Biculturalism, accessories and recession

Bicultural kids

One of the earliest letters we received when Lifelines began last year concerned bilingual education. It remains a topic of interest to many (if not all) parents raising double-culture children, in this instance Japanese and another nationality.

It is good then to welcome a new book on the subject: “Raising a Child to be Bilingual and Bicultural,” as written by Steven Verrier and translated by his wife, Motoko Verrier. Printed in both English and Japanese and published by Hira-tai Books (ISBN 4-946492-29-3), it costs a mere 1,300 yen.

Steven was a bicultural child in as much that, in 1946, his French mother married his American father and took him to live in the States. But because his mother learned to speak fluent English, he lost the part of his cultural heritage that linked him with France.

He defines being bicultural therefore as being “fully versed in two cultures.” This does not mean a blending, but a complete mastery of both cultures in all their various elements.

The book is written on the basis of the couple’s experience in raising their own children, with many insights and reflections that describe their personal learning curve. It is also jam-packed with valuable information and advice. Very much recommended.


Greg asks about an accessory he saw lifeguards wearing on Shonan beach last weekend. “It was like a necklace, but woven in different colors with a plastic clasp. Any ideas what this might have been?”

Indeed, I am wearing one right now, but plaited into a bracelet. This makes me one in ten in Japan wearing an Aqua Titanium Rakuwa necklace (which means sales of around 1,300,000 of the sports accessory in this country alone!).

It is one of a whole range of products developed by a company called Phiten, which has offices in Taiwan, Korea, the U.K. and the U.S. aswell as numerous outlets throughout Japan.

Phiten Co. Ltd. is the brainchild of President Yoshihiro Hirota, who founded his company is 1993 with a simple mission statement: “Good health is the underlying theme in all our product development.”

The company now sells sports clothing, health foods, cosmetics and items for daily care, plus a variety of accessories. It has also developed a hair product range called Yuko System.

What makes Phiten unique is that it has perfected a way of weaving titanium into fibers. Titanium has been proved to be effective in fighting pain and improving circulation. It does this, Phiten claims, by emitting energy that helps control the flow of bioelectric current through the body. When this current is stabilized, movement becomes easier, pain is relieved.

Call free dial (0120) 669-929 for information in Japanese. The Web site here is in Japanese only: www.phiten.com/

In the U.S., there is a Web site in English but personally I was unable to gain access from here: www.phitenusa.com/

P.S.: I bought my own 65-cm-long Aqata Titan from Training Pit in Shibuya. It cost 1,800 yen.

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