RANMAGAZINE.COM January / February 2011 | ISSUE 9 |




o, I’m dead tired of hearing people complain about Nagoya. It isn’t that I’m in love with this city, far from it, but the same old complaints just create a really vicious cycle of that same stuff over and over again. That in mind, there are some things I love about Nagoya: Great Transportation, even if it stops running at 12am, the public subway system here rocks! It’s on time, fast, clean, reliable and dare I say, comfortable? I mean, compared to Tokyo’s sardine tubes and New York’s ‘come-whenever-wedamn-well-feel-like-it’ subway system, Nagoya’s lines seem almost perfect by comparison. I’m on the Sakura Dori line, catch me if you can… Parks. Come on, lots of folks say Nagoya could use lots more green space, true, I’m one of those people, but Nagoya’s park system is pretty good. All the major parks I go to, Shirakawa, Meijo Koen, Tsurumai Koen, Heiwa Koen, Shonai Ryokuchi Koen, Higashiyama Koen, even Central Park, these are great places to lounge, play, chill, sport it up, dance, eat, relax, learn, meet, refresh and progress! Here’s to Nagoya’s PARKS, see you in one this year! Ease of living. Lots of folks complain that Nagoya is ‘boring’, ‘uninteresting’, ‘not exciting’, etc, well, let’s turn that around and say Nagoya is calm, peaceful, low stress, and relatively friendly. Sure, Nagoyans aren’t the cosmopolitan bunch Tokyo-ites like to think of themselves as, nor are Nagoyans the loud and outspoken brash comedians Osakans proclaim themselves to be, we’re somewhere in between. We’re laid back but upbeat, we’re mellow but interested, we’re fun without being obnoxious. We’re down for the cause but we’d just as soon stay home and chill. Nagoya and Nagoyans make for a low maintenance but lively combination, all in a safe and easily-commutable city, best of all worlds I’d say. City life without city strife, heard? Word… I mean, let’s face it, where on earth is the absolute perfect location? Sure, there are lots of spots “cooler than”, “bigger than”, “more interesting than”, wherever you’re currently living, but it’s all relative, isn’t it? Me, give me a place with

Part 1

a city nightlife, some art and culture, an open-minded population, a few good restaurants, some decent bookstores, and throw in some mountains, or a seaside, and I’m good. It might be said Nagoya has none of those, but what it does have, I’m adapting to, and still, I’m good…you live inside your head mostly anyway, it’s up to you how you read your environment, and the grass is always greener on the other side, never forget. We all came here for a reason, let’s explore what that/those reasons might be, and learn something, contribute something, get something and give something while we’re here. “You go through stages…”, my friend Yoko told me recently. Damn right. However you handle those stages is what decides how your daily life is going to be. Half empty/half full, how do you see it? I hope in 2011 here in Nagoya, more people will take more chances on themselves, their ideas, their dreams, and contribute more to the environment of art and culture here in Nagoya. It’s a really fertile time, the soil seems ready to be planted with some great ideas, concepts, innovations and dreams…why wait? Why wait for the perfect moment/time/ place/person? That time is Right About Now, make it happen, I’m looking at the man in the mirror, are you? 2011 is the year of the rabbit, classy, sensitive, creative, optimistic, compassionate, this year is a year to PRODUCE, as the rabbit is so well known for. The rabbit is also expressive, well-mannered and stylish, so 2011 looks to be something special! Reinvent yourself as how you see yourself in your mind, the voice in your head is right-. Make it your best year ever, We plan to do the same thing. BLESS UP! We still love you Nagoya. TDHOUCHEN RAN MAGAZINE PUBLISHER

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rabbit illustration: ADAM PASION; digital alteration: ADRIEN SANBORN

cover photo: ACHIM RUNNEBAUM table of contents photo: YUKO SANBORN

5 Ch-ch-ch-ch Changes 8 Walkathon for Life 16 The Pagoda Diaries
Half Pagoda Nerd

International Charity Festival 2011


4 The Green Spot
Arriving in "Eco" Style

6 Media

Nagoya Radio Rocks!

10 Success 12 Health 14 Listen 20 Go 22 Read

Maki Means Business

Yogini Sarah Speaks

Publisher: TD Houchen Layout Designer: Adrien Sanborn Editor: Adam Pasion Photography: Achim Runnebaum Web Manager: Jason L. Gatewood Send story ideas, art, photography, and advertising inquiries to: Promotional Events/Co-Promotion:

Ali Huggins

Taiheiyo! See Japan by Sea

Hagakure: The Code of the Samurai


ranmagazine .com

24 RAN Map & Club Guide 27 Comics
Art, comics, and other amusements

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環 境


G reen SPOT

| Story and photos by Achim Runnebaum |

Arriving in "Eco" S tyle
uring my time living in America so many years ago, gasoline was 89 cents per gallon, and fast, powerful cars were the holy Grail of the car industry. In a world with abundant resources, seemingly endless kilometers of open road and clear skies, it made sense. Unfortunately we no longer live in such a world. Now the buzz words are conservation, environmental protection, limited/ finite resources, and cost cutting. Demands for clean air plus a need for reduced oil consumption have caused some car manufacturers, particularly in Japan, to look for a temporary solution before we can switch to non-gasoline power sources. Thus was born the hybrid. The classic example of a hybrid is the mule- a cross between a donkey and a horse. In the automobile world, In simplest terms, a hybrid combines a gasoline engine and an electric motor to provide adequate power with minimal fuel usage and low emissions. They don't need to be plugged into an electric outlet in order to be recharged. They charge themselves by using energy normally lost during coasting and braking, and can also be charged by the car's gasoline engine. Critics consider hybrid vehicles to be the jackasses of the car industry, but don't get suckered into that whole hybrids are for wussies nonsense. Considering that at highway speeds the average car requires only about 20 horsepower to keep it running, a large gasoline engine makes little sense except for when pulling heavy loads, which is the whole idea behind hybrid cars - a small gas engine combined with an electric motor. With dropping prices, more consumer options, and ever more efficient production techniques, hybrids, such as the Toyota Prius, Honda Insight, or the Hyundai Sonata are becoming more and more popular with "Eco-friendly" consumers. And who could blame them? With better mileage than even the best gasoline-only car, efficient performance in just about all driving situations, whisper quiet operation, and much lower emissions, hybrids are fast becoming a great alternative to the gas guzzlers of old. But its not all sunshine and butterflies. Some people have criticized hybrids for their larger and much more unwieldy batteries, their lower resale value (battery is very costly to replace), and higher repair costs. However, since hybrids are still a relatively new technology many of the current maintenance hassles unique to hybrids will improve with future models. As mentioned above, another criticism certain people have about hybrids, is about power output being lower than in regular gas-only cars. Well, that's kind of the whole point, isn't it? Gas is consumed much more quickly during hard acceleration. If you spare the horses when the light turns green, you can save a significant amount of money, not to mention cutting down on Eco-unfriendly emissions. According to customer satisfaction surveys, a large number of people who have switched to hybrids recently reported a change in their driving habits, greater overall relaxation while driving, and significant savings at the pump. The most surprising part is that these former self-proclaimed road warriors thought they would miss having all that power at their fingertips, but actually the opposite is true. Whatever you may think about hybrids, one thing is for certain: They do have a lot of potential to significantly cut down on harmful emissions and thus reduce the burden on our already strained planet. So if you’re in the market for a new car in the new year, give hybrids a chance. Do a bit of research, and you too might be surprised to find out that many people who have recently switched are very satisfied with their new “green” wheels. Conservation is the new name of the game, and if the hybrid technology keeps improving and catching on, it might just be those stubborn mules in the automobile community for whom high performance is the Holy Grail, that may end up looking like jackasses. how-does-a-hybrid-car-work.html

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-ch h -cHANGES -chC Ch
| Story and photos by Achi
t it, and t it, Tupac rapped abou avid Bowie sang abou sai d: , a no ted Au tho r on ce No rm an Vin ce nt Pe ale world”. and you change your “Change your thoughts in a state of it, everything is always you really think about If - change. the only constant in life ange. Ironically, that’s ch ferent, every nce. Every year is dif is the essence of existe It n the las t, pe op le is dif fer en t tha co un ter we have wi th en apes change. ange, and whole landsc people change, lives ch really notice it is slow and we don’t Sometimes the change eone else. Other reminded of it by som that much until being recognizable. den and immediately times the change is sud many people g conundrum; there are It’s kind of an interestin than they are more afraid of change in the world who are every one of us ry new year, each and of death, but with eve r lives. For some ys for a change in ou secretly or openly pra ng year. Some ght change in the comi people relationships mi place, go back s, or move into a new people will start new job an old friend, s, find new love, lose home to their countrie ing completely akthrough, start someth strike it rich, make a bre ve direct power me of the time we ha new, etc, etc. etc. So don’t have any, place. Sometimes we over the changes taking about Nagoya, r to change something but if you had the powe some way, what me; to make it better in this city we all call ho would it be?

m Runnebaum |

I wish we had a Theme Park in Nagoya, so people could enjoy their free time.

I wish people wer e more open minde d.
eople ish p rive Iw dd woul arefully c more respect and ules in cr traffi goya. Na

It would be there we nice if re more tradition al places , like in Ky oto.

r good tions fo hools Op tary sc elemen right now. ited are lim open more I would ry/middle ta elemen n Nagoya. i schools

Nagoya buildings should be more fashionable/cool . Around Nagoya Station it’s starting to look nicer, but a lot of areas are st ill very drab looking.

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| By TDHouchen |
isen from the ashes of ‘terrestrial radio’ like a fiery phoenix of sound, is on the air, sort of, in Nagoya and all over the world, anywhere an internet signal can be received. Don’t quite know what Nagoya is? Nagoya Radio is an online radio station that promises to be everything Radio I should have been and more. You do remember Radio I 79.5FM don’t you? After a 10 year stint as Nagoya’s one and only ‘international’ radio station, RADIO I now sleeps with the fishes. After broadcasting it’s last signal on the last day of September last year, they quietly faded into the ether. Enter NAGOYA RADIO. com - born of the need for ‘real radio’, as general manager Mark Bailey puts it. Question: What the hell is online radio and why does Nagoya need it? Answer: Ask Mark Bailey. TD: Mark - first, where are you from, how did you get here, and what are you up to? MB: I’m from Brooklyn, New York. Been in Nagoya 20 years. I came here wanting to teach. I had taught radio in the US but outgrew my need to teach within a year here. I missed radio but I couldn’t speak Japanese. This was 1990, and there was only one real FM station, that was FM Aichi. I went to them hoping to get on air but they told me to forget it since I couldn’t speak Japanese. So I started learning Japanese. Then in 1993, ZIP FM burst on the scene and they sounded like a real western-style FM station. I went there and they said my Japanese still wasn’t good enough, so I started practicing with phrases the Japanese DJs said. By 1995, I got on with ZIP as a news announcer/translator. In the meantime, I passed Level 1 Japanese, was with ZIP for about 2 years, then in about 2000 Radio I came on and I was with them from the beginning to the end. TD: Tell me about Radio I. Why did they die? I really dug listening to some of the shows… MB: They didn’t have enough advertising. They were waiting for advertisers to come to them, which is not the way a business in this economy is going to thrive. KOWA was the parent company of Radio I, they are a pharmaceutical company, and they were doing very well outside of Radio I. I think they were using Radio I as a tax write-off. Radio I was hemorrhaging lots of money every month. I used to see the sales staff everyday just sitting at their desks on their computers, and I’d ask them, ‘why aren’t you out selling or getting ads?’, and they’d tell me they were salaried employees. Give a salesman a salary and where is the incentive for him to sell? TD: Do you think Radio I did a good job at marketing themselves? MB: With a new station it takes about 10 years for people to know you exist. Radio I did no promotion. You have to be really aggressive. Everybody heard when they went out of business on September 30th last year, but no one knew who they were before that. I think they should have ‘gone out of business’ the first day. What a great publicity concept, you go out of business on your first day, then come back the next day after everyone has heard you’re going out of business, and you say ‘we’re baaaaaack’. But it was a shame, Radio I going out of business was a first in Japan for a radio station, and it’s a huge shame. TD: Talk to me about Nagoya MB: Right now, Nagoya only has 3 stations. Nagoya is roughly about the same size as Atlanta in the US, which has 34 stations. We think 3 stations isn’t enough. TD: Why is radio so overlooked in Japan? MB: I think radio is seen as the little step brother to TV in Japan. If you’re on TV here, you’re successful- if you’re on the radio, you’re just not on TV yet. Here in Japan, they don’t have the radio history and culture that we do in the US. They don’t really know what radio is good for here. Radio is something that you do in your life, you get involved, it affects you. That’s what we want to do with Nagoya We see ourselves as an FM station that doesn’t happen to have a tower- we happen to be online. We’re a real radio station, we live, eat, work, sleep and breathe here, and we’re worldwide. We serve two communities- we want to be the ‘voice of Nagoya’, if something big happens here, you won’t hear about it on the regular broadcast stations, and you certainly won’t hear it in English, so we want to fill that niche, but we also want to serve people with a general interest in Japan from all over the world. TD: Nice. Explain to me what ‘internet radio’ is all about. MB: Until now, internet radio has been the sound of an MP3 player playing music, and only that. There are thousands of internet radio stations online, but the majority of those have no one actually communicating with you. You won’t hear anyone ever saying, ‘hey, it’s 4 o’clock, thanks for listening.’ We want to change that. Internet radio has servers just like any site online. Normally online, when you click on something you see it and read it, with online radio, when you click on it you hear it. TD: Do you think Nagoyans will be more receptive to NagoyaRadio than they were to Radio I? MB: It’s not going to be easy, but we’re determined. Again, Japanese don’t have a radio culture and/or history. We have to teach them what it’s all about. They’ve never had a culture


メデ ア ィ

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where DJs are rock stars. We’re going to have to teach the community what FM radio is, but we’re also having to explain how to operate an internet radio dial. It’s a lot of work, but we’re up for it. TD: When did Nagoya actually begin it’s first broadcasting? MB: October 9th last year, at the kick off to the COP 10 event. We wanted to connect with the foreigners who were here visiting for that event last year. Our main audience are expats primarily in Nagoya, but also the rest of Japan, and as I said we’re online, so we can potentially have a worldwide audience. Seems right now the people who like what we’re playing are Japanese guys between 30 and 50- they speak the language of rock. TD: What’s the format? MB: It’s constant rock, and news when it breaks. If you listen to rock stations, they don’t have any news. If you listen to news stations, they don’t have any rock. So basically if you like Zeppelin or Green Day, you can hear that with us, but you also know that for example, if there’s an earthquake, we’re going to tell you about it. An MP3 player can’t do that. We play rock, and if something happens in our community, we break in. No other station around here does that. TD: What’s the language ratio of English to Japanese on Nagoya MB: Right now were about 100 percent English. We don’t have to explain to foreigners what radio is, all we have to do is direct people to the page. Eventually we plan to have a Japanese talk show, we’ll have some English lesson shows also. When we do our Japanese talk radio show, it’s going to be talk radio with balls. TD: By it’s nature, it seems internet radio is a medium where one has to be essentially homebound to be able to listen. How will you get around that? MB: True. Especially in Japan. In most European countries and the US, you can get a WiFi signal at Starbucks and lots of places outside the home- here you can’t do that. You may have heard that Japan is a technologically advanced country, so we’ve got confidence that the WiFi revolution will hit here too. What we have to do now is figure out when people are online. Seems that time is from 8 to 10pm at night. TD: Your take on Nagoya. MB: Nagoyans are slow to adapt to things other places have been on for a long time, but basically I think if you give the Nagoya consumer a chance, he’s going to like what you like. Case in point: for a long time I was drinking horrible coffee from lots of these mom and pop coffee joints when I first came. I remember telling my wife, if a chain were to open here, it would do great business. A few years later Starbucks came and now they’re all over the place. Same with Subway, I’m a New York boy who was dying for a pastrami sandwich, and now they’re here. So yes, I think Nagoya is a conservative town, but things are changing, and people have to take chances. TD: What do you think Nagoya needs? MB: The UN has been saying Japan has to open up it’s immigration. They’ve been saying this for 30 years. Right now, Japan is about 1 percent non-Japanese in it’s population. The UN says that number has to go up to 13 percent for Japan to continue as it is now. That doesn’t mean growth, just for it to stay at it’s current level. I’d like to walk down the street and see diversity. I think if Nagoya were more diverse it would make life better for everybody, not just non-Japanese. I think a major media force and a few really super successful nonJapanese businessmen are necessary to push Nagoya in the direction of being more diverse. I feel like if I can make it in Nagoya, I can make it anywhere. I’ve put 20 years of connections and business savvy into my life here. Plus, I’ve got my family here. I stay here because I’ve put so much work into my life here. TD: What else besides are you into Mark? MB: We do, renting bikes to foreigners, we do Minato Bridal, which is a wedding dispatch business, we’re doing Peace English which dispatches teachers, we also have in-house classes. We do Radio Results, we get orders for commercials and jingles from the US, people who outsource native New York accents, but who can’t afford to pay the prices that US agencies charge, they get it done with us. We import food, those are the main businesses that bring in money for us. TD: What’s on tap for in 2011? MB: Two Saturdays a month, we’re going to be promoting the station out in the streets of Nagoya, giving gifts to people, doing man on the street interviews, and basically just touching Nagoya. We want Nagoya to know we’re here, so we’re going to introduce ourselves. We’re radio guys, and we’re Nagoya guys. We sound like a real station because we are a real station, we’re on all over the world, but we’re here for Nagoya. Any questions, write us at or,
it’s very easy to get in touch with us. Right on Mark. We’re listening..

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Walkathon for Life
| By Ebony Brown |
ast year over 2000 people gathered in Nagoya to perform a simple task: walking. Yet, this seemingly minute action has had an incredible impact on the lives of many throughout the Chubu region. Jointly created in 1991 by the American Chamber of Commerce and Nagoya International School the Nagoya Walkathon is all about unity and giving. A foreign sponsored event, its purpose is to unite the foreign and Japanese communities through a mutual desire to positively benefit charitable organizations. Every walker pays a 2000 yen registration fee (or 1000 yen for students) and add that to the sizable donations from corporate sponsors and we are talking about a whole lot of money. But rather than focusing on change on a global level, all the funds are funneled to local organizations. This means that every yen goes to help those who need it most in the same areas that participants live and work. With over 8 million yen raised last year alone it is easy to wonder what types of charities are benefitting f r o m a l l t h i s ch a r i t a b l e giving. The answer is many. Th e wa l k a t h o n d o n a t e d money to 26 charities last year alone with a multitude of groups in need being addressed. A large community that is being positively affected is the mentally and physically disabled. Walkathon funds purchase everything from cancrushing machines and art supplies for expression therapy to the creation and renovation of various facilities. The theme of most of these organizations is empowerment. By creating projects and work opportunities for the disabled, these programs allow those who society deems unable to contribute, a chance to assert their independence and showcase their creativity. Safuran Kai, for example, provides a communal home and workplace for the mentally disabled. Residents make cookies, postcards and engage in recycling as a means of work. For many of the residents and members of such charities the centers and homes provide a rare chance to leave their homes and interact with others. On a visit to the Seikatsu Shien Center PIVOT, a daycare center for the mentally and physically challenged, a young man was seen enjoying the music program, it was noted that under the care of his elderly parents he had no prior opportunities to leave his home. The Walkathon helped fund the construction of the Seikatsu Shien Center. Another program that the Walkathon benefits is the Japan Service Dog Association. Anyone who has ever taken the s u b way i n Ja p a n k n ow s t h a t t h e s u b w ay i s n o t always the most accessible transportation system in the world for those with physical disabilities. The relatively new concept of service dogs has completely changed the lives of many of the disabled by allowing them to navigate on their own, eliminating the need to constantly ask for assistance. While the dogs are a miracle for those they assist they do not come cheap. It cost 4,000,000 yen to feed, train, and place just a single dog. The overwhelming majority of this money comes from donations, like the 200,000 yen donated by the Walkathon in 2009. Finally the Walkathon supports several organizations aimed at helping children. They are involved in providing funds for trips and accommodations for children with difficult family circumstances. They help provide funds for programs that teach Japanese to Chinese children being raised in Japan. They also help make dreams come true by making donations to the Make a Wish foundation, allowing terminally ill children a chance to go to Disneyland with their families. With so many people feeling the wave of hope and change because of the Nagoya walkathon. I think it’s time we all laced up and took a walk around the park, don’t you?

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| By TDHouchen |


any people say the role of women in Japan needs to change before Japan itself can move towards becoming a successfully integrated international country. Like their Western female counterparts, many women in Japan today are postponing or shunning marriage altogether after finding themselves in control of their own destinies, without the financial assistance historically provided by men. But this new position in society is uncharted territory in Japan for most women. Maki Mizuhara embodies the characteristics of a successful business woman, and does so with grace, charm, and beauty to spare. She is a wonderful example of a progressive minded woman, who happens to be Japanese, carving a niche for herself in a man’s world right here in Nagoya, while still holding down some of the traditional roles associated with womanhood- marriage and children. It’s safe to say she’s ‘got it all’- money, career, family, beauty, and a healthy dose of her own ideas about what womanhood means. As a recruiter for Wall Street Associates, an executive recruitment firm established here in Nagoya, Maki has come across dozens of successful people and shares what she feels is necessary to become successful here, or anywhere. TD: So Maki, tell me a bit about yourself. MM: I’m originally from Mie prefecture. I’m the director of the Nagoya office for Wall Street Associates. I’ve worked in Nagoya for 14 years. Our company focuses on bilingual people, and finding them executive positions with established firms. TD: What type of jobs does your company find for people? MM: When our company was formed, our president focused on bankers. Gradually we changed our focus to accounting and finance, people with those skills plus English. Now we also work with Human Resources people, and supply chain management as well, purchasing, factory manager, like that. We also have sales and marketing for bilingual people. TD: You meet many company presidents. How would you describe their personalities? MM: There are basically two types of company presidents that I’ve seen in Nagoya. There is the company president who established a company from scratch. He is usually very open minded, very aggressive hiring people. They’ll join meetings and say exactly what kind of people they want. They’ll express their philosophy, they are very hands on. The other type is the second or third generation president who is the son of the former president, like that. They are more relaxed, they give their authority to senior directors, they aren’t quite so dynamic

as the first type. TD: What type of business environment do you think is prevalent in Nagoya? MM: In manufacturing, Nagoya is very well known for automobile and aerospace manufacturing, heavy industry. On the other hand, the biggest semiconductor factory in Japan is located in Yokkaichi, that’s Toshiba, it’s not far from Nagoya. Manufacturing is big in Nagoya. TD: Do you think Nagoya’s economy is growing, contracting, or stagnating? MM: Because of the economic crisis of last year and recently, it gradually became bad, but now, it’s gradually becoming better. Gradually bad, gradually better is the Nagoya story. Things don’t suddenly happen here, it takes a while to happen one way or the other. TD: What do you think is the basic character of the average Nagoya business person? MM: Everybody says Nagoya is very closed. People wanting to start a new business, etc, maybe it’s hard here. It’s very well known that Nagoya is a conservative town. For example my office, we do not hire people if they are not from this area. First thing business people from here ask is ‘where are you from?’ If you say you are from, for example, Tokyo, they put some distance between you and them. I guess Nagoya people are conservative naturally. But once you get to know them, once Nagoya people accept you, they accept you for life. They (Nagoya people) want to make sure before they accept you. Once you earn the credibility, or trust from them, it lasts a long time. Even, for example, if someone comes along and offers a better price or something, Nagoya people won’t change because they want to keep relationships for a long time. The door might open faster in a place like Tokyo, but it closes faster also. Here in Nagoya, it might take a while to get the door open, but it will stay open longer. TD: What would you say is the best way a foreigner should proceed here in Nagoya if he or she wants to start a small business? MM: I think a person who wants to open a business here should focus directly on who he wants to attract. There probably isn’t much competition for certain businesses here, so you can get success if you can find your market. If you want your business to be huge, then maybe Nagoya isn’t such a great place. But Nagoya is a great city for smaller businesses, and also for businesses that want to test market products or services. You can also tailor make your business to your audience here, but in a bigger city, you can’t quite do that. TD: What do you personally like about Nagoya?

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MM: This city has most of what you need for city life. It’s easy to get around and get along here. The people are friendly, it’s easy to live here. Because of the medium size of Nagoya, networking is easy here, people support each other a lot. I really like that. TD: If a foreign businessman wanted to tap into the Japanese market, how might he go about doing that? MM: Difficult. If you mean the Japanese person who isn’t naturally interested in international things, it’s difficult. I think your product or event should have some theme, not necessarily international. For example fashion, flowers, whatever the event is should focus first on the theme aside from the international aspect of it. The topic is important rather than the international part of it. It depends on how you promote the event, how you put it, how you make it. If you make an event, for example a rock event, if I’m interested in rock and I’m Japanese, I’ll go whether or not there are foreigners there. Even if I don’t speak English, I’m there for the rock, right? I used to organize a lot of events, and they were international events, but the subject of the event itself wasn’t necessarily international. I used to do wine events with Canadian wine importers, and I’d get the entertainment and people would come because of the wine. Or the entertainment. Not because of the international-ness of the

event. I did flower events also- I used to promote Australian flowers because Australia has very unique flowers and people who didn’t really care about Australia came.They wanted to see the flowers but they’d never been to Australia. It’s always the theme and the contents that are more important than just international. TD: What qualities do you think are necessary for a person to be successful? MM: Energetic. Passionate. Genki. Successful people are sugoi genki. They usually have a dream. Often they are very nice people. I mean usually entrepreneurs are humble peoplethey are very polite, kind, and they look you directly in the eye. Also, they are very strong, they believe something very strongly. TD: How would you improve Nagoya if you could? MM: Personally, I’d like to see more ethnic restaurants. I like going to places where I feel like I am in a foreign country. I like that a lot. Also, there needs to be more places for women like me to go out and feel comfortable to network, have a glass of wine, talk, meet people, like that. Nagoya needs more of that. Working on it Maki.

photos: EJP

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As an Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga instructor with a background in humanistic and developmental psychology, I am always hoping to promote health and wellness among my yoga students. Whether it is teaching correct Asana (yoga poses) alignment, encouraging regular water consumption, or facilitating relaxation through Pranayama (breathing exercises), one must consider that the mind, body and spirit are a dynamic interconnected system and each component has an effect on the other. Achieving overall health is a great balance of this system. There are the obvious ways to improve one’s health that you are well aware of, like quitting smoking, exercising and eating your greens, but there are ways that perhaps you have never considered. Without trying to sound like your mother nagging “Eat your broccoli!” I would like to offer you a few insights on how to live healthier. These things, and I speak from experience, will have a major impact on your health and overall well-being if you try them. If you really, actually want to be healthy, I`ll tell you now, it`s not just a 2 week diet or a sporadic exercise regime. It`s a lifestyle that takes perseverance and commitment. What’s worth more than your health anyway, seeing as your life depends on it?



“Health”, you know…the well-being of your mind, body and spirit?


| By Yogini Sarah |

with bad energy may seem selfish, but you have the right to be happy and, you can be happy now. Don`t go through that checkout with the cashier who is seeping bad energy. If you do, be ready to amp-up your good energy and hope it transmits to and transforms your “un-genki” target! Of course people who are close to us go through bad times and as a friend or partner you should be supportive, but being with someone who is perpetually cynical and/or nihilistic is no good for the chi! Friendships and relationships should be fun! If a relationship does not improve the quality of your life and happiness, than perhaps it`s no longer worth having. Change that bluesy track, turn up that roots positive music and dance it solo!

Think about it. Energy is everywhere and runs at various frequencies. As Rhonda Byrne, author of the fascinating book The Secret points out, when you decide to smile and be happy, you are sending your energy out into the world and matching energies will be transmitted back to you along your chosen wavelength. When you feel great and everything is going your way, when you maintain and emit that “genki” energy, it just keeps on coming back to you like a boomerang! What goes around, actually does come around. So, maybe you woke up on the wrong side of the futon and your angsty teenage self has been resurrected from your Degrassi daysdon’t fester in this chosen bad mood state. While you may feel dark inside and you think that smiling is just for pleasing others, when you begin to smile you are releasing endorphins, the body`s natural opiates. Your smile will eventually become real. You are also passing your energy onto everyone you associate with, so chose a good energy frequency! I love the way Roald Dahl expresses this in my favourite childhood book The Twits “…if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” Remember that even laughing and smiling when you`re alone is not crazy, it`s healthy!

Smiling and Creating Good Energy

Part of creating and maintaining good energy in your life can be heavily influenced by those you associate with. Consider the expression that’s a little cliché for a good reason: “Surround yourself with people that inspire you.” Saying sayonara to friendships and relationships that drag you down

Good relationships

As a yogini, I must say something about the yogic diet. It’s kind of ridiculous, some of the things that are actually considered to be food these days. I’ve got to agree with the co-authors Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin of Skinny Bitch (excuse the language) when they say “Avoid processed foods!” Yes, that is printed in bold for a reason. The villains are: processed white sugar, artificial sweeteners, processed flour and hydrogenated guck full of preservatives! I am sorry to break it to you, basically most conbini foods (convenience store, for those of you who are new here) are processed. Just read the packages. Even conbini onigiri contains preservatives. All of the energy bars in the “healthy section” of any convenience store are also highly processed. Also beware of hormone, pesticide and anti-biotic laden foods such as meats, dairy products, and eggs. The list goes on... My favourite quote from Rory and Kim’s no-nonsense book that makes me crack up every time I think about it is, “Candy bars, potato chips, and ice cream taste like heaven, of course. But they will pitch a tent on your hips and camp out all year.” Give your body and taste buds a chance to heal and learn to enjoy wholesome foods whose chemical structures are naturally processed by the body. You’re in Japan! Here’s a chance to try a whole new world of food that is actually good for you. There are so many seasonal delicacies to tantalize the adventurous palate. Study and learn to read packages in Japanese. The benefit to you is two-fold! There are healthy alternatives if you look, such as organic soy products, organic free-range eggs, organic fruits and veggies, brown rice, quinoa, oats, wholegrain noodles, soba, nuts, seeds, legumes, pulses, seaweed, miso, konnyaku, red bean paste and so many more healthy foods in great abundance here. Truly a cornucopia of versatile and delicious foods! So for the love of natto, try it! Though they are small, there are a handful of health food shops in Nagoya that will help you subsist naturally. Ever heard of macrobiotic? Japan’s Zen diet- Check out Nagoya’s macrobiotic selection of eating establishments and know that everything that you’re consuming at that moment is wholesome beyond anything you’ve probably ever eaten.

Food choices

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If you don’t have a workout already, I suggest you get crackin’ before the osteoporosis sets in! I love yoga and I love the gym! Once you get past the first few weeks of feeling like you’re dragging your tush to get active, you will soon realize how amazing you feel after every workout. Make it social, change it up with lots variety, pump iron, feel the burn, ride the runner’s high, dance till sunrise, and get “yoga stoned” as I like to joke! Realize the real human in you! Whatever you’ve got to do to get moving, do it. You won’t be sorry…well maybe only for the first week when you discover all the muscles you actually do have as you limp down the stairs. Just warning you, nothing worth anything comes easily. Yoga! What can be better than a workout with a nap at the end? Well, technically you’re not actually supposed to fall asleep in “Savasana” (the resting period at the end of an intense yoga routine) but I just chuckle to myself when one of my yoga students is off in their sleepy happy place and still laying there after everyone else is up because they missed the cue. Yoga is amazing because it does truly have a positive effect on all body functions and there’s literally a pose for every health problem imaginable! As an aspiring yoga therapist, I have been studying that yoga can be used in helping to treat everything from injury and digestive issues to cancer and depression! Though I enjoy weight training and can’t deny the benefits of it, yoga also builds nice muscle without the lactic acid build up resulting from regular weight bearing exercise. Yoga: give it a go and go with the flow! If you’re still moaning and groaning thinking, “Naw…I’ll work out tomorrow,” think about how great you’ll feel after you do your workout as compared to how you would feel sprawling out on the couch after another guilty encounter with makudo and the indigestible “McBrick,” watching TV “talent” who discover that it’s fun to bounce ping pong balls off their foreheads. Well, perhaps bouncing ping pong balls off your forehead isn`t such a bad idea after all. Just maintain it for at least 30 minutes to work up a sweat. Oh, you’ll be happy to hear this next bit. Did you know that shagging is also considered to be exercise and conversely exercise makes you a better shag? Sex, according to Jose Temporao, Brazil’s minister of health (bless the Brazilians) will help reduce the incidence of chronic disease. He even goes on to prescribe sex at least five times a week for best results! Though it provides only a modest workout not quite on par with a moderate 30 minute cardio routine, it does have the effect of lowering blood pressure and releasing hormones such as dopamine and cortisol. These hormones in turn reduce depression, giving you more energy, and GOOD energy! Just remember, and I know you know this so you have no excuse… use condoms! You can buy them at pretty much every conbini. So, yes, exercise, sexercise…whatever. You are meant to move, so tear out of that couch potato costume and get going! Oh my, I really could write a whole novel about health, but man, it’s hard sitting here typing…when you`re fantasizing about your date with the stair master at Gold`s Gym and all the hot musclebound guys you get to check out! For now, I’ll leave you to digest all this information. Oh, oh, oh…and eat slowly and chew well! Sending out smiles and good energy vibes to you! ^^

My favourite topic: Cross-training

For more tips and links, check out:


| By TDHouchen |
his month’s LISTEN is a performer/producer who performs as a working musician in clubs and at events scattered around Japan. He’s also performed in Europe and the US. His style is multi-ethnic, crossing all kinds of musical boundaries. Ali Huggins will sing pop, ballads, upbeat dance music, switch into classic rock, reggae, and blazing hip hop, then segue into a series of blistering originals all in one 40 minute show. He’s a one man radio dial. Colourful, smooth, professional, fun-Ali gets the job done. As well as multi tasking as a producer, performer, writer, and essential musical svengali, Ali is also a family man. This Trini funkster gets the party jumping from start to finish. He’s about half a degree separated from the leaders in the music game here in Japan and abroad, and that half a degree decreases daily. Feel Ali’s vibe. TD: where are you from originally? Ali: I’m originally from New York. I moved to Cali in the late 90'S as part of a band on Capitol Records. My parents are West Indian. My Father is from Trinidad & Tobago and my mother is from Antigua. I’m of African, Indian, and British heritage. TD: How long have you been in Nagoya? Ali: I first came to Nagoya seven years ago. Moved back to Cali since then, but been calling Nagoya home for the last three years. TD: What brought you here to begin with? Ali: First came to Nagoya on a music contract as a singingdrummer in the “XChange Band,” working at Gary’s Motown Club here. I worked at Gary’s again in 2005 as leader and singing drummer in “Common Culture” band. The World Expo was going on then so there were loads of people here. We did many great shows and also performed at the Australian pavilion at the Expo main site. TD: Had you had any interest in Japan before coming here? Ali: Japanese gigs popped up occasionally over the years and I was always intrigued about Japan. I toured everywhere else, just about, so when my agent told me about the Nagoya gig, I auditioned and got it. TD: What is your current profession? Ali: I’m a working pro singer/ musician/ entertainer. I sing and perform at clubs, events, weddings and I perform and produce music for TV and film. I’m also a music producer for hire and I have my own new CD of original music that I will be promoting this summer. Also I’m working with many great artists such as you(Trevor Houchen), Two-J (Hoodsounds/EMI), Vinny Vintage, Dejavu from Tokyo, Akane and many others. TD: How did you get involved in music originally? Ali: I started in junior high as a band geek I guess. Later became a Michael Jackson/ Prince imitator. That lead to band auditions and paid shows since I really sang the songs, I wasn’t lip-syncing. Gigs got bigger and better, which lead to getting a booking agent, recording deals etc. TD: how did you get involved in music here in japan? Ali: Aside from Top 40 scene here, just really been networking. Back singers for BOA, Koda Kumi, Exile, Ai etc are all my friends, so I just gave people my demo and the phone started ringing and I started getting emails. I may get into the back singer scene also. I also have you to thank for booking me in your events, etc. I do a lot of traveling throughout Japan so I am eternally grateful when I have a chance to effectively promote myself here in my home town. TD: How would someone who wants to do music professionally in Japan go about doing that? Ali: Okay, first make sure you are pro level. Have your promo kit ready: professional pics, one to three professionally recorded songs, a performance video. Some nihongo is helpful. The more Japanese you speak and understand the better. You should have a decent amount of contacts amassed so find a booking agent with a good rep who gets their artists steady work. You don’t need a manager until you have a career to manage. Get some work first and keep your day job too. You can’t do anything without money. I came here originally as a musician but I double-up when I can. Teach in the day, sing at night. It’s tough but paychecks are nice. Nail auditions, do a great job on all gigs that you book. This is a business. Professional image and attitude are a must. I dressup. I believe in looking the part. When people see me they know it’s showtime! No drugs, use your best judgement with alcohol. Many deals are made at the bar. If you are trying to get a record deal as an original artist here in Japan, sing in Japanese. Do all of the above and record great songs. I won’t say anything negative about it. Everybody loves a great song. You have great songs and anybody, anywhere will love you. It’s all about the song! Call me! I get asked for referrals all the time. I would love to collaborate and/ or produce your music too! TD: What role does your agent play in your career? Ali: My agents get me 70% of my work here. I have a few personal contacts and I get gigs by word of mouth referrals also. TD: What types of venues do you usually play? Ali: Night clubs, concert halls, hotel ballrooms and piano bars. The biggest show I’ve done was a festival in Sweden in 1998. Five thousand people. I was nominated for a Eurodance music Grammy that year too. I didn’t win though. Eagle Eye Cherry won. The biggest in Japan so far was an event in Osaka with a little over one thousand people, televised etc. TD: Do you make a good living doing what you do? Ali: Yes, I make a pretty good living. I have a new car, nice apartment, support a family. Moderately comfortable doing what I love, but like everyone I would like to make a lot more money. So I work hard daily with God’s blessings. TD: What are the crowds like at your shows? Ali: I get an occasional audience member that won’t shake my hand when I offer it, occasional racist and or foreigner-haters but 99.9% of the time, great, supportive, fun loving people. TD: Do you have groupies? Any crazy backstage stories you'd like to share? Ali: Yes I have fans, groupies etc. They just want a piece of you. Autographed CD, body part etc. They sometimes want a souvenir from you, from your body. They give you gifts, send you fanmail etc. Most of the accessories I wear onstage are gifts from fans from around the world. Sorry, I can’t really share any backstage stories. You’ve been on the road with me, you know how I do! But seriously, I know this is a family mag so all I can say is that groupies are alive and kicking. TD: What are your plans or goals for this year? Ali: I’m on tour now, I will be returning to Nag in May. I plan to do more great shows at your events and really build my name and brand in Nagoya and Japan. I am going to start the next wave of gaijin artists to make it big here. Look out Jero, Monkey Majik, Def Tech etc.

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Ha l f P


| Story and pictures by EJP |
o the governor is the big attraction here in Miyazaki these days, but that’s not why you’re here. Even you have a more meaningful life than that. You don’t go traipsing around after famous people and you certainly don’t need any photos of your ugly mug lined up cheek to jowl with a cardboard cut out of a bald guy in a hapi coat. No. You’re here on far more important business. Well, okay, you’re exaggerating again. It’s not necessarily important business. But it’s important to you, if only because you’re a goofy weirdo. You are what the Japanese call an otaku. This word translates loosely to nerd, like in computer nerd. Etymologically it simply means house or home— somebody else’s house or home. The connection is that otaku—nerds—tend to stay home, or at least they give that impression because they don’t tend to socialize. Or rather, they don’t do it well. The story’s the same all over the world, you suppose. And what otaku really means in this context is a person with a hobby. And he’s in too deep. The impression is that otaku tend to stay at home with their hobbies, and that generally everybody’s better off when they do. You’ve become a certifiable otaku. You’re a nerd. So earlier, when you said you’re an asshole, that was only half right. You’re a halfasshole. You’re also a half nerd. A half-pagoda-nerd. The only problem is you don’t stay home. You travel. You meet people. storied pagodas and 75—very soon to be 76—five storied pagodas here, not to mention a six storied pagoda, two seven storied pagodas, a nine storied pagoda, a 13 storied pagoda, and a much larger number of one or two storied pagodas known as tahoto, which roughly translates to “treasure tower,” at least 21 miniature five storied pagodas of which 11 are inside other buildings, and a hotel in Hokkaido built in the absurd shape of a five storied pagoda—absurd for a hotel, that is—and if the ridiculous pain in your foot doesn’t stop you, it’s your intention on this trip to visit 108 of these, starting here in southern Kyushu and ending in Hokkaido. This has been your dream, really. This is what you’ve been dedicating all of your time, energy and spirit to for the past several years. Now suddenly it feels like a very big project. Maybe for you, in fact, it’s too big, and you’re starting to think you probably should have just stuck with your old hobby, which was drinking beer and chasing women. At least with that hobby there was an almost certain chance of success in either one endeavor or the other—maybe you couldn’t get any girls, but you could always get another beer. Success here, though, is far from assured. It’s not just that anything could go wrong, though anything could, but what strikes you so poignantly all of a sudden is that even now, after so much study and research, you still know so little about

Just abou t anybod y can get laid ove r he r e . No t y o u , o f c o u r s e , but j us t a bou t an y bod y e l se .
You bore them to tears with pagoda talk. In Miyazaki there’s a five-storied pagoda. It’s a gorgeous white 1971 concrete hulk flanked by palm trees and greenery. You’ve seen it before. You’ve talked to the priest there. On the temple grounds there is a nursery school and you played with the kids. You took some lovely photos of them. It was the new-year and you helped the men there pound rice into mochi. This is a gooey blob of rice that tastes great and every season chokes a dozen or so old people to death when it gets stuck in their throats. It’s made by pounding boiled rice with big wooden mallets till no individual grains of rice remain but all have been beat into one pasty blob like bread dough. Generally two or three people pound on this blob in rhythm together—one, two, three, one, two, three—and you remember feeling like John Henry with his hammer in the John R Cash song. It felt good. You remember feeling happy. There are hundreds of pagodas in Japan, and you’ve already been to a lot of them. There are at least 125 three these pagodas, and empirical observation aside, you know very little about Japan as well. Or maybe it’s not that you know so little, but rather that there’s just so much to know. You’ve planned this trip to celebrate your 20th year here, and it occurs to you now that you would have been wiser to do something like this in celebration of your first year here. You simply didn’t know shit about the place. And you really were better off here when you didn’t know anything at all about Japan. This whole thing would have been so much easier. Just thinking about it makes your head start to hurt. Not to mention your foot. After 220 years of near isolation Japan was forcefully opened to the outside world by Commodore Mathew Calbraith Perry with his Black Ships in 1854, as everybody knows. Perry was sent to Japan against his own will, by President Millard Fillmore, just prior to the American Civil War. Had President Fillmore ever actually been elected

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Pa go da Ner d
president that feat—the feat of being elected—may have gone down in history as his second greatest achievement, but it never happened. He was elected vice president and only became president when his predecessor died. Then he ran for a term of his own, but lost, and was never elected to the office of President. So instead, a voracious reader, his second greatest feat turned out to be opening the White House Library. His greatest feat, of course, was opening Japan. When Fillmore ordered Perry to sail to Japan, the Commodore gathered all the reading material about Japan that he could. It turned out to be about 15 books, most of them translated from Dutch, Spanish or Portuguese. That was in 1852. Now there are dozens of titles published about Japan each year in English alone. A simple search for “Japan” on Google Books will turn up about 10,200,000 results. In preparing for this trip you read some 200 of these, many of which turned out to be completely worthless. Many others proved to be only mostly worthless, but nonetheless say something valuable, if only to an otaku like you. Few of them, however, would you recommend to the normal reader—the average guy with something meaningful to do with his time and his life, unless he’s unusually interested in Japan, will probably not want to read any of these tomes. You’re hoping he will want to read this, however—The Pagoda Diaries. You’re hoping to write something worth reading. But then again, so did all these other people, you suppose. Generally, there are three types of books being published about Japan. The first are deep academic treatises on narrow academic pinpoints, most of which are replete with fascinating information, though often overwritten, redundant, poorly organized, and difficult to read for anybody without a previous understanding of the subject—an understanding which, unfortunately, can only be obtained by reading a whole truck load of these very same books. Some brilliant exceptions, though, in terms of accessibility, are offerings by the late George Sansom, the late John Toland, John Dower, Walter LaFeber, Stephen Turnbull, Ian Buruma, and Donald Keene, Professor Emeritus at Columbia University and half time resident of Japan. Keene has been involved here since he served as an interpreter and translator during the war, and by now he’s met almost everybody who’s anybody in Japan, especially in Japanese letters. He’s your hero. Unlike you, Donald Keene and all of these men, in fact, are serious researchers. There’s not an ounce of fun among them, but never mind that. There is immense knowledge, as well as sincerity, honesty, integrity and respect that one cannot help but admire. There is even awe in some cases. And these men you list here have each been a great pleasure for you to read. Indeed, you think Walter LaFeber’s The Clash should be required reading for every American who ever gets on a plane for Japan, if even for a weekend trip. Maybe they should give it out at the security check, right after they ex-ray the traveler’s shoes. Never mind that in The Clash LaFeber refers to the late Speaker of the House of Representatives, Wilbur Mills as a congressman from Ohio. Talk about your congressman caught in a cat-house! Wilbur Mills was exactly that. He was one of the most powerful men in Washington when you were a child, and he blew it all on a hooker, though maybe that’s not the right expression, because there is some question about what was being blown by whom, after all. Anyway, Wilbur Mills was not from Ohio. He was from Arkansas, just like Bill Clinton, whom everybody knows got himself into hot water for smoking a cigar with a college intern in the Oval Office. Of course, smoking a cigar with a college student doesn’t sound all that scandalous—nothing compared to soliciting sex with a 16 year old, as the current governor of Miyazaki has done, for example—and the whole sordid affair may have just blown over, so to speak, had the college student not been down on her knees with her dress hiked up around her waist and her panties hooked down around her ankles when it happened. All this makes you wonder what in the world’s going on down there in Arkansas. Also, it makes you jealous. You after all are from Oregon, and Oregon’s idea of a scandalous politician is former Senator Bob Packwood, accused of sexually harassing an uninterested secretary. What a pathetic way to ruin a good state’s reputation—a Senator who couldn’t even get a paid employee to smoke a cigar with him, much less a college intern. Yo u ’ v e m e t B o b Packwood. You’ve met him twice. You’re not surprised his secretary didn’t want anything to do with him. He was a dweeb. But nonetheless, it’s a shameful way to have your state disgraced. And now you’re thinking of settling down in Arkansas when you return to America. Yes. Arkansas, where it looks like just about anybody can get laid. That’s if you do return to the US at all. You may not. You love this country. And this country, in fact, happens to be full of gaijin who have come here precisely because they’ve heard that over here just about anybody can get laid too. And they’ve heard right. Just about anybody can get laid over here. Not you, of course, but just about anybody else. Especially anybody who doesn’t know the first thing about Japan. And most of those gaijin don’t. They don’t know and they don’t care. Or maybe they’re just smart enough not to learn. Ignorance, again, is bliss. But come to think of it, if there is one single state from which you’ve never met a single gaijin here it’s Arkansas. And

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this Arkansas resettlement program is starting to sound more and more like a good idea. What are land prices in Little Rock these days you wonder? And what are you supposed to call those people from Arkansas, besides horny bastards you mean? Arkansans? Arkansassers? Arkansawyers? Maybe you better look into this before you move there. You could get yourself in trouble if you’re not careful. Anyway, a second type of book about Japan is the type you yourself might have written had you done this trip twenty years ago, like you should have—written by the type of person who doesn’t know a damn thing about the place, but refuses to let that stop him. Now, that’s not to say that none of these people have managed to write entertaining books. In fact, many of them have. A few that come to mind are Hokkaido Highway Blues by Will Ferguson, The Secrets of Mariko by Elisabeth Bumiller, and especially the lovely Japanland by Karin Muller. Few people who have lived here very long will likely learn very much from these books, but they are quite often entertaining. And such books go way back to the 1860s when English speakers first began with some regularity to spend time in Japan. The very best of these, over the years, may be the one written by a supposedly sickly English woman who appeared to be anything but sickly. Indeed she was strong as a mule and just as stubborn. She came here specifically to travel where no Western woman and precious few Western men ever had. Her name was Isabella Bird, she didn’t know the first thing about Japan, and now, a hundred years after her death, her book is still in print. Also, it’s still a good read. Even the Japanese enjoy it. The third is the type of book you hope this one will be. You have set your sights high. Having already missed your chance to contribute to the fast growing genre of books written by those high spirited optimists who know absolutely nothing about the Japan of which they write, you’re hoping to join the ranks of those far more guarded optimists—part time optimists; part time cynics like you—who do know what they’re talking about, the ranks of those who have spent every day here for year upon year, the ranks of those who have written, with experience and compassion, as much as with knowledge and astute observation, about everyday things. Books of this kind date back as far as the 16th century when Portuguese and Spanish missionaries wrote detailed accounts of their experiences here. Dutch and English traders in the 17th century wrote about Japan as well. One of the most interesting of those writers was Engelbert Kaempfer, a doctor with the Dutch mission who traveled overland twice with the local Daimyo from the tiny Dutch enclave in Nagasaki Harbor to the capitol in Edo, danced before the Shogun and his advisors, then demonstrated the western way of kissing. Unhappily for Engelbert though, no doubt, his kissing partner was another Dutchman. The more modern ranks have included Philipp Franz von Siebold, Sir Earnest Satow, Basil Hall Chamberlain, Lafcardio Hearn, Edward S. Morse, Oliver Statler, Alex Kerr, Edward Seidensticker and above all, Donald Ritchie, whom you admire greatly. He claims to have had sex with over 2000 people, though that’s not necessarily what you admire about him. In fact, you don’t suppose you’d have had much interest

in many of those 2000, as Ritchie’s the type who might have rather enjoyed kissing a Dutchman in front of the Shogun. He’s gay. Bisexual, is how he describes it. To each his own, of course, but you’re a completely different type of fellow. What you admire about Donald Ritchie, though, is his extensive knowledge, vast experience, and down to earth insights about this country where he has spent most of his life. You expect to refer to him often in this diary, and especially to his own travel book, The Inland Sea. Another man you expect to refer to often is Patrick Smith who published Japan: A Reinterpretation in 1998. He was a journalist here, and the Japan he writes about is the over analyzed, over criticized and way over defended Japan that you moved to in 1988. In fact, one of the things he writes about in too much detail is otaku—nerds like you. He says “To be an otaku is merely the final word in private individuality. It is to reject anyone who would diminish the protected ego and to acknowledge an inability to achieve the intimacy of authentic human contact. The otaku draws a circle around himself—that fundamentally Japanese impulse—and withdraws within . . . This is the purest imaginable display of the narcissism inherent in Japanese society. The otaku desires both an idealized union and an impregnable independence— the classic drives of the narcissist.” Is this you? The classic drives of a narcissist? You’re not so sure. In fact, you’re not even sure what Smith is talking about here. But a lot of what he says, you are sure about, and he is one of the writers you will rely upon a lot. Though, of course, there will be several others. Everyday experiences for the men you mention here have varied extensively, as they do for all individuals. They were doctors, diplomats, scientists, educators, journalists, authors and critics, but the thing these gentlemen all hold in common is the plain fact that they wrote about Japan as they knew it personally, as they knew it intimately, as they knew it daily. It’s not that these men didn’t study Japan. Indeed, each of them did study it. James Michener, another writer who knew Japan well, said of the late Oliver Statler who also began his life in Japan as a member of the occupation army, in fact, that he “knows more about Japan than any other living American and can write about it with great skill, as proved by his international success Japanese Inn…” But also, each of them lived here for extended periods of time. They made lives here. Japan was or is a huge part of all of their lives. It has been a huge part of yours. It’s been a twenty-year part of it as a matter of fact. May 25, 2008 was your 20th anniversary. Now this trip, as well as this diary, is in celebration of that anniversary. Why not? It’s worth celebrating. Twenty years of anything is worth celebrating, if only for surviving it. But with so much already in print about Japan—those 10,200,000 hits you found on Google Books—you’re perfectly aware of what you’re doing here. You’re pissing in the ocean. But so what? Sometimes a guy just needs to take a good long piss, and what better place for it than the ocean. The water is cool. The air is fresh and mostly clean. The feeling is good. Sure there’s more to read. There’s more to learn. There always will be. But you’re here now. You’re on your way. Your Journey’s begun. So go ahead. Piss in the ocean. Let it fly. Just make sure you’re pissing downwind.


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行き ゃ


| By TDHouchen |

f you’re looking for an excellent, interesting, scenic and FUN way to see Japan, you should be very interested in TAIHEIYO FERRY. ‘Taiheiyo’ means the Pacific Ocean in Japanese, and that’s what you’ll be floating on aboard one of the massive and luxurious ships Taiheiyo operates from Nagoya Port. The preferred way to get around Japan RAPIDLY AND EFFICIENTLY is without doubt the Shinkansen. It is fast, however if the blur of the Japanese countryside you see outside your window isn’t exactly satisfying, ‘the Shink’ might not be for you. Japan’s other railway options are also fast as well as being ubiquitous, but transferring from one line to another, one train to another, can wear you down before you’ve seen much of anything. Busses are a drag: too many weirdos, not enough space, too many stops and not fast enough. Flying doesn’t allow you to see anything at all besides your cabin and the countryside thousands of meters below, but there is another option. TAIHEIYO FERRY makes use of the Pacific Ocean in allowing you to travel Japan in a unique and relaxing way. Not many people are aware Taiheiyo exists, but you can see Japan by sea, take a hot bath while overlooking the Pacific Ocean, be entertained by musicians or just relax in your room, all while floating languidly aboard the ‘Kitakami’, the ‘Kiso’, or the brand spanking new ‘Ishikari’ (starts operating in March, 2011) in style. Best thing is, TAIHEIYO FERRY COSTS LESS THAN THE SHINKANSEN. TF has three ports of call: Nagoya, Sendai, and Tomakomai, Hokkaido. The trip to Hokkaido takes around forty hours, to Sendai it’s about fifteen hours, but time isn’t of

the essence here and that’s part of the beauty of Taiheiyo Ferry. In a country notoriously governed by seconds and minutes, TF gives you a chance to stretch out and cruise. Each ship has restaurants, theatres where you can catch films and/or live entertainment, shops, and more. The ships float remarkably motionless over the Pacific, skimming the waves at a blistering average top speed of 21 knots per hour, which is about 40 kilometers by hour. Again, not so fast- the accent is on the enjoyment. There’s also an afternoon lunch cruise around Nagoya which takes about 3 hours and allows you to float unhurriedly around Nagoya while everyone else is landlocked into their grinding time schedules. This afternoon getaway is packed with fun stuff to do, or again, just relax, get some fresh air, and let the ship and it’s crew work for you. For entertainment you can catch clowns, have your fortune read, play bingo and win prizes, go to the game room, shop, eat, etc, all while floating around Nagoya’s Ise Bay. It’s a wonderful and inexpensive way to treat yourself. A seriously unique experience, with Taiheiyo Ferry you can relax on the deck, or in your spacious cabin bed and move about the ship at your leisure. You can’t beat Taiheiyo for a unique and fun way to see Japan. Get On Board! For details, you can check out: Starting this month, there will also be an ENGLISH website.


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de of the Samura The Co



| By Adam Pasion |
prepared to explain it.” The title Hagakure should be familiar to many readersthe original book is a collection of proverbs and bushido discourses written by former samurai Yamamoto Tsunetomo and translated by William Scott Wilson, lauded as the foremost expert on bushido philsophy, or as Sean Wilson jokingly refers to him, “uncle bill.” Pop culture has also drawn heavily from Hagakure, including Jim Jarmusch’s film Ghost Dog, in which a mafia hitman uses the book of samurai wisdom as a model for his life. Although the stories contained in Hagakure date back almost 300 years, they still resonate in modern Japanese culture today and fans around the world feel drawn to them. “most people want to have a guide for living life,” explains Wilson, “and Hagakure and other such samurai books... are one strand of that. The other is its macho and dramatic side, which attracts people, especially male students of the martial arts.” Hagakure has been translated and adapted many times but throughout its various incarnations, never has it been so relatable and yet consistent to the integrity of the original work as Wilson’s manga version. Artist Chie Kutsuwada’s meticulous attention to detail from the architecture of the buildings to the clothing and hairstyles, creates a portrait of Edo era Japan which allows readers to engage the text in a whole new way. Even those familiar with the original will find a fresh perspective as they are immersed in the ancient Japanese society that the stories are rooted in. Through interacting with these ancient texts, Wilson himself has gained a certain new insight into Japanese culture as well. “I often think I can see strands that still exist in the Japanese way of life. And I need all the help I can get, because my own culture of the Celtic parts of Britain are, I think, quite the opposite of Japan...There is a myth that Britain and Japan are similar, because they are both insular islands. I think that's largely incorrect. Perhaps the upper class, white, English of

here are safes in Las Vegas that are easier to crack into than the world of professional manga in Japan. The more than four hundred billion yen industry is by far the largest in the world and yet the number of non-Japanese creators can probably be counted on one hand, maybe even one finger. That finger points to one busy Scotsman whose work has been quickly taking the manga world by storm: meet Sean Michael Wilson. Not content merely to make ripples, Wilson has been been changing tides industry wide with his compelling and carefully crafted stories. In the last year alone he has released several titles around the world, all to critical acclaim. Last month ‘The Story of Lee’ was published by NBM Publishing, the second largest publisher of indie comics in the world. Wilson also painstakingly edited and compiled ‘AX Anthology,’ which he describes as “a collection of indie/ mature manga, the kind of manga that has not been seen much in English so far.” AX was released by Top Shelf Productions in July and was recently selected as one of the best books of 2010 by the prestigious ‘Publisher’s Weekly.’ “it is the biggest and best collection yet made of alternative style Japanese manga translated in English” claims Wilson. Critics seem to agree. On the steam of such brilliant publicity Sean’s next book Hagakure was published by Kodansha International, the largest publisher in Japan. Talk about a David and Goliath story. While the Japanese manga machine may be quite intimidating even to Japanese creators, Wilson’s approach was simple: “I just went for it.” Perhaps having the courage is the key to success and also the reason why so few non-Japanese creators can find work in the industry. “It's a case of having the balls to go to the publishers, and having some good ideas to show them” says Wilson, “Actually it is not so difficult to meet with editors at even the big Japanese publishers, just call their offices (speaking in Japanese), and ask if you can get an appointment. Then bring along your stuff to show them and be

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the empire period shared some similarities with the Japanese way of behaving, but I think it never applied to the working class, or the Celtic parts of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.” Nevertheless Wilson and Kutsuwada beautifully recreate ancient Japan with remarkable accuracy. Perhaps that is due in part to having one more heavyweight in their cornerthe original translator William Scott Wilson. In addition to writing a very insightful afterword to the book, “he advises me on various points of behaviour and appearance.” says Wilson. “It was good to have his weight of reputation and insightful comment involved. A key point is that he indicated that some of the philosophy in Hagakure should not be taken at face value. Like the idea of ‘the way of the samurai is found in death’ being concerned with more than just physical death.” For fans of manga, Japanese culture, Japanese history and students of the martial arts, Hagakure will likely whet your literary appetite and leave you clamoring for more. Luckily this new year looks to be as productive as the last, with another installment of mature manga for Top Shelf edited by Wilson titled “Cigarette Girl” by the notable gekiga creator Masahiko Matsumoto, as well as another book for Kodansha called “Yakuza Moon” slated for a February release. Also on the burner are two projects that are still in search of publishers including an autobiographical book about Wilson’s childhood. Wilson explains his sudden explosion by means of a popular British saying, “you wait ages for a bus, and then three come along at once!’ My book situation is a bit like that”

Hagakure: The Code of the Samurai Paperback: 144 pages Publisher: Kodansha International (January 3, 2011) Language: English ISBN: 978-4770031204
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~~~~~ HIP HOP ~~~~~
CREAM BAR 052-261-1766 Located In Sakae. Open until 6am. Club Quattro No phone number available. Located in the Parco Building in Sakae. Diamond Hall 052-265-2665 Located between Hirokoji Dori and Sakae. Heartland No number available. Located underneath The former Hard Rock Café Huck Finn 052-733-8347 Located on Imaike’s backstreets. The Bottom Line 052-741-1620 Legendary big hall in Imaike. The Underground The Underground is actually a three-club conglomeration located on three floors in Toshincho. Lush/052-242-1388 Cypher/052-264-9603 SoulGround/052-241-7366 STEPS 052-242-7544 Located in Sakae. Open until 6am, 7 nights a week. ID Café 052-251-0382 Located in Sakae. ABIME 2030 052-951-4155 Large modern space near Sunshine Sakae. Club Shelter 052-242-8030 Off in the cut behind the Chunichi Building. 3rd floor, same building as Arena. Ozon/Spiral Located in Sakae near Wakamiya Park. Upstairs, Spiral Downstairs, OZON PLUS PARK 052-261-1173 Located in Sakae. Open late.

Mago 052-243-1818 Located in Shinsakae. About 052-243-5077 Located in Toshincho. Emporium 052-262-7027 Located in Sakae. Club JB’s 052-241-2234 Located in the Toshincho club cluster Domina 052 264 3134 Right around the corner from JB’s. Plastic Factory 090-2346-1682 Located on the backstreets of Imaike.

~~~~~~ Rock ~~~~~~
Electric Ladyland 052-201-5004 Located in Osu.