• 不屈の精神を持つ日本人とポーランド人

    [From Decemberber Issue 2014]

    Wife of the Republic of Poland Ambassador to Japan
    “Poland has been through hard times in history; the territory was carved up by other countries and we suffered tremendous damage in WWII,” says Iwona KOZACZEWSKA. “We’ve nevertheless managed to rebuild and develop. The Poles are a nation that unites in adversity and can cooperate and strive for reconstruction. I believe we share this national character trait with Japanese. Our two peoples also have a similar sensitivity to music. The Polish musician Fryderyk CHOPIN is popular in both countries.”
    Kozaczewska came to Japan in August 2012. “I was surprised by the heat and humidity of Japan’s summer. In Poland, the temperature in summer can rise close to 30°C, but it’s dry and pleasant,” she says. “I also had a hard time in Japanese cities because few streets have names. The subway at the beginning was very complicated, too.”
    “When I get lost and open a map, however, a Japanese person immediately speaks to me to help me out,” Kozaczewska says with a smile. “Just the other day, I got lost while trying to walk on my own to the nearest station from our embassy. Almost immediately, a young Japanese lady offered me her assistance in getting to the station,” says Kozaczewska. “That kind of hospitability, too, reminds me of Poland.”
    She has no difficulty as far as Japanese food is concerned. “Japanese food is great. I love soy sauce, okonomiyaki and miso soup. My husband always laughs because I get hungry and want to eat something as soon as we go out,” says Kozaczewska. “I often go to a conveyor belt sushi restaurant in Shibuya with my two daughters and I really enjoy the choice of ingredients. I was warned by many friends to be careful with nattou as its taste and smell are too much for non-Japanese to handle, but I thought it was interesting to taste it.”



    She has no difficulty with raising her children in Japan, either. “In whatever country we are in, what we should teach and what we should tell them are the same,” says Kozaczewska. “It is also wonderful that they are having this opportunity to actually experience such an exciting country as Japan.”
    Kozaczewska often travels around Japan with her family. “When we went to Hokkaido, one of our daughters was delighted. She said it was as if we were in Poland. The climate and landscape did indeed resemble our country,” says Kozaczewska.
    “Last year, our family traveled to Hiroshima and Nagasaki to attend the A-bomb commemoration ceremonies. We learned about the tragedies caused by the atomic bombs and while traveling, we saw aspects of Japan – like the Japanese way of life – that you wouldn’t find in guide books. We decided to go there by car so that we could explore as many places in Japan as possible. The trip was long, but very meaningful,” she says. “Our daughters were happy that we stopped by Iga, the ninja town. Our elder daughter was particularly interested because she is called Iga herself.”
    Japan has a lot of wonderful things that I’d like to take home to Poland: Japanese discipline and politeness; the attachment to tradition; beautiful kimono… Bonsai look spectacular. I’m also attracted to the beauty of pine trees. I found the ones at the Imperial Palace particularly fantastic. If I took home everything I liked in Japan, I’d be stopped at customs because there’s just too much,” she says smiling.


    Tatra Mountains

    “On the other hand, what I’d like to bring to Japan from Poland is food,” says Kozaczewska with a smile. “We presented Polish donuts, soup and smoked goat cheese at the recent Polish Festival at Roppongi Hills. They sold out right away. They are hard to find in Japan, so you should definitely eat them if you travel to Poland,” she says.
    “I’m sure Japanese nature lovers will like Poland,” says Kozaczewska. “Poland still has primeval forest where European bison and storks live. The forests are full of mushrooms, so you can enjoy gathering them. In the Lake District, you can take boat cruises from lake to lake, as well as go fishing.”
    “You can enjoy yachting and cruising on the northern Baltic coast, which is also known for its beautiful white beaches. The sand is so fine that even patterns created by the wind are beautiful. A lot of amber nuggets wash ashore on its beaches. As a child, I used to pick them up to present to my grandmother,” she says nostalgically.
    “Poland also has lots of things of cultural interest,” says Kozaczewska. “Lazienkowski Park in the capital of Warsaw has the Palace on the Water as well as a famous statue of Chopin. Concerts are often held there. Many historical wooden churches are preserved in Małopolska and the Carpathians as they are listed as World Heritage Sites.”


    Palace on the Water in Lazienki Park

    “In the old capital of Krakow, there’s a museum of Japanese art and technology called ‘Manggha.’ Japanese comics are very popular with young people in Poland, too, but the Manggha of that museum has a different meaning,” says Kozaczewska, laughing. “Feliks JASIENSKI collected Japanese art, including ukyoe. He liked to be called by the nickname Manggha. The museum came to be called Manggha because it contains his collection. The film director Andrzej WAJDA, who’s known to be a Japanophile, was heavily involved with the construction of that museum.”
    “Additionally, Wroclaw in southwestern Poland has a Japanese-style garden. As you can see, Poland has a lot of attractions and things related to Japan, so please come and visit. Our economic development in recent years has been remarkable and the streets are full of life,” says Kozaczewska.
    “I would advise those foreigners studying the Japanese language to spend as much time as possible in Japan,” says Kozaczewska. “Japan has so many sides to it that it’s impossible to see everything in a short time. They should not only see the skyscrapers, Shibuya and tourist spots that are often shown on TV, they should also explore the back streets on foot. They’ll see that exotic Japanese scenes really exist, scenes that Europeans have seen only in children’s books.”
    Photos courtesy of the Polish Embassy’s Tourism Office
    Text: SAZAKI Ryo[2014年12月号掲載記事]





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  • 高い技術で日本の美意識を表現した紙皿

    [From Decemberber Issue 2014]

    WASARA Co., Ltd.
    With the goal of creating high quality plates and utensils that are disposable yet stylish, WASARA was created of in 2008. Because of their unique high quality designs and environmental friendliness, WASARA plates were used at an opening event of the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit as soon as they were launched on the market. Since then, the plates have been prized for their ability to make any dish look appealing, and they are now even used at Michelin-starred restaurants.
    The most important feature is the way the range of 18 items – which includes plates, cups and utensils – goes so well together. Speaking about various inquiries the company receives from its customers, SHIMA Shinako, brand manager of WASARA Co., Ltd., says, “I realized the hospitality industries had been looking for disposable tableware that compliments the cuisine served on it.”
    Designs are simple but, through attention to detail, they show off food to its best advantage. Pulp is pressed into a mold that has a ridged surface giving the finished product the feel of washi (Japanese craft paper), and the plates are cut in such a way that the edge is beautifully finished. Fulfilling such specifications requires a high level of craftsmanship. To develop these unique paper plates, technical help was brought in from sources that usually have no connection to the manufacturing of paper plates; such as from factories that usually produce molds for screws used in cars.
    WASARA’s parent company, Itokei Co., Ltd., manufactures and sells containers for desserts and ice cream. In the days preceding Itokei’s 100th anniversary, management thought about what direction the company should take in the future and decided to create high-value-added products that could be passed down to future generations.
    Plates and bowls are made of bagasse – fibrous matter that remains after the juice is squeezed out of sugarcane – and also of bamboo, which is known for being a fast-growing plant. WASARA’s utensils are made of bamboo. So that they can be returned to the earth after use, they aren’t laminated. If you put them into a compost container, they can be reused as compost.
    Compared with Japan, there are more opportunities abroad for catering and parties, so in the first four years subsequent to the launch of WASARA’s products, exports exceeded domestic sales. These products are currently on sale at nearly 100 shops overseas, mostly in the West. Shima, however, analyzes the situation with a level head, saying, “There are challenges to overcome, such as the issue of distribution costs due to rising oil prices.”
    A set of six medium-sized plates costs 540 yen (including tax), not exactly reasonable compared with regular paper plates. But sales in Japan have been increasing, too. According to Shima, one of the reasons they are selling well is that more and more people actually use them and appreciate their value. The product’s strongest selling point is its eco-friendliness and its additional value of being a disposable item that incorporates a design that makes dishes look delicious.
    WASARA Co., Ltd.
    Text: ICHIMURA Masayo[2014年12月号掲載記事]


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  • 浅草六区ゆめまち劇場

    [From Decemberber Issue 2014]

    This restaurant theater opened in April this year. Wahaha Hompo, a troupe known for its eccentric costumes and performances is now giving its first performance of Gorakuza” (Entertainment Theater) – an original work specially made for the theater. (Admittance: 4,500 yen. On top of this customers must order at least one drink.) Including characters and music that will even be familiar to non-Japanese, this is a show that everyone can enjoy. In addition there is a permanent exhibition of Asakusa’s streets reproduced on panels and in dioramas, the “Secret Hideout of About 100 Square Meters” (costs 500 yen), and screenings of movies associated with the town (1,000 yen).
    Access: Four-minute walk from the A1 exit of Taharacho Station on the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line
    Address: ROX1F Entrance, 1-25-15 Asakusa, Taito Ward, Tokyo
    Business hours: 9:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. (depending on the program)
    Asakusa Rock Yumemachi Theater
    Text: KAWARATANI Tokiko[2014年12月号掲載記事]

    所在地:東京都台東区浅草1-25-15 ROX1F専用入口

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  • サイゼリヤ

    [From Decemberber Issue 2014]
    “Italian Wine & Cafe Restaurant Saizeriya” have over 1,000 branches both in Japan and overseas. The interiors are decorated in an Italian style and wines, olive oil and cheeses are imported from Italy. Even if they eat there every day, customers never tire of the simple seasoning and reasonable prices. Easily complimenting the main dishes, the soups, side dishes, wine, and soft drinks are particularly good value. In addition to Italian food, gratin, hamburger steaks, and more, are also on the menu.

    [No. 1] Doria (baked rice and cheese gratin-style) Milanese, 299 yen

    One third of customers order this. Building on 40 years of ongoing research, the dish has been repeatedly improved upon. The rich meat sauce and white sauce is popular.

    [No. 2] Shrimp Salad, 299 yen

    Salad topped with tender deep-water shrimps. After being harvested, the lettuce is kept at a temperature of four degrees centigrade and is chopped before being delivered to restaurants.

    [No. 3] Spicy Hot Chicken, 299 yen

    After being dipped in sauce, the chicken is seasoned with an original blend of spices. It’s popular for its juiciness and crispy texture. Since it has a mild taste, children can eat it, too.
    Price includes tax.

    「イタリアンワイン&カフェレストラン サイゼリヤ」は海外を含め千店舗以上を展開。店内の内装やインテリアはイタリア風になっており、ワイン、オリーブオイル、チーズなどは現地から輸入している。毎日食べてもあきないよう、味付けはシンプルに、手頃な価格で提供しているのが特徴。特にスープ、おつまみ、ワイン、ドリンクバーはメインの料理と組合せやすいように価格設定されている。イタリア料理に限らず、グラタンやハンバーグなどのメニューもある。

    【No.1】ミラノ風ドリア 299円


    【No.2】小エビのサラダ 299円


    【No.3】辛味チキン 299円


    Price includes tax.

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  • ワンストップ型店舗で最適な車生活を提案

    [From Decemberber Issue 2014]

    Autobacs Seven Co., Ltd.
    A s well as carrying out mandatory vehicle inspections and maintenance, Autobacs Seven Co., Ltd. sell, install and change car parts. The company was originally a wholesale dealer in car parts. However, in order to get new business ideas, founder SUMINO Toshio visited the US to take a look at the distribution business there. During that visit he was bowled over when he saw one-stop shops that not only sold all kinds of car parts, but installed them and carried out repairs in the same location.
    In those days tires, oil and batteries were sold separately in specialized shops in Japan. Customers therefore had to visit several shops to buy the parts and products they wanted. Convinced that the customer-friendly one-stop business style would be welcomed in Japan, Sumino opened his first Autobacs shop in November 1974 in Daito City, Osaka Prefecture.
    Sumino came up with a striking company name to call attention to this revolutionary new business style. The first two letters in Autobacs represent the company’s philosophy, while the remaining six represent the range of products on offer. A stands for appeal, U for unique, T for tires, O for oil, B for batteries, A for accessories, C for car electronics, and S for service.
    The company name is Autobacs Seven, but the name of the store is Autobacs. “Seven” signifies the continuing search for a seventh product line. The orange corporate color stands out even at a distance and represents a pioneering spirit and Californian orange. It’s also influenced by the image of the American sunshine seared into Sumino’s eyes.
    The company’s three bestselling products are “studless tires,” “tire chains,” and “car cleaning supplies.” Studless tires are a must for safe driving in regions such as Hokkaido, Tohoku and Hokuriku where there is a great quantity of snow. There is more demand for chains for emergency use when there is heavy snow in and around large cities like Tokyo and Osaka. Car cleaning supplies sell more in early spring when the air is filled with cedar pollen and yellow dust from mainland China.
    ONODA Kenichi of the PR department stresses, “We are second to none in that we have one of the largest shop networks in Japan, a high brand recognition, a comprehensive product lineup, excellent service, and a team of professionals.” Each shop strives to be customer-friendly by displaying products according to their use and by using integrated signage.
    Autobacs attaches importance not only to its products and services, but also to customer service. In order to avoid any unpleasantness, customers are treated well and provided with satisfactory products. Staff are trained on the importance of personal grooming, smiling, eye contact, greetings, polite phrasing, and bowing. “We work hard to maintain and improve our Autobacs brand,” says Onoda.
    Autobacs Seven Co., Ltd.
    Text: ITO Koichi[2014年12月号掲載記事]


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  • Inspired To Go To Japan By Japanese Idols

    [From Decemberber Issue 2014]

    “I like Japanese idols,” says Rassawan KONDEJADISAK, describing the interest that brought her over from Thailand to Japan. “I especially like Johnny’s ‘Hey! Say! JUMP’ When I was watching their concerts on TV programs and DVDs, I felt I wanted to study Japanese because I wanted to understand what they were saying.”
    Rassawan came to Japan in 2011 and without delay entered Yokohama Design College. Although the school specializes in design, they also have a Japanese language course aimed at foreign students. Rassawan, who had not studied Japanese before, started with the basic reading and writing of “a, i, u, e, o.”
    “I did not understand any Japanese,” says Rassawan. “I could not read books nor magazines and I could not understand what they were talking about on TV. At first I was quite worried because I could not even manage basic conversation. But by continuing with my studies, I gradually became able to understand Japanese and that made things surprisingly enjoyable.”
    “Now I can read books that I could not! I can understand conversation that could not! Before I knew it, the uneasiness in my heart changed to joy. I wanted to study more and more every day and I wanted to know more about things I was ignorant of.”
    “Although three years have passed since I started to live in Japan, there are still many things I cannot understand about the Japanese sensibility. Why do I have to do this? Why don’t I have to do that? Sometimes it is a mystery to me. There are some similarities to the Thai way of thinking, but other things are totally different.”
    “I felt uneasy when I became a fully paid up member of Japanese society. But I don’t want to limit myself to just Japan and Thailand, I want to understand the feelings of people in other countries, too.” Rassawan is now doing PR work at Relation Japan., Inc., promoting Japan to Thailand. The company produces advertisements for Japan in various media, including travel magazines and TV, it also operates booths at travel fairs. Rassawan is in charge of design and of communication with Thailand.
    “Japan is a country that places importance on public order. It is quite different from Thailand, which has an easy-going attitude. But I am really happy because the people of both countries are kind hearted.” On her days off, she often goes to Shibuya, Harajuku, and Omotesando. “I enjoy going to stylish cafes. I like reading books in such places. And, of course, in the concert season I go to concerts!”


    「私は日本のアイドルが好きです」とタイから来たラッサワン・コンデッチアディサックさんは日本に興味を持ったきっかけを話します。「特にジャニーズの『Hey! Say! JUMP』というグループが大好きです。テレビ番組やDVDでコンサートを見ているとき、彼らが何を話しているのか知りたくて、日本語を勉強したいと思いました」。
    「今まで読めなかった本が読める! わからなかった会話がわかる! 心の中にあった不安感がいつの間にか楽しさに変わりました。毎日もっと勉強したくて、知らないことをもっと知りたいと思いました」。

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  • 寄生生物との戦いを通じて生命の意味に迫る

    [From Decemberber Issue 2014]

    This manga depicts a fight against mysterious creatures that have infiltrated human society. After being serialized in 1989 in special editions of Morning Open, it was then run in Monthly Afternoon from 1990 to 1995. Translations have been published in other countries, making Parasyte well regarded both within and outside Japan. An animated TV series went on air in October 2014 and the first live action film adaptation will be released in November.
    The story begins with a voiceover narrated by an unknown person: “This thought popped into the head of someone on Earth: ‘If the human population shrank to half its size, how many forests would be left unscathed?’”
    They came from the sky one night. Eggs rained down all over the world, hatched, and leech-shaped creatures entered human bodies through their noses and earholes. By latching onto the brain, they control the whole body, and acting on instinct, feed on other human bodies through their host. By utilizing their heightened learning abilities, they learn to speak and infiltrate human society.
    IZUMI Shinichi is attacked by a parasyte, but, because it entered his body through his right hand, he manages to keep it from reaching his brain. It does, however, manage to take over Shinichi’s right arm. So Shinichi has no other choice but to live with the parasyte. That right hand calls itself Migi “because it’s a migite” (right hand in Japanese).
    Meanwhile, murders carried out by parasytes begin to occur. Confronted by reports of cruel crimes involving devoured bodies, Shinichi wonders whether he should reveal the truth. But Migi won’t allow it, insisting that its safety and Shinichi’s must come first. The parasytes continue to catch and devour more and more humans until one day, Shinichi is stabbed in the heart when his own mother becomes host to a parasyte. Migi saves him, but his mother dies and this takes a huge toll on him both mentally and physically.
    Eventually humans discover that the parasytes are behind these incidents and the battle between parasytes and humans begins. People sometimes suspect that Shinichi has been taken over by a parasyte, and, after encountering different kinds of parasytes and humans, he himself is unsure where his loyalties lie. Uncertain whether they are mankind’s enemies, he becomes reluctant to kill parasytes.
    Is it a crime for the parasytes to prey on humans? If so, isn’t it also a crime for humans to kill and eat other creatures? Isn’t there any way for parasytes and humans to coexist? Asked these questions, time and again by parasytes and humans, Shinichi naturally ponders this dilemma himself. Shinichi witnesses the suffering of both humans and parasytes, until the true enemy finally appears; the conclusion Shinichi finally comes to is a massive shock. The Japanese title “Kiseiju,” which means parasitic beast, contains a message that crosses generations.
    Text: HATTA Emiko[2014年12月号掲載記事]

    物語は、誰が言ったともわからないナレーションから始まります。「地球上の誰かがふと思った。『人間の数が半分になったら いくつの森が焼かれずにすむだろうか……』」。

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  • 冬の風物詩となったイルミネーション

    [From Decemberber Issue 2014]

    Every year from around November to December, many commercial complexes and municipalities turn on their spectacular illuminations. These brilliant displays get people in the mood for Christmas. The switch-on ceremonies held at large commercial complexes are featured in the news and have become an annual winter attraction.
    During this period, 5.6 million people visit the illuminations at Tokyo Midtown. This year is the eighth time the display has been held and its theme is a journey from the earth into space. It’s a yearly tradition for a pool of blue LED light to be created in the 2,000 square meter Grass Square. This year four meter high light sticks are installed there. This creates the feeling of being in a zero gravity environment. Illuminated by a total of 500,000 LED bulbs, until December 25, the commercial complex is transformed into a luminous space.
    Founded in 1995, Kobe Luminarie was the first light display to become well known in Japan. The Great Hanshin Earthquake had occurred in January that year. And the Kobe Luminarie was organized to put its victims’ souls to rest and to pray for the restoration and rehabilitation of Kobe.
    There was a great demand for it to become a regular event and citizens, business owners and visitors have contributed every year so that it can been held. This year marks the 20th year since the Great Hanshin Earthquake. The event ensures that the quake will never be forgotten by future generations, and this year it will run from December 4 to 15.
    There are some cases where light displays have been instrumental in attracting more visitors to a particular locale. Ashikaga Flower Park in Tochigi Prefecture is known for its giant 150-year-old wisteria and 80-meter-long wisteria tunnel. Between mid-April and mid-May when the wisteria flowers are in bloom, 50,000 people visit each day. Because the park was well known for its flowers, the management was concerned with the question of how to attract visitors during wintertime.
    Because of this, they installed illuminations in 2002, and since then, the number of visitors gradually increased until last year 500,000 came during that period. This year, 2.5 million electric bulbs are being used over a 92,000 square meter area. Images of birds flying across the night sky can be enjoyed on organic electroluminescent panels which change depending on the angle they are viewed from. Special opening hours and admission prices are in effect until February 5 for those who come only for the illuminations.
    The illuminations at Decks Tokyo Beach in Odaiba, Tokyo, have been revamped this year. To attract more visitors they will be switched on all year round. One of the new attractions is a tunnel that projects different images onto its walls depending on the motion it detects from people inside it. A large heart-shaped light display has been installed at this spot where it is possible to take photos that include Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Sky Tree and Rainbow Bridge, all in one shot.

    Text: ICHIMURA Masayo










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