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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
Jan 28, 2010
Fruit vendor Takahiko Takahashi
Come rain or shine, Takahiko Takahashi, 69, is outdoors joking with customers and packing delicious peaches, mikan (mandarins), nashi (Japanese pears), apples and melons into their shopping baskets. Though he's a Tokyo fruit vendor, he knows and loves his vegetables, too. He even grows his own spinach, komatsuna (Japanese mustard spinach) and cabbages on a plot of land in the city's Edogawa Ward. Always full of energy and in perfect health, Takahashi is a poster boy for the power of fruit and veggies.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Jan 14, 2010
Ice cream man Tokuya Hirose
Tokuya Hirose, 82, is the second-generation owner of Ze-roku, a tiny ice-cream shop in Osaka city's Hommachi area. Established in 1913, Ze-roku served traditional Japanese sweets till 1952, when Tokuya's father and this three sons came up with a brilliant combination that melted everyone's hearts: the Ze-roku monaka. This sweet of delicious creamy ice cream served inside crisp mochi rice wafers is still made to the original recipe every morning by Tokuya and his son Mitsunori. Fans drop by for a daily dose of the Ze-roku experience, which includes not only morsels of monaka with sips of freshly brewed hot coffee but also the cheerful banter between members of the Hirose family and other regulars, who all squeeze themselves into the 10 sq. meters of this retro shop. Cramped it is, but that's the fun of Ze-roku, where at ¥100 a monaka and ¥200 a cup of joe, you only need pennies to experience something out of this world.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Dec 24, 2009
Web designer Peter Brune
Peter Brune, 45, is a Web designer and photographer who has been a Japanese resident for 10 years. Born and raised in East Berlin, Brune was a world traveler even before he set foot outside the walls of his home: Absorbed in books and glued to the television and radio, he was constantly crossing borders and exploring faraway corners of the earth, inspired by the stories that flowed freely between both sides of the Iron Curtain. His virtual trips turned real when, in 1987, he flew out of his cocoon of East Berlin and transformed into a globetrotting photojournalist. In 1997, 10 years and 60 countries later, he settled in his favorite spot on earth — Japan. Here, Brune established the piichi design office and turned the computer screen into his canvases. With his sophisticated palette, Peter creates works of arts, easily recognizable by their kakkoii (cool) look and user-friendliness. Luckily, the piichi Web site aesthetic is spreading, replacing banner-infested messy sites with stylish, uncluttered pages, one after the other.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Dec 10, 2009
Photographer/filmmaker Kiyotaka Tsurisaki
Kiyotaka Tsurisaki, 42, is a photographer and mondo filmmaker who specializes in shots of corpses. Since 1994, he has taken photos of over 1,000 dead bodies, often chasing police cars to scenes of crimes, accidents and suicides in such countries as Thailand, Russia and Colombia, as well as parts of Palestine. Such gruesome and gory sights are not for the faint-hearted but Tsurisaki always gutted it out and kept the cameras rolling. He captured the grisly details of death, from brains splattered onto sidewalks to the shock registered on a grandmother's bullet-riddled face. He has published six books of photographs and a collection of short "shockumentaries" under the title "Junk Films." Tsurisaki's 92-minute feature, "Orozco The Embalmer," is about a Colombian who prepared 50,000 bodies for public viewing at funerals. Although documenting death has a long and respected history in many cultures, recent global censorship has been squeezing the life out of this genre of art. Tsurisaki, whose life's work immortalizes the dead, is one of a dying breed of photographers. He is not, however, about to let censors kill his enthusiasm for art and he defiantly continues to take images that breathe life into moments of death.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Nov 26, 2009
Cable guy Yasushi Sano
Yasushi Sano, 30, is a "cable guy" living and working in Tokyo. By his estimates, over the past six years, he has installed cable TV into about fives homes a day, averaging 25 hook-ups a week, 100 a month and 1,200 a year, bringing quality entertainment into a total of 7,200 households. Sano's passion for all things electronic was triggered at a young age, and audio systems and TV sets continue to have a magnetic power over him. He's also a car enthusiast, and loves driving around Tokyo's famed elevated highways, mesmerized by the beauty of the urban landscape.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Oct 22, 2009
Tokyo Girls Collection producer Ayako Nagaya
Ayako Nagaya, 37, is the president of F1 Media Inc. and the chief producer of Tokyo Girls Collection (TGC), a semiannual entertainment extravaganza showcasing Japanese street fashion, music and a myriad of products, from instant noodles to cars. Staged in Tokyo's Yoyogi Stadium, this one-day fashion festa of all things kawaii (cute) is the brainchild of Branding Inc., a media contents company that runs a number of successful Web portals catering to girls and women. The first Tokyo Girls Collection was created in 2005 as a party event to celebrate the fifth anniversary of one of Branding's Web portals, girlswalker.com, which introduces fashion to 8 million subscribers in their late teens to early thirties. Since then, TGC has evolved into a major cultural phenomenon, attracting 20,000 screaming fans to its shows and even more to its mobile-phone sites. According to Nagaya, girls are crazy about TGC and the numbers prove her right: Within 24 hours of the last show, ¦59 million worth of clothing was purchased online, and the event made an incredible ¦3 billion in advertising revenue.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Oct 8, 2009
Nissan Chuzousho President Shunichiro Tsuji
Shunichiro Tsuji, 62, is president of Nissan Chuzousho Ltd., Japan's last surviving beigoma maker, located in Kawaguchi City, Saitama Prefecture. Beigoma are small cast-iron spinning tops that are spun in a game that has been a favorite with kids and grown-ups in Japan for many generations. Tsuji has been playing with beigoma since he was a toddler and even now, not a day goes by that he doesn't spin a few rounds with friends. To play the game, a 110-cm-long cotton cord is wrapped around a beigoma, which is then thrown on to a piece of canvas spread over a plastic bucket, while the cord is released. Beigoma are the predecessors of beyblades, the plastic spinning tops that took the world by storm in the late 1990s. Back then, when the popularity of beyblades span out of control and beigoma sales dropped, Tsuji kept his cool, and his factory busy. As a fourth-generation monozukuri craftsman, meaning one dedicated to manufacturing excellence, he has also been producing car parts and motors for Japan's top makers. Car parts or beigoma, Tsuji knows how to make things spin faster and for longer.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Sep 24, 2009
Asahi Breweries advisor Takanori Nakajo
Takanori Nakajo, 82, is the honorary adviser of Asahi Breweries Ltd., one of Japan's leading beer and beverage makers. From "boy Friday" in 1952, Nakajo worked seven days a week until his official retirement as chairman in 1994. He poured all of his energy into beer-making and miraculously dragged the company out of the financial gutter, from a 9.6 percent market share in 1978 to a staggering 25 percent market share by the late 1980s. Nakajo was the force behind the development of Asahi Super Dry, the beer that since its release in 1987 has continuously occupied around 50 percent of Japan's beer market and ranked ninth in the global market share in 2006. For the past 20 years, Asahi Super Dry's annual domestic sales surpassed 100 million cases, each case holding 20 bottles of 633 ml. If beer is king in Japan, Nakajo is its emperor and as the jovial beer guru, he's still the toast of the town.
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Sep 24, 2009
Asahi Breweries advisor Takanori Nakajo
Takanori Nakajo, 82, is the honorary adviser of Asahi Breweries Ltd., one of Japan's leading beer and beverage makers. From "boy Friday" in 1952, Nakajo worked seven days a week until his official retirement as chairman in 1994. He poured all of his energy into beer-making and miraculously dragged the company out of the financial gutter, from a 9.6 percent market share in 1978 to a staggering 25 percent market share by the late 1980s. Nakajo was the force behind the development of Asahi Super Dry, the beer that since its release in 1987 has continuously occupied around 50 percent of Japan's beer market and ranked ninth in the global market share in 2006. For the past 20 years, Asahi Super Dry's annual domestic sales surpassed 100 million cases, each case holding 20 bottles of 633 ml. If beer is king in Japan, Nakajo is its emperor and as the jovial beer guru, he's still the toast of the town.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Sep 10, 2009
Tour guide Shinobu Nimura
Shinobu Nimura, 50, is an experienced tour guide who organizes long-distance bus journeys through Asia, Africa and South America. His tours take one to two months and cover vast territories. In 25 years, he has clocked up an incredible 280,000 km on buses, the equivalent to riding around the Equator seven times. Nimura has seen it all, and there's never been a view he didn't love.
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Sep 10, 2009
Tour guide Shinobu Nimura
Shinobu Nimura, 50, is an experienced tour guide who organizes long-distance bus journeys through Asia, Africa and South America. His tours take one to two months and cover vast territories. In 25 years, he has clocked up an incredible 280,000 km on buses, the equivalent to riding around the Equator seven times. Nimura has seen it all, and there's never been a view he didn't love.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Aug 27, 2009
Publisher Yumiko Tsukuda
Yumiko Tsukuda, 45, is the founder of Anika Co. Ltd., a publishing house in Tokyo, that prints books about the town and residents of Tsukuda on Tsukishima Island. Originally from Chiba, Yumiko moved to Tsukuda in 1998, partly because the town shares her last name but also because she fell in love with the area. Tsukuda is a unique part of central Tokyo famous for its mix of historic wooden buildings and skyscrapers. It is also known for its "monja street," where around 60 restaurants serve monjayaki and okonomiyaki, delicious Japanese-style pancakes that are grilled at the guests' tables. Yumiko is a self-taught publisher and has documented her struggles learning the ropes in an amusing book titled "Japan's Smallest Publisher." Since 2002, she has published 16 books, including her hit "Emergency Book," which advises victims on how to deal with life after a disaster. Her success as a one-woman operation on one of Japan's tiniest islands shows that when loved, independently published books and small neighborhoods can survive.
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Aug 13, 2009
Fish master Tatsuo Ichikawa
Tatsuo Ichikawa, 69, is an English-speaking volunteer tour guide and an expert on all things fishy in Tokyo's Tsukiji Fish market. He's not only a serious history buff, but also an osakana meister (fish master), whose mission is to educate the public on the health benefits of eating his favorite food. A former JTB (Japan Travel Bureau) executive, he's been working in the tourism industry for 51 years. Until his retirement at age 61, he was the managing director and general manager of JTB China Tours, Inc. and the company's representative in China. His 50-day, 12-km rough-and-tough tour, called "The Complete Drive Through the Silk Road," won the 1995 Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA) Tour of the Year Award.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Aug 13, 2009
Fish master Tatsuo Ichikawa
Tatsuo Ichikawa, 69, is an English-speaking volunteer tour guide and an expert on all things fishy in Tokyo's Tsukiji Fish market. He's not only a serious history buff, but also an osakana meister (fish master), whose mission is to educate the public on the health benefits of eating his favorite food. A former JTB (Japan Travel Bureau) executive, he's been working in the tourism industry for 51 years. Until his retirement at age 61, he was the managing director and general manager of JTB China Tours, Inc. and the company's representative in China. His 50-day, 12-km rough-and-tough tour, called "The Complete Drive Through the Silk Road," won the 1995 Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA) Tour of the Year Award.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Jul 23, 2009
Translator Kiyoko Zaborszky
Kiyoko Zaborszky, 83, is a translator with a reputation for picking winners. She's worked on books with positive messages that help readers deal with difficult and often controversial issues such as adoption, organ donation, disease and dying. In a career spanning four decades, Zaborszky translated 31 books from English into Japanese, and although none are bestsellers, most are beloved by readers who place them permanently on their night stands and recommend them to others in need. Zaborszky's translation of Bernie S. Siegel M.D's "Love, Medicine and Miracles," which encourages cancer patients to think positively, has achieved such cult status that copies are often kept under readers' pillows for quick reference. Zaborszky's dream has been to connect people in the two countries she loves: the United States and Japan. Her own story reads like a good novel, and she's sure that she still has a few more exciting chapters left in her.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Jul 9, 2009
United World Karate Association President Daikaku Chodoin
Daikaku Chodoin, 68, is the founder and president of the United World Karate Association, which combines all five iemoto (the traditional branches of the martial art) with an estimated 50 million practitioners around the world. A kyuudan (9th degree black belt) of Goju-ryu, one of Okinawa's "hard-soft" karate styles, Chodoin is a fearless fighter who thrives on going to battle both on and off the dojo floor. His winning streak began in his 20s: He first struck gold with shipbuilding and later made a killing with real estate and stocks. He has used his vast fortune to fight racial discrimination and supported revolutionary movements in Africa, South America and the Middle East. In 1985 Chodoin established the World Black Congress in order to unite Africans and that same year he created the Society of International Outer Space Law to draw up a legal framework that would give all nations equal right to space. Chodoin's desire to heal and save the world struck a chord with Michael Jackson: Since their first meeting in 1997, The King of Pop and the King of karate got along royally. In 1998, Chodoin presented Michael with the Honorary Chairmanship of the United World Karate Association and a godan (fifth degree) black belt.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Jun 25, 2009
"Yakult Lady" Chie Takamizawa
Chie Takamizawa, 30, is a "Yakult Lady" in downtown Tokyo. A mother of two boys, aged 8 and 9, she first got on her delivery bicycle when her second baby turned 8 months old. With almost eight years of speeding through alleys and avenues, Takamizawa delivers healthy beverages, yogurt and Yakult, a delicious fermented probiotic health drink, to her hundreds of loyal customers who depend on her and the drinks to keep them regular. Yakult contains billions of "good bacteria" that keep the digestive system in top working condition — specifically the Lactibacillus casei strain called Shirota. Every day about 25 million people drink it in 32 countries, delivered to their homes or offices by 79,000 Yakult Ladies like Takamizawa. As one of central Tokyo's top-30 saleswomen, Takamizawa always carries 20 kg of the tiny bottles on her route, kept fresh by 10 kg of ice. Although the load is heavy, it doesn't feel that way to her: She says it's been a great ride for her family, and she plans on peddling a lot more.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Jun 11, 2009
Executive Pastry Chef Shinsuke Nakajima
Shinsuke Nakajima, 50, is the Executive Pastry Chef at the Hotel New Otani in Tokyo. Nakajima's delicious creations earned him star status long before he led the Japanese team to the top at the International Patisserie Grand Prix 2009 in Tokyo this March. His signature Super Dessert Series includes masterpieces such as the Super Melon Short Cake, and sweets that combine Japanese ingredients such as sweet bean paste with Western staples such as puddings and roll cakes. A veteran on the pastry circuit, he and his team won the second prize at the 2002 World Pastry Team Championships in the United States. Still, he is not big on competing: He is happiest in the kitchen with his staff or talking shop with his mentor and friend, patissier Pierre Herme.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
May 28, 2009
Keiko Aoki
Keiko Aoki, is the founder of Altesse, a New York consultancy firm, and the owner of an eponymous U.S. catering company that specializes in Japanese home cooking. Bitten by the business bug from the minute she flew to the Big Apple in 1985, Aoki's itch to succeed kept her working during most of the '80s and '90s. Although she started from scratch, by the mid-'90s her company had swelled into a $15 million-a-year business. Aoki brought the Wonderbra to Japan, developed products with German pharmaceutical giant Bayer, and advised the Spanish government on the Balearic Islands. Single and successful, it wasn't until 2000 that Keiko finally met her perfect match in Rocky Aoki, the founder of the Benihana restaurant empire, and the two cooked up a storm until Rocky's death in 2008.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
May 14, 2009
Actor/talent agent Eido Sumiyoshi
Eighty-four-year-old Eido Sumiyoshi — aka Eddie Mohandas Sabnani, Eddie Arab, and Eddie Staire — is an actor and the founder of E-promotion, one of Japan's first talent agencies specializing in foreign models and actors. The son of an Indian businessman and a Japanese interpreter, Eddie was raised by his grandparents in Hokkaido's Otaru, where they owned Kaiyoutei, a famous ryotei (luxurious restaurant) frequented by Japan's top movie stars. Although World War II put an abrupt end to the parties, it couldn't break Eddie's spirit, or his funny bones. He's been winning hearts in every role in life that he's ever played: soldier, dishwasher, tap dancer, advertising whiz and cook. Eddie's favorite story has been playing out on the home front, where he and his wife have had starring roles for over 50 years.

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