• 流れに逆らわず、チーム力で獲得した栄冠

    [From July Issue 2013]


    ASANO Shigeto

    Have you heard of rafting? It is an outdoor sport involving teams of six riding in a rubber raft and paddling skillfully as they are pulled down rivers on strong currents. River currents are not always gentle; sometimes there are big surges and rapids with steep drops. Sometimes, rafts can flip over, or members can be thrown out.

    ASANO Shigeto, an athlete who became interested in this competitive sport, formed Japan’s national team in 1999. The first time he participated as a coach and athlete in an international event, his team came 15th out of 16 teams, but in 2010 and 2011, his team won the championship. What was the secret behind the team’s sudden ascent to the position of best in the world?

    Rafting is popular in countries such as Brazil, the Czech Republic, the United States, and Italy. There was a big difference in experience and physical strength between Japanese athletes and athletes from other countries. That is why it was said that: “It will take 50 years for Japan to become best in the world.” Asano overturned such conventional wisdom; he surprised people in the industry both at a domestic and international level, by becoming world champion eight years after putting together a professional team – just ten years after he made his debut.

    Asano cites “the power of teamwork” as one of the reasons for the team becoming world champions. “During the race, team members become both rudder and engine. Therefore, we cannot reach our full potential unless the feelings of our team members are united.” Since the condition of the river, which sets the stage for the competition, changes from moment to moment, “it is important to always be of one mind in order to make decisions in an instant.”

    During the actual race, “when the current flows against us around rocks, we intentionally do not fight against it, but instead just drift along with it. On the other hand, if there is a chance to advance, we aggressively take full advantage of it,” Asano divulges. “For this reason, there is no substitute for the sense of accomplishment that comes with adapting to a situation that can vary from moment to moment. This excitement buoyed me up, allowing me to become world champion.”

    The World Championships are held once every two years, but the location and date varies. The next championships will be held in New Zealand in November this year. “Team Japan will attempt to win their third consecutive victory, however, I will not participate, but rather work on supporting the team,” says Asano. After withdrawing from the front line, by making use of his experiences, Asano has energetically put his energies into teaching through workshops and lectures.

    The attraction of rafting lies in being thrown into violent currents, traversing dangerous ground time after time through great effort, and adapting to a variety of changes; a skill set that can be applied to work or study. Attitudes developed through rafting, such as “proactively adapting to change, “at times going with the flow,” and “valuing teamwork,” might also be useful skills for people to apply to their own lives.

    Website of ASANO Shigeto

    Text: ITO Koichi



    浅野 重人さん

    ラフティングという競技を知っていますか? 6人が1組となってゴムボートに乗り、かいを巧みに操って、はげしい流れの川を下るアウトドアスポーツです。川の流れはいつもおだやかではなく、川とは思えない大きな波や落差のある滝にも見舞われます。ボートがひっくり返ったり、そこから投げ出されたりすることもあります。









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  • 金魚に救われた美術家が器の中に金魚を描く

    [From June Issue 2013]


    FUKAHORI Riusuke

    After graduating from art college, FUKAHORI Riusuke worked in the corporate world, but he quit his job at the age of 26 to realize his dream of becoming an artist. However, he did not excel in any genre and neither did he have an original technique. Worried about his future, he was on the verge of giving up his dream. One day, exhausted from worry, he lay down in his room and caught sight of a goldfish in his aquarium. He had won this female goldfish at a summer festival seven years earlier in a “scooping goldfish” game.

    “I hadn’t looked after it and the tank was dirty with feces, but the bright red fish had grown to about 20 centimeters in length. From above it looked so beautiful that it sent shivers down my spine. It was as if the fish was crying out, asking why no one had paid any attention to her existence. I knew right there and then that she would save me,” recalls Fukahori. He now calls this his “goldfish salvation” day.

    “In the early days, I would paint goldfish with shadows to create a sense of solidity. But I realized that to survive as an artist that wasn’t enough, and continued experimenting to create my own technique. One day I recalled my experience of working part time with resin. I tried painting directly onto transparent resin and achieved excellent results.”

    In 2002, two years after “goldfish salvation,” he came out with his 3D goldfish painted with a technique he’d developed himself. These realistic goldfish, that looked as if they were frozen in time, made quite an impact and came to be highly valued as works of art. Winning an art prize the next year, in 2007 he opened a new studio in Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture, and in 2009, began exhibiting overseas in countries such as Germany, the UK and Hong Kong.

    Fukahori’s painted goldfish aren’t in aquariums, but in teacups, square shaped containers for measuring sake and even old drawers. He explains that this is because, “I don’t paint by observing real goldfish. I watch my pet goldfish daily. When I look at a vessel, goldfish just pop into my mind’s eye and I paint from memory.”

    Goldfish are commonly found in aquariums in Japan. Unlike tropical sea fish, they depend on humans to exist. Fukahori says, “Goldfish are not only beautiful and mysterious, but also poignant creatures. Just as humans pollute the earth, they pollute aquariums with their own feces. They make me think about life and the environment day after day.”

    Though there have been times when he’s gone without sleep in order to complete big commissions, he no longer accepts these requests. Fukahori, who was born and grew up not far from the famous goldfish breeding city of Yatomi, Aichi, says, “Just like goldfish breeders, I want to breathe life into my imaginary goldfish and create works that people will fall in love with.” Today he continues to paint, searching for answers to the puzzle of what the existence of goldfish means to him personally.

    Kingyo Yougajou



    深堀 隆介さん









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  • 「自然治癒力」に命をかけた決断

    [From April Issue 2013]


    Director of the Natural Healing Association, Reiki Master
    TANAKA Yasuhide

    I can celebrate with sushi and wine tonight! Oh, thank goodness, I can drink wine again, and I can even eat tuna, my favorite… After leaving the doctor’s office, I rushed into the nearest restroom and cried. My doctor had given me the good news today, “Congratulations Mr. Tanaka! Your readings have finally returned to normal. You are not a patient anymore.”

    Diagnosed as being terminally ill with a collagen disease, I was unable to breathe properly after a heavy coughing fit. Soon after, the doctor told me, “Your condition has reached the stage at which it’s no longer likely that you will recover. You have half a year or so at best.” I was unable to accept the statement that “I was going to die.” No way was I going to die! In the depths of despair, I desperately sought for some way to live.

    That was when I finally discovered a “natural healing method.” This is the belief that it’s possible to strengthen natural healing powers contained within ourselves and use that power to overcome disease. It’s possible to be examined in a hospital, but you cannot receive treatment. I literally put my own life at stake in order to strengthen the inner force latent within myself. It was my faith in reiki that led me to this decision.

    Reiki, which is essentially about “ki,” tends to be regarded with some skepticism in Japan. But there is a rising awareness of “ki” as a form of “celestial energy” in the Orient and as “universal life energy” in the Occident. By channeling and utilizing “ki,” reiki is now widely practiced in many countries.

    I studied chi kung in Japan and China, and acquired my reiki skills from my German master. I was then awarded the title of reiki master. For many years, as a member of the “Usui Reiki Therapy Society,” I have practiced traditional reiki techniques. I have long believed in the innate strength of the life force within humans themselves.

    When they learned that the doctor had diagnosed me as being a terminal patient, my worried children came to visit from far away. But when they saw me looking vivacious and full of hope, they were totally taken by surprise, yet at the same time relieved. Fortunately my treatment was gradually taking effect and the test results from my medical examinations were improving each year. However, I was suddenly struck by another blow when I discovered in the middle of this that I had cancer of the colon.

    But I kept on going, never giving up. In addition to using reiki to harness the power of “ki,” I also strived to unite my mind and body and in addition I stuck to a brown rice based diet to maximize the integral healing power contained within food. That is to say I adopted a lifestyle based on the three fundamental cornerstones of “ki,” “mind” and “diet.”

    As a result, guided by the power of “ki,” my health took a turn for the better. Eight years after the onset of symptoms, my doctor now diagnosed my collagen disease as having “naturally regressed.” Eight months after the onset of my cancer, it was diagnosed as having “gone into remission.” This means that both the collagen disease and the cancer have gone away for good.

    This being a rare case in the medical world, I was then invited to give lectures on the subject and I was determined to make it my life’s mission to pass on my experiences to the public. I then conceived my natural health method, which was attractive to many people and could be easily practiced. Now in the heyday of Western medicine, I strongly believe that we should really consider “a system of medicine based on the bounty of nature” which strengthens the natural healing power contained within all living creatures.



    自然健康法普及会会長 レイキマスター

    今夜はお寿司とワインで乾杯だ! ああ、またお酒が飲めるんだ。好きなマグロも食べられるんだ……。私は診察室を出るなり、近くのトイレに飛び込んで泣きました。今日は医師から「田中さん、よかったですね! ついに正常値になりましたよ、あなたはもう患者ではありません」との朗報を受けたのです。

    難病といわれる膠原病にかかった私は、非常に強く咳き込んだときに呼吸が止まってしまいました。間もなくして医師に言われました。「余命はよくてもあと半年、ここまできたらもう回復の見込みはありません」と。「自分が死ぬ」、それは到底受け入れられない宣告でした。死んでたまるか! 私は絶望の中から生きる道を必死で模索しました。








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  • 日本語から、人を育み、平和を育むNPO法人

    [From April Issue 2013]


    Non-Profit Organization, The Japan Return Programme

    “To tell you the truth, I had no idea my mother was doing something so big,” says IKEZAKI Miwa, the executive director of a Non-Profit Organization, the Japan Return Programme (JRP). Miwa’s mother Miyoko founded the JRP in 1995 and ran it until last year when Miwa took over the reins. The purpose of the JRP is to nurture people who could one day forge important links between Japan and the outside world.

    The JRP carries out two tasks. One is the “Nihongo Summit,” organized every year since 1999. It’s an event at which youngsters living overseas, who are putting all their effort into studying Japanese, are invited to express their opinions in Japanese. It’s not simply a one day event; participants (panelists) arrive in Japan about a month prior to the Nihongo Summit.

    Everything is done in Japanese: peace studies at Hiroshima and Nagasaki; a cultural exchange with people living in the areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake; experiencing traditional Japanese culture; visiting corporations and politicians; and homestays. As part of the program, they get a chance to speak keigo, or honorific language, too. At the end of their visit they perform a presentation at the summit on “What I can do now for peace.”

    Between 1999 and 2012 a total of 1,465 people applied to take part in the Nihongo Summit. From those, 233 panelists from 61 countries were selected to come to Japan.

    Former panelists have maintained strong links to the organization by keeping in touch via Facebook and working in cooperation with JRP’s administration. Some return to Japan to study at university in a specialized field, while others work for Japanese companies overseas. A few have come back to Japan as diplomats.

    The JRP’s other function is to give free lessons of Japanese language and culture to ambassadors and other diplomats stationed in Japan. JRP teachers teach their students to produce beautiful Japanese so that they can talk about their country in Japanese and use appropriate Japanese for work.

    Miyoko, who was formerly a teacher of Japanese language, founded the JRP because she noticed that foreign children who had once lived in Japan ended up forgetting the Japanese they had learned once they returned to their countries. “Japanese is a compassionate language in which you put yourself in another person’s place. It’s a good language for discussing peace. Young people studying Japanese will build bridges between Japan and other countries in the future. And they’ll also contribute to world peace.” With this idea in mind Miyako ran the JRP in the early days with her own money.

    Miyoko’s wish struck a chord with many and the number of sponsors has increased year by year. Eventually well-known companies within Japan and famous politicians began to cooperate.

    Miyoko passed away in 2012. Miwa hesitated at first to take over when she discovered that the administration of the JRP, which depends on contributions, was quite a challenge. Her mind was made up, however, after listening to Miyoko’s passionate ideas. “I’ll do my best to keep the JRP going.”

    Non-Profit Organization, The Japan Return Programme

    Text: SAZAKI Ryo















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  • 世界に広がる折り紙

    [From March Issue 2013]


    Origami Artist SHINGU Fumiaki

    As an origami artist I’ve been asked by the government to promote the art of origami to the world by doing things like setting up a website that shows people how to make origami. Because it uses few natural resources, origami is eco-friendly. An outstanding example of “cool Japan” culture, it’s a pastime that both children and adults can enjoy.

    Sometimes I’m asked to give lectures by universities overseas that specialize in the arts, but I’ve also started work on a big origami commission that I received from a Japanese person living in Europe. He said to me, “Though I brought a book on origami with me from Japan, it hasn’t captured the interest of children here. Could you please introduce me to origami that can capture the imaginations of European children.” With this in mind I made, “Origami for Christmas” and “Origami for Halloween.”

    In western countries origami is regarded as a kind of paper craft. Origami is translated into English as paper folding, butrecently the word “origami” is more generally used.

    The method of manufacturing paper was invented in China and brought to Japan in the early 7th century. Before long, manufacturing methods and materials used in Japan changed, producing durable, beautiful washi of excellent quality. Appreciated by the samurai classes, the use of washi spread, spawning a unique Japanese “paper culture.” In the early days, it was used for special envelopes that contained gifts of money; to express one’s hospitality. It was also used in daily life to create things like “shouji ” (sliding paper doors) and “fusuma” (sliding paper screens).

    “Yuugi origami,” or the art of folding paper into things like cranes or helmets, and “unit origami ” constructing threedimensional out of identically shaped pieces of paper –popular in Europe – were invented in the Edo period (17~19 century). In the Meiji period the government invited the world famous German educator, Friedrich Wilhelm August FROEBEL, to Japan. He utilized origami in his child education program. This is how origami began to be taught in kindergarten.

    In recent years, people in Hindu and Islamic societies have taken an interest in origami and I sometimes receive mail from them. They say that because it has no religious affiliations, origami can be easily accepted into their culture. It seems that my work will continue.

    Origami Club



    折り紙創作作家 新宮文明さん





    江戸時代(17 – 19世紀)に入るとツルやかぶとなど、具体的な物の形に折る「遊戯折り紙」や、ヨーロッパで人気がある、特徴ある形に折ったものを組み合わせて立体的に作る「ユニット折り紙」が考案されました。明治時代に入ると政府から招かれたドイツの世界的な教育学者のフリードリヒ・W・A・フレーベルが、幼児教育のプログラムの一環として、折り紙を採用しました。これが幼稚園で折り紙を教える始まりです。



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  • 保護が必要な子どもは誰が世話をするべきか

    [From February Issue 2013]


    Public Interest Incorporated Foundation, National Foster Parent Association, Vice Chairman,
    KINOUCHI Hiromichi

    In Japan there are some 40,000 children who are unable to live together with their families. This happens for a variety of reasons; sometimes because it would be inappropriate for them to live in an abusive environment. Many of those children live in care homes or nurseries. Only 10% live with foster families.

    While UN guidelines recommend foster care for children who’ve been taken into care, it’s not yet very common in Japan. The government has just begun efforts to help support foster parents and is aiming to increase the percentage of children in foster care to 30% within the next ten years or so.

    There are four kinds of foster parent in Japan: “child rearing foster parents” take care of children who, for whatever reason, can’t live with their parents; “specialist foster parents” take care of children who have been abused, or are mentally or physically handicapped; “parents hoping to adopt” who are aiming to adopt a child but haven’t yet done so; and “relations who are foster parents” – grandparents, uncles, aunts, and so forth. With the exception of relations who are foster parents, one becomes a foster parent with the approval of the governor of the prefecture. To become a “child rearing foster parent” or a “specialist foster parent,” training is obligatory.

    In Japan, foster care isn’t very common yet, but why isn’t institutional care good enough? One reason is that life in care homes is centered around group activities. That makes it hard for children to develop individuality and to learn about family life and social rules, which they need to know about to become responsible members of society. Also, it’s hard to develop an emotional relationship with individual caregivers, attachments which children need.

    So why is it that, in Japan, institutional care is so well established and has continued for so long at the expense of foster care? Some people point out that the public is generally unaware of the need for volunteers, but I think one of the reasons is the lack of government support for children who need care. Compared to institutional care homes, foster families require a lot of support from the system, but this support is sadly lacking.

    As institutional care is the norm in Japan, we are hosting an IFCO (International Foster Care Organization) World Conference in Osaka in September this year in order to promote foster care. It’s an opportunity to discover what can be done to promote foster care and with this in mind, experts from around the world will be invited to participate.

    The year before last, about 280 children lost both parents in the Great East Japan Earthquake. Most of them are living with relatives. They are being cared for by relying on the institution of “relations who are foster parents,” but some relatives are reluctant to register as foster parents as they themselves are struggling to get by.

    After the Great Earthquake at the IFCO World Conference in Canada, we talked about the Japanese custom of making senbazuru (a thousand paper cranes) for disaster victims. Following this, Wanslea, an Australian foster care association sent 5,000 of these cranes together with messages of support to the National Foster Parent Association. And we sent these on to the people in the areas affected by the disaster; this made them very happy.



    副会長 木ノ内博道さん









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  • ストロー笛で、人を笑顔にしたい

    [From February Issue 2013]


    KAMIYA Toru

    This artist custom-makes flutes from mass produced straws and in doing so, has created a sensation on TV with his performances. KAMIYA Toru, a resident of Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture, dreamed of becoming a recorder player while studying in the science department at Kyoto University, and, after graduating, threw himself into both performing and teaching the instrument.

    At a training camp for the college of music he taught at, one of his students crushed the tip of a straw and accidentally made a sound. Kamiya recalls having a go at playing it himself but felt that, even though it was a wind instrument, when it came to producing a sound, he himself was only a beginner. He continues, “I was curious to see what kind of tones I could produce if I practiced.”

    First he managed to play a scale by making finger holes in the straw. Then by trial and error he developed a range of flutes. For instance, to play low notes he needed a long straw, which he bent so his fingers could reach over the holes. With no one to play with, he struggled to create harmonies, but has now developed a flute on which he can play a solo quartet.

    He has often appeared on television and performed at concerts overseas. In the US, he played the Japanese children’s song “Mushi no Koe” (Singing of Insects) on a flute shaped like a grasshopper. “After a few seconds, the tone becomes high-pitched like that of a grasshopper, before returning to normal. People were surprised by this unexpected change. I use different flutes depending on the song I play. I only played short pieces, things like children’s songs. My playing is also fun to watch, as some flutes have moving parts. I got the same response from the audiences abroad as I had had in Japan.” The flute for the song “Shabon-dama” (soap bubbles) is made in such a way that real soap bubbles emerge while he’s playing it.

    During the Great Hanshin Earthquake his apartment block was completely destroyed. “I was at a loss, but my children said, ‘you’ll be all right with your straw flutes.’ It’s funny because there’s that phrase ‘to grasp at straws,’ and by rebuilding my life with straws, I had to do exactly the same. Because of my experience as a disaster victim, coupled with my desire to give people pleasure, I continue to give free concerts in the areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake.

    “I think I’ve succeeded at improving my straw flutes because I’ve done other things in my life, so I’ve had all kinds of experiences and abilities to draw on. Since I have no predecessors, I’ve created a trail for others myself. It’s lonely and exhilarating at the same time. I’m happy that, wherever I go to play, people smile and enjoy themselves. I want to go on giving concerts and creating flutes that make audiences happy,” Kamiya says with a bright smile.

    KAMIYA Toru

    Text: KAWARATANI Tokiko












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  • ニンジャ教授が大学で教えるサバイバル術

    [From January Issue 2013]


    KAWAKAMI Jinichi

    Since way back, ninja have appeared in novels, movies, comics and games. Using their ninjitsu skills, ninja fight enemies and save their masters who employed them. Similar to a famous brand, the ninja is known, not only in Japan, but also abroad. What isn’t known though is whether such people really existed, and if they did, what kind of activities they were involved in.

    In Japan, Iga City, Mie Prefecture and Koka City, Shiga Prefecture are famous as ninja hangouts. In order to do research into the history and culture of ninjutsu, KAWAKAMI Jinichi, honorary director at the Iga-ryu Ninja Museum in Iga City, became a specially appointed professor of the Science of Ninjutsu at Mie University last December. Kawakami says, “Since I was a child, I’ve been practicing the same training routines as ninja.”

    When he was around six, Kawakami encountered ISHIDA Masazo, teaching Koka-ryu ninjutsu in his neighborhood. Taking an interest in ninjutsu, he learned a variety of martial arts techniques used by ninja, including how to throw shuriken (throwing stars), a weapon commonly believed to have been used by ninja. He also learned to walk without making any sound, to use wild grass as medicine, to sneak into enemy territory, and to set traps. And at the age of 18, he succeeded Ishida and began to hand down the Koka-ryu ninjutsu tradition and teach martial arts to young pupils as a master himself.

    Called “the last ninja” by those got to know him through his ninja activities, Kawakami speaks at various seminars. It was because of a lecture he gave at a symposium hosted by Mie University last year that Kawakami became a specially appointed professor. At the university, he is studying documents related to ninjustu. He is planning to publish his research results in the future.

    Running and jumping about in the mountains, fighting with ninjitsu, and so on; in novels and movies, ninja are depicted as being similar to spies. Kawakami, however, sees ninja as people who have knowledge about information gathering, psychology, medicine and sociology, as well as survival skills. Therefore, when he gets injured or catches a cold, Kawakami cures himself with medicine made from wild grasses.

    “When I was training to become a ninja, I practiced reading other people’s emotions, and this was useful when making business deals and for establishing important relationships,” Kawakami recalls. Because of this, he says, “At the university, I want to teach students not only about the skills that ninja possess, but also their way of thinking, their spirit and historical background.”

    Kawakami is trying to portray ninja not as fictional characters but as masters of survival skills that can be applied to modern life. And in order to disseminate this idea, he is working as a museum director and a university professor. Kawakami’s science of ninjutsu, might help people from abroad with an interest in Japanese culture, history and thought processes, to know Japan more deeply.

    Text: ITO Koichi












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  • 子ども達を笑顔にするエンターテイナー

    [From December Issue 2012]


    Guy TOTARO, The Smile Ambassadors

    After nearly 25 years in the entertainment business, Gaetano “Guy” TOTARO is a performing “jack of all trades.” A native of California, Guy graduated from San Francisco State University in 1989 with a BA in Acting and Theatre Arts. He continued his training with the award-winning San Francisco Mime Troupe and at the world famous Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Clown College.

    Then, in 1993, work opportunities brought Guy to Japan, where he spent five years building a reputation as one of the most versatile foreign tarento in Tokyo, performing as a variety entertainer, actor, narrator and model. After another seven years back in the States doing similar work, Guy was once again drawn to Japan – this time settling down in Tokyo to start a family.

    “Since coming back to Japan in 2005, I’m very proud to have been Suntory’s ‘Mr. CC Lemon’ and have been fortunate to have had many other high-profile roles in commercials, educational and music videos, and as a voice actor,” Guy says. He is also kept busy with his educational workshops, and provides creative consulting for entertainers and theme parks. Arguably Guy’s most important role, however, came after the Great East Earthquakes in March 2011.

    “In April 2011 I traveled north for the first of what would turn out to be many relief tours. I went to a shelter, a day care center, a church and a junior high school in Iwate Prefecture. I found kids big and small who hadn’t laughed or even smiled in over a month,” Guy says. “It was clear that my silly shows and circus workshops were an effective tool to combat PTSD issues and it was even clearer that I needed to return and continue.”

    Shortly after getting back to Tokyo, Guy was contacted by the Tyler Foundation, an NPO that provides support for pediatric cancer patients and their families, with whom he had collaborated before.

    “Together we created the ‘Shine On! Smile Ambassador Program.’ The Tyler Foundation provided the logistical and financial support and I created and facilitated the program content,” Guy explains. “From April 2011 to the end of March 2012, we visited more than 80 unique locations and I interacted with almost 8,000 kids. Without their help I could have never reached as many people as I did in that first year.”

    That collaboration ended this past March, but Guy is now working to register Niko Niko Taishi (The Smile Ambassadors) as a new NPO. Guy uses the plural Ambassadors because he believes we can all work together to make a big impact on the people of Tohoku and beyond.

    “The Smile Ambassadors’ goals are to continue to offer PTSD relief to the kids, teachers and communities we’ve reached previously; to train teachers, caregivers and parents how to recognize PTSD and facilitate care; to be ready to mobilize and act in the case of any future traumatic events; and to help other populations in need at orphanages, hospitals and women’s shelters,” Guy says.

    The Smile Ambassadors

    Text: Thomas TYNAN



    ニコニコ大使 ガイタノ・トタロさん










    文: トマス・タイナン

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  • ツイッターで有名になったネパール人シェフ

    [From October Issue 2012]


    Pradahan VIKAS

    “Actually, I did not know what Twitter was,” confesses Pradahan VIKAS honestly. “And still, I do not understand how it really works.” Vikas, originally from Nepal, is a chef. He runs a restaurant located in Itabashi Ward, Tokyo. Because Vikas’ restaurant is famous on Twitter, customers visit from all over Japan, forming a queue in front of his restaurant.

    “The reason why my restaurant is doing so well is all thanks to the kindness of the Japanese people,” says Vikas. When he opened the restaurant, there were hardly any customers. His tweets like, “I hand out fliers, but no customers come,” and “What will become of Vikas if this keeps up?” elicited sympathetic comments and were retweeted over and over again. As a result, his followers grew to almost 80,000 and huge numbers of customers began to show up.

    Vikas came to Japan in 1995 and started working at an American restaurant. “When I was in Nepal, I heard that jobs in Japan were very easy; that all the hard labor was done by machines. But the reality was completely different. Yes, there was a dishwasher, but Japanese people pay close attention to detail, so even the smallest speck left on a dish is not tolerated. That’s why the dishes need to be rinsed off before putting them in the dishwasher. I was washing dishes from morning till night. It was really tough.”

    After a few months of this he finally said that he wanted to quit. Then the head chef apologized for making him just wash dishes and began teaching him how to cook. “If I had not met the head chef, I probably would never have become a chef. He never got angry, but taught me by telling me, ‘it’s delicious;’ by encouraging my efforts,” Vikas reflects.

    As a result of his hard work, Vikas became so good that soon people started to say, “We can’t trust anyone but Vikas when it comes to cooking meat.” One day, someone said, “You can make curry since you are Nepalese, right?” So he was suddenly called upon to make curry. The curry was popular with customers and became a regular item on the menu.

    Before long the head chef left. Then Vikas soon became a victim of bullying. He could not take it anymore, so he too left the restaurant. “Thanks to that, I was able to work at a different restaurant and gain more experience. So, I think the bullying was all part of God’s plan for me,” says Vikas.

    In 2010, Vikas opened his own restaurant. “Everyone has a small dream. When that dream comes true, people work hard to achieve their next dream.” Vikas’ Japanese friends who were concerned about Vikas tweeted his comments and created a logo and website for his restaurant. The restaurant got back on track, and he was able to open a second restaurant in Harajuku this May.

    Vikas named his restaurant “Daisuki Nippon” (I Love Japan). The walls of the restaurant are decorated with messages from customers like, “Mr. Vikas has a wonderful personality,” and “His warm Tweets are very comforting.” Vikas, who loves Japanese, is loved in turn by many Japanese people.

    Daisuki Nippon

    Text: SAZAKI Ryo





    「うちの店がうまくいったのは日本の人たちがやさしいからです」とビカスさんは話します。開店したころ、ほとんどお客が来ませんでした。「ちらし くばりましたが おきゃくきません」「このままだと びかす どうなっちゃうだろ」というビカスさんのツイッターが同情的なコメントと共に何度もリツイートされました。その結果、フォロワーが8万人近くまで増えてお客がたくさん来るようになったのです。









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