• 8回目の来日で就労ビザを取得

    [From August Issue 2014]

    Sonia SOMOZA
    “Since 2005, I went through a cycle each year of coming to Japan to live for a while, and when I ran out of money, returning to my country to work, then I’d save some money, I would quit my job and return to Japan,” smiles Sonia SOMOZA from Spain. “I came to Japan for the eighth time two and a half years ago. Because I found work and obtained a working visa, it has been my longest stay yet,” she says with glee.
    Sonia has liked robots since she was a child. “I was attracted to the Japanese robot ASIMO and the manga ‘Dr. Slump Arale-chan,’ which had robots in it. It triggered my interest in Japan and this led me to begin reading websites written by Spanish people who lived in Japan, and to watching Japanese TV dramas and movies. Movies by the director KITANO Takeshi, TV drama ‘Stand Up!’ and the actor WATANABE Ken, made a big impression on me” she reflects.
    When Sonia was a university student, she also went to a language school to study Japanese. “Japanese is rumored to be a difficult language, so I thought that if I could use it, this would enhance my skills,” says Sonia. “But I didn’t get along with the teachers in the language school and this made me dislike Japanese so much that I stopped studying it,” she smiles wryly. After that, she learned Japanese from a Japanese person residing in Spain.
    When Sonia visited Japan for the first time, she was surprised at the difference in customs. “If you give up your seat for someone on the train, rather than saying ‘arigato’ in gratitude, they apologize, saying ‘sumimasen.’ The food was totally different from Spanish food, too. I wondered about this difference and thought, ‘I want to know more about Japan.’”
    After 2010, she worked part-time in Japan and attended a Japanese language school. “I went to Kai Japanese Language School and studied grammar, reading and writing, kanji, and conversation for four hours each day. As my skills improved, I was able to select my own classes. Since I had trouble reading, I took classes in which we read novels; works like MINATO Kanae’s ‘Kokuhaku.’” Thanks to this, she also passed Level Two (second highest level) of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test.
    The high cost of living in Japan was a problem. “When I stayed in Japan for three months while attending Japanese school, it cost at least 5,000 to 6,000 euros. I economized by doing things like buying cheap from wholesale supermarkets.” During her stay in 2011, the East Japan Great Earthquake hit. “I went back to my own country once to reassure my parents, but I came back again the following year and have continued to stay here ever since,” she laughs. Her parents, who were worried then, now look forward to the Japanese snacks, nibbles, and radio controlled toys that Sonia buys and sends to them.
    Using her English, Spanish, and Japanese, Sonia currently works at a real estate agency called Asiavox Plaza Housing. “Many non-Japanese customers often say that they do not want to pay key money (money paid as a gift to landlords). When this happens, I accompany them to the property so that they can understand that those places requiring key money are more comfortable than those that don’t.” She enjoys shopping on her days off. “I buy unique clothes and accessories in Harajuku, and search for stationery at Tokyu Hands. Because my younger sister is into erasable ball-point pens, I often buy some to send to her,” she says.

    Text: SAZAKI Ryo[2014年8月号掲載記事]

    ソニアさんは子どものころ、ロボットが好きでした。「日本製ロボットのASIMOや、ロボットが出てくるまんが『Dr. スランプ アラレちゃん』にひかれましたね。それをきっかけに日本に興味をもつようになって、日本に住んでいるスペイン人が書いたサイトを読んだり、日本のドラマや映画を見たりするようになりました。北野武監督の映画やテレビドラマ「Stand Up!」、そして俳優の渡辺謙さんが印象に残っています」と振り返ります。


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  • 伝統的な着物をドレスに生かす

    [From July Issue 2014]

    Yorozu International
    At Yorozu International in Roppongi, Tokyo, dresses made from kimono cloth and bags put together out of obi material and leather are laid out in rows. When the company was established in Karuizawa in 2010, a store was established in Daikanyama. Because the company wanted people from overseas to become familiar with the charms of kimono, one year ago the shop was moved to Roppongi, an area easily accessible to foreigners.
    MURAKAMI Yuko, the representative director, used to work in the apparel industry. Western clothes were at the center of her life. She says that approximately ten years ago, her husband encouraged her to enroll in a school where she could comprehensively study kimono. In the beginning, she didn’t even know how to fold a kimono. She started out studying how to wear kimono, but afterwards her studies went deeper and she learned about such things as dyeing techniques.
    The more she learned about kimono, the stronger her feeling that “these traditional techniques must be retained.” However, younger people view kimono as being expensive; not something that can be purchased casually. When her husband saw Murakami learning about kimono, he suggested that she establish a business. In order to give more people the chance to come into contact with kimono, she sold products made from repurposed kimono cloth.
    Murakami says that the best thing is when someone enjoys wearing a kimono. However, “When I thought about what should be retained, I thought it should be the colors and patterns of kimono which cannot be found in any part of the world except for Japan.” That’s why she’s not particular about the kimono retaining its form. Rather, she utilizes its patterns to reflect Japan’s four seasons and allows the delicate colors of its natural dyes to come alive in the form of dresses or bags.
    There are other shops that repurpose kimono into clothes, but Murakami has noticed that most of them use Japanese dressmaking techniques for the finish. Because Japanese dressmaking uses boxy fabric, it cannot be made to fit the body when repurposed into western clothes. Kimono fabric is 30 centimeters wide – narrower than western fabric – so Yorozu International is particular about cutting it with three-dimensional shapes in mind. They finely match the patterns, to give them new value as an attractive product.
    In the case of tailor-made dresses, which are basically made-to-order, prices start from 160,000 yen – which is not cheap. However, Murakami says with confidence: “Even though kimono patterns are old, they’re never out of fashion. Once you have it made, it can be something they can be proud of to the next generation.”
    One of the reasons why people have lost touch with kimono is because there are no opportunities to wear them. So Murakami holds a kimono dressing salon four to five times a month. After learning how to dress in a kimono, participants can enjoy a meal in a restaurant around Roppongi while wearing a kimono. Because it’s possible to communicate in English, word has got out and the numbers of foreign visitors have gradually increased.
    The “万” (yorozu) character used by “Yorozu International,” signifies “a great amount.” With this character, Murakami expresses her appreciation of nature and the eight million (countless) forces that created the kimono. Once one touches the smooth texture of the silk kimono cloth, one can feel the fascination of kimono created by these many powers.
    Yorozu International
    Text: ICHIMURA Masayo[2014年7月号掲載記事]


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  • 歌で日本の心を海外に伝えたい

    [From July Issue 2014]

    TAKEI Ryoko
    President of Foster Japanese Songs
    Using the western scale, nursery rhymes and school songs produced in the Meiji period (1868-1912) represent a unique Japanese world view. This makes them the perfect tool to promote the beauty of Japan to the rest of the world. This was the reasoning of TAKEI Ryoko, when she took on the role of president of Foster Japanese Songs (FJS).
    Takei has been studying singing while at the same time pursuing her academic and professional career. In 2006, she went over to America to get her MBA. While studying at Columbia University, she brushed up her vocal skills by attending a master course as an auditing student at the Juilliard School.
    Returning to Japan in 2008, she thought about what she could do for her country, and it occurred to her that she could be active in disseminating Japanese songs to other countries. “In attempting this, I could make the best use of my knowledge of business management and marketing skills, as well as my singing skills. I thought I was the only person who possessed both of these qualifications. And this above all, made me excited,” said Takei.
    Before getting started, Takei gave some consideration to how she would capture people’s interest. Takei says: “Japanese melodies, such as school songs, nursery rhymes and classic artistic melodies use the western scale, so they are approachable for non-Japanese listeners. Nevertheless, they express unique Japanese views of the world. If we make an analogy with sushi, for example, California rolls are an original dish made using Japanese techniques. So I thought I would start non-Japanese listeners off with California rolls and then have them move on to norimaki (rolled sushi wrapped in sheets of dried seaweed), namely, the world of Noh plays and so forth.
    So FJS was established in 2012, under the slogan of “Transforming Japanese soul songs into global classics.” She keeps herself active and is a member of Nikikai, an organization for vocalists, and sings as soprano on the side.
    In the middle of this March, FJS held its first overseas performance at a U.N. event in New York. “I assured the members that everything would be alright, but I was actually very nervous,” says Takei, explaining how she felt before the concert.
    After the performance, however, some non-Japanese people were found to have shed a tear. The concert attracted the attention of foreign media and she felt that things had gone rather well. “The next day we gave a concert at a recital hall and I was really happy to see that some of the people who had attended the previous day’s event came with their friends to listen to our songs again,” says Takei.
    Takei prioritizes conveying the meaning of the Japanese lyrics. During a performance, she took some time to explain the environment in which the songs were created. Using phonetic transcripts, she got everyone to join in a rendition of “Furusato” (Hometown). She also translates lyrics, but she does this very carefully. “I want to retain an academic appearance. Depending on how you translate it, you can end up with something resembling inferior California rolls. I always take time to make sure that my translation fully reflects the meaning of the original.”
    These days, even in Japan, there are fewer opportunities to enjoy nursery rhymes and school songs. “Japanese songs account for only 10% of the songs found in junior high school music textbooks,” says Takei. She plans to hold the same performance in Tokyo that she did in New York and, in addition, to actively continue her efforts at home. Takei says that FJS’s goal is to have famous opera singers such as Plácido Domingo sing Japanese songs in Japanese on their European tours.
    Foster Japanese Songs
    Text: ICHIMURA Masayo[2014年7月号掲載記事]


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  • 風船を飛ばし宇宙を撮影

    [From July Issue 2014]

    Floating a camera from a balloon and photographing the Earth from far up in the stratosphere. It sounds like a fairy tale, but by using a unique method IWAYA Keisuke, from Sapporo City, Hokkaido, made this a reality. Since the first launch in 2011, he has launched 30 balloons so far. As a result of continuous additional improvements, the camera attached to the balloon can now reach heights of more than 40,000 meters.
    “In fact, not many images taken from these heights had, up until now, been shot. It’s not an altitude at which it’s normally possible to take photographs; rockets are further away from earth.” His so called balloon photographic method is unusual and on top of this, his photographs are unique. Because of this, Iwaya’s space photography is attracting interest from different directions.
    When he was child, Iwaya admired Dr. BROWN who invented the time machine in the movie “Back to the Future.” “I wanted to become an inventor. But as I progressed through junior school and high school I became more aware of reality and gave up on becoming an inventor,” he laughs. After that, he moved on to study at the mechanical engineering department of a university, which was where he heard the news about an American student who had successfully taken photographs from a balloon.
    “I want to try it myself!” he immediately thought, but the details of the method used were not disclosed. So he assembled his materials for around 5,000 yen and tackled the problem using his own original design and method. So he could be sure to gather data, a string was connected to the first unit launched. Although the altitude was low at a mere 100 meters, he discovered many things about the effects of wind on the photographic image and about battery consumption.
    After that, he analyzed the data for each launch adding numerous improvements. Currently, he launches his camera packed in Styrofoam with a large helium-filled balloon of one to two meters in diameter. It weighs approximately 250 grams. Because atmospheric pressure falls as the balloon rises, the balloon explodes and falls when it reaches approximately 30,000 meters in altitude.
    As the camera falls to the ground, Iwaya is extremely careful about not injuring anyone. He attaches a speed reduction device and calculates that the camera returns to the earth at a speed of 15 kilometers per hour or slower. Because it is floating, depending on the way the wind blows, the camera is equipped with GPS so that the location of the fallen camera can be discovered. A buzzer goes off when it hits the ground, so that it can be found even if it happens to land in tall grass.
    There have been occasions when he was unable to collect his camera. On other occasions, 10,000 photographs have been taken but only one decent photo produced. However, Iwaya says, “These are no ‘failures.’” He explains that even if he cannot collect the camera or take photographs, he discovers something new at each launch and these findings can be useful for the next launch.
    There were some people who regarded Iwaya’s dream to photograph space from a balloon as being impossible to realize. Iwaya says, “Taking photographs from space with a balloon has taught me that dreams can come true if I continue without giving up.” Iwaya’s next dream is to photograph the deep sea.
    *Data presented in this article is as of April 18, 2014.
    Balloon Space Photography
    Text: ICHIMURA Masayo[2014年7月号掲載記事]


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  • 日本語学習で自分自身が成長

    [From July Issue 2014]

    TRAN Minh Hoang
    In the fall of 2013, at the “13th IM Japan Writing Contest” – a contest organized by the International Manpower Development Organization, Japan (a.k.a. IM Japan) – “The Color of My Life,” an essay by Vietnamese national TRAN Minh Hoang, won first prize. Many people were touched by Hoang’s ability to write beautiful Japanese and by his idea of expressing his feelings about life up until that time in colors.
    Through a Technical Internship Program that was set up by the Japanese government, IM Japan accepts numerous highly skilled interns sent by the governments of Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia. Taking advantage of this scheme, Hoang came to Japan in June 2011 with 12 colleagues. He’s now receiving technical training at MHI Ship & Ocean Engineering Co., Ltd. (a.k.a. MSK) in Nagasaki City, Nagasaki Prefecture.
    Located at the Nagasaki shipyard of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd., MSK engineers and manufactures tankers, container ships, cruise ships, and more. Trainees like Hoang learn manufacturing skills like welding.
    Hoang says, “The Japanese language is difficult, especially honorific expressions.” MSK encourages trainees like him to study by providing them with two Japanese lessons a week and advising them to take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test.
    By responding to the company’s expectations that he take an interest in Japanese and throw himself into his studies, Hoang has been seriously applying himself, sparing no effort. He has thus far managed to pass the notoriously difficult N2 grade (second highest qualification) Japanese Language Proficiency Test.
    Before reaching that level, he drew strength from the encouragement of older colleagues. They not only guide trainees at work, but also take an interest in their health and daily lives. Hoang says of his group leader KANAZAWA Akira and manager UEDA Yosuke, “They are like real family.” At times they seriously reprimand him, telling him that “Alcohol and smoking are bad for you.”
    Hoang will soon finish his three years of training and return home to Vietnam. “I’ll be glad to see my family back home, but I’ll be sad to say goodbye to the folks at MSK,” he says. After returning home, he wants to build on the language and professional skills he acquired in Japan and work towards building ties between Japan and Vietnam. His dream is to someday return to Japan and open a Vietnamese restaurant in Nagasaki.
    In “The Colors of my Life,” Hoang writes, “From now on, I don’t know what colors my life will be painted in, nor do I have any idea of what kind of painting it will be in the end, but I’m learning to enjoy my growing maturity through the study of the Japanese language. Why don’t you try learning a foreign language yourself? You’ll certainly encounter a new you.”

    Text: KOMIYAMA Ranko[2014年7月号掲載記事]



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  • 間伐材を使った杉のわりばし

    [From June Issue 2014]

    Receiving a bowl of noodles from across the counter with one hand a customer uses the other to split apart a pair of chopsticks he’s been holding between his teeth and proceeds to vigorously slurp up his noodles. This familiar scene at standing soba and udon shops might one day disappear. That’s because disposable chopsticks are gradually starting to disappear from the counter.
    Plastic and lacquer chopsticks are increasingly replacing disposable ones. These days disposable chopsticks are rarely seen at family restaurants and Japanese-style bars. There are two reasons why disposable chopsticks have become less popular. The first reason is that there is a preconception that cutting down trees to make them leads to deforestation. The second is that more and more people think it’s a waste to use disposable chopsticks, because they are thrown away after only one use.
    Responding to the view that disposable chopsticks are a bad thing, YOSHII Teruo, president of Yoshiishoji, a company that sells chopsticks wholesale in Nara Prefecture, says, “Using domestically produced disposable chopsticks helps protect the environment.” Yoshino Japanese cedar is produced in the Yoshino region, where the company is located. This area is also said to be the region where disposable chopsticks originated. Originally, disposable chopsticks were made from the wood shavings created in the production of cedar sake barrels.
    Today, they are made by effectively using lumber from “forest thinning” (removing certain trees from an overcrowded forest), and “wood shavings” from timber used for construction materials. No wood is wasted. In short, the production of Yoshino chopsticks is unrelated to deforestation. “Forest thinning effectively encourages the growth of surrounding trees,” Yoshii argues. “Therefore, making chopsticks with wood from forest thinning serves the purpose of preserving and cultivating timber resources.”
    Mr. Yoshii explains the benefits of using disposable chopsticks: “Over the 20 years after they are planted, the cedar and cypress trees used for making chopsticks absorb a tremendous amount of carbon dioxide from the air. In other words, the mountain forests we humans carefully cultivate play a big role in protecting the environment we live in. It’s been calculated that a reduction of 16 grams of carbon dioxide per year is generated by using one pair of chopsticks.”
    In response to the view that disposable chopsticks are a waste, Mr. Yoshii has this to say: “Plastic or lacquered chopsticks are certainly convenient because they can be used over and over again. However, there is a cost involved in the water and detergent needed to wash them. It is important to consider this total cost, rather than the cost of a single pair of disposable chopsticks. We should also take into account the effect draining water has on the environment.”
    Disposable chopsticks are produced in other regions, of course, but the production process is mostly mechanized. However, most of the workers in the Yoshino region still continue to make them by hand to this day. Emphasizing the benefits of wooden chopsticks, Yoshii says, “Not only are chopsticks a tool for eating, but by using them, old customs and traditions are preserved. For this reason, because of their unique aroma, feel and texture, cedar chopsticks are best.
    Text: ITO Koichi[2014年6月号掲載記事]


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  • 関心のなかった日本が好きに

    [From June Issue 2014]

    Dongi USENG LAFI
    “To tell you the truth, I used to have no interest whatsoever in Japan,” says Dongi USENG LAFI from Taiwan with a wry smile. “Many people in Taiwan love Japan and sightseeing trips to Japan are very popular. But I never participated in any. Having an interest in Europe, I studied German in college.”
    However, Dongi came to Japan in October 2012 when her boyfriend was transferred there for work. “I didn’t speak a word of Japanese and on top of that my parents were very concerned because it was after the Great East Japan Earthquake. However, I’d made up my mind to go along with my boyfriend.” Since coming to Japan, Dongi has taken quite a liking to the country. “Everywhere you go in Japan the streets are clean. Trains operate on time. The people are all polite and well dressed. Waste is properly recycled. I think we Taiwanese should learn from this side of the Japanese.”
    She’s been won over by Japan’s culture and nature. “I’ve always been fond of flowers, so I’m practicing ikebana (flower arrangement) and kokedama (moss ball making). While pursuing those activities, I’ve come to acquire a powerful sense of the beauty of flowers. When I saw cherry flowers in full bloom for the first time in the spring of 2013, I was moved to tears.”
    Dongi has also come to like Japanese cuisine. “My boyfriend hated nattou at first. But he liked yuzu chili paste, so I put it in nattou for him. Then he just fell in love with nattou,” she says. “On special occasions, we look forward to eating Kobe beef. We also often go to a chanko-nabe restaurant near our place.”
    She also finds some things problematic. “I was shocked by the high prices in Japan. They are about three times as high as in Taiwan,” says Dongi. “The house we live in now is close to a station and convenient. It gets a lot of sunshine and it’s a good house, but I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard how much the rent cost. In winter, electricity for heating is quite costly.”
    Dongi started studying the Japanese language as soon as she came to Japan. “Thinking that if I was going to live in Japan, it would make sense to study Japanese, I enrolled at the Evergreen Language School (Meguro Ward, Tokyo). School fees are about 700,000 yen a year. I study Japanese for three and a half hours in the morning and work part-time in the afternoon. At night, I study Japanese until late at home. The good thing about Evergreen is that there are never any more than eight people per class. Right now there are five people in my class and we are able to talk a lot.”
    Dongi enrolled in April 2013 and passed the N2 (second highest level) of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test in July. “Next time, I want to take the Japanese Business Proficiency Test,” she says, explaining her goal. “Even though I’m pretty busy with work and Japanese studies, I’m enjoying life in Japan. Japan has lots of shops selling well-known brands second hand. I’m glad I can buy good quality items cheaply. My Taiwanese friends ask me, ‘Have you become rich overnight?’” she laughs.
    Evergreen Language School
    Text: SAZAKI Ryo[2014年6月号掲載記事]


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  • 温もりある食卓風景を表現

    [From May Issue 2014]

    IIJIMA Nami, Food Cordinator
    NHK’s morning program, “Gochisousan” ended its run this March; the delicious looking dishes featured on the show from the dining tables of ordinary families of the first half of the Taisho era and last half of the Showa era were popular with viewers. Food coordinator, IIJIMA Nami, was in charge of creating those dishes.
    “A food coordinator’s job is to suggest dishes that would be suitable for a particular TV commercial, drama, or movie, then to actually create that dish on location and prepare the tableware and tablecloth on which to serve it up on. With TV dramas and movies, directors often ask me questions and request my suggestions about dishes in the script phase. ‘Gochisosan’ was difficult in that I was asked to give logical explanations of the setups that I usually create by intuition.”
    These settings aren’t necessarily confined to today’s Japan. In some cases they’re set in the past and in others, overseas. Thanks to the rich knowledge of cookery she’s accumulated over the years, it’s been possible for her to reproduce dishes even when the correct implements or ingredients weren’t available. “I come up with suitable methods and dishes that match the situation by mixing together my knowledge of regional dishes of Japan and other countries, wine lore, Chinese medicinal food, vegetable cultivation and traditional food in my mind’s eye.” As, for example, in the case of the movie “Kamome Shokudo” – set in Finland – Iijima’s dishes, and more particularly home cooking, always give viewers something to discuss.
    Iijima says, “I’ll be happy if those who see my table settings think to themselves: ‘I want to make that,’ or ‘I’d like to make my table look like that.’” Such remarks aren’t, in fact, rare and Iijima has published books. “I spend most of my time preparing dishes for shoots, so I never thought I could have my own cookery book. Since I measure by eye when cooking for myself, in order to satisfy readers, I wrote my book series ‘LIFE’ after many experiments.” Because it was made in such a way, Iijima’s cookery book is so popular that readers have commented that: “It looks delicious,” and “It looks like I could make that myself.”
    “When I look at recipes from the postwar years, I’m really amazed by the time and energy people put into preparing dishes. They would make a charcoal fire, put a pan on a clay cooking stove and make stew with a white sauce made from scratch. I sometimes wonder how convenient things should get in modern times. Convenience is great, but convenient things, too, are going to change over time. I wanted my book to also be read in the future, so it introduces recipes that employ traditional methods; using neither microwave ovens nor instant stock.”
    Iijima thinks Japanese cuisine is characterized by the fact that it makes the most of the natural flavors of raw ingredients. She says, “It might seem unusual, but, because Japanese want to make the most of the natural flavors of ingredients, such as fish, meat and vegetables, we skim the scum from broths. I have a keen interest in the differing food cultures from countries like Korea, in which this scum is considered to be a source of umami (savory) flavor,” she says.
    Text: ICHIMURA Masayo[2014年5月号掲載記事]


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  • 日本人にこそ見直してほしい日本食の長所

    [From May Issue 2014]

    Erica ANGYAL Nutrition Consultant
    “Many Japanese think their longevity and beautiful skin are due to their genetics. But that’s not the case, the traditional Japanese diet has had a huge effect,” says Erica ANGYAL. Erica is active as a nutrition consultant in her home country, Australia, and in Japan. The first time she felt the beneficial effects of Japanese food was during her high school days when she stayed for one year in Oita Prefecture as an exchange student from Australia.
    “Because I was 15 years old, I had pimples. But I was very impressed as after a month of eating my host family’s cooking, my pimples were completely gone.” She says that the experience resulted in the work she is doing now. However, she also feels that the cooking commonly seen in Japanese homes 30 years ago has changed greatly.
    “I was really surprised when I saw what young models for a magazine project actually eat.” She was shocked by the fact that most of their diets lacked critical nutrients; though meals of just jam and toast contained enough calories, the diets of these models were virtually devoid of nutrition. All through the week, many of the models only consumed ready-made meals such as bentou (lunch boxes) that can be bought at convenience stores – food that contains a lot of artificial additives and chemicals. Erica is worried that such food is addictive.
    Erica says that she regrets that there is disparity between the fact that Japanese food is receiving worldwide attention and the fact that the diet of young people in Japan is becoming westernized. The Western diet promotes weight gain and it also increases the risk of all lifestyle diseases. The traditional Japanese diet is well balanced and varied with its use of seasonal ingredients.
    But, according to Erica, this conversely caused Japan to fail to keep up with preventative nutritional science. Although time has passed and the dietary lives of people have greatly changed, knowledge of preventative nutritional science has not spread. Erica worries that this will lead to a situation in which lifestyle diseases become more common; immune systems are weakened, and gynecological problems and mental imbalance arising from hormonal imbalances increase.
    She says that the ideal Japanese meal is the breakfast served at Japanese style ryokan (inn). “The variety of items, including boiled spinach, eggs and fish, promotes good hormonal balance. Although there are people who believe that it’s possible to get adequate nutrition from eating snack foods fortified with nutrients, you won’t be receiving the amazing synergistic effect of the nutrients found in whole foods.” She says that the Japanese breakfast of vegetables and fish is now attracting attention in countries such as the U.S. and the number of celebrities adopting this diet is increasing.
    Erica feels that young women in Japan are losing the vitality that should come from within. Her advice to them is to look at their breakfast again. “It does not have to be perfect. You can add nattou (fermented beans) or an egg to your rice, or drink soy milk. I suggest that you add some protein.”
    Erica has been giving nutritional guidance to many young women including the finalists of Miss Universe Japan. Her book, written in Japanese, “Diet to Become the Most Beautiful Woman in the World” was translated into other languages and has become a bestseller. From now on she hopes to show women, particularly young Japanese women, how it’s possible to become beautiful through a good diet.
    Erica Angyal website
    Text: ICHIMURA Masayo[2014年5月号掲載記事]

    栄養コンサルタント エリカ・アンギャルさん

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  • 難しいからこそ挑戦したい

    [From May Issue 2014]

    Casey NOVOTNY
    “I wanted to challenge myself with something big,” says Casey NOVOTNY from Canada. “When it was time to decide my future during my third year of junior high school, I was interested in Japanese culture, history and animation. So I did some research about Japan in a library and learned that the Japanese language has kanji, hiragana and katakana. Having three types of characters, I thought that Japanese must be difficult. For this reason, I wanted to take up the challenge.”
    Casey chose and went on to a senior high school that had a sister school in Japan. He then took Japanese classes for an hour every day. During the first five months of his third year, he studied abroad at this sister school: Meitoku Gijuku High School in Kochi Prefecture. “I’d been longing to do kendo and was able to do it as an extracurricular activity,” Casey recalls.
    He also had difficulties, too, however. His life at the dormitory was completely scheduled from morning onwards, so finding time for both his studies and extracurricular activities wasn’t easy. Furthermore, he was embarrassed of sharing a bath with classmates. He was refused when he asked “Is it okay to wear swimming trunks?”
    He got homesick, too. “In those moments, I would show my roommate pictures of my family and tell him a lot about Canada. I only had a smattering of Japanese, so he listened to me carefully, asking me to repeat what I had said and wrote down what I was saying on paper. I talked a lot and as a result, my Japanese improved. My homesickness was gone and my roommate became like a brother to me.”
    After returning home, Casey had an overwhelming urge to go to Japan again. So he matriculated at the University of Manitoba; a university that had an exchange program. In his sophomore year, he came to study abroad at Kokugakuin University for a year. “I was startled by the crowds in Shibuya. And yet, I was happy at the same time thinking, ‘This is Japan.’ Even busy intersections and riding on crowded trains made a big impression on me,” says Casey, laughing.
    Around the time he graduated from college, Casey passed level one (the highest level) of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. He then applied for the JET Program (Japan Exchange and Teaching Program) and returned to Japan. As someone well-versed in Japanese affairs, he became a CIR (Coordinator for International Relations) in charge of counseling ALT (Assistant Language Teachers). One day, an ALT got in touch with him to complain, “Even if I have nothing to do, I can’t leave work before the official end of the working day.”
    “I suggest you first act as your Japanese colleagues do. When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” Casey advised. “If you don’t agree with my advice, I suggest you propose some positive way to improve things. If the situation doesn’t improve despite this, you should consider how to make the best of your time here.”
    Casey is currently doing work with study abroad programs at Asia University in Tokyo. “By contacting colleges in North America on behalf of Japanese students, I feel that I’m working towards bridging the gap between Japan and North America,” he says. “With Japanese, kanji and their stroke order are difficult, but nowadays you can type them on a PC if you know how they are pronounced. You should use a lot of keigo (honorific language), in order to commit it to memory while you are still a student,” he advises.
    Asia University
    Text: SAZAKI Ryo[2014年5月号掲載記事]


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