Plain Talk


Mothering options: France Vs. Japan by Anne Corinne

Being a mother is always challenging. Being a foreign mother in Japan is even more challenging.

Just as any new mother without experience would do, I often question my educational decisions and want to do the best for my child. But having a French background and living in Japan is sometimes confusing to deal with.

Should my baby and I sleep in the same bedroom? “Never!” would say my European friends. “Let your new-born baby in her own bedroom and make her become independent”. “Of course!” would answer my Japanese friends. “Give her a feeling of security. Some kids stay with their parents until the age of 12 years old.”

If my baby cries, shall I always hold her in my arms? “Definitely!” would a Japanese mom tell me. “No, would a French mother say, otherwise she will become temperamental with you”.

My baby has started to walk? “Make sure she always wears slippers with a firm grip for the heels” would my French family recommend. “Leave her barefoot as much as possible” would suggest a Japanese mama.

How shall I educate my toddler? “Be strong and firm” would advise French parents. “Keep gentle and patient” would their Japanese counterparts reply.

Can I have a bath with my child? “Absolutely! O-furo is a great way to relax with the family” would any Japanese dad say. “Nakedness between parents and children should be avoided” would Western psychologists write.

My opinion about this? Somewhere in between. I sometimes feel misunderstood from both sides of the world. Wherever you are and whatever you do, there will always be people who disagree with you, anyway.

There is one thing for sure: getting to know two different parenting approaches is a chance for my child. A chance to learn double. A double chance to understand others.







子供と一緒にお風呂に入った方がいいかしら?「もちろん! おふろは家族全員でくつろげるいい機会だよ。」と日本のババは言う。「親と子供が裸同士になるのは避けるべきだ。」と欧米の心理学者達は警告する。



Plain Talk


The Randy Reviewer

Nurturing Happy Hearts and Minds An interview with Dr. Tsuji by Randy Swank

My son recently quit his junior high basketball team after a year of trying to fit into an environment where endless drills were the rule, teammates delighted in criticizing one another and having fun was the last thing on the agenda. Needless to say, the team lost most of its games.

I was therefore excited about meeting Dr Shuichi Tsuji, a motivational trainer and sports psychologist whose philosophy is often at odds with the way Japan sees sports. He has become famous for demonstrating how sports psychology can help not only teambuilding, but personal development as well.

Born into a family of Tokyo doctors in 1961, Tsuji admits that his first love was always sport. “I played basketball for 12 years, from junior high school until I finished medical college,” he says.

After graduating from Hokkaido University, Tsuji was inspired by Hunter “Patch” Adams, the American physician who believes people’s health is affected by their quality of life. “Most doctors focus on curing the sick,” he says. “For me, though, it’s more important to work on keeping people healthy through lifestyle management and condition support.”

Determined to combine his passion for sports with a hands-on, non-academic approach to psychology, and inspired by Takehiko Inoue (the author of the best-selling basketball-themed comic Slam Dunk), Tsuji wrote a book that sold 350,000 copies. While surprised at the book’s success, he felt convinced that people were ready for his ideas.

In the West they often use positive thinking (PT) to deal with such problems, but Tsuji says it doesn’t work well for the Japanese. “According to PT, you have to turn every situation into a positive one. The problem with this approach is that it requires a lot of kiai, or fighting spirit, and eventually it drains you of mental energy and you feel exhausted,” he says. “Therefore, I have replaced this high-maintenance method with a more natural approach of ‘being here, now.’ My slogan is ‘No flow, no win,’ and it refers to the work of highly respected Hungarian psychology professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. According to Csikszentmihalyi, people are happiest when they are in a state of flow and are so absorbed in what they are doing that they forget about everything else. In sports, we have a similar idea, what we call ‘being in the zone.’ Unfortunately, the zone is very narrow. Many people stubbornly try to reach that ideal state of mind and, when they fail, they get caught in feelings of worthlessness. So I came up with a slightly different concept which provides an easier way to reach the state of flow: gokigen.”

The word, Tsuji says, refers to a feeling of contentment. “It’s like looking always at the sunny side of things, which is something few Japanese usually manage to do,” he says, breaking into a laugh. “My job is to infuse people’s activity, be it sport, business or whatever, with a more light-hearted, positive approach. A positive-minded person is more likely to be physically healthy and have good relationships with others.”

With Tokyo set to host the Olympics in 2020, Tsuji says the country has to change its attitude to sports. “In Japan, differently from other countries, people think that sport and culture are two distinct things. Also, for most Japanese, sport equals blood, sweat and tears. I beg to differ. For me it’s fun and play, first and foremost,” he says. “My mission is to change people’s mentality and raise awareness of the role that sport plays in enriching our life.”

Unfinished business


I Did It! by David Gregory

She had been here before. But, those were tour-guided or hand-held visits. After living most of her life in white-bread suburban USA, driving everywhere, shopping in giant malls and supermarkets, and needing only one currency and one language, my mother ventured out on her own, within and beyond Chiba, during one trip to Japan. From her notes, here are Dorothy’s...

Grocery Shopping in Neighborhood―Walk five only one bag...walk five blocks back. Survived it!

Shopping in City Center―Walk six blocks to bus stop. Ride bus fifteen minutes. Arrive at stores. Walk around. Look. Decide: cookies.

Buying: “Ikura desu-ka how much?” Hmm. “Kakimasu kudasai write please.”

Paying options: give large bill, let clerk figure change, or open change purse, let clerk take out correct amount. Decide to just give some cash.

Clerk shakes her head (“NO! MORE!”), then counts out correct amount needed from register and shows me. I mimic her action from my change purse. Smiles! Deep bows with many, “Arigato gozaimasu thank you very much!”-es.
(My error: thought there was decimal point in Yen price....)

Open cookies, expecting pirouettes with chocolate centers. Instead, peanut butter waffle rolls, no chocolate. No wonder, now I see peanut sketch on package. “Shoganai can’t be changed,” I did it to myself. It could have been worse!
Travelling to Visit Friend’s Family on Other Side of Chiba―Walk ten blocks to train. Purchase ticket. Electronic lady on ticket machine screen says, “Arigato gozaimasu” and bows. Ride train twenty minutes, watching for correct stop, get off, walk seven blocks to house. I did it myself!

Visiting Hisae Overnight―My Japanese study partner in USA returned to Japan, now lives on other side of Tokyo Bay.

Take large purse and large tote bag with jacket, nightie, toothbrush, cosmetics. Walk six blocks to bus stop. Ride bus to train station. Ride train eighty minutes to Yokohama. Find correct exit from station. EASY. Did not even look at note in pocket explaining route and Japanese signs. And, look! Hisae and three-year old Kei are waiting! “Hello!” they say! Many hugs!

I did it!

Then, still more travel: train together fifteen minutes, short taxi uphill to lovely apartment, sunny and bright.

Returning to Chiba, just reverse process. Next time, we can meet at a station halfway in between. I can do it.
I can do it!

Copyright (C) 2015 David Gregory. All rights reserved. Chiba, Japan

Book Revi]ew


Here Comes the Sun: A Journey to Adoption in 8 Chakras
By Leza Lowitz
Stone Bridge Press, 2015, 264 pp., \2251 (Paperback) /\1489 (Kindle)

Reviewed by Allan Cook

“Here Comes the Sun” is the autobiography of Japan based American writer Leza Lowitz. Born in San Francisco, Leza now lives in Tokyo with her Husband Shogo and their adopted son. Published on June 6th and printed by her home-state publishers Stone Bridge Press the novel is the journey of a woman in a foreign land in search of love, motherhood and ultimately of finding herself.

Hailing from one of the world’s most Asian and Japan-centric communities with about a half-million Japanese and over 5.5 million Asians, Leza, as all Californians, grew up in a deeply multicultural society with a deep Asian influence. With such deep connection to Asia and especially Japan it was no surprise that 1989 saw her first stint at life in Japan when she lived here in Tokyo until 1994.

Here Comes the Sun: A Journey to Adoption in 8 Chakras
By Leza Lowitz
Stone Bridge Press, 2015, 264 pp., \2251 (Paperback) /\1489 (Kindle)

In that time, Leza worked as a writer and literary translator utilising her knowledge, experiences and passion for Japan, by writing for the Japan Times in addition to lecturing on American literature at Japans most prestigious university, Tokyo University. Lowitz's translations included haiku and tanka a task that ultimately led her to writing her own books of poetry while in America. Published in 2001 “Yoga Poems: Lines to Unfold By”, saw Lowitz connect her other passion, discovered in her childhood, of Yoga and her desire to write.

It was that passion for Yoga that much of her life has been devoted, and which, in 2004 led her to return to Tokyo after a decade of absence. Opening a Yoga studio in Shinagawa, Lowitz finally began to see her life fall into place as the many seemingly disconnected pieces of her life finally connected, revealing their ultimate meaning. A road that would eventually lead her and her husband to revealing their greatest gift, Shinji the child they would eventually adopt.

It is from the Sanskrit teachings that each chapter of “Here Comes the Sun” is identified through its 8 Chakra titles. In Hindu according to the tantric yoga traditions, a chakra is a location on the subtle body! That is, the psycho-spiritual body! They are points of energy, points that channel our life force. Chakra also means “to move”, and is where the words origin can be found. As with all our lives, movement, change and adaptation are constant. Ultimately “Here Comes the Sun” is the Chakra of one woman's life and the connections that lead her through it to the understanding and wisdom that comes with that movement.

Tokyo Fab


So long, and thanks for all the sushi by Joshua Lepage

Eagle-eyed readers will no doubt have noticed that TNB has been re-publishing old columns of mine for last few weeks. Every time I scroll through my dusty old articles folder, I'm surprised by just how much I've written since joining TNB. I've been with them for years now -- I've written about fashion school, movies, art, the Japanese language, shopping, and even my disastrous love life and drunken adventures. Since I moved back to Canada, though, it's been increasingly hard to write anything fun or at least relevant to you Tokyoites.

So yes, this is officially my last article. I'm stepping down. It pains me to do so, but I'm sure that in no time, TNB will have amassed a line-up of fresh-faced writers who actually live in Tokyo and can churn out much better biweekly articles than I can. My daily life in Montreal mostly involves working in a call center and moping over the snow, the cold weather, the gross sushi, and the lack of men's clothing that fits my narrow shoulders, so I promise you won't be missing out on anything exciting.

The good news, though, is that I'm still working on a way to move back to Japan. I refuse to give up, dear readers -- I just need to save up some money and get that JLPT 1 out of the way. If all goes well, you might run into me at a Nichome club in a year or two. In the meantime, please enjoy the hell out of that wonderful city on my behalf. Eat some basashi (my fave), visit your neighborhood watering hole to practice your Japanese on the locals, spend too much at Laforet, take long walks at 3am without fearing for your safety, visit a temple or two, and enjoy the cheap all-night karaoke.

Oh, and of course: if you have something interesting to write, drop TNB a line. They've treated me with exceptional kindness and generosity over the years, and they're terrific people to work with.

Thank you for reading about my silly opinions and adventures, guys. It's been a blast.

What’s App With You?



Flicking through the gossip magazines and seeing the images that the world portrays as beautiful, sometimes it is hard for girls to feel beautiful. Have you ever wondered why all those stars are flawless? In reality, those stars don’t really look that flawless. Even movie stars have acne, wrinkles, and just plain bad skin. They have teams of people making sure that everything looks just right through the magic of photo editing. If you are feeling down and having a hard time feeling beautiful, comparing yourself to those impossible images, why not do the same? Edit your photos like stars do and help your self-esteem, so you will realize that no one is perfect and gradually accept who you are so you can feel confident about yourself. Have fun with the features and hopefully, you will realize no human being can look perfect all the time without editing.

Venus Calendar:

If you are tired of the same old boring way of keeping schedules and tedious data entry, then Venus Calendar is for you! The app allows you to plan out your day by writing it in sketches and doodles − much like you would do to an old wall calendar. Venus Calendar is designed for simplicity and sanity. Let go of all the alerts, notifications, and oppressive schedules eschewed by traditional calendar apps, and find a new fresh way to get things done. Be creative. Express yourself. Make each day unique and different and fun. Try Venus Calendar. Because life isn’t supposed to be a time clock you punch in and out of. It is a canvas where you paint your experiences, and leave your mark.

Tokyo Voice Column


A Full Time Hands On Mom by Jennifer Nakajima

I emphasized on being a full time hands on mom because I literally am one. Raising your own children here in Japan is quite hard it demands time and effort since hiring baby sitter or helper was quite expensive and not so common to Japanese people. Hence even if I have a part time teaching job and a college student as well, I need to take my full responsibility who prefer to look after my kids and be a good wife to my husband. Although it is quite hard and need a lot of patience to do I love being a mother and I love my kids.

In the next school year after this short spring vacation, my two sons will go on to the next grade in school. And as usual we will so much busy again aside from teaching my kids to their everyday homework, attending some school meeting, programs, and other school activities that parents are required to join like enzoku and undokai.

Beyond those responsibility as a mother the technique is "Multitasking". Yes, to be able to do those Mother's love a super power multitasking is the solution. While doing some household chores I teach and guide them to their homework likewise cooking yummy foods for a dinner too.. Whenever they were asleep then its my precious time for studying and reviewing for my exams. Isn't it funny right? A full time hands on mom by the way is like a Super Mom. Yeah right, all children need and wanted those mom after all.

Once you are a parent, you have to learn to put your priorites below your children and to make sacrifice spending more of your day caring for them than you do caring for yourself. And of course, you should not neglect yourself completely but we should get accustomed to the idea of putting our child's needs first. Motherhood in Japan and wherever you are is a woman's great and incomparable work.

Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs... since the payment is pure love. ~Mildred B. Vermont





『フルタイムママはもっとも高尚な職業だ。なぜなら純粋な愛が報酬だからだ。ミルドレッド バーモント』

MUSEUM -What's Going on?-


Masterpieces~ Fine Arts Boston

It’s always a wonderful time when a rich collection of art is gathered together in one place. The Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum has arranged such a feast for art lovers in its collaboration with the Boston Museum Of Fine Arts.
Featuring eighty creations the display invites your senses and your soul to wander through this well presented gallery for inspiration, enjoyment, enrichment and creative enthusiasm. A key feature of this exhibition will be the highlighting of collectors themselves who have contributed to the Boston icon which itself, was founded by a mixture of such collectors, the local citizens and companies.

Ballet Dancer with Arms Crossed
Edgar Degas About 1872
Bequest of John T. Spaulding,
48.534 Photograph
(C) 2017 Museum of Fine Arts,
Boston Petersburg, 2017-18

See Egyptian art complete with archeological background information. Monet and van Gogh! View various contemporary pieces, including favorites of Bostonians.
Japanese and Chinese artists can also be studied with legend Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806), known for his Ukiyo-e presentation, paintings of beautiful woman with large heads, and nature depictions. Preceded by Utamaro in a linear sense was Soga Shohaku (1730-1781) with his unique personality and his interest in restoring the skilled brushwork of the Muromachi period 150yrs earlier.
Pictured is the Edgar Degas unfinished painting of a ballet dancer with crossed arms revealing the master process of drawing outlines, working in sections and then, adding half tones to create a three dimensional form.

Period: July 20 - October 9, 2017
Venue: Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum
Hours: 9:30 − 17:30 (Last admission 17:00) Fridays 9:30 − 20:00 (Last admission 19:30)
*Open 9:30 − 21:00 on Fridays from July 21 to August 25
Closed: Mondays, September 19
(Open the Mondays of August 14, September 18, October 9)
Admission: 1,600 / University and College students: 1,300 / High school students: 800

For more information, please visit

Fantastic Art In Belgium

In the heart of Western Europe, Belgium reveals a long and rich relationship with the art world. This wonderful exhibition covering 500 years of the countries artistic expression acknowledges the foundations through the middle ages and shows the works from the 1500’s up to the contemporary styles of the 20th century.
Through a changing definition of the country from links with the Netherlands to Flemish titles to defining the now Belgium in 1830, many masters emerged as key contributors throughout.

Workshop of Hieronymus Bosch,
"Tondal's Vision", Oil on panel,
c.1490-1500, Fundacio´n La´zaro Galdiano,
? Fundacio´n La´zaro Galdiano

Perhaps the best known and most influential yet somewhat mysterious is Hieronymus Bosch. Coming from a family rich in art involvement, his work has been challenging to interpret and lead people to say he was well ahead of his time. His most famous piece perhaps, being the triptych, ‘The Garden Of Earthly Delights’. With an almost obsession with the end of the world, some find his art thought provoking in this time as people consider the future and the choice of negative reactivity and positive creation. His key follower was Peter Bruegel The Elder who himself, was quite innovative. Painting was shifting away from religious depictions and this, coupled with his preference not to paint portraits, left him with much freedom to create the new.
Belgium art is colourful, playful, imaginative and provocative. This exhibition will provide an enjoyable mix through the presentation of paintings, sculptures and installations.


Period: July 15 − September 24 2017
Venue: The Bunkamure Museum of Art
Hours: 10:00-18:00 (Last admission : 17:30) Fridays and Saturdays 10:00- 21:00 (Last admission : 20:30)
Closed: 7/18 & 8/22
Admission: Adults: 1,500 / College & High school students: 1,000 / Junior high school students: 800 / Junior high school & Elementary school students: 700

For more information, please visit

Strange but True


Wanna be a gold digger? Literally.

When Derek McLennan’s metal detector began bleeping in the middle of a field, little did he know it would set him up for life. His find − including silver bracelets, brooches, a gold ring, a Christian cross and a bird-shaped pin − was quickly revealed to be the richest collection of rare Viking artefacts ever found in the UK. Now, three years after uncovering the 10th century hoard in Dumfries and Galloway, 47-year-old Derek is set to receive a cool £1.98million. The Queen’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer, who rules on ownerless goods and property in Scotland on behalf of the Crown, has ruled the items should be handed to the National Museums Scotland for display. But the ruling says the museums must also pay Derek full market value for the find. Derek McLennan is to receive £1.9m for his ancient haul in Dumfries!

Married to a gold digger?

According to this website "Data Robot", these are the six simple questions which tell you if your relationship is doomed to fail or not. It claims it can tell if your relationship will last in just six questions. As for the questions themselves, they really weren't what most people would expect i.e. they were in no way probing or convoluted. Even better, there were no awkward ones relating to sex, or arguments, past misdeeds or ugly behaviour. It's perhaps the most straightforward compatibility test invented yet. 1.What is your relationship status? 2.How many years have you and your partner been together? 3.How old are you? How old is your partner? 4.What is the highest level of education you both completed? 5.How many children between the ages of 2 and 5 live with you? 6.On average, how many different relatives do you see each month? See? Pretty straightforward. So much so, you almost wonder how it can possibly deduce the success of your relationship...


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