author

 
 

Meta

Twitter

@judittokyo

Judit Kawaguchi
For Judit Kawaguchi's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Apr 23, 2009
Serial blood donor Wataru Takekuma
Wataru Takekuma, 36, is a government worker in Toyama Prefecture's Kurobe City. With a population of 43,000, Kurobe is one of the four areas in Japan that made it to the 2008 UNESCO list of the 12 most abundant subsurface water resources in Asia. Takekuma was born and raised in this town where people still gather around outdoor wells overflowing with fresh water to cool melons, wash vegetables and crack jokes. He adores his wife and two kids and considers himself a typical country boy, having grown up learning judo and living by its moral code of helping others without expecting anything in return. So far he has given blood 146 times, and last year he even donated bone marrow, acts of kindness he says are nothing to write home about.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Apr 9, 2009
Tenkai Tsunami
Tenkai Tsunami, 24, is the World Boxing Association (WBA) female super flyweight world champion, a title she earned after only four years of training with Toshihiro Yamaki, who introduced women's boxing to Japan in 1999. At 160 cm and 52 kg, Tsunami is a petite right-handed powerhouse famous for a mean left hook that helped her grab the title belt on Feb. 26 this year in Tokyo. She took the boxing world by storm with her stamina and fearless nonstop punches in 14 wins — five by knockout — and only three losses. In all her 17 matches, Tsunami has never been knocked down and credits her rise to stardom to her trainer. Yamaki not only taught the scrappy Tsunami boxing but also the teachings of Bushido, the codes by which these two samurai conduct their affairs, not only in the ring but also in life.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Mar 26, 2009
Makeup artist Yukiko Takeda
Yukiko Takeda, 37, is chief makeup artist for Watosa, a skincare line created by famous beauty guru Sablo Watanabe. For the past 15 years, Yukiko has been making women look and feel so beautiful that over 80 percent of her first-time clients turn into hardcore fans who need their fix of "Yukiko magic" on a regular basis. Part counselor and part life guide, her exquisitely customized makeup work reflects each woman's potential in the best possible light. Yukiko inspires women not only with her professionalism but also with her private life: After years of all-work-and-no-play, she recently found her perfect match in the bespoke tailor Yosuke, a 25-year-old ikemen (handsome guy), whose style suits her more than any other man's ever has.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Mar 12, 2009
Nihon Rikagaku President Yasuhiro Oyama
Yasuhiro Oyama, 76, is the president of Nihon Rikagaku Industry, known not only for being the first chalk-maker to launch dustless chalk in Japan, but for the employees who make its products: 54 out of the company's 74 employees are mentally challenged, with 60 percent of them having an IQ lower than 50. At Nihon Rikagaku, handicaps are turned into abilities — an attitude that has given those who wouldn't typically have the opportunity to work the chance to live happier lives. These employees have helped the company achieve a 30-percent market share and make award-winning products such as its Kittopas brand — recipient of the 2006 Kawasaki Monozukuri Prize — a chalk that can be used on glass and other unusual surfaces. Crediting his employees for all his success, in 1981 Oyama founded the Japan Association of Employers of Persons with Severe Disabilities, which today has 341 member companies. For his dedication to helping challenged people make a living for themselves, just last month Oyama received the Eichi Shibusawa Prize, named after the famed industrialist whose motto was that public profit should always have priority over private interests.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Feb 26, 2009
Jazz Taxi driver Toshiyuki Anzai
Toshiyuki Anzai, 67, is a cabbie in central Tokyo whose love of jazz drove him to start a unique Jazz Taxi service. His 90-minute cruises pair cityscapes with the most fitting music. Anzai plays songs that match not only the view but his passengers' moods — though he is partial to jazz, he sometimes throws Deep Purple and Wagner into the mix. His car is jazzed up with powerful Soviet-era 6BQ5 Class-AB vacuum tubes set in a Japanese power amplifier, which is connected to an iPod filled with 11,000 songs. This superb sound system makes cruising Tokyo a pleasure, and nobody enjoys the ride more than Anzai, who has been on the road for over 36 years yet says he is still mesmerized by every twist and turn that appears in front of him.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Feb 12, 2009
State minister Seiko Noda
Seiko Noda, 48, is Japan's state minister in charge of science and technology policy, food safety, consumer affairs and space policy. As a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and of Prime Minister Taro Aso's Cabinet, she is entrusted with running 21 different departments. Not one to crack under pressure, Noda is a powerhouse who thrives on responsibility, whether in setting policies for Japan's information- technology industry or combating the graying of Japan. Ever since she entered the political arena in 1987, Noda has been a rebel with many causes whose dedication has earned her both praise and criticism. In 1998, she became the youngest minister of the postwar era when she was appointed minister of posts and telecommunications. In 2005, however, she was ousted from the LDP for opposing then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's postal reforms. Still, Noda didn't budge: Regardless of the consequences, she kept her position on the issues. Today, she is back in the LDP, with more power than ever before, proving that sticking to one's beliefs can payoff.
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Jan 29, 2009
Author/physician Shigeaki Hinohara
At the age of 97 years and 4 months, Shigeaki Hinohara is one of the world's longest-serving physicians and educators. Hinohara's magic touch is legendary: Since 1941 he has been healing patients at St. Luke's International Hospital in Tokyo and teaching at St. Luke's College of Nursing. After World War II, he envisioned a world-class hospital and college springing from the ruins of Tokyo; thanks to his pioneering spirit and business savvy, the doctor turned these institutions into the nation's top medical facility and nursing school. Today he serves as chairman of the board of trustees at both organizations. Always willing to try new things, he has published around 150 books since his 75th birthday, including one "Living Long, Living Good" that has sold more than 1.2 million copies. As the founder of the New Elderly Movement, Hinohara encourages others to live a long and happy life, a quest in which no role model is better than the doctor himself.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Jan 29, 2009
Author/physician Shigeaki Hinohara
At the age of 97 years and 4 months, Shigeaki Hinohara is one of the world's longest-serving physicians and educators. Hinohara's magic touch is legendary: Since 1941 he has been healing patients at St. Luke's International Hospital in Tokyo and teaching at St. Luke's College of Nursing. After World War II, he envisioned a world-class hospital and college springing from the ruins of Tokyo; thanks to his pioneering spirit and business savvy, the doctor turned these institutions into the nation's top medical facility and nursing school. Today he serves as chairman of the board of trustees at both organizations. Always willing to try new things, he has published around 150 books since his 75th birthday, including one "Living Long, Living Good" that has sold more than 1.2 million copies. As the founder of the New Elderly Movement, Hinohara encourages others to live a long and happy life, a quest in which no role model is better than the doctor himself.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Jan 15, 2009
Wildlife attendant Pat Kim
Pat Kim is a wildlife attendant at the Hyatt Regency Guam, where she takes care of the exotic birds in the hotel's gardens. Since the arrival of a flock of baby parrots in Guam 15 years ago, Kim's been a virtual mom to them, nursing eight little macaws and two cockatoos into the magnificent creatures they are today. The four species of macaw in her care — which include cobalt blue Hyacinth Macaws, a bird native to Brazil's rain forests, and Scarlet Macaws, a species that once were found from Mexico down to tropical South America (one of the largest latitudinal ranges for parrots) — have been on the endangered species' list since the 1980s. Kim takes her role as a protector of animals very seriously, and she's well known on the island as the Birdlady of Guam, whose enthusiasm for life is more contagious than the strongest strain of any flu. Luckily, such Pat-related infections trigger the onset of compassion, and there's no need to find a cure for that.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Dec 30, 2008
Koji Murofushi
Koji Murofushi, 34, is a two-time Olympic medalist hammer thrower — with a gold at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and a bronze in Beijing this year — and the Asian record holder at 84.86 meters (2003). He's been a national champion 14 times in a row, and at the Asian Games, his efforts earned him the silver in 1994 and the gold in 1998 and 2002. That year, he also won another gold at the Grand Prix Final. His long list of achievements goes on to include two gold medals in 2006, one at the World Athletics Final and one at the World Cup. Koji credits his father, Shigenobu, the legendary "Iron Man of Asia" and a four-time Olympian hammer thrower, for putting him and his sister, Yuka, on the right track. With his guidance, both children developed into world-class athletes. Yuka throws discus and hammer and won the 2000 silver and 2005 bronze in the Asian Championships. These champs have already pumped enough iron to build a small stadium, but Koji and Yuka continue going the distance. They're powered by their grandma's love, which lifts their spirits so high that they can keep throwing even further.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Dec 23, 2008
Handwriting expert Koshu Morioka
Koshu Morioka, 75, is the founder of the Japan Graphologist Association and the nation's foremost authority on the study and analysis of handwriting. Morioka started out as a psychologist, until his love of calligraphy eventually drew him to graphology. In his illustrious 30-year career, he has examined the handwriting of more than 60,000 people. His well-trained eyes not only read what is written on the lines, they see what is between them, too. Convinced that writing even one character or letter better improves one's life, Morioka dedicates his to helping people discover the healing power of graphology, word by word, one stroke at a time.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Nov 25, 2008
Ruth Hetcamp
Ruth Hetcamp, 75, is the founder of Tokyo Inochi-no-Denwa (Lifeline), Japan's first telephone counseling service. Ruth moved to Japan from Germany in 1960 to offer face-to-face counseling to working girls in Tokyo's red-light districts. In time, she recognized the potential of a confidential, anonymous phone call to help those who would otherwise be too shy to talk about their problems. She set up IND in 1971 and when two years later its English language service, Tokyo English Lifeline (TELL) started, she was there to help. The phones have been ringing off the hook ever since: Last year in IND's 51 centers around Japan, 7,015 trained volunteers answered 702,957 calls in Japanese and TELL, 80 volunteers had 5,988 calls, many from those who were contemplating suicide. For her contribution to public welfare in Japan, this month Ruth received one of Japan's highest honors, The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays, awarded by the Emperor and the Office of the Prime Minister.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Nov 11, 2008
Comedian Esper Ito
Comedian Esper Ito is famous for putting millions of TV viewers — and even Japan's funniest entertainers — in stitches. Wrapped in a gold cape and sporting red tights, he cuts a tragicomic figure, a court jester who's never afraid of risking bodily harm as long as he can make others' lives more fun. In his routines, Esper keeps betting against himself like an athlete who has nobody to compete with, and, much to the delight of his audience, he usually loses big-time. Whether he is putting price tags on milk cartons, blowing up plastic gloves pulled over his face or climbing through a tennis racket with his body completely folded in half, his total dedication to the activity at hand is what makes him so funny to watch. But Esper's no fool: He's Japan's No. 1 wedding-party act, a good-luck charm whose presence is said to ensure not only a great party but a married life full of laughter.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Oct 28, 2008
Paul and Neeta Daswani
Paul (61) and Neeta (60) Daswani are the owners of Sati's, a legendary clothing store in Okinawa City in the center of Okinawa Island. Since 1978, Sati's has been a one-stop shopping haven for hot tailor-made suits with cool matching accessories. Here beach bums turn into jazz cats thanks to the Daswanis' trademark bespoke Zoot Suit: a long jacket with heavy padded shoulders over wide, pegged, high-waisted trousers, the kind of outfit that cartoon detective Dick Tracy chased skirts and criminals in. Sati's mind-boggling array of accessories includes two-tone shoes and bowler hats in every color of the rainbow, and enough bling to make a rapper out of anyone. In a city famous for its music scene, customers sing the Daswanis' praises for making suits that do all the talking.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Sep 23, 2008
Vivienne Sato
Vivienne Sato is a unique cultural concierge in Tokyo, full of the lowdown on both high art and mass culture. Vivi knows what and who's happening in the city 24/365, and if she's present, the party is on till the wee-wee hours. Always dressed to the nines — and often to the nine hundreds — with her signature towering wigs and platform shoes, Vivi rules over the city's night scene as a benevolent drag queen. Her social life might be an endless partyathon, but her private one is all about art: She is a painter, illustrator, movie critic and architect. And this homebody alter-ego is no party animal: The artist Vivi loves working in the quiet with just the hushed steps of her 17 tarantulas providing the background music: Italy's Tarantella, of course!
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Sep 9, 2008
Tatsuo Asakura
Tatsuo Asakura, 29, is a driver on the Flower Nagai Line, a tiny one-car train in the middle of Yamagata Prefecture's rice and wheat fields. Although it's the only form of transportation for school children and the elderly who live in farmhouses scattered around the valley, the dire financial straits of the company that owns the train line have been threatening to put a halt to its scenic rides for years. By 2005, it was all coming to a tragic final stop when the local government warned the troubled company, Yamagata Railway, that the bailout was getting too difficult. To keep the little train running, Asakura saw tourism as the only hope, and, unbeknownst to his superiors, began offering hilarious guided train rides to visitors. From a mere 350 out-of-town passengers a year in 2005, he increased their number to 7,000 in 2006 — today, more than 20,000 tourists enjoy the fun trip with fairytale views. His 4-year-old son is often with him, on the right track to become as cool as his dad.
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Aug 26, 2008
Dewi Sukarno
Dewi Sukarno, nee Naoko Nemoto, 68, is the widow of Indonesia's first president, Sukarno. When she married him in 1959, the then 19-year-old Japanese beauty was no accidental Cinderella: From age 5, she had meticulously prepared herself for a leading role in history. Much like Hideyoshi Toyotomi, the 16th-century daimyo who catapulted himself from humble beginnings to the nation's most powerful post, the cultivated Dewi rose to the challenge to support Sukarno's nation-building. The pair established strong ties between Japan and Indonesia, but following assassination attempts, a military coup and ultimately her husband's death in 1970, Dewi went into exile from Indonesia. By the '80s, though, she was back in Jakarta working on major deals for American and European engineering and construction contractors. After 40 years abroad, in 1999, she moved to Tokyo, where she runs several companies and charities, and a household where 11 dogs chase staff and guests around.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Aug 12, 2008
"Harry Potter" translator Yuko Matsuoka Harris
Yuko Matsuoka Harris, age 64, is the translator of the "Harry Potter" books in Japan and the president of the series' Japanese publisher, Say-zan-sha. Similar to the series' Hermione, Matsuoka has always been exceptional: As one of the best simultaneous interpreters in Japan, during her 30-year career she has specialized in intellectual property and patent law and regularly worked for the United Nations. The perfect match for the genius of J. K. Rowling, whose books have sold 400 million copies worldwide, Matsuoka creates masterpieces equal to their originals. Her flawless texts were penned during a 10-year sentence that she spent under virtual house arrest in Harry's world -- but she still managed to stay sane in the process, a feat only one with magical powers could have achieved. Beloved by fans, who have already purchased 24 million copies of her translations, she has also been the driving force behind the Japan Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease) Association, established by her late husband in 1986.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Jul 8, 2008
Cherry farmers Mitsuyo and Shunji Ono
Shunji Ono, 71, and his wife Mitsuyo, 70, are farmers in Yamagata Prefecture's Sagae City. Besides taking care of the rice paddies their ancestors have tended for hundreds of years, the Onos are famous for growing Sato Nishiki, the sweetest and most expensive Japanese cherries. Developed about 90 years ago by local farmer Eisuke Sato, and only grown in Japan, Sato Nishiki are considered perfect for ochugen (summer gifts), with 500 grams of the highest grade selling for エ10,000 in Tokyo. Since their arranged marriage 50 years ago, Shunji and Mitsuyo have worked side by side, sharing three meals at home and sleeping on futons next to one another. The two believe that a marriage with plenty of jokes and gaman (endurance) bears the sweetest fruit.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / WORDS TO LIVE BY
Jun 24, 2008
Women's shoe designer Moe Enomoto
Moe Enomoto, 28, is a women's shoe designer whose Sellenatela brand is carried by exclusive stores in Tokyo's Ginza and Daikanyama districts, and in San Francisco's hip Venus Superstar Boutique. Fascinated by beauty and driven by a desire to empower women of all lifestyles, Moe hopes that her shoes give women the confidence and energy to go far in style and comfort without having to walk in others' footsteps.

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