

17

18

18. Heat stroke protection

(5)

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F

19

22

(3,3)

23. Bird of prey (5)

19. Party in Spain (6)

24. Farewell to Paris(5)

20. Pizza sausage (6)

26. Portable PC (6)

21. Oval shaped nut (6)

27. Twins sign (6)

24. Band’s volume boosters

23 24

26

28. Beach (5)

25

27 28

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Jul 04–Jul 17 2008 Vol. 39 No. 13 31


32 | Weekender—Summer Celebrations Issue

Weekender  

Celebrating Summer. Published 04 Aug 2008

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