Hi Everyone! Giant, amazing, wonderful news! I had the honor and the pleasure to do a 3 some ---all talk, no action!---with fantastic Tamogami san and wonderful Gekiron Mook editor, Nishimura san and let me tell you, we had a great time! Thanks, Guys! Our fun conversation is printed word by word, uncensored, in Gekiron Mook, a great magazine book (mook) published by Okura and sold at booksellers and here on Amazon, from April 2nd:
Gekiron Mook on Amazon
Gekiron Mook's 撃論ムック 世界に愛された日本」 The World Loves Japan! issue,
published by Okura 出版社「オークラ出版」
撃論ムック 世界に愛された日本」 The World Loves Japan!
Run and get your copies because Gekiron Mook flies off the bookshelves faster than they can print it! Their last issue is ranked third on Amazon, an incredible achievement that proves that great stuff sells, even in recession and at 1200 yen a copy!
The visionary behind Gekiron Mook is its editor, Kohyu Nishimura san, who came up with the super idea to pair Tamo chan and me. Nice move, Nishimura san! Check out his blogs:
Nishimura Kohyu's blog
Nishimura's Voice Part 2
Few people are busier in Japan now than Tamogami san. I am so so so lucky because I saw him twice within a week! Thanks, Tamo chan!
Toshio Tamogami on Wikipedia
Toshio Tamogami's Website
We took this photo, just before he ran to the podium for his lecture, one of the 28 or so he has a month!
I listened to his lecture and loved every word he said. He is great! No wonder he was fired--shows how weird Japan is: the guy who loves his country is fired from his job. Go listen to Tamo chan's lecture as he rocks!
Hi Everyone: Would you like to live a healthy, happy and long life? I know one person who can give us pointers: Shigeaki Hinohara, M.D., a physician in Tokyo who is one of my heroes. Doctor Hinohara works 18 hours a day and has not had a day off in his life. Yes, that is true! He is 97 years and 4 months young so he punched in more work hours than maybe anyone else on the planet. He is the heart and soul of St. Luke's International Hospital in Tokyo. His lovely spirit is stamped all over this beautiful hospital, filled with great paintings and the kindest, most caring staff on earth. Stay healthy but if you ever get sick, this is the place to go!
Recently I spent four days following him around town and was flabbergasted by his power and curiosity for everyone and everything. He has a kind word for every person he meets and answers questions so willingly and wisely that I could not stop taking notes. He is absolutely wonderful! Check out his schedule book! It is filled till 2014! Inside I saw lectures scheduled for 2014 in Kumamoto, for example. He has no intention to slow down and I am preparing to run with him!
One afternoon I went with him to one of his "Inochi no Jigyou" (Life Lessons) lectures at an elementary school. Here he is conducting the children as they sing some lovely song. Hinohara san is a fabulous musician and composed a CD of his own songs!
The kids loved him: he worked the room like a kid himself, full of energy and playfulness, asking the children smart questions and answering theirs with funny anecdotes from his own childhood. He is a brilliant entertainer and everything he says is a life lesson.
The next day, after meetings from 8 am, at 1 PM , he did a 90 minute lecture at a hotel for 1000 business people. He always stands during his talks, walking on the stage from left to right while some of his important messages are projected on three giant screens around the room. It's so fun to listen to him! Here he is at his afternoon lecture:
Then next off to meetings until 6 PM when we were in the Palace Hotel for another 90 minute lecture, this time for 600 business people. Mr. Tatsuya Ueta, Head Coach of the Japan National Volleyball Team and Altesse Co.Ltd. President, Keiko Aoki san joined Hinohara sensei on stage. This time, Hinohara san was forced to sit down!
After a lively conversation among the three on stage, we had a buffet dinner and Hinohara sensei rushed home to work on some papers. He ran up the stairs, two steps at a time. Yes, another slow day in Doc Hinohara's life. Here we are stopping for a second to take a photo:
Hinohara sensei is an energy generator who produces a lot more power than he needs himself so there's plenty left for others. Take some! He is one of my great teachers and inspiration. I feel truly blessed to know him and I hope you will also learn something valuable from this great man. I introduced him in Words to Live by in the Japan Times . Check out Doctor Hinohara's advice and please, follow in his footsteps! I am right behind him. Thanks to him, elevators and escalators are history for me, I walk up every staircase two steps at a time, exactly like him.
To buy his book Living Long, Living Good, in English, please click here:
Living Long, Living Good on Amazon
I love Doctor Hinohara and highly recommend this book, full of thought treasures from an exceptional person!
Happy New Year! Hope you all got a good start for 2009. I pray that this year we will all be healthier, kinder and smarter than ever before! And may we all have peace and more time to read great books and articles.
Let's start with one of 2008's most talked-about book, Morinosuke Kawaguchi's "Otaku de Onnanoko no Kuni no Monozukuri", published by Kodansha. Last October it won Japan's prestigious NikkeiBP BizTech Book Award for 2008:
Nikkei BP BizTech Book Award 2008
The author is my husband and he is a genius!
The book's English subtitle is "The Neon Genesis of Geeky-Girly Japanese Engineering" and it's a must-read for everybody who appreciates Japanese technology, monozukuri and otaku culture.
Here are comments by the NikkeiBP BizTech Book Award selection committee chairman, Mr. Hirotaka Takeuchi, Dean of Graduate School of International Corporate Strategy, Hitotsubashi University: "otaku de onnanoko-na kuni no monozukuri" (by Morinosuke Kawaguchi) shows a number of "tools and products that are only natural to the Japanese but unique by international standards" and analyzes the temperament, mentality, and values of the Japanese people who create them. The author, who works for a consulting firm and knows well about subcultures, points to 10 aspects of the geeky nature of Japanese products and says that what drives Japanese product-making are the country’s standout "childishness" and "effeminateness." He also claims that the country can expand its future by utilizing strategically its "geeky and girly" culture, which is at the opposite end of the "mature and manly" culture of the West. The book was received highly in the way it showed the source of strength in future Japanese product-making from a new perspective, drawing on numerous illustrative examples." Thanks, Takeuchi sensei!
From washlets to stationary, from kabuki masks to Japanese bikes, from manga and anime to Prius and robots, this fun book gives readers a deeper understanding of Japanese culture. The book is loved by engineers, designers, and Akihabara's otakus as well as by world-famous Japanese fashion designer, Hanae Mori san, who wrote a wonderful book review of it for the Sankei newspaper. Thanks for everyone's support, it's in its third printing within just about one year. Thanks for reading it!
Otaku de onnanoko-na kuni no monozukuri is already being translated into Korean and simplified Chinese. We hope to have it available in many countries so please contact me if you know a publisher that would like to publish it in other languages.
And here is the link to Morinosuke Kawaguchi's article series for Nikkei BP online. They're fun!
Morinosuke Kawaguchi's Nipponteki Monozukuri series for Nikkei BP
To write the next book, we recently flew to Guam. We love Guam! I am also a huge fan of the local newspaper, Pacific Daily News and read it from top to bottom every day. It's such a fun newspaper because it's so much about Guam. I feel part of the community when I read it and I don't even live there. I even rip out pages and bring them home to put into photobooks ! So I was thrilled that my favorite Guam newspaper ran a story about my husband. Thanks a million, Guam Pacific Daily News and their wonderful writer, Levanna Eugenio!
Pacific Daily News Article on Morinosuke Kawaguchi
I also found that Arohan, a blogger, picked up on the PDN article and ran with it. Thanks, Arohan! Check out what he's talking about right here:
Thanks for reading! JK
Happy Holidays! 2008's speeding by so quickly that we barely said hi to each other and it's already time to say bye-bye.
But before that, on December 30th, which happens to be my mom's birthday---Boldog Szuletesnapot!-Words to Live by goes out with a huge bang: our guest is superstar athlete, hammer thrower Koji Murofushi san, who's my favorite sportsman.
Words to Live by Koji Murofushi
Here's Koji and me at the Seiko Super Track and Field Meeting in Kawasaki, 2008 on September 23rd, just after Koji won with 81.02 meters.
I've been following Koji's career and was thrilled to sit down and listen to him throw some of his wisdom my way. Thanks, Koji san!
Koji Murofushi Official Web includes messages from Koji and lots of photos, many taken by him on his world travels. Nice!
My husband and I are huge Koji Murofushi fans. We always watch his events and pray, cheer, send our power to him, scream, and jump around to Koji's beat. Since he often competes with Hungarians, it should be a tough choice for me but it really isn't: I end up screaming " Koji, GO! Come on, throw an 86! Let's go! You can do it! " Sure, I also cheer the Hungarians, for example, in Kawasaki I did yell out to Krisztian Pars: "Gyerunk, Krisztian, dobj egy jo nagyot! " Yes, I cheer others but my heart is not 100% in it: it's with Koji. Sorry, magyarok! Hungarian hammer throwers
Whether Koji wins a medal or not, he never lets us down: his form is always absolutely beautiful. Watching Koji Murofushi is like seeing great art, alive. Hammer throw might not be the most popular sport but if anyone could ever make it so, it's Koji. His looks help, too: he's gorgeous and tall with features fit for the gods on Mount Olympus.
Koji's attraction goes beyond nationality: he's the finest, the best, the ultimate champion with the most beautiful throws. He's elegant, even when he's swinging a hammer around under 400 kilogram pressure. I'd love to film Koji to show how truly exceptional his form is. His movements are the most graceful and delicate and he still swings the furthest.
I'm sure that Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the International Olympic Committee, would love to see Koji throw. Coubertin's Olympic Games included art and poetry and his idea was that athletes should be examples of beauty.
The International Pierre de Coubertin Committee
Jean Durry on Pierre de Coubertin
According to Jean Durry, in his 1908 speech, Coubertin confirmed that the Olympic idea is "the conception of a strong sporting culture, based in part on the spirit of chivalry, which you so attractively call fair play;, and in part on an aesthetic ideal, the cult of beauty". Jean Durry writes that in 1919 Coubertin explained that "sport should be considered as a producer of, and an occasion for, Art. It produces beauty because it engenders the athlete who is a living sculpture." Unfortunately, the Olympic Games nowadays focus less on form and more on exceptional performance that can be measured with numbers, regardless of aesthetics. This is why Koji is so special: his throws combine distance with beauty.
Koji Murofushi is one of the GREATEST ATHLETES IN THE UNIVERSE, EVER! He won everything already but instead of retiring and becoming a movie star, which he could easily be, he stays on because he loves the hammer. Gotta love his dedication to the sport and to the fans, too.
iaaf page on Koji
Koji's also one of the nicest guys I've ever met. He's sweet, serious, and funny, all rolled into one huge handsomest package. Yes, he's still single which explains why the stadium was filled to the brim on September 23rd at the Seiko Super Track and Field Meeting, Kawasaki, 2008.
RunBlogRun on the Seiko Super Track Field Meeting Kawasaki 2008
There were many other star athletes there, including the four Japanese sprinters who won the bronze in Beijing in the 4x100 meter relay; Nobuhara Asahara , Shingo Suetsugu, Shinji Takahira and Naoki Tsukahara. Guys, you were great! Amazing Usain Bolt was also present and what a presence he has!
I rarely go to sport events so it was a special treat to take a few trains and a bus out to Todoroki Stadium in Yokohama. I love the stadium! Check out the roof design and those gigantic lights.
I was amazed by the crowd and the number of the cheerleaders, too. The stadium's capacity is 26,000 and I could not see many empty seats. The weather was fantastic and it was nice to see families munching on homemade bentos while cheering for the athletes. I saw my neighbors well but the athletes were faaaaaaar, just tiny points on a field and to my surprise, there was only one TV screen set up in the stadium. I assumed that in Japan they would have screens everywhere but not so.
Stadiums are not particularly well-designed for viewing sports---if we want to see anything, it's better to stay at home and watch it on TV. I guess we go to stadiums to feel the excitement: how often can we experience the same thrill with 20,000 people? Nothing beats being out there from an emotional viewpoint. Vision of the games is another issue, though.
The setup at the stadium seemed especially unkind to hammer throwers who have to enter a cage covered in a green net. Once hammer throw is on TV, the camera crews do their best to eliminate the net and the steel frame from view and focus on the athletes and the hammer but in the stadium, the whole cage is really an annoying obstacle. Look below!
I found out that the size of the cage changed since the 1960's. With every decade it shrank: in the 1960's, the sector was 90 degrees, by the 70's it went down to 45 degrees and now it's only 35 degrees. The hammer throwers often hit the net as the space is not enough for them to swing in. Why put such majestic athletes in such a cramped space? Working in these shrinking cages also means that records set up in earlier times are harder to break as conditions are not the same today--they are much worst now. I'm sure Koji and his dad have plenty of ideas how to improve the situation and I hope that those in power will listen to them. Please do!
Still, I saw Koji throw a few beauties on September 23rd and he won with 81.02 meters. Congratulations! I quickly took Koji's photo and the next second he was surrounded by dozens of journalists. He was smiling, answering every question like there was nothing he wanted to do more than talk to us, yet I found out later that he had a fever and a terrible cold that day. Nobody noticed! That's what a real pro is, I thought. I already learnt something valuable from him and our interview hasn't even began yet.
When we met weeks later, he was already in perfect health. I felt privileged to spend time with Koji, who's really busy perfecting his throw. Thanks, Koji san! I hope that you all enjoy reading about this amazing person in the Japan Times on December 30th.
Words to Live by Koji Murofushi
Special thanks to the The Prince Sakura Tower Tokyo whose staff took really good care of us. Thanks a lot! JK
Koshu Morioka san and me in his office, holding the kanji for kokoro or heart and soul
Graphology on Wikipedia
Japan Graphologist Association
Japan Graphologist Association English Page
I always thought that judging people by their writing, including their handwriting, was pretty accurate and great fun. I had a wonderful time talking to Koshu Morioka san, who is the founder of the Japan Graphologist Association. He knows what he's talking about: he predicted that Obama would win and thinks that I'm very open-minded and fun. My kinda guy! Check out the article about him on December 23rd in the Japan Times--link below-- and please follow his advice! Happy Holidays! JK
Koshu Morioka san's interview
Congratulations to Ruth Hetcamp, the founder of Japan's first telephone counseling lifeline, Inochi-no-Denwa. Ruth set up this free, confidential and anonymous lifeline decades ago and she's still working hard to help others. An amazing woman whose words and actions are truly inspiring. Next to her is Yukio Saito san, who has been IND's director for a long time and has done an incredible job of building up the organization to its current size. Thanks Ruth and Yukio!
We talked in Yukio's book-filled and comfy office, sipping green tea.
Japan TImes Articles
For her tireless efforts to help those who might feel lonely, scared and hopeless, this October Ruth received one of Japan's highest honors, The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays, awarded by the Emperor and the Office of the Prime Minister.
I was lucky to have accompanied her and Yukio to see Ms. Seiko Noda san, Minister of State for Science and Technology Policy, Consumer Affairs and Food Safety and Space Policy. She sure has a lot of work on her hands but that's not all: Noda san is also in charge of suicide prevention. Gosh, ganbatte Noda san!
Seiko Noda on Wkipedia
Seiko Noda's resume
I hope that Noda san is always OK but if she ever feels overwhelmed with all this work and pressure, Inochi-no-Denwa's and TELL's volunteer counselors are just a call away.
Tokyo Inochi no Denwa
With the holidays coming up, you might feel lonely, maybe you miss your loved ones. If you feel down and you are a Japanese speaker, Inochi no Denwa's trained counselors are here to listen, 24 hours a day. The telnumber in Tokyo is 03-3264-4343. There is no additional charge for the call other than the usual charge your telephone company bills you for.
For web counseling in Japanese, connect here:
Inochi no Denwa Net
For English speakers, Tokyo English Lifeline's trained counselors take calls from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., 365 days a year. TELL Lifeline: 03-5774-0992
TELL Tokyo English Lifeline
Be good to yourself and to others, too! JK
Ready to party? Then maybe you need to shop and there is no place more fun to pick out a few pairs of hot two-toned shoes and a flaming red suit than at Sati's in Okinawa! Check out these great fashions!
About two years ago I was filming Okinawan music for NHK in Koza, which is the other name of Okinawa city, when I saw these supercool windows. I had to run in!
How about these Zoot suits? Man, they rock! Zoot suit
I love these Bowler hats in wild colors! Bowler hat
Located in the city of music, also known as Koza or Okinawa city, this legendary clothing store is filled with treasures: owners Paul and Neeta Daswani and their unique selection of fashion from the 1930's to the future!
Here's the article about them in the Japan Times, on October 28th:
Words to Live by
Can't fly to Okinawa? No problem! Call or e-mail them! They ship all over the world. And yes, they make ladies' suits, too! They visit Tokyo and Osaka a few times a year--that's where I saw them recently---so it's possible to meet them in those cities, too. They take clients' measurements and ship the suits to them later.
Sati's is closed for renovation between October 27th and November 11th.
Sati's address: 1-Chome 3-50, Uechi Okinawa City
Okinawa, Japan 904-0031
Hello from rainy Tokyo! This week's Japan Times article is about Vivienne Sato, a cultural concierge whose fabulous looks always put a smile on my face!
Japan Times articles
Here is a fun photo of Vivi and me at a party:
Vivi's blog and
Vivi's other blog
Both have lots of information on what's happening in town and you can see many more photos of her great outfits and super wigs! Enjoy and party on! xoxJK
Hiya! In this week's Judit Kawaguchi's column Words to Live by I introduced wonderful Tatsuo Asakura san who is a train driver in Yamagata prefecture, on the super-scenic Flower Nagai Line.
That's him in front of Nagai station. He is a local hero who saved the little train from bankruptcy but he told me that to secure the company's future, they need a lot more revenue. So he was in Tokyo recently, visiting travel agencies to gather more tourists for his beloved Flower Nagai Line. He thinks they need another 30,000 visitors a year so gather your friends and go take a ride! You will love every minute of it!
Flower Nagai Line on Wikipedia
Flower Nagai Line Japanese website
We met for the first time this June when I was filming in Yamagata prefecture for NHK TV's Out& About TV show.
I wish I were on it right now, right next to these cute regular passengers:
This obaachan told me that she takes the Flower Nagai Line to see her doctor and the trip only costs her a few hundred yen but a cab ride would be about 10 times more expensive, about 7000 yen! Imagine! So she hopes more tourists pour in and keep the company afloat forever. Me, too! See me on the tracks? The line rides smack in the middle of rice and wheat fields and unless you have a car or a bicycle, all you can do here is walk!
Nagai station has tatami mats! I think that is the first station I have ever seen with wide tatami mats so the passengers can take a nice nap while they are waiting.
Here we are in Yamagata with Asakura san and in Tokyo station, holding up his book, map and the "world's longest calendar" that he created with the help of his two friends, Mr Ito and Mr Nomura. Great job, guys!
They sell them online for 500 yen a pop on the site. I have all three of them and the design rocks! Highly recommended!
Thanks again for visiting and till next time, keep on training! JK
Today's Japan Times article is about Ratna Sari Dewi Sukarno, who is a businesswoman and the widow of Indonesia's first president, Sukarno. Ratna Sari in Sanskrit means the "Essence of Jewels" and it's the name Sukarno gave her.
my article on Dewi Sukarno
President Sukarno on Wikipedia
President Sukarno was a charismatic leader who fought fiercely and wisely against the Dutch and succeeded in getting his country out of the chains of colony. Bravo!
He was smart and diplomatic and in Dewi Fujin, he found his match. The two looked so gorgeous and perfect together. I feel sad that their happiness was so short but they certainly achieved a lot. Thank you!
President Sukarno and Dewi Fujin were vital to the development of both Japan and Indonesia. Their union brought the two countries closer and no nations needed each other as much as these two. Back then Japan was desperate for Indonesia's wealth of resources and Indonesia needed technology and finance from Japan. President Sukarno and Dewi Fujin connected them.
I imagined her as a female version of Hideyoshi Toyotomi: with a brilliant mind, always positive and constructive and really good at people. And she is all that plus funny, too!
Hideyoshi Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Dewi Fujin, these two great communicators both rose from humble beginnings to very powerful positions. Good for both and Japan!
There is a famous Senryu (Japanese poem) that asks what the three legendary leaders of 16th century Japan would do if a nightingale stopped singing. It says that:
Nobunaga Oda would kill it while ordering the next nightingale to be delivered
Tokugawa would patiently wait for it to sing
And Hideyoshi would talk the bird into singing!
Seems like Nobunaga Oda was all about function, a practical man who operated much like a tough executive. I find him pretty Un-Japanese in that sense. Ieyasu Tokugawa was very conservative and careful, with a long-range viewpoint. He was happy to gaman (endure) in the present for better results later. Very Japanese! Hideyoshi was a genius at people and managed to work with anyone. Just like Dewi Fujin. After years in exile in Paris, she moved back to Indonesia and worked under Suharto's regime. Suharto, the man she calls the Indonesian Pol Pot for murdering about one million innocent civilians. Suharto, who was behind the coup d'etat that ousted President Sukarno.
I am amazed at Dewi Fujin's strength! Not only she was brave enough to move back to Jakarta, she even succeeded as a businesswoman in those hostile circumstances. She attended several World Tenders and made history bidding successfully for one billion dollar projects. In my book she qualifies to be in the league of the world's toughest. She keeps on fighting and winning and manages to do it with great style. Yes, in high heels, no less.
BTW, she is Megawati Sukarnoputri's stepmother, who was Indonesia's first female president: Megawati Sukarnoputri
This is Dewi Fujin with two of her dogs:
She always looks impeccable which is a miracle since she's constantly surrounded by her beloved dogs, all eleven of them. These little dogs run a big house and in all the right directions. As we talked, cute doggies would be licking my hands and gently scratching my back. I felt happy!
Dewi Fujin paints:
I love her work! Hope you all got some of Dewi Fujin's power. I certainly have. Thank you! Judit
Hi! We received a question on the comment board but due to some technical problems I can't post a reply there so am answering here on main page.
First of all, thank you for asking: "Hey why did you delete a comment on 武田邦彦? "
Sorry, although we did not delete a comment on Takeda san, it is indeed missing. Thank you for noticing and letting us know. It was in Japanese with links, right? I am so sorry! I have no idea when and how it disappeared. We have been having some technical trouble in the last few weeks. Some links were deleted by administrator and I guess, so was the one you mentioned. Or I did it by mistake as I was trying to get rid of weird links that did not respond...SORRY!!!Thanks for telling me and please upload it again. I was glad to get feedback on him and I know he or she was critical of him. All responses are truly appreciated so I hope he or she writes again. Sorry 4 not responding but I am still having trouble uploading even this reply to you. I tried to post it on the comment board a few dozen times and typed in the required 4 numbers but it keeps asking me for more numbers. Crazy!
So we are having some serious technical trouble. Again, my apologies, I hope to figure out how to work this blog so we never have a miss like that again. If you can, please kindly send the comment and links on Takeda san again. Please trust me that we never delete any comments that relate to the content of this blog. We are happy to get feedback so please have them coming. And if you do not see a response from Mina or me, it is because we can not upload it--like maybe now!!!-- so please wait a bit and one of us will reply asap. Thanks a lot! Judit
August 15th, at Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine:
Yes, that's me today, on August 15th, 2008, standing in front of the Third Shrine Gate with the Haiden or Main Hall just behind me. I hope you can get a feel for how beautiful this shrine really is, even with me blocking the view. I love going to Yasukuni Shrine and visit it often all year round. If you have never been there, you're missing a treat. You will love it! The walk from Kudanshita station is breathtaking: Japan's largest Shinto torii gate, perched on top of a small hill welcomes us. No matter how tired or busy I am going there, I always feel a sudden burst of energy when I see this first gate: I know that I am entering a peaceful, beautiful garden where every step takes me deeper into the heart of Japan. An avenue with large gingko trees leads to the statue of Omura Masujiro and to the second gate which is the biggest bronze torii in Japan. Please check the Yasukuni Shrine website for more detailed information, including a great map with photos:
Yasukuni Shrine is a very special place where the spirits of those who sacrificed their lives during wars, all the way from 1853 till the end of the Greater East Asian War( WWII), are enshrined: a total of 2,466,000 of them! Of course, most of them were young men who wanted to protect their families and country. I heard a lot about them from former soldiers who survived and are in their late seventies, or eighties and some are even in their nineties. These survivors keep coming to Yasukuni Shrine from all over Japan to say hi to their friends enshrined here and to thank them for their sacrifice.
August 15th marks the end of the Greater East Asian War ( WWII) in 1945 in Japan. Yasukuni Shrine is especially crowded that day, full of those who want to show their appreciation for those who gave their lives for Japan. I'm married to a Japanese and live in this fantastic country so naturally I go, too! I pray at the altar for those 2,466,000 men and the many more who also died during those wars. I also thank the survivors, who worked so tirelessly to build up Japan from the ruins. Today Japan is a wonderful place to live and all of this prosperity is based on their sacrifice and hard work. I want to keep remembering those who didn't have such an easy life as me and to always feel humble and thankful for what I have. By going to Yasukuni Shrine I show my appreciation for all Japanese people, whether they are alive or not. Arigatou gozaimasu!
Today I went earlier than usual because I had a date with Hiroo Onoda san and his lovely wife, Machie san.
my article on Hiroo Onoda san
Yes, that's Onoda san who at 86 is still looking great, thanks to his amazing DNA and because of the love and care of his wife, Machie san who always accompanies him everywhere. They make a great couple and are very active!
Onoda san's book, No Surrender: My Thirty-year War is so exciting and incredible that I read it in one sitting and immediately read some of it again. Highly recommended!
Hiroo Onoda san's book on Amazon
Onoda san is living history and a pleasure to know. I hope he lives longggggggggggg!Machie san is a lot younger and she is also full of energy so the two are always busy with many projects, such as their Shizen Jyuku, a nature camp for kids:
Onoda Shizen Jyuku
To learn about Japanese history, the best place is the beautiful Yushukan Museum, right next to Yasukuni Shrine. Yushukan Museum
You can easily spend a couple of hours there because the exhibition halls include films, anime and documentaries, too. It's my great honor that the TV program I made about Hideo Suzuki san, who trained as an ohka pilot, is also displayed here at Yushukan Museum, in the ohka room:
Ohka in Wikipedia: and my article on Hideo Suzuki san
Hideo Suzuki san was a member of the Jinrai Butai Ohka, a special unit within the Japanese Navy during the Greater East Asian War ( WWII) whose members were training to fly on deadly one-way missions in an ohka. This is Hideo Suzuki san back then:
He was so young, so handsome and full of courage. Although 63 years passed by, he's still handsome and brave, just like before! Here he is on the left with two of his fellow ohka pilots, Naito san and Shinjo san. Looking great!
Please watch this program about Suzuki san with either Japanese or English subtitles on my website: tokkotai.jp to find out why Suzuki san and other young men like him, who were well aware that Japan was losing the war, volunteered to be ohka pilots. You will also learn why Japan developed such kamikaze-type corps and why did these brave young men decide to join such a unit.
The Yushukan Museum has a lot of information on the background of the war so I recommend you all to visit.
On tokkotai.jp please click on the photo of Suzuki san in the top left corner to see the menu and make sure you watch our brand new 48 page manga, too!
Thanks for reading and hope to see you all at Yasukuni Shrine and Yushukan Museum ! JK
Maruyama Ohkyo's Paintings in Daijyoji Temple, Kyoto
Last August I was lucky to film Nippon Art Tour for NHK TV on the Edo era artist Maruyama Ohkyo's (1733–1795; 円山 応挙) works. His paintings are beautiful!
Maruyama Ohkyo on Wikipedia:
We found these scrolls in a Kyoto antique shop whose owner loves Ohkyo so much that he has trouble parting with his collection. After looking through a few dozen paintings I could see why: they are GREAT! I was also hooked. In search of more of his masterpieces, we hopped on this cute open Torokko train in Sagano, Kyoto city and took it to Ohkyo's birthplace, Kameoka city. Torokko Train
This is a great ride among mountains and over rivers and gives you a chance to see the landscape that inspired Ohkyo. From Kameoka you can take the express train to Kasumi where the Daijyoji Temple is located.
I LOVE DAIJYOJI TEMPLE! The whole complex was designed and its dozens of sliding doors painted by Maruyama Ohkyo and his apprentices. It took them eight years to complete it and it shows: it is magnificent! Look at some of the photos but please keep in mind that my poor shots really don't do justice to its beauty:
The fascinating aspect of these fusuma sliding doors is that once you open them, you see other paintings in other rooms. Imagine a whole bunch of spaces interconnected by sliding doors, all painted on both sides. As you move the fusumas, the view changes and the number of combinations are almost endless. It is like being an artist yourself: you create a space, a view, a three and two-dimensional puzzle that doesn't need figuring out. Of course you are also part of a dialogue with nature and Ohkyo, too. You see the surrounding gardens, mountains and other buildings, you hear insects, smell the tatami and the flowers in the garden. It's wonderful! Japanese architecture is truly part of nature and one of the greatest places to feel that is here, at Daijyoji Temple. I highly recommend you all to visit! The priest, Mr. Yamasoba is from Osaka and he's not only knowledgeable about Ohkyo but he's also very funny. He said his three kids were not paying much attention to either Ohkyo or him. Ouch!
Later on, as we were trying to buy some cold drinks at a convenience store, our director noticed that she had lost her wallet. We filmed at a few different locations, including a couple of rice fields, towns, temples and it could have fallen out of her bag just about anywhere so there was no way to trace our steps back. She filed a report with the local police box or koban and asked them to call her if they had found it. Sure enough, she soon got a call that someone had found her wallet, brought it to the closest koban and the policeman took it to the police station nearest to our location. Please check out this photo of what was returned:
All her credit cards and over 40,000 yen or roughly 400 US dollars were inside her wallet. Nothing was missing! I just love Japan! There are so many honest people and the police service was fabulous, too. I hear that this kind of thing happens here all the time.
Now back to Maruyama Ohkyo:
For those who live outside Japan, please see your local TV guide for broadcast times of NHK TV's Nippon Art Tour: Maruyama Ohkyo, which is supposedly shown on the following days and times abroad:
8/5（火）5:15, 8/8（金）7:15、8/10（日）11:15、8/13（水）16:15、8/20（水） 6:15、8/21（木）10:15
And some sad news: this and most of the other hundred or so NHK TV shows that I have made ---please check category for Judit Kawaguchi's Reports---are unfortunately not broadcast in Japan. We are making them for the foreign market. Who is watching? If you are out there, please mail me! I used to believe that many people outside Japan enjoy our shows, but now I'm wondering if that is indeed true. For example, my friends in the US just mailed me that TV-Japan in the US doesn't televise this Maruyama Ohkyo program in August. I asked my NHK directors and one checked and found that: " The Ohkyo program is shown on NHK World, but not on NHK World Premium, which is part of cable TV in some countries." One needs an additional satellite dish to see NHK World. Having regular cable is not enough.
Basically it seems that only people who live outside Japan and purchased a satellite dish that can transmit only NHK World broadcasts can watch these programs. Yet the NHK International website boasts that 57,000 TV programs have been produced by NHK International and are shown in 129 countries.
NHK World TV
That's a lot of shows! Again, who is watching? Because people living in Japan can not see these fabulous TV programs, either. Seems strange since NHK is the Japanese national broadcaster and their shows are produced from money collected from people living in Japan, not outside of Japan. People living in Japan are required to pay a yearly mandatory subscription fee of 15,500 yen per year per TV set for regular NHK two channels and 26,000 yen per year including BS. For these prices, only programs made for a national audience can be viewed, not those produced for international broadcast.
The Japanese government also heavily supports NHK, from taxes collected from us. I must check on the exact amount! I was told by NHK directors that all programs are produced only from subscription fees because NHK doesn't want to be controlled by politics. Government funding is only used for advertising, they said.
Summary: People in Japan pay for programs they never get to see. People outside Japan pay for cable that does not include many of these NHK programs, either. If one lives outside of Japan and purchases a separate satellite dish and I guess, pays a separate subscription fee, one can see NHK World broadcast. Some programs produced by NHK International are included in local cable programs abroad. In a nutshell: the vast majority of NHK International TV programs are only seen by a handful of people.
This is all not very clear but I guess that is NHK's vision, or at least how I see it. Please send us your questions, ideas, opinion! Thanks for your support! Judit
I visited Yasukuni Shrine Museum, YUSHUKAN recently.
A lot of displays were renewed beautifully and I had quite a different impression from what I had seen before. Lots of movies, English instructions, and so on.
There were a lot of visitors, too, including foreigners.
AND, ofcourse there were Judit program going on beside big diolama of Tokkotai.
It is placed near the exit. It is 23 minute program. Please have a look!
Instruction of the Bulletin Board is all in Japanese.
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