36 APRIL 2015 APRIL 2015 Japan’s number one English language magazine Club Med in Japan, How to Build a Better Bento, Movies, Events around Town, and More... ALSO: SHOOTING THE SALARYMAN DEAN FUJIOKA KNOCKOUT DIVAS Candid Snaps of the Corporate Class at Work and Play Taking on a Killer Role The Wild Women of Japanese Pro Wrestling



APRIL 2015

Japan’s number one English language magazine

Club Med in Japan, How to Build a Better Bento, Movies, Events around Town, and More...ALSO:




Candid Snaps of the Corporate Class at Work and Play

Taking on a Killer Role

The Wild Women of Japanese Pro Wrestling


APRIL 2015



6 The GuideSpring forward into tech, a tequila tipple for your hanami, and cupcake royalty

8 Art Around TownA Belgian master, a Welsh conceptualist, and two giants of Japanese ink painting

10 The Art of BentoEarn your black belt in the Way of the Lunch Box

15 Club Med Japan’s CEO Mori SeguchiExplaining the secrets of the all-inclusive vacation resort’s success in Japan

19 Insiders ClubGet invites to events around town and register to win an exclusive spa package 24 People, Parties, PlacesCelebrating French cuisine, a night of hula in Midtown, and National Day bashes

28 PreviewsFairy tales, psychedelic gumshoes, and the Best Picture Awardee for 2015

30 AgendaKaty Perry’s Prismatic World Tour, a week of beer, and a bubble run

34 Back in the DayAn icon of the silver screen brings his elegant insouciance to Kyoto

WOMEN’S PRO WRESTLINGGetting up close and personal with the

glorious ladies of joshi puroresu

CLUB MED’S FINOLHU VILLASWelcome to your Maldivian escape from the

everyday. Did we mention the lagoon?

THE SALARYMAN PROJECTCapturing elusive moments of the corporate

worker in his natural environment

DEAN FUJIOKAThe multitalented actor talks about

playing roles on both sides of the law

14 2016



APRIL 2015

APRIL 2015


Executive Producer

EditorArt Director

Media DirectorAccount Executives

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Lead Writer

Editorial Associates


IT ManagerDBA

BC Media Group Ray Pedersen

Asi Rinestine

Alec JordanLiam Ramshaw

Kotaro TodaOhad Elbaz Nobu (Nick) Nakazawa

Mary Rudow Sophia BaiIngrid Dubreuil

Bill Hersey

Matthew Hernon

Vivian MorelliSarah CustenKyle Mullen

Christopher O’Keeffe

Nick AdamsIryna Sundutova

EST. Corky Alexander, 1970

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link and you’ll miss it. Cherry blossom season has just arrived here in Tokyo, and with it another

resetting of some of the city’s many calendars—financial and academic years are launched anew in the fourth month. It’s just one more reminder, if we ever really need it, that time here sometimes runs a bit out of joint with the rest of the world. Our cover story catches us up with a multitalented, polyglot actor who has set his sights on success not just in his native land, but on the global stage. You can see Dean Fujioka on the new US show “The Pinkertons,” but the Fukushima-born star also has a lot to say about a much more challenging role that he recently brought to the screen. We find out why Fujioka chose

to take on the role of an infamous killer, and just what he thinks the Japanese entertainment industry could learn from its US counterpart. Women’s professional wrestling in Japan may have picked up some of its initial tricks from international grapplers, but it is clear that it has long since outstripped anything else being done overseas. Joshi puroresu, as it’s known here, has a fascinating history and more than a few colorful characters who make action inside—and outside—the ring interesting. Although taking off from Tokyo in the heart of sakura season is the last thing on our minds, the conversation we had with Club Med Japan’s CEO Mori Seguchi had us eyeing a trip to one of the country’s two resorts—or their five-star flagship on the Maldives—for the coming Golden Week holidays. And finally, lest we be dazzled by the brief show of pinks around town, let’s not forget about the dark-suited salarymen who provide Tokyo with its usual hues, muted as they may be. Photographer Bruno Quinquet has been capturing the city’s corporate workers in a fascinating series of images over the years, and his pictures just might give you another perspective on the inner lives of these fellows we often take for granted. Until next time—kampai!—and see you around town.



Tokyo Weekender is looking for a few good writers. If

you’ve got a travel story you want to share, a gift for the

written word, or have a unique take on life in Tokyo, we’d

like to hear from you. To join our team of freelancers,

please send us an email at

[email protected]



APRIL 2015

ETOILE ISABEL MARANT VERA MINI SKIRTUnleash your inner hippie with this easy breezy cotton-muslin mini skirt, embroidered with black and scarlet flowers. Wear it with the matching top for a full boho look (there is also a dress from the same collection), but if you don’t want to go in that direction, pair it with a simple white tee, tucked in to show off the colorful waistband. We’re also going nuts over the large front pockets, which defines the Parisian nonchalance that is Isabel Marant.

CHARLOTTE OLYMPIA KITTY SATIN SLIPPERSYou can never go wrong with deluxe UK shoe brand Charlotte Olympia, which usually presents glamourous yet fun designs. This particular one is a lustrous satin slipper with an embroidered cat motif, complete with gold stitching and crystal embellishments. While the kitty face keeps it fun, the sat-in balances it out to make it look grown-up and sexy. This pair is great for everyday wear, although you might want to tone down the rest of your outfit, and go for a simple, monochrome look.

MARC BY MARC JACOBS NYLON LAPTOP CASEWho says laptop cases have to be plain and boring? Spruce things up at your next meeting with this thick, quilted laptop companion that will not only protect your computer, but also add a bit of playfulness. The case is adorned with smudged polka dots (what else would you expect from the NYC designer?), and we think it’s too good to be hidden inside your bag—you’ll definitely want to be showing off your dots when you’re commuting, and it comes with a practical shoulder strap.


I f you walk down Harajuku’s busy Takeshita-dori, a sweet surprise awaits you at the end of the road... and it’s not crepes. Just recently opened, Monarch of-

fers a variety of colorful and delectable cupcakes whipped up by British entrepreneur Furva Saleem. Whether you like the classics such as vanilla, chocolate and the ubiq-uitous red velvet, or prefer the salt caramel and cookies and cream creations, you may not able to stop after eating just one. Make sure you drop by the tiny sweets shop next time you need a break from the Harajuku madness. Could cupcakes become the new crepe?

Web: www.monarchcupcake.comAddress: 3-24-5 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku

the guide

APRIL 2015


NVIDIA SHIELDIf you’d like to keep those thumbs twiddling on some-thing more legit than Candy Crush and also want to show off your tech cred, this could be the TV console for you. The NVIDIA Shield plays games designed for Android, links up with Steam, and offers access to a service called Grid, a cloud-based platform that lets gamers play PC games with-out the need for a monster gaming computer. 4K video capability makes this offering a real contender for top billing in your entertainment center.

SAMSUNG GALAXY S6Following on the heels of last year’s flag-ship comes the S6. This year, Samsung has decided to eschew the standard plas-tic and has gone all in on brushed metal and Gorilla Glass. It features a brilliant, large display, wireless charging, an impressive and bright screen, a 16MP camera with serious low light capabili-ties, and the ability to charge wirelessly. Limited quantities of an “Edge” model, featuring a screen that curves along the left and right sides, will also be sold starting April 10. Perhaps one of the only knocks against it is that it’s not an iPhone. But hey, nobody’s perfect.

APPLE IWATCHLet’s get one thing straight: it won’t matter how well the iWatch works or how long the damn battery lasts. It’s going to sell like crepes (or cupcakes) in Harajuku. You’ll be see-ing reviews, reactions, and the wearable itself on wrists around town. The anticipation has the tech set as wound up as “Game of Thrones” fans, clamoring for the latest news from Westeroth. However, after the frenzy dies down, some questions will remain. What will be the first killer app? Can Apple set a new product soaring without Steve Jobs? And who will be the first person to fall down a flight of stairs while Tweeting on their phone about what they had for lunch?

Something for the weekend...A cocktail guide for the most

discerning of drinkers

What better way to celebrate the arriv-al of spring and the onset of hanami season then by indulging in a deli-

cious seasonal themed cocktail. This month’s recipe is a tequila-infused, cherry-flavoured tipple called Before Dawn, which will be sure to fill any party with the spirit of the season. Shochu and cans of convenience store beer may be acceptable for the majority of hanami parties, but for a discerning drinker sakura season is the perfect time to practice the art of cocktail. Bringing a cocktail shaker and a Boston strainer to a picnic may seem like a bit of an ex-travagance, but just wait for the envious glances that will come your way as soon as people see your party enjoying perfectly mixed cocktails. Before Dawn was created by master mixol-ogist Junior Merino, founder of the The Liquid Chef and resident tender at the Rayuela and Macondo restaurants in New York. The cocktail combines the intense sweetness of cherry and honey with the tart sourness of lime and grapefruit and packs a decent punch with a generous measure of Añejo tequila. Just remember to take all things in moderation. As the saying goes, “one cocktail is all right, two are too many, and three are never enough.” Method: Pour all the ingredients into a large jug and stir until the honey has completely dissolved. Decant the mixture into bottles and place in the fridge overnight. When you’re ready to serve, pour a generous amount into a cocktail shaker with a handful of ice, give the mixture a good shake, strain into a Martini glass and garnish with a cherry.

Ingredients (Serves 4):- 4 tablespoons of buckwheat honey- 360ml Excellia Añejo tequila- 120ml cherry liqueur- Juice of 2 fresh limes- 400ml pink grapefruit juice





C erith Wyn Evans’s work will feel familiar to you, even if you’ve never heard of him. He could be waiting on the periphery of your

subconscious, having entered through the back door using his connections to actress Tilda Swinton in his 1988 film short, “De-grees of Blindness,” or English rock band The Smiths, with a series of music videos. More than that, you’ll recognize Wyn Evans because his work is an outward manifestation of your very own, internet-fed brain, a synthesis of popular culture and philosophical questions, soundbites and structures. “The citations within his works are informed by a diverse range of cultural and academic spheres,” explains long-time Wyn Evans supporter and current host, Taka Ishii Gallery, “in the manner of literature, philosophy, film, music, further extending to

Ito Jakuchu and Yosa Buson were both icons of Japanese premod-ern art, both Kyoto-based, both born in 1716. On the cusp of their

respective 300-year birthday anniver-saries, Suntory Museum of Art offers a retrospective, examining not only the two artists’ oeuvre and influence, but also the intersection of their lives and inspirations. Jakuchu was brought up in the family grocery business, training local-ly and focusing on realistic representa-tions of living things—for example, he would set roosters and hens loose in his own garden to sketch them. Buson was the more cosmopolitan of the two: he moved to Edo (present-day Tokyo) as a young man to study poetry and then traveled for a decade through the northern Kanto and Tohoku regions. Early 1740s Kyoto found both art-

Cerith Wyn Evans

Celebrating Two Contemporary Geniuses: Jakuchu and Buson

realms of astronomy and physics.” His sculptures are your mind after a procrastinatory internet binge, a transla-tion of cultural and intellectual osmosis. His current exhibition at Taka Ishii marks his third solo presentation at the gallery in the past half decade, featuring three new works created specifically for the occasion. The highlight is a large, mobile-shaped sound sculpture, four mirrored discs transmitting sounds that can only be heard as you face the small speakers directly. “[It] entices one’s senses like a gravita-tional lure,” Taka Ishii Gallery represent-atives explained. “From time to time the viewers are exposed to a ray of sound that drifts solely towards their ears...heighten-ing [their] awareness of transformations in spatial perception.”

ists newly devoted to their work. Jaku-chu retired from the family business and Buson settled down, both bringing their distinct life experiences and years of study and practice to the genre, as well as innovative techniques and style. Jakuchu is known for his unique sujime-gaki technique, utilizing sumi on super-absorbent gasenshi paper, which leaves a space between brush strokes like a white line, or “sujime.” Buson championed a new genre called haiga, merging painting with hokku poetry in a casual and insightful interplay. “Celebrating Two Contemporary Geniuses” offers a comprehensive overview of these two masters’ lives and endeavors for the uninitiated, and a unique perspective on their proximity and mutual acquaintance for those more familiar.

Taka Ishii Gallery TokyoDates: March 20–April 18, 2015Open: 12:00–19:00, closed Sundays, Mondays and national holidaysWeb:

Suntory Museum of ArtDates: March 18–May 10, 2015Open: 10:00–18:00, Fridays and Saturdays until 20:00Web:

Top: Elephant and Whale Screens, by Ito Jakuchu, Pair of six-fold screens left-hand screen, Kansei 9 (1797), Miho MuseumBottom: Elephant and Whale Screens, by Ito Jakuchu, Pair of six-fold screens right-hand screen, Kansei 9 (1797), Miho Museum

Cerith Wyn Evans, C=O=N=S=T=E=L=L=A=T=I=O=N (I call your image tomind), 2010, Mixed media, Dimensions variable, © Cerith Wyn EvansPhoto: Todd-White Art PhotographyCourtesy of Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo and White Cube, London

by Sarah Custen

APRIL 2015


The National Art Center, TokyoDates: March 25–June 29, 2015Open: 10:00–18:00, Fridays until 20:00Web:

You know Magritte. You know his 1964 self-portrait, “The Son of Man,” which has

been parodied and reproduced since its conception throughout pop culture history, the man in an overcoat and bowler hat replaced by Bart Simpson, SpongeBob, Darth Vader; the face-obscuring green apple supplanted by a donut, a Lego block, a pineapple, or the Macintosh logo. You know his oil painting “Golconda,” replete with similarly coated and capped men, raining from the sky, from the 1992 Robin Wil-liams movie “Toys,” or you’ve seen it imitated with dozens of Mary Poppins or miniature Super Marios. You’ve seen these images and their remixings be-fore, more times than you could count, though you surely were not counting. But you may not have seen

René Magrittehis staggering painting, “The Lovers,” featuring a man and woman embracing, lips locked, each sheathed in fabric, as if to be executed. You may not know that only two years after a young Magritte began drawing, his mother committed suicide by drowning herself in the River Sambre, the last in a series of attempts on her own life. You likely don’t know that Magritte served in the Belgian infantry, worked in a wallpaper factory, and got by as a poster designer and ad man until he was able to paint full time, or that his first exhibition in Brussels in 1927 was lambasted by critics. Come get beneath the sur-face—or simply get what all those movies and books and TV shows have been referencing for years—at NACT’s Magritte retrospective, dedicated to the surrealist master you think you know. APRIL 2015


Inaba Haruhi


Saturday 11th Apr. - Sunday 26th April 2015Opening Hours: 12:00 - 19:00 | Closed: MondaysOpening Reception: Friday April 10th from 18:00 onwards

〒 106-0031 Tokyo, Minato-ku, Nishi-Azabu 2-12-4 Ogura building 3F

Te l : 0 3 - 6 4 1 9 - 7 2 2 9 | We b : w w w. n a n a t a s u . j p


APRIL 2015

Forget about cellophane-wrapped pea-nut butter and jelly sandwiches and a bag of potato chips: packing a lunch in Japan goes beyond the brown-bag

lunch. In fact, bento-making is a serious affair here. Some might even call it an art... My own (failed) attempts at putting to-gether a bento box had been nowhere close to masterpieces, and I had given up after a few tries, convinced I should stick to sandwich-es and sliced carrots. However, my growing (and unused) bento box collection convinced me to try my hand at making a bento again, this time with the professional help of Miyuki Suyari, who teaches home cooking lessons in her own kitchen, including an increasingly popular bento class.

BENTO BASICSI quickly learned that a good bento starts with the box—after all, the container keeps it all together and lifting the lid to a colorful assort-

ment of dishes is perhaps the most rewarding part. Back in the day, bento were packed in simple bamboo leaves; now you can choose from a variety of boxes made with everything from lacquer to plastic, with many shapes and sizes. It doesn’t stop there, of course. Although there’s plenty of freedom for what you put in, a well-balanced bento contains fresh, season-al ingredients and presents four colors of side dishes—red, yellow, green and brown—and white for rice, noodles, or bread. A good rule of thumb is to fill half of the bento with rice and half with side dishes. Any gap should be filled so everything is kept together tightly and doesn’t shift in a bag on the way to school or the office. In other words, form and function are as important as nutritional value.

MY BENTO MENUWith those guidelines in mind, we began preparing the various dishes that would be used to fill the box: a few kinds of onigiri (rice balls), karaage (Japanese fried chicken), gin-ger pork, asparagus in sesame sauce, broccoli and ham flowers, cheese and nori (seaweed) rolls, marinated bell peppers, carrot salad, corn pancakes and tamagoyaki (omelet). Sound complicated? The key is to be prepared in advance: you can use leftovers, or freeze large quantities for the following week. All the dishes were very simple, using no more than three or four ingredients, in-cluding Japanese cuisine staples such as sake, ginger, sesame, and mirin (a type of sweet

rice wine used as a condiment). I particular-ly enjoyed the asparagus in sesame sauce, which can be whipped up in less than a min-ute using a bit of ground sesame seeds and a homemade banno (‘almighty’) sauce that can be easily prepared beforehand and stored for up to three months—and used for many more recipes. A couple of tricks: use cling film to shape the onigiri, and to make sure that the nori strips stay crispy, wait to wrap the rice balls in seaweed.

FILLING (AND EATING!) THE BENTO BOXAfter the chicken was fried, the pork was cooked and the omelet had cooled down, it was time to carefully place everything in the box. It’s best to cool the rice to prevent it from warming up the other foods, especially in the hot, bacteria-friendly Japanese summer. Using small disposable or washable cups for each dish also helps prevent foods from mixing with one another. As I started filling half of my bento with my onigiri, I quickly realized there was not much space for everything else we had cooked, but somehow I was determined to make it all fit—and I did. The large variety of dishes can be divided in tiny portions, so you get a bit of everything without filling up on one dish. All remaining spaces (if any) should be filled with bite-sized foods, such as mini tomatoes and broccoli. You can sprinkle some furikake (sea-soning) on the rice to add color, and voilà! Although my efforts did not look nearly as lovely as Miyuki-san’s skillfully arranged ben-to, I was happy with my results, and managed to banish my bento fear in less than two hours. Perhaps the best part was that the class didn’t requre a 5 am wake-up call...

For more information, please check the of-ficial website: Simply Oishii Japanese Cooking Class (English or Japanese)Web: simplyoishii.weebly.comEmail: [email protected]

A well-balanced bento contains fresh, seasonal ingredients and presents four colors of side dishes—red, yellow, green and brown.The Art

of LunchEarn your black belt in the Way of the Lunch Box


APRIL 2015

Photos by Maaserhit Honda

By Vivian Morelli



APRIL 2015

W ith the beginning of spring and a new financial year in Tokyo, a fresh group of male university graduates will trade in their jeans and sneakers

for the uniform of the Japanese salaryman: a dark suit and tie, worn day after day. The dress code may lighten up slightly in the warmest months, but even without the tie, the formality remains. The kimono-clad geisha may be the romantic image of Japan, but the black or grey-clad sala-ryman is one of the real symbols of the country: slightly anachronistic, not given to expressing strong emotions in public life, but prone to revealing their feelings with ac-tions that take a fair amount of training to actually notice. It does take a close observer to catch these moments, and Bruno Quinquet is one of them. The head of the

tongue-in-cheekily named Bureau D’Etudes Japonaises (Bureau of Japanese Studies), Quinquet’s most well-known work is the “Salaryman Project,” a collection of photographs that capture these sometimes mocked, oft-misunderstood workers in scenes that evoke humor, loneliness, and the passing seasons of an urban sprawl. They are also images of startlingly brilliant composition, employing odd angles, clever reflections, and adhering to a rule that you wouldn’t expect to be obeyed in street photography: you never see the full face of his subjects. Despite the visual sophistication of his images, Quin-quet is a relative newcomer behind the lens. Following a career of nearly 20 years as a recording engineer in Paris, he moved to the country in 2005 to live with his Japanese boyfriend, and didn’t have a strong idea about what the future would hold. After a frustrating stint studying at a language school, he found himself a year later facing a rapidly expiring visa and the prospects of an unceremoniously quick return home. Yet several years later, he had graduated from an arts school with a specialty in photography and significant, if quirky, body of work behind him. He had also caught the attention of the photography world. He published a series of three photobooks (appropriately enough in the form of the workaday business schedule), he has exhibited overseas, and has been profiled in Thames & Hudson’s anthology, “Street Photography Now.” Even the Harvard Business Review—admittedly not a publication where you’d be expecting to find street photography—has chosen him as a spotlight artist for their April issue.

The SalarymanProject

by Alec Jordan


We caught up with Quinquet to learn a bit more about his inspiration to venture into photography, the art of taking peo-ple’s pictures when you are uncomfort-ably shy, and the occasional desperation of street photography.

What inspired you to take up pho-tography in the first place, and what drew you to the salaryman as a subject?After dropping out of language school, I was faced with the possibility of having to leave Japan and move back to France once my visa ran out. So I was thinking to myself, ‘maybe I should buy a camera; this is Japan, after all.’ I thought to buy a full-frame digital camera, but for a couple of reasons I went with a smaller point-and-shoot. It was with this camera that I had this moment of illumi-nation in the forest around Kawaguchiko, where I had gone to visit with my nephew. We were on a trail in the forests, and came across a salaryman in a black suit, just hiking up the hill. (Maybe he was on his lunch break?) At the time, we had a laugh, and I got this one photo that I didn’t think was so special, but it put me on the track towards something—a story to be told, or something to be studied.

Street photography is a genre that of-ten demands a willingness to get in people’s faces. But in your pictures, subjects’ faces are usually hidden, and one of the strongest feelings that comes across is of your own bashful-ness…Oh, definitely! I suppose I decided to use that in my photography instead of shying away from it. If I were 20, I might have tried to overcome my shyness with a more aggres-sive, street photography-like approach. But I was at an age where self-acceptance was more important and this aspect of my personality became part of the work. As for maintaining the anonymity of my subjects: that was something I realized was crucial within the first month. Coming from France

where portrait rights have nearly put an end to the tradition of snapshot photogra-phy, I wanted to build a body of work that would escape legal hazard in a creative and humorous way.

How does this feeling of shyness affect how you compose and shoot your images? When I monitor the scene before me on the small screen of a digital camera, I’m looking at reality from a slightly different angle and distance—it’s already a picture—whereas looking through a viewfinder feels like looking at reality itself. The distance of the camera screen helps me to get into the pic-ture and forget my fears. In return, this lets other sides of my personality—introspection and contemplation, for example—come into action. The pictures that I choose to publicize are the ones that give the impression of a calm, quiet and invisible observer, gently trying but failing to really get into people’s privacy.

You have been working on the “Salaryman Project” for a few years now. How have your photo-graphs changed over that time?At the beginning, I had this very 20th century modernist idea that there always needed to be a strong geometric composition or clear visual lines in order to make a good photo. But sometimes I happened to take interesting photos that didn’t have these features and I liked them all the more because they had escaped my rational understanding. To get more of those I had to look more closely at

things, let go of my preconceptions, take a lot of pictures, and keep looking at the results in a trial-and-error process. Sometimes I catch a good picture not knowing that I did because it’s the photo that will talk to me, not what was originally there. And sometimes when I think that I did, well, in the end, I didn’t. There’s a little bit of desperation behind it all. Because the photos end up in the spreads of a business agenda, what didn’t change is the simplicity of composition that keeps the design clean and simple.

What about your subjects? Do you see the salarymen from a different perspective now?When I started doing this project, the sala-rymen were the most remote people from me: I was still some kind of tourist; I had never worked in an office. I knew that they were part of the scenery in Japan, but I could still pretend to see them as exotic creatures. Over time I realized that if I were Japanese, chances are that I would work at a company and be a salaryman myself. The distance has changed, but I don’t know if it shows in my work! (laughs)

Are you still out shooting? Can we expect another set of salaryman photos to come? Actually, I think that I’ve finished with the Salaryman Project. But I’m always out taking pictures, and recently an unexpected new project has unfolded for me in the shitama-chi (downtown) neighborhood where I live. It may not be as long-lived as the salaryman work, but it has my full attention.

all photos © Bruno Quinquet




The new high-end flagship offer in the Maldives, Finolhu Villas

For reservation and inquiries, please call Club Med: 03-5792-7660 (English support available) Mon-Sat

10am–6:30pm/Sun & National Holiday 11am-6pm | Web:









ClubMed_logo_002.pdf 1 25/03/2015 16:36


Since its founding in 1950, Club Med has been a brand that is closely linked with European style, even as it has opened locations across the globe, expanding

from the Mediterranean area that gave the company its name to exotic locations in Poly-nesia or the Caribbean. The resort staff at Club Med, known as Gentils Organisateurs (G.Os), are expected to pick up and move locations on a regular basis, giving them a chance not only to see the world, but also keep the atmosphere at resorts fresh and dynamic. It is fitting, then, that Mori Seguchi is at the helm of Club Med Japan: the globetrotting CEO has studied, worked, and traveled extensively overseas since he was 12. This experience has given him a strong sense of what customers who come from outside of Japan are looking for in a vacation, and what Club Med Japan’s locations have to offer—in particular, two commodities that are quite precious in one of the largest cities in the world. “The spaces we offer give freedom and privacy, two things that are scarce in Tokyo. I think people appreciate that,” he says. It’s a combination that has made the resorts a top choice for expats in Japan, and even more popular for Japanese nationals. The two locations offer widely diverse expe-riences: The spacious Club Med Kabira

on Okinawa’s sunny Ishigaki is distin-guished by its grand ocean views, while Club Med Hokkaido resort is a natural jewel set amidst the raw beauty of the Mount Sahoro area, which offers a variety of winter activities. A new option are the Club Med Finolhu Villas, a five-star facility on the

Maldives that is a precise example of Club Med’s recent decision to offer even higher standards in luxury accommodation. As Seguchi explained, thanks to a recent boom in inbound visitors, Club Med Japan has big things planned.

PEOPLE POWER In 2010, customer makeup at Club Med Hok-kaido was about 70 percent Japanese, while “inbound” visitors from abroad and expats made up the remaining 30 percent. After a 2012 shift in market strategy, that ratio has been flipped on its head. “These are now the most cosmopolitan resorts in Japan,” Seguchi says. “The atmosphere is almost like that of an international school.” To roll with the blow dealt to the hospi-tality industry by the triple disaster in March of 2011, Club Med Japan decided to return to the G.Os—according to Seguchi, “the essence of [the] brand”—who hail from more than 25 countries and collectively speak nearly 100 languages and dialects. Always introduced by their first name, G.Os are the face of Club Med’s service and the reason that so many of its customers choose to return. G.Os are dedicated to providing service, whether they are leading activi-

ties and teaching sports by day or appearing in the company’s famous evening performances. “The more time people spend with us, the more impressed they are by the G.Os,” says Seguchi. Even though Japanese work culture frowns on taking long breaks, he explains that the com-pany is trying hard to familiarize Japanese customers with the concept of the longer French vacation.

PERENNIAL LUXURY “People pay a lot for their accommo-dations,” Seguchi continues, speak-


The pioneer of the all-inclusive resort steps up its cosmopolitan, luxury appeal while staying true to its traditional roots

The spaces we offer give freedom and privacy, two things that are scarce in Tokyo. I think people appreciate that.

ing about the average hotel experience. “Yet so many opt to take tours and other outings.” By contrast, Club Med aims to give its customers no reason to leave by focusing on luxury and top-notch service. “Why not stay on the property and explore what is being offered to you?” he asks. And each location has plenty to offer. The facility in Kabira Beach boasts expansive grounds where visitors can enjoy a range of activities that include transparent-bottom kayaking, tennis, and scuba diving, as well as more exotic activities such as archery and flying trapeze. For fun in the winter months, Sahoro is a must-visit. Home to some of the fin-est powder on the planet, the location is a skier or snowboarder’s paradise located in a part of Hokkaido that most don’t see. “Niseko is of course well known,” says Seguchi, “but Sahoro provides a great opportunity to experience Hokkaido without the crowds.” Finolhu Villas on the Maldives offers a truly unique experience. The eco-friendly resort runs on its own solar power, and private but-lers, personal pools, and attentive room service ensure that a stay at this secluded lagoon offers the ultimate escape from quotidian life. Keeping the future in mind, Seguchi looks forward to the firm’s next step: a new location in Japan. “Our business is character-ized by flow,” he says. “It’s never static.”

For more information on Club Med Japan, please visit their site:

Welcome to the Club

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Mori Seguchi, President of Club Med Japan


APRIL 2015

When Dean Fujioka flew out to America to study web design at Seattle University, his dream was to become a success-ful entrepreneur like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. Unfortunate-ly things haven’t quite worked out the way he was hoping

for; yet at the same time he certainly hasn’t done too badly for himself. Over the past decade or so he has worked as a model, musician, actor and director, becoming a bigger name in Hong Kong and Taiwan than his native Japan. His latest role is in “The Pinkertons,” a popular American detective drama that will be aired on WOWOW starting on April 18. The program’s central character, played by Angus Macfadyen, is Allan Pinkerton. Founder of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, he rose to fame in the mid 1800s when he claimed to have foiled an alleged conspiracy to assassinate Abraham Lincoln. The organization, which is

still in operation today, brought down some of America’s most notorious criminals and by the end of the 19th century had more agents than there were soldiers in the United States Army. “Being in the Pinkertons has been really educational for me as I knew nothing about North American history,” Fujioka tells Weekender.

“After getting the part I started doing my research and as soon as I saw the unblinking eye logo with the motto ‘We never sleep’ I got the feeling that it would be an intriguing show. My character is also interesting. He’s a noble samurai-like guy called Kenji Harada who goes out to the States to take revenge on a diplomat who killed his father. I’m in eight episodes—and take the lead in one—so it is quite a big role. “I felt an added pressure to produce a flawless performance because the level of professionalism was higher than what I was used to from working in Asia. I think there are a number of reasons for that: for a start the budget is on a completely different scale. I also think acting is seen as a well-respected profession out there. In this part of the world you can be asked to work 20-odd hours with hardly any break and then you’re expected to be fresh again when

they wake you at 5am the next morning. It’s not like that in the States. I think it’s the country where most actors want to end up and I’m no different.”

His prospects look good. The Fukushima-born star has got the model looks, charm and language ability—he speaks English, Manda-

rin, Cantonese and Japanese—to make a big impression internationally. He’s also made a habit of being in the right place at the right time. His modeling career took off after he was discovered by a magazine editor at an open mic night during a trip to Hong Kong. He went on to appear in numerous magazines, TV commercials and films before being scouted by a producer who offered him a role in a Taiwanese drama. “I was comfortable in Hong Kong and earning more than enough to survive, but as an actor you’re always going to be tempted by new chal-lenges,” Fujioka says. “Going to Taiwan was a strategic decision—it gave me the opportunity to broaden my horizons and learn Mandarin, which of course is more widely spoken than Cantonese. A couple of dramas I was in (“Corner with Love” and “Miss No Good”) were really popular, so I started getting a lot of attention there. I had to wear sunglasses and a mask when I went out, which is something I struggled to deal with. I start-ed to question whether that was the kind of life I wanted and then decided to quit the agency I was with and started focusing on my music.”

by Matthew Hernon


PLAYING A KILLERAlthough he is a talented, soulful singer with a real passion for music, Fujioka was not about to give up on his acting career just yet. In 2010 he signed with Japanese agency Amuse and the first project they brought him was the highly controversial “I am Ichihashi: Journal of a Murderer,” a film based on Tatsuya Ichihashi’s book “Until I Was Arrested.” Written while awaiting trial for the brutal rape and murder of English teacher Lindsay Hawk-er, the journal describes the tactics the fugitive used to evade the police, including

changing his name, hiding on a desert-ed island and even performing plastic surgery on himself with a razor blade and a pair of scissors. Whilst there is nothing about the actual crime in the story, many critics believe it was distasteful to make the movie just 18 months after Ichihashi’s arrest. Some have also suggested that a film like this risks turning the criminal into something of a tragic hero. Fujioka—who directed, played the lead role, and wrote the music—told Weekender it wasn’t his or producer Toshiaki Nakazawa’s intention to glorify Ichihashi in any way. “Throughout filming it was always on my mind how important it was not to offend the soul of the victim or her family,” he says. “We certainly weren’t trying to defend the killer’s actions or show any kind of admiration for him. I just felt that there was a story to be told and lessons to be learned from this episode. I did try to get in touch with Ichihashi; however, his attorney said that while he knew the film was being made he wasn’t in the right frame of mind to speak about it. I then tried to reach out to anyone who knew him well. “I had mixed feelings while making the movie. I’d always wanted to play a killer,

but I was really unsure about this particular role because I’d been out of Japan for so long and was initially unaware of this incident. I was of-fered just an acting role at first so I decided to do some research and then meet up with the execu-tive producer to discuss the issue. At that time a lot of people were tell-ing me I shouldn’t do it. My friends and family thought I was crazy. They said I wouldn’t

get TV work or any kind of endorsements. The first question that came to mind after reading the book was why would anyone want to publish something like this? Also who would be interested in reading it? I was puzzled. Sadly things like this happen every given minute, so what was it about this particular case? As I’d been out of the country I was curious about what was going on beneath the surface in Japan – the way young people were becoming desensi-tized to violence. Therefore, I also accepted the offer to direct it, hoping I could help eradicate this kind of thing by showing it

through a movie.” It was a brave decision by Fujioka that could have backfired and seriously damaged his career. Fortunately for the 34-year-old, his reputation remains in-tact and his career continues to go from strength to strength. What the future holds remains to be seen—he admits to indulging his curiosity and going off to try new things. Over the years he has worked as a DJ, done some photogra-phy, been an amateur boxer and tried various martial arts. He is now into a form of Chinese sword dance called jian wu, and is hoping to perform on stage with his crew from Taiwan sometime soon. However, the father of twins has a hectic sched-ule that is only likely to become busier following his American debut in the “The Pinkertons.” The young man who once dreamed of being an entrepreneur is now living the dream as an entertainer.

I’d always wanted to play a killer, but I was really unsure about this particular role...A lot of people were telling me I shouldn’t do it. My friends and family thought I was crazy.

THE PINKERTON FILESThe Baltimore Plot Murdered in 1865, Abraham Lincoln was also the target of an alleged assassination attempt four years earlier while en route to his presidential inauguration in Washington. Warned by Allan Pinkerton that there was a plot to ambush him when he changed trains in Baltimore, the President-elect boarded a sleeper train under an assumed name with Pinkerton agent, Kate Warner, who posed as his sister. Jesse & Frank James The Pinkerton Agency was called in to bring the notorious robbers, Jesse and Frank James to justice in 1874. After the man assigned to capture them, Joseph Whicher, was found murdered, Allan Pink-erton vowed vengeance. He staged a violent raid on the James homestead the next year, which led to the death of the James’ 8-year-old half-brother and the maiming of their mother. The incident caused outrage and created sym-pathy for the James brothers. Following his greatest failure, Pinkerton gave up the chase.

TATSUYA ICHIHASHIOn March 24, 2007, Tatsuya Ichihashi raped and strangled English teacher, Lindsay Hawker, and then buried her in a bath of sand and compost soil at his apartment. Two days later the criminal fled barefoot as the police circled outside his place. He spent the next two and a half years on the run, staying at various locations around the country, including an uninhabited island in Okinawa. He used false names and took on manual labor to pay for his plastic surgery. The surgeries eventually led to his arrest, as one of the clinics became suspi-cious and called the police. He was captured on November 10, 2009, while attempting to board a ferry to Okinawa. Tatsuya Ichihashi was sentenced to life in prison in 2011.



APRIL 2015


APRIL 2015








APRIL 2015

If you want to understand a few countries, watch their pro wrestling. In America you’ll see super-heroic muscle-men—inexplicably portrayed as underdogs—defend the US against foreign behemoths. In Mexico there’s a similar

battle of good versus evil, but instead of lone heroes, you find groups and multiple generations of families taking part in an endless struggle. In the twilight years of British wrestling you saw its aging stars slowly succumb to injury while its most promising youth failed to find glory outside the United Kingdom. Like any great art, pro wrestling lays bare the myths a society is built on, the aspirations of its people, and the harsh realities that govern them all. The hopes and dreams of Japan’s schoolgirls created one of the most vibrant and influential forms of pro wrestling: it’s called joshi puroresu. Japanese pro wrestling began as a post-war effort to reinvigorate the country’s wounded psyche. The legendary Rikidozan, who happened to be a Korean immigrant, wrestled to defend Japan’s honor against American grapplers in wildly popular bouts. When it was the ladies’ turn the same pattern

was followed. Top US star Mildred Burke toured Japan in 1954; she and her cohorts staged more occupation-influenced drama for eager Japanese audiences. Joshi puroresu, literally “girl’s pro wrestling,” became an established form of performance art and All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling (AJW) emerged as the pre-emi-nent joshi promotion. The story of Japanese wrestlers overcoming the odds to defeat Americans, only to succumb to their dastardly tactics on the next show, repeated itself for the next decade. However, as the occupation faded into memory and Japan looked towards its future as a post-industrial world power, a new way of expressing Japanese pride was needed. In the 1970s puroresu turned inwards and pitted Japanese wrestlers against other Japanese wrestlers. The art of puroresu advanced as more athletic wrestlers joined the fray. Wrestlers of this era put on complex matches that showed that wrestling could be exciting even without national pride at stake. Jackie Sato and Maki Ueda, The Beauty Pair, dominated joshi in the late 70s. They became a genuine pop culture phenom: they had hit singles, won music awards, and starred in their own

by Leslie Lee III

Tsubasa Kuragaki’s patented Torture Rack hold


film. The Beauty Pair’s popularity garnered AJW a fantastic TV deal and brought in a rush of new fans, most of whom were teenage girls. It’s easy to see why The Beauty Pair con-nected to the young Japanese women of that time. Sato and Ueda challenged suffocating gender norms: they were both beautiful and muscular; they were tomboyish and elegant; they were highly skilled athletes and platinum selling pop stars. They embodied the dreams of a generation of young Japanese women who saw a future that held more options for them. As popular as the Beauty Pair was in the late 70s, The Crush Gals were even more so in the 80s. Chigusa Nagayo and Lioness Asuka had all the pop culture success of the Beauty Pair, but were also next-level athletes. The Crush Gals were tougher, meaner, and badder than their predecessors. Their enemies—The Atrocious Alliance of Dump Matsumoto, Bull Nakano, and Crane Yu—wore face paint and mohawks and carried weapons to the ring. The story joshi puroresu told then was of strong, powerful, athletic good guys facing off against brutal, weapon-wielding cheaters: nice girls in the judo club versus the bad girls who smoked in the bathroom and bullied everyone. The good guys didn’t always come out ahead but the more the Crush Gals were beaten, the more fans loved them. The art of pro wrestling is a violent one and careers are short. The Beauty Pair only existed for three years before Ueda was forced to retire due to injury, and Sato soon followed.

AJW’s retirement age of 26 forced both Crush Gals to leave at the height of their populari-ty. The loss of the Crush Gals was especially damaging to joshi, as no later wrestlers became crossover stars on a similar level. But as joshi lost some of its pop appeal, its legitimacy in the larger wrestling world grew. The late 80s and early 90s saw newer stars like Manami Toyota, Akira Hokuto, Aja Kong, Toshi-

yo Yamada, and Kyoko Inoue claw their way up the ranks in increasingly outstand-ing matches. AJW had multiple shows each year that drew tens of thousands of fans. They were so successful they even invited wrestlers from rival promotion groups to participate in their events. The story was simple: joshi puroresu is the best. People took notice. During this time joshi began to get international attention from die-hard wres-

tling fans. Male wrestlers began copying the innovative wrestling maneuvers of joshi. US wrestling companies flew over AJW stars. Joshi matches won Match of the Year awards and Manami Toyota was named the most outstanding wrestler, male or female, by Wrestling Observer magazine in 1995. Like the Beauty Pair and Crush Gals booms beforehand, the pure wrestling-driv-en joshi high was short-lived. The faltering Japanese economy, the rise of mixed mar-tial arts, and an aging and unhappy locker room caused AJW to splinter, dwindle, and eventually fold in 2005. Numerous other promotions opened and closed during this time period. Names like GAEA, ARSION, and JD*Star came and went with less and less fanfare in Japan. While joshi is nowhere near as popular as it was in the 80s, it has climbed out of the black hole that was the 2000s. Several small but healthy promotions put on dozens of shows each month. The events are smaller and the talent pool is diluted, but joshi puroresu companies still put on fantastic performances. Pro Wrestling WAVE offers the best pure wrestling of any joshi pro-motion and is the primary promotion group for joshi’s top star, Kana. Her vicious wrestling style, avant-garde

fashion sense, and outspoken nature have brought her legions of supporters, and sev-eral critics. Her story? She’s so good she’s above joshi, as she stated in a 2011 inter-view: “There will never be another wrestler like me. I am the only one in the world. I have no female rivals, as there are none that can fight with matching technique and heart. I can’t measure my abilities within women’s wrestling.” Lightening the mood in WAVE is Sakura Hirota, a comedy wrestler known for her hilarious impersonations. She’s donned fake lips and noses to spoof her opponents and stuffed her top and worn school girl outfits to mock idols. Her most devastating moves are usually kisses and kanchos (goos-ing). Stardom is joshi’s most publicized promotion. Like AJW, its focus is on finding the sweet spot between pop culture and old school wrestling legitimacy. “Joshi needs more media exposure. More people need to see it, not only wrestling fans, but other people as well. That’s what Stardom tries to do,” says Act Yasukawa, one of Stardom’s top wrestlers. Act is a former actress and model, and the star of a recent documentary about her

life called “Gamushara.” In the piece, Act tells how she survived illness, depression, rape, and a suicide attempt to eventually find herself in pro wrestling. “When I was younger I was bullied and unhappy. I sur-vived and now I feel really alive, and I’m living my dream. That’s the feeling I want to give to the audience.” These are just a few of the intriguing sto-ries being told in modern joshi. Companies including REINA, Oz Academy, ICE Ribbon, DIANA, and LLPW run multiple events each week in the Tokyo area. If you are interested in seeing it live, you can find show listings on newsstands everywhere in “Weekly Puroresu” magazine or on

There will never be another wrestler like me. I am the only one in the world. I have no female ri-vals, as there are none that can fight with match-ing technique and heart.

WOMEN’S PRO WRESTLING | FEATURE | 21Stardom’s Io Shirai doused in streamers

The Beauty Pair were crossover stars

Kana prepares to finish her opponent



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APRIL 2015

Starting this column out at one of the outdoor tables at Segafredo in Hiroo. It’s mid-March and the sun’s shining and just heard on FEN that the temperature’s 56. Hopefully it’ll stay that way. Time flies and before you know it we’ll be heading into Golden Week,

and spring for real, with its cherry blossoms and full schedule of all kinds of international festivals in Yoyogi Park. I’m just back from a week in marvelous Manila. It was sunny every day there and temperatures were in the 80s. It was perfect weather to visit the Philippines, where I saw many long-time friends, enjoyed the good people and great food, and checked out many of the exciting changes in the growing city. I’ll be sharing some of these with you in the next few columns. For now I’d just like to say you should visit the beautiful, colorful and thoroughly enjoyable Philippines while you’re in this part of the world. I’m sure you’ll enjoy what will be one of the travel experiences of your life. It’s also much easier to get there now. Philippines Airlines has two daily flights from Narita to Manila and two daily from Haneda to Manila as well as two direct flights from Tokyo to Cebu. ANA Airlines and JAL both have busy schedules to the Philippines as well. It’s a short flight—about four hours and a whole new world. Looking over my schedule and columns I want to apologize for getting so far behind in my reporting. Tokyo, as I’m sure you all know, is a really happening city, and it’s not always easy, covering so many interesting and worthwhile events in old Edo, but I love what I’m doing and will try to continue doing my best. I do want to catch up so I’ll have to limit the number of photos I take at each reception, party, or whatev-er I attend to four or five. Believe me, it’s not going to be easy. Thanks for your continuing support and understanding.

VIETNAM’S LUNAR NEW YEAR CELEBRATIONMy dear friend Vietnamese Ambassador Doan Xuan Hung, his family, and his staff—who are also my neighbors—have really been busy this year in celebrating Tet, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year celebration.

They hosted three people-packed parties in their embassy compound. The first was for the Vietnamese who live in Japan, the second for the diplomatic corps, business leaders, and other Japanese friends, and the third for the full staff working at the embassy. All the parties were held over one week and special guests included former Prime Ministers Takeo Fukuda (and his wife) and Yukio Hatoyama. I dropped by the embassy recently to congratulate Second Secretary Hoang and his lovely wife Huyen (she’s a lawyer) on the birth of their baby daughter An. Hoang showed me his cell phone photos of a clock on the wall showing the exact time of An’s birth, and of course Huyen and An. A big congratulations to all our Vietnamese friends for their New Year and new little girl.

KONISHIKI, HIS WIFE CHIE PERFORM AT OAKWOOD It was an Aloha evening all the way at Midtown Premiere Oakwood when former sumo champ Konishiki and his gorgeous wife took the stage in matching Hawaiian fabric fashion and joined a group of musicians for an hour of great Hawaiian song and dance. They really are good. Special guests included Bu Takagi, the man who first introduced the ukulele to Japan. He took the mic to sing and play a couple of Hawaiian favorites while Chie gracefully did a hula dance. Other special guests at the Oak-wood Hawaiian evening included popular TV announcer Tsuyuki Shigeru and Jane Yamano, founder and owner of the Yamano Beauty College. Needless to say it was another great evening at Oakwood.

IKEBANA INTERNATIONAL FAIRIt was wall-to-wall people at the Tokyo Prince Hotel, where the organiza-tion hosted their annual Charity Fair. HIH Princess Takamado joined this year’s chairperson Maali Siam (wife of the Palestinian Representative) in cutting the ribbon for the magnificent exhibition of ikebana creations by both Japanese and foreigners. As always, the home-baked cakes, cookies, etc. as well as the favorite foods of the many participating countries pretty much sold out. I also heard the international handcrafted jewelry

Bill with Konishiki and his wife Chie at their night of hula at Midtown Premiere Oakwood



Qatar National Day at the Imperial

1. Turkish Amb. and Mrs. Ahmet Meric, Jordanian Amb. Demiye Haddad 2.

Outgoing Greek Amb. wife Yasmine Tsamados, her daughter Alexandra 3.

Jamila Bilal, Former Djibouti Amb. Rachad Farah, Moroccan Amb. and Mrs.

Saiamir Arrour 4. Pan Orient Bureau Chief Khaldon Azhari, Kamori Tourism’s

Masanori Senno 5. Qatar Amb. Yousef Bilal, popular politician Yuriko Koike 6.

Yamaguchi and Qatar Amb. 7. Mounari Kalis Elloumi (Tunisia), Shifa Haddad

(Jordan), actor Tetsuya Bessho, Abeer (Oman), Maali Siam (Palestine)

Bahrain National Day8. Popular Politician Kazuyuki Hamada, Russian Amb. and Mrs. Evgeny

Afanasiev 9. Vietnam Amb. Doan Xuan Hung with former Prime Minister

and Mrs. Takeo Fukuda 10. Outgoing Thai Amb. Thanatip Upatising, Philip-

pines Amb. Manuel Lopez 11. Vietnamese Second Sec. Hoang, Hamada-san

12. Vietnamese Military Attaché Major Vu Duc Phuc, Swiss medical student Michel Bielecki.






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APRIL 2015


Ikebana International

1. Ikebana Int’ls Fair 2014 Chairperson, Maali Siam (Palestine) and HIH

Princess Takamado 2. Maali and Mary Katayama 3. Maali, son of Kuwait Amb.

Hamoud al-Otaibi, Abeer.

Oman National Day Reception

4. Tongan Amb. Tania Tupou, Daniele Yoshikoshi 5. Personal trainer, Nick Pet-

tas, the hostess Abeer, Nick’s wife, Aya 6. Powerful politician Natsuo Yamaguchi

congratulates Oman Amb. and Mrs. Khalid bin Al-Muslahi.

Norman Tolman

7. Norman Tolman’s daughter, Allison, and her son, Lucas, on a family break in

Palm Springs 8.Allison, her chef husband Patrice Martineau, her sister Hilary

Tolman, Lucas, and Daisuke Maruoka.

Konishiki and Chie Put On a Great Show at Oakwood

9. Konishiki, his wife Chie, and TV announcer Tsuyuki Shigeru 10. Bu Takagi

who first brought ukulele music to Japan, Segafredo’s Brian Mori 11. Yoon and

Oakwood’s Amy Hanashiro 12. Jane Yamano, her husband Stanley, their daugh-

ter Mia, “Super Chie” and Konishiki






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PEOPLE, PARTIES, PLACES | SOCIETY | 27and fashions sold well. Kudos to Maali who, along with her many friends, made the fair the huge success it was. Proceeds went to many worthwhile causes.

OMAN AND QATAR CELEBRATE NATIONAL DAYS The wives of the Arab diplomatic corps here in Japan have to be some of the busiest, hardest-working women I’ve had the privilege of getting to know. Abeer Aisha, wife of the Oman ambassador, proved that at her country’s 44th National Day reception at the New Otani, as did Jamila Bilal, wife of the Qatar ambassador, at their National Day reception at the Imperial, and Maali Siam at Ikebana Int’l. At the Omani reception, I really enjoyed talking with Tongan Ambassador Tania Tupou and Daniele Yoshikoshi. Daniele and her husband Koichi recently returned from visiting several countries in South America. She enjoyed it all, but Daniele was especially impressed by Machu Picchu: she told me that the ancient city in the mountains of Peru was absolutely one of the most awesome places she ever visited. I remember—years ago—when I met actress Shirley McLaine, she told me the same thing. The Yoshikoshis are currently in Hawaii playing golf. That popular couple do get around. We all make changes over the years and everyone at the Oman bash were congratulating Abeer on her great new look. She got together with personal trainer Nick Pettas and his personal trainer wife Aya, worked hard, and really slimmed down. In addition that she changed her fashion concept as well and really came up with a chic cool look. It’s also amazing how busy both she and her husband Khalid stay. It was also nice seeing artist Masami Yamada and his wife Mami, who’s a writer, at the New Otani party. I first met them at the big tribal festival in Goroka in the mountains of Papua New Guinea. Masami has done some interesting paintings in the government buildings in Port Moresby. The Qatar party, at the Imperial, like the Oman party at the New Otani, was wall-to-wall Japanese and international friends of the hosting couple. Like Abeer, Jamila had worked hard to give the venue an Arab design look, and the buffet was a bountiful mix of Arabic, Japanese, and western food. At the Qatar party I enjoyed meeting Turkish Ambassador Ahmet Meric for the first time. I really enjoy Turkish Airlines’ always original and always changing TV ads. It was also nice seeing former Djibouti Ambassador Rachad Farah back in town. Thanks to this kind, generous friend I spent a week really enjoying Djibouti quite a few years ago. Tall, good-looking, and very creative actor Tetsuya Bessho was at the Qatar event and attracted a lot of attention. In addition to his acting career, he’s the founder and director of the Short Shorts documentary film festival and recently took this festival to Doha, the capital of Qatar.

GOÛT DE FRANCE AT THE FRENCH EMBASSYDue to a schedule conflict, I almost turned down an invitation to French Ambassador Thierry Dana’s Gastronomique des Français Soirée at the embassy on March 19. I first met the ambassador at Segafredo’s in Hiroo when he first arrived in Japan several months ago and found him very outgoing and friendly. When I found out that I and my companion

for the evening, Dewi Sukarno, would be at his table for the dinner I quickly accepted the invitation. The first-class evening started off in the newly decorated reception room where guests had the opportunity to see old friends, make new ones, and enjoy an excellent selection of hors d’oeuvres and the finest French wines and Champagnes. After short speeches by the ambassador and another French friend—Frederic Meyer, who heads the tourist office Atout France Japon—we moved to the main dining room. Others at our table included high-ranking government officials, world famous chefs Yukio Hattori and Kiyomi Mikuni, NHK Managing Director Hisanori Isomura, Itochu CEO Masahiro Okafuji, and JNTO President Ryoichi Matsuyama. The seven-course dinner was French cuisine at its finest, and as each course was brought to the table, the cuisine staff described the dish in exquisite detail. After dinner, guests moved to the entrance hall where a very attractive young lady performed chamber music on a piano. It was a really special evening in every way. Kudos to Ambassador Dana, the embassy chef Sebastien Martin, the embassy staff and the French community, who are working hard at promoting their wonderful cul-ture and cuisine.

THINGS TO DOCheck out your local book store for a copy of “My Cinderella Lesson” by Steve Haynes, one of Japan’s most talented and popular foreigners. For his new book, Steve worked with the top names in fashion and fitness here, including Jessica Michibata and Maria Akiyama, and is teaching readers how to look better, feel better, and be better people. The book’s full of cool photos and illustrations and I’m sure it will be a best-seller. Jessica, as many of you know, recently married British F1 driver Jensen Buttons in Hawaii. I saw the videos that Ceremony President Tsukasa Shiga took at the wedding with his camera-equipped drone. It was a magical day in every way. Back to reading material, I just found a very slick and chic maga-zine titled Roppongi Town Magazine. A good 50% of the publication is photos of Roppongi’s “tasty life” and features the malls, gardens, gallery restaurants, fashion, art, and architecture. There are 144 “tasty” pages of photos and not one of a disco, bar, hostess club or strip club. It’s obvious that the creative VIPs who put it all together are connected to the upscale element behind the “Clean Up Roppongi” campaign.Do yourself and your kids a favor and take them to the 17th Arab Char-ity Bazaar on Sunday, April 12, from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. The popular annual event will be held at the Izumi Garden Gallery near the Saudi Embassy and is directly connected to Roppongi Itchome station. Organ-ized by the society of wives of Arab ambassadors and heads of missions here in Japan, the colorful, interesting, fun bazaar gives people the opportunity to experience Arab culture and make new friends. Activities include great Arabic food, calligraphy, an Arab fashion show, music, dance, handicraft sales, and a kid’s henna corner. There’ll be some super door prizes from both Qatar and Ethiad Airways. Proceeds go to Make a

Wish Japan and the Momo-Kaki Orphans Fund.Later in the month, our friends at National Azabu Supermar-

ket will be celebrating their 53rd anniversary. Join them in the parking lot on Sunday, April 26, from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm. There will be food, drinks, and games for the whole family to enjoy.

Ryoichi Matsuyama, President of JNTO; Masahiro

Okafuji, President & CEO of Itochu Corp.

At the Diner Goût de France: Dewi Sukarno; Hisanori

Isomura, Chairman of the TMF Group

Hisao Harihara, MAFF, French Amb. Thierry Dana;

Dewi; Frédéric Meyer, Dir. of ATOUT FRANCE in Japan


APRIL 2015





Glossy remakes and retellings of classic children’s stories are doing big business at the box office right

now with Disney leading the charge. While fairytale mash-up Into the Woods can still be seen in cinemas and “Oz: The Great and Powerful,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “Maleficent” have all been released in the past few years, the House of Mouse has now turned to Cinderella for a big-screen revival. Kenneth Branagh is behind the camera directing “Downton Abbey’s” Lily James in the role of the princess, while “Game of Thrones’” Richard Madden hopes to avoid another Red Wedding as the handsome prince. After the death of her father our unfortunate heroine finds herself at the mercy of cruel stepmother Cate Blanchett, until fairy godmother Helena Bonham Carter, lends a magical hand. Disney crafted an animated musical classic in 1950 when they first had a stab at the story, and they’ve retained many elements from their earlier effort this time around. Cinderella’s timeless tale has been told many times before, but this latest version has been very well received abroad, garnering praise for its faithful, throwback style and fine cast.

Film and comedy legend “Beat” Takeshi Kitano made headlines last year with stinging criticism of modern Japanese

cinema at the Tokyo Film Festival. Now it’s time to see what the man himself can do with the release of his latest, “Ryuzo And The Seven Henchmen?” Not that the acclaimed director has anything to prove: hits like “Sonatine,” “Hana-bi,” “Zatoichi” and “Outrage” have cemented his position as Japan’s boldest modern filmmaker. Kitano’s played both a comedian and a criminal in his career and in this action-comedy he gets to have a go at both. Fuji Tatsuya stars as the titular Ryuzo, an elderly yakuza living a quiet life until he becomes the unwitting target of an online phishing scam. The elderly gangster responds by getting together his old cronies to take on the gang of young miscreants. Kitano co-stars in a cast of veteran toughs.

Set in Britain in 1984, British comedy-drama “Pride” tells an unlikely and uplifting, but true, story of two very different sets

of people. Margaret Thatcher is in power and the region’s coal miners are on strike. When a group of gay and lesbian activists at the London Pride march decide to help the struggling miners, they’re not exactly welcomed with open arms. With the miners union embarrassed to receive such support, the activists take matters into their own hands. Traveling to a hard-hit area in deepest Wales, where two different groups form an extraordinary partnership and triumph over shared adversity. Brit veterans Bill Nighy and Imelda Staunton head the cast with support from Paddy Considine and “The Wire’s” Dominic West. Fans of “Billy Elliot” and “The Full Monty” are bound to fall for this life-affirming story of working class grit and determination.

The opening film at last month’s Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival, “A Farewell To Jinu” is a

Japanese comedy-drama based on a manga by Mikio Igarashi. Popular model and actor Ryuhei Matsuda (“Gohatto,” “Nana,” “The Raid 2”) stars as Takami, a former banker who has developed a phobia of money. To escape his fear, the young man moves to a tiny village populated by a variety of oddball characters including a town mayor with a penchant for violence, an idiotic local thug, and a strange old man who claims to be a god. Takami must learn to cope in his newfound situation if he’s to survive his new cash-free life. This is Matsuda’s second collaboration with director Matsuo Suzuki after 2004’s “Otakus in Love.”

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Paul Thomas Anderson is undoubtedly one of the modern greats of American cinema. Returning to screens for the first time since 2012’s “The Master,” Anderson has again

collaborated with star Joaquin Phoenix for “Inherent Vice.” Based on a novel by Thomas Pynchon, Phoenix plays wacked-out private eye Larry “Doc” Sportello, who takes on multiple cases in a convoluted plot involving crooked wives, billionaire land developers, wannabe starlets, hustlers, surfers and addicts. All classic noir stuff, but this is LA in the tail end of the 60s and Anderson is taking us on a seriously drug-fueled, psychedelic romp through a seedy world of mystery and suspense. The director has a knack for putting together impressive ensemble casts and this time is no exception as Josh Brolin, Benecio Del Toro, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon and many more add life to the amazing cast of trippy characters. “Inherent Vice” may not be a straightforward ride, but it’s one hell of a trip.

Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” has ridden a wave of accolades that have culminated in the biggest prize of them all, a Best Picture win at February’s Academy Awards

ceremony. In a case of art imitating life, the film stars Michael Keaton as an actor from a successful comic book hero franchise, Birdman, trying to reinvent himself as a serious actor by mounting a stage play of a Raymond Carver short story. After sporadic appearances on screens since defining the modern superhero movie in his role as Batman over twenty years ago, the talented actor finds a timely reprieve in “Birdman.” While unfortunate not to pick up the Best Actor win, the famously out-there Keaton is outstanding. The excellent supporting cast includes Edward Norton as his arrogant co-star, Zach Galifianakis as his stressed producer, and Emma Stone as his troubled daughter. Alejandro González Iñárritu directs the film, using techniques to suggest the entire movie was shot in one long, continuous take à la Hitchcock’s “Rope.” A modern masterpiece and a welcome return to the spotlight for Keaton, “Birdman” is cinema at its finest.

APR 10


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APRIL 2015











Japan Hobby ShowProbably more handicraft and hobby

gear than one can humanly handle, complete with workshops and even a cooking fair.

Where: Tokyo Big Sight, Odaiba

How Much: ¥1,000 (adv.) /¥1,500 (same day)

More info:

Bubble Run 2015Run a 5K, get sprayed with foam, and dance to the sound

of DJs at the after-party of this two-day extravaganza.

Where: Makuhari Beach Park, Chiba

How Much: ¥6,900

More info:

Kohgen 2015Take your pick from the 40 Buddhism-relat-

ed workshops offered, ranging from yoga to achieving a state of Zen.

Where: Zoji-ji Temple, Shiba-koen

How Much: Workshop prices vary

More info:

Jurassic 5The alternative hip hop crew reunited in 2013 and

is back in full force in brand new venue Toyosu Pit.

Where: Toyosu Pit, Koto-ku

How Much: ¥8,000

More info:

Daidogei Street Festival This annual street festival should have something for

the whole family: keep an eye out for acrobats, musicians, clowns, mimes and trampoline jumpers.

Where: Minatomirai area, Yokohama

How much: Free

More info:

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds Catch up with the eldest

Gallagher brother, post-Oasis chaos and fame, with his psychedelic rock group High Flying Birds.

Where: Nippon Budokan, Chiyoda-ku

How much: ¥9,000

More info:

Earth Day TokyoA chance to find out more about NPOs and eco-con-

scious businesses, while enjoying some music and veggie eats.

Where: Yoyogi Park, Shibuya

How Much: Free

More info:

Katy PerryThe chart-topping pop princess will be taking

over Tokyo for two nights as part of her Prismatic World Tour. Expect hits and several dress changes.

Where: Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium

How Much: ¥10,000/¥12,000/¥25,000

More info:

APR 23-25 APR 14

APR 18-19

APR 16 APR 25-26

MAY 2-3 APR 11-12 APR 18-19

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Tokyo Beer Week 2015Get your craft beer fix at this event that

highlights the wide variety of flavors and brewing styles the microbrewery movement has to offer.

Where: Various bars around Tokyo

How much: Prices vary according to venue

More info:

Jimmy CliffThe Jamaican reggae legend will warm things up on this

side of the world with a three-day stint at Billboard Live.

Where: Billboard Live, Roppongi

How Much: ¥12,000 - ¥10,000 (casual)

More info:






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Charlie XCXShamelessly dance along to the catchy hit tunes from

this sassy English pop singer and songwriter.

Where: Liquid Room, Shibuya-ku

How Much: ¥6,000

More info:

The Black KeysSoul, rock and hip hop from the American duo

awaits you after the group’s 11-year absence from Japan.

Where: Studio Coast, Shin Kiba

How Much: ¥7,500

More info:

APR 16

APR 22-23

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APR 14-16





Prime Ribs

Aussie Cheese Fries


APRIL 2015


APRIL 2015

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Our gallery’s atmospheric location strikesvisitors somewhat as “The Japan that maynot always be here,” with its shoji windows,tatami floors, and Japanese staff who are aspolite to foreigners as it says they are in books.We have created and maintained an informalway of doing business showing Japanesegraphic art, much of it unavailable elsewhere.If you want to be enchanted by Japan, its art,and its people please drop by any day, exceptMondays and Tuesdays.

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MARCH 2015

BACK IN THE DAY: APRIL 1974Check out the scene in Tokyo from 1974! You can read the rest of this issue (No.13

1974) and view Weekender’s 42-year archive online.