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Japan Times Articles Update by Judit
HI Everyone: It's hot in Tokyo! To escape, I was at home watching TV a few weeks ago when Professor Kunihiko Takeda 武田邦彦came on and talked about how most recycling made no sense: I knew instantly that he did! I immediately made an appointment to see him. He is a great talker and a very pleasant man who explained the pros and cons of recycling and why the arguments on both sides are so heated. He sure keeps a cool head about it all! Suteki! Please check below for the interview in the Japan Times:
This is Professor Takeda's homepage:

Television is a great source of information: I often have it on as a radio while working and look when something interesting is happening. That's how I noticed Yuko Matsuoka 松岡佑子san who was at a bookstore event and remembered that I have been wanting to interview her for years. I flew over to her place the next day and found out that she not only managed to translate all 7 Harry Potter books and some related literature--bless her eyes, mind and fingers--but stayed sane in the process, a crazy feat only one with magical powers could have managed. She is happy to be called a witch, which is also a compliment in my dictionary but I could also call her an angel. Her unbelievable story, still unfinished but already with many happy endings, includes the mysterious circumstances that allowed her company, Say-zan-sha 静山社  to secure the Japanese rights for the Harry Potter series. To find out more, look at her website:
and also please check out the article on Matsuoka san in the Japan Times:
"Harry Potter" Japanese translator and publisher Yuko Matsuoka Harris
As always, stay cool! xox Judit
【2008/07/28 15:46】 | Words to Live By (E) | トラックバック(0) | コメント(0)
Judit and a cute shoe designer

Hi Everyone! Have you seen Judit's last article in the Japan Times? If not, please click below and have fun reading about Moe Enomoto, the cute women's shoe designer you see below with Judit chan. They look so great together! Judit was browsing around in Ginza last year when she saw some boots she liked. The young salesgirl brought her a pair, they talked and it turned out that she was not only the selling the shoes, but she was the designer of them! Judit bought the pink gold pair you see on her feet and loved them so much that a few weeks later ordered another one in red. Looking wonderful!

Japan Times


【2008/07/02 17:11】 | Words to Live By (E) | トラックバック(0) | コメント(0)
現時点で 69124名様のアクセスです。

今回のジャパンタイムズインタビューはユディちゃんも敬愛する宮脇 修氏。海洋堂フィギュアミュージアムの館長です。質にとことんこだわる日本のものづくり精神の継承者です。ものづくりとは、毎回毎回、前回作ったものよりいいものを作り続けていくことだと・・・厳しい世界です。でもこれこそ日本のものづくり魂ですね。全く頭が下がります。それにしても、宮脇氏の奥様は大した器をお持ちの縁の下の力持ちだなと思いました....


Thank you so much for supporting Judit for more than 2 years!!! Thanks to your support, this blog has welcomed 69124 visitors in 2 years. And please keep loving her and give cheer to her in the future, too!!!

In Words to Live By, Judit interviewed Mr. Osamu Miyawaki. He is a founder of Kaiyodo company and Museum, a figure museum where so many neat and realistic figure dolls are displayed. It is just amazing to know his pride toward Japanese MONOZUKURI SPIRIT and practicing it everyday. And also, what is amazing almost to the same extent is his wife....enjoy the article!

Japan Times, Words to Live By, Mr.Osamu Miyawaki

--Message from Judit--

Thank you ALL for your support these past 2 years! In today's Japan Times I introduced Osamu Miyawaki san, who is the founder of Kaiyodo, which is one of my favorite companies. I have so many of their amazing, beautiful, super cool figures that soon I must move to a bigger house...check out some of our collection on the photos below.


I love everything about them so when we arrived at the Kaiyodo Figure Museum Kurokabe, I literally ran into Miyawaki san's office, because I was so excited to finally meet him. Once we looked at each other, we totally clicked. He is so wonderful! So straightforward and funny and a protector of Japanese monozukuri and culture. He told me that so many investors have been asking him to increase the number of his artists in order to increase production and basically make money, but he always refuses because he thinks monozukuri's quality is proportional to the time one invests into making it. He doesn't rush his artisans, gives them total freedom of expression and everyone is happy to work there. As he says in the article, no way to run after profit and still make excellent products. Right on! I hope you have fun reading about him in the Japan Times!
【2008/05/30 14:23】 | Words to Live By (E) | トラックバック(0) | コメント(0)
Mr. Hideo Suzuki 鈴木英男氏
Tokkotai survivor Hideo Suzuki

Eighty-five-year-old Hideo Suzuki is a reluctant survivor. A former tokkotai (Special Forces Unit) member of the Jinrai Butai (Thunder Gods Corps), Suzuki volunteered to be the pilot of an Ohka, a manned rocket-powered aircraft, during World War II. For sailors on U.S. warships in the Pacific, the Ohka was the most feared suicide bomber. Suzuki became an Ohka pilot because he was convinced that the only way to quickly end the war (called the Pacific War in Japan) was to cause massive damage to U.S. military targets. His hope was that news of such attacks would enrage the American public, triggering antiwar demonstrations in the United States that would lead to the end of the war and save the lives of Japanese citizens as well as U.S. militarymen. Before Suzuki could fly on a mission, though, the war ended. Feeling great shame for having survived, he decided to honor his comrades by living long and dedicating himself to rebuilding Japan. Still passionate in his opinion about the war and its results, he keeps his fellow soldiers' memory alive, often visiting Yasukuni Shrine.

In war, attacks on civilians are unforgivable. War should be fought only among soldiers. I get angry when I hear Japanese bombers mentioned together with terrorists who attack civilians. We Japanese tokkotai only aimed at military targets. That is the complete opposite of terrorists.



Sitting down today will make it harder to stand up tomorrow. I try not to take it easy in my daily life. For example, I don't sit down on the subway, because resting weakens the muscles, which would ultimately cause me to get older faster. I stand straight to stay strong.

There are circumstances in which you, me, anyone would willingly give up their life. I wished I had died in an Ohka. For months, I kept seeing my comrades off. They all smiled as they boarded the plane, thinking that we would soon meet in Yasukuni Shrine. Our impending deaths did not feel like a sacrifice but more a chance to do something good for others.

Karoshi (sudden death from overwork) attacks those who hate their jobs. People who are reluctant to work have a lot more stress than those who love their jobs and feel happy about contributing to society. I worked very hard every day till my retirement at age 70 and I was never sick and never sick of it.

Japan had no way to win The Pacific War. The incredible power imbalance between the U.S. and Japanese forces was obvious to all of us. For example, in 1944, the United States produced 209 times more oil and 100 times more tanks than Japan. And for every Japanese bullet fired, 524 U.S. bullets were fired back. By 1944, the U.S. air arsenal was 8.6 times bigger than the Japanese one, so Japan came up with the idea of suicide bombers to speed up the end of the war.

Camaraderie -- especially in the military -- is a powerful force. The pilot sat in the Ohka, which was carried under the belly of a much larger mother plane. Smaller aircraft surrounded the mother plane to protect the Ohka from enemy fire. Once a U.S. aircraft carrier was spotted, the Ohka was released and the pilot navigated it, dodging enemy fire, as it glided at up to 600 kph before firing its rocket engine and crashing into its target. The explosion was enormous because the Ohka's tiny 6-meter body was filled with around 1,200 kg of explosives. At that point, the mother plane would turn back and pick up another Ohka, but sometimes the seven other airmen aboard decided to follow the Ohka and also crashed into the U.S. ship. They wanted to cause even more damage to it, and since they had trained together with the Ohka pilot, they wanted to join him.

Tokkotai members were not crazy, brainwashed suicide bombers. Many of us thought that since Japan had won the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, we were going to win this one, too. But as early as 1943, when I was a student at Waseda University, top navy officials had come to our school and told us that even though Japan was winning at the time, if the war lasted another two years, we would surely lose.

Victors write their own version of history -- and we are all losers if we believe them. As if the cruel firebombing of Japan's cities were not enough, the U.S. dropped the nuclear bomb on Hiroshima. The fact that a completely different type of nuclear weapon was later used on Nagasaki is evidence that the U.S. was performing an evil scientific experiment on the Japanese people. Yet even now the U.S. insists that the atomic bombs saved lives. It's a preposterous idea that has been repeated so many times that many people accept it as truth! I certainly do not.

In amarriage, one must feel responsible for the other's happiness. When my wife and I were introduced 56 years ago, we were not in love immediately. But I thought that if I were upright, responsible and faithful, she would be able to love me. I was right. She is always so kind and supportive, and I simply adore her. Of course, I never pronounce this, but she feels it through my actions. We both make efforts to behave so that we never have to feel shame or regret. I always think of her parents, how much they loved her and wished her to be happy. We still go on dates to Ueno Zoo, where we went the first time we met. We are head over heels in love.

I'm glad I was pushed into getting married. I was 29 and not very interested in tying the knot when my boss told me that in order to get promoted I would need to be married. The thinking back then was that married people were inherently more responsible than single folk and therefore could be trusted more in the company, too. I am not promoting that idea at all, but I certainly got lucky thanks to it.

Japan is still an occupied nation. The U.S. did a great job at deboning the Japanese until most have no spine, no guts and no strength left in them. They couldn't do much to my generation, but most younger Japanese are as weak as one can get.

Hanging out with older and much younger people is rejuvenating. I have two close friends who are both 97 years old and who often call me to play golf or the board game Go with them. Because of their age, I always say yes to their invitations. Hey, if they can still swing a golf club, so must I! I also have friends in their 30s who are fun to be with.

Japan Times: Tuesday, April 8, 2008
【2008/04/15 09:03】 | Words to Live By (E) | トラックバック(0) | コメント(0)


In 2008/4/8 Japan Times, there will be an article of Mr.Suzuki's interview by Judit. Mr.Suzuki belonged to the Navy in the period of WW2. He was a member of Tokko-tai, suicide attack in Jinrai-butai and saved his life because the war ended just before his attack. It is a great chance to listen directly to the story of the person who experienced the war in a forefront. He is also interviewed in Judit's Web-Tv program in morinoske.com. For those who haven't seen it yet, please visit the site!
【2008/03/28 12:45】 | Words to Live By (E) | トラックバック(0) | コメント(0)
Judit's article's reaction
ユディちゃんのWords to live byのナカヤマタカヒコさんにインタビューした記事が、あちこちで反響を呼んでいるようです。一つご紹介しますね。

Judit's recent Words to live by article interviewing Takahiko Nakayama, a window cleaner has been commented by many sites. I will introduce one of them.
Mr.Nakayama is a window cleaner. It seems so scary to do the work in high places, but there are things that only they can see.

Words to Live By
Mr.Takahiko Nakayama

Thursday, Feb. 28, 2008
Inspiration for a working man
【2008/02/29 20:48】 | Words to Live By (E) | トラックバック(0) | コメント(0)
Mr.Nobuaki Kakuda 角田信朗氏

NHK Out&About website

The hero of the article is Mr.Nobuaki Kakuda. Judit met him in filming of NHK Out&About in Iwami Ginzan. He tells us many lessons that he learned through fighting and actual life. I only had the image of "fighter" for him, but through Judit report, I could feel truely that he is a good educator, good husband and good father. Please enjoy!

Nobuaki Kakuda



Nobuaki Kakuda, 46, is a karate fighter with the Seido Kaikan organization and the executive producer of K1, the Japanese sport that matches up practitioners of a variety of martial arts, such as karate, kickboxing, kung fu, tae kwan do and boxing. One of the world's strongest fighters, Kakuda is in the 2001 and 2002 Guinness Book of World Records for breaking 27, and later 33, baseball bats within 1 minute, using only his right leg and super concentration. Although in the ring it was his punches that spoke volumes, in person he tells eloquent tales in fluent English and French. He also speaks Thai and Korean. Kakuda is a licensed high-school English teacher, an accomplished actor, singer and dancer of the tango and rumba who considers his memory his strongest point and credits his wife and two children for all his strength.

The best training is in daily life, not in the dojo. How a person lives every day, whether he faces hardships or not, is the test of a true fighter. If they pick the easy way out of responsibilities in life, then escaping inside the ring gets so much easier, too. Just fall down and wait for it to end. Training hard at life — being a life champion — is the best path to success.

Fighting in the ring is easier than outside. Right after university I opened a karate dojo in Kobe, but couldn't make it a success and had to shut it down after 2 years. I continued karate training while washing dishes at a ramen shop, till I worked my way up to cooking. By age 28 I was a bouncer in a Nara public bath where I dodged knives thrown at me by the yakuza who were refused entry because other patrons were scared of them and their full-body tattoos. I was so afraid that I stuck a cup in my pants to protect my manhood. I survived 6 months there.

If you have a goal, you can endure just about any hardship. Next I worked in construction for a year. At the end of the day I would go up to my boss to thank him for letting me work. It was a routine. He would spit to his side, search his pocket, pull out a 10,000 bill and crush it with his fist. Next he would throw it on the ground, as far as he could. I would thank him, bow deeply and pick it up. I never showed him how I felt, but inside I swore I would rock him. I have never seen him since.

I am powerful because my wife is like a mountain — peaceful and relaxed — and like an ocean that envelops and holds life. Because a man is always up front and fighting, a woman should always accept him with warmth. No matter what happens, my wife is there, stable, flexible, fluid and infinite.

Don't forget to feel impressed and moved, no matter how old you are. Some people forget what is important and keep talking about disappointments and crises and whatnot. But there are too many good stories to listen to, so I always find scenes that touch my soul. I cry a lot — I'm so emotional that if I see a child laugh on his mom's lap, I burst into tears. Of course, I hide this because I am very shy.

Fighting sports are very primitive. If you stay in that world, you can remember what humans are. Outside the ring, technology overwhelms culture, when it should be giving us support.

Competition is the destruction of the body and the building of a strong soul.

Make it harder. I'm a fighter, so if the hurdle is raised, I will jump it.

I'm a chicken at heart. I actually care about what people think or write about me. Still, though I might get angry at a negative review, I take hints from it to get better. For example, some baseball players complained that I broke too many baseball bats for my Guinness World record. Once I heard that, it dawned on me how they viewed my achievement totally differently. I became more adult by looking from their side.

A man has to be strong. A group of six or seven kids beat me up for what seemed like no reason. I was 10 years old and maybe not happy, which is why they bullied me. I cried at home. My mom panicked, but my dad didn't even look up from his newspaper, just listened to my sobs. All I saw was his back, leaning over the evening paper. He said that if I felt sad, I must get stronger as a man. That was it for me: at that moment I realized that if I didn't get strong, I'd be miserable like that forever.

In elementary school I thought about how I should sign my name, not what I should do. I didn't have a clear ambition of what I would be, but I had a strong desire to be a man who was asked for his signature.

Smart people have a sense of whether something is a chance or not. Once you recognize that something is indeed a chance, pursue it. Some can get it, others can't. Make your best effort and stay in control.

I never hit my children. Once I told my son that I was going to punch him because he broke a promise. He said that I was right and he was sorry.

Parents and teachers are not strict enough. They can't control themselves. They always push the responsibility onto others. For example, if a teacher hurts your kid, it is because your child did something bad. Think of this! In karate it is easy to explain the rules. We tell parents that we are very strict, but it is they who must ultimately show restraint. We cannot beat sense into their kids for them. They gotta do it themselves.

Children are great motivators. My daughter's dream is to be more international, which to her translates into marrying a non-Japanese. I told her that her boyfriend must beat me to get her hand. I guess I'll have to ramp up my training routine!

Ghosts and spirits are real, so I always protect myself. I carry good luck charms with me at all times. When I fly, I put a necklace on, but keep my most powerful amulet hidden as it might be too strong for others. It is a stone from the Emperor's grave.

A good partnership is about different values, different sense, like when magnetic poles are attracted to each other. My wife seems to have no interest in my work at all. When I'm kicking a sandbag on the roof balcony, I can sense her looking at me from inside. I hope she feels proud of me but instead she says, "You look silly," and shuts the window. I don't mind. I go my way. We are good partners. We have been together for 16 years and support each other.

Japan Times: Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2007
【2007/11/13 15:47】 | Words to Live By (E) | コメント(0)
Mr. Horiyoshi III
Horiyoshi III




Horiyoshi III is revered by tattoo enthusiasts as possibly the world's greatest horishi, or full-body tattoo artist. (Horimono are tattoos done purely for fun, while irezumi are tattoos that mark criminals.) Friendly and too cool for words, the 61-year-old loves digging his needle into people — he definitely gets under their skin while doing his beautiful works. Although Horiyoshi considers the human body as his canvas, he has published 10 books of artwork on both paper and skin. His latest collection of drawings, "36 Ghosts," arrived in bookstores this month.

A master knows his own mistakes and wants to erase the evidence. I heard of a swordsmith who was dying and ordered his apprentices to find and destroy all the swords he had made when he was younger. I wish I could do that with some of my earlier tattoos.

One must suffer for beauty and for art. Normally women and artists experience such pain, but in my business it is the client, especially since it is illegal to use painkillers while tattooing. Although it's a real pain to be poked at, the results are so amazing that people are happy to lie down to suffer for at least one hour a week for about two years.

Some things can never be fixed. Tattoos walk and talk, and the mistakes stay there forever. Of course, that is part of my past, and it reveals the process I am going through.

Every creature is beautiful, whether it is a whale or a spider; but for me the most beautiful is the human body. When I met German film director Leni Riefensthal 20 years ago, I complimented her on her photo book on the Nuba people in Africa. I think the Nuba have the world's most balanced and gorgeous bodies, with long, muscled legs and amazing proportions.

For some, getting tattooed is healing. To get a full-body tattoo takes years of suffering, and that requires maturing as a human, learning to experience and overcome pain. It is as if with each piercing of the needle, they become stronger and more complete.

If you think you'll regret it, don't even think of doing it. Tattoos are serious business. They stay on, they mark you for life, so you had better think long and hard whether you are ready for such a body alteration.

The creatures I draw only come alive on somebody's skin. This is why I never show my designs as so-called art. I draw simply for fun and to have samples to show my clients so they can pick a new design. The creatures depicted take the person's breath away once they are on his or her skin — and then the two start breathing together, in unison. Human history alters the look of the animals and plants I paint, and when the person wearing them dies, so too do they.

Our lives belong to the young, and they must lead us. To do that, they need to know Japanese history and feel proud of their culture. Only then will they take responsible steps that are worth following.

Ghosts are real. I was painting one day in my Yokohama studio, when I saw a figure walk in. I turned to say hello and it disappeared into black powder. I told this to a psychic and he said that in the Meiji Era there was an execution ground where I live, so there were lots of ghosts wandering around my neighborhood.

Tattoos should only be seen in private. I have even tattoed the private parts of men. They are really upfront about it but, of course, only to a select few. That is how the whole body should be viewed: in secret.

It is pretty when you hide beauty. Japanese put the loveliest designs on the inside of our clothing so that it can only be peeked at, not stared at. Similarly, I only allow photos of my own body as I am proud — as a tattooist — to show my work. If I were not in this line of work, I would never show them to anyone, except my family and buddies who also have tattoos.

Matsuri — Japanese festivals — are the best time to feel unity with our fellow men. That is the only chance we have to see yakuza in their full-body horimono and not fear them. It is OK to stand next to them and even take smiling photos with the scariest guys. They transform into cute neighbors for one day. The same guy on any other day is scary. This is the special psychological state of the Japanese.

Horimono are cool as they have the smell of the outlaw. People are attracted to criminals because they are scared of becoming one. Fearsome equals strong, so we love such people.

Tattooing is part of our national tradition. I feel responsible for keeping the classical repertoire of Japanese designs alive, one prick at a time. The many magical creatures that I portray must not go extinct.

Ryu — the dragon — is mysterious. It doesn't exist, but it feels like it should.

Studying is not for achieving promotions or improving your circumstances. Studying teaches us how to enjoy life, where to begin and end things and how to behave in between.

I respect all life forms, which means I think of others first, then myself. People who talk ill of others make me sick. My goal as a human being is to be nicer to others and care about them more than I care about myself.

Women have the power and the responsibility. They are stronger than men psychologically so they can act weaker just to make us feel bigger.

Men who have iki — or cool spirit — are scary. They are like hawks who hide their talons — they don't need to show off their strength because they are secure in it. Such men never bully the weak.

Real beauty is often hidden. Young men want to show off: their manhood, muscles, jobs, women, cars and tattoos are all on display. As a man matures, he shows off less outside and learns to hide his beauty in his heart.

Women should not go to bed quickly. Men are wired to hunt. The longer we have to look for the prey, the more we will see it as a treasure.

The same quality that we love about somebody might end up annoying us later on. So choose a partner who is good, as kindness can be forgiven, even in oversized proportions. My wife, Mayumi, loves animals and even after their death she puts food and drinks for them on the altar. I think she does too much, but this is exactly why I love her — she overdoes it but her heart is beautiful. So I just stay calm and quiet and remind myself that this is why I married her. She does drive me crazy, but I do not let her see it. That is a man, and that is love.

Those who help others without taking credit have my respect. I heard of a woman who sent money to a coworker but never told him she was the one who helped him out. Now that is what I call super-cool behavior.

Japan Times: Tuesday, June 12, 2007
【2007/07/14 16:44】 | Words to Live By (E) | コメント(0)
Mr.Yuji Sato
Yuji Sato




Marine, a 5-and-a-half year-old black Labrador retriever, just might be one of the world's most unexpected heroines in the fight against cancer. Marine's nose is capable of detecting 18 different types of cancer on a person's breath and has already been mechanically replicated as a sensor the size of a mobile phone to detect breast cancer. The manufacturer, Seems Inc., is hoping to have the product on the market within six months and for under 10,000 yen. Marine's supersensitive nose was discovered by her owner, Yuji Sato, 60, whose adoration for the dog opened his eyes to her incredible potential. Sato's insatiable desire to experiment, matched with Marine's love for him, have resulted in one of the more unusual, and fun-loving, research teams on earth.

Pets are the best healers. I used to take our smaller dogs to schools and nursing homes, and the minute the animals were placed on the knees of the very ill elderly or sick children, the pets' healing power was apparent. Unfortunately Japan is so behind the rest of the world in this field. We are refused entry to most places and many doctors either do not accept or do not care that animals have beneficial effects on patients.

To develop your talent, you must exercise. Marine's nose is sensitive but it is our daily exercise that makes her smelling ability exceptionally great. Every day I come up with new ideas to please her because her moods and my feelings are different daily so we never repeat things. One good exercise was buying two new glasses and letting her smell one after hiding the other on the beach among many other glass bins. She found the match immediately.

There is no manual for learning. I only graduated from high school -- since then I have been working and playing around. I do not learn much from others, I have my own ideas.

To get scientifically correct data, science is not enough. I know how similar research to mine is done in Europe and in the United States: In an enormous lab, filled with million-dollar machines, a large number of staff -- mostly PhDs -- in white space suits work in a totally pristine environment where temperature, noise, humidity, wind and smell are all 100 percent controlled. A clean dog is let into the room where samples are placed and he or she is supposed to pick out the ones containing cancer. I, on the other hand, work in a messy beach house. Marine runs in to smell samples I place in boxes on the floor, and yet our results are super accurate and, with our help, the world's first sensor that can detect breast cancer on human breath is already being produced. No wonder Marine and I are producing the best results: love and trust create a positive outcome, science does not.

Japanese are victims of bureaucrats who suffocate the population. When I first moved to the coast I was shocked by how many people died in the ocean every year, so I decided to train a few dogs to rescue drowning people and offered them for free to the lifeguard's association. They loved the idea -- for a lifeguard, working with a dog is the best combination: the dog drags a life preserver to a drowning person, who grabs it and is then pulled to safety by the dog. If the lifeguard swims alone to someone drowning, in their panic, the person often grabs the guard and not the life preserver, sometimes killing the rescuer. Yet the city government refused to allow the guards to pair with the dogs because, according to them, the dogs would dirty the beach. Even today, Japan has no system for lifesaving dogs.

Japanese are not good at communication so their pets develop psychological problems. Since many people rarely talk, pets cannot learn much from them. That is why dogs bark like crazy.

A dog's smell is the greatest tranquilizer. Nothing calms me down more than my dog's sweaty front paw. I smell it often during the day and before going to sleep. It is so sweet and the rubbery texture is great to touch. When I smell her paw, I am taken back to some ancient spot in my hypothalamus where life was all about feelings.

Even without money, one can produce incredible results. Japan is No. 1 in the world in cancer research even though neither the government nor the medical industry funds many research projects. I get no help, no money, no support from anybody, except a little bit from the sensor's manufacturer. I cannot even get enough samples of cancer patients' breath because, although doctors agree that cancer smells, they do not want to participate in my research. It seems that doctors do not care about saving lives, they just want to save their time. They look down on low-tech research involving a dog and an old man.

Dogs understand humans. My dog, Rose, would act according to what she heard us talk about. If we said we wanted a beer or some ice cream, she would just go and get it from the fridge. I guess she understood about 70 percent of our conversation. When she died, I felt as if my daughter had just passed away. I even wrote a book to her, titled "Rose ga Kureta Jinsei (The Life Rose Gave Me)" to tell her how blessed she made me feel.

To find happiness, we must throw away rational thoughts and follow our heart. I was making good money in Tokyo working in television and yet I quit and moved to the ocean with my wife and six dogs. I had no plan except to hang out in nature and play with them.

Japan Times: Tuesday, April 24, 2007
【2007/05/24 11:36】 | Words to Live By (E) | コメント(0)
Mr.Takashi Yamada


Judit met Mr. Yamada when she went filming Bonsai in Kagawa prefecture for NHK Weekend Japanology. Those pine trees were amazing! Actually, 80% of pine tree bonsai are grown in Kagawa.
The moment Judit met Mr.Yamada, they both "fell in love with each other" and have kept in touch ever since via mail, phone calls and even met in Tokyo when Mr.Yamada came here. Judit can make friends with any people instantly! This is her gift, I think!



Takashi Yamada, 59, is an official at Shikoku's Kagawa Products Association, a public entity with offices in Takamatsu City's beautiful Ritsurin Park. Yamada promotes the prefecture's arts and products, including its famed bonsai, udon, olives and the artwork of more than 100 local artisans. An enthusiastic baseball fan, he loves the Hanshin Tigers, Ichiro Suzuki and straight talkers who can throw him a curveball.

Dirt might give you a cleaner bill of health. Takamatsu Yomeiri Ningyo are little dolls made of dirt that women would give to friends or neighbors' children in commemoration of their weddings. Babies and toddlers would lick these toys and the mineral-rich soil would calm them down and build up their immune system. Now parents are crazy about cleanliness and don't even allow kids to get dirty, yet Japan is filled with people suffering from allergic hypersensitivity and other diseases. Cleaner is not necessarily better, and it might just make us weaker.

We can feel naked in clothes, too. When I met my wife for the first time, I felt that way. Finally I was free to be the real me, honest and relaxed, which was very liberating.

Challenged people need bigger challenges. When I was 3 years old, I got caries, a disease that damaged my bones, twisted my spine and seemed to alter my destiny for the worse. I didn't let it. I am 143 cm now, yet I never feel small. I always behaved as if I had no handicap and did sports, just like other kids. Since 6th grade in elementary school, I have not missed a day of school or work.

Love is action. It is so easy to say "I love you," but it is much harder to do what the other person needs.

I am promoting over 100 artists, so that they don't end up like my parents did. My parents were potters who made beautiful large clay pots called Horoku ware. These are the best for cooking in, because the heat penetrates deep inside the ingredients so they get soft without ever charring. Of course, these pots are not cheap, but they last forever. Unfortunately, my parents couldn't sell enough of them and finally decided to stop production.

Japan has the toughest competition in any product. In the past, almost every family made its special miso, tofu, soy sauce and pickles, and each family was proud of its own flavor. That is why even today we have many tiny shops specializing in just a few items. The quality is very high, the prices often low and the customers know what tastes good. I think that if you can make it in Japan, you can make it anywhere.

A company's value depends on how much it contributes to society. Unfortunately, nowadays the goal of most corporations is just to make a profit. Their focus should be on making products and services that bring happiness into people's lives.

With slight alterations, a product can survive. Geta (Japanese clogs) are a good example because originally they was made from soft wood which broke into shreds on asphalt roads. Once cushioning was added, they evolved into comfortable slippers and have sold in huge numbers.

Use your money to build the community you want. Most people like the cute little mom-and-pop shops in their neighborhood, yet few buy anything there. But when, one day, the couple decides to close it down, we know it is the end of an era and we feel sorry for losing a landmark. Don't wait till they disappear; support them by buying from them. Once we get older, we will miss them even more because we will want to find our necessities close to home.

A little love can go a long way. I was 12 years old and saw nothing but hopelessness, darkness and loneliness in my present and future. My teacher noticed how sad I was and told me that she cared and wanted me to live and be happy. Her love triggered my transformation into a strong man. I still see her and last year told her again how she brought a breath of fresh air into my life.

A man must be brave. She was a good 10-cm taller than me, so healthy and pretty, and the first woman I met who had no disabilities. She was like air that lifted me up. I was hooked. I bravely sent her a love letter. It was short, like me, and full of meaning. I had total confidence that I would marry her. On our second date she agreed to be my wife. She knew what I felt even when I had no words to express it. She trusted me. That is love. We have a beautiful marriage and two gorgeous children.

Japan Times: Tuesday, April 10, 2007
【2007/04/22 23:35】 | Words to Live By (E) | トラックバック(0) | コメント(0)
Mr.Masahiro Murata

Today's article is about a professional sylist.
Mr. Murata helps his customers to realize their dream to be more beautiful. Isn't he cute, too? You'll think he is wonderful after you read Judit's article.


Masahiro Murata, 35, is a hair and makeup artist whose salon, MaQueen, just behind the Kabuki-za theater in Ginza, is a sanctuary for both his loyal clients and staff. Murata loves people, and especially beauty in them, which he believes manifests itself in the way one treats others. As one of Japan's top hairstylists, for five days a week he works almost 15 hours a day, and he spends the other two traveling around the country doing workshops for professional hairdressers in styling, perms and cuts. As famous for his technique and style, he is more about substance than anything else.

Many Japanese women want special treatment, regardless of whether they deserve it or not. I love women who care about others more than they do about themselves. That is the kind of beauty that will never go out of style.

Age is just a number -- the higher it is, the better the person seems to get. Nothing is more attractive than people who are kind, caring and also look their best. They have a great atmosphere, and others just want to be close to them. That is sex appeal.

People who steal had their childhood robbed from them.I guess they are ill, and it is hard for them to get well. Once, in another shop, I worked with a guy who was taking cash out of the register. I didn't confront him but invited him for dinner, where I asked about his upbringing, which, as I suspected, was troubled. I also talked about my life. He said he was lifting money off us and felt really bad about it. After that he tried to stop but couldn't -- it was a disease for him. Even his best intentions were not good enough.

Looking good is not for yourself but out of respect for others. Choose the proper look and hairstyle for every occasion.

Be toughest on yourself. People pick the easy way in or out, but I always choose the hardest possible route. This way when I succeed, my happiness is that much greater.

Effort does pay off, although it might take a long time to see results. The deshi (apprenticeship) system between master and student is very strict in Japan. For the first three to four years a hairdresser in Tokyo gets about 130,000 yen a month and works from 9 a.m. till 3 a.m., at least six days a week. The worst part is that you are almost never allowed to quit and open your own salon. In my 15 years in the industry so far, I have only seen one example besides mine where the stylist left his salon amicably.

Silence is full of meaning. My father was a carpenter and I helped him out in my teens. He used to drive me to the houses he built 10 or 20 years earlier, park the car, and we would just silently sit and stare at the buildings. He was checking if the structures were still safe because Japan has so many earthquakes that cause shifts in the ground. If he found something amiss, he contacted the owners; if not, we just drove home. We didn't say a word but we sure were talking. He passed away four years ago, just when I was hoping to take him on trips.

True love sometimes has to lie. My parents divorced when I was six and I was raised by my father and his mother. She is 93 now and the most important person in the whole world to me. When I was a child and had a fever, she sat beside me all night, putting cold towels on my forehead. When my dad was hospitalized and we had no income, except the little money she had from selling sweets in her tiny candy shop, she would still prepare good meals for me. But she didn't eat with me. She said she had eaten already. Actually, she hadn't, because we were too poor, and she only had enough food to give me my portion, but she never let me know that.

A popular person is popular everywhere. He or she does more than others expect or hope for.

Your staff and customers are first. The owner always comes last. At night, I clean the whole shop, our tools, the toilet, everything. I just hope the staff follows and learns to care about the details as much as I do. I want them to feel thrilled to have become stylists and to be able work at my salon.

Japanese need to develop their personalities more. Many new clients want to look like a famous actress or model and ask me to copy their hairstyle and makeup. I encourage them to find their own style by asking many questions.

Never call in sick, unless you have a disease that others can easily contract. I try to stay healthy for others' sake more than my own. This is my 15th year as a stylist, but I have never taken a day off because calling in sick causes too much trouble to both one's coworkers and clients. Even when I have a headache, or stomachache or fever, I pretend that I am well. Nobody should know when I am in pain because then they worry about me.

Being a professional means continuing to study forever. Japanese never stop researching and studying. Every night after we close the shop, we continue experimenting and teaching our younger staff. This goes on till 3 a.m., then we go home and are back around 9 a.m.

Complexes are pretty simple. Sometimes they are just reflexes. Japanese want to be beautiful because we have strong feelings of inferiority, especially toward beautiful Caucasians, who are taller with longer legs and smaller faces. This is the driving force behind the well-dressed and put-together Japanese.

Bald is beautiful.Once the hair is gone, it is gone. Say goodbye and be proud that you have enough male hormones to have lost your hair.

Technique has to be shared.I keep teaching what I know because I think of this as my duty. Not only do I pass down what I already know, but I learn so much from students, too.

Body language expresses more than words can.Those who master skills quickly and well are good listeners. As I teach, I can tell instantly which students will master the moves fastest. Their posture shows attentiveness and alertness, they keep the perfect distance from the wig and have smooth, elegant movements.

Big plans require big action. Just planning is not enough -- one must make the moves too.

Keeping the proper distance is the way to get really close. People come to a salon to look and feel better. Basically they need a place to rejuvenate. I listen to anything they say but I never dig deeper into their private lives.

Judit Kawaguchi loves to listen. She is a volunteer counselor and a TV reporter on NHK's "Weekend Japanology." Learn more at: http://juditfan.blog58.fc2.com/
【2007/04/13 10:59】 | Words to Live By (E) | トラックバック(0) | コメント(1)
Mr.Mamoru Oshii 押井守氏
Judit interviewed one of the representative animation director, Mr.Mamoru Oshii! Judit welcomed him cutely barking "wanwan" like a dog, since she knew that he loves dogs. Whole interview went well, Mr.Oshii even said that he had so much fun with Judit chan!

Mr.Mamoru Oshii



Animation and live-film writer and director Mamoru Oshii, 56, is best known for making the animated 1995 movie "Ghost in the Shell," which was a strong influence on the Hollywood movie "The Matrix" (1999). The work Oshii is most satisfied with is the 2004 sequel to that film, "Innocence" (which was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival), mostly because it features his beloved dog, Gabriel. Both films are based on the work of manga artist Shirow Masamune. Some of the pair's visionary predictions about a still imperfect technological future where artificially enhanced humans, or cyborgs, connected by an almost infinite network of man-machine interaction in both the real and online world, are already becoming reality. Oshii likes to liken himself to a dog, so perhaps you could say they were barking up the right tree. Right now, Oshii and the studio Production I.G. are busy licking into shape a new animation, about which they will say no more.

Japanese feel free and creative within the confines of a controlled environment. For hundreds of years we painted and mass-printed images, but we always drew the lines first and then colored between them, which is exactly how animation is made in this country. Japan is the world leader in manga and anime because we love lines, as they create a safety net to work within. Lines keep us straight.

Tools of the trade deserve respect. Everything has a spirit, and we Japanese sense it, whether it is in a mountain, a doll or a kitchen knife. Therefore, we usually give names to our tools; we treat them as partners. Once they are broken, we make elaborate ceremonies to thank them for their service and hard work. For example, we place old needles in tofu, and we pay our respects to them in a Shinto ceremony called harikuyo- (literally "mourning needles"). I named my first NEC computer Basset 68,000 and I still keep its brain, its hard disk, in a drawer. I can never throw it away.

Women run Japan and not in the right direction. Japanese wives boss their husbands around, and the smartest way to deal with these overpowering women is to give in to them. At home, I behave just like a dog: I show my appreciation to my wife and always apologize in advance, even if I have done nothing wrong. Of course, she gets mad anyhow, so it is best to stay at work. I think this is universal, though: Men are struggling and losing out to stronger women, but I find many foreign women a lot gentler than their Japanese counterparts.

The shogun, or general, has a lot more stress than the foot soldier. As a director, I have all the responsibility, and I have noticed that bossing people around is more tiring than following orders.

Dogs have instincts, and it's wise to follow them.I adore my two dogs, Daniel and Gabriel, and I listen to them; if they like someone, he or she is definitely a good person.

Fantasies are healthy, even when they are violent. Japan produces some of the most intense and erotic manga and anime, yet we have a lot less crime in real life than in other countries. We satisfy ourselves in fiction, and it stops us from acting out.

Animators need more support. Whenever I'm working in a production studio, I feel like a primary school teacher. Creators tend to be like children inside a protected environment, but a harsh, adult, business-based reality is waiting for them out there. Many great talents do not succeed because they cannot handle the real world.

Japan's greatest treasure is its language. The Japanese language is very flexible and open, and we have been freely importing from many languages in every time period. Our language is always evolving, and that says a lot about our whole culture.

The sun might be the star, but for us Japanese, the leading role belongs to the moon.
We prefer the moon's poetic atmosphere to the power of the sun. We have many beautiful stories about how the moon gently reflects the sun's light. This is how Japanese want to be: always second, never showing off. I am like that, too. I am so glad Hayao Miyazaki is the No. 1 anime director.

Non-Japanese who love Japan become more Japanese than the Japanese. I guess they already might have the typical Japanese characteristics of ambiguousness and lack of aggression at the start, and these just get enhanced as they master the Japanese language and get deeper into the culture.

Manga and anime fans are already otaku (obsessive fans), regardless of nationality.They are all over the world and in every walk of life. They can survive because they are educated and can make money. It sure costs a lot to be an otaku.

Music is as important as imagery. Kenji Kawai's music is responsible for 50 percent of my films' successes. I can't do anything without him. He is a genius at music, but he is also a bum at life. I never get tired of him because his answers are always different from mine, even though we have been together for 20 years.

Animals need more protection. My dream is to set up an animal rescue force, similar to those that exist in other countries, where the officials not only help animals but have the authority to arrest those who hurt them.

Those who torture animals deserve severe punishment. I feel like giving them all the death penalty because it's the worst kind of crime, and I rather suspect that such predators usually move on to children next. Also, if a man hurts a woman, he should get a life sentence.

Pamper those you love while you can. Atami, in Shizuoka Prefecture, has the best climate for my dogs, so I moved there. We walk the mountains, take onsen (hot spring) baths together and enjoy the good life. They eat better food than me. I get soba noodles and they chew on veggies, meat and rice. They deserve it!

One can never be the same after losing a loved one.I'm in constant fear about the inevitable death of my two dogs, Gabriel, 13, and Daniel, who is maybe 16 now. I'll never be the same without them. Even now, I have a big hole in my heart for my cat, which died years ago.

Little white lies make people happy. I love people and I often resort to telling them what they want to hear. When I say such things, I even believe it myself.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007
【2007/03/23 16:39】 | Words to Live By (E) | トラックバック(0) | コメント(0)
Mr.Arihiro and Ms.Kimiyo Fujita, 肉のたかさご
これはWords to Live byシリーズの記念すべき第一回目の記事です。

This is the first article of the Words to Live by series in Japan Times. Mr.and Mrs.Fujita are making the best Yakibuta(roast pork) in Japan! And also roast beef,too.



Arihiro Fujita and Kimiyo Fujita, owners of the award-winning Takasagoya Pork Shop in Tokyo's Tsukishima, know their pork. These two 65-year-olds also know what makes a relationship work. They've been married and working together for 40 years -- without, they claim, even one argument.

Arihiro-san: You can't argue when you're naked and in a big tub of hot water! So we bathe together every night and since we are relaxed, it is the perfect time to discuss the mistakes of that day, plan the next and show our appreciation for each other. I say, Sorry for getting mad today. She says, OK, don't worry, honey.

Kimiyo-san: Men need more support than women, so if the wife is smart enough to recognize this, everything goes smoothly and the whole family is happy.

Kimiyo-san: People say Japanese don't make enough eye contact. It's true! That is why they have communication problems. When you look down it means you're not listening. Honest people look you in the eye and understand you.

Arihiro-san: It is a total waste of time to try to change people. Be nice to them and leave them alone.

Arihiro-san: It's fortunate that I got very sick 14 years ago. Before that I was so proud and sure I would never get sick, but then I did and realized a disease can be your friend because it shows you your limits and helps you control your life.

Kimiyo-san: No matter how rich you are and how expensively you dress, it means nothing. We don't care about looks; we want substance. A person who is poor but speaks from the heart is everything to us. That is the man we want to marry our fourth daughter.

Arihiro-san: We all get what we deserve. Twenty years ago we lost all our money because we blindly trusted people and put loads of cash in front of them. We were responsible for the environment that turned them into thieves. So if terrible things are happening to you, you are doing something wrong and you had better reexamine your behavior.

Arihiro-san: For us, buying bottles of sake as gifts for 100 people is better than going out for some fancy dinner with expensive wine.

Arihiro-san: My wife checks out every one of our daughters' boyfriends and if they don't pass inspection, they're history. When someone is smitten, they are blind, so it's up to parents and friends to check out the love interest to make sure they don't make a mistake.

Arihiro-san: We use every part of the animal because it is life and one must not waste even a tiny part of life.

Kimiyo-san: If I were not in this business, I would be a hairstylist, making everyone look and feel good!

Arihiro-san: I would be a carpenter, because I enjoy designing and making beautiful things for others.

Kimiyo-san: Every Dec. 31 he washes my whole body as his appreciation for the whole year. I don't wash his body because he doesn't let me! If I wash his body, we're equal and he doesn't want that. He wants to be sweet to me!

【2007/03/19 12:30】 | Words to Live By (E) | トラックバック(0) | コメント(2)
Ms.Yoko Sagae
Yoko Sagae


Yoko Sagae, 57, is the vice principal of the Toyomi Public Kindergarten in Tokyo's Chuo Ward. Ms. Sagae has taken care of more than 1,700 children -- and their parents -- during her 31 years in early childhood education, and she is not about to stop. Loved by generations in the neighborhood where she works, Sagae credits children and her furniture-maker husband for keeping her young at heart and always happy.



Children always have a reason for crying. Usually it is the adults' behavior that makes children upset and hurt, so they burst into tears. We must listen more and get mad less.

Attention seekers need love, and hugs usually do the trick. When we see children for the first time, we can immediately recognize those who lack love at home. They are always doing something outrageous just so people notice them. I just hold them and they relax. Their numbers are increasing greatly.

Kindergarten is a place for parents. Although we only accept children from age 3, we offer baby massage classes just to get young moms and dads into a classroom setting, where they can learn from each other and us. Our role is to get them ready to be parents, to teach them proper nutrition, child development and Japanese culture.

Taste buds bloom early on. The sense of taste is highly developed even in babies, and by age 3 the five different tastes of sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami, or savory, are established and food preferences are pretty much set. Therefore the period to age 3 is crucial and moms should really stay at home and cook nutritious meals for their families.

Parents must be prepared for the worst. Parents-to-be have it all wrong: their image of an infant is based on lovely photos of clean, smiling, gorgeous babies, and yet what they have in their arms is a screaming little monster that doesn't drink its milk, is constantly stinking from urine and feces and almost never sleeps. I guess this contrast puts a dark shadow under a young mom's eyes.

Just graduating from university is, of itself, not enough of a qualification to teach anything. I worked in an advertising agency for a few years before pursuing my dream to be a kindergarten teacher. Although I didn't like selling ideas and products, at least I learnt that there were many ways of looking at issues. I also gained a lot of experience in the real world, which should be a prerequisite for all teachers.

One must be patient with parents. To teach something to adults, the best way is to show how interesting it is. Same as with toddlers!

Parenting takes experience. In my time, our parents had five or six siblings each, so it was natural to have 25 cousins running around, from teenagers to newborns. By the time we grew up, we were used to taking care of children of all ages. Our neighbors were the same, and if I heard a baby cry in a house I would just go in and hold the baby in my arms.

What is considered bullying is often not.In the adult world, if we are eating dinner and having a good conversation, we don't want a third person to suddenly butt in. Yet we expect children to be unselfish, perfect beings and always allow another child to get into their game. Seems unreasonable, doesn't it?

Two silent types make a very talkative couple. I was 37 and had no desire to get married. My friends set us up. He was known as a quiet man, but since we met we can't stop talking.

Father must be king. If he is, mom can be queen. In my house, dad had an extra bowl of food that he always shared with us kids. We loved the daily ceremony of receiving a treat from him. I felt safe living with a strong father whom my mom respected so much. We children naturally followed her and looked up to dad. I think this is the structure today's kids need and don't have.

Parents must stick with their own rules. When parents complain that their children don't listen to them, we can be sure it is the adults' fault. Parents change their policy quickly, depending on their own schedule, and kids cannot catch up.

Staying in can be as eye-opening as going out. The world is big, even at home. For example, growing flowers or planting beans, enjoying a tea ceremony, cooking and celebrating festivals are all great activities that cost very little and are so easy to do. Parents assume that going on ski trips and visiting theme parks is the most fun for their children, but sharing small pleasant experiences together is just as important.

Parents must be told that raising kids is fun. Because it really is.

Children have no sense of the future. They only understand the here and now, and they rush with everything as if this was the last chance to do it.

Japan Times: Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2007
【2007/03/13 23:20】 | Words to Live By (E) | トラックバック(0) | コメント(6)
Ms. Yoko Yamada 山田ようこさん 2005世界アームレスリング選手権優勝!




Yoko Yamada, 27, nicknamed Iron Beauty, is the 2005 women's arm wrestling world champion in the 45-kg weight class and has won more than 35 gold medals, in both the Left- and Right-Handed Divisions. Yamada failed to qualify for the 2006 world championship because the minimum weight was raised to 50 kg, but she is currently gaining muscle and weight for this year's world championship. She is also the undefeated All-Japan Women's Arm Wrestling Champion, a title she has held since 2002. A pioneer in a sport dominated by men, Yamada is revered by fans for her combination of awesome power and cute looks, which have given arm wrestling a much-welcomed boost in interest.

To Yoko Yamada's blog

Always look up. Being on top means I have to look down, at the contestants gunning for my spot, which feels more negative than positive. It is almost like bullying others, which I really hate, so I remind myself of how I felt years ago when I was at the bottom.

Don't live life for yourself. Dedicate yourself to the service of others. I cannot win for myself. I do it for my dad, who is sick, my friends, my trainer and my fans.

Effort is not enough. I don't think I train more than other people, yet I usually win. The day before every event I meditate for two hours in a Buddhist temple. Also, one hour before my bouts I call my monk to get his encouragement. The one time I didn't call him I lost.

Being last was more fun than being the champ. Having achieved my goal, I am scared of losing. I must always remind myself of the hunger I felt when I started out in this sport.

Protect those weaker than yourself. I have never bullied anyone, but I was bullied a lot in junior high school. Good. Now I know how it feels to be hurt. At that time nobody saved me from my tormentors, so since then I think it is my duty to help those weaker than me.

If you talk behind others' backs, you will never succeed. Being mean creates negative vibes and prevents you from succeeding. Just be nice.

All kinds of lifestyles are fine as long as children feel loved. Kids don't know what is normal. My parents were busy at the clothing boutique they ran, so my two siblings and I led our own lives. I always ate alone and I never received any pocket money. None of this bothered me at all.

The good times cannot last forever, so enjoy them while you can. In elementary school I was very popular and had many friends who used to grab onto my arms as we skipped to the school ground. We arm wrestled each other and I always won. Other girls kept my nail clippings and strands of hair as good luck charms. Every day was fun. It all reversed in junior high school, where I was suddenly bullied so much that I stopped going to school at all.

Boredom is behind many crimes. I hung around Shibuya in my teens. We didn't think fighting was bad. After I beat up the leader of a girl's gang and four of her friends, I was sent to a juvenile correctional facility.

One encounter can change your life. In 1999 I was 20 and had had enough of fights and stupidity. I was in a restaurant when the guy next to me said he was an arm wrestler. He inspired me to begin training. Six months later I won the silver medal at the world championship.

We should get over the idea that being skinnier is better. Having muscles is much healthier.

Be straight about everything. Why lie? Years ago I told my mom that I was in love with a woman, but she still thinks I will get back to guys. People only hear what they want to hear, it seems. Actually, she might be right about me. As long as somebody has a great spirit, man or woman, I am interested.

Know your weaknesses. I know I get stupid and bad if I drink alcohol, so I just stick with tea.

I am sure I can raise a kid alone. I raise the bar for myself every day, so why not have a child. It would be ideal to find a great man to share my life with but it seems unlikely. It is easier to find a wonderful woman than it is to find a good man.

Angry people are the scariest. When I get mad, my eye color changes and I turn into Raijin, the thunder god. Luckily, I can control myself -- although I might lift my hand I will not strike.

Animals never lie. They show exactly how they feel, and they are in the best mood all the time. I love them. We have five dogs, a cat, three parakeets and five hamsters. Our house has been like a zoo since I was born.

Love is forever. My parents divorced, after which my father disappeared for five years because he had some money trouble. He loved gambling. I really missed him. One day three years ago I got a call that he was hospitalized. He had a stroke and now has difficulty comprehending what is happening around him. Since then he has been living with me. We have fun together! I cook for him, put him in the tub, wash his hair and dry his body. I can do plenty of heavy lifting at home.

Don't lean on others. They will move, and you will lose your balance and get hurt.

Judit Kawaguchi loves to listen. She is a volunteer counselor and a TV reporter on NHK's "Weekend Japanology." Learn more at: http://juditfan.blog58.fc2.com/

Japan Times: Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2007
【2007/02/09 13:22】 | Words to Live By (E) | トラックバック(0) | コメント(0)
Mr.Hiroo Onoda  小野田寛郎氏

Hiroo Onoda, 84, is a former member of an Imperial Japanese Army intelligence unit, an elite commando during World War II who was sent to Lubang Island in the Philippines in 1944 to conduct guerrilla warfare and gather military intelligence. Trained in clandestine operations, his mission was to sneak behind enemy lines, conduct surveillance and survive independently until issued new orders. He did exactly that for the next 30 years. Long after Japan's surrender in 1945, he continued to serve his country in the jungle, convinced that the Greater East Asia War was still being fought. He lived on mostly bananas and mangoes, evading many Japanese search parties and the local Philippine police, all of whom he believed were enemy spies. In March 1974, at age 52, a Japanese man who had run across Onoda brought his former superior to the island with instructions that relieved him of his military duties. After a brief return to Japan, he moved to Brazil where he became a successful rancher. He came back to Japan in the 1980s and established the Onoda Nature School with the goal of educating children about the value of life. His incredible adventures on Lubang are detailed in his book "No Surrender: My Thirty-year War."


If you have some thorns in your back, somebody needs to pull them out for you. We need buddies. The sense of belonging is born in the family and later includes friends, neighbors, community and country. That is why the idea of a nation is really important.

Some dreams are best not to wake up from. On Lubang, I believed I was defending Japan by making the island into a stronghold as best as I could with my two comrades, Shimada and Kozuka. When they both died, I continued my mission alone. When World War II ended for me in 1974, the past all seemed like a dream.

People cannot live completely by themselves. If you have any doubts about this, just imagine being truly alone. Can you find all your food, make a fire, sew your clothes and take care of yourself when you get sick or injured? Can you make it?

One must always be civic-minded. Every minute of every day, for 30 years, I served my country. I have never even wondered if that was good or bad for me as an individual.

History is written by the victors. Since the end of WWII, the Japanese history taught in our schools has been based on a U.S. program to promote war guilt and on left-wing propaganda. I don't blame the United States for this. They wanted a weak Japan, and their mission is accomplished; Japanese educated after the war do not have any confidence in their culture or in themselves.

Japan was forced to participate in WWII. The ABCD Powers (America, Britain, China and the Dutch East Indies) imposed such strong sanctions on Japan that we had no way to import oil, steel or anything. We were going to die or we were going to be invaded and enslaved.

Japanese political leaders were wise in the past. All Asian nations except Thailand and Japan were colonized. In our case, the Tokugawa Shogunate made a smooth transition to the first Meiji government in order to save us from colonization.

Once you have burned your tongue on hot miso soup, you even blow on the cold sushi. This is how the Japanese government now behaves toward the U.S. and other nations. We are so careful and let others devour so much, yet they are always hungry for more from Japan.

Without a huge shock, the sleepy-head, ignorant Japanese will never wake up. The situation today is similar to what we had in 1853 when [Commodore] Perry's Black Ships arrived. Unless Nodong or Taepodong missiles fly over our heads, we do nothing to protect ourselves.

Parents should raise more independent children. When I was living in Brazil in the 1980s, I read that a 19-year-old Japanese man killed his parents after failing the university entrance exam. I was stunned. Why had he killed his parents instead of moving out? I guess he didn't have enough confidence. I thought this was a sign that Japanese were getting too weak. I decided to move back to Japan to establish a nature school to give children more power.

Men should never give up. I never do. I would hate to lose.

Men should never compete with women. If they do, the guys will always lose. That is because women have a lot more endurance. My mother said that, and she was so right.

Never complain. When I did, my mother said that if I didn't like my life, I could just give up and die. She reminded me that when I was inside her, I told her that I wanted to be born, so she delivered me, breastfed me and changed my diapers. She said that I had to be brave.

Parents should remember that they are supposed to die before their children. Nobody will help them later on, so the greatest gift parents can give their children is independence.

Life is not fair and people are not equal. Some people eat better than others. At our nature school, children participate in survival games. For example, they must prepare their own dinner from ingredients they find. Bartering is allowed but still some children will have a feast compared to others.

Judit Kawaguchi loves to listen. She is a volunteer counselor and a TV reporter on NHK's ''Weekend Japanology.'' Learn more at: http://juditfan.blog58.fc2.com/

Japan Times: Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2007
【2007/01/25 10:00】 | Words to Live By (E) | トラックバック(0) | コメント(1)
Words to live by


The choreographer FUMIHITO (Fumihito Tanaka), 38, is the first person in Japan to make a profession out of teaching people how to pose and project themselves, whether for a photo shoot or an interview. He is behind every gesture, stare and dance move we see in hundreds of hit TV commercials. Musicians YUKI, m-flo and Rinka, and megastar Akiko Wada, rely on his coaching to keep them on top. After a childhood in which his alcoholic father beat him and his two sisters, and his abused mother constantly threatened to commit suicide, Fumihito still carries his official disabilities certificate (sho-ugai techo-), which qualifies him for full government assistance, although he no longer needs to collect it. A workaholic, he is famous for squeezing amazing performances out of everybody, especially himself.

I sense people's deep fears and make them all disappear. I turn them into confident, powerful people for the time we are working together. People who know me professionally think I am Mister Strength, Mister Confidence. I am not, but when I work, I am.

Give a break to a struggling person. I was poor, living off welfare and very messed up. I met a commercial producer at a party who had heard that I used to live in New York and was one of the dancers in the House of Xtravaganza. I had no resume, no experience, but he asked me to create all the poses and moves for an MTV music video. I found my calling, thanks to him. I shone because I did what others didn't: I loved and encouraged the artist from the first second we met, so she performed a lot better than ever before. This made me famous and has kept me busy in the industry.

Blame nobody. Yes, some parents are awful, but once we are adults, it is our decision to keep on suffering or get professional help. My doctors urged me to cut all ties with my parents. I have not seen them in 15 years. I hear they are well and I feel content.

We are all special and can help each other. Even a sick person like me -- an abused, manic-depressed gay man on pills -- can be useful to healthy, gorgeous, famous people. Imagine what you can do if you put your mind to it.

Always be cheerful at work, no matter how you feel. If you raise your head and voice, you also lift your spirits. Then people want to be around you, and in return you become happier.

Sacrifice when you see the chance. My grandfather was a member of the aristocracy, and during World War II he gave all of our assets to finance the war effort. I am proud of him. I work hard, I want to contribute as much as I can to Japan and I'm happy if I am able to pay more income tax.

Big breaks come from tiny chances. Do not look down on any job, and do it like it is the highest paying, most glamorous assignment.

Never assume that you are where you are because of your talent. You are there because people helped you. Be thankful, forever, to those who give you a chance, no matter how small.

Don't forget where you come from. My apartment costs 60,000 yen a month. The whole place is just about eight tatami in size -- one room with beatup tatami floors and a shower. I make lots of money, but I cannot leave this cozy home behind. This is where I got my independence and where my success began. I need a safety net because I have experienced so much trauma.

Today's laws do not protect children from abuse. My father would start drinking in the morning, and by the afternoon he would beat mom and us to a pulp. My mother would cry and once again threaten to kill herself. She would run out of the house, down to the river so she could jump in and get it over with. By then, one of my two sisters or I would have called the cops. The patrol car was parked in front of our house every night, yet the police couldn't do anything for us kids. The law was never on our side.

Japanese are like cute monkeys: We are the best at impersonating and mimicking others. We can jump in and out of characters at an extremely fast pace because we digest the essential in a person, customize it for our purpose and make it even better than the original. We should be proud of this skill. For thousands of years we did this, so we are world masters at it. And no, this is not the same as copying others!

The best way to motivate people is to tell them about your struggles. Jokes help, too. Many young people are hopeless and have no dreams, no jobs and no money. I don't want to give them cash because that is just a temporary fix. I give them work instead. Many slack off, but after about a year they contact me again and apologize for having not worked hard enough. It takes time for ideas to sink in.

Judit Kawaguchi loves to listen. She is a volunteer counselor and a TV reporter on NHK's ''Weekend Japanology.''

Japan Times: Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2006
【2007/01/04 20:59】 | Words to Live By (E) | トラックバック(0) | コメント(0)
Mr. Heizaburo Kawaguchi & Mrs.Reiko Kawaguchi
Words to live by


Heizaburo and Reiko Kawaguchi, 84 and 81, from Kobe, believe that simple meals and large servings of complex ideas from Japanese manga, anime and classical literature pave the way to a long and happy life. Trained as a fukuryu (underwater kamikaze diver), and later head of a 300-year-old family business until 1997, when the government lifted restrictions that had limited the sale of salt to just a few dozen privileged families around the nation, Heizaburo now has plenty of time to devote to books and his wife. Married for 59 years, with two children, three grandchildren and six great grandchildren, the couple hope to spend a lot more time together.

Reiko: Parents know their children well, so they know how to pick the best partner for them. Ours is an arranged marriage. Our parents spent a long time checking the other's background to make sure we would make a successful pair. Thanks to them, we are.

Reiko: The end of the war accelerated the modernization of Japanese culture. For example, before we were married, we were allowed to meet three times in the presence of our families, not just once as couples before, and we could exchange our own fans to express our desire to get married, which had been the parents' right to do so before the war.

Heizaburo: I couldn't imagine Japan would lose the war, but I didn't think Japan would win either. For me, to win a war meant to take the enemy's capital and negotiate, but we couldn't go as far as Washington, so when it became obvious that it was impossible for Japan to win, I thought everybody in Japan would continue fighting until we all died. It seemed natural.

Reiko: During the war, crazy things seemed normal. Our school was converted into a factory to produce airplane wings out of cloth, like the material that tents are made of. To make the cloth more durable, we painted it with boiled konnyaku, a devil's tongue starch. Now it seems clear that such toy planes were doomed, but back then we believed they could fly high.

Heizaburo: People can be made to believe anything. Japanese made fu-sen bakudan, or balloon bombs, out of washi paper, glued together with potato starch, and used the jet stream to float them across the Pacific Ocean. An even more incredible and tragic invention was fukuryu, an ocean kamikaze diver unit that tried to attack U.S. ships with mines attached to bamboo sticks. Just think how many lives were lost in the preparations alone.

Heizaburo: Live a simple life and always be humble. We like Yen Hui, a favorite disciple of Confucius, who ate a handful of millet and drank a gourdful of water, and was always cheerful. I am happy with a banana and curry rice.

Reiko: Behave yourself, even if nobody sees you. Do not sit with your legs open, don't do anything shameful, even if you are alone. There is no escaping your own conscience.

Heizaburo: The pursuit of fun before anything else creates weak people. At school, teachers kept asking our grandchildren if they were enjoying the lessons. They were, but the tougher lessons taught in our day helped develop strong character in people.

Heizaburo: Manga and anime are as great as our classics. Comic books and cartoons transport me to the world of imagination, even at this age. I have more than 5,000 editions, and sometimes buy the same books twice by mistake. I read them with great pleasure, and only when I go to find their spot on the shelf do I realize that I already have them.

Reiko: Spending money on education and helping one's family is honorable, but shopping for brands is not very intelligent. The time one wastes in department stores would be better spent reading.

Heizaburo: Things that cost lots of money and make no profit make up a nation's real assets. In the past, Japan used to put so much importance on culture. Now, the emphasis is on making a quick buck, so culture is losing out.

Reiko: Having children is a blessing -- and so is not having them. No matter what happens, think of it as being for the best.

Heizaburo: Beauty is on the inside. We always adopt dogs from the animal shelter, and if we have a choice between a cute one and a less outwardly attractive one, we pick the one that others might not want. Our Shiba mix, Princess Prin, barks a lot, but we still find her adorable.

Judit Kawaguchi loves to listen. She is a volunteer counselor and a TV reporter on NHK's "Weekend Japanology."

Japan Times: Tuesday, Dec. 12th 2006
【2006/12/24 23:07】 | Words to Live By (E) | トラックバック(0) | コメント(0)
Ms. Keiko Hisano
Words to live by


Keiko Hisano, 25, is a production controller for Nakabo Japan Co. Ltd., an Osaka-based knitwear manufacturer that produces clothing for many famous brands. Hoping to eventually become a designer, she is happy now just to be at the base of the design pyramid, whether running up and down Omotesando with samples or managing supertight production schedules. Hisano isn't big on small talk, and is quick to point out that her biggest asset is speed: The faster she can finish her tasks, the more time she has left for practicing design. She says she is sure that after all the hardship, great things are in store for her.

I was lucky my mom was a housewife. She always said that when we kids walked in, she wanted to welcome us. She thought that was the most important thing for a child. But I always snuck in quietly, tiptoed up behind her back and surprised her.

Accidents happen, but many don't have to. When I was 18, three of us were in my friend's new car. He had just got his license two months earlier and we were celebrating. He was pretty drunk, and none of us had seatbelts on. When I glanced at the dashboard, I saw that he was doing 85 kph in a narrow alley. The next second we crashed into a brick wall. Miraculously we all survived. Since then I keep thinking that though the technology to protect dummies like us is available, our own will to do so is missing.

Funerals can be a killer for the living, but grieving brings you back to life. My mother's funeral five years ago drained the life out of all of my family. A week later we went to a second Buddhist ceremony for her, then 49 days later again and we are still regularly meeting relatives and friends at the temple to pray for her. We used to cry but now we just laugh about mom and celebrate her life. I can feel the change inside of me at every new ceremony.

Ignoring someone is the most powerful weapon against them. I began working here this March and still make tons of mistakes. When my coworkers get mad at me and scold me, I feel so glad and so thankful. It means they care.

Without substantial output, I am not much value. Unless I do all the work immediately and efficiently, somebody else will jump in and do it instead of me. I had to change my ways or further down the road I would end up not getting any assignments.

Lucky I was not born a man. Women have more choices. We can be career women, housewives, even single moms more and more now; all lifestyle choices are becoming accepted, because we are female.

Ladies or not, we women drive a hard bargain. In Japan it seems that everything is designed for women: We have "Ladies' Day" at the cinema, "Women Only" subway cars, and "Ladies' Plans" in most restaurants and hotels.

Parents should never say bad things about one another to their children. Sometimes I felt annoyed by my father and especially when I was a teenager, I didn't like being around him. But my mother always took his side and kept telling us that he was the greatest man and that he was working so hard to support us and that we should always feel thankful to him. Now I know how correct she was.

Unless one has a dream, being a freeter is so sad. After high school, for two years I was working at a convenience store and a dry cleaner. Both jobs sucked. I felt like I was outside of society, and indeed I was. I had no real duties and no rights, no insurance or pension, no bonus, nothing. I felt like a loser, just a cheap machine, working five days a week, 9 to 5. Only my determination to study more kept me going.

A sick person's family gets ill, too. I was in my first year at the university when my mother was diagnosed with cancer. We tried to stay strong but looking back, we were all falling apart witnessing her slow and painful death.

Knitting yarn ties me to my mother. My mother was very good at knitting and sewed many of our clothes when we were small. After her death I quit university and switched to the Esmod Japan fashion school, to become a designer. I had to find a connection to her and the only way was through these colorful knitting threads.

No need to worry about our private parts on public transportation. I think the chikan scare is ridiculous. I see how worried most men are, holding both of their arms up in the air, throwing their briefcases up on the rack, just so they are not called a pervert by some frustrated woman who might accuse them of touching them. I think of my dad and brother and feel so sorry for guys. Again, women have the power.

Distance brings us together. It's good that I moved out this March because since then my father sees me as an independent person.

If I finish all my work and still get a good night's sleep, I am doing pretty well. When I was a student, if I had a week for a project, I would end up putting the final touches on drawings just minutes before I had to run for class. Now I am efficient and well-rested. I am becoming an adult, I think.

Judit Kawaguchi loves to listen. She is a volunteer counselor and a TV reporter on NHK's "Weekend Japanology."

The Japan Times: Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2006

テーマ:日本文化 - ジャンル:学問・文化・芸術

【2006/11/29 01:23】 | Words to Live By (E) | トラックバック(0) | コメント(1)
Mr. Masatochi Uchiumi
Words to live by

Masatoshi Uchiumi, 64, is a landlord in Tokyo's trendy Jiyugaoka area. Divorced and living alone, six years ago he lost most of his eyesight due to a hormone imbalance. Although despondent at first, he soon focused on enriching his life, through lessons in karaoke, voice-activated computers, haiku, English conversation and ballroom dancing. At the Japan Blind Dance Championships 2006, the world's first such competition for the blind, held in Tokyo on Aug. 27, he sashayed into the semifinals. He says that with effort, and humor, for him things are always looking up.

Hardships produce strong people. I was in my 20s and already a manager at a company dealing with big corporate clients' car claims. They were furious with our products, and many refused to see me. I would sit silently in front of their company headquarters all night, just waiting for them to calm down and let me in. The job was awful, and I did it for years without any complaints. I didn't run away. That long struggle prepared me to deal with anything.

The key to success is finding out how to motivate people. A truly psyched-up person is capable of amazing achievements. I was the second-worst runner at school for four years straight. Then, in the 5th grade, my mother offered me 1,000 yen if I won the 100-meter dash. I couldn't sleep that night, and I ran straight to first place.

I find handicapped people too much of a challenge. I tried dating some, but their victim mentality was too much of a barrier.

Going blind was a real eye-opener. Once I lost my vision, superficial things like sexy clothes and makeup were all out of sight, and only kindness remained. I date wonderful people. My friends always tease me about how some of them are so hot that the sidewalks are burning up as we walk. At other times, they warn me that the ladies scare the living daylights out of them. We have great laughs.

The boss should work hardest. I was 28 and had never cooked a meal on my own. Still, my dream was to own a restaurant, so I quit my company job and opened a small joint. I watched the cooks and memorized how they prepared everything from sashimi to stews. I had about 50 employees over the years, and I looked up to every one of them.

If one is blind, Japan is the place to be. It is so convenient here. Bathrooms are easy to use, trains are on time and arrive on different tracks. Traffic lights and just about everything else make a sound.

Do not change your lifestyle if you get sick. I have been the new year-party organizer for my university friends for the past 30 years. When I went blind, others thought they should help me, but I am handling it just like before.

Never give up, no matter what. In my first year at an English school, I was so nervous that during classes my whole body would shake violently from the stress of not seeing or being able to read or write. One classmate recommended that I quit. But I stayed, and I'm still there. I also listen to English, using an Internet dictionary, at least two hours a day.

Progress stops with welfare. I dislike the idea of welfare because it just makes people lazy and dependent. I'm always a fighting "Tarzan," and a samurai dancer.

I'm always in good hands, even those of strangers. Sometimes I have difficulty distinguishing the stairs that exit train platforms. Last time I fell on the tracks, people around me quickly pulled me up.

Being blind is like having permanent jetlag without ever arriving anywhere. My body has no sense of daytime or nighttime, so it is always confused and unable to rest well. I still keep going.

Love is blind, and that's beautiful. I was 40 and she was 24. We were in love, and when she got pregnant we got married, even though her family was very much against our union. We have two children. I worked so hard all week and spent every weekend with her and the kids, going to amusement parks and hiking. I had no time off, but I loved being with them. One day about 18 years ago she packed up the children and divorced me. She must have had her reasons.

A wife or husband should be a best friend first. A kind and funny person is the perfect partner for me because her jokes brighten my heart and her kindness puts me in the best mood and physical condition, too.

Sunglasses keep us in the dark. People don't notice that I am blind, so I get yelled at and pushed around quite a bit. I often bump into walls, and once I was thrown into one so hard that my left eyeball fell out of it socket and was dangling on the optic nerves. I had to hold it in my hand till I got to the hospital and the doctors popped it back in.

Discrimination is good. It pushes me to do my best, so I achieve more. I am still healthy enough, so I can say this, but maybe in a few years I will be dependent on others and change my mind. "What's next?" I worry.

I am always out and about, happy to be alive. People tell me to stay at home and rest, but I don't see their point.

Judit Kawaguchi loves to listen. She is a volunteer counselor and a TV reporter on NHK's "Weekend Japanology." Learn more at http://juditfan.blog58.fc2.com

Japan Times: Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2006
【2006/11/16 23:13】 | Words to Live By (E) | トラックバック(0) | コメント(0)

11月14日火曜日、久々にユディちゃんの記事がジャパンタイムズから出ます!次のWords to Live By の主人公は、内海まさとしさんです。ユディちゃんがお手本にしている人だそうです。

今夏、ユディちゃんは地図を片手に渋谷の街を歩いていました。道が分からなくなり、若い人に道を尋ねていたら、突然、右と左の足首に鋭いものを感じ、激痛が走りました。何かと思って振り返ってみたら、目の不自由な方の杖が足にあたっていたんです。そこで、さすがユディちゃん、その方とおしゃべりを始め、なんとその方が英語でユディちゃんを道案内し、Japan Blind Dance Championship に誘ってくれたんです。社交ダンスをされてる方だったんですね。もちろんユディちゃんは大会に赴き、応援しました。それ以来とてもいいお友達であるということです。偶然出会ったこの方がWords to Live Byに登場することになるなんて、出会いって面白いですね。11月14日乞うご期待!!!

Next Tuesday, November 14th, Judit's new kiji in Japan Times ‘Words to live will be published. It will be about Masatoshi Uchiumi, pictured here, who is a role model for Judit.

Judit and Mr.Uchiumi met this summer when she was standing in Shibuya station with a map in her hands asking directions from a young guy. Suddenly, she felt something sharp hitting the inner sides of her left and right ankles. It hurt a lot and she had no idea what the strange sensation could be. She turned and saw him, with his blind cane stuck between her two feet. They started talking and he ended up giving her directions in English and also invited her to the Japan Blind Dance Championships that he was participating in. Judit went there and cheered him on. They became good friends and love talking to each other. What a cute story it is!

【2006/11/11 22:05】 | Words to Live By (E) | トラックバック(0) | コメント(0)
Mr.Kazuaki Ohashi
Words to live by


Kazuaki Ohashi, 37, is a philosopher whose love of a challenge has propelled him from studying the fear of death to a life of business and parties. CEO of Web design firm Koo & Co., and EN, an English language school, he is also the volunteer organizer of events that introduce traditional Japanese dance abroad and foreign folk dance to Japan. Despite working from 8 a.m. till 2 a.m., six days a week, he thinks that so far he hasn't done much more than maybe taken a few steps in the right direction.

Koo & Co. website

Always be good because it could all end any second. When I say goodbye to a friend, I always wonder if we will see each other again or if that will be the last time we will ever speak.

If you know something, you must teach it, too. Just like Plato wrote in "The Republic," many people mistake shadows for reality. The person who sees through this all has the responsibility to enlighten others.

Just talking about peace is criminal. I act to bring positive change to society.

I am looking for a woman who can control my subconscious. So far, I haven't found her, but I guess even if I did, I wouldn't notice. Can't wait. . .

Bisexuals have got it made: they have twice as much fun as the rest of us. So why am I still heterosexual? Because women are so beautiful that I can't even look at men.

Parents are the priority. Unless a woman loves my parents and wants to take care of them, there is no room for her in my life. Of course, if she does, I will take care of her parents just like my own.

No, I don't have a mother-complex: I love my father, too. I live with my parents because I want to spend as much time with them as possible. Actually, I only see them at breakfast and maybe a bit late at night. While I was in the U.S. for eight years, I lost my grandparents, whom I loved dearly, and I promised myself that I wouldn't let time slip by with my parents.

Working just for money is a poor idea. I need money, but I work for gi -- a feeling of loyalty and respect for others. This was common for Japanese, but unfortunately now many young people judge a position's value by how much it pays.

The criteria for choosing a university should not be only its name value, but also the professors who will teach you there. I'm an atheist, but I still went to The Catholic University of America in Washington D.C., because I wanted to study philosophy under professor Antonio S. Cua. He was wise. He told me that I was not brilliant enough to be in the top 3 percent of philosophers and recommended instead that I work with people.

The smarter one is, the more difficult everything seems. If you can reduce the depth of the abyss, shrinking the gap between your dreams and reality, you can achieve anything.

No wonder capitalism is winning. Socialism wanted to make more people less miserable, while capitalism wants to make more people happy.

It's hard to understand where the idea of a native speaker comes from: It's very foreign. Japanese students insist on having a native English teacher, yet in the real world we often talk to people for whom English is not their first language.

It's good to be deceived sometimes. You'll be more careful the next time.

Japanese politicians need logic and teachers. Now they are unable to follow international discourse, because in Japan we do not need a "because" clause in a sentence. We just feel things and act on intuition. This is beautiful, but it doesn't work with foreigners.

No matter how perfect, everyone and everything has the potential to get even better. As Aristotle noted, becoming what you fully are is an endless process, but without taking action, there is only potential.

Everything changes. Whatever you have or desire now, you can't have forever. When we lose something, we feel sad, but we can cope better if we accept that all change is natural.

Judit Kawaguchi loves to listen. She is a volunteer counselor and a TV reporter on NHK's "Weekend Japanology" www.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/japanology_e.html

Japan Times: Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2006

テーマ:日本文化 - ジャンル:学問・文化・芸術

【2006/09/17 23:36】 | Words to Live By (E) | トラックバック(0) | コメント(0)
Ms. Setsuko Hashimoto
Words to live by


Setsuko Hashimoto, PhD, 52, is Director of Marketing at Biacore K.K., a global supplier of instruments for academic, pharmaceutical and biotechnology research. A top class scientist with keen business sense, she formed the Swedish company's Japanese subsidiary, and has been the driving force behind it's success ever since.

Sitting in the boardroom and standing at the ironing board aren't that different. Both entail long hours of work and lots of stroking: either men's egos or their shirts, and sometimes both. And just when things look smooth and uniform, one clumsy move and you are back to square one: wrinkles everywhere. Things slip, especially from an iron hand.

With old friends, I behave as I did when we first met. When I see high-school mates from Kyushu, we giggle and act silly like we were as teenagers. My university friends and I still have long discussions about biology. With different people, I return to the age when we met and forget my current frustrations.

We talk about equal opportunity, but the only thing equal is the opportunity to talk. Glass ceiling? I don't think so: then we could see the ceiling and break it.

Business women have to suit themselves. Although stores carry suits for women, they either fit skinny 22 year-olds, those out on midnight escort duty, or are the type that ladies who lunch would feel comfortable in.

Some housewives behave as enemies of working women. When my children were younger, I often met women who were convinced that they had sacrificed their potential on the altar of motherhood. I understood their feelings because I was a housewife, too, but they could never relate to me.

Women are on strike. Unless they are offered "incentives" to give birth, they will just work, shop and have fun.

One is often judged by education level or job, but I find it best not to mention either. I learned that revealing my background doesn't help me in any way, but it can cause lots of trouble. If a man graduated from Kyushu University, had gone to Dartmouth Medical School and had a PhD in molecular biology from Heidelberg University, as I have, it might be considered an achievement, but for a woman it is somehow seen as shameful pushiness and creates an image of toughness, which is not considered attractive.

MBAs are great for making nice PowerPoint presentations. In the business world, the person who has an MBA from a famous university has all the power, but in reality there is really no point to it.

Languages are communication tools but many Japanese mistake them for content. Those who choose English majors are often not interested in English literature but just want to talk in English. The problem is that without studying something else, they will have nothing to say in any language.

Now that I'm older, I finally get business cards. Scientists, engineers, business leaders tend to be men. When I was younger, even as a project leader, I often did not get name cards because everyone assumed I was a secretary or interpreter.

Sadly, Japan's image is rather bad around the world. This is largely due to our inability to present ourselves in a positive light, while other nations are very good at spreading negative information about us. I try to educate others about Japan's achievements.

They say the busier one gets the better time management skills one develops. It is so true. I bake while listening to Bach, visualizing the molecular interactions of estrogen receptors and endocrine disruptors and talking to my parents on the phone. And there is only one thing constantly on my mind: my two children.

I played the role of the bad guy in the divorce procedures. I had a career and was making more than my husband, which put me in the unfortunate position usually reserved for men. Like most men, I lost custody of my children.

In important decisions, don't talk just to your parents and best friends because they take your side. Ask advice from experts, too. Look at the issue from different angles.

Once one is pampered by Japanese service, there is no way to be satisfied anywhere else. Japanese are the world's most demanding customers, and companies that can meet their requirements are way above the competition.

It is comforting to know the end of a story. Traditional Japanese theater has strict forms which hold no surprises in terms of storyline, so we can relax and enjoy the spectacle.

What's good for the individual is not necessarily good for the group. Sounds cold and mean but there must be reasons why some people are not able to reproduce. We do not fully understand biology, so manipulating reproduction may end with unexpected results. Although the impact may currently be small, when you look at the whole population, once artificial insemination turns into a routine procedure, we may influence evolution, which is dangerous.

The only cure for culture shock is time. It also helps to talk to others who feel lonely and out of this world.

We need to increase our Gross National Happiness, not just our Gross National Product. As Bhutan's King Jigme Singye Wangchuck puts it, the quality of life doesn't just depend on economics but on spiritual values, too. I sensed it in Bhutan and wish we could get some more of it here in Japan.

Judit Kawaguchi loves to listen. She is a volunteer counselor and a TV reporter on NHK's "Weekend Japanology" www.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/japanology_e.html

Japan Times: Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2006

テーマ:日本文化 - ジャンル:学問・文化・芸術

【2006/09/17 23:28】 | Words to Live By (E) | トラックバック(0) | コメント(0)
Ms. Mariko Sakaida


Words to live by


Mariko Sakaida, 33, is a supermarket cashier in Tokyo and the 2003 Best Checker Concours champion, a title she competed for with about 2,000 of the Kanto region's other checkout aces. She won hands-down with polished greetings, flawless scanning, speedy and accurate cashing, and artful packing. She also puts on a winning performance after work with Koto Ward's Fukagawa Tokkuriza Theater, whose six members adapt the most hilarious rakugo (comic storytelling) tales to the stage.

Any activity can turn into a "do": the way to master the philosophy of something, such as "the way of the sword" in kendo, "the way of the tea" in sado, and "horsemanship" in kishido, which is very much like Bushido, "the way of the samurai." I practice "cashier-do," "the way of the cash register," and I love every minute of it.

Japanese turn manual labor into an art form and seek perfection in the details. I think the essence of Japanese tradition is that we want to be really good at everything, and we enjoy the process of getting better at something, regardless of what it is. I love being a cashier because I think of it as a chance to gain a deeper understanding of myself and life in general.

Sashimi or eggs on top, that is the question. Heavy on the bottom is not always the rule. It took some time for this to sink in.

People mature by repetition.
Rhythm and speed are the keys to growth.

Style is letting others work. Trust the pros and let them do their best.

I always behave like I own the place and everyone is my honored guest and precious customer.

Once a customer looks at a cashier as an individual, the relationship is too close for comfort. The line is fine and must be observed, because a friendly chat might feel like fun once, but the second time the customer might get anxious when they want to ask for a certain service.

Working the cash register is an excellent place for an actress. Many of my customers would be great studies for characters in our plays.

Husbands don't know what their wives are doing. Many mothers buy bento for their children. Yes, our bento is delicious but it's also high in fat content -- just look at me! -- yet mothers have no qualms about feeding it to even toddlers. They spoil their children, literally.

Rich people are slower: They can afford to be.

People quit too soon. I think one must stick with a job for at least three years before even thinking about switching.

When at a new place, forget everything you have ever learned before. I might be a good cashier here, but if I change jobs, I will have to start from zero.

Women have the luxury to quit while men do not. Women are free to complain and when they change jobs or even families, they are rarely blamed. They often pretend to be victims, just so they can take it easy. At the same time men must endure hardship everywhere and still society beats them up.

I am a parasite single, morphing into a parasite wife. I depend on my parents and also on my boyfriend. I have to if I want to continue acting, and I do. I put in four days, 28 hours a week as a cashier and get proper pay for my work, but it is not enough to live on. I give a little to my parents for my room and board and spend the rest on theater-related expenses and food.

One of us had to get serious about life, so my boyfriend did. He is big, fat, strong and kind. He was a comedian in our theater group but quit two years ago because he realized that we could never get married and start a family if both of us kept acting. No kidding! Since then, he has been delivering construction materials to work sites, saving for our wedding. He is so wonderful.

Rakugo displays the silliness and stupidity of humans. Our own troubles look small compared to the problems made fun of on stage.

What recession? We can all eat, shop and feel good. The media keeps telling us that times are hard, but I wonder if that is actually so.

Compliments give me power. A nice compliment goes a long way to making up for tough customers.

Crying is therapeutic and fun. My friend and I laugh and cry together as a way to connect and support each other. It feels great. Japanese enjoy crying.

What makes people happy is different for everyone. Ten people, ten colors, all pretty. No wonder service is so hard.

Judit Kawaguchi loves to listen. She is a volunteer counselor and a TV reporter on NHK's "Weekend Japanology" www.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/japanology_e.html

The Japan Times: Tuesday, July 25, 2006

【2006/07/28 23:26】 | Words to Live By (E) | トラックバック(0) | コメント(2)
Words to live by


Yoshiko Sakurai, 60, is known as Japan's bravest and most responsible journalist. Her in-depth investigations have unnerved members of the establishment for decades. After 16 years as the nation's top newscaster, she quit television in 1996 to dedicate herself to writing. Sakurai has published more than 45 books, among them "AIDS Crime: The Tragedy of the Hemophiliacs," which, in 1994, exposed the government's failure to prevent the use of HIV-tainted blood products, which led to the infection of 40 percent of Japan's hemophiliacs.

Don't postpone marriage and having children. Many young people focus on their careers, but when I see how quickly my secretary's son grew up, and how happy and healthy he is, I think that one can have a job and a family, and the sooner the better. I was married once, but unfortunately we couldn't have a child. I wanted to adopt, but my husband didn't.

Japanese television programs contribute to an environment in which people never grow up. Most TV shows are very simple-minded, and it is difficult to find many intelligent programs on any of the channels.

History will judge a nation by the way it cares for its elderly. Sadly, Japan ignores its senior citizens -- the very people whose hard work made it the wealthy nation it is today.

It's not who you love, but that you love. I think gays and lesbians can do anything straight people can, and they need the same rights.

Not every element of civilization can be determined by a modern value system. I think a woman can make an excellent leader and empress, and I support Princess Aiko's ascension to the throne. Unless she marries another member of the extended royal family, however, I do not believe that her children should have rights to the throne.

Japanese bureaucrats make policy on behalf of private corporations, not the people. Drug safety is a secondary priority. Pharmaceutical industry profits come first, endangering patients' lives.

Amakudari (the practice of companies offering high-paying jobs to retiring bureaucrats who dealt with them favorably) resulted in the HIV infection of Japan's hemophiliacs. Officers from the ministry of health overseeing the pharmaceutical industry left their posts to take up cozy posts at drug companies. Therefore government and industry were tied together, while patients were victimized. Amakudari is discouraged, but bureaucrats can still manipulate the system to benefit themselves.

Japan has the world's three top-selling newspapers, but their coverage is irresponsible at times, and often shallow. Journalists have not studied history enough to write about it, but they get away with this because Japanese papers and magazines regularly publish articles without bylines.

The Asahi Shinbun doesn't read like a Japanese newspaper -- it's more like the voice of Communist China and North Korea. The Chinese papers offer "amakudari" to Asahi Shimbun journalists. For example, the Asahi's Beijing correspondent in the 1970's, Mr. Iyeshige Akioka, later became the Japan representative of the Chinese Communist Party's newspaper, the People's Daily.

The Yasukuni problem reflects changes in the international balance of power. China was afraid that the Soviet Union might attack it with nuclear weapons in the 1970s. So until 1985, China kept asking Japan to double its military spending. Although many Japanese prime ministers paid their respects at Yasukuni shrine, none were criticized by the Chinese. The Soviet Union's power declined in the 1980s, and Yasukuni suddenly became an issue in 1985 when new Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev announced reductions in military spending. From that moment, China no longer needed to be good friends with Japan.

You can become anyone you want to be, even if you are alone in the world with only 5 dollars in your pocket. When I was 18, helping out at my father's restaurant in Hawaii, dad was the guarantor for a friend's loan. When his buddy couldn't pay up, my father lost his assets. He came back to Japan and I stayed in Hawaii. I worked at the campus cafeteria and in the library. I've been independent ever since.

Love has healing properties. Good food helps, too. Last year, my mother, aged 94 at the time, had a brain hemorrhage. The doctors told us that she was never going to speak or eat on her own again. They recommended nursing facilities, but we brought her home. We kept her company and put delicious food in front of her. One day she just picked up the chopsticks and took a piece of Matsuzaka beef into her mouth; then another. Ever since, she has been her old self, a bit slower, but just as fun as before.

Japan should be the role model for humanity, not for shopping. Caring for others should be back in style.

Judit Kawaguchi loves to listen. She is a volunteer counselor and a TV reporter on NHK's "Weekend Japanology" www.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/japanology_e.html

The Japan Times:Tuesday, July 11, 2006

テーマ:日本文化 - ジャンル:学問・文化・芸術

【2006/07/13 00:08】 | Words to Live By (E) | トラックバック(0) | コメント(1)



Words to live by



Tadanobu Tsunoda, MD, 79, is the author of "The Japanese Brain" (now in its 38th Japanese edition), and the inventor of the Tsunoda Key Tapping Machine. He developed this simple analog system in the 1960s, and claims it is still the most accurate machine in the world for measuring the brainstem's switch mechanism, which determines which side of the brain processes sounds. He first presented his findings about connections between the brain, language and culture to an international audience at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Meetings of Experts on the Concept of Race in History, held in Montreal in 1978. Still researching, he is as mesmerized by the beauty of the brain as ever.

The brain is like a computer, and only the operating system matters. We initialize the brain with language, which is exactly like using an operating system such as Windows or Macintosh. I found that a brain formatted with Japanese or any of the Polynesian languages reacts differently from other brains.

DNA has nothing to do with it. Left-brain dominance is seen in all people who learn Japanese or a Polynesian language between the ages of 6 and 9, regardless of race, nationality or ethnic background. Any language learned before age 6 or after age 9 makes no difference to the brain's switch mechanism.

Japanese and Polynesians are similar because we give meaning to vowels. We have lots of syllables which are only vowels, and they are processed as words.

Japanese communication is more of an exchange of feelings than of information. Our conversation is more like animal sounds, like two birds singing to each other. Ours is not as logical a language as others.

Old-fashioned analog technology can delve into the center of the human being. My analog machine looks too old and ratty, so young scientists don't want to learn how to use it, no matter how accurate it is. I hope to teach it to some of them before I die.

I learn new things every day. I have done experiments with over 1,000 people, meeting with each person many times -- some for over 40 years.

We had NEETs (Not in Employment, Education or Training) before, too, we just didn't talk about them. They were called iso-ro-, and they were freeloaders, living off family and friends.

It's boring to meet scientists because so few do unusual, weird research. They just want to get funds and sponsorship from the government or the private sector, so they focus on the same topics as other scientists around the world.

Studying too much disturbs the brain. I have examined kids around exam time, and their brains were all tilting to one side, to the left. Once they stop cramming for exams, their brain balances back toward the right. But for those kids who are always at a cram schools, their brains get fixed in the wrong spot and I fear that in the future they won't be able to create anything new.

Japanese-language brains get tired easily. They hear all natural sounds, from birds singing to raindrops, from howling wind to laughter and cries, in the left hemisphere. Apart from Polynesians, everyone else in the world processes them in the right hemisphere. So we use the left brain way too much.

Listening to Western instrumental music is excellent for tired Japanese. This is because we process it in our right hemisphere, creating a balance to our overused left side. However, neither Western music played by Japanese instruments nor Japanese traditional music are good for relaxing the Japanese mind, because they are processed by the left hemisphere. Even more fascinating is that Chinese musical instruments are processed the same way as Western ones and, therefore, provide relief to the exhausted Japanese brain.

Creative work is hard, and it is especially difficult for the Japanese. Creation is centered in the cores of the right and left hemispheres. The Japanese-language brain is too left-sided, which has a powerful and negative influence on creativity.

The Japanese-language brain confuses logic and emotions. When some Japanese, mostly from the so-called rightwing, hear my theories, they think it is good news for Japan, as if I were saying that the Japanese were special people. I have never thought that, and I have never said or written such things. Ironically, leftwing Japanese also misunderstand my theory, because for them it sounds like I am saying Japanese are unique, and leftwingers hate any idea that might differentiate them from others.

We are singers: No wonder we developed the karaoke machine.

Japanese are wasting their money and time learning foreign languages. It is inefficient and confusing for Japanese children to try a foreign tongue before the brainstem's switching mechanism is completed at about age 9. The best time to start is about age 10 to 12. Still, Japanese should master foreign languages from conversation first, not reading and writing as they are taught.

Animal experiments do not help our understanding of humans. So how come they are still being conducted?

Even cheap food is delicious in Japan. We can eat so well on a shoestring budget, which is good because I need to save money for my research.

If the big one hits Tokyo, I am ready. My lab is supported by a base of 60 poles, each 3 meters tall, firmly held in concrete.

Cooking is the greatest experiment. Since my 70th birthday, I have lived alone in my lab. My wife works and stays near her clinic, so we see each other once a week or so. I never cooked before we separated, but since then it has been nothing but an adventure. I love hunting for fresh ingredients. My favorite combination for miso soup is potatoes, carrots and onions, without any tofu. I make a killer kinpira gobo- (chopped burdock root), too, and my sweet black beans for new year are the best.

Judit Kawaguchi loves to listen. She is a volunteer counselor and a TV reporter on NHK's "Weekend Japanology" www.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/japanology_e.html

The Japan Times: Tuesday, June 27, 2006

テーマ:健康と長寿 - ジャンル:ヘルス・ダイエット

【2006/06/30 17:16】 | Words to Live By (E) | トラックバック(0) | コメント(1)
Ms.Suzue Akashi
Words to live by



Suzue Akashi, 74, is a folk musician who plays traditional Japanese songs on shamisen with taiko drum accompaniment. Her insatiable desire to learn took her from a Tokyo dairy to the education center at Haneda Air Force Base, to university in Tennessee and work in Texas during the 1950s. Back in Japan, she sold Avon cosmetics before deciding to commit herself to playing shamisen, which she ultimately did at the prestigious Matsubaya restaurant. A winner of countless music competitions, and the 2002 recipient of the Prime Minister's Award, she is proudest of having always done the right thing, even when it was painful to do so.

I have good skin and posture because I grew up in a milk hall. My parents bottled and delivered milk in Tokyo. Milk was a luxury in the 1930s and I was very lucky because I could drink as much as I wanted. Kids teased me at school for my white skin. When I was in the U.S. in the 1950s, both blacks and whites asked me why I had such white skin and such straight black hair. Many of them touched my hair and face.

If it's short and sweet, then nobody gets bored. I enjoy singing hauta, which are 2- or 3-minute songs, with great punch lines, compiled from the best parts of longer pieces.

I operate like a U.S. university: easy to get in, but hard to graduate from. In the traditional Japanese art world, the teachers are revered and pick their students carefully. I don't. I never refuse anybody who wants to learn from me. I have a responsibility to give my knowledge to as many students as possible.

After surviving the war I can never complain. Our whole neighborhood was firebombed. Once the bombs hit their targets, the cloths inside them that were soaked in napalm flew all over the place, so every 15 or 20 cm a small fire ignited. It was so pretty. We ran through the firestorm, down to the Tamagawa River. Once we got there, we were stunned because the riverbank was already full of people standing in the water. We couldn't squeeze in. Then the U.S. planes started dropping firebombs on the people in the river. I don't know why or how my family survived World War II, but we all did.

War is never personal. I never hated the Americans for what they did to us.

Why sleep when being awake is more fun? I took one of the oceanliners of the American President Line to San Francisco. It took two weeks and I never stayed in my room but fooled around on deck, staring up at the sky, with some charming men next to me.

Some people see colors but not the whole picture. In 1958 I was working as a secretary at a cotton office in Texas. A black engineer at the factory was injured by one of the machines and rushed to the hospital. We got a call from the hospital saying that the doctor was refusing to treat him. Our president, Mr. Tapp, was furious and drove to the hospital himself. He screamed at the doctor until he finally agreed to help.

Airplanes are a bore. They get you places, but not in style.

It's better to love than be loved. After I came back to Japan, I married a Taiwanese man who supplied noodles to my father's restaurant. I'd never noticed him before, even though he was always stopping by. Once he proposed, I just couldn't say no. That's just me. He adored me and treated me like a princess, but I couldn't return his feelings. Those were sad times -- I can't even remember how many years we were together. He developed liver cancer and died in my arms.

It's never too late to switch careers. I was 40 and making great money as an Avon Zone Manager. I loved my life. One day I bought a record of minyo-, traditional folk songs. As I listened, I could smell the fresh soil and crisp air those songs were born in. I was hooked and started to take shamisen lessons.

Watching TV is nonsense. I either work or practice my songs. I hate sitting around.

Selling is all about complimenting the customer. Find something you like about him or her and praise it. Never lie!

I don't need to be loved by everyone. I'm always honest and speak the truth, even if it hurts at times. Most Japanese say what the other person wants to hear, but they never say what should be said. This creates lots of problems.

Geisha's lives are about endurance and effort. I worked as a musician at Matsubaya, at one of the top ryotei (a high-class Japanese restaurant). Guests enjoyed delicious sukiyaki or tempura dinners while listening to music and enjoying the dances by geisha, who were superior artists.

Two parents must have one voice. My second husband was also Taiwanese. We were very happy at first. He had four children from his previous marriage, with two still at home. He was the typical sweet father, letting the kids run wild. I tried to discipline them and asked them to study and behave, but he never backed me up. He just stayed silent. A weak father makes a good mother look evil. I had no choice but to divorce him.

If you want to be successful, you need to have a specialty, something that nobody else has.

Learning something for a long time is not enough; continuing it for life is the key. People study an art form but once they feel they are pretty good at it, they quit. Soon they forget everything they had learned. What a waste.

If I could be half as nice as my mother was, I would be a wonderful woman.

A great teacher can change lives. My high school English teacher, Masako Tango, always wore kimono, had her hair up in a bun and never had makeup on. But she spoke English as well as a native speaker and was well-versed in English literature. All of us students stayed in the classroom before her class and studied hard because we respected and admired her.

Be strict with yourself and gentle with others. I am very disciplined with myself. I always study so hard.

Never throw away an opportunity to study or work. I loved Bob and he loved me, but when I got a scholarship to study in Tennessee I left him behind in Haneda. I figured there were many other Bobs in the world but maybe no more scholarships. I was right. Keep in mind that this was 1950s Japan, so getting an invitation to go to college in the United States was very special. I didn't want to miss the boat.

Once I knew I was adopted, I loved my parents even more than before. I had the most wonderful childhood and the greatest parents. When I applied for a passport at age 25, I found out that I had been adopted by my uncle. I was shocked and amazed that they could love a selfish girl like me that much, even though they were not my birth parents. I adored them even more from that moment on.

I didn't believe in one love. I believed in love. Yet I found my sweetheart when I was 54. I never met a nicer man. His face is not much but he has a heart of gold.

To have a good life, education is the key. First of all, find what you want to do and focus on it. Every day people mature, so doing something new every few years is natural. The point is to do it at full steam, to work hard and excel at what you do.

Judit Kawaguchi loves to listen. She is a volunteer counselor and a TV reporter on NHK's "Weekend Japanology" www.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/japanology_e.html

The Japan Times: Tuesday, June 13, 2006

テーマ:日本文化 - ジャンル:学問・文化・芸術

【2006/06/13 13:47】 | Words to Live By (E) | トラックバック(0) | コメント(0)
Kitchen Country創始者、シベリア強制労働経験者、Mr.Yoshimasa Saito
Words to live by

Kitchen Country website

Chef Yoshimasa Saito, 85, is the founder of Kitchen Country, a Hungarian restaurant in Tokyo's Jiyugaoka area. His goulash was once so famous that even celebrities were happy to stand in line for a place at one of his tables. Saito is a true optimist: Neither five years of hard labor in Siberia's notorious war camps nor the past five years of battling throat and lung cancer have broken his strong spirit.

One becomes a cook by washing the dishes. This is the best spot to study. I worked from age 15, at first in Japanese and then in French restaurants. I licked the leftover in each pot and learnt how the food should taste.

People are the same everywhere: good and kind. Governments are bad, not the people. The Soviets were poor, but they tried to give us scraps of food. Our guards were all kind. If one of us got sick, they touched our foreheads to see if we had a fever and motioned for us to lie down and rest a day or two. They never beat us.

I'm proud when people compliment the rice and not my dishes. The fact that my cooking is good is nothing special, but that the rice is particularly delicious, now that is a compliment.

They were our friends but they still turned against us. On Aug. 6, 1945, the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and on Aug. 9 on Nagasaki. That same day, on Aug. 9, in Manchuria, suddenly the Soviets, whom we considered our allies, turned around and started shooting at us and capturing us. We were very confused and many of us gave up without a fight. We were taken as prisoners and made to walk to a war camp in Siberia. On Aug. 15, Japan surrendered and the war ended, but we kept on walking. We arrived in Siberia in December.

Marriage is between two families, not individuals. I always felt responsible for all of our relatives. When my wife's brother died and left behind four children, I took care of them till they were adults. Then we helped my wife's parents till they passed away.

Real life is more amazing than movies. I was working in one of Tokyo's most elegant places, Irene's Hungaria Restaurant in Ginza. We made lunchboxes for the Emperor and his friends when they were playing tennis. At night, we had a long line waiting to get in, a mix of GIs, kabuki and noh stars, famous writers and their foreign friends and members of the Royal Family. In February 1954, Marilyn Monroe and her husband, Joe DiMaggio, came to Japan on their honeymoon and they stopped by, too. Mon-chan, as we called her, was more beautiful in person than on film. I only got a glimpse of her because I was busy cooking.

Jiyugaoka was a place to come to hold hands. On April 10, 1960, exactly a year after Emperor Akihito married Michiko Shoda, we celebrated the opening of our own restaurant. At that time, Jiyugaoka was synonymous with style and love. It still is, although at that time nobody got drunk, not even men. It was the area where Keio [University] boys took their dates, really pretty girls from private schools, and squeezed their hands when nobody was looking.

Laughter is the best medicine, but it hurts. My wife was always kidding but I didn't show how much I enjoyed her jokes. Now I laugh more than ever, but it really hurts my lungs.

Cooks don't hold anything heavier than a pair of chopsticks, I used to say. I never held my children in my arms. There was a lot on my shoulders already.

There was so much water so close yet we were always thirsty. The camp was by Lake Baikal, which is the largest freshwater lake on earth. We received about one liter of water per day which we kept in a steel container close to our bodies so it wouldn't freeze. It wasn't even enough for drinking so we couldn't use it for a face wash. We had a bath once a year. We were filthy, covered in sweat, grime, coal and dirt, 364 days a year.

My only happiness came from dreaming of Japan. And I once peeped under a girl's shirt. As prisoners, we not only mined coal but also worked as lumberjacks and carpenters, fixing up Soviet farmers' houses. They were mostly widows, who gave us an egg or some bread. It was the first May that I was there, in 1946. We were climbing up a ladder. She was also a prisoner, maybe Polish or Soviet, young and very pretty with white skin. She had a shirt but no underwear on. That is my only happy memory from there.

It was routine work.
Once it got dark, we just lied down outside, in the same spot where we were digging. There were no barracks or houses to go back to, just the open sky. About 800 out of the 1,500 of us died that first winter. Later on the survivors constructed houses.

Time is relative. In the kitchen, a day passes instantly. In Siberia, days and nights were endless.

After the war, it was even harder. I felt like I was Urashima Taro, from the fairy tale. Japan was occupied by the U.S. so we soldiers were ignored by the government. We came back from Siberia, poor and hungry. I got 500 yen from the government.

My wife and I had an arranged marriage. She took the boat and train from Hokkaido for our first meeting. We had tea and sweets with our matchmakers and then I took her to Ueno Station. I didn't say anything and I didn't write to her. I just sent 10,000 yen for her dowry. It was a very small amount but she accepted.

We had a wedding but I was so busy working in Tokyo that I couldn't attend. The two matchmakers went to Hokkaido instead of me and she had a farewell party, a sort of wedding reception in her house. That was normal then. Sixty or 70 of her relatives came and said goodbye to her. Once she arrived in Tokyo, we had a ceremony in a shrine.

"Silver divorces" are crazy. Those who want to divorce should do it quickly, soon after their marriage so both parties still have a chance to meet new partners. Stories of people divorcing after decades together sound very sad. It's as if their whole lives were just a lie.

Buying the newest electronic goods has been my greatest pleasure and biggest extravagance. I bought a TV as soon as it came out, also a transistor radio and a stereo, a washing machine and a microwave oven. Everything improved except the TV shows: the better the technology, the worst the shows.

I've had an ordinary life. I have not done anything special. I've done what I love: cooking. I've spent about 63 years in the kitchen.

Judit Kawaguchi loves to listen. She is a volunteer counselor and a TV reporter on NHK's "Weekend Japanology" www.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/japanology_e.html

The Japan Times: Tuesday, May 23, 2006

テーマ:日本文化 - ジャンル:学問・文化・芸術

【2006/06/13 13:40】 | Words to Live By (E) | トラックバック(0) | コメント(0)
皮膚科のお医者さん Ms.Kae Wakita
Words to live by



Kae Wakita, 35, is a dermatologist and owner of Skin Solution Clinic in Shintomicho, not far from Tokyo's Ginza area. A confessed workaholic, she is perfectly happy with her life but not with the state of the Japanese medical system. She does, however, have a few good ideas about how to treat this ailing patient.


Doctors need to be interested in people, not diseases. The main reason to become a doctor should be an interest in people and a strong desire to help and serve others. We need kids who love psychology, history, literature and art to be physicians.

Now the people least suited to become doctors get into medical schools. The emphasis on math and natural sciences for the entrance exam is wrongheaded.

Most Japanese patients love scary, condescending and arrogant doctors, simply because patients have been abused by such mean physicians for too long. Sadly, patients expect and accept the maltreatment willingly: They are used to it.

Being kind, patient and a woman is probably the worst combination for a doctor. Even if she is a genius and the greatest physician, few believe she can do more than check a patient's temperature and call in the real doctor, who is, of course a male authority figure to whom the patient must apologize for taking up his precious time.

I want what nobody has. I always look for unique things and never buy famous brands because I think it is silly to follow the crowd.

There is no competition between hospitals and so there is no competition for jobs, either. Doctors from the same medical school stay together in the same hospitals for many years, often till their retirement. In this system their jobs are guaranteed, and therefore they behave like bureaucrats: superior and aloof. They also cover each other's back and protect themselves and their schools.

Natto (fermented beans) and red wine are a great match. At night, I drink a glass of red wine and eat rice and natto. This combination is delicious and does wonders for the skin because red wine is high in polyphenol and natto is full of so many healthy ingredients, such as isoflavone, which is very beneficial for the skin.

Patients should be treated as clients or important customers, because they are. In my clinic I take care of patients like I would like to be treated. We take appointments, have spacious private rooms with heavy doors, not curtains, to protect people's privacy, and nobody is called by their names in front of others. Patients pay in the treatment rooms and I spend a long time talking to them and learning about them. I know this is basic stuff, but in Japan it is special treatment.

I have almost given up on finding a partner. I want a man whom I can respect, but most guys are just too weak or married. A cool man is one who has dreams and makes an effort, works hard and succeeds. His dream is not making lots of money but to be of service to others. He is proud and responsible. Where is he?

At least half of all public servants should be fired. They are misusing the national budget and our taxes. Go to any city hall and you see hundreds of people sitting around shuffling documents in often gorgeously designed buildings. The money we spend on them needs to be used for health care instead.

Men and women's roles are a mess. Most men are wimps without any sense of responsibility, so next to them, any woman seems too strong. I am one of those women.

The outpatient system is out of control. For a three-hour wait one gets a three-minute consultation. The problem is that most people go to big hospitals on their first visit, instead of the local clinic. If I use 30 minutes to see one patient, I still get paid the same as the doctor who takes only three minutes.

I always do what nobody dares try.
I opened a clinic in Shintomicho, where very few clinics operate due to the outrageous rents. Most other clinics in this area do not accept health insurance, but I do. I am in the red every month. So to stay in business, I must do profitable procedures like laser hair removal.

Medicine is really expensive, but why? It seems that there is virtually no competition among pharmaceutical companies. The market is tightly shut and the markups must be huge, but I am actually not sure why the prices are so high.

My father is the greatest influence on my life. I am the oldest of three daughters, and we all became doctors because we adore him. He is a physician, and just like Akahige, who was a famous (Edo Period) doctor, he is unselfish and motivated to cure people because he cares. Making money is not a priority for him or for us.

I hate expensive restaurants. I rarely go to fancy places, but every time I do, I feel the same: the price is not proportional to the taste. I love simple mom-and-pop shops with wonderful home cooking and an unpretentious atmosphere.

Japanese love pain and suffering. Enduring pain is considered the sign of maturity and our medical system is based on this principle. This is why we never even think about giving pain killers. Let the patient suffer, they say. It makes them stronger.

Tokyo people are much kinder than I expected. I am from Nagoya where people always say Tokyo is a cold place, but they are wrong.

Looks like I'll be single forever. Ideally, I would like to be married and have a baby but I can't find a husband and I don't even have time to have a baby. I'll probably end up living happily with a couple of dogs.

My patients take care of my advertising. They bring their friends and send me cute letters and even bring me lots of gifts, such as tofu, cherries, veggies and pickled squid, which is my favorite food. Once I got a whole octopus, which was quite difficult to squeeze into my fridge.

The Japanese medical system is really behind the rest of the world. In super-developed Japan it is a shame to see the nightmarish condition of most hospitals. Many are old buildings in need of renovation, but they have no money. The industry itself is not healthy because it's not competitive. Despite this, Japanese doctors and nurses are doing a great job.

I work all day and night. In the evening I look at the next day's schedule and think about each patient's treatment. In my dreams, I keep talking to them and trying various procedures. I guess it's kind of sickness, but I don't need a cure. I am happy this way.

Judit Kawaguchi loves to listen. She is a volunteer counselor and a TV reporter on NHK's "Weekend Japanology" www.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/japanology_e.html

The Japan Times:Tuesday, May 9, 2006

テーマ:日本文化 - ジャンル:学問・文化・芸術

【2006/06/13 13:28】 | Words to Live By (E) | トラックバック(0) | コメント(0)
Ms. Toshie Kobayashi
Words to live by


Toshie Kobayashi, 76, has been working six days a week, since she was 14 years old. As a highly skilled typesetter, she made a good living until the 1980s, when digital systems replaced her and analog typesetting machines. At 54, she registered with a cleaning service, and ever since then she has been mopping and sweeping and emptying garbage at department stores, publishers, insurance companies and so on. Currently, she works at a luxury high-rise in Tokyo. In her free time, she is an enthusiastic gourmet, and on most afternoons she can be found roaming department-store food sections, searching for tasty new treats.

There was a time when it was a shame to be single. I always told people that I stayed single because I had to take care of my parents, but that's not true. I just didn't want to be a housewife who cooks and stays at home.

Suicide kills more than one person. I still miss (the late Hong Kong singer/actor) Leslie Cheung. I saw him in concert twice and I waited for him outside Tokyo International Forum after a show. It was during the winter so it was very cold and he took a long time. My feet were frozen by the time his car finally appeared. I waved and he waved back and smiled at me.

Your horizons broaden when you have skills. I was very fast at typesetting and was often headhunted by other printers. I changed companies six or seven times in my 39 years as a typesetter. I also moonlighted, doing difficult jobs such as making phonebooks. I was getting good money and life was swell.

The body is faster than the brain. When I stood in front of the metal types, my hand reached out for the characters even before my mind registered which kanji I had to grab. I was like a machine, with my mind racing to catch up with my limbs.

So much can be conveyed in a letter. There was a man that I used to work with, side by side, for over 10 years. I was in my 20s and he was in his 40s. He was perfect. What I didn't have, he had -- but he also had a wife so we couldn't be together. This is the first time I've told anyone about this. Every day he would arrange some letters in one of the boxes we would put the text in and he would put it on the floor. I would pick it up and read them. "How are you? I read a nice poem. Here it is." I would answer by filling the box with my letters. "I like the poem. Thank you." We barely spoke. Once we did go to see "On the Waterfront," starring Marlon Brando, but we never touched each other. He bought me books and I gave him rice cakes. When he died, his son invited me to his wake, and his wife asked me to attend his funeral.

Sometimes it's good that the bus doesn't come on time. Now it is always punctual so it is hard to meet new people. A long time ago we had many bus strikes so people were often kept waiting for the bus. When it didn't come, we would say, "OK, let's go get something to eat." I met many people that way.

One day after work, I met two women at the bus stop who also clean in nearby buildings. Since then, on most days we eat lunch together. We talk about work. Talking cleanses our minds.

I don't like Sundays because that's my day off. For the elderly like me, work is our only activity. I must move my body. Otherwise, it gets stiff and painful.

All the good men are on the screen or dead or both. Robert Taylor, Keiji Sada, Gary Cooper, those were gentlemen worth swooning for. I can separate reality from dreams but why should I? Life is more fun when one is dreaming. I never stop.

I don't have many wrinkles because I have the mind of a child.

I've had a great life as a working woman. I never felt discriminated against or harassed. I worked with men and when they teased me, I took it as a joke and I also made fun of them. I guess it all depends on how you look at things.

Victims of certain crimes are also to be blamed. I know I've been cheated, but I find it so difficult to get out of scams. Salespeople are so charming and insistent. They say that I only have to pay 1,000 yen for a face massage, but I know it is not true. Still, sometimes they grab my arm and take me into the shop. It's hard to resist them . . .I also got roped into buying a health drink for 6,800 yen for four bottles, two boxes a month.

Whether there's a building boom or not, the economy must be getting worse. Three years ago I got 1,000 yen an hour, but now I get 950 yen. I used to work for 4 hours, but from this April my company asked me to finish the same amount of work in 3 hours and 15 minutes so they can save money.

Challenges keep me young. I clean everything in the lobby, from the toilets to the marble floors, and then I collect all the garbage from every floor, from the 19th to the 2nd. Then I clean the back entrance and sweep the leaves. And then I have to separate all the plastic from the paper garbage. It was hard to do it all in 4 hours, but I have already come up with new ways to work more efficiently so I can do as good a job but faster: in 3 hours and 15 minutes. It's not hard.

I work so I can eat well. I never buy cooked food in supermarkets, only in department stores. I love the small portions, which are perfect for single people like me. I can buy delicacies from famous restaurants from all over Japan and from foreign countries. I might spend 2,000 yen on sweets and 2,000 yen on other things. Takashimaya and Matsuya Ginza are nice.

Life is great. I am independent, healthy and working. I have friends and a cozy apartment where I can watch old movies on cable. I am so happy. I hope I can live much longer.

Judit Kawaguchi loves to listen. She is a volunteer counselor and a TV reporter on NHK's "Weekend Japanology" www.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/japanology_e.html

The Japan Times: Tuesday, April 25, 2006

テーマ:日本文化 - ジャンル:学問・文化・芸術

【2006/06/13 13:16】 | Words to Live By (E) | トラックバック(0) | コメント(0)
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