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Judit Kawaguchi
For Judit Kawaguchi's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
May 22, 2012
Minae Inahara, part-time lecturer at Rikkyo University
Minae Inahara, 39, is a part-time lecturer at Rikkyo University in Tokyo. With a PhD in philosophy from the University of Hull in the United Kingdom, she has been researching disability on three continents: Australia, Asia and Europe. She is an expert in the exploration of the phenomenology of disability.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Apr 24, 2012
Polish journalist-designer-photographers Pawel Musialowski and Malgorzata Gajderowicz
Pawel "Mr. Jedi" Musialowski, 39, and Malgorzata Gajderowicz, 29, are a Polish journalist-designer-photographer, husband-and-wife team who video-blog exclusively about their favorite place on earth: Japan. Pawel created Kawaii, Poland's first magazine dedicated to Japanese manga and anime in 1997, and his website kawaii-mrjedi.blogspot.jp (written in Polish) is a comprehensive gateway to Japan and its culture. Malgorzata's Japan-inspired graphic designs — Seri Design — can be found at seridesign.net, where they can be printed on T-shirts, accessories, stationery and even shoes. Although the two live happily in Wroclav, southern Poland, they truly come alive during the weeks they spend in Japan every spring, when they film their travels around the country to update Mr. Jedi's blog.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Mar 27, 2012
Yasuo Sasano, manager of Kurumi Mansion
Yasuo Sasano, 62, is the manager of Kurumi Mansion, an extended-stay hotel in Tokyo's Koto Ward. Located on the Sumida riverside, across from Tokyo City Air Terminal, Kurumi Mansion's convenient position and reasonable prices have made it a magnet for savvy travelers. An added attraction is Sasano himself, whose warm welcome — in fluent English and basic French — adds to the cozy atmosphere emphasized by the hotel's potted plants and quaint tiny water mill by the entrance. Kurumi Mansion is a repeater's haven, a home from home, and the heart and soul of the operation is definitely Sasano. A former salesman and world traveler, he's a mine of information that visitors are welcome to tap into.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Feb 28, 2012
Educator, writer, farmer Gregory Clark
Gregory Clark, 75, is the Honorary President of Tama University and Trustee of Akita International University in Japan. A prolific writer, with a background in economics and international politics, his opinionated investigative pieces often spark intensive debates. His 1978 book "The Japanese Tribe: Origins of a Nation's Uniqueness" explored what he saw as the differences between the rationalistic, ideological societies of the West and China, and the emotional/practical Japanese. The book stirred strong feelings from both sides of the argument.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Dec 13, 2011
Eyewear designer Alain Mikli
Alain Mikli, 56, is not just the most famous eyewear designer in the world — he invented the job description. Mikli was the first person to achieve worldwide success as a designer of nothing else but eyeglasses. He established his own brand in Paris in 1978 and pioneered the idea of wearing frames as accessories. In the early 1980s, Elton John was one of the first celebrities to fall in love with his designs, and soon Mikli's creations won over his competition, with the biggest names in fashion — Claude Montana, Jil Sander, Issey Miyake and Donna Karan — queuing up to have him design their eyewear lines. Mikli's iconic shutter shades, a unique slatted frame he designed in the '80s, have been copied around the world. Still popular as ever, Kanye West wore a pair of original Mikli shutter shades in his 2007 music video "Stronger." Although Mikli's frames lack a visible logo, they are recognizable in the blink of an eye — and now he offers his unique designs in 45 shops in 10 countries.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Oct 25, 2011
Japan Pom Pom cheerleaders founder Fumie Takino
Fumie Takino, 79, is the founder of the Japan Pom Pom cheerleaders, a group of 28 women, with an average age of 67, whose decades-defying energy would give any cheerleader a run for her money. Established in 1996, the group have now been performing wild dance routines to club music for 15 years.
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Sep 27, 2011
Ichifuji owners Midori and Takashi Nakao
Midori and Takashi Nakao, 55 and 61, are the owners of Ichifuji, a shop selling Japanese crockery in Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market. Established in 1951, the store is located in one of the oldest buildings in the jōgai shijō or outer market. More than 5,000 types of Japanese tableware are available to buy, most of which are displayed in large plastic boxes on the sidewalk. Famous for its variety, high-quality goods and low prices, Ichifuji supplies cups and dishes to many izakaya (Japanese-style pubs) and sushi bars not only around Japan but also abroad. Business has been slow in the last few months, but nothing can cloud the skies for the two who still laugh nonstop at each other's jokes.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Sep 13, 2011
Eriko Hiratsuka
Eriko Hiratsuka, 26, received her master's degree from Waseda University's Graduate School of Law in 2010. That's no small achievement for anyone, but for Eriko, who has severe hearing loss in both ears, reaching her goals has always required extra effort. Although she can only hear sounds above 80 decibels — which is about the level of noise at a busy street corner — she never attended a special school for the hard of hearing. Instead, she studied at regular schools by copying what her teachers wrote on whiteboards and what her classmates did in their notebooks. Her perseverance has paid off and she is now preparing for the National Bar Examination.
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Aug 23, 2011
Ondagumi president Chuya Onda
Chuya Onda, 68, is the president of Ondagumi, one of Japan's biggest hikiya companies. Hikiya specialize in deconstructing, rebuilding and moving buildings. They are also experts at lifting up houses in order to make them earthquake-proof with special high-tech materials. Since the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, Onda's company has been overwhelmed with the demolition aspect of his business. If a building is too dangerous to use, Onda and his team must demolish it. If it is merely tilted, then Ondagumi will straighten it out. Onda is well known as a tough guy who knows no fear when it comes to blowing up buildings, but when it comes to his wife — even after 42 years of marriage — he still gets weak in the knees.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Jul 26, 2011
Chair of the Japanese Association for Suicide Prevention Yukio Saito
Yukio Saito, 75, is the Chair of the Japanese Association for Suicide Prevention and CEO of the Japanese Federation of Inochi-no-denwa (Lifeline), Japan's first and largest telephone counseling service. For the past five decades, Saito has been educating the public and lobbying relentlessly to bring an end to Japan's shockingly high suicide rate, which is one of the highest among developed countries. From 1977, the number of suicides in Japan increased steadily until 1998, when suicides claimed one life about every 20 minutes. It took Saito four decades and the publication of more than 40 books on suicide to convince the Japanese government to start paying attention to these numbers. Finally in 2001, Japan's first national suicide-prevention policy was enacted. Still, 2003 turned into an especially tragic year as 34,427 people- about 70 percent of them men — took their own lives, bringing the nation's suicide death toll to a new peak, with one about every 15 minutes. As time is running out for more and more people, Saito does everything in his power to keep reaching out.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Jul 12, 2011
Monja-yaki restaurant owner Minoru Maruyama
Minoru Maruyama, 68, is the owner of the Maruyama Monja restaurant. Located in Tsukishima's Monja Street in Tokyo, his tiny joint is one of the 70 or so mom-and-pop shops in the area that all serve monja-yaki, a, pan-fried loose-batter shitamachi (downtown) snack food that is loved by children and adults alike. Maruyama's signature jet-black squid-ink monja-yaki helps his diner stand out from the crowd. Its special sauce, Maruyama's secret recipe, makes sure that diners' teeth don't go black as they eat it. Always striving to serve only the best he can create, Maruyama spent 10 years experimenting and perfecting his other specialty: the miso monja-yaki, a delicious miso-paste-based dish that constantly turns walk-ins into regulars.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Jun 7, 2011
Refugees International Japan President Jane Best
Jane Best is the president of Refugees International Japan, an independent, nonprofit organization based in Tokyo. Since its foundation 32 years ago, RIJ's dedicated volunteers and staff have been raising funds in Japan and working on projects to help support refugees around the world. Before joining RIJ 11 years ago, Jane was quite a nomad: She worked in Zambia with the UK Voluntary Service Overseas, was restaurant manager in a British department store and ran a British restaurant in Tokyo. Now settled in the mountains of Tokyo and feeling very much at ease, Jane continues to work relentlessly to assist refugees in reaching their objective: a way home.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
May 10, 2011
Japan Tourism Agency Commissioner Hiroshi Mizohata
Hiroshi Mizohata, 50, is the Commissioner of the Japan Tourism Agency. A native of Kyoto and a graduate of the University of Tokyo, Mizohata entered the ranks of the prestigious kanryō, the career bureaucrats who control Japan's top-tier government offices. He worked in various ministries in Tokyo and later in Kyushu before creating the Oita Trinita soccer team in Oita Prefecture from scratch in 1994. Being a die-hard sports fan, his dream was to coach the team to become champions and to bring the World Cup to Oita. Incredibly, he accomplished both those missions: Oita Trinita became the 2002 J-League Division 2 champions and Oita City was a co-host to the 2002 FIFA World Cup finals. Mizohata's unstoppable determination then led the team to victory in the 2008 J-League Cup. The coach and dealmaker extraordinaire was also the driving force behind the establishment of Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in 2000. The international private university in Beppu, Kyushu, is representative of Mizohata's vision for all of Japan: Approximately half of its students and faculty are from overseas. Mizohata has always been steadfast in his belief that Japan should play a more international role in business and culture. Since his appointment as Tourism Commissioner in January 2010, he has been shaping Japan into a top travel destination. If anyone can do it, even in these trying times, it's him.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Apr 28, 2011
Maharaja Company president Emiko Kothari
Emiko Kothari is president of the Maharaja Company Ltd, a chain of Indian restaurants across Japan. In 1968, Emiko and her husband, Shivji, opened their first Indian restaurant in Tokyo, and the couple's winning recipe of mixing authentic Indian cuisine and Japanese hospitality contributed to an Indian culinary boom in Japan. Today, her guests savor Maharaja's delicious dishes in 17 restaurants in Japan and one in New York. Emiko is a great promoter of Indian culture in Japan, and not much happens between the two countries without the major players sitting down at her table for some serious eating and talking.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Mar 10, 2011
Robocon founder Dr. Masahiro Mori
Dr. Masahiro Mori, 84, is a specialist in robotics and Emeritus President of the Robotics Society of Japan. Mori is the founder of Robocon, the robotics contest he started in 1981 when he was a professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. Since then, Robocon has developed into the world's most famous and most widespread robotic contest, held in so many places across the globe that nobody seems to know the exact number of participants. In Japan, more than 3,000 middle schools, all technical schools and most universities hold their own contests; while the Asia-Pacific Robot Contest (ABU Robocon) is broadcast to over 200 million people on television. Mori is not only "father" of all Robocons, but he is also a "grandfather" to most Japanese robots, including Asimo, Honda's humanoid robot that was developed by Toru Takenaka, one of Mori's students. Mori's influence on the world of robotics is immeasurable. His classic hypothesis, "The Uncanny Valley," published in 1970, is still a key work defining robotic design.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Feb 24, 2011
Dr. Arihisa Fujimaki
Dr. Arihisa Fujimaki, 67, is the director of Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries (IHI) Hospital in Tokyo. An expert in reconstructive microsurgery, this orthopedic surgeon regularly performs operations to re-attach fingers, toes, hands and the occasional foot. Fujimaki is a hero to many, from construction workers who get nails stuck in their hands to ramen shop owners who slice off their fingers. On a typical morning, Fujimaki sees more than 80 elderly patients, who visit him for injections to help heal their aching knees and backs. Conversation is a large part of treatment as many of his patients live alone, and to them Dr. Fujimaki is like the son they always wanted to have — even if it's just for a few minutes every other day.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Feb 10, 2011
Artist Yoshitaka Amano
Artist Yoshitaka Amano, 58, is a world-famous creator of manga, anime and game characters. At age 15, he launched his professional career with the popular "Speed Racer" anime and has since worked on many hit shows, such as "Time Bokan," "Gatchaman" ("G-Force"), "Tekkaman" and "Honey Bee." He also illustrated Hideyuki Kikuchi's "Vampire Hunter D" novels and designed the characters for its anime movie adaptation. Always testing his own talent by moving from one genre to another, Amano created the title logo and the characters for the worldwide hit role-playing video game Final Fantasy, and right now he's focusing on painting as well as an upcoming new anime.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Jan 27, 2011
Champion itasha drivers Rei and Cloud
Rei Densetsu and his sister Cloud are champion itasha (decorated car) drivers. At the 2010 Fuji Speedway itasha event, where Japan's best-decorated cars are judged on their designs, Cloud won the Impact Prize and Rei received the Special Award for their outrageously decked-out vehicles. The term "itasha" is derived from "itai kuruma," literally meaning "painful cars." Such cars are covered with large colorful stickers of moe (ineffably cute) characters from manga, anime and games. Rei's mini-truck is an ode to his beloved Rei Ayanami, a character from the Neon Genesis Evangelion manga and anime series. He even took the character's name as his driver moniker and placed a life-size doll of her in the passenger seat. His sister is a huge fan of the role-playing video game Final Fantasy, hence her moniker Cloud Strife, one of the game's main protagonists. Her mini-car is covered from bumper to fender with stickers of Asuka Langley Soryu, another character from the Neon Genesis Evangelion story.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Jan 13, 2011
Cooking teacher Kaori Baba
Kaori Baba, 56, is a cooking teacher in Tokyo. An advocate of eating local foods, Baba bases her lifework around protecting Japan's near-extinct traditional vegetables and popularizing their consumption. Whether she's cooking long, green pumpkins that only grow in one village in Gifu Prefecture or pureeing carrots native to Sannai village in Akita Prefecture, Baba's goal is the same: To cook something so delicious that it becomes a big enough hit to help revive the local economy. So far, her recipes are working. Thanks to her talent for mixing and matching local vegetables and fish with current food trends, her dishes are winning over farmers and consumers alike. Baba is also a best-selling author whose two recently published cookbooks have already sold over 100,000 copies.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Dec 23, 2010
Part-time salesman/cleaner Seiji Date
Seiji Date, 60, is a part-time clothing salesman and a part-time cleaner. He has 38 years of experience in the fashion business, but six months ago, the economic slump forced his employer to retire him at the company's mandatory retirement age of 60. Having spent 27 years with the same retailer, where he had slowly worked his way up to the number three position of director, he suddenly found himself unemployed this March. Unable to receive a full pension before the age of 65, Date became a regular at job-placement agencies. And in the last few months, besides being a cleaner and salesman, he has also been a driver's assistant, a flyer deliveryman and a rental-car washer. Shy and calm in nature, Date blows off steam by fighting fires as a volunteer fireman.

Longform

Historically, kabuki was considered the entertainment of the merchant and peasant classes, a far cry from how it is regarded today.
For Japan's oldest kabuki theater, the show must go on