2019/10/21 14:57

FEATURE

We are all connected by water

FEATURE

We are all connected by water

The 2008 award-winning documentary, "Water, the Great Mystery", reveals enlightened new discoveries about the unending potential for water. The film was watched by three milion people in Russia. This acclaimed film won many documentary awards and is available on DVD in English and Japanese.
Scientists, including Noble Prize winners, presented their work on water, and clergy from the largest religious groups discussed the importance of the water in their faith. They reach to the conclusion that "water has memory" and human emotion and thought can effect the structure of water. Science and religion have become closely intertwined, although such a scenario is quite rare in many fields. As the study progresses, scientists are attracted to the mystery of water and reached the concusion that "water holds its memory" or "water has its identity".
This theory has not been supported due to lack of scientific facts, but the film shows that a series of data has been obtained to prove this hypothesis. The idea derives from the fact that about 70 percent of the human body is made up of water as well as other living creatures. If the water can retain memory and has its own identity, why can't we think that all living creatures that are made up of water are all connected like quantum theory - "we are all connected".

To know water is to know yourself.

People first! Be a real estate professional at a GLOCAL (GLOBAL yet LOCAL) company!!

FEATURE

People first! Be a real estate professional at a GLOCAL (GLOBAL yet LOCAL) company!!


 
We are a genuine and caring company that offers growth and learning opportunities to our employees. We are expanding our business in Vietnam and Thailand, and looking for English speaking graduates as new additions to our team.


Kawasaki is the city in Kanagawa prefecture that has implemented the multicultural coexistence plan. We interviewed Tsuneo Miyagawa, CEO at N-ASSET, the real estate company with a unique business model that follows the "think globally, act locally" principle.

About Tsuneo Miyagawa

Miyagawa was born in Kyoto in 1971. He graduated from Kobe University in 1994 and got his first job at ITOCHU Corporation. In 1999, he joined Noel Co., Ltd and launched a department that offered asset building support for real estate owners. He brought many successful stories to the company including its listing on JASDAQ and Tokyo Stock Exchange Second Section. He acquired N-ASSET and became a CEO in 2009. He opened his first international office in Vietnam in 2011. Three years after, his second international office was opened in Thailand.

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Miyagawa: I had a lot of fun when I was a student - I started a club and organized events. I was interested in entrepreneurship and thought of working at a company where I can learn business. I found a commercial firm suitable for me and got my first job at ITOCHU Corporation where I learnt real estate.

I moved to another real estate firm which my former manager at ITOCHU founded. We started with 10 people. The company grew fast and listed on a stock market although it went bankrupt after the Lehman shock.

My department was closed and went for bidding after the liquidation procedure was concluded. I participated in bidding with a hope to win back the workplace for myself and my colleagues. Luckily, I won the bidding. E-ASSET is the company that was created by the people who shared the tough times with me.


 
That's why the company has always maintained a family atomosphere.

I want the company to be a place where our employees can feel secure, enjoy their work and take new challenges.

We also want to create a new corporate culture - we have been actively hiring new graduates for 6 years when we had only 30 employees.

What are you looking for in new hires? "Be engaged and open-minded" "Ready for challenges"

We focus on a new real estate business model and that is not so easy.

I believe it’s important for new hires to be engaged and open-minded for successful onboarding. I also expect them to be ready for new challenges.

We are looking for English speaking individuals who can accommodate the needs of non-Japanese residents as the city is becoming more globalized.

We hired an international student who is fluent in English and Chinese in April. I am hoping to have a new addition to the team who can collaborate with him and contribute to our international growth. 

We look after each other as we believe those who treat the team well will also treat our customers well. I think real estate is customer oriented business. That's why we value those who strive for excellence in service quality so as to make customers happy. 

(company trip to Danang, Vietnam) 


We offer support to Japanese companies that aim to expand their businesses in Vietnam and Thailand. Unfortunately, Japan is not up to speed with globalization. Our new hires can be of any nationalities as long as they are engaged and ready for new challenges. In return, we will make sure to nature their talents and ensure their professional development.


I believe that we play a key role to make a city appealing. We want to support our city, Takatsu Kawasaki, by following the "act globally and act localy" principle. GLOCAL (Global & Local) is the idea that can spread from Japan to the world.

The Internet has become indispensable in our industry, and we also take initiatives to encourage efficiency and productivity. However, I believe my mission as an employer is to create new jobs. We can grow our business by contributing to the local community and playing a key role in its growth.

I would like to create an environment where our employees can enjoy their work.

My goal is to increase profitability and invest in our employees.

 

Real estate is one of the service providers and our business is always evolving. Why don't you become a real estate professional under the surpervison of Miyagawa at N-ASSET? 

Awareness of each individual can lead to solving medical issues

FEATURE

Awareness of each individual can lead to solving medical issues

Dr. Akira Kawashima
Tokyo Ariake University of Medical and Health Sciences
Professor, Department of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Faculty of Health Sciences
Doctor, Oriental Medicine Research Center, Department of Natural Medicine
Head of The Institute of Integrative Medicine

Authored works
Illness is a Message from Your Mind (PHP Factory Publishing)
The Invisible Power behind Health (Sun Mark Publishing)
Keep Your Body Warm and Activate Metabolic Enzymes (SHUFUNOTOMO Co., Ltd)

 

We interviewed Dr. Akira Kawashima, who believes in the importance of Integrative Medicine

Q: You decided to pursue Integrative Medicine when you introduced acupuncture in the US during your stay.?

I brought the needles to the US for personal use, and my friend wanted to give it a try. Words spread of the positive experience my friend had, and I was invited to give a lecture at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). At first, I refused the offers as I was not a practitioner, but eventually I studied English terminologies and decided to give the lecture. Audience included people with high honor such as a Nobel laureate, and I was surprised with their positive response. I was impressed by their flexible attitude to learn new things, but was overwhelmed with a sense of urgency to introduce Oriental Medicine, including acupuncture, in Japan before anyone else. For years, I studied and learned from specialists on homoeopathy, Chinese Medicine, Alternative Medicine and Qigong. We've gradually created the infrastructure of current Integrative Medicine in Japan. However, Western medicine still plays the central role in the current medical field in Japan, and there are less doctors like me.

There is no one cause of disease, and therefore Western medicine cannot treat or cure all diseases. While Western Medicine has its good side, we need to understand that mental and physical health are inextricably linked. Oriental Medicine emphasizes the connection between the mind and body, and the study draws attention to medical practitioners from all over the world.

Q: Do you think in an ideal world, doctors will be out of work?

I always tell my patients that you know your body the most. I believe that as a doctor, it is our responsibility to help and support how to the patient manages their particular condition. The reality could not be any further from my belief. We still see the tendency where patients rely too much on going to a hospital to seek a doctor's guidance. Patients should be more responsible for their lives and be aware of their body condition, and make important choices. As I've stated in one of my books, people normally start seriously thinking about their own health when diagnosed with terminal cancer, but that's when it's too late. This is why I am advocating preventive healthcare, and encourage people to try to cure the condition before going to the hospital. In reality, patients too often casually drop by the doctor's office to seek advice or treatment, resulting in the doctor to have limited availability to spend time on individuals.

I only see patients on appointments basis. This allows me to spend enough time to talk with them and offer customized advice that fits their individual health needs. Integrative Medicine is still new so we receive many visitors who seek treatment options beyond those that are typically offered in conventional medical care.
Our mission is to educate patients and have them involved in every step of the decision making for their treatment. I believe both parties should be able to have an opinion in the decision making process by sharing information, taking steps to build a consensus about the preferred treatment, and ultimately reaching to an agreement on the treatment to implement.

 

Q: Are you planning to provide training on Integrative Medicine for young medical practitioners who admire your belief and want to offer similar medical practice in the future?

Doctors are generally too busy to think about such things. They tend to be conservative and do not jump into new ideas and thoughts. Even so, I see many people disagree with the current medical system and are seeking for the change. There are many publications discussing this issue. I continue to work at the university hospital because I want to establish a training program where we can teach philosophy of medicine. There are still many challenges but this can be achievable if I have colleagues who share the same goal. A monk once told me, "Doctors should be respectable and noble". Some individuals want to become a doctor because it is a high-paying and stable job, but I believe many young practitioners has the pure motivation to wanting to save people's lives. In order to encourage this thought, We need to shift the focus to preventing diseases and encouraging doctors to spend more time with patients, although this is still not realistic. For that reason, we need to fundamentally change the way we practice medicine.

Dr. Kawashima played a protagonist in a NHK drama when he is a child.
He had many offers from famous TV directors to continue his acting career, however, he quit and decided to pursue his passion in medicine.
Kawashima believes medical practice is rather sacred, like a religion. Focusing on ethics and philosophy of Medicine is necessary and doctors should not be tempted to pursue their own interest.
I hope Dr. Kawashima's idea inspires young medical practitioners. As a patient, we should  take ownership of our own health as we should know our body the most. Doctors are there to provide guidance, but they are not Gods. The "I will protect my own body with my knowledge" mentality and awareness will ultimately resolve medical issues.

 



 

Spreading a new idea from Japan

FEATURE

Spreading a new idea from Japan

We are all connected by water

What is EZ water? The fourth state of water - the most significant scientific discovery of the century
Eye-opening possibilities of Hydrogen-Rich Water
Experimental voyaging on hydrogen-rich water shows 40% of oil cut

 

Spreading a new idea from Japan

Now is the time to step into action

We are facing a planetary emergency that may lead to more serious problems. All human beings will eventually feel the impacts on climate change, financial meltdown, overpopulation, water and food scarcity, resource depletion and nuclear threat.

If we continue on this unsustainable way of living, most of Earth will be uninhabitable. 

This day may come earlier than expected - we may face a total system collapse over wars caused by ecological disaster,  religious and geographical conflicts or scarcity of resources.

Time is running out to prevent irreversible impact on the ecosystem. The accelerating global problems shorten a time limit from half a century to 20 years, 10 years and 5 years. 

 

What can we do in Japan?


It is a question of the way we see ourselves and the world. We need to change the way we think in order to be caretakers of a global ecosystem for coexistence. This is an opportunity to establish a new value and priority, and move to a new direction.

Japanese used to embrace a collective way of living that respects nature. However, Japan has witnessed the rapid rise of materialism since World War II.
We need to reconsider the Japanese principle of harmony, 'Wa',  as this can create harmony between new ideas and old values. Our traditional Japanese concept can be coupled with leading edge technology.

 

Many Japanese people used to be farmers who appreciate and respect nature. Because of the great economic boom after World War II, such spirit was lost and people become materialistic. The March 11th disaster has reminded us of our traditional way of thinking. More than 100,000 people are still experiencing inconvenience in their daily life, and nuclear problems are still unsolved. The world admired the self-discipline and patience of the Japanese people in the midst of such a horrendous emergency. We believe that this leads to a new recognition in the world of our traditional value of harmony.


There are also many people who have been working in various fields to change the current situation.
We've experienced the conflicts in globalizm (which includes materialism and westernization) that only seeks efficiency. Now is the time to change the way we think for the next generation.

 



 

GTN's goal for improving the living conditions of non-Japanese residents

FEATURE

GTN's goal for improving the living conditions of non-Japanese residents

The interview of Mr Goto the CEO of Global Trust Networks Co.,Ltd

The living conditions of non-Japanese residents have been improved over the past few years thanks to guarantor companies like Global Trust Networks Co., Ltd (GTN). This company has been dealing with issues coming from the guarantor system for nine years. With its tireless effort and perseverance, GTN is now one of the leading guarantor companies providing lease guarantor services to non-Japanese citizens. Although this industry does not look so glamorous, it has made a remarkable contribution to the spread of globalization in Japan. We interviewed Mr. Goto, founder and CEO of GTN, to learn about its unique staffing and mobile services.  

Q - What makes GTN's staffing and mobile services different from other existing services?

A - We didn't start staffing and mobile services in pursuit of profits. We had a profound desire to improve the living conditions of international students and those who are new to Japan. There are many companies that offer recruitment services to foreign workers who have language skills and expertise, but those with language barriers are the ones who really need our assistance. Most international students come to Japan with high hopes, but soon hit a wall as job hunting without Japanese fluency is quite difficult. They need a job to support themselves because, without income, they cannot pay tuition and rent. 

We believe that we can be their safety net. We can afford to expand into new markets now that our lease guarantor business is up and running. We do not provide dodgy services at affordable prices. We communicate with the students on a regular basis and try to understand any concerns they might have so that we can find solutions for them. We are growing by word of mouth. 

As for mobile services, we dropped the traditional two-year contract because many people stay in Japan for less than two years. The current contract system also demands a penalty fee for those who stay over two years upon their departure. There is almost no company that provides language services to make a contract. We offer an unlimited data plan for less than 3,000 yen, and this news is spread by word of mouth at universities and Japanese schools. Our knowledge and experiences from the lease guarantee business made it possible to lower the price for non-Japanese citizens.

Q - You've identified the needs of non-Japanese residents and turned it into a new business. What's next? 

A - The Cabinet is aiming to increase the number of international students to 300,000 by 2020, but the target may not be achieved with the current situation. We should offer something which western countries don't have in order to win the international students from those popular study abroad destinations. We will satisfy their basic needs by providing lease guarantee services, affordable mobile services, and recruitment services. 


We will try our best to accommodate their needs by providing high-quality services at affordable prices and help improve the living conditions of non-Japanese residents. 

People see western countries as a place where the American dream can come true, like Silicon Valley which has produced many successful, new billionaires. However, this idea doesn't really apply to Japan where most people see themselves as being middle class. Unlike western countries where very few people can climb the ladder of success, Japan makes it possible for anyone who can integrate with society, master keigo, and understand the way Japanese think to find a job. It shouldn't be that difficult to live a comfortable life once receiving a job offer. The Japanese dream is attainable for a wide range of non-Japanese people. That's why the idea is so attractive. 

Mr. Goto has been leading the company since its foundation. It began when Mr. Goto was just a student, but the company has grown to become an organization where employees can work harmoniously as a team while simultaneously nurturing their individuality. Nearly 70% of the company's 50 employees are from overseas and the management team consists of a mix of both genders with multiple nationalities. University researchers often visit the company for their diversity management studies. This small, international company will definitely be one leading the way to the globalization of Japan. 

Let’s make Osaka a City for International Students

FEATURE

『Let’s make Osaka a City for International Students』


Their contribution to the local community should be appreciated.

Keiichi Hasegawa was born in 1947. After graduating from Doshisha University in 1969, he started his career at Panasonic Electric Works Co., Ltd. He became the executive director at Ehle Institute in 1976. He became the president of Ehle Institute in 1983. He is the president of Save the Children Japan, the vice president of the Minami Township Forum, and the president of the International Mentoring Association. He dedicates himself to providing support for international students as a committee membor of the Osaka Prefecture Vocational College Association.


We intervied Keiichi Hasegawa, the president at Ehle institute, which provides a variety of services to support international students in cooporation with local community.


『The course that ensures 100% employment rates.』


Ehle Institute launched a special course for qualified students that ensures 100% employment rates. The school believes in the importance of mentorship and offers extensive internship opportunities for students in coorporation with the local community.

The school supports students to set clear goals and work out a concrete plan towards these outcomes. This inspires others to pursue their dreams as well. Unfortunately, the modern educational system lacks this idea and puts too much focus on scoring marks in exams. It does not help students prepare for the job market. We aim to equip students with the necessary teamwork and communication skills through a mentorship program.

『Internship at local companies』

Faculty and students at Ehle institute have been expanding the number and type of internship opportunities for students. It took time for international students to find a company to work, but now local organizations and companies offer us more opportunities.


Students participate in unpaid internships in their course of study. Once their attitude and skills toward work are acknowledged, they may be offered a part-time job or paid internship. Hasegawa said that international students should contribute to the local community by adapting to Japanese society. Now they play an important role in the local community. Recently, they participated in an evacuation drill to keep the elderly people in a safe area. Like that, educational institutions should help international students build good relationship with locals so that their social status can be enhanced and they are welcomed by society. That's Hasegawa's goal to achieve the city for international students.

Importance of local history


While Hasegawa has dedicated himself to improving international students experience, he is also known as a committee member of the Osaka Prefecture Vocational College Association. Officials of the Ministry of Education seek educational advice from him as well. Ehle institute is a community-based school where most of its students are from overseas.


Hasegawa said that Osaka has something to attract foreign people and cultures. In fact, Osaka used to be the city that sent envoys overseas to gain new knowledge. Likewise, this city welcomed people from China and the Korean peninsula to spread their cultures.

I would like to conclude the interview with Hasegawa's remark: 'There is a reason why you study in Osaka. Don't forget that you have a mission to promote mutual understanding between Osaka and your countries. Work with us for bright future in Asia.'

I also dedicate myself to providing a variety of services for international students, including internship programs, and clubs and events to make local friends. Through this interview, I was inspired by Hasegawa from Ehle institute and people from the Osaka Prefecture Vocational College Association. Unfortunately, international students are not always welcomed by local community. That's why people like us should help them. There is an old saying, 'It takes 10 generations to succeed in Kyoto, 3 generations in Tokyo, and 1 generation in Osaka.' That means you are always outsider in Kyoto and Tokyo even if you become successful. However, you can make it in Osaka no matter what your background. You can be an Osakan. It's up to you. If you plan to study in Japan, why don't you come to this city? We look forward to seeing you here! (Kazumi Miyazaki, chief editor at the Global Community) (translated by Kaori Asakami Monash Univ.)

 

Osaka launched the 'ASIAN GATEWAY' project

FEATURE

 

Osaka launched the 'ASIAN GATEWAY' project

People are the main resource for the development of tourism in Osaka.

Osakans' openness to other cultures allows them to cooperate with other Asian people, making Osaka a vibrant cityexpand button.

 

Megumi Koriyama, a senior student at Kwansei Gakuin University, interviewed Mr. Kano, a former Hong Kong Tourism Board official. With his extensive knowledge and experiences in a tourism industry, he launched tourism promotion campaign in April.

Q: You have a goal of 6.5 million foreign visitors in Osaka by 2020. How are you going to meet this goal?


A: It doesn't happen overnight. We should analyze previous data to estimate tourism revenues and set business targets. Unlike Tokyo and Kyoto, Osaka may not be a city full of tourist attractions but its people are enthusiastic, humorous and unique. Foreign visitors often appreciate Osakans' cheerfulness and openness.

 

'The years I spent abroad allowed me to see my country from a totally different perspective. Before starting the campaign, I needed to find out what this city can offer. Given that Osaka used to be a city that introduced Japan to the other Asian cultures, I thought that this city would be a destination for those who want to learn about our culture and start their own business. With this in mind, we launched the advertising campaign: 'ASIAN GATEWAY OSAKA' and 'VENTURING to Asia? Start in OSAKA'. As Karaoke and Kaiten Sushi were spread from Osaka to the world, this city is an ideal place for entrepreneurs to launch their business.

Q: Do you think international students can patricipate in this promotional campaign?

A: We began surveying foreign visitors in April regarding their stay in Osaka before they leave Kansai International Airport. We appreciate support by international students since this survey requires speakers of different languages. The collected data will be analyzed by the bureau afterwards. We expect students to act as professionals so we offer them training and uniforms. Educational institutions consider this project meaningful to students as they can gain first-hand experience.

Q: Are there any upcoming events that you are working on?

A: Yes. On June 1st, Red Bull X-Fighters Osaka, the first motocross World Championship in Asia, will be held in Osaka castle. We will host top-class Hip-Hop dancers from all over the world for the final competition of "DANCE DELIGHT" on 1st of September. We are happy to celebrate its 20th anniversary of this event that started here in Osaka. We also aim to be the host city of the internationally renowned event, 'INTERNATIONAL JAZZ DAY,' sponsored by UNESCO and the UN. We support the International Red-White Singing Contest as well.

Mr Kano profile

Kunio Kano was born in Gunma prefecture in 1944. After graduating from Takasaki Senior High School, he earned a bachelor's degree in Marketing at Brigham Young University and an MBA at San Francisco State University. He started his career at Manufacturers Hanover Trust Co. in 1972. In 1982, he assumed the position of Managing Director and Chief Representative of Manufacturers Hanover Limited, UK/Japan. In 1987, he became Managing Director and Deputy Branch Manager of Manufacturers Hanover Securities Company. In 1991, he joined Royal Doulton Dodwell KK, Japan, as President and Representative Director. In 1995, he held the position of Regional Director of North Asia at the Hong Kong Tourism Board. He witnessed first-hand the Hong Kong Handover in 1997, the September 11 attacks in 2001, the SARS outbread in 2003, Hong Kong - Japan Tourism Exchange Year in 2009, and the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. He became the head of Osaka's tourism bureau in April 2013.

 

 


インタビュー後の感想 
郡山めぐみ(関西学院大学4年) 
国際紅白歌合戦 IN OSAKA 実行委員会委員長
加納局長へのインタビューをさせていただいた中で、大阪へ足を運んでくださった方々へ対して日本ならではの「おもてなしのこころ」を持って迎え入れることを大切にしたいという想いに特に感銘を受けました。大阪に来られた「お客様」の満足のためには相手の立場や気持ちをよく理解し、客観的に自らを見つめ直すマーケティングをする必要があります。現在関西国際空港の出国カウンターにて滞在日数や滞在中の消費額、日本の満足度等を測るアンケートを実施・分析されているということで、観光立国・大阪としてその結果から見えてきた日本の新たな良さを更に伸ばし、外国人にとっての障壁を取り除く取り組みに行政と民間がひとつになって全力で取り組めば、2020年の来阪外国人650万人も夢ではないと心から思いました。更に素晴らしいと思ったのが、その関西国際空港でのアンケートのインタビュアーとして日本在住の留学生も起用しておられるということ。各々日本に魅力を感じて来日し、日本での生活の中で何らかの不便さを感じているであろう彼らをこの政策の一環に巻き込むことは大阪PRの点でも非常に助けとなるのみならず、留学生が日本への愛着を増したり自信を持てたりすることにもつながるでしょう。
加納局長率いる大阪観光局の取り組みに心から期待しつつ、私にできる「おもてなし」を模索していきたいと思います。

大阪の観光を一緒に盛り上げてくれる大阪サポーター募集中!!

Brewing Energy from Potato Biofuel to Save Japan!!

FEATURE

 

Brewing Energy from Potato Biofuel to Save Japan!!

We interviewed Professor Takahiro Suzuki regarding his advocacy of the multi-level potato cultivation, which serves three purposes:

1. Improve production process

2. Revitalize the agriculture sector

3. Solve issues such as the greenhouse effect and energy conservation.



The rapid industrialization and economic growth in China and India lead to an increase in carbon dioxide emission. In Japan, the government reviewed the national energy strategy and decided to set off a target of reducing CO2 emissions by 25%. However, energy prices are on the rise due to a sharp increase in fossil fuel imports. The perilous decline of Japanese agriculture is another important issue to face. In fact, less young people engage in farming business due to the unstable income in this industry. Mr. Jae Heon Kim , a biotechnology student from Tokyo Institute of Technology, interviewed Professor Suzuki from Kinki University, regarding his "Multi-level potato cultivation for biofuel production” to solve issues we are facing, such as increase in carbon dioxide and energy prices, and collapse of agriculture.

 

Profile of Dr Takahiro Suzuki

Professor at Kinki University, Faculty of Biology-Oriented Science and Technology

Prof. Suzuki was born into a farming family in Mikawa, Aichi prefecture in 1959. He was awarded scholarships at Nagoya University where he received a Masters degree in Agriculture. He is the first person from Nagoya University who received a graduate research fellowship from Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. After working as a postgraduate researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he became a senior researcher at Mechanical Engineering Laboratory, Agency of Industrial Science and Technology, Ministry of International Trade and Industry in 1989. Also, as a researcher at the Science and Technology Agency, he was sent to Princess Royal University Hospital in London where he served as a leader of Japan-US and Japan-UK joint research projects. After returning to Japan, he became an associate professor at Tokyo University of Science in 1996. Four years later, he withdrew from the position to work in the industry. He learnt business know-how from private companies and eventually became the most searched cosmetic researcher online. In 2010, he was appointed a professor at Kinki University. He started the "Furusato Ebisu Project" to create a safe, stress-free society with the support of the government and companies. His interest in entrepreneurship began when he was in the United States, where he met many local graduate students with an ambition to start their own business. He was greatly inspired by these young entrepreneurs, and decided to teach students at Tokyo University of Science. However, that was considered too radical in Japan and was not accepted. He believes that working for private companies are important for his identity.


 

Shrines are the Roots of Japanese Culture.

FEATURE

 

Shrines are the Roots of Japanese Culture.

A truly international person is one who understands what Japan and the Japanese are and can relay this overseas.
 
 
 
Profile of Hidetoshi Tojo, webmaster of ‘Jinjyajin’ website
Tojo, the CEO of Culcharge Co. Ltd., was born in 1972 in Saitama as the great-grandson of Hideki Tojo, the 40th Prime Minister of Japan during World War II. Investigating the model of Japanese nonprofit sector, he focused on the presence of shrines and Shinto.  He promotes cultural tourism through shrines, in order to revitalize local communities and their cultures. On May 24th his book, The Proof of the Japanese, was published. Following this, he began lecturing extensively across the nation.


As an internationalized society, we will further communicate with people from other countries. However, there will always be more to understand about ‘Japan’ and ‘Japanese.’ In this edition, Ms. Yu Chihama interviewed Mr. Hidetoshi Tojo, who published The Proof of the Japanese on May 24th. Ms. Chihama is in her third year at Tsuda College, and she is a volunteer interpreting guide for Meiji Jingu.

 
 
Q1: What inspired you to create the shrine database? What do you think is the most attractive aspect of Shinto? 
 
A1: It all started when I thought of making a web portal focusing on Japanese culture. As I was doing the research on Shinto, which is closely related to Japanese culture, I found that there are more than 80,000 shrines in Japan. However, there were no databases on shrines, so I decided to make one. I started visiting shrines, taking photos, and studying their histories.

I was not familiar with shrines before, but through visiting a number of them, I came to understand that each shrine has its own unique identity and history that connects its community with its pasts. Visiting more than 900 shrines over three years, I gradually became aware of the relationships between one shrine and another, and this in turn led to other discoveries.

I would not know such things if I had not experienced it first hand. I think it would be easier to understand Shinto not as a religion but a ‘collection of thoughts.’ For example, those who made a living from fishing have enshrined ‘God of the Sea’ to pray for safety at sea. Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine in Osaka is one of the shrines where people go to pray to the ‘God of the Sea.’ When visiting many shrines, we can understand people’s thoughts back then, and this is the only place where we can feel the connection with the people of the past.
 
The objects of worship are not only Japanese. In fact, there are shrines dedicated to people from foreign countries. The openness of Shinto allow the Japanese to accept beliefs and ideas from overseas like Buddhism. Furthermore, Shinto has no doctrine or commandments such as those in Christianity or Buddhism.

A mirror normally sits on the altar in a shrine. It is said that one can find “Kami” (God) in the reflection of oneself. In Shinto’s belief, one has to find the answer in oneself. It is different from other religions that teach people to follow the doctrine to be an ideal self. That is why in Japanese it means ‘the road of God(s)’ rather than ‘teachings of God(s).’ The path to one’s ideal self is through appreciation of others, meaning having gratitude for everything.

This simple form of worship in nature is considered as new lifestyle that coexists with nature. Although this is one of the oldest concepts, it would be great if we can expand this as a new concept from Japan.

 
 
Q2: Would you tell me the relationship between the emperor and Japan? What do you think is the idea of ‘protecting Japan’?
 
A2: My activities started from understanding ‘National Foundation Day.’ Japan has been ‘the oldest country’ that has been governed by an emperor for 2,672 years, and recognized by countries that have a monarchy. However, this is not taught in compulsory education and thus not recognized by the public. If the imperial system is lost, Japan will lose itself as a country. It is based on that which emphasizes the importance of keeping the imperial system.

‘Protecting Japan’ means to protect the essence of Japan and the Japanese. Ancestors have passed on tradition and beauty of Japan to the next generations. The world witnessed people from the Tohoku area helping each other without disorder after the earthquake on March 11th. When there was a devastating catastrophe in Turkey, the public learned from Japan’s orderly conduct.

On the other hand, as the result of pursuing a rational economy, Japan is a country that wastes more than 1 trillion yen worth of food. Most Japanese used to be farmers and appreciated what nature has given us. We need to remember ‘the Japanese aesthetic’ from the farmers’ perspective of cherishing ‘objects’ and ‘mateship.’
 
Q3: What attitude is important for young people to have in Japan? How should they deal with globalization?

A3: With a challenging spirit. When I was a businessman, I requested to transfer to Hong Kong and spent four years there. This experience made me who I am today. Life is long, therefore I hope that people can step out of their safety zone and accept new challenges while they are young.

Don’t be afraid of failures and mistakes, and go abroad to meet with those who have different ideas. Then you’ll find your identity, realize what Japan and Japanese are, and become a real international person.

(After the interview with Mr. Tojo ,Yu Chihama, Third year student of Tsuda College)
 
 
I was most impressed by the importance to understand the different views and thoughts of others. From this, we can understand ourselves as Japanese, and discover the identity of Japan and the differences between others. Through this process, we can establish our Japanese identity, create uniqueness, and become an international society. As a young generation, we are heading towards globalization without understanding what Japan and the Japanese are. We should once again learn Japanese culture and traditions and find our own identity. There are many things we can learn from Mr. Tojo’s shrine database, and I will consider how to learn those things in my own way.

《Translated by Kaori Asakami (Monash Univ.)》